[Go back to The Story of the Retired Sage and His Pupil, Related to the Sultan by the Second Lunatic (cont.)]
We are not, my lord the sultan, natives of this city, but of Eerauk, of which country our father was sovereign, and our mother his sultana the most beautiful woman of her time, insomuch that her fame was celebrated throughout distant regions. It chanced that in our infancy our father the sultan marched upon a hunting excursion throughout his dominions, for some months, leaving his vizier to conduct affairs at the capital. Not long after the departure of the sultan, our mother, taking the air on the roof of the palace, which adjoined that of the vizier, who was then sitting upon his terrace, her image was reflected in a mirror which he held in his hand. He was fascinated with her beauty, and resolved, if possible, to seduce her to infidelity and compliance with his wishes.
The day following he sent the female superintendant of his haram with a package, containing a most superb dress, and many inestimable jewels, to the sultana, requesting her acceptance of them, and that she would allow him to see her either at the palace or at his own house. My mother, when the old woman was admitted into her apartments, received her with kindness, supposing that she must be intrusted with some confidential message from the vizier respecting the affairs of her husband, or with letters from him.
The old woman having paid her obeisance, opened the bundle, and displayed the rich dress and dazzling jewels; when my mother, admiring them much, inquired the value, and what merchant had brought them to dispose of. The wretched old woman, supposing that the virtue of the sultana would not be proof against such a valuable present, impudently disclosed the passion of the vizier: upon which my mother, indignant with rage at this insult offered to her virtue and dignity, drew a sabre, which was near, and exerting all her strength, struck off the head of the procuress, which, with the body, she commanded her attendants to cast into the common sewer of the palace.
The vizier finding his messenger did not return, the next day despatched another, to signify that he had sent a present to the sultana, but had not heard whether it had been delivered. My mother commanded the infamous wretch to be strangled, and the corpse to be thrown into the same place as that of the old woman, but she did not make public the vizier's baseness, hoping that he would reform. He, however, continued every day to send a female domestic, and my mother to treat her in the same way as the others till the sultan's return; but my mother, not wishing to destroy the vizier, and still trusting that he would repent of his conduct, for in other respects he was a faithful and prudent minister, kept his treachery a secret from my father.
Some years after this, the sultan my father resolved on a pilgrimage to Mecca, and having, as before, left the vizier in charge of his kingdom, departed. When he had been gone ten days, the vizier, still rapturously in love, and yet presumtuously hoping to attain his wishes, sent a female domestic, who, being admitted into the apartment of the sultana, said, "For Heaven's sake have compassion on my master, for his heart is devoted to love, his senses are disturbed, and his body is wasted away. Pity his condition, revive his heart, and restore his health by the smiles of condescension."
When my mother heard this insolent message, she in a rage commanded her attendants to seize the unfortunate bearer, and having strangled her, to leave the carcase for public view in the outer court of the palace, but without divulging the cause of her displeasure. Her orders were obeyed. When the officers of state and others saw the body they informed the vizier, who, resolving to be revenged, desired them for the present to be silent, and on the sultan's return he would make known on what account the sultana had put to death his domestic, of which they could bear testimony.
When the time of the sultan's return from Mecca approached, and the treacherous vizier judged he was on his march, he wrote and despatched to him the following letter:
"After prayers for thy health, be it known, that since thy absence the sultana has sent to me five times, requesting improper compliances, to which I would not consent, and returned for answer, that however she might wish to abuse my sovereign, I could not do it, for I was left by him guardian of his honour and his kingdom: to say more would be superfluous."
The messenger reached the sultan's camp when distant eight days' journey from the city, and delivered the letter. On reading it the countenance of my father became pale, his eyes rolled with horror, he instantly ordered his tents to be struck, and moved by forced marches till he arrived within two days' journey of his capital. He then commanded a halting day, and despatched two confidential attendants with orders to conduct our innocent and unfortunate mother, with us three sisters, a day's distance from the city, and then to put us to death. They accordingly dragged us from the haram, and carried us into the country; but on arriving at the spot intended for our execution, their hearts were moved with compassion, for our mother had conferred many obligations on these men and their families. They said one to another, "By heavens, we cannot murder them!" and informed us of what the vizier had written to our father: upon which the sultana exclaimed, "God knows that he hath most falsely accused me;" and she then related to them all that she had done, with the strictest fidelity.
The men were moved even to tears at her misfortunes, and said, "We are convinced that thou hast spoken truly." They then caught some fawns of the antelope, killed them, and having required an under garment from each of us, dipped it in the blood, after which they broiled the flesh, with which we satisfied our hunger. Our preservers now bade us farewell, saying, "We intrust you to the protection of the Almighty, who never forsaketh those who are committed to his care;" and then departed from us. We wandered for ten days in the desert, living on such fruits as we could find, without beholding any signs of population, when, at length, fortunately we reached a verdant spot, abounding in various sorts of excellent vegetables and fruits. Here also was a cave, in which we resolved to shelter ourselves till a caravan might pass by. On the fourth day of our arrival one encamped near our asylum. We did not discover ourselves, but when the caravan marched, speedily followed its track at some distance, and after many days of painful exertion reached this city, where, having taken up our lodging in a serai, we returned thanks to the almighty assister of the distressed innocent for our miraculous escape from death and the perils of the desert.
We must now quit for awhile the unfortunate sultana and her daughters, to learn the adventures of the sultan her husband. As he drew near his capital, the treacherous vizier, attended by the officers of government and the principal inhabitants of the city, came out to meet him; and both high and low congratulated his safe return from the sacred pilgrimage.
The sultan, as soon as he had alighted at his palace, retired with the vizier alone, and commanded him to relate the particulars of the atrocious conduct of his wife; upon which he said, "My lord, the sultana in your absence despatched to me a slave, desiring me to visit her, but I would not, and I put the slave to death that the secret might be hidden; hoping she might repent of her weakness, but she did not, and repeated her wicked invitation five times. On the fifth I was alarmed for your honour, and acquainted you of her atrocious behaviour."
The sultan, on hearing the relation of the vizier, held down his head for some time in profound thought, then lifting it up, commanded the two attendants whom he had despatched with orders to put his wife and children to death to be brought before him. On their appearance, he said, "What have you done in execution of the charge I gave you?" they replied, "We have performed that which you commanded to be done, and as a testimony of our fidelity, behold these garments dyed with the blood of the offenders!" The sultan took the garments; but the recollection of his beauteous consort, her former affectionate endearments, of the happiness he had enjoyed with her, and of the innocence of his guiltless children, so affected his mind, that he wept bitterly and fainted away. On his recovery he turned to the vizier, and said, "Is it possible thou canst have spoken the truth?" He replied, "I have."
The sultan, after a long pause, again said to the two attendants, "Have you really put to death my innocent children with their guilty mother?" They remained silent. The sultan exclaimed, "Why answer ye not, and wherefore are ye silent?" They replied, "My lord, the honest man cannot support a lie, for lying is the distinction of traitors." When the vizier heard these words his colour changed, his whole frame was disordered, and a trembling seized him, which the sultan perceiving, he said to the attendants, "What mean you by remarking that lying is the distinction of traitors? Is it possible that ye have not put them to death? Declare the truth instantly, or by the God who hath appointed me guardian of his people, I will have you executed with the most excruciating torments."
The two men now fell at the feet of the sultan, and said, "Dread sovereign, we conveyed, as thou commandest us, the unfortunate sultana and thy daughters to the middle of the desert, when we informed them of the accusation of the vizier and thy orders concerning them. The sultana, after listening to us with fortitude, exclaimed, ‘There is no refuge or asylum but with the Almighty; from God we came, and to God we must return; but if you put us to death, you will do it wrongfully, for the treacherous vizier hath accused me falsely, and he alone is guilty.' She then informed us of his having endeavoured to corrupt her by rich presents, and that she had put his messengers to death."
The sultan at these words exclaimed in agony, "Have ye slain them, or do they yet live?" "My lord," replied the attendants, "We were so convinced of the innocence of the sultana, that we could not put her to death. We caught some fawn antelopes, killed them, and having dipped these garments belonging to the abused mother and your children in their blood, dressed the flesh, and gave it to our unfortunate mistress and thy daughters, after which we said to them, ‘We leave you in charge of a gracious God who never deserts his trust; your innocence will protect you.' We then left them in the midst of the desert, and returned to the city."
The sultan turned in fury towards the vizier, and exclaimed, "Wretched traitor! and is it thus thou hast estranged from me my beloved wife and innocent children?" The self-convicted minister uttered not a word, but trembled like one afflicted with the palsy. The sultan commanded instantly an enormous pile of wood to be kindled, and the vizier, being bound hand and foot, was forced into an engine, and cast from it into the fire, which rapidly consumed him to ashes. His house was then razed to the ground, his effefts left to the plunder of the populace, and the women of his haram and his children sold for slaves.
We now return to the three princesses and their mother. When the sultan had heard their adventures, he sympathized with their misfortunes, and was astonished at the fortitude with which they had borne their afflictions, saying to his vizier, "How sad has been their lot! but blessed be Allah, who, as he separateth friends, can, when he pleaseth, give them a joyful meeting." He then caused the sultana and the princesses to be conveyed to his palace, appointed them proper attendants and apartments suitable to their rank, and despatched couriers to inform the sultan their father of their safety. The messengers travelled with the greatest expedition, and on their arrival at the capital, being introduced, presented their despatches. The sultan opened them, and began to read; but when he perceived the contents, was so overcome with joy, that, uttering a loud exclamation of rapture, he fell to the ground and fainted away. His attendants were alarmed, lifted him up, and took means for his recovery. When he was revived, he informed them of his sultana and daughters being still alive, and ordered a vessel to be prepared to convey them home.
The ship was soon ready, and being laden with every necessary for the accommodation of his family, also rich presents for the friendly sultan who had afforded them protection, sailed with a favourable wind, and speedily arrived at the desired haven.
The commander of the vessel was welcomely received by the sultan, who issued orders for his entertainment and that of his whole crew at the royal cost, and at the expiration of three days the sultana and her daughters, being anxious to return home after so long an absence, and that so unfortunate, took leave and embarked. The sultan made them valuable presents, and the wind being fair they set sail. For three days the weather was propitious, but on the evening of the last a contrary gale arose, when they cast anchor, and lowered their topmasts. At length the storm increased to such violence that the anchor parted, the masts fell overboard, and the crew gave themselves over for lost. The vessel was driven about at the mercy of the tempest till midnight, all on board weeping and wailing, when at length she struck upon the rocks, and went to pieces. Such of the crew whose deaths were decreed perished, and those whose longer life was predestined escaped to shore, some on planks, some on chests, and some on the broken timbers of the ship, but all separated from each other.
The sultana mother was tossed about till daylight on a plank, when she was perceived by the commander of the vessel, who with three of his crew had taken to the ship's boat. He took her in, and after three days' rowing they reached a mountainous coast, on which they landed, and advanced into the country. They had not proceeded far when they perceived a great dust, which clearing up, displayed an approaching army. To'their joyful surprise it proved to be that of the sultan, who, after the departure of the vessel, dreading lest an accident might happen, had marched in hopes of reaching the city where they were before his wife and daughters should sail, in order to conduct them home by land. It is impossible to describe the meeting of the sultan and his consort, but their joy was clouded by the absence of their daughters, and the dreadful uncertainty of their fate. When the first raptures of meeting were over, they wept together, and exclaimed, "We are from God, and to God we must return." After forty days' march they arrived at their capital, but continually regretting the princesses, saying, "Alas, alas! most probably they have been drowned, but even should they have escaped to shore, perhaps they may have been separated; and ah! what calamities may have befallen them!" Constantly did they bemoan together in this manner, immersed in grief, and taking no pleasure in the enjoyments of life.
The youngest princess, after struggling with the waves till almost exhausted, was fortunately cast ashore on a pleasant coast, where she found some excellent fruits and clear fresh water. Being revived, she reposed herself awhile, and then walked from the beach into the country; but she had not proceeded far, when a young man on horseback with some dogs following him met her, and upon hearing that she had just escaped shipwreck, mounted her before him, and having conveyed her to his house, committed her to the care of his mother. She received her with compassionate kindness, and during a whole month assiduously attended her, till by degrees she recovered her health and beauty.
The young man was legal heir to the kingdom, but his succession had been wrested from him by a usurper, who, however, dying soon after the arrival of the princess, he was reinstated in his rights and placed on the throne, when he offered her his hand; but she said, "How can I think of marriage while I know not the condition of my unfortunate family, or enjoy repose while my mother and sisters are perhaps suffering misery? When I have intelligence of their welfare I will be grateful to my deliverer."
The young sultan was so much in love with the princess, that the most distant hope gave him comfort, and he endeavoured to wait patiently her pleasure; but the nobles of the country were anxious to see him wedded, he being the last of his race, and importuned him to marry. He promised to conform to their wishes, but much time elapsing, they became importunate and discontented, when his mother, dreading a rebellion, earnestly entreated the princess to consent to a union as the only measure that could prevent disturbances. The princess, who really loved her preserver, was unwilling to endanger the safety of one to whom she owed such important obligations, and at length consented, when the marriage was celebrated with the greatest pomp and rejoicings. At the expiration of three years the sultana was delivered of two sons, whose birth added to the felicity of the union.
The second princess, after being long driven about by the waves upon a plank, was at length cast on shore near a large city, which she entered, and was fortunately compassionated by a venerable matron, who invited her to her house, and adopted her as a daughter in the room of her own, who had lately died. Here she soon recovered her health and beauty. It chanced that the sultan of this city, who was much beloved for his gentle government and liberality, was taken ill, and not withstanding the skill of the most celebrated physicians, daily became worse, insomuch that his life was despaired of, to the general grief of the people. The princess having heard her venerable protectress lament the danger of the sultan, said, "My dear mother, I will prepare a dish of pottage, which, if you will carry to the sultan, and he can be prevailed upon to eat it, will, by the blessing of Allah, recover him from his disorder." "I fear," replied the matron, "I shall hardly be allowed admittance to the palace, much less to present him the pottage." "You can but try," answered the princess;" and even the attempt at a good action is acceptable to God." "Well,"rejoined the old woman, "prepare your pottage, my dear daughter, and I will endeavour to get admission."
The princess prepared the dish of pottage, composed of various minerals, herbs, and perfumes, and when it was ready the old woman took it to the sultan's palace. The guards and eunuchs inquired what she had brought, when she said, "A dish of pottage, which I request you will present to the sultan, and beg him to eat as much of it as he can, for by God's help it will restore him to health." The eunuchs introduced her into the chamber of their sick sovereign, when the old woman taking off the cover of the dish, such a grateful perfume exhaled from the contents as revived his spirits. Being informed what the venerable matron had brought, he thanked her and tasted the pottage, which was so agreeably flavoured that he ate part of it with an appetite to which he had been long a stranger. He then presented the bearer with a purse of deenars, when she returned home, informed the princess of her welcome reception, and of the present she had received.
The sultan had no sooner eaten part of the pottage than he felt an inclination to repose, and sunk into a refreshing sleep, which lasted for some hours. On his awakening he found himself wonderfully revived, and having a desire afresh to eat, finished the whole. He now wished for more, and inquired after the old woman, but none of his attendants could inform him where she lived. However, in the evening she brought another mess, which the princess had prepared, and the sultan ate it with renewed appetite; after which, though before quite helpless, he was now able to sit up and even to walk. He inquired of the old woman if it was her own preparation; to which she replied,"No, my lord, but my daughter dressed it, and entreated me to bring it." The sultan exclaimed, "She cannot be thy own daughter, as her skill shews her of much higher quality." He then made her a present, and requested that she would bring him every morning a fresh supply, to which she said, "To hear is to obey;" and retired.
The princess sent regularly for seven mornings successively a dish of pottage, and the sultan as regularly presented her adopted mother with a purse of deenars; for such was the rapidity of his recovery, that at the expiration of the sixth day he was perfectly well, and on the seventh he mounted his horse and repaired to his country palace to make the absolution of health and enjoy the fresh air. During her visits he had questioned the old lady concerning her adopted daughter, and she so described her beauty, virtues, and accomplishments, that his heart was smitten, and he became anxious to see her.
The sultan, in order to gratify his curiosity, disguised himself one day in the habit of a dervish, and repairing to the house of the old woman, knocked at the door. On being questioned what he wanted, he replied, "I am a wandering dervish, a stranger in this city, and distressed with hunger." The old woman being fearful of admitting an unknown person, would have sent him away, but the princess exclaimed, "Hospitality to strangers is incumbent upon us, especially to the religious poor." Upon this he was admitted, and the princess having seated him respectfully, set victuals before him, of which he ate till he was satisfied, and having washed, rose up, thanked the old woman and her supposed daughter for their bounty, and retired, but his sight was fascinated with her beauty, and his heart devoted to her love.
The sultan on his return to the palace sent for the old woman, and on her arrival presented her with a rich dress and valuable jewels, desiring that she would give them to her daughter, and prevail upon her to put them on. The old lady promised obedience, and as she walked homewards, said to herself, "If this adopted daughter of mine is wise, she will comply with the sultan's desires, and put on the dress, but if she does not, I will expel her from my house." When she reached home, she displayed the superb habit and the dazzling ornaments; but the princess at first refused to accept them, till at length, moved by the entreaties of her protectress, whom she could not disoblige, she put them on, and the old lady was delighted with her appearance.
The sultan, who had slipped on a female dress, having covered himself with a close veil, followed the old woman to her house, and listened at the door to know if the daughter would accept his present. When he found that she had put on the dress, he was overcome with rapture, and hastening back to his palace, sent again for the old lady, to whom he signified his wish to marry her daughter. When the princess was informed of the offer she consented, and the sultan, attended by a splendid cavalcade, conducted her that evening to his palace, where the cauzee united them in marriage. A general feast was made for all the inhabitants of the city for seven days successively, and the sultan and the princess enjoyed the height of felicity. In the course of five years the Almighty blessed them with a son and two daughters.
The eldest princess on the wreck of the ship having clung to a piece of timber, was after much distress floated on shore, where she found a man's habit, and thinking it a safe disguise for the protection of her honour, she dressed herself in it, and proceeded to a city which appeared near the coast. On her entrance she was accosted by a maker of cotton wallets for travelling, who observing that she was a stranger, and supposing her a man, asked if she would live with him, as he wanted an assistant. Being glad to secure any asylum, she accepted his offer of maintenance, and daily wages of half a dirhem. He conducted her to his house, and treated her with kindness. The next day she entered upon her business, and so neat was the work she executed, that in a short time her master's shop was more frequented than any other.
It happened that the shop was situated near the palace of the sultan. One morning the princess his daughter looking through the lattice of a balcony beheld the seeming young man at work, with the sleeves of his vest drawn up to his shoulder: his arms were white and polished as silver, and his countenance brilliant as the sun unobscured by clouds. The daughter of the sultan was captivated in the snare of love.
The sultan's daughter continued gazing at the supposed young man till he withdrew from work, when she retired to her apartment; but so much was she fascinated by his charms, that she became restless, and at length indisposed. Her nurse who attended her felt her pulse, and asked her several questions, but could find no symptoms of bodily illness upon her. She said, "My dear daughter, I am convinced that nothing has afflicted thee but desire of some youth with whom thou art in love."The princess exclaimed," My dear mother, as thou hast discovered my secret, thou wilt, I trust, not only keep it sacred, but bring to me the man I love."The nurse replied," No one can keep a secret closer than myself, so that you may safely confide it to my care."The princess then said," Mother, my heart is captivated by the young man who works in the shop opposite my windows, and if I cannot meet him I shall die of grief."
The nurse replied, "My dear mistress, he is the most beautiful youth of the age, and the women of the whole city are distracted with his charms; yet he is so bashful as to answer no advances, and shrinks from notice like a school-boy, but I will endeavour to overcome his shyness, and procure you a meeting." Having said thus, she went immediately to the wallet-maker's, and giving him a piece of gold, desired he would let his assistant accompany her home with two of his best wallets. The man was pleased with her generosity, and selecting his choicest manufacture, commanded his journeyman to accompany the nurse.
The old woman led the disguised princess through by-paths to a private passage of the palace, and introduced her into the apartments of the daughter of the sultan, who received her supposed beloved with emotions of joy too violent to be concealed. Pretending to admire the goods, she asked some questions, and giving him twenty pieces of gold, desired him to return with more goods on the following evening, to which the seeming journeyman replied, "To hear is to obey."
The disguised princess on her return home delivered the twenty pieces of gold to her employer, who was alarmed, and inquired from whence they came: upon which she informed him of her adventure, when the wallet-maker was in greater terror than before, and said to himself, "If this intrigue goes on, the sultan will discover it, I shall be put to death, and my family ruined on account of this young man and his follies." He then besought him not to repeat his visit, but he answered, "I cannot forbear, though I dread my death may be the consequence." In short, the disguised princess went every evening with the old nurse to the apartments of the sultan's daughter, till at length the sultan one night suddenly entered, and perceiving, he supposed, a man with the princess, commanded him to be seized and bound hand and foot.
The sultan then sent for an executioner, resolved to put the culprit to death. The executioner on his arrival seized the disguised princess; but what was the surprise of all present, when, on taking off the turban and vest, they discovered her sex. The sultan commanded her to be conducted to his haram, and inquired her story, when having no resource but the truth, she related her adventures.
When the princess had informed the sultan of the treachery of the vizier, the consequent conduct of her father, the distress of her mother, her sisters and herself, their being relieved, and her escape from shipwreck, with what had happened since, he was filled with wonder and compassion, and ordered his daughter to accommodate her in the haram. The love of the latter was now changed to sincere friendship, and under her care and attentions the unfortunate princess in a few months recovered her former beauty. It chanced that the sultan visiting his daughter was fascinated with the charms of the princess, but unwilling to infringe the rules of hospitality concealed his love, till at length he became dangerously ill, when the daughter suspecting the matter, prevailed upon him to reveal the cause of his complaint. She then informed her friend, and entreated her to accept her father in marriage; but the princess said, at the same time weeping bitterly, "Misfortune hath separated me from my family; I know not whether my sisters, my father and my mother, are living, or, if so, what is their condition. How can I be happy or merry, while they are perhaps involved in misery?"
The daughter of the sultan did not refrain from comforting the unfortunate princess, at the same time representing the hopeless condition of her father, till at length she consented to the marriage. This joyful intelligence speedily revived the love-lorn sultan, and the nuptials were celebrated with the utmost joy and magnificence.
The aged sultan and sultana continued to lament the loss of their daughters for some years, when at length the former resolved to travel in search of them, and having left the government in charge of his wife, departed, attended only by his vizier. They both assumed the habit of dervishes, and after a month's uninterrupted travelling reached a large city extending along the sea coast, close upon which the sultan of it had erected a magnificent pleasure house, where the pretended dervishes beheld him sitting in one of the pavilions with his two sons, one six and the other seven years old. They approached, made their obeisance, and uttered a long invocation, agreeably to the usage of the religious, for his prosperity. The sultan returned their compliment, desired them to be seated, and having conversed with them till evening, dismissed them with a present, when they repaired to a caravanserai, and hired an apartment. On the following day, after amusing themselves with viewing the city, they again repaired to the beach, and saw the sultan sitting with his children, as before. While they were admiring the beauty of the strufture, the younger prince, impelled by an unaccountable impulse, came up to them, gazed eagerly at them, and when they retired followed them to their lodging, which they did not perceive till he had entered with them and sat down. The old sultan was astonished at the child's behaviour, took him in his arms, kissed and fondled him, after which he desired him to return to his parents, but the boy insisted upon staying, and remained four days, during which the pretended dervishes did not stir from their caravanserai.
The sultan missing his son, supposed that he had gone to his mother, and she imagined that he was still with his father; but on the latter entering the haram the loss was discovered. Messengers were despatched every way, but no tidings of the boy could be obtained. The miserable parents now supposed that he had fallen into the sea and was drowned. Nets were dragged, and divers employed for three days, but in vain. On the fifth day orders were issued to search every house in the city, when the infant prince was at length discovered at the caravanserai in the apartment of the pretended dervishes, who were ignominiously dragged before the sultan.
The sultan was transported with joy at the recovery of his son, but supposing the dervishes had meant to steal him away, he ordered them instantly to be put to death. The executioners seized them, bound their hands behind them, and were going to strike, when the child with loud outcries ran up, and clinging to the knees of the elder victim could not be forced away. The sultan was astonished, and ordering the execution for the present to be delayed, went and informed the mother of the child of his wonderful behaviour.
The sultana, on hearing it, was no less surprised than the sultan, and felt a curiosity to hear from the dervish himself on what account he had enticed away her son. She said, "It is truly extraordinary that the boy should express such affection for a strange dervish. Send for him to your closet, and order him to relate his adventures, to which I will listen from behind a curtain."
The sultan sent for the supposed dervish, and commanding all his attendants to retire, withdrew with him into his closet, and desired him to be seated; after which he said, "Wicked dervish, what could have induced thee to entice away my son, or to visit my kingdom?" He replied, "Heaven knows, O sultan, I did not entice him. The boy followed me to my lodging, when I said, ‘ My son, return to thy father,' but he would not; and I remained in continual dread till what was decreed occurred." The sultan was softened, spoke kindly to him, and begged him to relate his adventures, when the pretended dervish wept, and said, "My history is a wonderful one. I had a friend whom I left as my agent and guardian to my family, while I was performing a pilgrimage to Mecca; but had scarcely left my house ten days, when accidently seeing my wife he endeavoured to debauch her, and sent an old woman with a rich present to declare his adulterous love. My wife was enraged, and put the infamous messenger to death. He sent a second, and a third, whom she also killed.
These last words were scarcely spoken, when the sultana bursting from her concealment ran up to the dervish, fell upon his neck, and embraced him: upon which, the sultan her husband was enraged, put his hand to his cimeter, and exclaimed, "What means this shameless behaviour?" The sultana, at once laughing and crying with rapture, informed him that the supposed dervish was her father: upon which the sultan also fell at his feet and welcomed him. He then ordered the other dervish his vizier to be released, commanded royal robes to be brought for his father-in-law, and a suite of apartments in the palace to be prepared for his reception, with an attendance befitting his dignity.
When the old sultan had spent some time with his youngest daughter thus happily recovered, he became anxious to search after the others, and signified his intention of departing; but his son-in-law declared that he would accompany him on the expedition with a number of his nobles, and an army, lest some fatal accident might occur from his being unattended. Preparations were accordingly made for march, the two sultans encamped without the city, and in a few days began their expedition, which proved successful to their wishes. The aged monarch having recovered his children retired to his own kingdom, where he reigned prosperously till the angel of death summoned him to Paradise.
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Scott, Jonathan (1754-1829). The Arabian Nights Entertainments. London: Pickering and Chatto, 1890. 4 Volumes. Project Gutenberg.
1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM