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In the capital of a sultan named Rammaud lived a barber, who had a son growing up to manhood, possessing great accomplishments of mind and person, and whose wit and humour drew numerous customers to his shop. One day a venerable dervish entering it, sat down, and calling for a looking glass, adjusted his beard and whiskers, at the same time asking many questions of the young man; after which he laid down a sherif, rose up, and departed. The next day he came again, and for several days following, always finishing his visit by leaving a piece of gold upon the looking-glass, to the great satisfaction of the barber, who from his other customers never usually received more than sonic coppers of little value; but though he liked the gold, his suspicions were raised against the generous donor, supposing him to be a necromancer, who had some evil design against his son, whom, therefore, he cautioned to be upon his guard. The visits of the dervish were continued as usual for some time; when one day he found the barber's son alone in the shop, and was informed that his father had gone to divert himself with viewing some experiments which the sultan was making of the mixture of various metals, being an adept in chemistry, and eager in search of the philosopher's stone. The dervish now invited the young man to accompany him to the spot where the experiments were making, and on their arrival they saw a vast furnace, into which the sultan and his attendants cast pieces of metal of various sorts. The dervish having taken a lump of ore from his wallet threw it into the furnace; then addressing the young barber, said, "I must for the present bid you farewell, as I have a journey to take; but if the sultan should inquire after me, let him know I am to be found in a certain city, and will attend his summons." Having said this, the dervish presented the barber's son with a purse of gold, took his leave, and the youth returned home. Great was the surprise of the sultan, when the metals in the furnace were all melted, to find them converted into a mass of solid gold, which proved, on assay, to be of the purest quality. Every one was questioned as to what he had cast into the furnace, when there appeared no reason to suppose the transmutation could have been effected by such an accidental mixture of metals. At length it was remarked, that a dervish, accompanying the barber's son, had cast in a lump of ore, and immediately disappeared. Upon this the sultan summoned the youth to his presence, and inquiring after his companion, was informed of the place of his residence, and of what, on his departure, he had said to him. The sultan was overjoyed at the welcome intelligence, and dispatched the young man, with an honourable attendance, to conduct the venerable dervish to his presence, where being arrived, he was received with the most distinguishing attention, and the barber's son was promoted to high office. After some days, the sultan requested the dervish to instruct him in the transmutation of metals, which he readily did, as well as in many other occult mysteries; which so gratified his royal patron, that he trusted the administration of government to his care. This disgusted the ministers and courtiers, who could not bear to be controlled by a stranger, and therefore resolved to effect his ruin. By degrees they persuaded their credulous master that the dervish was a magician, who would in time possess himself of his throne, and the sultan, alarmed, resolved to put him to death. With this intention, calling him to the presence, he accused him of sorcery, and commanded an executioner to strike off his head. "Forbear awhile," exclaimed the dervish, "and let me live till I have shown you the most wonderful specimen of my art." To this the sultan consented, when the dervish, with chalk, drew a circle of considerable extent round the sultan and his attendants, then stepping into the middle of it, he drew a small circle round himself, and said, "Now seize me if you can;" and immediately disappeared from sight. At the same instant, the sultan and his courtiers found themselves assaulted by invisible agents, who, tearing off their robes, whipped them with scourges till the blood flowed in streams from their lacerated backs. At length the punishment ceased, but the mortification of the sultan did not end here, for all the gold which the dervish had transmuted returned to its original metals. Thus, by his unjust credulity, was a weak prince punished for his ungrateful folly. The barber and his son also were not to be found, so that the sultan could gain no intelligence of the dervish, and he and his courtiers became the laughingstock of the populace for years after their merited chastisement.
[Go to Aleefa, Daughter of Mherejaun Sultan of Hind, and Eusuff, Son of Sohul, Sultan of Sind]
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