Supplemental Nights, Volume 3
by Richard F. Burton
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The end of the Six Hundred and Thirty-eighth Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that Ali Baba's nephew straightway consented to marry Morgiana. After which the three, raising the dead body bore it forth with all heed and vigilance and privily buried it in the garden, and for many years no one knew aught thereof. In due time Ali Baba married his brother's son to Morgiana with great pomp, and spread a bride-feast in most sumptuous fashion for his friends and neighbours, and made merry with them and enjoyed singing and all manner of dancing and amusements. He prospered in every undertaking and Time smiled upon him and a new source of wealth was opened to him. For fear of the thieves he had not once visited the jungle-cave wherein lay the treasure, since the day he had carried forth the corpse of his brother Kasim. But some time after, he mounted his hackney one morning and journeyed thither, with all care and caution, till finding no signs of man or horse, and reassured in his mind he ventured to draw near the door. Then alighting from his beast he tied it up to a tree, and going to the entrance pronounced the words which he had not forgotten, "Open, O Simsim!" Hereat, as was its wont, the door flew open, and entering thereby he saw the goods and hoard of gold and silver untouched and lying as he had left them. So he felt assured that not one of all the thieves remained alive, and, that save himself there was not a soul who knew the secret of the place. At once he bound in his saddle-cloth a load of Ashrafis such as his horse could bear and brought it home; and in after days he showed the hoard to his sons and sons' sons and taught them how the door could be caused to open and shut. Thus Ali Baba and his household lived all their lives in wealth and joyance in that city where erst he had been a pauper, and by the blessing of that secret treasure he rose to high degree and dignities.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and thirty-ninth Night.

Then by the command of King Shahryar Queen Shahrazad began to tell in these words the story of


Under the reign of Caliph Harun al-Rashid there dwelt in the city of Baghdad a certain merchant, 'Ali Khwajah hight, who had a small stock of goods wherewith he bought and sold and made a bare livelihood, abiding alone and without a family in the house of her forbears. Now so it came to pass that each night for three nights together he saw in a vision a venerable Shaykh who bespake him thus, "Thou art beholden to make a pilgrimage to Meccah; why abidest thou sunk in heedless slumber and farest not forth as it behoveth thee?"[FN#307] Hearing these words he became sore startled and affrighted, so that he sold shop and goods and all that he had; and, with firm intent to visit the Holy House of Almighty Allah, he let his home on hire and joined a caravan that was journeying to Meccah the Magnified. But ere he left his natal city he placed a thousand gold pieces, which were over and above his need for the journey, within an earthen jar filled up with Asafiri[FN#308] or Sparrow-olives; and, having made fast the mouth thereof, he carried the jar to a merchant-friend of many years standing and said, "Belike, O my brother, thou hast heard tell that I purpose going with a caravan on pilgrimage to Meccah, the Holy City; so I have brought a jar of olives the which, I pray thee, preserve for me in trust against my return." The merchant at once arose and handing the key of his warehouse to Ali Khwajah said, "Here, take the key and open the store and therein place the jar anywhere thou choosest, and when thou shalt come back thou wilt find it even as thou leftest it." Hereupon Ali Khwajah did his friend's bidding and locking up the door returned the key to its master. Then loading his travelling goods upon a dromedary and mounting a second beast he fared forth with the caravan. They came at length to Meccah the Magnified, and it was the month Zu al-Hijjah wherein myriads of Moslems hie thither on pilgrimage and pray and prostrate before the Ka'abah- temple. And when he had circuited the Holy House and fulfilled all the rites and ceremonies required of palmers, he set up a shop for sale of merchandise.[FN#309] By chance two merchants passing along that street espied the fine stuffs and goods in Ali Khwajah's booth and approved much of them and praised their beauty and excellence. Presently quoth one to other, "This man bringeth here most rare and costly goods: now in Cairo, the capital of Egypt-land would he get full value for them, and far more than in the markets of this city." Hearing mention of Cairo, Ali Khwajah conceived a sore longing to visit that famous capital, so he gave up his intent of return Baghdad-wards and purposed wayfaring to Egypt. Accordingly he joined a caravan and arriving thither was well-pleased with the place, both country and city; and selling his merchandise he made great gain therefrom. Then buying other goods and stuffs he purposed to make Damascus; but for one full month he tarried at Cairo and visited her sanctuaries and saintly places and after leaving her walls he solaced himself with seeing many famous cities distant several days' journey from the capital along the banks of the River Nilus. Presently, bidding adieu to Egypt he arrived at the Sanctified House,[FN#310] Jerusalem and prayed in the Temple of Banu Isra'il which the Moslems had re-edified. In due time he reached Damascus and observed that the city was well builded and much peopled, and that the fields and meads were well-watered with springs and channels and that the gardens and vergiers were laden with flowers and fruits. Amid such delights Ali Khwajah hardly thought of Baghdad; withal he ceased not to pursue his journey through Aleppo, Mosul and Shiraz, tarrying some time at all of these towns, especially at Shiraz, till at length after seven years of wayfaring he came back to Baghdad.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fortieth Night.

Then said she:—It behoveth thee now, O auspicious King, to hear of the Baghdad merchant and his lack of probity. For seven long years he never once thought of Ali Khwajah or of the trust committed to his charge; till one day as his wife sat at meat with him at the evening meal, their talk by chance was of olives. Quoth she to him, "I would now fain have some that I may eat of them;" and quoth he, "As thou speakest thereof I bethink me of that Ali Khwajah who seven years ago fared on a pilgrimage to Meccah, and ere he went left in trust with me a jar of Sparrow- olives which still cumbereth the store-house. Who knoweth where he is or what hath betided him? A man who lately returned with the Hajj-caravan brought me word that Ali Khwajah had quitted Meccah the Magnified with intent to journey on to Egypt. Allah Almighty alone knoweth an he be still alive or he be now dead; however, if his olives be in good condition I will go bring some hither that we may taste them: so give me a platter and a lamp that I may fetch thee somewhat of them." His wife, an honest woman and an upright, made answer, "Allah forbid that thou shouldst do a deed so base and break thy word and covenant. Who can tell? Thou art not assured by any of his death; perchance he may come back from Egypt safe and sound tomorrow or the day after; then wilt thou, an thou cannot deliver unharmed to him what he hath left in pledge, be ashamed of this thy broken troth and we shall be disgraced before man and dishonoured in the presence of thy friend. I will not for my part have any hand in such meanness nor will I taste the olives; furthermore, it standeth not to reason that after seven years' keeping they should be fit to eat. I do implore thee to forswear this ill purpose." On such wise the merchant's wife protested and prayed her husband that he meddle not with Ali Khwajah's olives, and shamed him of his intent so that for the nonce he cast the matter from his mind. However, although the trader refrained that evening from taking Ali Khwajah's olives, yet he kept the design in memory until one day when, of his obstinacy and unfaith, he resolved to carry out his project; and rising up walked towards the store-room dish in hand. By chance he met his wife who said, "I am no partner with thee in this ill-action: in very truth some evil shall befal thee an thou do such deed." He heard her but heeded her not; and, going to the store-room opened the jar and found the olives spoiled and white with mould; but presently he tilted up the jar and pouring some of its contents into the dish, suddenly saw an Ashrafi fall from the vessel together with the fruit. Then, filled with greed, he turned out all that was within into another jar and wondered with exceeding wonder to find the lower half full of golden coins. Presently, putting up the moneys and the olives he closed the vessel and going back said to his wife, "Thou spakest sooth, for I have examined the jar and have found the fruit mouldy and foul of smell; wherefore I returned it to its place and left it as it was aforetime." That night the merchant could not sleep a wink for thinking of the gold and how he might lay hands thereon; and when morning morrowed he took out all the Ashrafis and buying some fresh olives in the Bazar filled up the jar with them and closed the mouth and set it in its usual place. Now it came to pass by Allah's mercy that at the end of the month Ali Khwajah returned safe and sound to Baghdad; and he first went to his old friend, to wit, the merchant who, greeting him with feigned joy, fell on his neck, but withal was sore troubled and perplexed at what might happen. After salutations and much rejoicing on either part Ali Khwajah bespake the merchant on business and begged that he might take back his jar of Asafiri-olives which he had placed in charge of his familiar. Quoth the merchant to Ali Khwajah, "O my friend, I wot not where thou didst leave thy jar of olives; but here is the key, go down to the store-house and take all that is thine own." So Ali Khwajah did as he was bidden and carrying the jar from the magazine took his leave and hastened home; but, when he opened the vessel and found not the gold coins, he was distracted and overwhelmed with grief and made bitter lamentation. Then he returned to the merchant and said, "O my friend, Allah, the All-present and the All-seeing, be my witness that, when I went on my pilgrimage to Meccah the Magnified, I left a thousand Ashrafis in that jar, and now I find them not. Canst thou tell me aught concerning them? An thou in thy sore need have made use of them, it mattereth not so thou wilt give them back as soon as thou art able." The merchant, apparently pitying him, said, "O good friend, thou didst thyself with thine hand set the jar inside the store-room. I wist not that thou hadst aught in it save olives; yet as thou didst leave it, so in like manner didst thou find it and carry it away; and now thou chargest me with theft of Ashrafis. It seemeth strange and passing strange that thou shouldst make such accusation. When thou wentest thou madest no mention of any money in the jar, but saidst that it was full of olives, even as thou hast found it. Hadst thou left gold coins therein, then surely thou wouldst have recovered them." Hereupon Ali Khwajah begged hard with much entreaty, saying, "Those thousand Ashrafis were all I owned, the money earned by years of toil: I do beseech thee have pity on my case and give them back to me." Replied the merchant, waxing wroth with great wrath, "O my friend, a fine fellow thou art to talk of honesty and withal make such false and lying charge. Begone: hie thee hence and come not to my house again; for now I know thee as thou art, a swindler and imposter." Hearing this dispute between Ali Khwajah and the merchant all the people of the quarter came crowding to the shop.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-first Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the multitude which thronged about the merchant's shop warmly took up the matter; and thus it became well known to all, rich and poor, within the city of Baghdad how that one Ali Khwajah had hidden a thousand Ashrafis within a jar of olives and had placed it on trust with a certain merchant; moreover how, after pilgrimaging to Meccah and seven years of travel the poor man had returned, and that the rich man had gainsaid his words anent the gold and was ready to make oath that he had not received any trust of the kind. At length, when naught else availed, Ali Khwajah was constrained to bring the matter before the Kazi, and to claim one thousand Ashrafis of his false friend. The Judge asked, "What witnesses hast thou who may speak for thee?" and the plantiff answered, "O my lord the Kazi, I feared to tell the matter to any man lest all come to know of my secret. Allah Almighty is my sole testimony. This merchant was my friend and I recked not that he would prove dishonest and unfaithful." Quoth the Judge, "Then must I needs send for the merchant and hear what he saith on oath;" and when the defendant came they made him swear by all he deemed holy, facing Ka'abah-wards with hands uplifted, and he cried, "I swear that I know naught of any Ashrafis belonging to Ali Khwajah."[FN#311] Hereat the Kazi pronounced him innocent and dismissed him from court; and Ali Khwajah went home sad at heart and said to himself, "Alas, what justice is this which hath been meted out to me, that I should lose my money, and my just cause be deemed unjust! It hath been truly said, 'He loseth the lave who sueth before a knave.' " On the next day he drew out a statement of his case; and, as the Caliph Harun al-Rashid was on his way to Friday-prayers, he fell down on the ground before him and presented to him the paper. The Commander of the Faithful read the petition and having understood the case deigned give order saying, "To-morrow bring the accuser and the accused to the audience-hall and place the petition before my presence, for I myself will enquire into this matter." That night the Prince of True Believers, as was his wont, donned disguise to walk about the squares of Baghdad and its streets and lanes and, accompanied by Ja'afar the Barmaki and Masrur the Sworder of his vengeance, proceeded to espy what happened in the city. Immediately on issuing forth he came upon an open place in the Bazar when he heard the hubbub of children a-playing and saw at scanty distance some ten or dozen boys making sport amongst themselves in the moonlight; and he stopped awhile to watch their diversion. Then one amongst the lads, a goodly and a fair-complexioned, said to the others, "Come now and let us play the game of Kazi: I will be the Judge; let one of you be Ali Khwajah, and another the merchant with whom he placed the thousand Ashrafis in pledge before faring on his pilgrimage: so come ye before me and let each one plead his plea." When the Caliph heard the name of Ali Khwajah he minded him of the petition which had been presented to him for justice against the merchant, and bethought him that he would wait and see how the boy would perform the part of Kazi in their game and upon what decision he would decide. So the Prince watched the mock-trial with keen interest saying to himself, "This case hath verily made such stir within the city that even the children know thereof and re-act it in their sports." Presently, he amongst the lads who took the part of Ali Khwajah the plaintiff and his playmate who represented the merchant of Baghdad accused of theft, advanced and stood before the boy who as the Kazi sat in pomp and dignity. Quoth the Judge, "O Ali Khwajah, what is thy claim against this merchant?" and the complainant preferred his charge in a plea of full detail. Then said the Kazi to the boy who acted merchant, "What answerest thou to this complaint and why didst thou not return the gold pieces?" The accused made reply even as the real defendant had done and denied the charge before the Judge, professing himself ready to take oath thereto. Then said the boy-Kazi, "Ere thou swear on oath that thou hast not taken the money, I would fain see for myself the jar of olives which the plaintiff deposited with thee on trust." Then turning to the boy who represented Ali Khwajah he cried, "Go thou and instantly produce the jar that I may inspect it." And when the vessel was brought the Kazi said to the two contentious, "See now and say me: be this the very jar which thou, the plaintiff, leftest with the defendant?" and both answered that it was and the same. Then said the self- constituted Judge, "Open now the jar and bring hither some of the contents that I may see the state in which the Asafiri-olives actually are." Then tasting of the fruit, "How is this? I find their flavour is fresh and their state excellent. Surely during the lapse of seven twelvemonths the olives would have become mouldy and rotten. Bring now before me two oil-merchants of the town that they may pass opinion upon them." Then two other of the boys assumed the parts commanded and coming into court stood before the Kazi, who asked, "Are ye olive-merchants by trade?" They answered, "We are and this hath been our calling for many generations and in buying and selling olives we earn our daily bread." Then said the Kazi, "Tell me now, how long do olives keep fresh and well-flavoured?" and said they, "O my lord, however carefully we keep them, after the third year they change flavour and colour and become no longer fit for food, in fact they are good only to be cast away." Thereupon quoth the boy- Kazi, "Examine me now these olives that are in this jar and say me how old are they and what is their condition and savour."—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-second Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the two boys who played the parts of oil-merchants pretended to take some berries from the jar and taste them and presently they said, "O our lord the Kazi, these olives are in fair condition and full- flavoured." Quoth the Kazi, "Ye speak falsely, for 'tis seven years since Ali Khwajah put them in the jar as he was about to go a-pilgrimaging;" and quoth they, "Say whatso thou wilt those olives are of this year's growth, and there is not an oil- merchant in all Baghdad but who will agree with us." Moreover the accused was made to taste and smell the fruits and he could not but admit that it was even so as they had avouched. Then said the boy-Kazi to the boy-defendant, " 'Tis clear thou art a rogue and a rascal, and thou hast done a deed wherefor thou richly deservest the gibbet." Hearing this the children frisked about and clapped their hands with glee and gladness, then seizing hold of him who acted as the merchant of Baghdad, they led him off as to execution. The Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid, was greatly pleased at this acuteness of the boy who had assumed the part of judge in the play, and commanded his Wazir Ja'afar saying, "Mark well the lad who enacted the Kazi in this mock-trial and see that thou produce him on the morrow: he shall try the case in my presence substantially and in real earnest, even as we have heard him deal with it in play. Summon also the Kazi of this city that he may learn the administration of justice from this child. Moreover send word to Ali Khwajah bidding him bring with him the jar of olives, and have also in readiness two oil-merchants of the town." Thus as they walked along the Caliph gave orders to the Wazir and then returned to his palace. So on the morrow Ja'afar the Barmaki went to that quarter of the town where the children had enacted the mock-trail and asked the schoolmaster where his scholars might be, and he answered, "They have all gone away, each to his home." So the minister visited the houses pointed out to him and ordered the little ones to appear in his presence. Accordingly they were brought before him, when he said to them, "Who amongst you is he that yesternight acted the part of Kazi in play and passed sentence in the case of Ali Khwajah?" The eldest of them replied, " 'Twas I, O my lord the Wazir;" and then he waxed pale, not knowing why the question was put. Cried the Minister, "Come along with me; the Commander of the Faithful hath need of thee." At this the mother of the lad was sore afraid and wept; but Ja'afar comforted her and said, "O my lady, have no fear and trouble not thyself. Thy son will soon return to thee in safety, Inshallah—God willing—and methinks the Sultan will show much favour unto him." The woman's heart was heartened on hearing these words of the Wazir and she joyfully dressed her boy in his best attire and sent him off with the Wazir, who led him by the hand to the Caliph's audience-hall and executed all the other commandments which had been issued by his liege lord. Then the Commander of the Faithful, having taken seat upon the throne of justice, set the boy upon a seat beside him, and as soon as the contending parties appeared before him, that is Ali Khwajah and the merchant of Baghdad, he commanded them to state each man his case in presence of the child who should adjudge the suit. So the two, plaintiff and defendant recounted their contention before the boy in full detail; and when the accused stoutly denied the charge and was about to swear on oath that what he said was true, with hands uplifted and facing Ka'abah-wards, the child-Kazi prevented him, saying, "Enough! swear not on oath till thou art bidden; and first let the jar of olives be produced in Court." Forthwith the jar was brought forward and placed before him; and the lad bade open it; then, tasting one he gave also to two oil-merchants who had been summoned, that they might do likewise and declare how old was the fruit and whether its savour was good or bad. They did his bidding and said, "The flavour of these olives hath not changed and they are of this year's growth." Then said the boy, "Methinks ye are mistaken, for seven years ago Ali Khwajah put the olives into the jar: how then could fruit of this year find their way therein?" But they replied, " 'Tis even as we say: an thou believe not our words send straightway for other oil-merchants and make enquiry of them, so shalt thou know if we speak sooth or lies." But when the merchant of Baghdad saw that he could no longer avail to prove his innocence, he confessed everything; to wit, how he had taken out the Ashrafis and filled the jar with fresh olives. Hearing this the boy said to the Prince of True Believers, "O gracious sovereign, last night in play we tried this cause, but thou alone has power to apply the penalty. I have adjudged the matter in thy presence and I humbly pray that thou punish this merchant according to the law of the Koran and the custom of the Apostle; and thou decree the restoring of his thousand gold pieces to Ali Khwajah, for that he hath been proved entitled to them."—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-third Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Caliph ordered the merchant of Baghdad to be taken away and be hanged, after he should have made known where he had put the thousand Ashrafis and that these should have been restored their rightful owner, Ali Khwajah. He also turned to the Kazi who had hastily adjudged the case, and bade him learn from that lad to do his duty more sedulously and conscientiously. More-over the Prince of True Believers embraced the boy, and ordered that the Wazir give him a thousand pieces of gold from the royal treasury and conduct him safely to his home and parents.[FN#312] And after, when the lad grew to man's estate, the Commander of the Faithful made him one of his cup-companions and furthered his fortunes and ever entreated him with the highmost honour. But when Queen Shahrazad had ended the story of Ali Khwajah and the merchant of Baghdad she said, "Now, O auspicious King, I would relate a more excellent history than any, shouldst thou be pleased to hear that I have to say;" and King Shahryar replied, "By Allah! what an admirable tale is this thou hast told: my ears do long to hear another as rare and commendable." So Shahrazad began forthright to recount the adventures of[FN#313]


In days of yore and times long gone before there was a Sultan of India who begat three sons; the eldest hight Prince Husayn, the second Prince Ali, and the youngest Prince Ahmad; moreover he had a niece, named Princess Nur al-Nihar,[FN#315] the daughter of his cadet brother who, dying early, left his only child under her uncle's charge. The King busied himself with abundant diligence about her instruction and took all care that she should be taught to read and write, sew and embroider, sing and deftly touch all instruments of mirth and merriment. This Princess also in beauty and loveliness and in wit and wisdom far excelled all the maidens of her own age in every land. She was brought up with the Princes her cousins in all joyance; and they ate together and played together and slept together; and the king had determined in his mind that when she reached marriageable age he would give her in wedlock to some one of the neighbouring royalties; but, when she came to years of discretion, her uncle perceived that the three Princes his sons were all three deep in love of her, and each desired in his heart to woo and to win and to wed her. Wherefore was the King sore troubled in mind and said to himself, "An I give the Lady Nur al-Nihar in wedlock to any one of her cousins, the other twain will be dissatisfied and murmur against my decision; withal my soul cannot endure to see them grieved and disappointed. And should I marry her to some stranger the three Princes my sons will be sore distressed and saddened in soul; nay, who knoweth that they may not slay themselves or go forth and betake them to some far and foreign land? The matter is a troublous and a perilous; so it behoveth me their sire to take action on such wise that if one of them espouse her, the other two be not displeased thereat." Long time the Sultan revolved the matter in his mind; and at length he devised a device; and, sending for the three princes, addressed them saying, "O my sons, ye are in my opinion of equal merit one with other; nor can I give preference to any of you and marry him to the Princess Nur al-Nihar; nor yet am I empowered to wed her with all three. But I have thought of one plan whereby she shall be wife to one of you, and yet shall not cause aught of irk or envy to his brethren; so may your mutual love and affection remain unabated, and one shall never be jealous of the other's happiness. Brief, my device is this:—Go ye and travel to distant countries, each one separating himself from the others; and do ye bring me back the thing most wondrous and marvellous of all sights ye may see upon your wayfarings; and he who shall return with the rarest of curiosities shall be husband to the Princess Nur al-Nihar. Consent ye now to this proposal; and whatso of money ye require for travel and for the purchase of objects seld-seen and singular, take ye from the royal treasury as much as ye desire." The three Princes, who were ever submissive to their sire, consented with one voice to this proposal, and each was satisfied and confident that he would bring the King the most extraordinary of gifts and thereby win the Princess to wife. So the Sultan bade give to each what moneys he wanted without stint or account, and counselled them to make ready for the journey without stay or delay and depart their home in the Peace of Allah.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-fourth Night

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the three princely brothers forthright made them ready for journey and voyage. So they donned disguise, preferring the dress of wandering merchants; and, buying such things as they needed and taking with them each his suite they mounted steeds of purest blood and rode forth in a body from the palace. For several stages they travelled the same road until, reaching a place where it branched off in three different ways, they alighted at a Khan and ate the evening meal. Then they made compact and covenant, that whereas they had thus far travelled together they should at break of day take separate roads and each wend his own way and all seek different and distant regions, agreeing to travel for the space of one year only, after which, should they be in the land of the living, all three would rendezvous at that same caravanserai and return in company to the King their sire. Furthermore, they determined that the first who came back to the Khan should await the arrival of the next, and that two of them should tarry there in expectancy of the third. Then, all this matter duly settled, they retired to rest, and when the morning morrowed they fell on one another's necks and bade farewell; and, lastly, mounting their horses, they rode forth each in his own direction. Now Prince Husayn, the eldest, had oft heard recount the wonders of the land Bishangarh[FN#316], and for a long while had wished to visit it; so he took the road which led thither, and, joining himself to a caravan journeying that way, accompanied it by land and by water and traversed many regions, desert wilds and stony wolds, dense jungles and fertile tracts, with fields and hamlets and gardens and townships. After three months spent in wayfare at length he made Bishangarh, a region over-reigned by manifold rulers, so great was its extent and so far reaching was its power. He put up at a Khan built specially for merchants who came from the farthest lands, and from the folk who dwelt therein he heard tell that the city contained a large central market[FN#317] wherein men bought and sold all manner of rarities and wondrous things. Accordingly, next day Prince Husayn repaired to the Bazar and on sighting it he stood amazed at the prospect of its length and width. It was divided into many streets, all vaulted over but lit up by skylights; and the shops on either side were substantially builded, all after one pattern and nearly of the same size, while each was fronted by an awning which kept off the glare and made a grateful shade. Within these shops were ranged and ordered various kinds of wares; there were bales of "woven air"[FN#318] and linens of finest tissue, plain-white or dyed or adorned with life-like patterns wherefrom beasts and trees and blooms stood out so distinctly that one might believe them to be very ferals, bosquets and gardens. There were moreover silken goods, brocaded stuffs, and finest satins from Persia and Egypt of endless profusion; in the China warehouses stood glass vessels of all kinds, and here and there were stores wherein tapestries and thousands of foot-carpets lay for sale. So Prince Husayn walked on from shop to shop and marvelled much to see such wondrous things whereof he had never even dreamt: and he came at length to the Goldsmiths' Lane and espied gems and jewels and golden and silvern vessels studded with diamonds and rubies, emeralds, pearls and other precious stones, all so lustrous and dazzling bright that the stores were lit up with their singular brilliancy. Hereat he said to himself, "If in one street only there be such wealth and jewels so rare, Allah Almighty and none save He knoweth what may be the riches in all this city." He was not less astonished to behold the Brahmins, how their women-kind for excess of opulence bedecked themselves with the finest gems and were ornamented with the richest gear from front to foot: their very slave-boys and handmaids wore golden necklaces and bracelets and bangles studded with precious stones. Along the length of one market street were ranged hosts of flower-sellers; for all the folk, both high and low, wore wreaths and garlands: some carried nosegays in hand, other some bound fillets round their heads, while not a few had ropes and festoons surrounding and hanging from their necks. The whole place seemed one huge parterre of bloomery; even traders set bouquets in every shop and stall, and the scented air was heavy with perfume. Strolling to and fro Prince Husayn was presently tired and would fain have sat him down somewhere to rest awhile, when one of the merchants, noting his look of weariness, with kindly courtesy prayed him be seated in his store. After saluting him with the salam the stranger sat down; and anon he saw a broker come that way, offering for sale a carpet some four yards square, and crying, "This be for sale; who giveth me its worth; to wit, thirty thousand gold pieces?"—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-fifth Night

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Prince marvelled with excessive marvel at the price, and, beckoning the dealer, examined his wares right well; then said he, "A carpet such as this is selleth for a few silverlings. What special virtue hath it that thou demand therefor the sum of thirty thousand gold coins?" The broker, believing Husayn to be a merchant man lately arrived at Bishangarh, answered him saying, "O my lord, thinkest thou I price this carpet at too high a value? My master hath bidden me not to sell it for less than forty thousand Ashrafis." Quoth the Prince, "It surely cloth possess some wondrous virtue, otherwise wouldst thou not demand so prodigious a sum;" and quoth the broker, "'Tis true, O my lord, its properties are singular and marvellous. Whoever sitteth on this carpet and willeth in thought to be taken up and set down upon other site will, in the twinkling of an eye, be borne thither, be that place nearhand or distant many a day's journey and difficult to reach."[FN#319] The Prince hearing these words said to himself, "Naught so wonder-rare as this rug can I carry back to the Sultan my sire to my gift, or any that afford him higher satisfaction and delight. Almighty Allah be praised, the aim of my wayLare is attained and hereby, Inshallah! I shall win to my wish. This, if anything, will be to him a joy for ever." Wherefore the Prince, with intent to buy the Flying Carpet, turned to the broker and said, If indeed it have properties such as thou describest, verily the price thou askest therefor is not over much, and I am ready to pay thee the sum required." The other rejoined, "An thou doubt my words I pray thee put them to the test and by such proof remove thy suspicions. Sit now upon this square of tapestry, and at thy mere wish and will it shall transport us to the caravanserai wherein thou abidest: on this wise shalt thou be certified of my words being sooth, and when assured of their truth thou mayest count out to me, there and then, but not before, the value of my wares." Accordingly, the man spread out the carpet upon the ground behind his shop and seated the Prince thereupon, he sitting by his side. Then, at the mere will[FN#320] and wish of Prince Husayn, the twain were at once transported as though borne by the throne of Solomon to the Khan. So the eldest of the brothers joyed with exceeding joy to think that he had won so rare a thing, whose like could nowhere be found in the lands nor amongst the Kings; and his heart and soul were gladdened for that he had come to Bishangarh and hit upon such a prodigy. Accordingly he counted out the forty thousand Ashrafis as payment for the carpet, and gave, moreover, another twenty thousand by way of sweetmeat to the broker. Furthermore, he ceased not saying to himself that the King on seeing it would forthright wed him to the Princess Nur al-Nihar; for it were clear impossible that either of his brothers, e'en though they searched the whole world over and over, could find a rarity to compare with this. He longed to take seat upon the carpet that very instant and fly to his own country, or, at least, to await his brothers at the caravanserai where they had parted under promise and covenant, pledged and concluded, to meet again at the year's end. But presently he bethought him that the delay would be long and longsome, and much he feared lest he be tempted to take some rash step; wherefore he resolved upon sojourning in the country whose King and subjects he had ardently desired to behold for many a day, and determined that he would pass the time in sight-seeing and in pleasuring over the lands adjoining. So Prince Husayn tarried in Bishangarh some months. Now the King of that country was wont to hold a high court once every week for hearing disputes and adjudging causes which concerned foreign merchants; and thus the Prince ofttimes saw the King, but to none would he tell a word of his adventure. However, inasmuch as he was comely of countenance, graceful of gait, and courteous of accost, stout hearted and strong, wise and ware and witty, he was held by the folk in higher honour than the Sultan; not to speak of the traders his fellows; and in due time he be came a favourite at court and learned of the ruler himself all matters concerning his kingdom and his grandeur and greatness. The Prince also visited the most famous Pagodas[FN#321] of that country. The first he saw was wrought in brass and orichalch of most exquisite workmanship: its inner cell measured three yards square and contained amiddlemost a golden image in size and stature like unto a man of wondrous beauty; and so cunning was the workmanship that the face seemed to fix its eyes, two immense rubies of enormous value, upon all beholders no matter where they stood.[FN#322] He also saw another idol-temple, not less strange and rare than this, builded in a village on a plain surface of some half acre long and broad, wherein bloomed lovely rose-trees and jasmine and herb-basil and many other sweet-scented plants, whose perfume made the air rich with fragrance. Around its court ran a wall three feet high, so that no animal might stray therein; and in the centre was a terrace well-nigh the height of a man, all made of white marble and wavy alabaster, each and every slab being dressed so deftly and joined with such nice joinery that the whole pavement albeit covering so great a space, seemed to the sight but a single stone. In the centre of the terrace stood the domed fane towering some fifty cubits high and conspicuous for many miles around: its length was thirty cubits and its breadth twenty, and the red marbles of the revetment were clean polished as a mirror, so that every image was reflected in it to the life. The dome was exquisitely carved and sumptuously ornamented without; and within were ranged in due rank and sequence rows and rows of idols. To this, the Holy of Holies, from morn till eve thousands of Brahmins, men and women, came docking for daily worship. They had sports and diversions as well as rites and ceremonies: some feasted and others danced, some sang, others played on instruments of mirth and merriment, while here and there were plays and revels and innocent merry-makings. And hither at every season flocked from distant lands hosts of pilgrims seeking to fulfil their vows and to perform their orisons; all bringing gifts of gold and silver coin and presents rare and costly which they offered to the gods in presence of the royal officers.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-sixth Night

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that Prince Husayn also saw a fete once a year within the city of Bishangarh and the Ryots all, both great and small, gathered together and circumambulated the Pagodas; chiefly circuiting one which in size and grandeur surpassed all others. Great and learned Pandits versed in the Shastras[FN#323] made journeys of four or five months and greeted one another at that festival; thither too the folk from all parts of India pilgrimaged in such crowds that Prince Husayn was astounded at the sight; and, by reason of the multitudes that thronged around the temples, he could not see the mode in which the gods were worshipped. On one side of the adjacent plain which stretched far and wide, stood a new-made scaffolding of ample size and great magnificence, nine storeys high, and the lower part supported by forty pillars; and here one day in every week the King assembled his Wazirs for the purpose of meting out justice to all strangers in the land. The palace within was richly adorned and furnished with costly furniture: without, upon the wall faces were limned homely landscapes and scenes of foreign parts and notably all manner beasts and birds and insects even gnats and flies, portrayed with such skill of brain and cunning of hand that they seemed real and alive and the country-folk and villagers seeing from afar paintings of lions and tigers and similar ravenous beasts, were filled with awe and dismay. On the other three sides of the scaffolding were pavilions, also of wood, built for use of the commons, illuminated and decorated inside and outside like the first, and wroughten so cunningly that men could turn them round, with all the people in them, and moving them about transfer them to whatsoever quarter they willed. On such wise they shifted these huge buildings by aid of machinery;[FN#324] and the folk inside could look upon a succession of sports and games. Moreover, on each side of the square elephants were ranged in ranks, the number amounting to well nigh one thousand, their trunks and ears and hinder parts being painted with cinnabar and adorned with various lively figures; their housings were of gold brocade and their howdahs purfled with silver, carrying minstrels who performed on various instruments, whilst buffoons delighted the crowd with their jokes and mimes played their most diverting parts. Of all the sports, however, which the Prince beheld, the elephant-show amused him most and Wiled him with the greatest admiration. One huge beast, which could be wheeled about where the keepers ever listed, for that his feet rested upon a post which travelled on casters, held in his trunk a flageolet whereon he played so sweetly well that all the people were fain to cry Bravo! There was another but a smaller animal which stood upon one end of a beam laid crosswise upon, and attached with hinges to, a wooden block eight cubits high, and on the further end was placed an iron weight as heavy as the elephant, who would press down for some time upon the beam until the end touched the ground, and then the weight would raise him up again.[FN#325] Thus the beam swung like a see saw aloft and adown; and, as it moved, the elephant swayed to and fro and kept time with the bands of music, loudly trumpeting the while. The people moreover could wheel about this elephant from place to place as he stood balanced on the beam; and such exhibitions of learned elephants were mostly made in presence of the King. Prince Husayn spent well nigh a year in sight-seeing amongst the fairs and festivals of Bishangarh; and, when the period of the fraternal compact drew near, he spread his carpet upon the court-ground behind the Khan wherein he lodged, and sitting thereon, together with his suite and the steeds and all he had brought with him, mentally wished that he might be transported to the caravanserai where the three brothers had agreed to meet. No sooner had he formed the thought than straightway, in the twinkling of an eye, the carpet rose high in air and sped through space and carried them to the appointed stead where, still garbed as a merchant he remained in expectation of his brothers' coming. Hearken now, O auspicious King, to what befel Prince Ali, the second brother of Prince Husayn. On the third day after he had parted from the two others, he also joined a caravan and journeyed towards Persia; then, after a march of four months arriving at Shiraz, the capital of Iran-land, he alighted at a Khan, he and his fellow-travellers with whom he had made a manner of friendship; and, passing as a jeweller, there took up his abode with them. Next day the traders fared forth to buy wares and to sell their goods; but Prince Ali, who had brought with him naught of vendible, and only the things he needed, presently doffed his travelling dress, and in company with a comrade of the caravan entered the chief Bazar, known as the Bazistan,[FN#326] or cloth-market. Ali strolled about the place, which was built of brick and where all the shops had arched roofs resting on handsome columns; and he admired greatly to behold the splendid store-houses exposing for sale all manner goods of countless value. He wondered much what wealth was in the town if a single market street contained riches such as these. And as the brokers went about crying their goods for sale, he saw one of them hending in hand an ivory tube in length about a cubit, which he was offering for sale at the price of thirty thousand Ashrafis. Hearing such demand Prince Ali thought to himself, "Assuredly this fellow is a fool who asketh such a price for so paltry a thing."—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-seventh Night

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that Prince Ali presently asked one of the shopkeepers with whom he had made acquaintance, saying, "O my friend, is this man a maniac that he asketh a sum of thirty thousand Ashrafis for this little pipe of ivory? Surely none save an idiot would give him such a price and waste upon it such a mint of money." Said the shop man, "O my lord, this broker is wiser and warier than all the others of his calling, and by means of him I have sold goods worth thousands of sequins. Until yesterday he was in his sound senses; but I cannot say what state is his to day and whether or no he have lost his wits; but this wot I well, that if he ask thirty thousand for yon ivory tube, 'twill be worth that same or even more. Howbeit we shall see with our own eyes. Sit thee here and rest within the shop until he pass this way." So Prince Ali abode where he was bidden and presently the broker was seen coming up the street. Then the shopman calling to him said, "O man, rare merit hath yon little pipe; for all the folk are astounded to hear thee ask so high a price therefor; nay more, this friend of mine thinketh that thou art crazy." The broker, a man of sense, was on no wise chafed at these words but answered with gentle speech, "O my lord, I doubt not but that thou must deem me a madman to ask so high a price, and set so great a value upon an article so mean; but when I shall have made known to thee its properties and virtues, thou wilt most readily consent to take it at that valuation. Not thou alone but all men who have heard me cry my cry laugh and name me ninny." So saying, the broker showed the Spying Tube to Prince Ali and handing it to him said, "Examine well this ivory, the properties of which I will explain to thee. Thou seest that it is furnished with a piece of glass at either end;[FN#327] and, shouldst thou apply one extremity thereof to thine eye, thou shalt see what thing soe'er thou listest and it shall appear close by thy side though parted from thee by many an hundred of miles." Replied the Prince, "This passeth all conception, nor can I believe it to be veridical until I shall have tested it and I become satisfied that 'tis even as thou sayest." Hereupon the broker placed the little tube in Prince Ali's hand, and showing him the way to handle it said, "Whatso thou mayest wish to descry will be shown to thee by looking through this ivory." Prince Ali silently wished to sight his sire, and when he placed the pipe close to his eye forthwith he saw him hale and hearty, seated on his throne and dispensing justice to the people of his dominion. Then the youth longed with great longing to look upon his lady love the Princess Nur al-Nihar; and straightway he saw her also sitting upon her bed, sound and sane, talking and laughing, whilst a host of handmaids stood around awaiting her commands. The Prince was astonished exceedingly to behold this strange and wondrous spectacle, and said to himself, "An I should wander the whole world over for ten years or more and search in its every corner and cranny, I shall never find aught so rare and precious as this tube of ivory." Then quoth he to the broker, "The virtues of thy pipe I find are indeed those thou hast described, and right willingly I give to thee its price the thirty thousand Ashrafis." Replied the sales- man, "O my lord, my master hath sworn an oath that he will not part with it for less than forty thousand gold pieces." Here-upon the Prince, understanding that the broker was a just man and a true, weighed out to him the forty thousand sequins and became master of the Spying Tube, enraptured with the thought that assuredly it would satisfy his sire and obtain for him the hand of Princess Nur al-Nihar. So with mind at ease Ali journeyed through Shiraz and over sundry parts of Persia; and in fine, when the year was well nigh spent he joined a caravan and, travelling back to India, arrived safe and sound at the appointed caravanserai whither Prince Husayn had foregone him. There the twain tarried awaiting the third brother's safe return. Such, O King Shahryar, is the story of the two brothers; and now I beseech thee incline thine ear and hearken to what befel the youngest, to wit Prince Ahmad; for indeed his adventure is yet more peregrine and seld-seen of all. When he had parted from his brothers, he took the road leading to Samarkand; and, arriving there after long travel, he also like his brothers alighted at a Khan. Next day he fared forth to see the market square, which folk call the Bazistan, and he found it fairly laid out, the shops wroughten with cunning workmanship and filled with rare stuffs and precious goods and costly merchandise. Now as he wandered to and fro he came across a broker who was hawking a Magical Apple and crying aloud, "Who will buy this fruit, the price whereof be thirty-five thousand gold pieces?" Quoth Prince Ahmad to the man, "Prithee let me see the fruit thou holdest in hand, and explain to me what hidden virtue it possesseth that thou art asking for it so high a value." Quoth the other, smiling and handing to him the apple, "Marvel not at this, O good my lord: in sooth I am certified that when I shall have explained its properties and thou shalt see how it advantageth all mankind, thou wilt not deem my demand exorbitant; nay, rather thou wilt gladly give a treasure house of gold so thou may possess it."—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-eighth Night

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the broker said moreover to Prince Ahmad, "Now hearken to me, O my lord, and I will tell thee what of virtue lieth in this artificial apple. If anyone be sick of a sickness however sore, nay more if he be ill nigh unto death, and perchance he smell this pome, he will forthwith recover and become well and whole of whatsoever disease he had, plague or pleurisy, fever or other malignant distemper, as though he never had been attacked; and his strength will return to him forthright, and after smelling this fruit he will be free from all ailment and malady so long as life shall remain to him." Quoth Prince Ahmad, "How shall I be assured that what thou speakest is truth? If the matter be even as thou sayest, then verily I will give thee right gladly the sum thou demandest." Quoth the broker, "O my lord, all men who dwell in the parts about Samarkand know full well how there once lived in this city a sage of wondrous skill who, after many years of toil and travail, wrought this apple by mixing medicines from herbs and minerals countless in number. All his good, which was great, he expended upon it, and when he had perfected it he made whole thousands of sick folk whom he directed only to smell the fruit. But, alas! his life presently came to an end and death overtook him suddenly ere he could save himself by the marvellous scent; and, as he had won no wealth and left only a bereaved wife and a large family of young children and dependents manifold, his widow had no help but provide for them a maintenance by parting with this prodigy." While the salesman was telling his tale to the Prince a crowd of citizens gathered around them and one amongst the folk, who was well known to the broker, came forward and said, "A friend of mine lieth at home sick to the death: the doctors and surgeons all despair of his life; so I beseech thee let him smell this fruit that he may live." Hearing these words, Prince Ahmad turned to the salesman and said, "O my friend, if this sick man of whom thou hearest can recover strength by smelling the apple, then will I straightway buy it of thee at a valuation of forty thousand Ashrafis." The man had permission to sell it for a sum of thirty-five thousand; so he was satisfied to receive five thousand by way of brokerage, and he rejoined, "'Tis well, O my lord, now mayest thou test the virtues of this apple and be persuaded in thy mind: hundreds of ailing folk have I made whole by means of it." Accordingly the Prince accompanied the people to the sick man's house and found him lying on his bed with the breath in his nostrils; but, as soon as the dying man smelt the fruit, at once recovering strength he rose in perfect health, sane and sound. Hereupon Ahmad bought the Magical Apple of the dealer and counted out to him the forty thousand Ashrafis. Presently, having gained the object of his travels, he resolved to join some caravan marching Indiawards and return to his father's home; but meanwhile he resolved to solace himself with the sights and marvels of Samarkand. His especial joy was to gaze upon the glorious plain highs Soghd,[FN#328] one of the wonders of this world: the land on all sides was a delight to the sight, emerald-green and bright, with crystal rills like the plains of Paradise; the gardens bore all manner flowers and fruits and the cities and palaces gladdened the stranger's gaze. After some days Prince Ahmad joined a caravan of merchants wending Indiawards; and, when his long and longsome travel was ended, he at last reached the caravanserai where his two brothers, Husayn and Ali, impatiently awaited his arrival. The three rejoiced with exceeding joy to meet once more and fell on one another's necks; thanking Allah who had brought them back safe and sound, hale and hearty, after such prolonged and longsome absence. Then Prince Husayn, being the eldest, turned to them and said, "Now it behoveth us each to recount what hath betided him and announce what rare thing he hath brought back and what be the virtues thereof; and I, being the first-born, will be the foremost to tell my adventures. I bring with me from Bishangarh, a carpet, mean to look at, but such are its properties that should any sit thereon and wish in mind to visit country or city, he will at once be carried thither in ease and safety although it be distant months, nay years of journey. I have paid forty thousand gold pieces to its price; and, after seeing all the wonders of Bishangarh-land, I took seat upon my purchase and willed myself at this spot. Straightway I found myself here as I wished and have tarried in this caravanserai three months awaiting your arrival. The flying carpet is with me; so let him who listeth make trial of it." When the senior Prince had made an end of telling his tale, Prince Ali spake next and said, "O my brother, this carpet which thou hast brought is marvel-rare and hath most wondrous gifts; nor according to thy statement hath any in all the world seen aught to compare with it." Then bringing forth the Spying Tube, he pursued, "Look ye here, I too have bought for forty thousand Ashrafis somewhat whose merits I will now show forth to you."—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Forty-ninth Night

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that Prince Ali enlarged upon the virtues of his purchase and said, "Ye see this ivory pipe? By means of it man may descry objects hidden from his sight and distant from him many a mile. 'Tis truly a most wondrous matter and right worthy your inspection, and you two may try it an ye will. Place but an eye close to the smaller glass and form a wish in mind to see what thing soe'er your soul desireth; and, whether it be near hand or distant many hundreds of miles, this ivory will make the object look clear and close to you." At these words Prince Husayn took the pipe from Prince Ali and, applying his eye to one end as he had been directed, then wished in his heart to behold the Princess Nur al-Nihar;[FN#329] and the two brothers watched him to learn what he would say. Suddenly they saw his face change colour and wither as a wilted flower, while in his agitation and distress a flood of tears gushed from his eyes; and, ere his brothers recovered from their amazement and could enquire the cause of such strangeness, he cried aloud, "Alas! and well away. We have endured toil and travail, and we have travelled so far and wide hoping to wed the Princess Nur al-Nihar. But 'tis all in vain: I saw her lying on her bed death-sick and like to breathe her last and around her stood her women all weeping and wailing in the sorest of sorrow. O my brothers, an ye would see her once again for the last time, take ye one final look through the glass ere she be no more." Hereat Prince Ali seized the Spying Tube and peered through it and found the condition of the Princess even as his brother Husayn had described; so he presently passed it over to Prince Ahmad, who also looked and was certified that the Lady Nur al-Nihar was about to give up the ghost. So he said to his elder brothers, "We three are alike love distraught for the Princess and the dearest wish of each one is to win her. Her life is on the ebb, still I can save her and make her whole if we hasten to her without stay or delay." So saying he pulled from his pocket the Magical Apple and showed it to them crying, "This thing is not less in value than either the Flying Carpet or the Spying Tube. In Samarkand I bought it for forty thousand gold pieces and here is the best opportunity to try its virtues. The folk told me that if a sick man hold it to his nose, although on the point of death, he will wax at once well and hale again: I have myself tested it, and now ye shall see for yourselves its marvel-cure when I shall apply it to the case of Nur al-Nihar. Only, let us seek her presence ere she die." Quoth Prince Husayn, "This were an easy matter: my carpet shall carry us in the twinkling of an eye straight to the bedside of our beloved. Do ye without hesitation sit down with me thereupon, for there is room sufficient to accommodate us three; we shall instantly be carried thither and our servants can follow us." Accordingly, the three Princes disposed themselves upon the Flying Carpet and each willed in his mind to reach the bedside of Nur al-Nihar, when instantly they found themselves within her apartment. The handmaids and eunuchs in waiting were terrified at the sight and marvelled how these stranger men could have entered the chamber; and, as the Castratos were fain fall upon them, brand in hand, they recognised the Princes and drew back still in wonderment at their intrusion. Then the brothers rose forthright from the Flying Carpet and Prince Ahmad came forwards and put the Magical Apple to the nostrils of the lady, who lay stretched on the couch in unconscious state; and as the scent reached her brain the sickness left her and the cure was complete. She opened wide her eyes and sitting erect upon her bed looked all around and chiefly at the Princes as they stood before her; for she felt that she had waxed hale and hearty as though she awoke after the sweetest of slumber. Presently she arose from her couch and bade her tire-women dress her the while they related to her the sudden coming of the three Princes, her uncle's sons, and how Prince Ahmad had made her smell something whereby she had recovered of her illness. And after she had made the Ablution of Health she joyed with exceeding joy to see the Princes and returned thanks to them, but chiefly to Prince Ahmad in that he had restored her to health and life.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fiftieth Night.

Then she said:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the brothers also were gladdened with exceeding gladness to see the Princess Nur al-Nihar recover so suddenly from mortal malady and, presently taking leave of her, they fared to greet their father. Meanwhile the Eunuchs had reported the whole matter to the Sultan, and when the Princes came before him he rose and embraced them tenderly and kissed them on their foreheads, filled with satisfaction to see them again and to hear from them the welfare of the Princess, who was dear to him as she had been his daughter. Then the three brothers produced each one the wondrous thing he had brought from his wayfare; and Prince Husayn first showed the Flying Carpet which in the twinkling of an eye had transported them home from far distant exile and said, "For outward show this carpet hath no merit, but inasmuch as it possesseth such wondrous virtue, methinks 'tis impossible to find in all the world aught that can compare to it for rarity." Next, Prince Ali presented to the King his Spying Tube and said, "The mirror of Jamshid[FN#330] is as vain and naught beside this pipe, by means whereof all things from East to West and from North to South are made clearly visible to the ken of man." Last of all, Prince Ahmad produced the Magical Apple which wondrously saved the dear life of Nur al-Nihar and said, "By means of this fruit all maladies and grievous distempers are at once made whole." Thus each presented his rarity to the Sultan, saying, "O our lord, deign examine well these gifts we have brought and do thou pronounce which of them all is most excellent and admirable; so, according to thy promise, he amongst us on whom thy choice may fall shall marry the Princess Nur al-Nihar." When the King had patiently listened to their several claims and had understood how each gift took part in restoring health to his niece, for a while he dove deep in the sea of thought and then answered, "Should I award the palm of merit to Prince Ahmad, whose Magical Apple cured the Princess, then should I deal unfairly by the other two. Albeit his rarity restored her to life and health from mortal illness, yet say me how had he known of her condition save by the virtue of Prince Ali's Spying Tube? In like manner, but for the Flying Carpet of Prince Husayn, which brought you three hither in a moment's space, the Magical Apple would have been of no avail. Wherefore 'tis my rede all three had like part and can claim equal merit in healing her; for it were impossible to have made her whole if any one thing of the three were wanting; furthermore all three objects are wondrous and marvellous without one surpassing other, nor can I, with aught of reason, assign preference or precedence to any. My promise was to marry the Lady Nur al-Nihar to him who should produce the rarest of rarities, but although strange 'tis not less true that all are alike in the one essential condition. The difficulty still remaineth and the question is yet unsolved, whilst I fain would have the matter settled ere the close of day, and without prejudice to any. So needs must I fix upon some plan whereby I may be able to adjudge one of you to be the winner, and bestow upon him the hand of Princess Nur al-Nihar, according to my plighted word; and thus absolve myself from all responsibility. Now I have resolved upon this course of action; to wit, that ye should mount each one his own steed and all of you be provided with bow and arrows; then do ye ride forth to the Maydan—the hippodrome—whither I and my Ministers of State and Grandees of the kingdom and Lords of the land will follow you. There in my presence ye shall each, turn by turn, shoot a shaft with all your might and main; and he amongst you whose arrow shall fly the farthest will be adjudged by me worthiest to win the Princess Nur al-Nihar to wife." Accordingly the three Princes, who could not gainsay the decision of their sire nor question its wisdom and justice, backed their coursers, and each taking his bow and arrows made straight for the place appointed. The King also, when he had stored the presents in the royal treasury, arrived there with his Wazirs and the dignitaries of his realm; and as soon as all was ready, the eldest son and heir, Prince Husayn, essayed his strength and skill and shot a shaft far along the level plain. After him Prince Ali hent his bow in hand and, discharging an arrow in like direction, overshot the first; and lastly came Prince Ahmad's turn. He too aimed at the same end, but such was the decree of Destiny, that although the knights and courtiers urged on their horses to note where his shaft might strike ground, withal they saw no trace thereof and none of them knew if it had sunk into the bowels of earth or had flown up to the confines of the sky. Some, indeed, there were who with evil mind held that Prince Ahmad had not shot any bolt, and that his arrow had never left his bow. So at last the King bade no more search be made for it and declared himself in favour of Prince Ali and adjudged that he should wed the Princess Nur al-Nihar, forasmuch as his arrow had outsped that of Prince Husayn. Accordingly, in due course the marriage rites and ceremonies were performed after the law and ritual of the land with exceeding pomp and grandeur. But Prince Husayn would not be present at the bride-feast by reason of his dis appointment and jealousy, for he had loved the Lady Nur al-Nihar with a love far exceeding that of either of his brothers; and he doffed his princely dress and donning the garb of a Fakir fared forth to live a hermit's life. Prince Ahmad also burned with envy and refused to join the wedding-feast; he did not, however, like Prince Husayn, retire to a hermitage, but he spent all his days in searching for his shaft to find where it had fallen. Now it so fortuned that one morning he went again, alone as was his wont, in quest thereof, and starting from the stead whence they had shot their shafts reached the place where the arrows of Princes Husayn and Ali had been found. Then going straight forwards he cast his glances on every side over hill and dale to his right and to his left.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-first Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that Prince Ahmad went searching for his shaft over hill and dale when, after covering some three parasangs, suddenly he espied it lying flat upon a rock.[FN#331] Hereat he marvelled greatly, wondering how the arrow had flown so far, but even more so when he went up to it and saw that it had not stuck in the ground but appeared to have rebounded and to have fallen flat upon a slab of stone. Quoth he to himself, "There must assuredly be some mystery in this matter: else how could anyone shoot a shaft to such a distance and find it fallen after so strange a fashion." Then, threading his way amongst the pointed crags and huge boulders, he presently came to a hollow in the ground which ended in a subterraneous passage, and after pacing a few paces he espied an iron door. He pushed this open with all ease, for that it had no bolt, and entering, arrow in hand, he came upon an easy slope by which he descended. But whereas he feared to find all pitch-dark, he discovered at some distance a spacious square, a widening of the cave, which was lighted on every side with lamps and candelabra. Then advancing some fifty cubits or more his glance fell upon a vast and handsome palace, and presently there issued from within to the portico a lovely maiden lovesome and lovable, a fairy-form robed in princely robes and adorned from front to foot with the costliest of jewels. She walked with slow and stately gait, withal graceful and blandishing, whilst around her ranged her attendants like the stars about a moon of the fourteenth night. Seeing this vision of beauty, Prince Ahmad hastened to salute her with the salam and she returned it; then coming forwards greeted him graciously and said in sweetest accents, "Well come and welcome, O Prince Ahmad: I am pleased to have sight of thee. How fareth it with thy Highness and why hast thou tarried so long away from me?" The King's son marvelled greatly to hear her name him by his name; for that he knew not who she was, as they had never seen each other aforetime—how then came she to have learnt his title and condition? Then kissing ground before her he said, "O my lady, I owe thee much of thanks and gratitude for that thou art pleased to welcome me with words of cheer in this strange place where I, alone and a stranger, durst enter with exceeding hesitation and trepidation. But it perplexeth me sorely to think how thou camest to learn the name of thy slave." Quoth she with a smile, "O my lord, come hither and let us sit at ease within yon belvedere; and there I will give an answer to thine asking." So they went thither, Prince Ahmad following her footsteps; and on reaching it he was filled with wonder to see its vaulted roof of exquisite workmanship and adorned with gold and lapis lazuli[FN#332] and paintings and ornaments, whose like was nowhere to be found in the world. The lady seeing his astonishment said to the Prince, "This mansion is nothing beside all my others which now, of my free will, I have made thine own; and when thou seest them thou shalt have just cause for wonderment. Then that sylph-like being took seat upon a raised dais and with abundant show of affection seated Prince Ahmad by her side. Presently quoth she, "Albeit thou know me not, I know thee well, as thou shalt see with surprise when I shall tell thee all my tale. But first it behoveth me disclose to thee who I am. In Holy Writ belike thou hast read that this world is the dwelling-place not only of men, but also of a race hight the Jann in form likest to mortals. I am the only daughter of a Jinn chief of noblest strain and my name is Peri-Banu. So marvel not to hear me tell thee who thou art and who is the King thy sire and who is Nur al-Nihar, the daughter of thine uncle. I have full knowledge of all concerning thyself and thy kith and kin; how thou art one of three brothers who all and each were daft for love of Princess Nur al-Nihar and strave to win her from one another to wife. Furthermore thy sire deemed it best to send you all far and wide over foreign lands, and thou faredest to far Samarkand and broughtest back a Magical Apple made with rare art and mystery which thou boughtest for forty thousand Ashrafis; then by means whereof thou madest the Princess thy lady-love whole of a grievous malady, whilst Prince Husayn, thine elder brother, bought for the same sum of money a Flying Carpet at Bishangarh, and Prince Ali also brought home a Spying Tube from Shiraz-city. Let this suffice to show thee that naught is hidden from me of all thy case; and now do thou tell me in very truth whom dost thou admire the more, for beauty and loveliness, me or the lady Nur al-Nihar thy brother's wife? My heart longeth for thee with excessive longing and desireth that we may be married and enjoy the pleasures of life and the joyance of love. So say me, art thou also willing to wed me, or pinest thou in preference for the daughter of thine uncle? In the fulness of my affection for thee I stood by thy side unseen during the archery meeting upon the plain of trial, and when thou shottest thy shaft I knew that it would fall far short of Prince Ali's,[FN#333] so I hent it in hand ere it touched ground and carried it away from sight, and striking it upon the iron door caused it rebound and lie flat upon the rock where thou didst find it. And ever since that day I have been sitting in expectancy, wotting well that thou wouldst search for it until thou find it, and by such means I was certified of bringing thee hither to me." Thus spake the beautiful maiden Peri-Banu who with eyes full of love-longing looked up at Prince Ahmad; and then with modest shame bent low her brow and averted her glance.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-Second Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that when Prince Ahmad heard these words of Peri-Banu he rejoiced with joy exceeding, and said to himself, "The Princess Nur al-Nihar is not within my power to win, and Peri-Banu doth outvie her in comeliness of favour and in loveliness of form and in gracefulness of gait." In short so charmed was he and captivated that he clean forgot his love for his cousin; and, noting that the heart of his new enchantress inclined towards him, he replied, "O my lady, O fairest of the fair, naught else do I desire save that I may serve thee and do thy bidding all my life long. But I am of human and thou of non-human birth. Thy friends and family, kith and kin, will haply be displeased with thee an thou unite with me in such union." But she made answer, "I have full sanction of my parents to marry as I list and whomsoever I may prefer. Thou sayest that thou wilt be my servant, nay, rather be thou my lord and master; for I myself and my life and all my good are very thine, and I shall ever be thy bondswoman. Consent now, I beseech thee, to accept me for thy wife: my heart doth tell me thou wilt not refuse my request." Then Peri-Banu added, "I have told thee already that in this matter I act with fullest authority. Besides all this there is a custom and immemorial usage with us fairy-folk that, when we maidens come to marriageable age and years of understanding, each one may wed, according the dictates of her heart, the person that pleaseth her most and whom she judgeth likely to make her days happy Thus wife and husband live with each other all their lives in harmony and happiness. But if a girl be given away in marriage by the parents, according to their choice and not hers, and she be mated to a helpmate unmeet for her, because ill-shapen or ill- conditioned or unfit to win her affection, then are they twain likely to be at variance each with other for the rest of their days; and endless troubles result to them from such ill-sorted union. Nor are we bound by another law which bindeth modest virgins of the race of Adam; for we freely announce our preference to those we love, nor must we wait and pine to be wooed and won." When Prince Ahmad heard these words of answer, he rejoiced with exceeding joy and stooping down essayed to kiss the skirt of her garment, but she prevented him, and in lieu of her hem gave him her hand. The Prince clasped it with rapture and according to the custom of that place, he kissed it and placed it to his breast and upon his eyes. Hereat quoth the Fairy, smiling a charming smile, "With my hand locked in thine plight me thy troth even as I pledge my faith to thee, that I will alway true and loyal be, nor ever prove faithless or fail of constancy." And quoth the Prince, "O loveliest of beings, O dearling of my soul, thinkest thou that I can ever become a traitor to my own heart, I who love thee to distraction and dedicate to thee my body and my sprite; to thee who art my queen, the very empress of me? Freely I give myself to thee, do thou with me whatso thou wilt." Hereupon Peri-Banu said to Prince Ahmad, "Thou art my husband and I am thy wife.[FN#334] This solemn promise made between thee and me standeth in stead of marriage-contract: no need have we of Kazi, for with us all other forms and ceremonies are superfluous and of no avail. Anon I will show thee the chamber where we shall pass the bride-night; and methinks thou wilt admire it and confess that there is none like thereto in the whole world of men." Presently her handmaidens spread the table and served up dishes of various kinds, and the finest wines in flagons and goblets of gold dubbed with jewels. So they twain sat at meat and ate and drank their sufficiency. Then Peri-Banu took Prince Ahmad by the hand and led him to her private chamber wherein she slept; and he stood upon the threshold amazed to see its magnificence and the heaps of gems and precious stones which dazed his sight, till recovering himself he cried, "Methinks there is not in the universe a room so splendid and decked with costly furniture and gemmed articles such as this." Quoth Peri-Banu, "An thou so admire and praise this palace what wilt thou say when sighting the mansions and castles of my sire the Jann-King? Haply too when thou shalt behold my garden thou wilt be filled with wonder and delight; but now 'tis over late to lead thee thither and night approacheth." Then she ushered Prince Ahmad into another room where the supper had been spread, and the splendour of this saloon yielded in naught to any of the others; nay, rather it was the more gorgeous and dazzling. Hundreds of wax candles set in candelabra of the finest amber[FN#335] and the purest crystal, ranged on all sides, rained floods of light, whilst golden flowerpots and vessels of finest workmanship and priceless worth, of lovely shapes and wondrous art, adorned the niches and the walls.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-third Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that tongue of man can never describe the magnificence of that room in which bands of virgin Peris, loveliest of forms and fairest of features, garbed in choicest garments played on sweet-toned instruments of mirth and merriment or sang lays of amorous significance to strains of heart bewitching music. Then they twain, to wit the bride and bridegroom, sat down at meat, ever and anon delaying to indulge in toyings and bashful love-play and chaste caresses. Peri-Banu with her own hands passed the choicest mouthfuls to Prince Ahmad and made him taste of each dish and dainty, telling him their names and whereof they were composed. But how shall I, O auspicious King Shahryar, avail to give thee any notion of those Jinn-made dishes or to describe with due meed of praise the delicious flavour of meats such as no mortal ever tasted or ever beheld? Then, when both had supped, they drank the choicest wines, and ate with relish sweet conserves and dry fruit and a dessert of various delicacies. At length, when they had their requirement of eating and drinking, they retired into another room which contained a raised dais of the grandest, bedecked with gold-purfled cushions and pillows wrought with seed-pearl and Achaemenian tapestries, whereupon they took seat side by side for converse and solace. Then came in a troop of Jinns and fairies who danced and sang before them with wondrous grace and art; and this pretty show pleased Peri-Banu and Prince Ahmad, who watched the sports and displays with ever-renewed delight. At last the newly wedded couple rose and retired, weary of revelry, to another chamber, wherein they found that the slaves had dispread the genial bed, whose frame was gold studded with jewels and whose furniture was of satin and sendal flowered with the rarest embroidery. Here the guests who attended at the marriage festival and the handmaids of the palace, ranged in two lines, hailed the bride and bridegroom as they went within; and then, craving dismissal, they all departed leaving them to take their joyance in bed. On such wise the marriage-festival and nuptial merry-makings were kept up day after day, with new dishes and novel sports, novel dances and new music; and, had Prince Ahmad lived a thousand years with mortal kind, never could he have seen such revels or heard such strains or enjoyed such love-liesse. Thus six months soon passed in the Fairy-land beside Peri-Banu, whom he loved with a love so fond that he would not lose her from his sight for a moment's space; but would feel restless and ill-at-ease whenas he ceased to look upon her. In like manner Peri-Banu was fulfilled with affection for him and strove to please her bridegroom more and more every moment by new arts of dalliance and fresh appliances of pleasure, until so absorbing waxed his passion for her that the thought of home and kindred, kith and kin, faded from his thoughts and fled his mind. But after a time his memory awoke from slumber and at times he found himself longing to look upon his father, albeit well did he wot that it were impossible to find out how the far one fared unless he went himself to visit him. So one day quoth he to Peri-Banu, "An it be thy pleasure, I pray thee give me thy command that I may leave thee for a few days to see my sire, who doubtless grieveth at my long absence and suffereth all the sorrows of separation from his son." Peri-Banu, hearing these words was dismayed with sore dismay, for that she thought within herself that this was only an excuse whereby he might escape and leave her after enjoyment and possession had made her love pall upon the palate of his mind. So quoth she in reply, "Hast thou forgotten thy vows and thy plighted troth, that thou wishest to leave me now? Have love and longing ceased to stir thee, whilst my heart always throbbeth in raptures as it hath ever done at the very thought of thee?" Replied the Prince, "O dearling of my soul, my queen, my empress, what be these doubts that haunt thy mind, and why such sad misgivings and sorrowful words? I know full well that the love of thee and thine affection me-wards are even as thou sayest; and did I not acknowledge this truth or did I prove unthankful or fail to regard thee with a passion as warm and deep, as tender and as true as thine own, I were indeed an ingrate and a traitor of the darkest dye. Far be it from me to desire severance from thee nor hath any thought of leaving thee never to return at any time crossed my mind. But my father is now an old man well shotten in years and he is sore grieved in mind at this long separation from his youngest son. If thou wilt deign command, I would fain go visit him and with all haste return to thine arms; yet I would not do aught in this matter against thy will; and such is my fond affection for thee that I would fain be at all hours of the day and watches of the night by thy side nor leave thee for a moment of time." Peri-Banu was somewhat comforted by this speech; and from his looks, words and acts she was certified that Prince Ahmad really loved her with fondest love and that his heart was true as steel to her as was his tongue. Whereupon she granted him leave and liberty to set forth and see his sire, whilst at the same time she gave him strict commandment not to tarry long with his kith and kin. Hearken now, O auspicious King Shahryar, to what befel the Sultan of Hindostan and how it fared with him after the marriage of Prince Ali to Princess Nur al-Nihar.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-fourth Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that not seeing Prince Husayn and Prince Ahmad for the space of many days the Sultan waxed exceeding sad and heavy-hearted, and one morning after Darbar,[FN#336] asked his Wazirs and Ministers what had betided them and where they were. Hereto the councillors made answer saying, "O our lord, and shadow of Allah upon earth, thine eldest son and fruit of thy vitals and heir apparent to thine Empire the Prince Husayn, in his disappointment and jealousy and bitter grief hath doffed his royal robes to become a hermit, a devotee, renouncing all worldly lusts and gusts. Prince Ahmad thy third son also in high dudgeon hath left the city; and of him none knoweth aught, whither he hath fled or what hath befallen him." The King was sore distressed and bade them write without stay or delay and forthright despatch firmans and commands to all the Nabobs and Governors of the provinces, with strict injunctions to make straight search for Prince Ahmad and to send him to his sire the moment he was found. But, albeit the commandments were carried out to the letter and all the seekers used the greatest diligence none came upon any trace of him. Then, with increased sadness of heart, the Sultan ordered his Grand Wazir to go in quest of the fugitive and the Minister replied, "Upon my head be it and mine eyes! Thy servant hath already caused most careful research to be made in every quarter, but not the smallest clue hath yet come to hand: and this matter troubleth me the more for that he was dear to me as a son." The Ministers and Grandees now understood that the King was overwhelmed with woe, tearful-eyed and heavy-hearted by reason of the loss of Prince Ahmad; whereupon bethought the Grand Wazir of a certain witch famed for the Black Art who could conjure down the stars from heaven; and who was a noted dweller in the capital. So going to the Sultan he spake highly of her skill in knowledge of the abstruse,[FN#337] saying "Let the King, I pray thee, send for this sorceress and enquire of her concerning his lost son." And the King replied, "'Tis well said: let her be brought hither and haply she shall give me tidings of the Prince and how he fareth." So they fetched the Sorceress and set her before the Sultan, who said, "O my good woman, I would have thee know that ever since the marriage of Prince Ali with the Lady Nur al-Nihar, my youngest son Prince Ahmad,[FN#338] who was disappointed in her love, hath disappeared from our sight and no man knoweth aught of him. Do thou forthright apply thy magical craft and tell me only this:—Is he yet alive or is he dead? An he live I would learn where is he and how fareth he; moreover, I would ask, Is it written in my book of Destiny that I shall see him yet again?" To this the Witch made reply, "O Lord of the Age and ruler of the times and tide, 'tis not possible for me at once to answer all these questions which belong to the knowledge of Hidden Things; but, if thy Highness deign grant me one day of grace, I will consult my books of gramarye and on the morrow will give thee a sufficient reply and a satisfactory." The Sultan to this assented, saying, "An thou can give me detailed and adequate answer, and set my mind at ease after this sorrow, thou shalt have an exceeding great reward and I will honour thee with highmost honour." Next day the Sorceress, accompanied by the Grand Wazir, craved permission to appear before the presence, and when it was granted came forward and said, "I have made ample investigation by my art and mystery and I have assured myself that Prince Ahmad is yet in the land of the living. Be not therefore uneasy in thy mind on his account; but at present, save this only, naught else can I discover regarding him, nor can I say for sure where he be or how he is to be found." At these words the Sultan took comfort, and hope sprang up within his breast that he should see his son again ere he died. Now return we to the story of Prince Ahmad. Whenas Peri-Banu understood that he was bent upon visiting his sire and she was convinced that his love her-wards remained firm and steadfast as before, she took thought and determined that it would ill become her to refuse him leave and liberty for such purpose; so she again pondered the matter in her mind and debated with herself for many an hour till at length, one day of the days, she turned to her husband and said, "Albeit my heart consenteth not to part from thee for a moment or to lose sight of thee for a single instant, still inasmuch as thou hast ofttimes made entreaty of me and hast shown thyself so solicitous to see thy sire, I will no longer baffle thy wish. But this my favour will depend upon one condition; otherwise I will never grant thy petition and give thee such permission. Swear to me the most binding of oaths that thou wilt haste thee back hither with all possible speed, and thou wilt not by long absence cause me yearning grief and anxious waiting for thy safe return to me." Prince Ahmad, well pleased to win his wish, thanked her saying, "O my beloved, fear not for me after any fashion and rest assured I will come back to thee with all haste as soon as I shall have seen my sire; and life hath no charms for me away from thy presence. Although I must needs be severed from thee for a few days, yet will my heart ever turn to thee and to thee only." These words of Prince Ahmad gladdened the heart of Peri-Banu and drove away the darksome doubts and mysterious misgivings which ever haunted her nightly dreams and her daily musings.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Fifty-fifth Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that Peri-Banu gladdened by these premises addressed her husband, Prince Ahmad, "So now, as soon as thy heart desireth, go thou and pay thy respects to thy sire; but ere thou set out I would charge thee with one charge and look that on no wise thou forget my rede and my counsel. Speak not to any a single word of this thy marriage nor of the strange sights thou hast seen and the wonders thou hast witnessed; but keep them carefully concealed from thy father and thy brethren and from thy kith and kin, one and all. This only shalt thou tell thy sire, so his mind may be set at ease that thou art buxom and happy; also that thou hast returned home for a while only with the object of seeing him and becoming assured of his welfare." Then she gave orders to her people bidding them make ready for the journey without delay; and when all things were prepared she appointed twenty horsemen, armed cap-a-pie and fully accoutred, to accompany her husband, and gave him a horse of perfect form and proportions, swift as the blinding leven or the rushing wind; and its housings and furniture were bedeckt with precious ores and studded with jewels. Then she fell on his neck and they embraced with warmest love; and as the twain bade adieu, Prince Ahmad, to set her mind at rest, renewed his protestations and sware to her again his solemn oath. Then mounting his horse and followed by his suite (all Jinn-born cavaliers) he set forth with mighty pomp and circumstance, and riding diligently he soon reached his father's capital. Here he was received with loud acclamations, the like of which had never been known in the land. The Ministers and Officers of State, the citizens and the Ryots all rejoiced with exceeding joy to see him once more, and the folk left their work and with blessings and low obeisances joined the cavalcade; and, crowding around him on every side, escorted him to the palace gates. When the Prince reached the threshold he dismounted and, entering the audience-hall, fell at his father's feet and kissed them in a transport of filial affection. The Sultan, well nigh distraught for delight at the unexpected sight of Prince Ahmad, rose from his throne and threw himself upon his son's neck weeping for very joy and kissed his forehead saying, "O dear my child, in despair at the loss of the Lady Nur al-Nihar thou didst suddenly fly from thy home, and, despite all research, nor trace nor sign of thee was to be found however sedulously we sought thee; and I, distracted at thy disappearance, am reduced to this condition in which thou seest me. Where hast thou been this long while, and how hast thou lived all this time?" Replied Prince Ahmad, "'Tis true, O my lord the King, that I was downhearted and distressed to see Prince Ali gain the hand of my cousin, but that is not the whole cause of my absence. Thou mayest remember how, when we three brothers rode at thy command to yonder plain for a trial of archery, my shaft, albeit the place was large and flat, disappeared from sight and none could find where it had fallen. Now so it fortuned that one day in sore heaviness of mind I fared forth alone and unaccompanied to examine the ground thereabout and try if haply I could find my arrow. But when I reached the spot where the shafts of my brothers, Princes Husayn and Ali, had been picked up, I made search in all directions, right and left, before and behind, thinking that thereabouts mine also might come to hand; but all my trouble was in vain: I found neither shaft nor aught else. So walking onwards in obstinate research, I went a long way, and at last despairing, I would have given up the quest, for full well I knew that my bow could not have carried so far, and indeed that 'twere impossible for any marksman to have driven bolt or pile to such distance, when suddenly I espied it lying flat upon a rock some four parasangs[FN#339] distant from this place." The Sultan marvelled with much marvel at his words and the Prince presently resumed, "So when I picked up the arrow, O my lord, and considered it closely I knew it for the very one I had shot, but admired in my mind how it had come to fly so far, and I doubted not but that there was a somewhat mysterious about the matter. While I thus reflected I came upon the place where I have sojourned ever since that day in perfect solace and happiness. I may not tell thee more of my tale than this; for I came only to ease thy mind on my account, and now I pray thee deign grant me thy supreme permission that I return forthright to my home of delights. From time to time I will not cease to wait upon thee and to enquire of thy welfare with all the affection of a son." Replied the King, "O my child, the sight of thee hath gladdened mine eyes; and I am now satisfied; and not unwillingly I give thee leave to go, since thou art happy in some place so near hand; but shouldst thou at any time delay thy coming hither, say me, how shall I be able to get tidings of thy good health and welfare?" And quoth Prince Ahmad, "O my lord the King, that which thou requirest of me is part of my secret and this must remain deep hidden in my breast: as I said before, I may not discover it to thee nor say aught that might lead to its discovery. However, be not uneasy in thy soul, for I will appear before thee full many a time and haply I may irk thee with continual coming." "O my son," rejoined the Sultan, "I would not learn thy secret an thou would keep it from me, but there is one only thing I desire of thee, which is, that ever and anon I may be assured of thine enduring health and happiness. Thou hast my full permission to hie thee home, but forget not at least once a month to come and see me even as now thou dost, lest such forgetfulness cause me anxiety and trouble, cark and care." So Prince Ahmad tarried with his father three days full-told, but never for a moment did the memory of the Lady Peri-Banu fade from his mind; and on the fourth day he mounted horse and returned with the same pomp and pageantry wherewith he came.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

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