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

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that Peri-Banu joyed with exceeding joy at the sight of Prince Ahmad as he returned to his home; and it seemed to her as though they had been parted for three hundred years: such is love that moments of separation are longsome and weary as twelvemonths. The Prince offered much of excuses for his short absence and his words delighted Peri-Banu yet the more. So these twain, lover and beloved, passed the time in perfect happiness, taking their pleasure one with other. Thus a month went by and Prince Ahmad never once mentioned the name of his sire nor expressed a wish to go visit him according to his promise. Noting this change, the Lady Peri-Banu said to him one day, "Thou toldest me aforetime that once in the beginning of each month thou wouldst fare forth and travel to thy father's court and learn news of his welfare: why then neglectest thou so to do, seeing that he will be distressed and anxiously expecting thee?" Replied Prince Ahmad, "'Tis even as thou sayest, but, awaiting thy command and thy permission, I have forborne to propose the journey to thee." And she made answer, "Let thy faring and thy returning rest not on my giving thee liberty of leave. At the beginning of each month as it cometh round, do thou ride forth, and from this time forwards thou hast no need to ask permission of me. Stay with thy sire three days full-told and on the fourth come back to me without fail." Accordingly, on the next day betimes in the morning Prince Ahmad took his departure and as aforetime rode forth with abundant pomp and parade and repaired to the palace of the Sultan his sire, to whom he made his obeisance. On like manner continued he to do each month with a suite of horsemen larger and more brilliant than before, whilst he himself was more splendidly mounted and equipped. And whenever the Crescent appeared in the Western sky he fondly farewelled his wife and paid his visit to the King, with whom he tarried three whole days, and on the fourth returned to dwell with Peri-Banu. But, as each and every time he went, his equipage was greater and grander than the last, at length one of the Wazirs, a favourite and cup-companion of the King, was filled with wonderment and jealousy to see Prince Ahmad appear at the palace with such opulence and magnificence. So he said in himself, "None can tell whence cometh this Prince, and by what means he hath obtained so splendid a suite." Then of his envy and malice that Wazir fell to plying the King with deceitful words and said, "O my liege lord and mighty sovran, it ill becometh thee to be thus heedless of Prince Ahmad's proceedings. Seest thou not how day after day his retinue increaseth in numbers and puissance? What an he should plot against thee and cast thee into prison, and take from thee the reins of the realm? Right well thou wottest that inasmuch as thou didst wed Prince Ali to the Lady Nur al-Nihar thou provokedest the wrath of Prince Husayn and Prince Ahmad; so that one of them in the bitterness of his soul renounced the pomps and vanities of this world and hath become a Fakir, whilst the other, to wit; Prince Ahmad, appeareth before thy presence in such inordinate power and majesty. Doubtless they both seek their revenge; and, having gotten thee into their power, the twain will deal treacherously with thee. So I would have thee beware, and again I say beware; and seize the forelock of opportunity ere it be too late; for the wise have said,

'Thou canst bar a spring with a sod of clay * But when grown 'twill bear a big host away.'"

Thus spake that malicious Wazir; and presently he resumed, "Thou knowest also that when Prince Ahmad would end his three days' visits he never asketh thy leave nor farewelleth thee nor biddeth adieu to any one of his family. Such conduct is the beginning of rebellion and proveth him to be rancorous of heart. But 'tis for thee in thy wisdom to decide." These words sank deep in the heart of the simple-minded Sultan and grew a crop of the direst suspicions. He presently thought within himself, "Who knoweth the mind and designs of Prince Ahmad, whether they be dutiful or undutiful towards me? Haply he may be plotting vengeance; so it besitteth me to make enquiries concerning him, to discover where he dwelleth and by what means he hath attained to such puissance and opulence." Filled with these jealous thoughts, he sent in private one day, unbeknown to the Grand Wazir who would at all times befriend Prince Ahmad, to summon the Witch; and, admitting her by a secret postern to his private chamber, asked of her saying, "Thou didst aforetime learn by thy magical art that Prince Ahmad was alive and didst bring me tidings of him. I am beholden to thee for this good office, and now I would desire of thee to make further quest into his case and ease my mind, which is sore disturbed. Albeit my son still liveth and cometh to visit me every month, yet am I clean ignorant of the place wherein he dwelleth and whence he setteth out to see me; for that he keepeth the matter close hidden from his sire. Go thou forthright and privily, without the knowledge of any, my Wazirs and Nabobs, my courtiers and my household; and make thou diligent research and with all haste bring me word whereabouts he liveth. He now sojourneth here upon his wonted visit; and, on the fourth day, without leave-taking or mention of departure to me or to any of the Ministers and Officers, he will summon his suite and mount his steed; then will he ride to some little distance hence and suddenly disappear. Do thou without stay or delay forego him on the path and lie perdue in some convenient hollow hard by the road whence thou mayest learn where he hometh; then quickly bring me tidings thereof." Accordingly, the Sorceress departed the presence of the King; and, after walking over the four parasangs, she hid herself within a hollow of the rocks hard by the place where Prince Ahmad had found his arrow, and there awaited his arrival. Early on the morrow the Prince, as was his wont, set out upon his journey without taking leave of his sire or fare welling any of the Ministers. So when they drew nigh, the Sorceress caught sight of the Prince and of the retinue that rode before and beside him; and she saw them enter a hollow way which forked into a many of by-ways; and so steep and dangerous were the cliffs and boulders about the track that hardly could a footman safely pace that path. Seeing this the Sorceress bethought her that it must surely lead to some cavern or haply to a subterraneous passage, or to a souterrain the abode of Jinns and fairies; when suddenly the Prince and all his suite vanished from her view. So she crept out of the hiding-place wherein she had ensconced herself and wandered far and wide seeking, as dillgently as she was able, but never finding the subterraneous passage nor yet could she discern the iron door which Prince Ahmad had espied, for none of human flesh and blood had power to see this save he alone to whom it was made visible by the Fairy Peri-Banu; furthermore it was ever concealed from the prying eyes of womankind. Then said the Sorceress to herself, This toil and moil have I undertaken to no purpose; yea, verily, I have failed to find out that wherefor I came." So she went forthright back to the Sultan and reported to him all that had betided her, how she had lain in wait amid the cliffs and boulders and had seen the Prince and suite ride up the most perilous of paths and, having entered a hollow way, disappear in an eyetwinkling from her sight. And she ended by saying, "Albeit I strove my utmost to find out the spot wherein the Prince abideth, yet could I on no wise succeed; and I pray thy Highness may grant me time to search further into the matter and to find out this mystery which by skill and caution on my part shall not long abide concealed." Answered the Sultan, "Be it as thou wilt: I grant thee leisure to make enquiry and after a time I shall await thy return hither."—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

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

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that moreover the King largessed the Witch with a diamond of large size and of great price, saying, "Take this stone to guerdon for thy trouble and travail and in earnest of future favours; so, when thou shalt return and bring me word that thou hast searched and found out the secret, thou shalt have a Bakhshish of far greater worth and I will make thy heart rejoice with choicest joy and honour thee with highmost honour." So the Sorceress looked forwards to the coming of the Prince, for well she knew that at the sight of each crescent he rode home to visit his sire and was bound to abide with him three days, even as the Lady Peri-Banu had permitted and had enjoined him. Now when the moon had waxed and waned, on the day before the Prince would leave home upon his monthly visit, the Witch betook her to the rocks and sat beside the place whence she imagined he would issue forth; and next morning early he and his suite, composed of many a mounted knight with his esquire a-foot, who now always accompanied him in increasing numbers, rode forth gallantly through the iron doorway and passed hard by the place where she lay in wait for him. The Sorceress crouched low upon the ground in her tattered rags; and, seeing a heap by his way, the Prince at first supposed that a slice of stone had fallen from the rocks across his path. But as he drew nigh she fell to weeping and wailing with might and main as though in sore dolour and distress, and she ceased not to crave his countenance and assistance with increase of tears and lamentations. The Prince seeing her sore sorrow had pity on her, and reining in his horse, asked her what she had to require of him and what was the cause of her cries and lamentations. At this the cunning crone but cried the more, and the Prince was affected with compassion still livelier at seeing her tears and hearing her broken, feeble words. So when the Sorceress perceived that Prince Ahmad had ruth on her and would fain show favour to her, she heaved a heavy sigh and in woeful tones, mingled with moans and groans, addressed him in these false words, withal holding the hem of his garment and at times stopping as if convulsed with pain, "O my lord and lord of all loveliness, as I was journeying from my home in yonder city upon an errand to such a place, behold, when I came thus far upon my way, suddenly a hot fit of fever seized me and a shivering and a trembling, so that I lost all strength and fell down helpless as thou seest me; and still no power have I in hand or foot to rise from the ground and to return to my place." Replied the Prince, "Alas, O good woman, there is no house at hand where thou mayest go and be fitly tended and tendered. Howbeit I know a stead whither, an thou wilt, I can convey thee and where by care and kindness thou shalt (Inshallah!) soon recover of thy complaint. Come then with me as best thou canst." With loud moans and groans the Witch made answer, "So weak am I in every limb and helpless that I can by no means rise off the ground or move save with the help of some friendly hand." The Prince then bade one of his horsemen lift up the feeble and ailing old woman and set her upon his steed; and the cavalier did his lord's bidding forthright and mounted her astraddle upon the crupper of his courser: then, Prince Ahmad rode back with her and entering by the iron door carried her to his apartment and sent for Peri-Banu. His wife hurriedly coming forth to the Prince asked him in her flurry, "Is all well and wherefore hast thou come back and what wouldst thou that thou hast sent for me?" Prince Ahmad then told her of the old woman who was healthless and helpless, adding, "Scarce had I set out on my journey when I espied this ancient dame lying hard by the roadside, suffering and in sore distress. My heart felt pity for her to see her in such case and constrained me to bring her hither as I could not leave her to die among the rocks; and I pray thee of thy bounty take her in and give her medicines that she may soon be made whole of this her malady. An thou wilt show this favour I shall not cease to thank thee and be beholden to thee." —And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

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

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that Peri-Banu looked at the old woman and charged a twain of her handmaidens that they carry her into a room apart and tend her with the tenderest care and the uttermost of diligence. The attendants did as she bade them and transported the Sorceress to the place she had designed. Then Peri-Banu addressed Prince Ahmad saying, "O my lord, I am pleased to see thy pitiful kindness towards this ancient dame, and I surely will look to her case even as thou hast enjoined me; but my heart misgiveth me and much I fear some evil will result from thy goodness. This woman is not so ill as she doth make believe, but practiseth deceit upon thee and I ween that some enemy or envier hath plotted a plot against me and thee. Howbeit go now in peace upon thy journey." The Prince, who on no wise took to heart the words of his wife, presently replied to her, "O my lady, Almighty Allah forfend thee from all offence! With thee to help and guard me I fear naught of ill: I know of no foeman who would compass my destruction, for I bear no grudge against any living being, and I foresee no evil at the hands of man or Jann." Thereupon the Prince again took leave of Peri-Banu and repaired with his attendants to the palace of his sire who, by reason of the malice of his crafty Minister, was inwardly afraid to see his son; but not the less he welcomed him with great outward show of love and affection. Meanwhile the two fairy handmaidens, to whom Peri-Banu had given charge of the Witch, bore her away to a spacious room splendidly furnished; and laid her on a bed having a mattress of satin and a brocaded coverlet. Then one of them sat by her side whilst the other with all speed fetched, in a cup of porcelain, an essence which was a sovereign draught for ague and fever. Presently they raised her up and seated her on the couch saying, "Drain thou this drink. It is the water of the Lions' Fount and whoso tasteth of the same is forthwith made whole of what disease soever he hath." The Sorceress took the cup with great difficulty and after swallowing the contents lay back on the bed; and the handmaidens spread the quilt over her saying, "Now rest awhile and thou shalt soon feel the virtues of this medicine." Then they left her to sleep for an hour or so; but presently the Witch, who had feigned sickness to the intent only that she might learn where Prince Ahmad abode and might inform the Sultan thereof, being assured that she had discovered all that she desired, rose up and summoning the damsels said to them, "The drinking of that draught hath restored to me all my health and strength: I now feel hale and hearty once more and my limbs are filled with new life and vigour. So at once acquaint your lady herewith, that I may kiss the hem of her robe and return my thanks for her goodness me-wards, then depart and hie me home again." Accordingly, the two handmaidens took the Sorceress with them and showed her as they went along the several apartments, each more magnificent and kingly than the other; and at length they reached the belvedere which was the noblest saloon of all, and fitted and filled with furniture exceeding costly and curious. There sat Peri-Banu upon a throne which was adorned with diamonds and rubies, emeralds, pearls and other gems of unwonted size and water, whilst round about her stood fairies of lovely form and features, robed in the richest raiments and awaiting with folded hands her commandments. The Sorceress marvelled with extreme marvel to see the splendour of the chambers and their furniture, but chiefly when she beheld the Lady Peri-Banu seated upon the jewelled throne; nor could she speak a word for confusion and awe, but she bent down low and placed her head upon Peri-Banu's feet. Quoth the Princess in soft speech and reassuring tones, "O good woman, it pleaseth me greatly to see thee a guest in this my palace, and I joy even more to learn that thou be wholly quit of thy sickness. So now solace thy spirits with walking all round about the place and my servants will accompany thee and show thee what there is worthy of thine inspection." Hereat the Witch again louted low and kissed the carpet under Peri-Banu's feet, and took leave of her hostess in goodly phrase and with great show of gratitude for her favours. The handmaids then led her round the palace and displayed to her all the rooms, which dazed and dazzled her sight so that she could not find words to praise them sufficiently. Then she went her ways and the fairies escorted her past the iron doorway whereby Prince Ahmad had brought her in, and left her, bidding her God-speed and blessing her; and the foul crone with many thanks took the road to her own home. But when she had walked to some distance she was minded to see the iron door, so might she with ease know it again; so she went back, but lo and behold! the entrance had vanished and was invisible to her as to all other women. Accordingly, after searching on all sides and pacing to and fro and finding nor sign nor trace of palace or portal, she repaired in despair to the city and, creeping along a deserted path-way, entered the palace, according to her custom, by the private postern. When safely within she straightway sent word by an eunuch to the Sultan, who ordered that she be brought before him. She approached him with troubled countenance, whereat, perceiving that she had failed to carry out her purpose, he asked, "What news? Hast thou accomplished thy design or hast thou been baffled therein?" —And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

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

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Sorceress, who was a mere creature of the malicious Wazir, replied, "O King of kings, this matter have I fully searched out even as thou gavest command, and I am about to tell thee all that hath betided me. The signs of sorrow and marks of melancholy thou notest upon my countenance are for other cause which narrowly concerneth thy welfare." Then she began to recount her adventure in these terms, "Now when I had reached the rocks I sat me down feigning sickness; and, as Prince Ahmad passed that way and heard my complaining and saw my grievous condition, he had compassion on me. After some 'said and say' he took me with him by a subterranean passage and through an iron door to a magnificent palace and gave me in charge of a fairy, Peri-Banu hight, of passing beauty and loveliness, such as human eye hath never yet seen. Prince Ahmad bade her make me her guest for some few days and bring me a medicine which would complete my cure, and she to please him at once appointed handmaidens to attend upon me. So I was certified that the twain were one flesh, husband and wife. I feigned to be exceeding frail and feeble and made as though I had not strength to walk or even to stand; whereat the two damsels supported me, one on either side, and I was carried into a room where they gave me somewhat to drink and put me upon a bed to rest and sleep. Then thought I to myself:—'Verily I have gained the object wherefor I had feigned sickness'; and I was assured that it availed no more to practise deceit. Accordingly, after a short while I arose and said to the attendants that the draught which they had given me to drink had cut short the fever and had restored strength to my limbs and life to my frame. Then they led me to the presence of the Lady Peri-Banu, who was exceeding pleased to see me once more hale and hearty, and bade her handmaidens conduct me around the palace and show each room in its beauty and splendour; after which I craved leave to wend my ways and here am I again to work thy will." When thus she had made known to the King all that had betided her, she resumed, "Perchance, on hearing of the might and majesty, opulence and magnificence of the Lady Peri-Banu, thou wilt be gladdened and say within thyself, ''Tis well that Prince Ahmad is wedded to this Fairy and hath gotten for himself such wealth and power;' but to the thinking of this thy slave the matter is quite other. It is not well, I dare avouch, that thy son should possess such puissance and treasures, for who knoweth but that he may by good aid of Peri-Banu bring about division and disturbance in the realm? Beware of the wiles and malice of women. The Prince is bewitched with love of her, and peradventure at her incitement he may act towards thee otherwise than right, and lay hands on thy hoards and seduce thy subjects and become master of thy kingdom; and albeit he would not of his own free will do aught to his father and his forbears save what was pious and dutiful, yet the charms of his Princess may work upon him little by little and end by making him a rebel and what more I may not say. Now mayest thou see that the matter is a weighty, so be not heedless but give it full consideration." Then the Sorceress made ready to gang her gait when spake the King, saying, "I am beholden to thee in two things; the first, that thou tookest upon thyself much toil and travail, and on my behalf riskedst thy life to learn the truth anent my son Prince Ahmad. Secondly, I am thankful for that thou hast given me a rede so sound and such wholesome counsel." So saying, he dismissed her with the highmost honour; but no sooner had she left the palace than he, sore distraught, summoned his second Wazir, the malicious Minister who had incited him against Prince Ahmad, and when he and his friends appeared in the presence he laid before them the whole matter and asked of them, saying, "What is your counsel, and what must I do to protect myself and my kingdom against the wiles of this Fairy?" Replied one of his councillors, "'Tis but a trifling matter and the remedy is simple and nearhand. Command that Prince Ahmad, who is now within the city if not in the palace, be detained as one taken prisoner. Let him not be put to death, lest haply the deed may engender rebellion; but at any rate place him under arrest and if he prove violent clap him in irons."—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixtieth Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that this felon counsel pleased the malicious Minister and all his fautors and flatterers highly approved his rede. The Sultan kept silence and made no reply, but on the morrow he sent and summoned the Sorceress and debated with her whether he should or should not cast Prince Ahmad into prison. Quoth she, "O King of kings, this counsel is clean contrary to sound sense and right reason. An thou throw Prince Ahmad into gaol, so must thou also do with all his knights and their esquires; and inasmuch as they are Jinns and Marids, who can tell their power of reprisals? Nor prison-cells nor gates of adamant can keep them in; they will forthwith escape and report such violence to the Fairy who, wroth with extreme wrath to find her husband doomed to durance vile like a common malefactor, and that too for no default or crime but by a treacherous arrest, will assuredly deal the direst of vengeance on thy head and do us a damage we shall not be able to forfend. An thou wilt confide in me, I will advise thee how to act, whereby thou mayest win thy wish and no evil will come nigh thee or thy kingship. Thou knowest well that to Jinns and Fairies is power given of doing in one short moment deeds marvellous and wondrous, which mortals fail to effect after long years of toil and trouble. Now whenas thou goest a-hunting or on other expedition, thou requirest pavilions for thyself and many tents for thy retinue and attendants and soldiery; and in making ready and transporting such store much time and wealth are wastefully expended. I would advise, O King of kings, that thou try Prince Ahmad by the following test: do thou bid him bring to thee a Shahmiyanah[FN#340] so long and so broad that it will cover and lodge the whole of thy court and men-at-arms and camp-followers, likewise the beasts of burthen; and yet it must be so light that a man may hold it in the hollow of his hand and carry it whithersoever he listeth." Then, after holding her peace for a while, she added, still addressing the Sultan, "And as soon as Prince Ahmad shall acquit himself of this commission, do thou demand of him a somewhat still greater and more wondrous wherewith I will make thee ware, and which he will find grievous of execution. On this wise shalt thou fill thy treasury with rare inventions and strange, the handicraft of Jann, nor will this cease till such time in fine when thy son shall be at his wits' end to carry out thy requirements. Then, humbled and abashed, he will never dare to enter thy capital or even thy presence; and thus shalt thou be saved from fear of harm at his hands, and thou shalt not have need to put him in gaol or, worse still, to do him dead." Hearing these words of wisdom, the Sultan made known the Witch's device to his advisers and asked them what they deemed thereof. They held their peace and answered not a word or good or ill; while he himself highly approved it and said no more. Next day Prince Ahmad came to visit the King, who welcomed him with overflowing affection and clasping him to his bosom kissed him on eyes and forehead. Long time they sat conversing on various subjects, till at length the Sultan finding an occasion spake thus, "O dear my son, O Ahmad, for many a day have I been sad at heart and sorrowful of soul because of separation from thee, and when thou camest back I was gladdened with great gladness at sight of thee, and albeit thou didst and dost still withhold from me the knowledge of thy whereabouts, I refrained from asking thee or seeking to find out thy secret, since it was not according to thy mind to tell me of thine abode. Now, however, I have heard say that thou art wedded to a mighty Jinniyah[FN#341], of passing beauty; and the tidings please me with the highmost possible pleasure. I desire not to learn aught from thee concerning thy Fairy-wife save whatso thou wouldst entrust to me of thine own free will; but, say me, should I at any time require somewhat of thee, canst thou obtain it from her? Doth she regard thee with such favour that she will not deny thee anything thou askest of her?" Quoth the Prince, "O my lord, what dost thou demand of me? My wife is devoted to her husband in heart and soul, so prithee let me learn what it is thou wouldst have of me and her." Replied the Sultan, Thou knowest that ofttimes I fare a-hunting or on some foray and fray, when I have great need of tents and pavilions and Shahmiyanahs, with herds and troops of camels and mules and other beasts of burden to carry the camp from place to place. I would, therefore, that thou bring me a tent so light that a man may carry it in the hollow of his hand, and yet so large that it may contain my court and all my host and camp and suttlers and bat-animals. An thou wouldst ask the Lady for this gift I know full well that she can give it; and hereby shalt thou save me much of trouble in providing carriage for the tentage and spare me much waste and loss of beasts and men." The Prince replied, "O my sire the Sultan, trouble not thy thought. I will at once make known thy wish to my wife, the Lady Peri-Banu; and, albeit little I wot an fairies have the faculty of making a pavilion such as thou describest, or indeed (supposing that they have such power), an she will grant me or not grant me her aidance; and, moreover, although I cannot promise thee such present, yet whatsoever lieth in my ability to do, that will I gladly do for thy service."—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

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

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that quoth the King to Prince Ahmad, "Shouldst thou perchance fail in this matter and bring me not the gift required, O my son, I will never see thy face again. A sorry husband thou, in good sooth, if thy wife refuse so mean a thing and hasten not to do all thou biddest her do; giving thee to see that thou art of small value and consequence in her eyes, and that her love for thee is a quantity well nigh to naught. But do thou, O my child, go forth and straightway ask her for the tent. An she give it thee know thou she desireth thee and thou art the dearest of all things to her; and I have been informed that she loveth thee with all her heart and soul and will by no means refuse thee aught thou requirest, were it even the balls of her eyes." Now Prince Ahmad was ever wont to tarry three days each month with the Sultan his sire, and return to his spouse on the fourth; but this time he stayed two days only and farewelled his father on the third. As he passed into the palace Peri-Banu could not but note that he was sad at heart and downcast of face; so she asked of him, "Is all well with thee? Why hast thou come to-day and not tomorrow from the presence of the King thy father, and why carriest thou so triste a countenance?" Whereupon, after kissing her brow and fondly embracing her, he told her the whole matter, first to last, and she made answer, "I will speedily set thy mind at rest, for I would not see thee so saddened for a moment longer. Howbeit, O my love, from this petition of the Sultan thy sire I am certified that his end draweth nigh, and he will soon depart this world to the mercy of Allah the Almighty.[FN#342] Some enemy hath done this deed and much of mischief hath made for thee; and the result is that thy father, all unmindful of his coming doom, cloth seek diligently his own destruction." The Prince, anxious and alarmed, thus answered his wife, "Almighty Allah be praised, the King my liege lord is in the best of health and showeth no sign of disorder or decrepitude: 'tis but this morning I left him hale and hearty, and in very sooth I never saw him in better case. Strange, indeed, that thou shouldst ken what shall betide him before I have told thee aught concerning him, and especially how he hath come to learn of our marriage and of our home." Quoth Peri-Banu, "O my Prince, thou knowest what I said to thee whenas I saw the old dame whom thou broughtest hither as one afflicted with the ague and fever. That woman, who is a Witch of Satan's breed, hath disclosed to thy father all he sought to learn concerning this our dwelling-place. And notwithstanding that I saw full clearly she was nor sick nor sorry, but only feigning a fever, I gave her medicine to drink which cureth complaints of all kinds, and she falsely made believe that by its virtues she had recovered health and strength. So when she came to take leave of me, I sent her with two of my damsels and bid them display to her every apartment in the palace together with its furniture and decorations, that she might better know the condition of me and thee. Now all this did I on thy account only, for thou badest me show compassion to the ancient woman and I was rejoiced to see her departing safe and sound and in the best of spirits. Save her alone, no human being had ever power to know aught of this place, much less to come hither." Prince Ahmad hearing these words thanked and praised her and said, "O sun-faced beauty, I would beg of thee to grant me a boon whereof my father hath made request of me; to wit, a Shahmiyanah of such dimensions that it may shelter him and his many, his camp and bat-cattle and withal may be carried in the hollow of the hand. An such marvel exist I wot not, yet would I do my utmost to procure it, and carry it to him right loyally." Quoth she, "Why trouble thyself for so small a matter? I will forthright send for it and give it thee." Then she summoned one of her handmaids who was treasurer to her and said, "O Nur Jehan,[FN#343] go thou at once and bring me a pavilion of such and such a fashion." So she fared forth without delay and as quickly came back with the pavilion which, at her lady's bidding, she placed in the palm of Prince Ahmad's hand. —And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

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

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that Prince Ahmad hent the pavilion in hand and thought to himself, "What is this Peri-Banu giveth me? Surely she doth make a mock of me." His wife, however, reading his mind in his face fell to laughing aloud, and asked, "What is it, O my dearling Prince? Dost thou think that I am jesting and jibing at thee?" Then she continued, addressing the treasurer Nur Jehan, "Take now yon tent from Prince Ahmad and set it upon the plain that he may see its vast size and know if it be such an one as required by the Sultan his sire." The handmaid took the pavilion and pitched it afar from the Palace; and yet one end thereof reached thereto from the outer limit of the plain; and so immense was its size that (as Prince Ahmad perceived) there was room therein for all the King's court; and, were two armies ranged under it with their camp-followers and bat-animals, one would on no wise crowd or inconvenience the other. He then begged pardon of Peri-Banu saying, "I wot not that the Shahmiyanah was so prodigious of extent and of so marvellous a nature; wherefore I misdoubted when first I saw it." The Treasurer presently struck the tent and returned it to the palm of his hand; then, without stay or delay, he took horse and followed by his retinue rode back to the royal presence, where after obeisance and suit and service he presented the tent. The Sultan also, at first sight of the gift, thought it a small matter, but marvelled with extreme marvel to see its size when pitched, for it would have shaded his capital and its suburbs. He was not, however, wholly satisfied, for the size of the pavilion now appeared to him superfluous; but his son assured him that it would always fit itself to its contents. He thanked the Prince for bringing him so rare a present, saying, "O my son, acquaint thy consort with my obligation to her and offer my grateful thanks for this her bounteous gift. Now indeed know I of a truth that she doth love thee with the whole of her heart and soul and all my doubts and fears are well nigh set at rest." Then the King commanded they should pack up the tent and store it with all care in the royal treasury. Now strange it is but true, that when the Sultan received this rare present from the Prince, the fear and doubt, the envy and jealousy of his son, which the Witch and the malicious Wazir and his other illadvisers had bred in his breast, waxed greater and livelier than before; because he was now certified that in very truth the Jinniyah was gracious beyond measure to her mate and that, notwithstanding the great wealth and power of the sovereign, she could outvie him in mighty deeds for the aidance of her husband. Accordingly, he feared with excessive fear lest haply she seek opportunity to slay him in favour of the Prince whom she might enthrone in his stead. So he bade bring the Witch who had counselled him aforetime, and upon whose sleight and malice he now mainly relied. When he related to her the result of her rede, she took thought for a while; then, raising her brow said, "O King of kings, thou troublest thyself for naught: thou needest only command Prince Ahmad to bring thee of the water of the Lions' Spring. He must perforce for his honour's sake fulfil thy wish, and if he fail he will for very shame not dare to show his face again at court. No better plan than this canst thou adopt; so look to it nor loiter on thy way." Next day at eventide, as the Sultan was seated in full Darbar surrounded by his Wazirs and Ministers, Prince Ahmad came forwards and making due obeisance took seat by his side and below him. Hereat, the King addressed him, as was his wont, with great show of favour saying, "It delighteth me mightily that thou hast brought me the tent I required of thee; for surely in my Treasury there be naught so rare and strange. Yet one other thing lack I, and couldst thou bring it me I shall rejoice with joy exceeding. I have heard tell that the Jinniyah, thy consort, maketh constant use of a water which floweth from the Lions' Spring, the drinking whereof doeth away with fevers and all other deadly diseases. I know thou art anxious that I live in health; and thou wilt gladden me by bringing somewhat of that water, so I may drink thereof when occasion shall require, and well I wot that, as thou valuest my love and affection thee wards, thou wilt not refuse to grant me my request." Prince Ahmad on hearing this demand was struck with surprise that his sire should so soon make a second demand. So he kept silence awhile, thinking within himself, I have managed by some means to obtain the tent from the Lady Peri-Banu, but Allah only knoweth how she will now act, and whether this fresh request will or will not rouse her wrath. Howbeit I know that she will on no wise deny me any boon I may ask of her." So after much hesitation Prince Ahmad made reply, "O my lord the King, I have no power to do aught in this matter, which resteth only with my spouse the Princess; yet will I petition her to give the water; and, if she vouchsafe consent I will bring it straight to thee. Indeed I cannot promise thee such boon with all certainty: I would gladly do my endeavour in all and everything that can benefit thee, but to ask her for this water is a work more weighty than asking for the tent." Next day the Prince took his departure and returned to Peri-Banu; and after loving embraces and greetings quoth he, "O my lady and light of my eyes, the Sultan my sire sendeth thee his grateful thanks for the granting of his wish; to wit, the pavilion; and now he adventureth himself once more and, certified of thy bounty and beneficence, he would pray from thy hand the boon of a little water from the Lions' Spring. Withal I would assure thee that an the giving of this water please thee not, let the matter be clean forgotten; for to do all thou willest is my one and only wish." Peri-Banu made reply, "Methinks the Sultan, thy sire, would put both me and thee to the test by requiring such boons as those suggested to him by the Sorceress." —And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

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

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that Peri-Banu said further to Prince Ahmad, "Natheless I will grant this largesse also as the Sultan hath set his mind upon it, and no harm shall come therefrom to me or to thee, albe 'tis a matter of great risk and danger, and it is prompted by not a little of malice and ungraciousness. But give careful heed to my words, nor neglect thou aught of them, or thy destruction is certain-sure. I now will tell thee what to do. In the hall of yonder castle which riseth on that mountain is a fountain sentinelled by four lions fierce and ravening; and they watch and ward the path that leadeth thereto, a pair standing on guard whilst the other two take their turn to rest, and thus no living thing hath power to pass by them. Yet will I make known to thee the means whereby thou mayest win thy wish without any hurt or harm befalling thee from the furious beasts." Thus saying she drew from an ivory box a clew of thread and, by means of a needle one of those wherewith she had been plying her work, made thereof a ball. This she placed in the hands of her husband, and said, "First, be thou careful that thou keep about thee with all diligence this ball, whose use I shall presently explain to thee. Secondly, choose for thyself two horses of great speed, one for thine own riding, whilst on the other thou shalt load the carcass of a freshly slaughtered sheep cut into four quarters. In the third place, take with thee a phial wherewith I will provide thee, and this is for carrying the water which thou, Inshallah—God willing—shalt bring back. As soon as the morn shall morrow do thou arise with the light and go forth riding thy chosen steed and leading the other alongside of thee by the reins. When thou shalt reach the iron portals which open upon the castle-court, at no great distance from the gate, do thou cast the ball of thread upon the ground before thee. Forthwith it will begin rolling onwards of its own will towards the castle door; and do thou follow it through the open entrance until such time as it stop its course. At this moment thou shalt see the four lions; and the two that wake and watch will rouse the twain that sleep and rest. All four will turn their jaws to the ground and growl and roar with hideous howlings, and make as though about to fall upon thee and tear thee limb from limb. However, fear not nor be dismayed, but ride boldly on and throw to the ground from off the led-horse the sheep's quarters, one to each lion. See that thou alight not from thy steed, but gore his ribs with thy shovel stirrup[FN#344] and ride with all thy might and main up to the basin which gathereth the water. Here dismount and fill the phial whilst the lions will be busied eating. Lastly, return with all speed and the beasts will not prevent thy passing by them." Next day, at peep of morn, Prince Ahmad did according to all that Peri-Banu had bidden him and rode forth to the castle. Then, having passed through the iron portals and crossed the court and opened the door, he entered the hall, where he threw the quarters of the sheep before the lions, one to each, and speedily reached the Spring. He filled his phial with water from the basin and hurried back with all haste. But when he had ridden some little distance he turned about and saw two of the guardian lions following upon his track; however, he was on no wise daunted but drew his sabre from the sheath to prepare him for self-protection. Hereat one of the twain seeing him bare his brand for defence, retired a little way from the road and, standing at gaze, nodded his head and wagged his tail, as though to pray the Prince to put up his scymitar and to assure him that he might ride in peace and fear no peril. The other lion then sprang forwards ahead of him and kept close him, and the two never ceased to escort him until they reached the city, nay even the gate of the Palace. The second twain also brought up the rear till Prince Ahmad had entered the Palace-door; and, when they were certified of this, all four went back by the way they came. Seeing such wondrous spectacle, the towns-folk all fled in dire dismay, albeit the enchanted beasts molested no man; and presently some mounted horsemen espying their lord riding alone and unattended came up to him and helped him alight. The Sultan was sitting in his audience-hall conversing with his Wazirs and Ministers when his son appeared before him; and Prince Ahmad, having greeted him and blessed him and, in dutiful fashion, prayed for his permanence of existence and prosperity and opulence, placed before his feet the phial full of the water from the Lions' Spring, saying, "Lo, I have brought thee the boon thou desiredst of me. This water is most rare and hard to obtain; nor is there in all thy Treasure-house aught so notable and of such value as this. If ever thou fall ill of any malady (Almighty Allah forfend this should be in thy Destiny!) then drink a draught thereof and forthwith thou shalt be made whole of whatso distemper thou hast." When Prince Ahmad had made an end of speaking, the Sultan, with all love and affection, grace and honour, embraced him and kissed his head; then, seating him on his right said, "O my son, I am beholden to thee, beyond count and measure, for that thou hast adventured thy life and brought this water with great irk and risk from so perilous a place." Now the Witch had erewhile informed the King concerning the Lions' Spring and of the mortal dangers which beset the site; so that he knew right well how gallant was his son's derring-do; and presently he said, "Say me, O my child, how couldst thou venture thither and escape from the lions and broughtest back the water, thyself remaining safe and sound?" —And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

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

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the Prince replied, "By thy favour, O my lord the Sultan, have I returned in safety from that stead mainly because I did according to the bidding of my spouse, the Lady Peri-Banu; and I have brought the water from the Lions' Spring only by carrying out her commands." Then he made known to his father all that had befallen him in going and returning; and when the Sultan noted the pre-eminent valiance and prowess of his son he only feared the more, and the malice and the rancour, envy and jealousy which filled his heart waxed tenfold greater than before. However, dissembling his true sentiments he dismissed Prince Ahmad and betaking him to his private chamber at once sent word to bid the Witch appear in the presence; and when she came, he told her of the Prince's visit and all about the bringing of the water from the Lions' Spring. She had already heard somewhat thereof by reason of the hubbub in the city at the coming of the lions; but, as soon as she had given ear to the whole account, she marvelled with mighty marvel and, after whispering in the Sultan's ear her new device, said to him in triumph, "O King of kings, this time thou shalt lay a charge on the Prince and such commandment methinks will trouble him and it shall go hard with him to execute aught thereof." "Thou sayest well," replied the Sovran, "now indeed will I try this plan thou hast projected for me." Wherefore, next day whenas Prince Ahmad came to the presence of his sire, the King said to him, "O dear my child, it delighteth me exceedingly to see thy virtue and valour and the filial love wherewith thou art fulfilled, good gifts chiefly shown by obtaining for me the two rarities I asked of thee. And now one other and final requirement I have of thee; and, shouldst thou avail to satisfy my desire, I shall be wellpleased in my beloved son and render thanks to him for the rest of my days." Prince Ahmad answered, "What is the boon thou requirest? I will for my part do thy bidding as far as in me lieth." Then quoth the King in reply to the Prince, "I would fain have thee bring me a man of size and stature no more than three feet high, with beard full twenty ells in length, who beareth on his shoulder a quarter staff of steel, thirteen score pounds in weight, which he wieldeth with ease and swingeth around his head without wrinkle on brow, even as men wield cudgels of wood." On this wise the Sultan, led astray by the Doom of Destiny and heedless alike of good and evil, asked that which should bring surest destruction upon himself. Prince Ahmad also, with blind obedience out of pure affection to his parent, was ready to supply him with all he required unknowing what was prepared for him in the Secret Purpose. Accordingly he said, "O my sire the Sultan, I trow me 'twill be hard to find, all the world over, a man such as thou desirest, still I will work my best to do thy bidding." Thereupon the Prince retired from the presence and returned, as usual, to his palace where he greeted Peri-Banu with love and gladness; but his face was troubled and his heart was heavy at the thought of the King's last behest. Perceiving his pre-occupation the Princess asked him, saying, "O dear my lord, what tidings bringest thou for me to-day?" Hereto replied he, "The Sultan at each visit requireth of me some new thing and burtheneth me with his requests; and to-day he purposeth to try me and, in the hopes of putting me to shame, he asketh somewhat which 'twere vain to hope I can find in all the world." Thereupon Prince Ahmad told her all the King had said to him.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

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

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that Peri-Banu hearing these words said to the Prince, "Trouble not thyself at all in this matter. Thou didst venture at great risk to carry off for thy father water from the Lions' Spring and thou succeededst in winning thy wish. Now this task is on no wise more difficult or dangerous than was that: nay 'tis the easier for that he thou describest is none other than Shabbar, my brothergerman. Although we both have the same parents, yet it pleased Almighty Allah to enform us in different figures and to make him unlike his sister as being in mortal mould can be. Moreover he is valiant and adventurous, always seeking some geste and exploit whereby to further my interest, and right willingly doth he carry out whatso he undertaketh. He is shaped and formed as the Sultan thy sire hath described, nor useth he any weapons save the Nabbut[FN#345] or quarter staff of steel. And see now I will send for him, but be not thou dismayed at sighting him." Replied Prince Ahmad, "If he be in truth thine own brother what matter how he looketh? I shall be pleased to see him as when one welcometh a valued friend or a beloved kinsman. Wherefore should I fear to look upon him?" Hearing these words Peri-Banu despatched one of her attendants who brought to her from her private treasury a chafing-dish of gold; then she bade a fire be lit therein, and sending for a casket of noble metals studded with gems, the gift of her kinsmen, she took therefrom some incense and cast it upon the flames. Herewith issued a dense smoke spireing high in air and spreading all about the palace; and a few moments after, Peri-Banu who had ceased her conjurations cried, "Lookye my brother Shabbar cometh! canst thou distinguish his form?" The Prince looked up and saw a mannikin in stature dwarfish and no more than three feet high, and with a boss on breast and a hump on back; withal he carried himself with stately mien and majestic air. On his right shoulder was borne his quarter staff of steel thirteen score pounds in weight. His beard was thick and twenty cubits in length but arranged so skilfully that it stood clear off from the ground; he wore also a twisted pair of long mustachios curling up to his ears, and all his face was covered with long pile. His eyes were not unlike unto pig's eyes; and his head, on which was placed a crown-like coiffure, was enormous of bulk, contrasting with the meanness of his stature. Prince Ahmad sat calmly beside his wife, the Fairy, and felt no fear as the figure approached; and presently Shabbar walked up and glancing at him asked Peri-Banu saying, "Who be this mortal who sitteth hard by thee?" Hereto she replied, "O my brother, this is my beloved husband, Prince Ahmad, son of the Sultan of Hindostan. I sent thee not an invitation to the wedding as thou wast then engaged on some great expedition; now, however, by the grace of Almighty Allah thou hast returned triumphant and victorious over thy foes, wherefore I have summoned thee upon a matter which nearly concerneth me." Hearing these words Shabbar looked graciously at Prince Ahmad, saying, "O my beloved sister, is there any service I can render to him?" and she replied, "The Sultan his sire desireth ardently to see thee, and I pray thee go forthright to him and take the Prince with thee by way of guide." Said he, "This instant I am ready to set forth;" but said she, "Not yet, O my brother. Thou art fatigued with journeying; so defer until the morrow thy visit to the King, and this evening I will make known to thee all that concerneth Prince Ahmad." Presently the time came; so Peri-Banu informed her brother Shabbar concerning the King and his ill-counsellors; but she dwelt mainly upon the misdeeds of the old woman, the Witch; and how she had schemed to injure Prince Ahmad and despitefully prevent his going to city or court, and she had gained such influence over the Sultan that he had given up his will to hers and ceased not doing whatso she bade him. Next day at dawn Shabbar the Jinn and Prince Ahmad set out together upon a visit to the Sultan; and when they had reached the city gates, all the folk, nobles and commons, were struck with consternation at the dwarf's hideous form; and, flying on every side in affright and running into shops and houses, barred the doors and closed the casements and hid themselves therein. So panic-stricken indeed was their flight that many feet lost shoes and sandals in running, while from the heads of others their loosened turbands fell to earth. And when they twain approached the palace through streets and squares and market-places desolate as the Desert of Samawah,[FN#346] all the keepers of the gates took to their heels at sight of Shabbar and fled, so there was none to hinder their entering. They walked straight on to the audience-chamber where the Sultan was holding Darbar, and they found in attendance on him a host of Ministers and Councillors, great and small, each standing in his proper rank and station. They too on seeing Shabbar speedily took flight in dire dismay and hid themselves; also the guards had deserted their posts nor cared in any way to let or stay the twain. The Sovran still sat motionless on his throne, where Shabbar went up to him with lordly mien and royal dignity and cried, "O King, thou hast expressed a wish to see me; and lo, I am here. Say now what wouldst thou have me do?"—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixty-sixth Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the King made no reply to Shabbar, but held up his hands before his eyes that he might not behold that frightful figure, and turning his head would fain have fled in terror. Shabbar was filled with fury at this rudeness on the part of the Sultan, and was wroth with exceeding wrath to think that he had troubled himself to come at the bidding of such a craven, who now on seeing him would fain run away. So the Jinn, without an instant's delay, raised his quarter staff of steel, and, swinging it twice in air, before Prince Ahmad could reach the throne or on any wise interfere, struck the Sultan so fiercely upon the poll that his skull was smashed and his brains were scattered over the floor. And when Shabbar had made an end of this offender, he savagely turned upon the Grand Wazir who stood on the Sultan's right and incontinently would have slain him also, but the Prince craved pardon for his life and said, "Kill him not: he is my friend and hath at no time said one evil word against me. But such is not the case with the others, his fellows." Hearing these words the infuriated Shabbar fell upon the Ministers and ill-counsellors on either side, to wit, all who had devised evil devices against Prince Ahmad, and slew them each and every and suffered none to escape save only those who had taken flight and hidden themselves. Then, going from the hall of justice to the courtyard, the Dwarf said to the Wazir whose life the Prince had saved, "Harkye, there is a Witch who beareth enmity against my brother, the husband of my sister. See that thou produce her forthright; likewise the villain who filled his father's mind with hate and malice, envy and jealousy against him, so may I quite them in full measure for their misdeeds." The Grand Wazir produced them all, first the Sorceress, and then the malicious minister with his rout of fautors and flatterers, and Shabbar felled them one after the other with his quarter staff of steel and killed them pitilessly, crying to the Sorceress, "This is the end of all thy machinations with the King, and this is the fruit of thy deceit and treachery; so learn not to feign thyself sick." And in the blindness of his passion he would have slain all the inhabitants of the city, but Prince Ahmad prevented him and pacified him with soft and flattering words. Hereupon Shabbar habited his brother in the royal habit and seated him on the throne and proclaimed him Sultan of Hindostan. The people all, both high and low, rejoiced with exceeding joy to hear these tidings, for Prince Ahmad was beloved by every one; so they crowded to swear fealty and bring presents and Nazaranahs[FN#347] and raised shouts of acclamation crying out, "Long live King Ahmad!" When all this was done, Shabbar sent for his sister, Peri-Banu, and made her Queen under the title of Shahr-Banu;[FN#348] and in due time taking leave of her and of King Ahmad, the Jinni returned to his own home. And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixty-seventh Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that after these things King Ahmad summoned Prince Ali his brother and Nur al-Nihar and made him governor of a large city hard by the capital, and dismissed him thither in high state and splendour. Also he commissioned an official to wait upon Prince Husayn and tell him all the tidings, and sent word saying, "I will appoint thee ruler over any capital or country thy soul desireth; and, if thou consent, I will forward thee letters of appointment." But inasmuch as the Prince was wholly content and entirely happy in Darwaysh-hood, he cared naught for rule or government or aught of worldly vanities; so he sent back the official with his duty and grateful thanks, requesting that he might be left to live his life in solitude and renunciation of matters mundane. Now when Queen Shahrazad had made an end of telling her story and yet the night was not wholly spent, King Shahryar spake saying, "This thy story, admirable and most wonderful, hath given me extreme delight; and I pray thee do thou tell us another tale till such time as the last hours of this our night be passed." She replied, "Be it as thou wilt, O auspicious King: I am thy slave to do as thou shalt bid." Then she began to relate the tale of


In days of yore and in times long gone before there lived a king of Persia, Khusrau Shah hight, renowned for justice and righteousness. His father, dying at a good old age, had left him sole heir to all the realm and, under his rule, the tiger and the kid drank side by side at the same Ghat;[FN#350] and his treasury was ever full and his troops and guards were numberless. Now it was his wont to don disguise and, attended by a trusty Wazir, to wander about the street at night-time. Whereby things seld-seen and haps peregrine became known to him, the which, should I tell thee all thereof, O auspicious King, would weary thee beyond measure. So he took seat upon the throne of his forbears and when the appointed days of mourning were ended, according to the custom of that country, he caused his exalted name, that is Khusrau Shah, be struck upon all the coins of the kingdom and entered into the formula of public prayer.[FN#351] And when stablished in his sovranty he went forth as aforetime on one evening accompanied by his Grand Wazir, both in merchant's habit, walking the streets and squares, the markets and lanes, the better to note what might take place both of good and of bad. By chance they passed, as the night darkened, through a quarter where dwelt people of the poorer class; and as they walked on, the Shah heard inside a house women talking with loud voices; then going near, he peeped in by the door-chink, and saw three fair sisters who having supped together were seated on a divan talking one to other. The King thereupon applied his ear to the crack and listened eagerly to what they said, and heard each and every declaring what was the thing she most desired.[FN#352] Quoth the eldest, "I would I were married to the Shah's head Baker for then should I ever have bread to eat, the whitest and choicest in the city, and your hearts would be fulfilled with envy and jealousy and malice at my good luck." Quoth the second, "I would rather wive with the Shah's chief Kitchener and eat of dainty dishes that are placed before his Highness, wherewith the royal bread which is common throughout the Palace cannot compare for gust and flavour." And quoth the third and youngest of the three, and by far the most beautiful and lively of them all, a maiden of charming nature, full of wit and humour; sharp-witted, wary and wise, when her turn came to tell her wish, "O sisters, my ambition is not as ordinary as yours. I care not for fine bread nor glutton-like do I long for dainty dishes. I look to somewhat nobler and higher: indeed I would desire nothing less than to be married by the King and become the mother of a beautiful Prince, a model of form and in mind as masterful as valorous. His hair should be golden on one side and silvern on the other: when weeping he should drop pearls in place of tears, and when laughing his rosy lips should be fresh as the blossom new-blown." The Shah was amazed with exceeding amazement to hear the wishes of the three sisters, but chiefly of the youngest and determined in himself that he would gratify them all. Wherefore quoth he to the Grand Wazir, "Mark well this house And on the morrow bring before me these maidens whom we Heard discoursing;" and quoth the Wazir, "O Asylum of the Universe, I hear but to obey." Thereupon the twain walked back to the palace and laid them down to rest. When morning morrowed, the Minister went for the sisters and brought them to the King, who, after greeting them and heartening their hearts, said to them in kindly tone, "O ye maidens of weal, last night what was it that in merry word and jest ye spake one to other? Take heed ye tell the Shah every whit in full detail, for all must become known to us; something have we heard, but now the King would have ye recount your discourse to his royal ears."—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Sixty-eighth Night

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that at these words of the Shah the sisters, confused and filled with shame, durst not reply but stood before him silent with heads bent low; and despite all questioning and encouragement they could not pluck up courage. However, the youngest was of passing comeliness in form and feature and forthwith the Shah became desperately enamoured of her; and of his live began reassuring them and saying, "O ye Princesses of fair ones, be not afraid nor troubled in thought; nor let bashfulness or shyness prevent you telling the Shah what three wishes you wished, for fain would he fulfil them all." Thereat they threw themselves at his feet and, craving his pardon for their boldness and freedom of speech, told him the whole talk, each one repeating the wish she had wished; and on that very day Khusrau Shah married the eldest sister to his chief Baker, and the second sister to his head Cook, and bade make all things ready for his own wedding with the youngest sister. So when the preparations for the royal nuptials had been made after costliest fashion, the King's marriage was celebrated with royal pomp and pageantry, and the bride received the titles of Light of the Harem and Banu of Iran-land. The other two maidens were likewise married, one to the King's Baker the other to his Cook, after a manner according to their several degrees in life and with little show of grandeur and circumstance. Now it had been only right and reasonable that these twain having won each her own wish, should have passed their time in solace and happiness, but the decree of Destiny doomed otherwise; and, as soon as they saw the grand estate whereto their youngest sister had risen, and the magnificence of her marriage-festival, their hearts were fired with envy and jealousy and sore despite and they resolved upon giving the rein to their hatred and malignancy and to work her some foul mischief. On this wise they remained for many months consumed with rancour, day and night; and they burned with grief and anger whenever they sighted aught of her superior style and state. One morning as the two met at the Hammam and found privacy and opportunity, quoth the eldest sister to the second, "A grievous thing it is indeed that she, our youngest sister, no lovelier than ourselves, should thus be raised to the dignity and majesty of Queendom and indeed the thought is overhard to bear." Quoth the other, "O sister mine, I also am perplexed and displeased at this thing, and I know not what of merit the Shah could have seen in her that he was tempted to choose her for his consort. She ill befitteth that high estate with that face like a monkey's favour; and, save her youth, I know nothing that could commend her to his Highness that he should so exalt her above her fellows. To my mind thou and not she art fit to share the royal bed; and I nurse a grudge against the King for that he hath made this jade his Queen." And the eldest sister rejoined, "I likewise marvel beyond all measure; and I swear that thy youth and beauty, thy well-shaped figure and lovely favour and goodliness of gifts past challenge or compare, might well have sufficed to win the King and have tempted him to wed and bed with thee and make thee his crowned Queen and Sovran Lady in lieu of taking to his arms this paltry strumpet. Indeed he hath shown no sense of what is right and just in leaving thee disappointed; and on this account only the matter troubleth me with exceeding trouble."—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

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

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the two sisters took counsel each with other how they might abase their youngest sister in the Shah's sight and cause her downfall and utter ruin. Day and night they conned over the matter in their minds and spoke at great length about it when they ever met together, and pondered endless plans to injure the Queen their sister, and if possible bring about her death; but they could fix upon none. And, whilst they bore this despite and hatred towards her and diligently and deliberately sought the means of gratifying their bitter envy, hatred and malice, she on the other hand regarded them with the same favour and affection as she had done before marriage and thought only how to advantage their low estate. Now when some months of her wedded life had passed, the fair Queen was found to be with child whereof the glad tidings filled the Shah with joy; and straightway he commanded all the people of the capital and throughout the while Empire keep holiday with feasts and dancing and every manner jollity as became so rare and important an occasion. But as soon as the news came to the ears of the two Envious Sisters they were constrained perforce to offer their congratulations to the Queen; and, after a long visit, as the twain were about to crave dismissal they said, "Thanks be to Almighty Allah, O our sister, who hath shown us this happy day. One boon have we to ask of thee: to wit, that when the time shall come for thee to be delivered of a child, we may assist as midwives at thy confinement, and be with thee and nurse thee for the space of forty days." The Queen in her gladness made reply, "O sisters mine, I fain would have it so; for at a time of such need I know f none on whom to rely with such dependence as upon you. During my coming trial your presence with me will be most welcome and opportune; but I can do only what thing the Shah biddeth anor can I do aught save by his leave. My advice is thus:—Make known this matter to your mates who have always access to the royal presence, and let them personally apply for your attendance as midwives; I doubt not but that the Shah will give you leave to assist me and remain by my side, considering the fond relationship between us three." Then the two sisters returned home full of evil thoughts and malice, and told their wishes to their husbands who, in turn, bespake Khusrau Shah, and proffered their petition with all humility, little knowing what was hidden from them in the Secret Purpose. The King replied, "When I shall have thought the matter over in my mind, I will give you suitable orders." So saying he privately visited the Queen and to her said, "O my lady, an it please thee, methinks 'twould be well to summon thy sisters and secure their aidance, when thou shalt be labouring of child, in lieu of any stranger: and if thou be of the same mind as myself let me at once learn and take steps to obtain their consent and concert ere thy time arriveth. They will wait on thee with more loving care than any hired nurse and thou wilt find thyself the safer in their hands." Replied the Queen, "O my lord the Shah, I also venture to think that 'twould be well to have my sisters by my side and not mere aliens at such an hour." Accordingly he sent sword to them and from that day they dwelt within the palace to make all ready for the expected confinement; and on this wise they found means to carry out their despiteful plot which during so many days they had devised to scanty purpose. When her full tale of months had been told, the Banu was brought to bed of a man-child marvellous in beauty, whereat the fire of envy and hatred was kindled with redoubled fury in the sisters' breasts. So they again took counsel not suffered ruth nor natural affection to move their cruel hearts; and presently, with great care and secrecy, they wrapped the new-born in a bit of blanket and putting him into a basket cast him into a canal which flowed hard by the Queen's apartment.[FN#353] They then placed a dead puppy in the place of the prince and showed it to the other midwives and nurses, averring that the Queen had given birth to such abortion. When these untoward tidings reached the King's ear he was sore discomforted and waxed wroth with exceeding wrath.— And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The end of the Six Hundred and Seventieth Night.

Then said she:—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the King, enflamed with sudden fierceness, drew his sword and would have slain his Queen had not the Grand Wazir, who happened to be in his presence at the time, restrained his rage and diverted him from his unjust design and barbarous purpose. Quoth he, "O Shadow of Allah upon earth, this mishap is ordained of the Almighty Lord whose will no man hath power to gainsay. The Queen is guiltless of offence against thee, for what is born of her is born without her choice, and she indeed hath no hand therein." With this and other sage counsels he dissuaded his lord from carrying out his fell purpose and saved the guiltless Queen from a sudden and cruel death. Meanwhile the basket wherein lay the newly-born Prince was carried by the current into a rivulet which flowed through the royal gardens; and, as the Intendant of the pleasure grounds and pleasaunces chanced to walk along the bank, by the decree of Destiny he caught sight of the basket floating by, and he called a gardener, bidding him lay hold of it and bring it to him that he might see what was therein. The man ran along the rivulet side; and, with a long stick drawing the basket to land, showed it to the Intendant who opened it and beheld within a new- born babe, a boy of wondrous beauty wrapped in a bit of blanket; at which sight he was astounded beyond measure of surprise. Now it chanced that the Intendant, who was one of the Emirs and who stood high in favour with the Sovran, had no children: withal he never ceased offering prayers and vows to Almighty Allah that he might have a son to keep alive his memory and continue his name. Delighted at the sight he took home the basket with the babe and giving it to his wife said, "See how Allah hath sent to us this man-child which I just now found floating upon the waters; and do thou apply thee forthright and fetch a wet-nurse to give him milk and nourish him; and bring him up with care and tenderness as though he were thine own." So the Intendant's wife took charge of the child with great gladness and reared him with her whole heart, diligently as though born of her own womb; nor did the Intendant say aught to any, or seek to find out whose might be the child lest haply some one claim and take it from him. He was certified in his mind that the boy came from the Queen's quarter of the palace, but deemed inexpedient to make too strict enquiry concerning the matter; and he and his spouse kept the secret with all secrecy. A year after this the Queen gave birth to a second son, when her sisters, the Satanesses full of spite, did with this babe, even as they had done by the first: they wrapped it in a cloth and set it in a basket which they threw into the stream, then gave out that the Queen had brought forth a kitten. But once more, by the mercy of Allah Almighty, this boy came to the hands of that same Intendant of the gardens who carried him to his wife and placed him under her charge with strict injunctions to take care of the second foundling sedulously as she had done with the first. The Shah, enraged to hear the evil tidings, again rose up to slay the Queen; but as before the Grand Wazir prevented him and calmed his wrath with words of wholesome rede and a second time saved the unhappy mother's life. And after another year had gone by the Banu was brought to bed and this time bore a daughter by whom the sisters did as they had done by her brothers: they set the innocent inside a basket and threw her into the stream; and the Intendant found her also and took her to his wife and bade her rear the infant together with the other two castaways. Hereupon the Envious Sisters, wild with malice, reported that the Queen had given birth to a musk-ratling;[FN#354] whereat King Khusrau could no longer stay his wrath and indignation. So he cried in furious rage to the Grand Wazir, "What, shall the Shah suffer this woman, who beareth naught but vermin and abortions, to share the joys of his bed? Nay more, the King can no longer allow her to live, else she will fill the palace with monstrous births: in very sooth, she is herself a monster, and it behoveth us to rid this place of such unclean creature and accursed." So saying the Shah commanded them do her to death; but the ministers and high officers of estate who stood before the presence fell at the royal feet and besought pardon and mercy for the Queen. The Grand Wazir also said with folded hands, "O Shahihshah[FN#355]—O King of the kings—thy slave would fain represent that 'tis not in accordance with the course of justice or the laws of the land to take the life of a woman for no fault of her own. She cannot interfere with Destiny, nor can she prevent unnatural births such as have thrice betided her; and such mishaps have oftentimes befallen other women, whose cases call for compassion and not punishment. An the King be displeased with her then let him cease to live with her, and the loss of his gracious favour will be a penalty dire enough; and, if the Shah cannot suffer the sight of her, then let her be confined in some room apart, and let her expiate her offence by alms deed and charity until 'Izrail, the Angel of Death, separate her soul from her flesh." Hearing these words of counsel from his aged Councillor, Khusrau Shah recognised that it had been wrong to slay the Queen, for that she could on no wise do away with aught that was determined by Fate and Destiny; and presently he said to the Grand Wazir, "Her life is spared at thine intercession, O wise man and ware; yet will the King doom her to a weird which, haply, is hardly less hard to bear than death. And now do thou forthright make ready, by the side of the Cathedral-mosque, a wooden cage with iron bars and lock the Queen therein as one would confine a ferocious wild beast.[FN#356] Then every Mussulman who wendeth his way to public prayers Shall spit in her face ere he set foot within the fane, and if any fail to carry out this command he shall be punished in like manner. So place guards and inspectors to enforce obedience and let me hear if there be aught of gainsaying." The Wazir durst not make reply but carried out the Shah's commandments; and this punishment inflicted upon the blameless Queen had far better befitted her Envious Sisters.—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

The End of the Six Hundred and Seventy-first Night.

Then said she—I have heard, O auspicious King, that the cage was made ready with all speed; and, when the forty days after purification of child-bed[FN#357] had come to an end, the Banu was locked therein; and, according to the King's commandment, all who came to prayer in the Great Mosque would first spit in her face. The hapless woman, well knowing that she as not worthy of this ignominy, bore her sufferings with all patience and fortitude; nor were they few who deemed her blameless and undeserving to endure these torments and tortures inflicted upon her by the Shah; and they pitied her and offered prayers and made vows for her release. Meanwhile the Intendant of the gardens and his wife brought up the two Princes and the Princess with all love and tenderness; and, as the children grew in years, their love for these adopted ones increased in like proportion. They gave the eldest Prince the name Bahman,[FN#358], and to his brother Parwez,[FN#359], and as the maiden was of rare of beauty and passing of loveliness and graciousness, they called her Perizadah.[FN#360] When the Princes became of years to receive instruction, the Intendant of the gardens appointed tutors and masters to teach them reading and writing and all the arts and sciences: the Princess also, showing like eagerness to acquire knowledge, was taught letters by the same instructors, and soon could read and write with as perfect fluency and fluency as could her brothers. Then they were placed under the most learned of the Philosophers and the Olema, who taught them the interpretation of the Koran and the sayings of the Apostle; the science of geometry as well as poetry and history, and even the abstruse sciences and the mystic doctrines of the Enlightened; and their teachers were astonished to find how soon and how far all three made progress in their studies and bid fair to outstrip even the sages however learned. Moreover, they all three were reared to horsemanship and skill in the chase, to shooting with shafts and lunging with lance and sway with sabre and jerking the Jerid, with other manly and warlike sports. Besides all this the Princess Perizadah was taught to sing and play on various instruments of mirth and merriment, wherein she became the peerless pearl of her age and time. The Intendant was exceeding glad of heart to find his adopted children prove themselves such proficients in every branch of knowledge; and presently, forasmuch as his lodging was small and unfit for the growing family, he bought at a little distance from the city a piece of land sufficiently large to contain fields and meadows and copses. Here he fell to building a mansion of great magnificence; and busied himself day and night with supervising the architects and masons and other artificers. He adorned the walls inside and out with sculptural work of the finest and paintings of the choicest, and he fitted every apartment with richest furniture. In the front of his mansion he bade lay out a garden and stocked it with scented flowers and fragrant shrubs and fruit trees whose produce was as that of Paradise. There was moreover a large park girt on all sides by a high wall wherein he reared game, both fur and feather, as sport for the two Princes and their sister. And when the mansion was finished and fit for habitation, the Intendant, who had faithfully served the Shah for many generations of men, craved leave of his lord that he might bid adieu to the city and take up his abode in his new country seat; and the King, who had always looked upon him with the eye of favour, granted to him the required boon right heartily; furthermore, to prove his high opinion of his old servant and his services, he inquired of him if he had aught to request that it might granted to him. Replied the other, "O my liege lord, thy slave desireth naught save that he may spend the remnant of his days under the shadow of the Shah's protection, with body and soul devoted to his service, even as I served the side before the son," The Shah dismissed him with words of thanks and comfort, when he left the city and taking with him the two Princes and their sister, he carried them to his newly-built mansion. Some years before this time his wife had departed to the mercy of Allah, and he had passed only five or six months in his second home when he too suddenly felt sick and was admitted into the number of those who have found ruth. Withal he had neglected every occasion of telling his three foundlings the strange tale of their birth and how he had carried them to his home as castaways and had reared them as rearlings and had cherished them as his own children. But he had time to charge them, ere he died, that they three should never cease to live together in love and honour and affection and respect one towards other. The loss of their protector caused them to grieve with bitter grief for they all thought he was their real father; so they bewailed them and buried him as befitted; after which the two brothers and their sister dwelt together in peace and plenty. But one day of the days the Princes, who were full of daring and of the highest mettle, rode forth a-hunting and Princess Perizadah was left alone at home when an ancient woman—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

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

Then said she—I have heard, O auspicious King, that perchance an ancient woman of the Moslems, a recluse and a devotee, came to the door and begged leave to enter within and repeat her prayers, as it was then the canonical hour and she had but time to make the Wuzu-ablution. Perizadah bade being her and saluted her with the salam and kindly welcomed her; then, when the holy woman had made an end of her orisons, the handmaids of the Princess, at her command, conducted her all through the house and grounds, and displayed to her the rooms with their furniture and fittings, and lastly the garden and orchard and game-park. She was well pleased with all she saw and said within herself, "The man who built this mansion and laid out these parterres and vergiers was verily an accomplished artist and a wight of marvellous skill." At last the slaves led her back to the Princess who, awaiting her return, was sitting in the belvedere; and quoth she to the devotee, "Come, O good my mother, do thou sit beside me and make me happy by the company of a pious recluse whom I am fortunate enough to have entertained unawares, and suffer I listen to thy words of grace and thereby gain no small advantage in this world and the next. Thou hast chosen the right path and straight whereon to walk, and that which all men strive for and pine for." The holy woman would fain have seated herself at the feet of the Princess, but she courteously arose and took her by the hand and constrained her to sit beside her. Quoth she, "O my lady, mine eyes never yet beheld one so well-mannered as thou art: indeed, I am unworthy to sit with thee, natheless, as thou biddest, I will e'en do thy bidding." As they sat conversing each with other the slave-girls set before them a table whereon were placed some platters of bread and cakes with saucers full of fruits both fresh and dried, and various kinds of cates and sweetmeats. The Princess took one of the cakes and giving it to the good woman said, "O my mother, refresh thyself herewith and eat of the fruits such as thou likest. 'Tis now long since thou didst leave thy home and I trow thou hast not tasted aught of food upon the road." Replied the holy woman, "O lady of gentle birth, I am not wont to taste of dainty dishes such as these, but I can ill refuse thy provision, since Allah the Almighty deigneth send me food and support by so liberal and generous a hand as thine." And when they twain had eaten somewhat and cheered their hearts, the Princess asked the devotee concerning the manner of her worship and of her austere life; whereto she made due answer and explained according to her knowledge. The Princess then exclaimed, "Tell me, I pray thee, what thou thinkest of this mansion and the fashion of its building and the furniture and the appurtenances; and say me is all perfect and appropriate, or is aught still lacking in mansion or garden?" And she replied, "Since thou deignest ask my opinion, I confess to thee that both the buildings and the parterres are finished and furnished to perfection; and the belongings are in the best of taste and in the highest of ordinance. Still to my thinking there be three things here wanting, which if thou hadst the place would be most complete." The Princess Perizadah adjured her saying, "O my aunt, I beseech thee tell me what three articles yet are lacking, that I may lose no pains nor toil to obtain them;" and as the maiden pressed her with much intreaty, the devotee was constrained to tell her. Quoth she, "O gentle lady, the first thing is the Speaking-Bird, called Bulbul-i- hazar-dastan;[FN#361] he is very rare and hard to find but, whenever he poureth out his melodious notes, thousands of birds fly to him from every side and join him in his harmony. The next thing is the Singing-Tree, whose smooth and glossy leaves when shaken by the wind and rubbed against one another send forth tuneful tones which strike the ear like the notes of sweet-voices minstrels ravishing the heart of all who listen. The third thing is the Golden-Water of transparent purity, whereon should but one drop be dripped into a basin and this be placed inside the garden it presently will fill the vessel brimful and will spout upwards in gerbes playing like a fountain that jets: moreover it never ceaseth playing, and all the water as it shooteth up falleth back again inside the basin, not one gout thereof being lost." Replied the Princess, "I doubt not but thou knowest for a certainty the very spot where these wondrous things are to be found; and I pray thee tell me now the place and means whereby I may take action to obtain them."—And as the morn began to dawn Shahrazad held her peace till

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