THE STORY OF THE KING'S SON

THE STORY OF THE KING'S SON



I was scarcely past my infancy when the king my father perceived
that I was endowed with a great deal of sense, and spared nothing
in improving it; he employed all the men in his dominions that
excelled in science and art to be constantly about me. No sooner
was I able to read and write than I learned the Koran from the
beginning to the end by heart; that admirable book which contains
the foundation, the precepts, and the rules of our religion; and
that I might be thoroughly instructed in it, I read the works of
the most approved authors, by whose commentaries it had been
explained. I added to this study that of all the traditions
collected from the mouth of our Prophet by the great men that were
contemporary with him. I was not satisfied with the knowledge of
all that had any relation to our religion, but made also a
particular search into our histories. I made myself perfect in
polite learning, in the works of poets, and in versification. I
applied myself to geography, chronology, and to speak our Arabic
tongue in its purity. But one thing which I was fond of and
succeeded in to a special degree was to form the characters of our
written language, wherein I surpassed all the writing masters of
our kingdom that had acquired the greatest reputation.

Fame did me more honour than I deserved, for she not only spread
the renown of my talents through all the dominions of the king my
father, but carried it as far as the Indian court, whose potent
monarch, desirous to see me, sent an ambassador with rich presents
to demand me of my father, who was extremely glad of this embassy
for several reasons; he was persuaded that nothing could be more
commendable in a prince of my age than to travel and visit foreign
courts, and he was very glad to gain the friendship of the Indian
sultan. I departed with the ambassador, but with no great retinue,
because of the length and difficulty of the journey.

When we had travelled about a month, we discovered at a distance a
great cloud of dust, and under that we very soon saw fifty
horsemen, well armed, that were robbers, coming towards us at full
gallop.

As we had ten horses laden with baggage and presents that I was to
carry to the Indian sultan from the king my father, and my retinue
was but small, these robbers came boldly up to us. Not being in a
position to make any resistance, we told them that we were
ambassadors belonging to the Sultan of the Indies, and hoped they
would attempt nothing contrary to that respect which is due to him,
thinking by this means to save our equipage and our lives.

But the robbers most insolently replied, 'For what reason would you
have us show any respect to the sultan your master? We are none of
his subjects, nor are we upon his territories.'

Having spoken thus, they surrounded and fell upon us. I defended
myself as long as I could, but finding myself wounded, and seeing
the ambassador with his servants and mine lying on the ground, I
made use of what strength was yet remaining in my horse, who was
also very much wounded, separated myself from the crowd, and rode
away as fast as he could carry me; but he happened all of a sudden
to give way under me, through weariness and loss of blood, and fell
down dead. I got rid of him in a trice, and finding that I was not
pursued, it made me judge that the robbers were not willing to quit
the booty they had got.

Here you see me alone, wounded, destitute of help, and in a strange
country: I durst not betake myself to the high road, lest I might
fall again into the hands of these robbers. When I had bound up my
wound, which was not dangerous, I walked on for the rest of the
day, and arrived at the foot of a mountain, where I perceived a
passage into a cave: I went in, and stayed there that night with
little satisfaction, after I had eaten some fruits that I gathered
by the way.

I continued my journey for several days without finding any place
of abode; but after a month's time, I came to a large town, well
inhabited, and situated so advantageously, as it was surrounded
with several rivers, that it enjoyed perpetual spring.

The pleasant objects which then presented themselves to my eyes
afforded me joy, and suspended for a time the sorrow with which I
was overwhelmed to find myself in such a condition. My face, hands
and feet were black and sunburnt; and, owing to my long journey, my
shoes and stockings were quite worn out, so that I was forced to
walk bare-footed, and, besides, my clothes were all in rags. I
entered into the town to learn where I was, and addressed myself to
a tailor that was at work in his shop; who, perceiving by my air
that I was a person of more note than my outward appearance bespoke
me to be, made me sit down by him, and asked me who I was, from
whence I came, and what had brought me thither? I did not conceal
anything that had befallen me.

The tailor listened with attention to my words; but after I had
done speaking, instead of giving me any consolation, he augmented
my sorrow.

'Take heed,' said he, 'how you discover to any person what you have
now declared to me; for the prince of this country is the greatest
enemy that the king your father has, and he will certainly do you
some mischief when he comes to hear of your being in this city.'

I made no doubt of the tailor's sincerity, when he named the
prince, and returned him thanks for his good advice: and as he
believed I could not but be hungry, he ordered something to be
brought for me to eat, and offered me at the same time a lodging in
his house, which I accepted. Some days after, finding me pretty
well recovered from the fatigue I had endured by a long and tedious
journey, and reflecting that most princes of our religion applied
themselves to some art or calling that might be serviceable to them
upon occasion, he asked me if I had learnt anything whereby I might
get a livelihood, and not be burdensome to any one? I told him that
I understood the laws, both divine and human; that I was a
grammarian and poet; and, above all, that I understood writing
perfectly.

'By all this,' said he, 'you will not be able, in this country, to
purchase yourself one morsel of bread; nothing is of less use here
than those sciences: but if you will be advised by me,' said he,
'dress yourself in a labourer's frock; and since you appear to be
strong and of a good constitution, you shall go into the next
forest and cut fire-wood, which you may bring to the market to be
sold; and I can assure you it will turn to such good account that
you may live by it, without dependence upon any man: and by this
means you will be in a condition to wait for the favourable moment
when Heaven shall think fit to dispel those clouds of misfortune
that thwart your happiness, and oblige you to conceal your birth. I
will take care to supply you with a rope and a hatchet.'

The fear of being known, and the necessity I was under of getting a
livelihood, made me agree to this proposal, notwithstanding all the
hardships that attended it. The day following the tailor bought me
a rope, a hatchet, and a short coat, and recommended me to some
poor people who gained their bread after the same manner, that they
might take me into their company. They conducted me to the wood,
and the first day I brought in as much upon my head as earned me
half a piece of gold, which is the money of that country; for
though the wood is not far distant from the town, yet it was very
scarce there, for few or none would be at the trouble to go and cut
it. I gained a good sum of money in a short time, and repaid my
tailor what he had advanced for me.

I continued this way of living for a whole year; and one day, when
by chance I had gone farther into the wood than usual, I happened
to light on a very pleasant place, where I began to cut down wood;
and in pulling up the root of a tree, I espied an iron ring,
fastened to a trap-door of the same metal. I took away the earth
that covered it, and having lifted it up, saw stairs, down which I
went, with my axe in my hand.

When I came to the bottom of the stairs, I found myself in a large
palace, which put me into great consternation, because of a great
light which appeared as clear in it as if it had been above ground
in the open air. I went forward along a gallery supported by
pillars of jasper, the base and capitals of massy gold; but seeing
a lady of a noble and free air and extremely beautiful coming
towards me, my eyes were taken off from beholding any other object
but her alone.

Being desirous to spare the lady the trouble of coming to me, I
made haste to meet her; and as I was saluting her with a low bow,
she asked me, 'What are you, a man or a genie?'

'A man, madam,' said I: 'I have no correspondence with genies.'

'By what adventure,' said she, fetching a deep sigh, 'are you come
hither? I have lived here these twenty-five years, and never saw
any man but yourself during that time.'

Her great beauty, and the sweetness and civility wherewith she
received me, emboldened me to say to her, 'Madam, before I have the
honour to satisfy your curiosity, give me leave to tell you that I
am infinitely pleased with this unexpected meeting, which offers me
an occasion of consolation in the midst of my affliction; and
perhaps it may give me an opportunity to make you also more happy
than you are.' I gave her a true account by what strange accident
she saw me, the son of a king, in such a condition as I then
presented to her eyes; and how fortune directed that I should
discover the entrance into that magnificent prison where I had
found her according to appearances in an unpleasant situation.

'Alas! prince,' said she, sighing once more, 'you have just cause
to believe this rich and pompous prison cannot be otherwise than a
most wearisome abode; the most charming place in the world being no
way delightful when we are detained there contrary to our will. You
have heard of the great Epitimarus, King of the Isle of Ebony, so
called from that precious wood, which it produces in abundance: I
am the princess his daughter.

'The king, my father, had chosen for me a husband, a prince that
was my cousin; but in the midst of the rejoicing at the court,
before I was given to my husband, a genie took me away. I fainted
at the same moment, and lost my senses; and when I came to myself
again, I found myself in this place. I was for a long time
inconsolable, but time and necessity have accustomed me to the
genie. Twenty-five years, as I told you before, I have continued in
this place; where, I must confess, I have everything that I can
wish for necessary to life, and also everything that can satisfy a
princess fond of dress and fashions.

'Every ten days,' continued the princess, 'the genie comes hither
to see me. Meanwhile, if I have occasion for him by day or night,
as soon as I touch a talisman which is at the entrance into my
chamber, the genie appears. It is now the fourth day since he was
here, and I do not expect him before the end of six more; so, if
you please, you may stay five days and keep me company, and I will
endeavour to entertain you according to your rank and merit.'

I thought myself too fortunate in having obtained so great a favour
without asking it to refuse so obliging an offer. The princess made
me go into a bath, which was the most sumptuous that could be
imagined; and when I came forth, instead of my own clothes, I found
another very costly suit, which I did not esteem so much for its
richness as because it made me look worthy to be in her company. We
sat down on a sofa covered with rich tapestry, with cushions to
lean upon of the rarest Indian brocade; and soon after she covered
a table with several dishes of delicate meats. We ate together, and
passed the remaining part of the day with much satisfaction.

The next day, as she contrived every means to please me, she
brought in, at dinner, a bottle of old wine, the most excellent
that ever was tasted; and out of complaisance she drank some part
of it with me. When my head grew hot with the agreeable liquor,
'Fair princess,' said I, 'you have been too long thus buried alive:
follow me, and enjoy the real day, from which you have been
deprived so many years, and abandon this false light that you have
here.'

'Prince,' replied she, with a smile, 'stop this discourse; if out
of ten days you will grant me nine, and resign the last to the
genie, the fairest day that ever was would be nothing in my
esteem.'

'Princess,' said I, 'it is the fear of the genie that makes you
speak thus; for my part, I value him so little that I will break
his talisman in pieces. Let him come, I will expect him; and how
brave or redoubtable soever he be, I will make him feel the weight
of my arm: I swear, solemnly that I will extirpate all the genies
in the world, and him first.' The princess, who knew the
consequences, conjured me not to touch the talisman; 'for that
would be a means,' said she, 'to ruin both you and me: I know what
belongs to genies better than you.' The fumes of the wine did not
suffer me to hearken to her reasons; but I gave the talisman a kick
with my foot, and broke it in several pieces.

The talisman was no sooner broken, than the palace began to shake,
and was ready to fall with a hideous noise like thunder,
accompanied with flashes of lightning and a great darkness. This
terrible noise in a moment dispelled the fumes of my wine, and made
me sensible, but too late, of the folly I had committed.
'Princess,' cried I, 'what means all this?'

She answered in a fright, and without any concern for her own
misfortune, 'Alas! you are undone, if you do not escape
immediately.'

I followed her advice, and my fears were so great that I forgot my
hatchet and cords. I had scarcely got to the stairs by which I came
down, when the enchanted palace opened, and made a passage for the
genie: he asked the princess, in great anger, 'What has happened to
you, and why did you call me?'

'A qualm,' said the princess, 'made me fetch this bottle which you
see here, out of which I drank twice or thrice, and by mischance
made a false step, and fell upon the talisman, which is broken, and
that is all.'

At this answer the furious genie told her, 'You are a false woman,
and a liar: how came that axe and those cords there?'

'I never saw them till this moment,' said the princess. 'Your
coming in such an impetuous manner has, it may be, forced them up
in some place as you came along, and so brought them hither without
your knowing it.'

The genie made no other answer but reproaches and blows of which I
heard the noise. I could not endure to hear the pitiful cries and
shouts of the princess, so cruelly abused; I had already laid off
the suit she made me put on, and taken my own, which I had laid on
the stairs the day before, when I came out of the bath; I made
haste upstairs, distracted with sorrow and compassion, as I had
been the cause of so great a misfortune. For by sacrificing the
fairest princess on earth to the barbarity of a merciless genie, I
was become the most criminal and ungrateful of mankind. 'It is
true,' said I, 'she has been a prisoner these twenty-five years;
but, liberty excepted, she wanted nothing that could make her
happy. My folly has put an end to her happiness, and brought upon
her the cruelty of an unmerciful monster.' I let down the trap-
door, covered it again with earth, and returned to the city with a
burden of wood, which I bound up without knowing what I did, so
great was my trouble and sorrow.

My landlord, the tailor, was very much rejoiced to see me. 'Your
absence,' said he, 'has disquieted me very much, because you had
entrusted me with the secret of your birth, and I knew not what to
think; I was afraid somebody had discovered you: God be thanked for
your return.' I thanked him for his zeal and affection, but not a
word durst I say of what had passed, nor the reason why I came back
without my hatchet and cords.

I retired to my chamber, where I reproached myself a thousand times
for my excessive imprudence. 'Nothing,' said I, 'could have
paralleled the princess's good fortune and mine had I forborne to
break the talisman.'

While I was thus giving myself over to melancholy thoughts, the
tailor came in. 'An old man,' said he, 'whom I do not know, brings
me here your hatchet and cords, which he found in his way, as he
tells me, and understood from your comrades that you lodge here;
come out and speak to him, for he will deliver them to none but
yourself.'

At this discourse I changed colour, and began to tremble. While the
tailor was asking me the reason, my chamber door opened, and the
old man appeared to us with my hatchet and cords. This was the
genie, the ravisher of the fair princess of the Isle of Ebony, who
had thus disguised himself, after he had treated her with the
utmost barbarity. 'I am a genie,' said he, 'son of the daughter of
Eblis, prince of genies. Is not this your hatchet, and are not
these your cords?'

After the genie had put the question to me, he gave me no time to
answer, nor was it in my power, so much had his terrible aspect
disordered me. He grasped me by the middle, dragged me out of the
chamber, and mounting into the air, carried me up to the skies with
such swiftness that I was unable to take notice of the way he
carried me. He descended again in like manner to the earth, which
on a sudden he caused to open with a stroke of his foot, and so
sank down at once, where I found myself in the enchanted palace,
before the fair princess of the Isle of Ebony. But alas, what a
spectacle was there! I saw what pierced me to the heart; this poor
princess was weltering in her blood upon the ground, more dead than
alive, with her cheeks bathed in tears.

'Perfidious wretch,' said the genie to her; pointing at me, 'who is
this?'

She cast her languishing eyes upon me, and answered mournfully, 'I
do not know him; I never saw him till this moment.'

'What!' said the genie, 'he is the cause of thy being in the
condition thou art justly in, and yet darest thou say thou dost not
know him?'

'If I do not know him,' said the princess, 'would you have me tell
a lie on purpose to ruin him?'

'Oh then,' continued the genie, pulling out a scimitar, and
presenting it to the princess, 'if you never saw him before, take
the scimitar and cut off his head.'

'Alas!' replied the princess, 'my strength is so far spent that I
cannot lift up my arm, and if I could, how should I have the heart
to take away the life of an innocent man?'

'This refusal,' said the genie to the princess, 'sufficiently
informs me of your crime.' Upon which, turning to me, 'And thou,'
said he, 'dost thou not know her?'

I should have been the most ungrateful wretch, and the most
perfidious of all mankind, if I had not shown myself as faithful to
the princess as she was to me who had been the cause of her
misfortunes; therefore I answered the genie, 'How should I know
her?'

'If it be so,' said he, 'take the scimitar and cut off her head: on
this condition I will set thee at liberty, for then I shall be
convinced that thou didst never see her till this very moment, as
thou sayest.'

'With all my heart,' replied I, and took the scimitar in my hand.

But I did it only to demonstrate by my behaviour, as much as
possible, that as she had shown her resolution to sacrifice her
life for my sake, I would not refuse to sacrifice mine for hers.
The princess, notwithstanding her pain and suffering, understood my
meaning, which she signified by an obliging look. Upon this I
stepped back, and threw the scimitar on the ground. 'I should for
ever,' said I to the genie, 'be hateful to all mankind were I to be
so base as to murder a lady like this, who is ready to give up the
ghost: do with me what you please, since I am in your power; I
cannot obey your barbarous commands.'

'I see,' said the genie, 'that you both outbrave me, but both of
you shall know, by the treatment I give you, what I am capable of
doing.' At these words the monster took up the scimitar and cut off
one of her hands, which left her only so much life as to give me a
token with the other that she bid me adieu for ever, the sight of
which threw me into a fit. When I was come to myself again, I
expostulated with the genie as to why he made me languish in
expectation of death. 'Strike,' cried I, 'for I am ready to receive
the mortal blow, and expect it as the greatest favour you can show
me.' But instead of agreeing to that, 'Look you,' said he, 'how
genies treat their wives whom they suspect: she has received you
here, and were I certain that she had put any further affront upon
me, I would put you to death this minute: but I will be content to
transform you into a dog, ape, lion, or bird. Take your choice of
any of these; I will leave it to yourself.'

These words gave me some hope to mollify him. 'Oh genie,' said I,
'moderate your passion, and since you will not take away my life,
give it me generously; I shall always remember you, if you pardon
me, as one of the best men in the world.'

'All that I can do for you,' said he, 'is, not to take your life:
do not flatter yourself that I will send you back safe and sound; I
must let you feel what I am able to do by my enchantments.' So
saying, he laid violent hands on me, and carried me across the
vault of the subterranean palace, which opened to give him passage.
Then he flew up with me so high that the earth seemed to be only a
little white cloud; from thence he came down like lightning, and
alighted upon the ridge of a mountain.

There he took up a handful of earth, and pronounced, or rather
muttered, some words which I did not understand, and threw it upon
me. 'Quit the shape of a man,' said he to me, 'and take on you that
of an ape.' He vanished immediately, and left me alone, transformed
into an ape, overwhelmed with sorrow in a strange country, and not
knowing whether I was near or far from my father's dominions.

I went down from the top of the mountain and came into a plain,
which took me a month's time to travel through, and then I came to
the seaside. It happened to be then a great calm, and I espied a
vessel about half a league from the shore. Unwilling to lose this
good opportunity, I broke off a large branch from a tree, which I
carried with me to the seaside, and set myself astride upon it,
with a stick in each hand to serve me for oars.

I launched out in this posture, and advanced near the ship. When I
was near enough to be known, the seamen and passengers that were
upon the deck thought it an extraordinary sight, and all of them
looked upon me with great astonishment. In the meantime I got
aboard, and laying hold of a rope, I jumped upon the deck, but
having lost my speech, I found myself in great perplexity; and
indeed the risk I ran then was nothing less than when I was at the
mercy of the genie.

The merchants, being both superstitious and scrupulous, believed I
should occasion some mischief to their voyage if they received me;
'therefore,' said one, 'I will knock him down with a handspike';
said another, 'I will shoot an arrow through him'; said a third,
'Let us throw him into the sea.' Some of them would not have failed
to do so, if I had not got to that side where the captain was. I
threw myself at his feet, and took him by the coat in a begging
posture. This action, together with the tears which he saw gush
from my eyes, moved his compassion; so that he took me under his
protection, threatening to be revenged on him that would do me the
least hurt; and he himself made very much of me, while I on my
part, though I had no power to speak, showed all possible signs of
gratitude by my gestures.

The wind that succeeded the calm was gentle and favourable, and did
not change for fifty days, but brought us safe to the port of a
fine city, well peopled, and of great trade, the capital of a
powerful State, where we came to anchor.

Our vessel was speedily surrounded with an infinite number of boats
full of people, who came to congratulate their friends upon their
safe arrival, or to inquire for those they had left behind them in
the country from whence they came, or out of curiosity to see a
ship that came from a far country.

Amongst the rest, some officers came on board, desiring to speak
with the merchants in the name of the sultan. The merchants
appearing, one of the officers told them, 'The sultan, our master,
hath commanded us to acquaint you that he is glad of your safe
arrival, and prays you to take the trouble, every one of you, to
write some lines upon this roll of paper. You must know that we had
a prime vizier who, besides having a great capacity to manage
affairs, understood writing to the highest perfection. This
minister is lately dead, at which the sultan is very much troubled;
and since he can never behold his writing without admiration, he
has made a solemn vow not to give the place to any man but to him
who can write as well as he did. Many people have presented their
writings, but, so far, nobody in all this empire has been judged
worthy to supply the vizier's place.'

Those merchants that believed they could write well enough to
aspire to this high dignity wrote one after another what they
thought fit. After they had done, I advanced, and took the roll out
of the gentleman's hand; but all the people, especially the
merchants, cried out, 'He will tear it, or throw it into the sea,'
till they saw how properly I held the roll, and made a sign that I
would write in my turn; then they were of another opinion, and
their fear turned into admiration. However, since they had never
seen an ape that could write, nor could be persuaded that I was
more ingenious than other apes, they tried to snatch the roll out
of my hand; but the captain took my part once more. 'Let him
alone,' said he; 'suffer him to write. If he only scribbles the
paper, I promise you that I will punish him on the spot. If, on the
contrary, he writes well, as I hope he will, because I never saw an
ape so clever and ingenious and so quick of apprehension, I do
declare that I will own him as my son; I had one that had not half
the wit that he has.' Perceiving that nobody opposed my design, I
took the pen and wrote six sorts of hands used among the Arabians,
and each specimen contained an extemporary verse or poem in praise
of the sultan. My writing did not only excel that of the merchants,
but, I venture to say, they had not before seen any such fair
writing in that country. When I had done, the officers took the
roll, and carried it to the sultan.

The sultan took little notice of any of the other writings, but he
carefully considered mine, which was so much to his liking that he
said to the officers, 'Take the finest horse in my stable, with the
richest harness, and a robe of the most sumptuous brocade to put
upon that person who wrote the six hands, and bring him hither to
me.' At this command the officers could not forbear laughing. The
sultan grew angry at their boldness, and was ready to punish them,
till they told him, 'Sir, we humbly beg your majesty's pardon;
these hands were not written by a man, but by an ape.'

'What do you say?' said the sultan. 'Those admirable characters,
are they not written by the hands of a man?'

'No, sir,' replied the officers; 'we do assure your majesty that it
was an ape, who wrote them in our presence.'

The sultan was too much surprised at this not to desire a sight of
me, and therefore said, 'Bring me speedily that wonderful ape.'

The officers returned to the vessel and showed the captain their
order, who answered that the sultan's commands must be obeyed.
Whereupon they clothed me with that rich brocade robe and carried
me ashore, where they set me on horseback, whilst the sultan waited
for me at his palace with a great number of courtiers, whom he
gathered together to do me the more honour.

The cavalcade having begun, the harbour, the streets, the public
places, windows, terraces, palaces, and houses were filled with an
infinite number of people of all sorts, who flocked from all parts
of the city to see me; for the rumour was spread in a moment that
the sultan had chosen an ape to be his grand vizier; and after
having served for a spectacle to the people, who could not forbear
to express their surprise by redoubling their shouts and cries, I
arrived at the palace of the sultan.

I found the prince on his throne in the midst of the grandees; I
made my bow three times very low, and at last kneeled and kissed
the ground before him, and afterwards sat down in the posture of an
ape. The whole assembly admired me, and could not comprehend how it
was possible that an ape should understand so well how to pay the
sultan his due respect; and he himself was more astonished than any
one. In short, the usual ceremony of the audience would have been
complete could I have added speech to my behaviour: but apes never
speak, and the advantage I had of having been a man did not allow
me that privilege.

The sultan dismissed his courtiers, and none remained by him but
the chief of the chamberlains, a young slave, and myself. He went
from his chamber of audience into his own apartment, where he
ordered dinner to be brought. As he sat at table he gave me a sign
to come near and eat with them: to show my obedience I kissed the
ground, stood up, sat down at table, and ate with discretion and
moderation.

Before the table was uncovered, I espied a writing-desk, which I
made a sign should be brought me: having got it, I wrote upon a
large peach some verses after my way, which testified my
acknowledgment to the sultan, which increased his astonishment.
When the table was uncovered, they brought him a particular liquor,
of which he caused them to give me a glass. I drank, and wrote upon
it some new verses, which explained the state I was reduced to
after many sufferings. The sultan read them likewise, and said, 'A
man that was capable of doing so much would be above the greatest
of men.'

The sultan caused them to bring in a chess-board, and asked me, by
a sign, if I understood the game, and would play with him. I kissed
the ground, and laying my hand upon my head, signified that I was
ready to receive that honour. He won the first game, but I won the
second and third; and perceiving he was somewhat displeased at it,
I made a poem to pacify him; in which I told him that two potent
armies had been fighting furiously all day, but that they made up a
peace towards the evening, and passed the remaining part of the
night very peaceably together upon the field of battle.

So many circumstances appearing to the sultan far beyond whatever
any one had either seen or known of the cleverness or sense of
apes, he determined not to be the only witness of those prodigies
himself; but having a daughter, called the Lady of Beauty, on whom
the chief of the chamberlains, then present, waited, 'Go,' said the
sultan to him, 'and bid your lady come hither: I am desirous she
should share my pleasure.'

The chamberlain went, and immediately brought the princess, who had
her face uncovered; but she had no sooner come into the room than
she put on her veil, and said to the sultan, 'Sir, your majesty
must needs have forgotten yourself: I am very much surprised that
your majesty has sent for me to appear among men.'

'Nay, daughter,' said the sultan, 'you do not know what you say:
here is nobody but the little slave, the chamberlain your attendant
and myself, who have the liberty to see your face; and yet you
lower your veil, and blame me for having sent for you hither.'

'Sir,' said the princess, 'your majesty shall soon understand that
I am not in the wrong. That ape you see before you, though he has
the shape of an ape, is a young prince, son of a great king; he has
been metamorphosed into an ape by enchantment. A genie, the son of
the daughter of Eblis, has maliciously done him this wrong, after
having cruelly taken away the life of the Princess of the Isle of
Ebony, daughter to the King Epitimarus.'

The sultan, astonished at this discourse, turned towards me and
asked no more by signs, but in plain words if it was true what his
daughter said? Seeing I could not speak, I put my hand to my head
to signify that what the princess spoke was true. Upon this the
sultan said again to his daughter, 'How do you know that this
prince has been transformed by enchantments into an ape?'

'Sir,' replied the Lady of Beauty, 'your majesty may remember that
when I was past my infancy, I had an old lady to wait upon me; she
was a most expert magician, and taught me seventy rules of magic,
by virtue of which I can transport your capital city into the midst
of the sea in the twinkling of an eye, or beyond Mount Caucasus. By
this science I know all enchanted persons at first sight. I know
who they are, and by whom they have been enchanted. Therefore do
not be surprised if I should forthwith relieve this prince, in
spite of the enchantments, from that which hinders him from
appearing in your sight what he naturally is.'

'Daughter,' said the sultan, 'I did not believe you to have
understood so much.'

'Sir,' replied the princess, 'these things are curious and worth
knowing, but I think I ought not to boast of them.'

'Since it is so,' said the sultan, 'you can dispel the prince's
enchantment.'

'Yes, sir,' said the princess, 'I can restore him to his first
shape again.'

'Do it then,' said the sultan; 'you cannot do me a greater
pleasure, for I will have him to be my vizier, and he shall marry
you.'

'Sir,' said the princess, 'I am ready to obey you in all that you
may be pleased to command me.'

The princess, the Lady of Beauty, went into her apartment, from
whence she brought in a knife, which had some Hebrew words engraven
on the blade; she made the sultan, the master of the chamberlains,
the little slave, and myself, go down into a private court of the
palace, and there left us under a gallery that went round it. She
placed herself in the middle of the court, where she made a great
circle, and within it she wrote several words in Arabic characters,
some of them ancient, and others of those which they call the
characters of Cleopatra.

When she had finished and prepared the circle as she thought fit,
she placed herself in the centre of it, where she began spells, and
repeated verses out of the Koran. The air grew insensibly dark, as
if it had been night and the whole world about to be dissolved; we
found ourselves struck with a panic, and this fear increased the
more when we saw the genie, the son of the daughter of Eblis,
appear on a sudden in the shape of a lion of a frightful size.

As soon as the princess perceived this monster, 'You dog,' said
she, 'instead of creeping before me, dare you present yourself in
this shape, thinking to frighten me?'

'And thou,' replied the lion, 'art thou not afraid to break the
treaty which was solemnly made and confirmed between us by oath,
not to wrong or to do one another any hurt?'

'Oh! thou cursed creature!' replied the princess, 'I can justly
reproach thee with doing so.'

The lion answered fiercely, 'Thou shalt quickly have thy reward for
the trouble thou hast given me to return.' With that he opened his
terrible throat, and ran at her to devour her, but she, being on
her guard, leaped backward, got time to pull out one of her hairs
and, by pronouncing three or four words, changed it into a sharp
sword, wherewith she cut the lion through the middle in two pieces.

The two parts of the lion vanished, and the head only was left,
which changed itself into a large scorpion. Immediately the
princess turned herself into a serpent, and fought the scorpion,
who finding himself worsted, took the shape of an eagle, and flew
away; but the serpent at the same time took also the shape of an
eagle that was black and much stronger, and pursued him, so that we
lost sight of them both.

Some time after they had disappeared, the ground opened before us,
and out of it came forth a cat, black and white, with her hair
standing upright, and mewing in a frightful manner; a black wolf
followed her close, and gave her no time to rest. The cat, being
thus hard beset, changed herself into a worm, and being nigh to a
pomegranate that had accidentally fallen from a tree that grew on
the side of a canal which was deep but not broad, the worm pierced
the pomegranate in an instant, and hid itself. The pomegranate
swelled immediately, and became as big as a gourd, which, mounting
up to the roof of the gallery, rolled there for some space
backwards and forwards, fell down again into the court, and broke
into several pieces.

The wolf, which had in the meanwhile transformed itself into a
cock, fell to picking up the seeds of the pomegranate one after
another, but finding no more, he came towards us with his wings
spread, making a great noise, as if he would ask us whether there
were any more seeds. There was one lying on the brink of the canal,
which the cock perceived as he went back, and ran speedily thither,
but just as he was going to pick it up, the seed rolled into the
river, and turned into a little fish.

The cock jumped into the river and was turned into a pike that
pursued the small fish; they continued both under water for over
two hours, and we knew not what had become of them. All of a sudden
we heard terrible cries, which made us tremble, and a little while
after we saw the genie and princess all in flames. They threw
flashes of fire out of their mouths at each other, till they came
to close quarters; then the two fires increased, with a thick
burning smoke, which mounted so high that we had reason to fear it
would set the palace on fire. But we very soon had a more urgent
reason for fear, for the genie, having got loose from the princess,
came to the gallery where we stood, and blew flames of fire upon
us. We should all have perished if the princess, running to our
assistance, had not by her cries forced him to retire, and defend
himself against her; yet, notwithstanding all her exertions, she
could not hinder the sultan's beard from being burnt, and his face
spoiled, nor the chief of the chamberlains from being stifled and
burnt on the spot. The sultan and I expected nothing but death,
when we heard a cry of 'Victory, victory!' and on a sudden the
princess appeared in her natural shape, but the genie was reduced
to a heap of ashes.

The princess came near to us that she might not lose time, called
for a cupful of water, which the young slave, who had received no
damage, brought her. She took it, and after pronouncing some words
over it, threw it upon me, saying, 'If thou art become an ape by
enchantment, change thy shape, and take that of a man, which thou
hadst before.' These words were hardly uttered when I became a man
as I was before.

I was preparing to give thanks to the princess, but she prevented
me by addressing herself to her father, thus: 'Sir, I have gained
the victory over the genie, as your majesty may see; but it is a
victory that costs me dear. I have but a few minutes to live, and
you will not have the satisfaction of making the match you
intended; the fire has pierced me during the terrible combat, and I
find it is consuming me by degrees. This would not have happened
had I perceived the last of the pomegranate seeds, and swallowed it
as I did the others, when I was changed into a cock; the genie had
fled thither as to his last entrenchment, and upon that the success
of the combat depended, without danger to me. This slip obliged me
to have recourse to fire, and to fight with those mighty arms as I
did between heaven and earth, in your presence; for, in spite of
all his redoubtable art and experience, I made the genie know that
I understood more than he. I have conquered and reduced him to
ashes, but I cannot escape death, which is approaching.'

The sultan suffered the princess, the Lady Or Beauty, to go on with
the recital of her combat, and when she had done he spoke to her in
a tone that sufficiently testified his grief: 'My daughter,' said
he, 'you see in what condition your father is; alas! I wonder that
I am yet alive!' He could speak no more, for his tears, sighs and
sobs made him speechless; his daughter and I wept with him.

In the meantime, while we were vieing with each other in grief the
princess cried, 'I burn! I burn!' She found that the fire which
consumed her had at last seized upon her whole body, which made her
still cry 'I burn,' until death had made an end of her intolerable
pains. The effect of that fire was so extraordinary that in a few
moments she was wholly reduced to ashes, like the genie.

How grieved I was at so dismal a spectacle! I had rather all my
life have continued an ape or a dog than to have seen my
benefactress thus miserably perish. The sultan, being afflicted
beyond all that can be imagined, cried out piteously, and beat
himself on his head, until being quite overcome with grief, he
fainted away, which made me fear for his life. In the meantime the
officers came running at the sultan's cries, and with very much ado
brought him to himself again. There was no need for him and me to
give them a long narrative of this adventure, in order to convince
them of their great loss. The two heaps of ashes, into which the
princess and the genie had been reduced, were sufficient
demonstration. The sultan was hardly able to stand, but had to be
supported till he could get to his apartment.

When the news of the tragical event had spread through the palace
and the city, all the people bewailed the misfortune of the
princess, the Lady of Beauty, and were much affected by the
sultan's affliction. Every one was in deep mourning for seven days,
and many ceremonies were performed. The ashes of the genie were
thrown into the air, but those of the princess were gathered into a
precious urn to be kept, and the urn was set in a stately tomb
which was built for that purpose on the same place where the ashes
had lain.

The grief which the sultan felt for the loss of his daughter threw
him into a fit of illness, which confined him to his chamber for a
whole month. He had not fully recovered strength when he sent for
me: 'Prince,' said he, 'hearken to the orders that I now give you;
it will cost you your life if you do not put them into execution.'
I assured him of exact obedience, upon which he went on thus: 'I
have constantly lived in perfect felicity, and was never crossed by
any accident: but by your arrival all the happiness I possessed is
vanished; my daughter is dead, her attendant is no more, and it is
through a miracle that I am yet alive. You are the cause of all
those misfortunes, for which it is impossible that I should be
comforted; therefore depart from hence in peace, without farther
delay, for I myself must perish if you stay any longer: I am
persuaded that your presence brings mischief along, with it. This
is all I have to say to you. Depart, and beware of ever appearing
again in my dominions; no consideration whatsoever shall hinder me
from making you repent of it.' I was going to speak, but he stopped
my mouth with words full of anger; and so I was obliged to leave
his palace, rejected, banished, an outcast from the world, and not
knowing what would become of me. And so I became a hermit.

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