The Arabian Nights Entertainments — Volume 03 online

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This eBook was produced by JC Byers.

Text scanned by JC Byers and proofread by JC Byers, Sally
Gellert, Renate Preuss, and Christine Sturrock.

The "Aldine" Edition of

The Arabian Nights Entertainments

Illustrated by S. L. Wood


In Four Volumes

Volume 3

Pickering and Chatto

Contents of Volume III.

The Story of Beder, Prince of Persia, and Jehaunara, Prince of
Samandal, or Summunder
The History of Prince Zeyn Alasnam and the Sultan of the Genii
The History of Codadad, and His Brothers
The History of the Princess of Deryabar
The Story of Abu Hassan, or the Sleeper Awakened
The Story of Alla Ad Deen; Or, the Wonderful Lamp
Adventure of the Caliph Haroon Al Rusheed
The Story of Baba Abdoollah
The Story of Syed Naomaun
The Story of Khaujeh Hassan Al Hubbaul
The Story of Ali Aba and the Forty Robbers Destroyed by a Slave
The Story of Ali Khujeh, a Merchand of Bagdad


Persia was an empire of such vast extent, that its ancient
monarchs, not without reason, assumed the haughty title of King
of kings. For not to mention those subdued by their arms, there
were kingdoms and provinces whose kings were not only tributary,
but also in as great subjection as governors in other nations are
to the monarchs.

One of these kings, who in the beginning of his reign had
signalized himself by many glorious and successful conquests,
enjoyed so profound a peace and tranquillity, as rendered him the
happiest of princes. The only point in which he thought himself
unfortunate was, that amongst all his wives, not one had brought
him a son; and being now far advanced in years, he was desirous
of an heir. He had above a hundred ladies, all lodged in separate
apartments, with women-slaves to wait upon and eunuchs to guard
them; yet, notwithstanding all his endeavours to please their
taste, and anticipate their wishes, there was not one that
answered his expectation. He had women frequently brought him
from the most remote countries; and if they pleased him, he not
only gave the merchants their full price, but loaded them with
honours and benedictions, in hopes that at last he might be so
happy as to meet with one by whom he might have a son. There was
scarcely an act of charity but he performed, to prevail with
heaven. He gave immense sums to the poor, besides large donations
to the religious; building for their use many noble colleges
richly endowed, in hopes of obtaining by their prayers what he so
earnestly desired.

One day, according to the custom of his royal predecessors,
during their residence in their capital, he held an assembly of
his courtiers, at which all the ambassadors and strangers of
quality about the court were present; and where they not only
entertained one another with news and politics, but also by
conversing on the sciences, history, poetry, literature, and
whatever else was capable of diverting the mind. On that day a
eunuch came to acquaint him with the arrival of a certain
merchant from a distant country, who, having brought a slave with
him, desired leave to shew her to his majesty. "Give him
admittance instantly," said the king, "and after the assembly is
over I will talk with him." The merchant was introduced, and
seated in a convenient place, from whence he might easily have a
full view of the king, and hear him talk familiarly to those that
stood near his person. The king observed this rule to all
strangers, in order that by degrees they might grow acquainted
with him; so that, when they saw with what freedom and civility
he addressed himself to all, they might be encouraged to talk to
him in the same manner, without being abashed at the pomp and
splendour of his appearance, which was enough to deprive those of
their power of speech who were not used to it. He treated the
ambassadors also after the same manner. He ate with them, and
during the repast asked them several questions concerning their
health, their journey, and the peculiarities of their country.
After they had been thus encouraged, he gave them audience.

When the assembly was over, and all the company had retired, the
merchant, who was the only person left, fell prostrate before the
king's throne, with his face to the earth, wishing his majesty an
accomplishment of all his desires As soon as he arose, the king
asked him if the report of his having brought a slave for him was
true, and whether she were handsome.

"Sire," replied the merchant, "I doubt not but your majesty has
many very beautiful women, since you search every corner of the
earth for them; but I may boldly affirm, without overvaluing my
merchandise, that you never yet saw a woman that could stand in
competition with her for shape and beauty, agreeable
qualifications, and all the perfections that she is mistress of."
"Where is she?" demanded the king; "bring her to me instantly."
"Sire," replied the merchant, "I have delivered her into the
hands of one of your chief eunuchs; and your majesty may send for
her at your pleasure."

The fair slave was immediately brought in; and no sooner had the
king cast his eyes on her, but he was charmed with her beautiful
and easy shape. He went directly into a closet, and was followed
by the merchant and a few eunuchs. The fair slave wore, over her
face, a red satin veil striped with gold; and when the merchant
had taken it off, the king of Persia beheld a female that
surpassed in beauty, not only his present ladies, but all that he
had ever had before. He immediately fell passionately in love
with her, and desired the merchant to name his price.

"Sire," said he, "I gave a thousand pieces of gold to the person
of whom I bought her; and in my three years' journey to your
court, I reckon I have spent as much more: but I shall forbear
setting any price to so great a monarch; and therefore, if your
majesty likes her, I humbly beg you would accept of her as a
present." "I am highly obliged to you," replied the king; "but it
is never my custom to treat merchants, who come hither for my
pleasure, in so ungenerous a manner; I am going to order thee ten
thousand pieces of gold; will that be sufficient?" "Sire,"
answered the merchant, "I should have esteemed myself happy in
your majesty's acceptance of her; yet I dare not refuse so
generous an offer. I will not fail to publish your liberality in
my own country, and in every place through which I may pass." The
money was paid; and before he departed, the king made him put on
a rich suit of cloth of gold.

The king caused the fair slave to be lodged in the apartment next
his own, and gave particular orders to the matrons, and the
female slaves appointed to attend her, that after bathing they
should dress her in the richest habit they could find, and carry
her the finest pearl necklaces, the brightest diamonds, and other
richest precious stones, that she might choose those she liked

The officious matrons, whose only care was to please the king,
were astonished at her beauty; and being good judges, they told
his majesty, that if he would allow them but three days, they
would engage to make her so much handsomer than she was at
present, that he would scarcely know her again. The king could
hardly prevail with himself to delay so long the pleasure of
seeing her, but at last he consented.

The king of Persia's capital was situated in an island; and his
palace, which was very magnificent, was built on the shore: his
apartment looked on the water; the fair slave's, which was near
it, had also the same prospect, and was the more agreeable, on
account of the sea's beating almost against the walls.

At the three days' end, the fair slave, magnificently dressed,
was alone in her chamber, sitting on a sofa, and leaning against
one of the windows that faced the sea, when the king, being
informed that he might visit her, came in. The slave, hearing
somebody walk in the room with an air quite different from that
of the female slaves, who had hitherto attended her, immediately
turned her head about to see who it was. She knew him to be the
king, but without discovering the least surprise, or so much as
rising from her seat to salute or receive him, as if he had been
the most indifferent person in the world, she put herself in the
same posture again.

The king of Persia was extremely surprised to see a slave of so
beauteous a form so ignorant of the world. He attributed this to
the narrowness of her education, and the little care that had
been taken to instruct her in the first rules of civility. He
went to her at the window, where, notwithstanding the coldness
and indifference with which she had received him, she suffered
herself to be admired, caressed, and embraced, as much as he

In the midst of these amorous embraces and tender endearments,
the king paused awhile, to gaze upon, or rather to devour her
with his eyes. "My lovely fair one! my charmer!" exclaimed he;
"whence came you, and where do those happy parents live who
brought into the world so surprising a masterpiece of nature? How
do I love thee, and shall always continue to do. Never did I feel
for a woman what I now feel for you; and though I have seen, and
every day behold a vast number of beauties, yet never did my eyes
contemplate so many charms in one person - charms which have so
transported me, that I shall entirely devote myself to you. My
dearest life," continued he, "you neither answer, nor by any
visible token give me the least reason to believe that you are
sensible of the demonstrations I have given you of the ardour of
my passion; neither will you turn your eyes on me, to afford mine
the pleasure of meeting them, and to convince you that it is
impossible to love in a higher degree than I do you. Why will you
still preserve this obstinate silence, which chills me, and
whence proceeds the seriousness, or rather sorrow, that torments
me to the soul? Do you mourn for your country, your friends or
your relations? Alas! Is not the king of Persia, who loves and
adores you, capable of comforting you, and making you amends for
every loss?"

Notwithstanding all the protestations of love the king of Persia
made the fair slave, and all he could say to induce her to speak
to him, she remained unaltered; and keeping her eyes still fixed
upon the ground, would neither look at him, nor utter a word.

The king of Persia, delighted with the purchase he had made of a
slave that pleased him so well, pressed her no farther, in hopes
that by treating her kindly he might prevail upon her to change
her behaviour. He clapped his hands; and the women who waited in
an outward room entered: he commanded them to bring in supper.
When it was arranged, "My love," said he to the slave, "come
hither and sup with me." She rose from her seat; and being seated
opposite the king, his majesty helped her, before he began eating
himself; and did so of every dish during supper. The slave ate as
well as the king, but still with downcast eyes, and without
speaking a word; though he often asked her how she liked the
entertainment, and whether it was dressed according to her taste.

The king, willing to change the conversation, asked her what her
name was, how she liked the clothes and the jewels she had on,
what she thought of her apartment and the rich furniture, and
whether the prospect of the sea was not very agreeable? But to
all these questions she made no reply; so that the king was at a
loss what to think of her silence. He imagined at first, that she
might perhaps be dumb: "But then," said he to himself, "can it be
possible that heaven should forge a creature so beautiful, so
perfect, and so accomplished, and at the same time with so great
an imperfection? Were it however so, I could not love her with
less passion than I do." When the king of Persia rose, he washed
his hands on one side, while the fair slave washed hers on the
other. He took that opportunity to ask the woman who held the
basin and napkin, if ever they had heard her speak. One of them
replied, "Sire, we have neither seen her open her lips, nor heard
her speak any more than your majesty has; we have rendered her
our services in the bath; we have dressed her head, put on her
clothes, and waited upon her in her chamber; but she has never
opened her lips, so much as to say, that is well, or I like this.
We have often asked her, "Madam, do you want anything? Is there
anything you wish for? Do but ask, and command us," but we have
never been able to draw a word from her. We cannot tell whether
her sorrow proceeds from pride, sorrow, stupidity, or dumbness."

The king was more astonished at hearing this than he had been
before: however, believing the slave might have some cause of
sorrow, he was willing to endeavour to divert and amuse her.
Accordingly he appointed a very splendid assembly, which all the
ladies of the court attended; and those who were skilful in
playing upon musical instruments performed their parts, while
others sung or danced, or did both together: they played at all
sorts of games, which much diverted the king. The fair slave was
the only person who took no pleasure in these attempts to amuse
her; she never moved from her place, but remained with her eyes
fixed on the ground with so much indifference, that all the
ladies were not less surprised than the king. After the assembly
was over, every one retired to her apartment; and the king was
left alone with the fair slave.

The next morning the king of Persia rose more pleased than he had
been with all the women he had seen before, and more enamoured
with the fair slave than ever. Indeed, he soon made it appear, by
resolving henceforth to attach himself to her alone; and
performed his resolution. On the same day he dismissed all his
other women, giving every one of them their jewels, and other
valuables, besides a considerable fortune, with free leave to
marry whom they thought fit; and only kept the matrons and a few
other elderly women to wait upon the fair slave. However, for a
whole year together, she never afforded him the pleasure of one
single word; yet the king continued his assiduities to please
her, and to give her the most signal proofs of sincere love.

After the expiration of the year, the king sitting one day by his
mistress, protested to her that his love, instead of being
diminished, grew every day more violent. "My queen," said he, "I
cannot divine what your thoughts are; but nothing is more true,
and I swear to you, that having the happiness of possessing you,
there remains nothing for me to desire. I esteem my kingdom,
great as it is, less than an atom, when I have the pleasure of
beholding you, and of telling you a thousand times that I adore
you. I desire not that my words alone should oblige you to
believe me. Surely you can no longer doubt of my devotion to you
after the sacrifice which I have made to your beauty of so many
women, whom I before kept in my palace. You may remember it is
about a year since I sent them all away; and I as little repent
of it now, as I did the moment of their departure; and I never
shall repent. Nothing would be wanting to complete my happiness
and crown my joy, would you but speak one single word to me, by
which I might be assured that you thought yourself at all
obliged. But how can you speak to me if you are dumb? and alas! I
feel but too apprehensive that this is the case. How can I doubt,
since you still torment me with silence, after having for a whole
year in vain supplicated you to speak? If it is possible for me
to obtain of you that consolation, may heaven at least grant me
the blessing of a son by you, to succeed me. I every day find
myself growing old, and I begin already to want one to assist me
in bearing the weight of my crown. Still I cannot conceal the
desire I have of hearing you speak; for something within me tells
me you are not dumb: and I beseech, I conjure you, dear madam, to
break through this long silence, and speak but one word to me;
after that I care not how soon I die."

At this discourse the fair slave, who, according to her usual
custom, had hearkened to the king with downcast eyes, and had
given him cause to believe not only that she was dumb, but that
she had never laughed, began to smile. The king of Persia
perceived it with a surprise that made him break forth into an
exclamation of joy; and no longer doubting but that she was going
to speak, he waited for that happy moment with an eagerness and
attention that cannot easily be expressed

At last the fair slave thus addressed herself to the king: "Sire,
I have so many things to say to your majesty, that, having once
broken silence, I know not where to begin. However, in the first
place, I think myself bound to thank you for all the favours and
honours you have been pleased to confer upon me, and to implore
heaven to bless and prosper you, to prevent the wicked designs of
your enemies, and not suffer you to die after hearing me speak,
but to grant you a long life. After this, sire, I cannot give you
greater satisfaction than by acquainting you that I am with
child; and I wish, as you do, it may be a son. Had it never been
my fortune to be pregnant, I was resolved (I beg your majesty to
pardon the sincerity of my intention) never to have loved you,
and to have kept an eternal silence; but now I love you as I
ought to do."

The king of Persia, ravished to hear the fair slave not only
speak, but tell him tidings in which he was so nearly concerned,
embraced her tenderly. "Staining light of my eyes," said he, "it
is impossible for me to receive greater delight than you have now
given me: you have spoken to me, and you have declared your being
with child, which I did not expect. After these two occasions of
joy I am transported out of myself."

The king of Persia, in the transport of his feelings, said no
more to the fair slave. He left her, but in such a manner as made
her perceive his intention was speedily to return: and being
willing that the occasion of his joys should be made public, he
declared it to his officers, and sent for the grand vizier. As
soon as he came, he ordered him to distribute a thousand pieces
of gold among the holy men of his religion, who made vows of
poverty; as also among the hospitals and the poor, by way of
returning thanks to heaven: and his will was obeyed by the
direction of that minister.

After the king of Persia had given this order, he returned to the
fair slave again. "Madam," said he, "pardon me for leaving you so
abruptly, since you have been the occasion of it; but I hope you
will indulge me with some conversation, since I am desirous to
know of you several things of much greater consequence. Tell me,
my dearest soul, what were the powerful reasons that induced you
to persist in that obstinate silence for a whole year together,
though every day you saw me, heard me talk to you, ate and drank
with me, and every night slept with me? I shall pass by your not
speaking; but how you could carry yourself so as that I could
never discover whether you were sensible of what I said to you or
no, I confess, surpasses my understanding; and I cannot yet
comprehend how you could contain yourself so long; therefore I
must conclude the occasion of it to be very extraordinary."

"To satisfy the king of Persia's curiosity," replied the lady,
"think whether or no to be a slave, far from my own country,
without any hopes of ever seeing it again, to have a heart torn
with grief, at being separated forever from my mother, my
brother, my friends, and my acquaintance, are not these
sufficient reasons for the silence your majesty has thought so
strange and unaccountable?

The love of our native country is as natural to us as that of our
parents; and the loss of liberty is insupportable to everyone who
is not wholly destitute of common sense, and knows how to set a
value on it. The body indeed may be enslaved, and under the
subjection of a master, who has the power and authority in his
hands; the will can never be conquered, but remains free and
unconfined, depending on itself alone, as your majesty has found
in my case; and it is a wonder that I have not followed the
example of many unfortunate wretches, whom the loss of liberty
has reduced to the melancholy resolution of procuring their own
deaths in a thousand ways, by a liberty which cannot be taken
from them."

"Madam," replied the king, "I am convinced of the truth of what
you say; but till this moment I was of opinion, that a person
beautiful, of good understanding, like yourself, whom her evil
destiny had condemned to be a slave, ought to think herself very
happy in meeting with a king for her master."

"Sire," replied the lady, "whatever the slave be, as I have
already observed to your majesty, there is no king on earth can
tyrannize over her will. When indeed you speak of a slave
mistress of charms sufficient to captivate a monarch, and induce
him to love her; if she be of a rank infinitely below him, I am
of your opinion, she ought to think herself happy in her
misfortunes: still what happiness can it be, when she considers
herself only as a slave, torn from a parent's arms, and perhaps
from those of a lover, her passion for whom death only can
extinguish; but when this very slave is in nothing inferior to
the king who has purchased her, your majesty shall judge yourself
of the rigour of her destiny, her misery and her sorrow, and to
what desperate attempts the anguish of despair may drive her."

The king of Persia, astonished at this discourse, "Madam," said
he, "can it be possible that you are of royal blood, as by your
words you seem to intimate? Explain the whole secret to me, I
beseech you, and no longer augment my impatience. Let me
instantly know who are the happy parents of so great a prodigy of
beauty; who are your brothers, your sisters, and your relations;
but, above all, tell me your name?"

"Sire," said the fair slave, "my name is Gulnare of the Sea: and
my father, who is dead, was one of the most potent monarchs of
the ocean. When he died, he left his kingdom to a brother of
mine, named Saleh, and to the queen, my mother, who is also a
princess, the daughter of another puissant monarch of the sea. We
enjoyed profound peace and tranquillity through the whole
kingdom, till a neighbouring prince, envious of our happiness,
invaded our dominions with a mighty army; and penetrating as far
as our capital, made himself master of it; and we had but just
time to save ourselves in an impenetrable and inaccessible place,
with a few trusty officers, who did not forsake us in our

"In this retreat my brother was not negligent in contriving means
to drive the unjust invaders from our dominions. One day taking
me into his closet, 'Sister,' said he, 'the events of the
smallest undertakings are always dubious. For my own part, I may
fail in the attempt I design to make to recover my kingdom; and I
shall be less concerned for my own disgrace than what may
possibly happen to you. To secure you from all accident, I would
fain see you married. But in the present miserable condition of
our affairs, I see no probability of matching you to any of the
princes of the sea; and therefore I should be glad if you would
concur in my opinion, and think of marrying one of the princes of
the earth. I am ready to contribute all that lies in my power
towards accomplishing this; and am certain there is not one of
them, however powerful, but, considering your beauty, would be
proud of sharing his crown with you.'

"At this discourse of my brother's, I fell into a violent
passion. 'Brother,' said I, 'you know that I am descended, as
well as you, from the kings and queens of the sea, without any
mixture of alliance with those of the earth; therefore I do not
design to marry below myself, and I have taken an oath to that
effect. The condition to which we are reduced shall never oblige
me to alter my resolution; and if you perish in the execution of
your design, I am prepared to fall with you, rather than follow
the advice I so little expected from you.'

Online LibraryAnonymousThe Arabian Nights Entertainments — Volume 03 → online text (page 1 of 33)