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    9- History of the Young King of the Black Isles

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    Chapter 10
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    You must know that my father, named Mahmoud, was king of this
    country. This is the kingdom of the Black Isles, which takes its
    name from the four small neighbouring mountains; for these
    mountains were formerly isles: the capital where the king my
    father resided was situated on the spot now occupied by the lake
    you have seen. The sequel of my history will inform you of those

    The king my father died when he was seventy years of age; I had
    no sooner succeeded him, than I married, and the lady I chose to
    share the royal dignity with me, was my cousin. I had so much
    reason to be satisfied with her affection, and, on my part, loved
    her with so much tenderness, that nothing could surpass the
    harmony and pleasure of our union. This lasted five years, at the
    end of which time, I perceived the queen, my cousin, ceased to
    delight in my attentions.

    One day, after dinner, while she was at the bath, I found myself
    inclined to repose and lay down upon a sofa. Two of her ladies,
    who were then in my chamber, came and sat down, one at my head,
    and the other at my feet, with fans in their hands to moderate
    the heat, and to prevent the flies from disturbing me. They
    thought I was asleep, and spoke in whispers; but as I only closed
    my eyes, I heard all their conversation.

    One of them said to the other, "Is not the queen wrong, not to
    love so amiable a prince?" "Certainly," replied the other; "I do
    not understand the reason, neither can I conceive why she goes
    out every night, and leaves him alone!" "Is it possible that he
    does not perceive it?" "Alas!" said the first, "how should he?
    she mixes every evening in his liquor, the juice of a certain
    herb, which makes him sleep so sound all night, that she has time
    to go where she pleases, and as day begins to appear, she comes
    and lies down by him again, and wakes him by the smell of
    something she puts under his nostrils."

    You may guess, my lord, how much I was surprised at this
    conversation, and with what sentiments it inspired me; yet,
    whatever emotion it excited, I had sufficient self-command to
    dissemble, and feigned to awake without having heard a word.

    The queen returned from the bath, we supped together and she
    presented me with a cup full of such water as I was accustomed to
    drink; but instead of putting it to my mouth, I went to a window
    that was open, and threw out the water so quickly, that she did
    not perceive it, and returned.

    We went to bed together, and soon after, believing that I was
    asleep, she got up with so little precaution, that she said loud
    enough for me to hear her distinctly, "Sleep on, and may you
    never wake again!" She dressed herself, and went out of the

    As soon as the queen my wife was gone, I dressed myself in haste,
    took my cimeter, and followed her so quickly, that I soon heard
    the sound of her feet before me, and then walked softly after
    her, for fear of being heard. She passed through several gates,
    which opened upon her pronouncing some magical words, and the
    last she opened was that of the garden, which she entered. I
    stopt at this gate, that she might not perceive me, as she passed
    along a parterre; then looking after her as far as the darkness
    of the night permitted, I saw her enter a little wood, whose
    walks were guarded by thick palisadoes. I went thither by another
    way, and concealing myself behind the palisadoes of a long walk,
    I saw her walking there with a man.

    I did not fail to lend the most attentive ear to their discourse,
    and heard her address herself thus to her gallant: "I do not
    deserve to be reproached by you for want of diligence. You well
    know the reason; but if all the proofs of affection I have
    already given you be not sufficient to convince you of my
    sincerity, I am ready to give you others more decisive: you need
    but command me, you know my power; I will, if you desire it,
    before sun-rise convert this great city, and this superb palace,
    into frightful ruins, inhabited only by wolves, owls, and revens.
    If you would have me transport all the stones of those walls so
    solidly built, beyond mount Caucasus, or the bounds of the
    habitable world, speak but the word, and all shall be changed."

    As the queen finished these words she and her lover came to the
    end of the walk, turned to enter another, and passed before me. I
    had already drawn my cimeter, and her lover being next me, I
    struck him on the neck, and brought him to the ground. I
    concluded I had killed him, and therefore retired speedily
    without making myself known to the queen, whom I chose to spare,
    because she was my kinswoman.

    The wound I had given her lover was mortal; but by her
    enchantments she preserved him in an existence in which he could
    not be said to be either dead or alive. As I crossed the garden
    to return to the palace, I heard the queen loudly lamenting, and
    judging by her cries how much she was grieved, I was pleased that
    I had spared her life.

    As soon as I had reached my apartment, I went to bed, and being
    satisfied with having punished the villain who had injured me,
    fell asleep; and when I awoke next morning, found the queen
    lying. I cannot tell you whether she slept or not; but I arose,
    went to my closet, and dressed myself. I afterwards held my
    council. At my return, the queen, clad in mourning, her hair
    dishevelled, and part of it torn off, presented herself before
    me, and said; "I come to beg your majesty not to be surprised to
    see me in this condition. My heavy affliction is occasioned by
    intelligence of three distressing events which I have just
    received." "Alas! what are they, madam?" said I. "The death of
    the queen my dear mother," she replied, "that of the king my
    father killed in battle, and of one of my brothers, who has
    fallen down a precipice."

    I was not displeased that she used this pretext to conceal the
    true cause of her grief, and I concluded she had not suspected me
    of being the author of her lover's death. "Madam," said I, "so
    far from blaming, I assure you I heartily commiserate your
    sorrow. I should feel surprise if you were insensible to such
    heavy calamities: weep on; your tears are so many proofs of your
    tenderness; but I hope that time and reflection will moderate
    your grief."

    She retired into her apartment, where, giving herself wholly up
    to sorrow, she spent a whole year in mourning and lamentation. At
    the end of that period, she begged permission to erect a burying
    place for herself, within the bounds of the palace, where she
    would continue, she told me, to the end of her days: I consented,
    and she built a stately edifice, crowned by a cupola, which may
    be seen from hence, and called it the Palace of Tears. When it
    was finished, she caused her lover to be conveyed thither, from
    the place to which she had caused him to be carried the night I
    wounded him: she had hitherto prevented his dying, by potions
    which she had administered to him; and she continued to convey
    them to him herself every day after he came to the Palace of

    Yet, with all her enchantments, she could not cure him; he was
    not only unable to walk or support himself, but had also lost the
    use of his speech, and exhibited no sign of life except in his
    looks. Though the queen had no other consolation but to see him,
    and to say to him all that her senseless passion could inspire,
    yet every day she made him two long visits. I was well apprised
    of this, but pretended ignorance.

    One day my curiosity induced me to go to the Palace of Tears, to
    observe how the princess employed herself, and from a place where
    she could not see me, I heard her thus address her lover: "I am
    afflicted to the highest degree to behold you in this condition;
    I am as sensible as yourself of the tormenting pain you endure;
    but, dear soul, I am continually speaking to you, and you do not
    answer me: how long will you remain silent? Speak only one word:
    alas! the sweetest moments of my life are these I spend here in
    partaking of your grief. I cannot live at a distance from you,
    and would prefer the pleasure of having you always before me, to
    the empire of the universe."

    At these words, which were several times interrupted by her sighs
    and sobs, I lost all patience: and discovering myself, came up to
    her, and said, "Madam, you have wept enough, it is time to give
    over this sorrow, which dishonours both; you have too much
    forgotten what you owe to me and to yourself." "Sire," said she,
    "if you have any kindness or compassion for me left, I beseech
    you to put no restraint upon me; allow me to indulge my grief,
    which it is impossible for time to assuage."

    When I perceived that my remonstrance, instead of restoring her
    to a sense of duty, served only to increase her anguish, I gave
    over and retired. She continued every day to visit her lover, and
    for two whole years abandoned herself to grief and despair.

    I went a second time to the Palace of Tears, while she was there.
    I concealed myself again, and heard her thus address her lover:
    "It is now three years since you spoke one word to me; you answer
    not the proofs I give you of my love by my sighs and
    lamentations. Is it from insensibility, or contempt? O tomb! hast
    thou destroyed that excess of affection which he bare me? Hast
    thou closed those eyes that evinced so much love, and were all my
    delight? No, no, this I cannot think. Tell me rather, by what
    miracle thou becamest the depositary of the rarest treasure the
    world ever contained."

    I must confess, my lord, I was enraged at these expressions; for,
    in truth, this beloved, this adored mortal, was by no means what
    you would imagine him to have been. He was a black Indian, one of
    the original natives of this country. I was so enraged at the
    language addressed to him, that I discovered myself, and
    apostrophising the tomb in my turn; I cried, "O tomb! why dost
    not thou swallow up that monster so revolting to human nature, or
    rather why dost not thou swallow up both the lover and his

    I had scarcely uttered these words, when the queen, who sat by
    the black, rose up like a fury. "Miscreant!" said she "thou art
    the cause of my grief; do not think I am ignorant of this, I have
    dissembled too long. It was thy barbarous hand that brought the
    objets of my fondness into this lamentable condition; and thou
    hast the cruelty to come and insult a despairing lover." "Yes,"
    said I, in a rage, "it was I that chastised that monster,
    according to his desert; I ought to have treated thee in the same
    manner; I now repent that I did not; thou hast too long abused my
    goodness." As I spoke these words, I drew out my cimeter, and
    lifted up my hand to punish her; but regarding me stedfastly, she
    said with a jeering smile, "Moderate thy anger." At the same
    time, she pronounced words I did not understand; and afterwards
    added, "By virtue of my enchantments, I command thee to become
    half marble and half man." Immediately, my lord, I became what
    you see, a dead man among the living, and a living man among the

    After the cruel sorceress, unworthy of the name of queen, had
    metamorphosed me thus, and brought me into this hall, by another
    enchantment she destroyed my capital, which was very flourishing
    and populous; she annihilated the houses, the public places and
    markets, and reduced the site of the whole to the lake and desert
    plain you have seen; the fishes of four colours in the lake are
    the four kinds of inhabitants of different religions, which the
    city contained. The white are the Moosulmauns; the red, the
    Persians, who worship fire; the blue, the Christians and the
    yellow, the Jews. The four little hills were the four islands
    that gave name to this kingdom. I learned all this from the
    enchantress, who, to add to my affliction, related to me these
    effects of her rage. But this is not all; her revenge not being
    satisfied with the destruction of my dominions, and the
    metamorphosis of my person, she comes every day, and gives me
    over my naked shoulders a hundred lashes with a whip until I am
    covered with blood. When she has finished this part of my
    punishment, she throws over me a coarse stuff of goat's hair, and
    over that this robe of brocade, not to honour, but to mock me.

    When he came to this part of the narrative, the young king could
    not restrain his tears; and the sultan was himself so affected by
    the relation, that he could not find utterance for any words of
    consolation. Shortly after, the young king, lifting up his eyes
    to heaven, exclaimed, "Mighty creator of all things, I submit
    myself to thy judgments, and to the decrees of thy providence: I
    endure my calamities with patience, since it is thy will things
    should be as they are; but I hope thy infinite goodness will
    ultimately reward me."

    The sultan, greatly moved by the recital of this affecting story,
    and anxious to avenge the sufferings of the unfortunate prince,
    said to him, "Inform me whither this perfidious sorceress
    retires, and where may be found her vile paramour, who is
    entombed before his death." "My lord," replied the prince, "her
    lover, as I have already told you, is lodged in the Palace of
    Tears, in a superb tomb constructed in the form of a dome: this
    palace joins the castle on the side in which the gate is placed.
    As to the queen, I cannot tell you precisely whither she retires,
    but every day at sun-rise she goes to visit her paramour, after
    having executed her bloody vengeance upon me; and you see I am
    not in a condition to defend myself. She carries to him the
    potion with which she had hitherto prevented his dying, and
    always complains of his never having spoken to her since he was

    "Prince," said the sultan, "your condition can never be
    sufficiently deplored: no one can be more sensibly affected by
    your misfortunes than I am. Never did any thing so extraordinary
    befall any man, and those who write your history will have the
    advantage of relating what surpasses all that has hitherto been
    recorded. One thing only is wanting; the revenge to which you are
    entitled, and I will omit nothing in my power to effect it."

    In his subsequent conversation with the young prince, the sultan
    told him who he was, and for what purpose he had entered the
    castle; and afterwards informed him of a mode of revenge which he
    had devised. They agreed upon the measures they were to take for
    accomplishing their design, but deferred the execution of it till
    the following day. In the mean time, the night being far spent,
    the sultan took some rest; but the young prince passed the night
    as usual, without sleep, having never slept since he was
    enchanted, still indulging some hopes of being speedily delivered
    from his misery.

    Next morning the sultan arose with the dawn, and prepared to
    execute his design, hiding his upper garment, which might
    encumber him; he then proceeded to the Palace of Tears. He found
    it lighted up with an infinite number of flambeaux of white wax,
    and perfumed by a delicious scent issuing from several censers of
    fine gold of admirable workmanship. As soon as he perceived the
    bed where the black lay, he drew his cimeter, and without
    resistance deprived him of his wretched life, dragged his corpse
    into the court of the castle, and threw it into a well. After
    this, he went and lay down in the black's bed, placed his cimeter
    under the covering, and waited to complete his design.

    The queen arrived shortly after. She first went into the chamber
    of her husband, the king of the Black Islands, stripped him, and
    with unexampled barbarity gave him a hundred stripes. The
    unfortunate prince filled the palace with his lamentations, and
    conjured her in the most affecting tone to take pity on him; but
    the cruel wretch ceased not till she had given the usual number
    of blows. "You had no compassion on my lover," said she, "and you
    are to expect none from me."

    After the enchantress had given the king, her husband, a hundred
    blows with the whip, she put on again his covering of goat's
    hair, and his brocade gown over all; she went afterwards to the
    Palace of Tears, and as she entered renewed her tears and
    lamentations: then approaching the bed, where she thought her
    paramour lay, "What cruelty," cried she, "was it to disturb the
    satisfaction so tender and passionate a lover as I am? O cruel
    prince, who reproachest me that I am inhuman, when I make thee
    feel the effects of my resentment! Does not thy barbarity surpass
    my vengeance? Traitor! in attempting the life of the object which
    I adore, hast thou not robbed me of mine? Alas!" said she,
    addressing herself to the sultan, conceiving him to be the black
    "My sun, my life, will you always be silent! Are you resolved to
    let me die, without affording me the comfort of hearing again
    from your own lips that you love me? My soul, speak one word to
    me at least, I conjure you."

    The sultan, as if he had awaked out of a deep sleep, and
    counterfeiting the pronunciation of the blacks, answered the
    queen with a grave tone, "There is no strength or power but in
    God alone, who is almighty." At these words the enchantress, who
    did not expect them, uttered a loud exclamation of joy. "My dear
    lord," cried she, "do not I deceive myself; is it certain that I
    hear you, and that you speak to me?" "Unhappy woman," said the
    sultan, "art thou worthy that I should answer thee?" "Alas!"
    replied the queen, "why do you reproach me thus?" "The cries,"
    returned the sultan, "the groans and tears of thy husband, whom
    thou treatest every day with so much indignity and barbarity,
    prevent my sleeping night or day. Hadst thou disenchanted him, I
    should long since have been cured, and have recovered the use of
    my speech. This is the cause of my silence, of which you
    complain." "Well," said the enchantress, "to pacify you, I am
    ready to execute your commands; would you have me restore him?"
    "Yes," replied the sultan; "make haste to set him at liberty,
    that I be no longer disturbed by his lamentations."

    The enchantress went immediately out of the Palace of Tears; she
    took a cup of water, and pronounced some words over it, which
    caused it to boil, as if it had been on the fire. She afterwards
    proceeded to the young king her husband, and threw the water upon
    him, saying, "If the creator of all things did form thee as thou
    art at present; or if he be angry with thee, do not change; but
    if thou art in that condition merely by virtue of my
    enchantments, resume thy natural shape, and become what thou west
    before." She had scarcely spoken these words, when the prince,
    finding himself restored to his former condition, rose up and
    returned thanks to God. The enchantress then said to him, "Get
    thee from this castle, and never return on pain of death." The
    young king, yielding to necessity, went away from the
    enchantress, without replying a word; and retired to a remote
    place, where he patiently awaited the event of the design which
    the sultan had so happily begun. Meanwhile, the enchantress
    returned to the Palace of Tears, and supposing that she still
    spoke to the black, said, "Dear love, I have done what you
    required; nothing now prevents your rising and giving me the
    satisfaction of which I have so long been deprived."

    The sultan, still counterfeiting the pronunciation of the blacks,
    said, "What you have now done is by no means sufficient for my
    cure; you have only removed a part of the evil; you must cut it
    up by the root." "My lovely black," resumed the queen, "what do
    you mean by the root?" "Wretched woman," replied the sultan,
    "understand you not that I allude to the town, and its
    inhabitants, and the four islands, destroyed by thy enchantments?
    The fish every night at midnight raise their heads out of the
    lake, and cry for vengeance against thee and me. This is the true
    cause of the delay of my cure. Go speedily, restore things to
    their former state, and at thy return I will give thee my hand,
    and thou shalt help me to arise."

    The enchantress, inspired with hope from these words, cried out
    in a transport of joy, "My heart, my soul, you shall soon be
    restored to your health, for I will immediately do as you command
    me." Accordingly she went that instant, and when she came to the
    brink of the lake, she took a little water in her hand, and
    sprinkling it, had no sooner pronounced some words over the fish
    and the lake, than the city was immediately restored. The fish
    became men, women, and children; Mahummedans, Christians,
    Persians, or Jews; freemen or slaves, as they were before: every
    one having recovered his natural form. The houses and shops were
    immediately filled with their inhabitants, who found all things
    as they were before the enchantment. The sultan's numerous
    retinue, who found themselves encamped in the largest square,
    were astonished to see themselves in an instant in the middle of
    a large, handsome, well-peopled city.

    To return to the enchantress: As soon as she had effected this
    wonderful change, she returned with all expedition to the Palace
    of Tears, that she might receive her reward. "My dear lord,"
    cried she, as she entered, "I come to rejoice with you in the
    return of your health: I have done all that you required of me,
    then pray rise, and give me your hand." "Come near," said the
    sultan, still counterfeiting the pronunciation of the blacks. She
    did so. "You are not near enough," he continued, "approach
    nearer." She obeyed. He then rose up, and seizing her by the arm
    so suddenly, that she had not time to discover him, he with a
    blow of his cimeter cut her in two, so that one half fell one way
    and the other another. This done he left the body on the spot,
    and going out of the Palace of Tears, went to seek the young king
    of the Black Isles, who waited for him with great impatience.
    When he found him, "Prince," said he, embracing him, "rejoice;
    you have now nothing to fear; your cruel enemy is dead."

    The young prince returned thanks to the sultan in a manner that
    sufficiently the sincerity of his gratitude, and in return wished
    him long life and happiness. "You may henceforward," said the
    sultan, "dwell peaceably in your capital, unless you will
    accompany me to mine, which is near: you shall there be welcome,
    and have as much honour and respect shown you as if you were in
    your own kingdom." "Potent monarch, to whom I am so much
    indebted," replied the king, "you think then that you are near
    your capital?" "Yes," said the sultan, "I know it is not above
    four or five hours' journey." "It will take you a whole year to
    return," said the prince "I do indeed believe that you came
    hither from your capital in the time you mention, because mine
    was enchanted; but since the enchantment is taken off, things are
    changed: however, this shall not prevent my following you, were
    it to the utmost corners of the earth. You are my deliverer, and
    that I may give you proofs of my acknowledging this during my
    whole life, I am willing to accompany you, and to leave my
    kingdom without regret."

    The sultan was extremely surprised to understand that he was so
    far from his dominions, and could not imagine how it could be.
    But the young king of the Black Islands convinced him beyond a
    possibility of doubt. Then the sultan replied, "It is no matter;
    the trouble of returning to my own country is sufficiently
    recompensed by the satisfaction of having obliged you, and by
    acquiring you for a son; for since you will do me the honour to
    accompany me, as I have no child, I look upon you as such, and
    from this moment appoint you my heir and successor."

    The conversation between the sultan and the king of the Black
    Islands concluded with most affectionate embraces, after which
    the young prince employed himself in making preparations for his
    journey, which were finished in three weeks, to the great regret
    of his court and subjects, who agreed to receive at his hands one
    of his nearest kindred for their monarch.

    At length, the sultan and the young prince began their journey,
    with a hundred camels laden with inestimable riches from the
    treasury of the young king, followed by fifty handsome gentlemen
    on horseback, perfectly well mounted and dressed They had a
    pleasant journey; and when the sultan, who had sent couriers to
    give advice of his delay, and of the adventure which had
    occasioned it, approached his capital, the principal officers
    came to receive him, and to assure him that his long absence had
    occasioned no alteration in his empire. The inhabitants also came
    out in great crowds, received him with acclamations, and made
    public rejoicings for several days.

    The day after his arrival the sultan gave all his courtiers a
    very ample account of the circumstances, which, contrary to his
    expectation, had detained him so long. He acquainted them with
    his having adopted the king of the Four Black Islands, who was
    willing to leave a great kingdom, to accompany and live with him;
    and, in reward for their loyalty, he made each of them presents
    according to their rank.

    As for the fisherman, as he was the first cause of the
    deliverance of the young prince, the sultan gave him a plentiful
    fortune, which made him and his family happy the rest of their
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