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    12- The Second Calender

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    Chapter 13
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    Madam, to obey your commands, and to shew you by what strange
    accident I became blind of the right eye, I must of necessity
    give you the account of my life.

    I was scarcely past my infancy, when the sultan my father (for
    you must know I am a prince by birth) perceived that I was
    endowed with good natural ability, and spared nothing proper for
    improving it.

    No sooner was I able to read and write, but I learned the Koraun
    from beginning to 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 divines, 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
    versification. I applied myself to geography, chronology, and to
    speak the Arabian language in its purity; not forgetting in the
    meantime all such exercises as were proper for a prince to
    understand. But one thing which I was fond of, and succeeded in,
    was penmanship; wherein I surpassed all the celebrated scribes of
    our kingdom.

    Fame did me more honour than I deserved, for she not only spread
    the renown of my talents through all the dominions of the sultan
    my father, but carried it as far as the empire of Hindoostan,
    whose potent monarch, desirous to see me, sent an ambassador with
    rich presents: my father, who rejoiced at this embassy for
    several reasons, was persuaded, that nothing could be more
    improving to a prince of my age than to travel and visit foreign
    courts; and he wished to gain the friendship of the Indian
    monarch. I departed with the ambassador, but with no great

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

    As we had ten horses laden with baggage, and presents to the
    sultan of Hindoostan, from my father, and my retinue was but
    small, you may easily judge that these robbers came boldly up to
    us; and not being in a posture to make any opposition, we told
    them, that we were ambassadors, and hoped they would attempt
    nothing contrary to the respect due to such sacred characters,
    thinking by this means to save our equipage and our lives: but
    the robbers most insolently replied, "For what reason would you
    have us shew 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 attendants and mine lying on the ground, I made use of
    what strength was yet remaining in my horse, who was also very
    much wounded, and rode away as fast as he could carry me; but he
    shortly after, from weariness and the loss of blood, fell down
    dead. I cleared myself from him unhurt, and finding that I was
    not pursued, judged the robbers were not willing to quit the
    booty they had obtained.

    Here you see me, alone, wounded, destitute of help, and in a
    strange country. I durst not take the high road, fearing I might
    fall again into the hands of these robbers. When I had bound up
    my wound, which was not dangerous, I walked on the rest of the
    day, and arrived at the foot of

    mountain, where I perceived a passage into a cave; I went in, and
    staid there that night with little satisfaction, after I had
    eaten some fruits that I had gathered by the way.

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

    The pleasant objects which then presented themselves to my view
    afforded me some joy, and suspended for a time the sorrow with
    which I was overwhelmed. My face, hands, and feet were black and
    sun-burnt; and, by my long journey, my boots were quite worn out,
    so that I was forced to walk bare-footed; and besides, my clothes
    were all in rags I entered the town to inform myself 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, 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, nor
    made I any scruple to discover my quality.

    The tailor listened to me with attention; but after 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 related to me; for the prince of this country is
    the greatest enemy your father has, and he will certainly do you
    some mischief, should he hear of your being in this city." I made
    no doubt of the tailor's sincerity, when he named the prince: but
    since that enmity which is between my father and him has no
    relation to my adventures, I pass it over in silence.

    I returned the tailor thanks for his advice, expressed himself
    disposed to follow his counsel, and assured him that his favours
    should never be forgotten. 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 tolerably
    well recovered of 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 learned any whereby I
    might get a livelihood, and not be burdensome to others? I told
    him that I understood the laws, both divine and human; that I was
    a grammarian and poet; and above all, that I could write with
    great perfection. "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, dress yourself in a labourer's habit; 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 this employment will
    turn to so good an 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 minute, 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 the
    meanness and hardships that attended it. The day following the
    tailor brought 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 procured me half a piece of gold, of the money of
    that country; for though the wood was not far distant from the
    town, yet it was very scarce, by reason that few would be at the
    trouble of fetching it for themselves. I gained a good sum of
    money in a short time, and repaid my tailor what he had advanced
    to me

    I continued this way of living for a whole year. One day, having
    by chance penetrated farther into the wood than usual, I happened
    to light on a pleasant spot, where I began to cut; 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, discovered a flight of stairs, which I
    descended with my axe in my hand.

    When I had reached the bottom, I found myself in a palace, and
    felt great consternation, on account 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 messy gold: but seeing a lady of
    a noble and graceful air, extremely beautiful, coming towards me,
    my eyes were taken off from every other objets.

    Being desirous to spare the lady the trouble of coming to me, I
    hastened to meet her; and as I was saluting her with a low
    obeisance, 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 twenty-five years, and you are the:
    first man I have beheld in that time."

    Her great beauty, which had already smitten me, and the sweetness
    and civility wherewith she received me, emboldened me to say,
    "Madam, before I have the honour to satisfy your curiosity, give
    me leave to tell you, that I am infinitely gratified 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 of making you also more happy than you are." I
    related to her by what strange accident she beheld me, the son of
    a sultan, in such a condition as I appeared in her presence; and
    how fortune had directed that I should discover the entrance into
    that magnificent prison where I had found her, according to
    appearance, 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. It is not possible but you have heard of the sultan of
    the isle of Ebene, so called from that precious wood which it
    produces in abundance; I am the princess his daughter.

    "The sultan, my father, had chosen for me a husband, a prince who
    was my cousin; but on my wedding-night, in the midst of the
    rejoicings of the court and capital, before I was conducted to my
    husband, a genie took me away. I fainted with alarm, and when I
    recovered, found myself in this place. I was long inconsolable,
    but time and necessity have accustomed me to see and receive the
    genie. Twenty-five years I have continued in this place, where, I
    must confess, I have all that I can wish for necessary to life,
    and also every thing that can satisfy a princess fond of dress
    and splendour.

    "Every ten days," continued the princess, "the genie comes
    hither, and remains with me one night, which he never exceeds;
    and the excuse he makes for it is, that he is married to another
    wife, who would grow jealous if she should know his infidelity.
    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 I will endeavour to entertain you
    according to your quality and merit." I thought myself too
    fortunate, to have obtained so great a favour without asking, to
    refuse so obliging an offer. The princess made me go into a bath,
    the most commodious, and the most sumptuous imaginable; 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 appear worthy to be in her company. We sat
    down on a sofa covered with rich tapestry, with cushions of the
    rarest Indian brocade; and some time after she covered a table
    with several dishes of delicate meats. We ate, and passed the
    remaining part of the day with much satisfaction, as also the
    evening, together.

    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 drank some part of
    it with me. When my head grew warm with the agreeable liquor,
    "Fair princess," said I, "you have been too long thus buried
    alive; follow me, enjoy the real day, of which you have been
    deprived so many years, and abandon this artificial though
    brilliant glare." "Prince," replied she, with a smile, "leave
    this discourse; if you out of ten days will grant me nine, and
    resign the last to the genie, the fairest day 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 in pieces his talisman, with the conjuration that is
    written about it. 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
    consequence, conjured me not to touch the talisman. "For that
    would be the means," said she, "of ruining 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 seemed ready to fall, with a hideous noise like thunder,
    accompanied with flashes of lightning, and alternate 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, without
    any concern for her own misfortune, "Alas! you are undone, if you
    do not fly immediately."

    I followed her advice, but my fears were so great, that I forgot
    my hatchet and cords. I had scarcely reached the stairs by which
    I had descended, when the enchanted palace opened at once, 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
    violent spasm," 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 speak not the truth; 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 what was accompanied with
    reproaches and blows, of which I heard the noise. I could not
    endure to hear the pitiful cries of the princess so cruelly
    abused. I had already taken off the suit she had presented to me,
    and put on my own, which I had laid on the stairs the day before,
    when I came out of the bagnio: I made haste upstairs, the more
    distracted with sorrow and compassion, as I had been the cause of
    so great a misfortune; and by sacrificing the fairest princess on
    earth to the barbarity of a merciless genie, I was becoming 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 devil." 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 much, as 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 praised for your
    return." I thanked him for his zeal and affection, but not a word
    durst I say of what had passed, nor of 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 and said, "An old man, whom I do not know, brings
    your hatchet and cords, which he found in his way as he tells me,
    and says he understood from your comrades that you lodge here;
    come out and speak to him, for he will deliver them to none but

    At these words I changed colour, and fell a trembling. While the
    tailor was asking me the reason, my chamber-door opened, and the
    old man, having no patience to stay, appeared to us with my
    hatchet and cords. This was the genie, the ravisher of the fair
    princess of the isle of Ebene, who had thus disguised himself,
    after he had treated her with the utmost barbarity. "I am a
    genie," said he, speaking to me, "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 not able to take notice of the
    way he conveyed 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 sunk down at once, when I found myself in the enchanted
    palace, before the fair princess of the isle of Ebene. But, alas!
    what a spectacle was there! I saw what pierced me to the heart;
    this poor princess was quite naked, weltering in her blood, and
    laid upon the ground, more like one dead than alive, with her
    cheeks bathed in tears.

    "Perfidious wretch!" said the genie to her, pointing at me, "is
    not this your gallant?" 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 cost not know him?" "If I do not know him," said the
    princess, "would you have me lie on purpose to ruin him?" "Oh
    then," said the genie, pulling out a cimeter and presenting it to
    the princess, "if you never saw him before, take this, and cut
    off his head." "Alas," replied the princess, "how is it possible
    that I should execute such an act? 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, and one whom
    I do not know?" "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 strewn myself as faithful
    to the princess as she had been to me, who had been the cause of
    her misfortunes. I therefore answered the genie, "How should I
    know her, when I never saw her till now?" "If it be so," said he,
    "take the cimeter and cut off her head: on this condition I will
    set thee at liberty, for then I shall be convinced that thou hast
    never seen her till this moment, as thou gayest." "With all my
    heart," replied I, and took the cimeter in my hand.

    Do not think, madam, that I drew near to the fair princess of the
    isle of Ebene to be the executioner of the genie's barbarity. I
    did it only to demonstrate by my behaviour, as much as possible,
    that as she had strewn 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, and made me
    understand her willingness to die for me; and that she was
    satisfied to see how ready I was also to die for her. Upon this I
    stepped back, and threw the cimeter 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, not only a person whom I do not know,
    but a lady like this, who is already on the point of expiring: 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 out-brave me, and insult
    my jealousy; but both of you shall know by my treatment of you of
    what I am capable." At these words the monster took up the
    cimeter 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 bade me for
    ever adieu. For the blood she had lost before, and that which
    gushed out then, did not permit her to live above one or two
    moments after this barbarous cruelty; the sight of which threw me
    into a fit. When I was come to myself again, I expostulated with
    the genie, 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, "Behold," said he, "how genies treat
    their wives whom they suspect of unfaithfulness; she has received
    thee here, and were I certain that she had put any further
    affront upon me, I would put thee to death this minute: but I
    will content myself with transforming thee into a dog, ape, lion,
    or bird; take thy choice of any of these, I will leave it to

    These words gave me some hopes of being able to appease him: "O
    genie," said I, "moderate your passion, and since you will not
    take away my life, give it me generously. I shall always remember
    your clemency, if you pardon me, as one of the best men in the
    world pardoned one of his neighbours that bore him a mortal
    hatred. The genie asked me what had passed between those two
    neighbours, and said, he would have patience till he heard the
    story, which I related to him; and I believe, madam, you will not
    be displeased if I now repeat it.
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