Thursday, September 19, 2013

[Arabian Folktale] The King of Persia and the Princess of the Sea

There once was a king of Persia, who at the beginning of his reign
had distinguished himself by many glorious and successful
conquests, and had afterwards enjoyed such profound peace and
tranquility as rendered him the happiest of monarchs. His only
occasion for regret was that he had no heir to succeed him in the
kingdom after his death. One day, according to the custom of his
royal predecessors during their residence in the capital, he held
an assembly of his courtiers, at which all the ambassadors and
strangers of renown at his court were present. Among these there
appeared a merchant from a far-distant country, who sent a message
to the king craving an audience, as he wished to speak to him about
a very important matter. The king gave orders for the merchant to
be instantly admitted; and when the assembly was over, and all the
rest of the company had retired, the king inquired what was the
business which had brought him to the palace.

'Sire,' replied the merchant, 'I have with me, and beg your majesty
to behold, the most beautiful and charming slave it would be
possible to find if you searched every corner of the earth; if you
will but see her, you will surely wish to make her your wife.'

The fair slave was, by the king's commands, immediately brought in,
and no sooner had the king beheld a lady whose beauty and grace
surpassed anything he had ever imagined, than he fell passionately
in love with her, and determined to marry her at once. This was

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

The King of Persia's capital was situated in an island; and his
palace, which was very magnificent, was built upon the sea-shore;
his window looked towards the sea; and the fair slave's, which was
pretty near it, had also the same prospect, and it was the more
pleasant on account of the sea's beating almost against the foot of
the wall.

At the end of three days the fair slave, magnificently dressed, was
alone in her chamber, sitting upon 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, immediately turned her head to see who it was. She
knew him to be the king; but without showing the least surprise, or
so much as rising from her seat to salute or receive him, she
turned back to the window again as if he had been the most
insignificant person in the world.

The King of Persia was extremely surprised to see a slave of so
beauteous a form so very 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 just now received him, she suffered
herself to be admired, kissed and embraced as much as he pleased,
but answered him not a word.

'My dearest life,' said the king, 'you neither answer, nor by any
visible token give me the least reason to believe that you are
listening to me. Why will you still keep to this obstinate silence,
which chills me? 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, and making you amends for the
loss of everything in the world?'

But the fair slave continued her astonishing reserve; and keeping
her eyes still fixed upon the ground, would neither look at him nor
utter a word; but after they had dined together in absolute
silence, the king went to the women whom he had assigned to the
fair slave as her attendants, and asked them if they had ever heard
her speak.

One of them presently made answer, 'Sire, we have neither seen her
open her lips, nor heard her speak any more than your majesty has
just now; we have rendered her our services; we have combed and
dressed her hair, 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, 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 silence proceeds from pride, sorrow, stupidity, or
dumbness; and this is all we can inform your majesty.'

The King of Persia was more astonished at hearing this than he was
before: however, believing the slave might have some reason for
sorrow, he endeavoured to divert and amuse her, but all in vain.
For a whole year she never afforded him the pleasure of a single

At length, one day there were great rejoicings in the capital,
because to the king and his silent slave-queen there was born a son
and heir to the kingdom. Once more the king endeavoured to get a
word from his wife. 'My queen,' he said, 'I cannot divine what your
thoughts are; but, for my own part, nothing would be wanting to
complete my happiness and crown my joy but that you should speak to
me one single word, for something within me tells me you are not
dumb: and I beseech, I conjure you, to break through this long
silence, and speak but one word to me; and 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 in her life, began to smile a little. 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, breaking her long-kept silence, thus
addressed herself to the king: 'Sire,' said she, '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 in duty 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 to suffer you to die after hearing me speak, but
to grant you a long life. Had it never been my fortune to have
borne a child, I was resolved (I beg your majesty to pardon the
sincerity of my intention) never to have loved you, as well as 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 speak, embraced
her tenderly. 'Shining light of my eyes,' said he, 'it is
impossible for me to receive a greater joy than what you have now
given me.'

The King of Persia, in the transport of his joy, said no more to
the fair slave. He left her, but in such a manner as made her
perceive that his intention was speedily to return: and being
willing that his joy should be made public, he sent in all haste
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 had 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, but I hope you will indulge me with some conversation,
since I am desirous to know several things of great 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 you saw me, heard me talk to you, and ate and
drank with me every day.'

To satisfy the King of Persia's curiosity, 'Think,' replied the
queen, '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 for ever from my mother, my brother,
my friends, and my acquaintance,--are not these sufficient reasons
for my keeping a 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
every one who is not wholly destitute of common sense, and knows
how to set a value on it.'

'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
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

'Sire,' replied the fair slave, 'whatever the slave is, there is no
king on earth who can tyranise over her will. But when this very
slave is in nothing inferior to the king that bought her, your
majesty shall then judge yourself of her misery, and her sorrow,
and to what desperate attempts the anguish of despair may drive

The King of Persia, in great astonishment, said 'Madam, can it be
possible that you are of royal blood? Explain the whole secret to
me, I beseech you, and no longer increase my impatience. Let me
instantly know who are your parents, your brothers, your sisters,
and your relations; but, above all, what your name is.'

'Sire,' said the fair slave, 'my name is Gulnare, Rose of the Sea;
and my father, who is now 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 powerful monarch of the sea. We
enjoyed a profound peace and tranquility 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
enough to save ourselves in an impenetrable and inaccessible place,
with a few trusty officers who did not forsake us in our distress.

'In this retreat my brother contrived all manner of ways to drive
the unjust invader from our dominions. One day "Sister," said he,
"I may fail in the attempt I intend to make to recover my kingdom;
and I shall be less concerned for my own disgrace than for what may
possibly happen to you. To prevent it, and to secure you from all
accident, I would fain see you married first: but in the miserable
condition of our affairs at present, I see no probability of
matching you to any of the princes of the sea; and therefore I
should be very glad if you would think of marrying some of the
princes of the earth I am ready to contribute all that lies in my
power towards it; and I am certain there is not one of them,
however powerful, but would be proud of sharing his crown with

'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,
by both father's and mother's side, from the kings and queens of
the sea, without any mixture of alliance with those of the earth;
therefore I do not intend to marry below myself, any more than they
did. 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 to follow the
advice I so little expected from you."

'My brother, who was still earnest for the marriage, however
improper for me, endeavoured to make me believe that there were
kings of the earth who were nowise inferior to those of the sea.
This put me into a more violent passion, which occasioned him to
say several bitter words that stung me to the quick. He left me as
much dissatisfied with myself as he could possibly be with me; and
in this peevish mood I gave a spring from the bottom of the sea up
to the island of the moon.

'Notwithstanding the violent displeasure that made me cast myself
upon that island, I lived content in retirement. But in spite of
all my precautions, a person of distinction, attended by his
servants, surprised me sleeping, and carried me to his own house,
and wished me to marry him. When he saw that fair means would not
prevail upon me, he attempted to make use of force; but I soon made
him repent of his insolence. So at last he resolved to sell me;
which he did to that very merchant who brought me hither and sold
me to your majesty. This man was a very prudent, courteous, humane
person, and during the whole of the long journey, never gave me the
least reason to complain.

'As for your majesty,' continued Queen Gulnare, 'if you had not
shown me all the respect you have hitherto paid, and given me such
undeniable marks of your affection that I could no longer doubt of
it, I hesitate not to tell you plainly that I should not have
remained with you. I would have thrown myself into the sea out of
this very window, and I would have gone in search of my mother, my
brother, and the rest of my relations; and, therefore, I hope you
will no longer look upon me as a slave, but as a princess worthy of
your alliance.'

After this manner Queen Gulnare discovered herself to the King of
Persia, and finished her story. 'My charming, my adorable queen,'
cried he, 'what wonders have I heard! I must ask a thousand
questions concerning those strange and unheard-of things which you
have related to me. I beseech you to tell me more about the kingdom
and people of the sea, who are altogether unknown to me. I have
heard much talk, indeed, of the inhabitants of the sea, but I
always looked upon it as nothing but a tale or fable; but, by what
you have told me, I am convinced there is nothing more true; and I
have a very good proof of it in your own person, who are one of
them, and are pleased to condescend to be my wife; which is an
honour no other inhabitant on the earth can boast of besides
myself. There is one thing yet which puzzles me; therefore I must
beg the favour of you to explain it; that is, I cannot comprehend
how it is possible for you to live or move in the water without
being drowned. There are very few among us who have the art of
staying under water; and they would surely perish, if, after a
certain time, they did not come up again.'

'Sire,' replied Queen Gulnare, 'I shall with pleasure satisfy the
King of Persia. We can walk at the bottom of the sea with as much
ease as you can upon land; and we can breathe in the water as you
do in the air; so that instead of suffocating us, as it does you,
it absolutely contributes to the preservation of our lives. What is
yet more remarkable is, that it never wets our clothes; so that
when we have a mind to visit the earth, we have no occasion to dry
them. Our common language is the same as that of the writing
engraved upon the seal of the great prophet Solomon, the son of

'I must not forget to tell you, further, that the water does not in
the least hinder us from seeing in the sea; for we can open our
eyes without any inconvenience; and as we have quick, piercing
sight, we can discern any object as clearly in the deepest part of
the sea as upon land. We have also there a succession of day and
night; the moon affords us her light, and even the planets and the
stars appear visible to us. I have already spoken of our kingdoms;
but as the sea is much more spacious than the earth, so there are a
greater number of them, and of greater extent. They are divided
into provinces; and in each province there are several great
cities, well peopled. In short, there are an infinite number of
nations, differing in manners and customs, just as upon the earth.

'The palaces of the kings and princes are very sumptuous and
magnificent. Some of them are of marble of various colours; others
of rock-crystal, with which the sea abounds, mother of pearl,
coral, and of other materials more valuable; gold, silver, and all
sorts of precious stones are more plentiful there than on earth. I
say nothing of the pearls, since the largest that ever were seen
upon earth would not be valued among us; and none but the very
lowest rank of citizens would wear them.

'As we can transport ourselves whither we please in the twinkling
of an eye, we have no occasion for any carriages or riding-horses;
not but what the king has his stables, and his stud of sea-horses;
but they are seldom made use of, except upon public feasts or
rejoicing days. Some, after they have trained them, take delight in
riding them, and show their skill and dexterity in races; others
put them to chariots of mother-of-pearl, adorned with an infinite
number of shells of all sorts, of the brightest colours. These
chariots are open; and in the middle there is a throne upon which
the king sits, and shows himself to his subjects. The horses are
trained up to draw by themselves; so that there is no occasion for
a charioteer to guide them. I pass over a thousand other curious
particulars relating to these marine countries, which would be very
entertaining to your majesty; but you must permit me to defer it to
a future leisure, to speak of something of much greater
consequence. I should like to send for my mother and my cousins,
and at the same time to desire the king my brother's company, to
whom I have a great desire to be reconciled. They will be very glad
to see me again, after I have related my story to them, and when
they understand I am wife to the mighty king of Persia. I beseech
your majesty to give me leave to send for them: I am sure they will
be happy to pay their respects to you; and I venture to say you
will be extremely pleased to see them.'

'Madam,' replied the King of Persia, 'you are mistress; do whatever
you please; I will endeavour to receive them with all the honours
they deserve. But I would fain know how you would acquaint them
with what you desire, and when they will arrive, that I may give
orders to make preparation for their reception, and go myself in
person to meet them.'

'Sire,' replied the Queen Gulnare, 'there is no need of these
ceremonies; they will be here in a moment; and if your Majesty will
but look through the lattice, you shall see the manner of their

Queen Gulnare then ordered one of her women to bring her a brazier
with a little fire. After that she bade her retire, and shut the
door. When she was alone, she took a piece of aloes out of a box,
and put it into the brazier. As soon as she saw the smoke rise, she
repeated some words unknown to the King of Persia, who from a
recess observe with great attention all that she did. She had no
sooner ended, than the sea began to be disturbed. At length the sea
opened at some distance; and presently there rose out of it a tall,
handsome young man, with moustaches of a sea-green colour; a little
behind him, a lady, advanced in years, but of a majestic air,
attended by five young ladies, nowise inferior in beauty to the
Queen Gulnare.

Queen Gulnare immediately went to one of the windows, and saw the
king her brother, the queen her mother, and the rest of her
relations, who at the same time perceived her also. The company
came forward, borne, as it were, upon the surface of the waves.
When they came to the edge, they nimbly, one after another, sprang
up to the window, from whence Queen Gulnare had retired to make
room for them. King Saleh, the queen her mother, and the rest of
her relations, embraced her tenderly, with tears in their eyes, on
their first entrance.

After Queen Gulnare had received them with all imaginable honour,
and made them sit down upon a sofa, the queen her mother addressed
herself to her: 'Daughter,' said she, 'I am overjoyed to see you
again after so long an absence; and I am confident that your
brother and your relations are no less so. Your leaving us without
acquainting anybody with it involved us in inexpressible concern;
and it is impossible to tell you how many tears we have shed upon
that account. We know of no other reason that could induce you to
take such a surprising step, but what your brother told us of the
conversation that passed between him and you. The advice he gave
you seemed to him at that time very advantageous for settling you
handsomely in the world, and very suitable to the then posture of
our affairs. If you had not approved of his proposal, you ought not
to have been so much alarmed; and, give me leave to tell you, you
took the thing in a quite different light from what you ought to
have done. But no more of this; we and you ought now to bury it for
ever in oblivion: give us an account of all that has happened to
you since we saw you last, and of your present situation; but
especially let us know if you are satisfied.'

Queen Gulnare immediately threw herself at her mother's feet; and
after rising and kissing her hand, 'I own,' said she, 'I have been
guilty of a very great fault, and I am indebted to your goodness
for the pardon which you are pleased to grant me.' She then related
the whole of what had befallen her since she quitted the sea.

As soon as she had acquainted them with her having been sold to the
King of Persia, in whose palace she was at present; 'Sister,' said
the king her brother, 'you now have it in your power to free
yourself. Rise, and return with us into my kingdom, that I have
reconquered from the proud usurper who had made himself master of

The King of Persia, who heard these words from the recess where he
was concealed, was in the utmost alarm. 'Ah!' said he to himself,
'I am ruined; and if my queen, my Gulnare, hearkens to this advice,
and leaves me, I shall surely die.' But Queen Gulnare soon put him
out of his fears.

'Brother,' said she, smiling, 'I can scarce forbear being angry
with you for advising me to break the engagement I have made with
the most puissant and most renowned monarch in the world. I do not
speak here of an engagement between a slave and her master; it
would be easy to return the ten thousand pieces of gold that I cost
him; but I speak now of a contract between a wife and a husband,
and a wife who has not the least reason to complain. He is a
religious, wise, and temperate king. I am his wife, and he has
declared me Queen of Persia, to share with him in his councils.
Besides, I have a child, the little Prince Beder. I hope then
neither my mother, nor you, nor any of my cousins, will disapprove
of the resolution or the alliance I have made, which will be an
equal honour to the kings of the sea and the earth. Excuse me for
giving you the trouble of coming hither from the bottom of the
deep, to communicate it to you, and for the pleasure of seeing you
after so long a separation.'

'Sister,' replied King Saleh, 'the proposal I made you of going
back with us into my kingdom was only to let you see how much we
all love you, and how much I in particular honour you, and that
nothing in the world is so dear to me as your happiness.'

The queen confirmed what her son had just spoken, and addressing
herself to Queen Gulnare, said, 'I am very glad to hear you are
pleased; and I have nothing else to add to what your brother has
just said to you. I should have been the first to have condemned
you, if you had not expressed all the gratitude you owe to a
monarch that loves you so passionately, and has done such great
things for you.'

When the King of Persia, who was still in the recess, heard this he
began to love her more than ever, and resolved to express his
gratitude in every possible way.

Presently Queen Gulnare clapped her hands, and in came some of her
slaves, whom she had ordered to bring in a meal: as soon as it was
served up, she invited the queen her mother, the king her brother,
and her cousins, to sit down and take part of it. They began to
reflect, that without asking leave, they had got into the palace of
a mighty king, who had never seen nor heard of them, and that it
would be a great piece of rudeness to eat at his table without him.
This reflection raised a blush in their faces; in their emotion
their eyes glowed like fire, and they breathed flames at their
mouths and nostrils.

This unexpected sight put the King of Persia, who was totally
ignorant of the cause of it, into a dreadful consternation. Queen
Gulnare suspecting this, and understanding the intention of her
relations, rose from her seat, and told them she would be back in a
moment. She went directly to the recess, and recovered the King of
Persia from his surprise.

'Sir,' said she, 'give me leave to assure you of the sincere
friendship that the queen my mother and the king my brother are
pleased to honour you with: they earnestly desire to see you, and
tell you so themselves: I intended to have some conversation with
them by ordering a banquet for them, before I introduced them to
your majesty, but they are very impatient to pay their respects to
you: and therefore I desire your majesty would be pleased to walk
in, and honour them with your presence.'

'Madam,' said the King of Persia, 'I should be very glad to salute
persons that have the honour to be so nearly related to you, but I
am afraid of the flames that they breathe at their mouths and

'Sir,' replied the queen, laughing, 'you need not in the least be
afraid of those flames, which are nothing but a sign of their
unwillingness to eat in your palace, without your honouring them
with your presence, and eating with them.'

The King of Persia, encouraged by these words, rose up, and came
out into the room with his Queen Gulnare. She presented him to the
queen her mother, to the king her brother, and to her other
relations, who instantly threw themselves at his feet, with their
faces to the ground. The King of Persia ran to them, and lifting
them up, embraced them one after another. After they were all
seated, King Saleh began: 'Sir,' said he to the King of Persia, 'we
are at a loss for words to express our joy to think that the queen
my sister should have the happiness of falling under the protection
of so powerful a monarch. We can assure you she is not unworthy of
the high rank you have been pleased to raise her to; and we have
always had so much love and tenderness for her, that we could never
think of parting with her to any of the puissant princes of the
sea, who often demanded her in marriage before she came of age.
Heaven has reserved her for you, Sir, and we have no better way of
returning thanks to it for the favour it has done her, than by
beseeching it to grant your majesty a long and happy life with her,
and to crown you with prosperity and satisfaction.'

'Certainly,' replied the King of Persia, 'I cannot sufficiently
thank either the queen her mother, or you, Prince, or your whole
family, for the generosity with which you have consented to receive
me into an alliance so glorious to me as yours.' So saying, he
invited them to take part of the luncheon, and he and his queen sat
down at the table with them. After it was over, the King of Persia
conversed with them till it was very late; and when they thought it
time to retire, he waited upon them himself to the several rooms he
had ordered to be prepared for them.

Next day, as the King of Persia, Queen Gulnare, the queen her
mother, King Saleh her brother, and the princesses their relations,
were discoursing together in her majesty's room, the nurse came in
with the young Prince Beder in her arms. King Saleh no sooner saw
him, than he ran to embrace him; and taking him in his arms, fell
to kissing and caressing him with the greatest demonstration of
tenderness. He took several turns with him about the room, dancing
and tossing him about, when all of a sudden, through a transport of
joy, the window being open, he sprang out, and plunged with him
into the sea.

The King of Persia, who expected no such sight, set up a hideous
cry, verily believing that he should either see the dear prince his
son no more, or else that he should see him drowned; and he nearly
died of grief and affliction. 'Sir,' said Queen Gulnare (with a
quiet and undisturbed countenance, the better to comfort him), 'let
your majesty fear nothing; the young prince is my son as well as
yours, and I do not love him less than you do. You see I am not
alarmed; neither in truth ought I to be so. He runs no risk, and
you will soon see the king his uncle appear with him again, and
bring him back safe and sound. For he will have the same advantage
his uncle and I have, of living equally in the sea and upon the
land.' The queen his mother and the princesses his relations
confirmed the same thing; yet all they said had no effect on the
king's fright, from which he could not recover till he saw Prince
Beder appear again before him.

The sea at length became troubled, when immediately King Saleh
arose with the young prince in his arms, and holding him up in the
air, he re-entered at the same window he went out at. The King of
Persia being overjoyed to see Prince Beder again, and astonished
that he was as calm as before he lost sight of him, King Saleh
said, 'Sir, was not your majesty in a great fright, when you first
saw me plunge into the sea with the prince my nephew?'

'Alas! Prince,' answered the King of Persia, 'I cannot express my
concern. I thought him lost from that very moment, and you now
restore life to me by bringing him again.'

'I thought as much,' replied King Saleh, 'though you had not the
least reason to apprehend any danger; for, before I plunged into
the sea with him I pronounced over him certain mysterious words,
which were engraved on the seal of the great Solomon, the son of
David. We do the same to all those children that are born in the
regions at the bottom of the sea, by virtue of which they receive
the same privileges that we have over those people who inhabit the
earth. From what your majesty has observed, you may easily see what
advantage your son Prince Beder has acquired by his birth, for as
long as he lives, and as often as he pleases, he will be at liberty
to plunge into the sea, and traverse the vast empires it contains
in its bosom.'

Having so spoken, King Saleh, who had restored Prince Beder to his
nurse's arms, opened a box he had fetched from his palace in the
little time he had disappeared. It was filled with three hundred
diamonds, as large as pigeons' eggs, a like number of rubies of
extraordinary size, as many emerald wands, each half a foot long,
and thirty strings or necklaces of pearl, consisting each of ten
feet. 'Sir,' said he to the King of Persia, presenting him with
this box, 'when I was first summoned by the queen my sister, I knew
not what part of the earth she was in, or that she had the honour
to be married to so great a monarch. This made us come empty
handed. As we cannot express how much we have been obliged to your
majesty, I beg you to accept this small token of gratitude, in
acknowledgment of the many particular favours you have been pleased
to show her.'

It is impossible to express how greatly the King of Persia was
surprised at the sight of so much riches, enclosed in so little
compass. 'What! Prince,' cried he, 'do you call so inestimable a
present a small token of your gratitude? I declare once more, you
have never been in the least obliged to me, neither the queen your
mother nor you. Madam,' continued he, turning to Gulnare, 'the king
your brother has put me into the greatest confusion; and I would
beg of him to permit me to refuse his present, were I not afraid of
disobliging him; do you therefore endeavour to obtain his leave
that I may be excused accepting it.'

'Sir,' replied King Saleh, 'I am not at all surprised that your
majesty thinks this present so extraordinary. I know you are not
accustomed upon earth to see precious stones of this quality and
quantity: but if you knew, as I do, the mines whence these jewels
were taken, and that it is in my power to form a treasure greater
than those of all the kings of the earth, you would wonder we
should have the boldness to make you a present of so small a value.
I beseech you, therefore, not to regard it in that light, but on
account of the sincere friendship which obliges us to offer it to
you not to give us the mortification of refusing it.' This obliged
the King of Persia to accept the present, for which he returned
many thanks both to King Saleh and the queen his mother.

A few days after, King Saleh gave the King of Persia to understand
that the queen his mother, the princesses his relations and
himself, could have no greater pleasure than to spend their whole
lives at his court; but that having been so long absent from their
own kingdom, where their presence was absolutely necessary, they
begged of him not to take it ill if they took leave of him and
Queen Gulnare. The King of Persia assured them he was very sorry
that it was not in his power to return their visit in their own
dominions; but he added, 'As I am verily persuaded you will not
forget Queen Gulnare, but come and see her now and then, I hope I
shall have the honour to see you again more than once.'

Many tears were shed on both sides upon their separation. King
Saleh departed first; but the queen his mother, and the princesses
his relations, were fain to force themselves in a manner from the
embraces of Queen Gulnare, who could not prevail upon herself to
let them go. This royal company were no sooner out of sight than
the King of Persia said to Queen Gulnare, 'Madam, I should have
looked with suspicion upon the person that had pretended to pass
those off upon me for true wonders, of which I myself have been an
eye-witness from the time I have been honoured with your
illustrious family at my court. But I cannot refuse to believe my
own eyes; and shall remember it as long as I live, and never cease
to bless Heaven for sending you to me, instead of to any other

No comments:

Post a Comment