the care of the King and Queen of Persia. He gave them great
pleasure as he advanced in years by his agreeable manners, and by
the justness of whatever he said; King Saleh his uncle, the queen
his grandmother, and the princesses his relations, came from time
to time to see him. He was easily taught to read and write, and was
instructed in all the sciences that became a prince of his rank.
When he arrived at the age of fifteen he was very wise and prudent.
The king, who had almost from his cradle discovered in him these
virtues so necessary for a monarch, and who moreover began to
perceive the infirmities of old age coming upon himself every day,
would not wait till death gave him possession of the throne, but
purposed to resign it to him. He had no great difficulty to make
his council consent to it; and the people heard this with so much
the more joy, because they considered Prince Beder worthy to govern
them. They saw that he treated all mankind with that goodness which
invited them to approach him; that he heard favourably all who had
anything to say to him; that he answered everybody with a goodness
that was peculiar to him; and that he refused nobody anything that
had the least appearance of justice.
The day for the ceremony was appointed. In the midst of the whole
assembly, which was larger than usual, the King of Persia, then
sitting on his throne, came down from it, took the crown from off
his head, put it on that of Prince Beder, and having seated him in
his place, kissed his hand, as a token that he resigned his
authority to him. After which he took his place among the crowd of
viziers and emirs below the throne.
Hereupon the viziers, emirs, and other principal officers, came
immediately and threw themselves at the new king's feet, taking
each the oath of fidelity according to their rank. Then the grand
vizier made a report of various important matters, on which the
young king gave judgment with admirable prudence and sagacity that
surprised all the council. He next turned out several governors
convicted of mal-administration, and put others in their place,
with wonderful and just discernment. He at length left the council,
accompanied by the late king his father, and went to see his
mother, Queen Gulnare. The queen no sooner saw him coming with his
crown upon his head, than she ran to him, and embraced him with
tenderness, wishing him a long and prosperous reign.
The first year of his reign King Beder acquitted himself of all his
royal functions with great care. Above all, he took care to inform
himself of the state of his affairs, and all that might in any way
contribute towards the happiness of his people. Next year, having
left the administration to his council, under the direction of the
old king his father, he went out of his capital, under pretext of
diverting himself with hunting; but his real intention was to visit
all the provinces of his kingdom, that he might reform all abuses
there, establish good order and discipline everywhere, and take
from all ill-minded princes, his neighbours, any opportunities of
attempting any thing against the security and tranquillity of his
subjects, by showing himself on his frontiers.
It required no less than a whole year for this young king to carry
out his plans. Soon after his return, the old king his father fell
so dangerously ill that he knew at once he should never recover. He
waited for his last moment with great tranquillity, and his only
care was to recommend the ministers and other lords of his son's
court to remain faithful to him: and there was not one but
willingly renewed his oath as freely as at first. He died, at
length, to the great grief of King Beder and Queen Gulnare, who
caused his corpse to be borne to a stately mausoleum, worthy of his
rank and dignity.
The funeral ended, King Beder found no difficulty in complying with
that ancient custom in Persia to mourn for the dead a whole month,
and not to be seen by anybody during all that time. He would have
mourned the death of his father his whole life, had it been right
for a great prince thus to abandon himself to grief. During this
interval the queen, mother to Queen Gulnare, and King Saleh,
together with the princesses their relations, arrived at the
Persian court, and shared their affliction, before they offered any
When the month was expired, the king could not refuse admittance to
the grand vizier and the other lords of his court, who besought him
to lay aside his mourning, to show himself to his subjects, and
take upon him the administration of affairs as before.
He showed such great reluctance at their request, that the grand
vizier was forced to take upon himself to say to him; 'Sir, neither
our tears nor yours are capable of restoring life to the good king
your father, though we should lament him all our days. He has
undergone the common law of all men, which subjects them to pay the
indispensable tribute of death. Yet we cannot say absolutely that
he is dead, since we see him in your sacred person. He did not
himself doubt, when he was dying, but that he should revive in you,
and to your majesty it belongs to show that he was not deceived.'
King Beder could no longer oppose such pressing entreaties: he laid
aside his mourning; and after he had resumed the royal habit and
ornaments, he began to provide for the necessities of his kingdom
and subjects with the same care as before his father's death. He
acquitted himself with universal approbation: and as he was exact
in maintaining the ordinances of his predecessor, the people did
not feel they had changed their sovereign.
King Saleh, who had returned to his dominions in the sea with the
queen his mother and the princesses, no sooner saw that King Beder
had resumed the government, at the end of the month than he came
alone to visit him; and King Beder and Queen Gulnare were overjoyed
to see him.
One evening when they rose from table, they talked of various
matters. King Saleh began with the praises of the king his nephew,
and expressed to the queen his sister how glad he was to see him
govern so prudently, all of which had acquired him great
reputation, not among his neighbours only, but more remote princes.
King Beder, who could not bear to hear himself so well spoken of,
and not being willing, through good manners, to interrupt the king
his uncle, turned on one side to sleep, leaning his head against a
cushion that was behind him.
'Sister,' said King Saleh, 'I wonder you have not thought of
marrying him ere this: if I mistake not, he is in his twentieth
year; and, at that age, no prince like him ought to be suffered to
be without a wife. I will think of a wife for him myself, since you
will not, and marry him to some princess of our lower world that
may be worthy of him.'
'Brother,' replied Queen Gulnare, 'I have never thought of it to
this very moment, and I am glad you have spoken of it to me. I like
your proposing one of our princesses; and I desire you to name one
so beautiful and accomplished that the king my son may be obliged
to love her.'
'I know one that will suit,' replied King Saleh, softly; 'but I see
many difficulties to be surmounted, not on the lady's part, as I
hope, but on that of her father. I need only mention to you the
Princess Giauhara, daughter of the king of Samandal.'
'What?' replied Queen Gulnare, 'is not the Princess Giauhara yet
married? I remember to have seen her before I left your palace; she
was then about eighteen months old, and surprisingly beautiful, and
must needs be the wonder of the world. The few years she is older
than the king my son ought not to prevent us from doing our utmost
to bring it about. Let me but know the difficulties that are to be
surmounted, and we will surmount them.'
'Sister,' replied King Saleh, 'the greatest difficulty is, that the
King of Samandal is insupportably vain, looking upon all others as
his inferiors: it is not likely we shall easily get him to enter
into this alliance. For my part, I will go to him in person, and
demand of him the princess his daughter; and, in case he refuses
her, we will address ourselves elsewhere, where we shall be more
favourably heard. For this reason, as you may perceive,' added he,
'it is as well for the king my nephew not to know anything of our
design, lest he should fall in love with the Princess Giauhara,
till we have got the consent of the King of Samandal, in case,
after all, we should not be able to obtain her for him.' They
discoursed a little longer upon this point, and, before they
parted, agreed that King Saleh should forthwith return to his own
dominions, and demand the Princess Giauhara of the King of Samandal
her father, for the King of Persia his nephew.
Now King Beder had heard what they said, and he immediately fell in
love with the Princess Giauhara without having even seen her, and
he lay awake thinking all night. Next day King Saleh took leave of
Queen Gulnare and the king his nephew. The young king, who knew the
king his uncle would not have departed so soon but to go and
promote his happiness without loss of time, changed colour when he
heard him mention his departure. He resolved to desire his uncle to
bring the princess away with him: but only asked him to stay with
him one day more, that they might hunt together. The day for
hunting was fixed, and King Beder had many opportunities of being
alone with his uncle, but he had not the courage to open his mouth.
In the heat of the chase, when King Saleh was separated from him,
and not one of his officers and attendants was near, he alighted
near a rivulet; and having tied his horse to a tree, which, with
several others growing along the banks, afforded a very pleasing
shade, he laid himself down on the grass. He remained a good while
absorbed in thought, without speaking a word.
King Saleh, in the meantime, missing the king his nephew, began to
be much concerned to know what had become of him. He therefore left
his company to go in search of him, and at length perceived him at
a distance. He had observed the day before, and more plainly that
day, that he was not so lively as he used to be; and that if he was
asked a question, he either answered not at all, or nothing to the
purpose. As soon as King Saleh saw him lying in that disconsolate
posture, he immediately guessed he had heard what passed between
him and Queen Gulnare. He hereupon alighted at some distance from
him, and having tied his horse to a tree, came upon him so softly,
that he heard him say to himself:
'Amiable princess of the kingdom of Samandal, I would this moment
go and offer you my heart, if I knew where to find you.'
King Saleh would hear no more; he advanced immediately, and showed
himself to King Beder. 'From what I see, nephew,' said he, 'you
heard what the queen your mother and I said the other day of the
Princess Giauhara. It was not our intention you should have known
anything, and we thought you were asleep.'
'My dear uncle,' replied King Beder, 'I heard every word, but was
ashamed to disclose to you my weakness. I beseech you to pity me,
and not wait to procure me the consent of the divine Giauhara till
you have gained the consent of the King of Samandal that I may
marry his daughter.'
These words of the King of Persia greatly embarrassed King Saleh.
He represented to him how difficult it was, and that he could not
well do it without carrying him along with him; which might be of
dangerous consequence, since his presence was so absolutely
necessary in his kingdom. He begged him to wait. But these reasons
were not sufficient to satisfy the King of Persia.
'Cruel Uncle,' said he, 'I find you do not love me so much as you
pretended, and that you had rather see me die than grant the first
request I ever made you.'
'I am ready to convince your majesty,' replied King Saleh, 'that I
would do anything to serve you; but as for carrying you along with
me, I cannot do that till I have spoken to the queen your mother.
What would she say of you and me? If she consents, I am ready to do
all you would have me, and I will join my entreaties to yours.'
'If you do really love me,' replied the King of Persia impatiently,
'as you would have me believe you do, you must return to your
kingdom immediately, and carry me along with you.'
King Saleh, finding himself obliged to yield to his nephew, drew
from his finger a ring, on which were engraven the same mysterious
names that were upon Solomon's seal, that had wrought so many
wonders by their virtue. 'Here, take this ring,' said he, 'put it
upon your finger, and fear neither the waters of the sea, nor their
The King of Persia took the ring, and when he had put it on his
finger, King Saleh said to him, 'Do as I do.' At the same time they
both mounted lightly up into the air, and made towards the sea
which was not far distant, whereinto they both plunged.
The sea-king was not long in getting to his palace with the King of
Persia, whom he immediately carried to the queen's apartment, and
presented him to her. The King of Persia kissed the queen his
grandmother's hands, and she embraced him with great joy. 'I do not
ask you how you are,' said she to him; 'I see you are very well,
and I am rejoiced at it; but I desire to know how is my daughter,
your mother, Queen Gulnare?'
The King of Persia told her the queen his mother was in perfect
health. Then the queen presented him to the princesses; and while
he was in conversation with them, she left him, and went with King
Saleh, who told her how the King of Persia was fallen in love with
the Princess Giauhara, and that he had brought him along with him,
without being able to hinder it.
Although King Saleh was, to do him justice, perfectly innocent, yet
the queen could hardly forgive his indiscretion in mentioning the
Princess Giauhara before him. 'Your imprudence is not to be
forgiven,' said she to him: 'can you think that the King of
Samandal, whose character is so well known, will have greater
consideration for you than the many other kings he has refused his
daughter to with such evident contempt? Would you have him send you
away with the same confusion?'
'Madam,' replied King Saleh, 'I have already told you it was
contrary to my intention that the king, my nephew, should hear what
I related of the Princess Giauhara to the queen my sister. The
fault is committed; I will therefore do all that I can to remedy
it. I hope, madam, you will approve of my resolution to go myself
and wait upon the King of Samandal, with a rich present of precious
stones, and demand of him the princess, his daughter, for the King
of Persia, your grandson. I have some reason to believe he will not
refuse me, but will be pleased at an alliance with one of the
greatest potentates of the earth.'
'It were to have been wished,' replied the queen, 'that we had not
been under a necessity of making this demand, since the success of
our attempt is not so certain as we could desire; but since my
grandson's peace and content depend upon it, I freely give my
consent. But, above all, I charge you, since you well know the
temper of the King of Samandal, that you take care to speak to him
with due respect, and in a manner that cannot possibly offend him.'
The queen prepared the present herself, composed of diamonds,
rubies, emeralds, and strings of pearl; all of which she put into a
very neat and very rich box. Next morning, King Saleh took leave of
her majesty and the King of Persia, and departed with a chosen and
small troop of officers and other attendants. He soon arrived at the
kingdom and the palace of the King of Samandal, who rose from his
throne as soon as he perceived him; and King Saleh, forgetting his
character for some moments, though knowing whom he had to deal with,
prostrated himself at his feet, wishing him the accomplishment of
all his desires. The King of Samandal immediately stooped to raise
him up, and after he had placed him on his left hand, he told him he
was welcome, and asked him if there was anything he could do to
'Sir,' answered King Saleh, 'though I should have no other motive
than that of paying my respects to the most potent, most prudent,
and most valiant prince in the world, feeble would be my
expressions how much I honour your majesty.' Having, spoken these
words, he took the box of jewels from one of his servants and
having opened it, presented it to the king, imploring him to accept
it for his sake.
'Prince,' replied the King of Samandal, 'you would not make me such
a present unless you had a request to propose. If there be anything
in my power, you may freely command it, and I shall feel the
greatest pleasure in granting it. Speak, and tell me frankly
wherein I can serve you.'
'I must own,' replied King Saleh, 'I have a boon to ask of your
majesty; and I shall take care to ask nothing but what is in your
power to grant. The thing depends so absolutely on yourself, that
it would be to no purpose to ask it of any other. I ask it then
with all possible earnestness, and I beg of you not to refuse it
'If it be so,' replied the King of Samandal, 'you have nothing to
do but acquaint me what it is, and you shall see after what manner
I can oblige when it is in my power.'
'Sir,' said King Saleh, 'after the confidence your majesty has been
pleased to encourage me to put in your goodwill, I will not
dissemble any longer. I came to beg of you to honour our house with
your alliance by the marriage of your honourable daughter the
Princess Giauhara, and to strengthen the good understanding that
has so long subsisted between our two crowns.'
At these words the King of Samandal burst out laughing falling back
in his throne against a cushion that supported him, and with an
imperious and scornful air, said to King Saleh: 'King Saleh, I have
always hitherto thought you a prince of great sense; but what you
say convinces me how much I was mistaken. Tell me, I beseech you,
where was your discretion, when you imagined to yourself so great
an absurdity as you have just now proposed to me? Could you
conceive a thought only of aspiring in marriage to a princess, the
daughter of so great and powerful a king as I am? You ought to have
considered better beforehand the great distance between us, and not
run the risk of losing in a moment the esteem I always had for your
King Saleh was extremely nettled at this affronting, answer, and
had much ado to restrain his resentment; however, he replied, with
all possible moderation, 'God reward your majesty as you deserve! I
have the honour to inform you, I do not demand the princess your
daughter in marriage for myself; had I done so your majesty and the
princess ought to have been so far from being offended, that you
should have thought it an honour done to both. Your majesty well
knows I am one of the kings of the sea as well as yourself; that
the kings, my ancestors, yield not in antiquity to any other royal
families; and that the kingdom I inherit from them is no less
potent and flourishing than it has ever been. If your majesty had
not interrupted me, you had soon understood that the favour I ask
of you was not for myself, but for the young King of Persia, my
nephew, whose power and grandeur, no less than his personal good
qualities, cannot be unknown to you. Everybody acknowledges the
Princess Giauhara to be the most beautiful person in the world: but
it is no less true that the young King of Persia, my nephew, is the
best and most accomplished prince on the land. Thus the favour that
is asked being likely to redound both to the honour of your majesty
and the princess your daughter, you ought not to doubt that your
consent to an alliance so equal will be unanimously approved in all
the kingdoms of the sea. The princess is worthy of the King of
Persia, and the King of Persia is no less worthy of her. No king or
prince in the world can dispute her with him.'
The King of Samandal would not have let King Saleh go on so long
after this rate, had not the rage he put him in deprived him of all
power of speech. It was some time before he could find his tongue,
so much was he transported with passion. At length, however, he
broke into outrageous language, unworthy of a great king. 'Dog!'
cried he, 'dare you talk to me after this manner, and so much as
mention my daughter's name in my presence? Can you think the son of
your sister Gulnare worthy to come in competition with my daughter?
Who are you? Who was your father? Who is your sister? And who your
nephew? Was not his father a dog, and a son of a dog, like you?
Guards, seize the insolent wretch, and cut off his head.'
The few officers that were about the King of Samandal were
immediately going to obey his orders, when King Saleh, who was
nimble and vigorous, got from them before they could draw their
sabres; and having reached the palace gate, he there found a
thousand men of his relations and friends, well armed and equipped,
who had just arrived. The queen his mother having considered the
small number of attendants he took with him, and, moreover,
foreseeing the bad reception he would probably have from the King
of Samandal, had sent these troops to protect and defend him in
case of danger, ordering them to make haste. Those of his relations
who were at the head of this troop had reason to rejoice at their
seasonable arrival, when they beheld him and his attendants come
running in great disorder and pursued. 'Sir,' cried his friends,
the moment he joined them, 'what is the matter? We are ready to
revenge you: you need only command us.'
King Saleh related his case to them in as few words as he could,
and putting himself at the head of a large troop, he, while some
seized on the gates, re-entered the palace as before. The few
officers and guards who had pursued him being soon dispersed, he
re-entered the King of Samandal's apartment, who, being abandoned
by his attendants, was soon seized. King Saleh left sufficient
guards to secure his person, and then went from apartment to
apartment, in search of the Princess Giauhara. But that princess,
on the first alarm, had, together with her women, sprung up to the
surface of the sea, and escaped to a desert island.
While this was passing in the palace of the King of Samandal, those
of King Saleh's attendants who had fled at the first menaces of
that king put the queen mother into terrible consternation upon
relating the danger her son was in. King Beder, who was by at that
time, was the more concerned, in that he looked upon himself as the
principal author of all the mischief: therefore, not caring to
abide in the queen's presence any longer, he darted up from the
bottom of the sea; and, not knowing how to find his way to the
kingdom of Persia, he happened to light on the island where the
Princess Giauhara had taken refuge.
The prince, not a little disturbed in mind, went and seated himself
under the shade of a large tree. Whilst he was endeavouring to
recover himself, he heard somebody talking, but was too far off to
understand what was said. He arose and advanced softly towards the
place whence the sound came, where, among the branches, he
perceived a most beautiful lady. 'Doubtless,' said he, within
himself, stopping and considering her with great attention, 'this
must be the Princess Giauhara, whom fear has obliged to abandon her
father's palace.' This said, he came forward, and approached the
princess with profound reverence. 'Madam,' said he, 'a greater
happiness could not have befallen me than this opportunity to offer
you my most humble services. I beseech you, therefore, madam, to
accept them, it being impossible that a lady in this solitude
should not want assistance.'
'True, my lord,' replied Giauhara very sorrowfully, 'it is not a
little extraordinary for a lady of my rank to be in this situation.
I am a princess, daughter of the King of Samandal, and my name is
Giauhara. I was in my father's palace, when all of a sudden I heard
a dreadful noise: news was immediately brought me that King Saleh,
I know not for what reason, had forced his way into the palace,
seized the king my father, and murdered all the guards that made
any resistance. I had only time to save myself, and escaped hither
from his violence.'
At these words of the princess, King Beder began to be concerned
that he had quitted his grandmother so hastily, without staying to
hear from her an explanation of the news that had been brought her.
But he was, on the other hand, overjoyed to find that the king, his
uncle, had rendered himself master of the King of Samandal's
person, not doubting but that he would consent to give up the
princess for his liberty. 'Adorable princess,' continued he, 'your
concern is most just, but it is easy to put an end both to that and
to your father's captivity. You will agree with me when I tell you
that I am Beder, King of Persia, and King Saleh is my uncle; I
assure you, madam, he has no design to seize upon the king your
father's dominions; his only intent is to obtain his consent that I
may have the honour and happiness of being his son-in-law. I had
already given my heart to you, and now, far from repenting of what
I have done, I beg of you to be assured that I will love you as
long as I live. Permit me, then, beauteous princess! to have the
honour to go and present you to the king my uncle; and the king
your father shall no sooner have consented to our marriage, than
King Saleh will leave him sovereign of his dominions as before.'
This declaration of King Beder did not produce the effect he
expected. When the princess heard from his own mouth that he had
been the occasion of the ill-treatment her father had suffered, of
the grief and fright she had endured, and especially the necessity
she was reduced to of flying her country, she looked upon him as an
enemy with whom she ought to have nothing whatever to do.
King Beder, believing himself arrived at the very pinnacle of
happiness, stretched forth his hand, and taking that of the
princess' stooped down to kiss it, when she, pushing him back,
said, 'Wretch, quit that form of a man, and take that of a white
bird, with a red bill and feet.' Upon her pronouncing these words,
King Beder was immediately changed into a bird of that sort, to his
great surprise and mortification. 'Take him,' said she to one of
her women, 'and carry him to the Dry Island.' This island was only
one frightful rock, where there was not a drop of water to be had.
The waiting-woman took the bird, and in executing her princess's
orders had compassion on King Beder's destiny. 'It would be a great
pity,' said she to herself, 'to let a prince, so worthy to live,
die of hunger and thirst. The princess, so good and gentle, will,
it may be, repent of this cruel order when she comes to herself: it
were better that I carried him to a place where he may die a
natural death.' She accordingly carried him to a well-frequented
island, and left him in a charming plain, planted with all sorts of
fruit trees, and watered by several rivulets.
Let us return to King Saleh. After he had sought a good while for
the Princess Giauhara, and ordered others to seek for her, to no
purpose, he caused the King of Samandal to be shut up in his own
palace, under a strong guard; and having given the necessary orders
for governing the kingdom in his absence, he returned to give the
queen his mother an account of what he had done. The first thing he
asked upon his arrival was of the whereabouts of the king his
nephew, and he learned with great surprise and vexation that he had
'News being brought me,' said the queen, 'of the danger you were in
at the palace of the King of Samandal, whilst I was giving orders
to send other troops to avenge you, he disappeared. He must have
been frightened at hearing of your being in so great danger, and
did not think himself in sufficient safety with us.'
This news exceedingly afflicted King Saleh, who now repented of his
being so easily wrought upon by King Beder as to carry him away
with him without his mother's consent. Whilst he was in this
suspense about his nephew, he left his kingdom under the
administration of his mother, and went to govern that of the King
of Samandal, whom he continued to keep under great vigilance,
though with all due respect to his rank.
The same day that King Saleh returned to the kingdom of Samandal,
Queen Gulnare, mother to King Beder, arrived at the court of the
queen her mother. The princess was not at all surprised to find her
son did not return the same day he set out, it being not uncommon
for him to go further than he proposed in the heat of the chase;
but when she saw that he returned neither the next day, nor the day
after, she began to be alarmed. This alarm was increased when the
officers, who had accompanied the king, and were obliged to return
after they had for a long time sought in vain for both him and his
uncle, came and told her majesty they must of necessity have come
to some harm, or be together in some place which they could not
guess, since they could hear no tidings of them. Their horses,
indeed, they had found, but as for their persons, they knew not
where to look for them. The queen, hearing this, had resolved to
dissemble and conceal her affliction, bidding the officers to
search once more with their utmost diligence; but in the mean time,
saying nothing to anybody, she plunged into the sea, to satisfy
herself as to the suspicion she had that King Saleh must have
carried away his nephew along with him.
This great queen would have been more affectionately received by
the queen her mother, had she not, upon first sight of her, guessed
the occasion of her coming. 'Daughter,' said she, 'I plainly
perceive you are not come hither to visit me; you come to inquire
after the king your son; and the only news I can tell you will
augment both your grief and mine. I no sooner saw him arrive in our
territories, than I rejoiced; yet, when I came to understand he had
come away without your knowledge, I began to share with you the
concern you must needs feel.' Then she related to her with what
zeal King Saleh went to demand the Princess Giauhara in marriage
for King Beder, and what had happened, till her son disappeared. 'I
have sent diligently after him,' added she, 'and the king my son,
who is but just gone to govern the kingdom of Samandal, has done
all that lay in his power. All our endeavours have hitherto proved
unsuccessful, but we must hope nevertheless to see him again,
perhaps when we least expect it.'
Queen Gulnare was not satisfied with this hope; she looked upon the
king her dear son as lost, and lamented him bitterly, laying all
the blame upon the king his uncle. The queen her mother made her
consider the necessity of not yielding too much to her grief. 'The
king your brother,' said she, 'ought not, it is true, to have
talked to you so imprudently about that marriage, nor ever have
consented to carry away the king my grandson, without acquainting
you first; yet, since it is not certain that the King of Persia is
absolutely lost, you ought to neglect nothing to preserve his
kingdom for him: lose, then, no more time, but return to your
capital; your presence there will be necessary, and it will not be
hard for you to preserve the public peace, by causing it to be
published that the King of Persia was gone to visit his
Queen Gulnare yielded. She took leave of the queen her mother, and
was back in the palace of the capital of Persia before she had been
missed. She immediately despatched persons to recall the officers
she had sent after the king, and to tell them she knew where his
majesty was, and that they should soon see him again. She also
governed with the prime minister and council as quietly as if the
king had been present.
To return to King Beder, whom the Princess Giauhara's waiting-woman
had carried and left in the island before mentioned; that monarch
was not a little surprised when he found himself alone, and under
the form of a bird. He felt yet more unhappy that he knew not where
he was, nor in what part of the world the kingdom of Persia lay. He
was forced to remain where he was, and live upon such food as birds
of his kind were wont to eat, and to pass the night on a tree.
A few days after, a peasant that was skilled in taking birds with
nets chanced to come to the place where he was; when perceiving so
fine a bird, the like of which he had never seen before, he began
greatly to rejoice. He employed all his art to catch him, and at
length succeeded. Overjoyed at so great a prize, which he looked
upon as of more worth than all the other birds, because so rare, he
shut it up in a cage, and carried it to the city. As soon as he was
come into the market, a citizen stops him, and asked him how much
he wanted for that bird.
Instead of answering, the peasant asked the citizen what he would
do with him in case he should buy him? 'What wouldst thou have me
to do with him,' answered the citizen, 'but roast and eat him?'
'If that be the case,' replied the peasant, 'I suppose you would
think me very well paid if you gave me the smallest piece of silver
for him. I set a much higher value upon him, and you should not
have him for a piece of gold. Although I am advanced in years, I
never saw such a bird in my life. I intend to make a present of him
to the king; he will know the value of him better than you.'
Without staying any longer in the market, the peasant went directly
to the palace, and placed himself exactly before the king's
apartment. His majesty, being at a window where he could see all
that passed in the court, no sooner cast his eyes on this beautiful
bird, than he sent an officer to buy it for him. The officer, going
to the peasant, asked him how much he wanted for that bird. 'If it
be for his majesty,' answered the peasant, 'I humbly beg of him to
accept it of me as a present, and I desire you to carry it to him.'
The officer took the bird to the king, who found it so great a
rarity that he ordered the same officer to take ten pieces of gold,
and carry them to the peasant, who departed very well satisfied.
The king ordered the bird to be put into a magnificent cage, and
gave it seed and water in rich vessels.
His majesty being then ready to go hunting, had not time to
consider the bird, therefore had it brought to him as soon as he
came back. The officer brought the cage, and the king, that he
might better see the bird, took it out himself, and perched it upon
his hand. Looking earnestly at it, he asked the officer if he had
seen it eat. 'Sir,' replied the officer, 'your majesty may observe
the vessel with his food is still full, and he has not touched any
of it.' Then the king ordered him meat of various sorts, that he
might take what he liked best.
The table being spread, and dinner served up just as the king had
given these orders, the bird, flapping his wings, hopped off the
king's hand, and flew on to the table, where he began to peck the
bread and victuals, sometimes on one plate, and sometimes on
another. The king was so surprised, that he immediately sent the
officer to desire the queen to come and see this wonder. The
officer related it to her majesty, and she came forthwith: but she
no sooner saw the bird, than she covered her face with her veil,
and would have retired. The king, surprised at her proceeding,
asked the reason of it.
'Sir,' answered the queen, 'your majesty will no longer be
surprised when you understand that this bird is not, as you take
it, a bird, but a man.'
'Madam,' said the king, more astonished than before, 'you are
making fun of me; you shall never persuade me that a bird can be a
'Sir,' replied the queen, 'far be it from me to make fun of your
majesty; nothing is more certain than what I have had the honour to
tell you. I can assure your majesty it is the King of Persia, named
Beder, son of the celebrated Gulnare, princess of one of the
largest kingdoms of the sea, nephew of Saleh, king of that kingdom,
and grandson of Queen Farasche, mother of Gulnare and Saleh; and it
was the Princess Giauhara, daughter of the King of Samandal, who
thus metamorphosed him into a bird.' That the king might no longer
doubt of what she affirmed, she told him the whole story, how and
for what reason the Princess Giauhara, had thus revenged herself
for the ill-treatment of King Saleh towards the king of Samandal,
The king had less difficulty in believing this assertion of the
queen in that he knew her to be a skilful magician, one of the
greatest in the world. And as she knew everything which took place,
he was always by her means timely informed of the designs of the
kings his neighbours against him, and prevented them. His majesty
had compassion on the King of Persia, and earnestly besought his
queen to break the enchantment, that he might return to his own
The queen consented to it with great willingness. 'Sir,' said she
to the king, 'be pleased to take the bird into your room, and I
will show you a king worthy of the consideration you have for him.'
The bird, which had ceased eating, and attended to what the king
and queen said, would not give his majesty the trouble to take him,
but hopped into the room before him; and the queen came in soon
after, with a vessel full of water in her hand. She pronounced over
the vessel some words unknown to the king, till the water began to
boil, when she took some of it in her hand, and, sprinkling a
little upon the bird, said, 'By virtue of these holy and mysterious
words I have just pronounced, quit that form of a bird, and
reassume that which thou hast received from thy Creator.'
The words were scarcely out of the queen's mouth, when, instead of
a bird, the king saw a young prince. King Beder immediately fell on
his knees, and thanked God for the favour that had been bestowed
upon him. Then he took the king's hand, who helped him up, and
kissed it in token of gratitude; but the king embraced him with
great joy. He would then have made his acknowledgments to the
queen, but she had already retired to her apartment. The king made
him sit at the table with him, and, after dinner was over, prayed
him to relate how the Princess Giauhara could have had the
inhumanity to transform into a bird so amiable a prince as he was;
and the King of Persia immediately told him. When he had done, the
king, provoked at the proceeding of the princess, could not help
blaming her. 'It was commendable,' said he, 'in the Princess of
Samandal to feel hurt at the king her father's ill-treatment; but
to carry her vengeance so far, and especially against a prince who
was not guilty, was what she will never be able to justify herself
for. But let us have done with this discourse, and tell me, I
beseech you, in what I can further serve you.'
'Sir,' answered King Beder, 'my obligation to your majesty is so
great, that I ought to remain with you all my life to testify my
gratitude; but since your majesty sets no limits to your
generosity, I entreat you to grant me one of your ships to
transport me to Persia, where I fear my absence, which has been but
too long, may have occasioned some disorder, and that the queen my
mother, from whom I concealed my departure, may be dead of grief,
under the uncertainty whether I am alive or dead.'
The king granted what he desired with the best grace imaginable,
and immediately gave orders for equipping one of his largest ships,
and the best sailor in his numerous fleet. The ship was soon
furnished with all its crew, provisions, and ammunition; and as
soon as the wind became fair, King Beder embarked, after having
taken leave of the king, and thanked him for all his favours.
The ship sailed before the wind for ten days; on the eleventh day
the wind changed, and becoming very violent, there followed a
furious tempest. The ship was not only driven out of its course,
but so violently tossed, that all its masts went by the board; and
driving along at the pleasure of the wind, it at length struck
against a rock and split open.
The greater part of the people were instantly drowned. Some few
were saved by swimming, and others by getting on pieces of the
wreck. King Beder was among the latter, and, after having been
tossed about for some time by the waves and currents, he at length
perceived himself near the shore, and not far from a city that
seemed large. He exerted his remaining strength to reach the land,
and was at length fortunate to come so near as to be able to touch
the ground with his feet. He immediately abandoned his piece of
wood, which had been of so great service to him; but when he came
near the shore he was greatly surprised to see horses, camels,
mules, asses, oxen, cows, bulls, and other animals crowding to the
shore to oppose his landing. He had the utmost difficulty to
conquer their obstinacy and force his way; but at length he
succeeded, and sheltered himself among the rocks till he had
recovered his breath, and dried his clothes in the sun.
When the prince advanced to enter the city, he met with the same
opposition from these animals, who seemed to want to make him
understand that it was dangerous to proceed.
King Beder, however, got into the city soon after, and saw many
fair and spacious streets, but was surprised to find no man there.
This made him think it was not without cause that so many animals
had opposed his passage. Going forward, nevertheless, he observed
several shops open, which gave him reason to believe the place was
not so destitute of inhabitants as he imagined. He approached one
of these shops, where several sorts of fruits were exposed to sale,
and saluted very courteously an old man that was sitting there.
The old man, who was busy about something, lifted up his head, and
seeing a youth who had an appearance of grandeur, started, and
asked him whence he came, and what business had brought him there.
King Beder satisfied him in a few words; and the old man further
asked him if he had met anybody on the road. 'You are the first
person I have seen,' answered the king; 'and I cannot comprehend
how so fine and large a city comes to be without inhabitants.'
'Come in, sir; stay no longer upon the threshold,' replied the old
man, 'or peradventure some misfortune may happen to you. I will
satisfy your curiosity at leisure, and give you the reason why it
is necessary you should take this precaution.'
King Beder would not be bidden twice: he entered the shop, and sat
down by the old man. The latter knew he must want food, therefore
immediately presented him with what was necessary to recover his
strength; and although King Beder was very anxious to know why he
had taken the precaution to make him enter the shop, the old man
nevertheless would not tell him anything till he had done eating,
for fear the sad things he had to relate might take away his
appetite. At last he said to him, 'You have great reason to thank
God you got hither without any misfortune.'
'Alas! why?' replied king Beder, very much surprised and alarmed.
'Because,' answered he, 'this city is called the City of
Enchantments, and is governed not by a king, but by a queen, who is
a notorious and dangerous sorceress. You will be convinced of
this,' added he, 'when you know that these horses, mules, and other
animals that you have seen are so many men, like you and me, whom
she has transformed by her diabolical art. And when young men like
you enter the city, she has persons stationed to stop and bring
them, either by fair means or force, before her. She receives them
in the most obliging manner; she caresses them, regales them, and
lodges them magnificently. But she does not suffer them long to
enjoy this happiness. There is not one of them whom she has not
transformed into some animal or bird at the end of forty days. You
told me all these animals opposed your landing and entering, the
city. This was the only way they could make you comprehend the
danger you were going to expose yourself to, and they did all in
their power to save you.'
This account exceedingly afflicted the young King of Persia.
'Alas!' cried he, 'to what extremities has my ill-fortune reduced
me! I am hardly freed from one enchantment, which I look back upon
with horror, but I find myself exposed to another much more
terrible.' This gave him occasion to relate his story to the old
man more at length, and to acquaint him with his birth, quality,
his falling in love with the Princess of Samandal, and her cruelty
in changing him into a bird the very moment he had seen her and
declared his love to her.
When the prince came to speak of his good fortune in finding a
queen who broke the enchantment, the old man, to encourage him,
said, 'Notwithstanding all I told you of the magic queen, that
ought not to give you the least disquiet, since I am generally
beloved throughout the city, and am not unknown to the queen
herself, who has much respect for me; therefore it was singularly
fortunate that you addressed yourself to me rather than elsewhere.
You are secure in my house, where I advise you to continue, if you
think fit; and provided you do not stray from hence, I dare assure
you you will have no just cause to complain; so that you are under
no sort of constraint whatsoever.'
King Beder thanked the old man for his kind reception, and the
protection he was pleased so readily to afford him. He sat down at
the entrance of the shop, where he no sooner appeared than his
youth and handsome looks drew the eyes of all that passed that way.
Many stopped and complimented the old man on his having acquired so
fine a slave, as they imagined the king to be; and they were the
more surprised, because they could not comprehend how so beautiful
a youth could escape the queen's knowledge. 'Believe not,' said the
old man, 'that this is a slave; you all know that I am not rich
enough. He is my nephew, son of a brother of mine that is dead; and
as I had no children of my own, I sent for him to keep me company.'
They congratulated his good fortune in having so fine a young man
for his relation; but could not help telling him they feared the
queen would take him from him. 'You know her well,' said they, 'and
you cannot be ignorant of the danger to which you are exposed,
after all the examples you have seen. How grieved would you be if
she should serve him as she has done so many others that we know
'I am obliged to you,' replied the old man, 'for your good will
towards me, and I heartily thank you for your care; but I shall
never entertain the least thought that the queen will do me any
injury, after all the kindness she has professed for me. In case
she happens to hear of this young man, and speaks to me about him,
I doubt not she will cease to think of him, so soon as she comes to
know he is my nephew.'
The old man was exceedingly glad to hear the commendations they
bestowed on the young King of Persia. He became as fond of him as
if he had been his own son. They had lived about a month together,
when, King Beder sitting at the shop-door, after his ordinary
manner, Queen Labe (so was this magic queen named) happened to come
by with great pomp. The young king no sooner perceived the guards
coming before her, than he arose, and, going into the shop, asked
the old man what all that show meant. 'The queen is coming by,'
answered he, 'but stand still and fear nothing.'
The queen's guards, clothed in purple uniform, and well armed and
mounted, marched in four files, with their sabres drawn, to the
number of a thousand, and every one of their officers, as they
passed by the shop, saluted the old man: then followed a like
number habited in brocaded silk, and better mounted, whose officers
did the old man the like honour. Next came as many young ladies on
foot, equally beautiful, richly dressed, and set off with precious
stones. They marched gravely, with half pikes in their hands; and
in the midst of them appeared Queen Labe, on a horse glittering
with diamonds, with a golden saddle, and a harness of inestimable
value. All the young ladies saluted the old man as they passed by
him; and the queen, struck with the good mien of King Beder,
stopped as soon as she came before the shop. 'Abdallah' (so was the
old man named), said she to him, 'tell me, I beseech thee, does
that beautiful and charming slave belong to thee? and is it long
that thou hast been in possession of him?'
Abdallah, before he answered the queen, threw himself on the
ground, and rising again, said, 'Madam, it is my nephew, son of a
brother I had, who has not long been dead. Having no children, I
look upon him as my son, and sent for him to come and comfort me,
intending to leave him what I have when I die.'
Queen Labe, who had never yet seen any one to compare with King
Beder, thought immediately of getting the old man to abandon him to
her. 'Father,' quoth she, 'will you not oblige me so far as to make
me a present of this young man? Do not refuse me, I conjure you;
and I swear by the fire and the light, I will make him so great and
powerful that no individual in the world ever arrived at such good
fortune. Although my purpose were to do evil to all mankind, yet he
shall be the sole exception. I trust you will grant me what I
desire, more on the account of the friendship I know you have for
me, than for the esteem you know I always had, and shall ever have
'Madam,' replied the good Abdallah, 'I am infinitely obliged to
your majesty for all your kindness, and the honours you propose to
do my nephew. He is not worthy to approach so great a queen, and I
humbly beseech your majesty to excuse him.'
'Abdallah,' replied the queen, 'I all along flattered myself you
loved me; and I could never have thought you would have given me so
evident a token of your slighting my request. But I here swear once
more by the fire and light, and even by whatsoever is most sacred
in my religion, that I will pass on no farther till I have
conquered your obstinacy. I understand very well what raises your
apprehensions; but I promise you shall never have any occasion to
repent having obliged me in so sensible a manner.'
Old Abdallah was exceedingly grieved, both on his own account and
King Beder's, for being in a manner forced to obey the queen.
'Madam,' replied he, 'I would not willingly have your majesty
entertain an ill opinion of the respect I have for you, and my zeal
always to do whatever I can to oblige you. I put entire confidence
in your royal word, and I do not in the least doubt but you will
keep it. I only beg of your majesty to delay doing this great
honour to my nephew till you shall again pass this way.'
'That shall be to-morrow,' said the queen, who inclined her head,
as a token of being pleased, and so went forward towards her
When Queen Labe and all her attendants were out of sight, the good
Abdallah said to King Beder, 'Son, (for so he was wont to call him,
for fear of some time or other betraying him when he spoke of him
in public), 'it has not been in my power, as you may have observed,
to refuse the queen what she demanded of me with so great
earnestness, for fear I might force her to employ her magic both
against you and myself openly or secretly, and treat you, as much
from resentment to you as to me, with more signal cruelty than all
those she has had in her power before. But I have some reason to
believe she will treat you well, as she promised, on account of
that particular esteem she professes for me. This you may have seen
by the respect shown, and the honours paid me by all her court. She
would be a fiendish creature indeed, if she should deceive me; but
she shall not deceive me unrevenged, for I know how to be even with
These assurances, which appeared very doubtful, were not sufficient
to raise King Beder's spirits. 'After all you have told me of this
queen's wickedness,' replied he, 'you cannot wonder if I am
somewhat fearful to approach her: I might, it may be, make little
of all you could tell me of her, did I not know by experience what
it is to be at the mercy of a sorceress. The condition I was in,
through the enchantment of the Princess Giauhara, and from whence I
was delivered only to enter almost immediately into another, has
made me look upon such a fate with horror.
'Son,' replied old Abdallah, 'do not afflict yourself; for though I
must own there is no great faith to be put in the promises and
oaths of so perfidious a queen, yet I must withal tell you that her
power extends not to me. She knows it well herself; and that is the
reason, and no other, that she pays me such great respect. I can
quickly hinder her from doing you the least harm, if she should be
perfidious enough to attempt it. You may depend upon me; and,
provided you follow exactly the advice I shall give you before I
hand you over to her, she shall have no more power over you than
she has over me.'
The magic queen did not fail to pass by the old man's shop the next
day, with the same pomp as the day before, and Abdallah waited for
her with great respect. 'Father,' cried she, stopping just before
him, 'you may judge of my impatience to have your nephew with me,
by my punctual coming to put you in mind of your promise. I know
you are a man of your word, and I cannot think you will break it
Abdallah, who fell on his face as soon as he saw the queen
approaching, rose up when she had done speaking; and as he wanted
nobody to hear what he had a mind to say to her, he advanced with
great respect as far as her horse's head, and then said softly,
'Powerful queen! I am persuaded your majesty will not be offended
at my seeming unwillingness to trust my nephew with you yesterday,
since you cannot be ignorant of the reasons I had for it; but I
implore you to lay aside the secrets of that art which you possess
in so wonderful a degree. I regard my nephew as my own son; and
your majesty would reduce me to despair if you should deal with him
as you have done with others.'
'I promise you I will not,' replied the queen; 'and I once more
repeat the oath I made yesterday, that neither you nor your nephew
shall have any cause to be offended with me. I see plainly,' added
she, 'you are not yet well enough acquainted with me; you never saw
me yet but through a veil; but as I find your nephew worthy of my
friendship, I will show you I am not in any way unworthy of his.'
With that she threw off her veil and showed King Beder, who came
near her with Abdallah, incomparable beauty.
But King Beder was little charmed. 'It is not enough,' said he
within himself, 'to be beautiful; one's actions ought to
Whilst King Beder was making these reflections, with his eyes fixed
on Queen Labe, the old man turned towards him, and taking him by
the arm, presented him to her majesty. 'Here he is, madam,' said
he, 'and I beg of your majesty once more to remember he is my
nephew, and to let him come and see me sometimes.' The queen
promised he should; and to give a further mark of her gratitude,
she caused a bag of a thousand pieces of gold to be given him. He
excused himself at first from receiving them, but she insisted
absolutely upon it, and he could not refuse her. She had caused a
horse to be brought (as richly harnessed as her own) for the King
When King Beder was mounted, he would have taken his place behind
the queen, but she would not suffer him, and made him ride on her
left hand. She looked at Abdallah, and after having made him an
inclination with her head, she set forward on her march.
Instead of observing a satisfaction in the people's faces at the
sight of their sovereign, King Beder took notice that they looked
at her with contempt, and even cursed her. 'The sorceress,' said
some, 'has got a new subject to exercise her wickedness upon: will
Heaven never deliver the world from her tyranny?' 'Poor stranger!'
cried out others, 'thou art much deceived if thou thinkest thine
happiness will last long. It is only to render thy fall most
terrible that thou art raised so high.' This talk gave King Beder
to understand that Abdallah had told him nothing but the truth of
Queen Labe: but as it now depended no longer on himself to escape
the mischief, he committed himself to divine Providence and the
will of Heaven respecting his fate.
The magic queen arrived at her palace; she alighted, and giving her
hand to King Beder, entered with him, accompanied by her women and
the officers. She herself showed him all her apartments, where
there was nothing to be seen but massy gold, precious stones, and
furniture of wonderful magnificence. Then she led him out into a
balcony, from whence he observed a garden of surprising beauty.
King Beder commended all he saw, but so that he might not be
discovered to be any other than old Abdallah's nephew. They
discoursed of indifferent matters, till the queen was informed that
dinner was upon the table.
The queen and King Beder arose, and sat down at the table, which
was of massy gold, and the dishes of the same metal. They began to
eat, but drank hardly at all till the dessert came, when the queen
caused a cup to be filled for her with excellent wine. She took it
and drank to King Beder's health; and then, without putting it out
of her hand, caused it to be filled again, and presented it to him.
King Beder received it with profound respect, and by a very low bow
signified to her majesty that he in return drank to her health.
At the same time ten of Queen Labe's women entered with musical
instruments, with which they made an agreeable concert. At length
both began so to be heated with wine, that King Beder forgot he had
to do with a magic queen, and looked upon her only as the most
beautiful queen he ever saw.
Next morning the women who had served the king presented him with
fine linen and a magnificent robe. The queen likewise, who was more
splendidly dressed than the day before, came to receive him, and
they went together to her apartments, where they had a good repast
brought them, and spent the remainder of the day in walking in the
garden, and in various other amusements.
Queen Labe treated King Beder after this manner for forty days, as
she had been accustomed to do to all the others. The fortieth night
she arose without making any noise and came into his room; but he
was awake, and perceiving she had some design upon him, watched all
her motions. She opened a chest, from whence she took a little box
full of a certain yellow powder; taking some of the powder, she
laid a train of it across the chamber, and it immediately flowed in
a rivulet of water, to the great astonishment of King Beder. He
trembled with fear, but still pretended to sleep, that the
sorceress might not discover he was awake.
Queen Labe next took up some of the water in a vessel, and poured
it into a basin, where there was flour, with which she made a
paste, and kneaded it for a long time: then she mixed with it
certain drugs, which she took from different boxes, and made a
cake, which she put into a covered baking-pan. As she had taken
care first of all to make a good fire, she took some of the coals,
and set the pan upon them; and while the cake was baking, she put
up the vessels and boxes in their places again; and on her
pronouncing certain words, the rivulet, which ran along the end of
the room, appeared no more. When the cake was baked, she took it
off the coals, and carried it into her room, without the least
suspicion that he had seen anything of what she had done.
King Beder, whom the pleasures and amusements of a court had made
forget his good host Abdallah, began now to think of him again, and
believed he had more than ordinary occasion for his advice, after
all he had seen the queen do that night. As soon as he was up,
therefore, he expressed a great desire to go and see his uncle, and
begged her majesty to permit him. 'What! my dear Beder,' cried the
queen, 'are you then already tired, I will not say with living in
so superb a palace as mine is, where you must find so many
pleasures, but with the company of a queen who is so fond of you as
'Great queen!' answered King Beder, 'how can I be tired of so many
favours and graces as your majesty perpetually heaps upon me? I
must own, however, it is partly for this reason, that, my uncle
loving me so tenderly, as I well know he does, and I having been
absent from him now forty days, without once seeing him, I would
not give him reason to think that I consent to remain longer
without seeing him.'
'Go,' said the queen, 'you have my consent; but do not be long
before you return.' This said, she ordered him a horse richly
caparisoned, and he departed.
Old Abdallah was overjoyed to see King Beder; he embraced him
tenderly, and King Beder did the same. As soon as they had sat
down, 'Well,' said Abdallah to the king, 'how have you been, and
how have you passed your time with that infidel sorceress?'
'Hitherto,' answered King Beder, 'I must needs own she has been
extraordinarily kind to me, but I observed something last night
which gives me just reason to suspect that all her kindness
hitherto is but dissimulation.' He related to Abdallah how and
after what manner he had seen her make the cake; and then added,
'Hitherto, I must needs confess I had almost forgotten, not only
you, but all the advice you gave me concerning the wickedness of
this queen; but this last action of hers gives me reason to fear
she does not intend to observe any of her promises or solemn oaths
to you. I thought of you immediately, and I esteem myself happy in
that I have obtained permission to come to you.'
'You are not mistaken,' replied old Abdallah with a smile, which
showed he did not himself believe she would have acted otherwise,
'nothing is capable of obliging a treacherous person to amend. But
fear nothing. I know the way to make the mischief she intends for
you fall upon herself. You are alarmed in time; and you could not
have done better than to have recourse to me. It is her ordinary
practice to keep her lovers only forty days, and after that time,
instead of sending them home, to turn them into animals, to stock
her forests and parks; but I thought of measures yesterday to
prevent her doing you the same harm. The earth has borne this
monster long enough, and it is now high time she should be treated
as she deserves.'
So saying, Abdallah put two cakes into King Beder's hands, bidding
him keep them to make use of as he should direct. 'You told me,'
continued he, 'the sorceress made a cake last night; it was for you
to eat, depend upon it; but take great care you do not touch it.
Nevertheless, do not refuse to receive it when she offers it you;
but instead of tasting it, break off part of one of the two I shall
give you, unobserved, and eat that. As soon as she thinks you have
swallowed it, she will not fail to attempt transforming you into
some animal, but she will not succeed; when she sees that she will
immediately turn the thing into a joke, as if what she had done was
only to frighten you. But she will conceal a mortal grief in her
heart, and think she omitted something in the composition of her
cake. As for the other cake, you shall make a present of it to her
and press her to eat it; which she will not refuse to do, were it
only to convince you she does not mistrust you, though she has
given you so much reason to mistrust her. When she has eaten of it,
take a little water in the hollow of your hand, and throwing it in
her face, say, "Quit that form you now wear, and take that of such
and such an animal" as you think fit; which done, come to me with
the animal, and I will tell you what you shall do afterwards.'
King Beder thanked Abdallah in the most expressive terms, and took
his leave of him and returned to the palace. Upon his arrival, he
understood that the queen waited for him with great impatience in
the garden. He went to her, and she no sooner perceived him, than
she came in great haste to meet him. 'My dear Beder!' said she, 'it
seems ages since I have been separated from you. If you had stayed
ever so little longer, I was preparing to come and fetch you.'
'Madam,' replied King Beder, 'I can assure your majesty I was no
less impatient to rejoin you; but I could not refuse to stay a
little longer with an uncle that loves me, and had not seen me for
so long a time. He would have kept me still longer, but I tore
myself away from him, to come where love calls me. Of all he
prepared for me, I have only brought away this cake, which I desire
your majesty to accept.' King Beder had wrapped up one of the two
cakes in a handkerchief very neatly, took it out, and presented it
to the queen, saying, 'I beg your majesty to accept it.'
'I do accept it with all my heart,' replied the queen, 'and will
eat it with pleasure for your and your good uncle's sake; but
before I taste it, I desire you for my sake to eat a piece of this,
which I have made for you during your absence.'
'Fair queen,' answered King Beder, receiving it with great respect,
I cannot sufficiently acknowledge the favour you do me.'
King Beder then artfully substituted in the place of the queen's
cake the other which old Abdallah had given him, and having broken
off a piece, he put it in his mouth, and cried, while he was
eating, 'Ah! queen, I never tasted anything so charming in my
Being near a cascade, as the sorceress saw him swallow one bit of
the cake, and ready to eat another, she took a little water in the
palm of her hand, throwing it in the king's face, said, 'Wretch!
quit that form of a man, and take that of a vile horse, blind and
These words not having the desired effect, the sorceress was
strangely surprised to find King Beder still in the same form, and
that he only started for fear. Her cheeks reddened; and as she saw
that she had missed her aim, 'Dear Beder,' cried she, 'this is
nothing; recover yourself. I did not intend you any harm; I only
did it to see what you would say.'
'Powerful queen,' replied King Beder, 'persuaded as I am that what
your majesty did was only to divert yourself, yet I could not help
being surprised. But, madam,' continued he, 'let us drop this, and
since I have eaten your cake, would you do me the favour to taste
Queen Labe, who could not better justify herself than by showing
this mark of confidence in the King of Persia, broke off a piece of
his cake, and ate it. She had no sooner swallowed it than she
appeared much troubled, and remained as it were motionless. King
Beder lost no time, but took water out of the same basin, and
throwing it in her face, cried, 'Abominable sorceress! quit that
form of a woman, and be turned instantly into a mare.'
The same instant Queen Labe was transformed into a very beautiful
mare; and her confusion was so great to find herself in that
condition, that she shed tears in great abundance, which perhaps no
mare before had ever been known to do. She bowed her head to the
feet of King Beder, thinking to move him to compassion; but though
he could have been so moved, it was absolutely out of his power to
repair the mischief he had done. He led her into the stable
belonging to the palace, and put her into the hands of a groom, to
bridle and saddle; but of all the bridles which the groom tried
upon her, not one would fit her. This made him cause two horses to
be saddled, one for the groom, and the other for himself; and the
groom led the mare after him to old Abdallah's.
Abdallah, seeing at a distance King Beder coming with the mare,
doubted not but he had done what he advised him. 'Hateful
sorceress!' said he immediately to himself in a transport of joy,
'Heaven has at length punished thee as thou deservest.' King Beder
alighted at Abdallah's door, and entered the shop, embracing and
thanking him for all the signal services he had done him. He
related to him the whole matter, and told him that he could find no
bridle fit for the mare. Abdallah, who had one for every horse,
bridled the mare himself, and as soon as King Beder had sent back
the groom with the two horses, he said to him, 'My lord, you have
no reason to stay any longer in this city: mount the mare, and
return to your kingdom. I have but one thing more to recommend to
you; and that is, if you should ever happen to part with the mare,
be sure not to give up the bridle.' King Beder promised to remember
it; and having taken leave of the good old man, he departed.
The young King of Persia no sooner got out of the city, than he
began to reflect with joy on the deliverance he had had, and that
he had the sorceress in his power, who had given him so much cause
to tremble. Three days after he arrived at a great city, where,
entering the suburbs, he met a venerable old man. 'Sir,' said the
old man, stopping him, 'may I presume to ask from what part of the
world you come?' The king stopped to tell him, and as they were
discoursing together, an old woman came up; who, stopping likewise,
wept and sighed bitterly at the sight of the mare.
King Beder and the old man left off discoursing, to look at the old
woman, whom the king asked what cause she had to lament so much,
'Alas! sir,' replied she, 'it is because your mare resembles so
perfectly one my son had, which I still mourn the loss of on his
account. I should think yours were the same, did I not know she was
dead. Sell her to me, I beseech you: I will give you more than she
is worth, and thank you too.'
'Good woman,' replied King Beder, 'I am heartily sorry I cannot
comply with your request: my mare is not to be sold.'
'Alas! sir,' continued the old woman, 'do not refuse me this
favour. My son and I will certainly die with grief if you do not
'Good mother,' replied the king, 'I would grant it with all my
heart, if I was disposed to part with so good a beast; but if I
were so disposed, I believe you would hardly give a thousand pieces
of gold for her, and I could not sell her for less.'
'Why should I not give so much?' replied the old woman: 'if that be
the lowest price, you need only say you will take it, and I will
fetch you the money.'
King Beder, seeing the old woman so poorly dressed, could not
imagine she could find the money; therefore to try her, he said,
'Go, fetch me the money, and the mare is yours.' The old woman
immediately unloosed a purse she had fastened to her girdle, and
desiring him to alight, bade him tell over the money, and in case
he found it came short of the sum demanded, she said her house was
not far off, and she could quickly fetch the rest.
The surprise of King Beder, at the sight of this purse, was not
small. 'Good woman,' said he, 'do you not perceive I have been
bantering you all this while? I assure you my mare is not to be
The old man, who had been witness to all that was said, now began
to speak. 'Son,' quoth he to King Beder, 'it is necessary you
should know one thing, which I find you are ignorant of; and that
is, that in this city it is not permitted to any one to tell a lie,
on any account whatsoever, on pain of death. You cannot refuse
taking this good woman's money, and delivering your mare, when she
gives you the sum according to the agreement; and this you had
better do without any noise, than expose yourself to what may
King Beder, sorely afflicted to find himself thus trapped by his
rash offer, alighted with great regret. The old woman stood ready
to seize the bridle, and immediately unbridled the mare, and taking
some water in her hand, from a stream that ran in the middle of the
street, she threw it in the mare's face, uttering these words,
'Daughter, quit that strange shape, and re-assume thine own.' The
transformation was effected in a moment, and King Beder, who
swooned as soon as he saw Queen Labe appear, would have fallen to
the ground, if the old man had not caught him.
The old woman, who was mother to Queen Labe, and had instructed her
in all her magic secrets, had no sooner embraced her daughter, than
to show her fury, she whistled. Immediately rose a genie of
gigantic form and stature. This genie took King Beder on one
shoulder, and the old woman with the magic queen on the other, and
transported them in a few minutes to the palace of Queen Labe in
the City of Enchantments.
The magic queen immediately fell upon King Beder, 'Is it thus,
ungrateful wretch,' said she, 'that thou and thy unworthy uncle
repay me for all the kindnesses I have done for you? I shall soon
make you both feel what you deserve.' She said no more, but taking
water in her hand, threw it in his face with these words, 'Come out
of that shape, and take that of a vile owl.' These words were
followed by the effect, and immediately she commanded one of her
women to shut up the owl in a cage, and give him neither meat nor
The woman took the cage, and without regarding what the queen
ordered, gave him both meat and drink; and being old Abdallah's
friend, she sent him word privately how the queen had treated his
nephew, and of her design to destroy both him and King Beder, that
he might give orders to prevent it and save himself.
Abdallah knew no common measures would do with Queen Labe: he
therefore did but whistle after a certain manner, and there
immediately arose a vast giant, with four wings, who, presenting
himself before him, asked what he wanted. 'Lightning,' said
Abdallah to him (for so was the genie called), 'I command you to
preserve the life of King Beder, son of Queen Gulnare. Go to the
palace of the magic queen, and transport immediately to the capital
of Persia the compassionate woman who has the cage in custody, so
that she may inform Queen Gulnare of the danger the king her son is
in, and the occasion he has for her assistance. Take care not to
frighten her when you come before her and tell her from me what she
ought to do.'
Lightning immediately disappeared, and got in an instant to the
palace of the magic queen. He instructed the woman, lifted her up
into the air, and transported her to the capital of Persia, where
he placed her on the terrace near the apartment where Queen Gulnare
was. She went downstairs to the apartment, and she there found
Queen Gulnare and Queen Farasche her mother lamenting their
misfortunes. She made them a profound obeisance and they soon
understood the great need that King Beder was in of their
Queen Gulnare was so overjoyed at the news, that rising from her
seat, she went and embraced the good woman, telling her how much
she was obliged to her for the service she had done.
Then immediately going out, she commanded the trumpets to sound,
and the drums to beat, to acquaint the city that the King of Persia
would suddenly return safe to his kingdom. She then went again, and
found King Saleh her brother, whom Queen Farasche had caused to
come speedily thither by a certain fumigation. 'Brother,' said she
to him, 'the king your nephew, my dear son, is in the City of
Enchantments, under the power of Queen Labe. Both you and I must go
to deliver him, for there is no time to be lost.'
King Saleh forthwith assembled a powerful body of his marine
troops, who soon rose out of the sea. He also called to his
assistance the genies, his allies, who appeared with a much more
numerous army than his own. As soon as the two armies were joined,
he put himself at the head of them, with Queen Farasche, Queen
Gulnare, and the princesses. They then lifted themselves up into
the air, and soon poured down on the palace and City of
Enchantments, where the magic queen, her mother, and all the
adorers of fire, were destroyed in an instant.
Queen Gulnare had ordered the woman who brought her the news of
Queen Labe's transforming and imprisoning her son to follow her
closely, and bade her go, and in the confusion, seize the cage, and
bring it to her. This order was executed as she wished, and Queen
Gulnare was no sooner in possession of the cage than she opened it
and took out the owl, saying, as she sprinkled a little water upon
him, 'My dear son, quit that strange form, and resume thy natural
one of a man.'
In a moment Queen Gulnare no more saw the hideous owl, but King
Beder her son. She immediately embraced him with an excess of joy.
She could not find in her heart to let him go; and Queen Farasche
was obliged to force him from her in her turn. After her, he was
likewise embraced by the king his uncle and his relations.
Queen Gulnare's first care was to look out for old Abdallah, to
whom she had been indebted for the recovery of the King of Persia.
When he was brought to her, she said, 'My obligations to you, sir,
have been so great, that there is nothing in my power that I would
not freely do for you, as a token of my acknowledgment. Do but tell
me in what I can serve you.'
'Great queen,' replied Abdallah, 'if the lady whom I sent to your
majesty will but consent to the marriage I offer her, and the King
of Persia will give me leave to reside at his court, I will spend
the remainder of my days in his service.'
Then the queen turned to the lady, who was present, and finding
that she was not averse to the match proposed, she caused them to
join hands, and the King of Persia and she took care of their
This marriage occasioned the King of Persia to speak thus to the
queen: 'Madam,' said he, 'I am heartily glad of this match which
your majesty has just made. There remains one more, which I desire
you to think of.'
Queen Gulnare did not at first comprehend what marriage he meant;
but after a little considering, she said, 'Of yours, you mean, son?
I consent to it with all my heart.' Then turning, and looking on
her brother's sea attendants, and the genies who were still
present, 'Go,' said she, 'and traverse both sea and land, to find
out the most lovely and amiable princess, worthy of the king my
son, and come and tell us.'
'Madam,' replied King Beder, 'it is to no purpose for them to take
all that pains. You have no doubt heard that I have already given
my heart to the Princess of Samandal. I have seen her, and do not
repent of the present I then made her. In a word, neither earth nor
sea, in my opinion, can furnish a princess like her. It is true
that she treated me in a way that would have extinguished any
affection less strong than mine. But I hold her excused; she could
not treat me with less rigour, after I had had the king her father
imprisoned. But it may be the King of Samandal has changed his
mind; and his daughter the princess may consent to love me when she
sees her father has agreed to it.'
'Son,' replied Queen Gulnare, 'if only the Princess Giauhara can
make you happy, it is not my design to oppose you. The king your
uncle need only have the King of Samandal brought, and we shall
soon see whether he be still of the same untractable temper.'
Strictly as the King of Samandal had been kept during his captivity
by King Saleh's orders, yet he always had great respect shown him,
and was become very familiar with the officers who guarded him.
King Saleh caused a chafing-dish of coals to be brought, into which
he threw a certain composition, uttering at the same time some
mysterious words. As soon as the smoke began to arise, the palace
shook, and immediately the King of Samandal, with King Saleh's
officers, appeared. The King of Persia cast himself at the King of
Samandal's feet, and kneeling said, 'It is no longer King Saleh
that demands of your majesty the honour of your alliance for the
King of Persia; it is the King of Persia himself that humbly begs
that boon; and I am sure your majesty will not persist in being the
cause of the death of a king who can no longer live if he does not
share life with the amiable Princess Giauhara.'
The King of Samandal did not long suffer the King of Persia to
remain at his feet. He embraced him and obliging him to rise, said,
'I should be very sorry to have contributed in the least to the
death of a monarch who is so worthy to live. If it be true that so
precious a life cannot be preserved without my daughter, live,
sir,' said he, 'she is yours. She has always been obedient to my
will, and I cannot think she will now oppose it.' Speaking these
words, he ordered one of his officers, whom King Saleh had
permitted to be about him, to go and look for the Princess
Giauhara, and bring her to him immediately.
The princess had remained where the King of Persia had left her.
The officer soon perceived her, and brought her with her women. The
King of Samandal embraced her, and said, 'Daughter, I have provided
a husband for you; it is the King of Persia you see there, the most
accomplished monarch at present in the universe. The preference he
has given you over all other Princesses obliges us both to express
'Sir,' replied the Princess Giauhara, 'your majesty well knows I
never have presumed to disobey your will in anything; I shall
always be ready to obey you; and I hope the King of Persia will
forget my ill-treatment of him, and consider it was duty, not
inclination, that forced me to it.'
The wedding was celebrated in the palace of the City of
Enchantments, with the greater solemnity in that all the lovers of
the magic queen, who resumed their original forms as soon as ever
that queen ceased to live, came to return their thanks to the King
of Persia, Queen Gulnare, and King Saleh. They were all sons of
kings or princes, or persons of high rank.
King Saleh at length conducted the King of Samandal to his
dominions, and put him in possession of them. The King of Persia
returned to his capital with Queen Gulnare, Queen Farasche, and the
princesses; and Queen Farasche and the princesses continued there
till King Saleh came to reconduct them to his kingdom under the
waves of the sea.