The Merchant's Daughter, whom the King rejected.

WHEN the sun was set, and the moon risen, Khojisteh, with a downcast countenance, went to the parrot, and said, “O thou possessor of my secret! the sages have said, that a woman with-out shame is the worst of women:—Now I wish to avoid going to a strange man, and to sit at home patiently.” The parrot answered, “My mistress, whatever you say is right; but I fear that if you restrain yourself, your constitution will decline, like the king's.” Khojisteh asked, “What kind of story is his?”

The parrot began: “In a certain city was a merchant, who had plenty of money and effects, and kept horses and elephants. He had a very handsome daughter, the fame of whose beauty reached distant countries and cities. Merchants and traders of that country wanted to marry the merchant's daughter; but the father would not accept of their proposals. When the young woman became marriageable, one day the mer-chant wrote and sent a letter to the king, couched in the following terms:—‘I have a daughter, the beauty of whose countenance resembles the moon, her walk is graceful as the mountain pheasant, and her voice may compare with the nightingale with a thousand notes; from the desire of hearing her discourse, the birds are arrested in their flight, and become intoxicated and senseless. I flatter myself, that if your Majesty sees good, she is worthy of your choice, and may be the means of increasing my own rank in life.’ On the receipt of this letter, the king was greatly delighted, and said, Every thing comes of itself, to him who is fortunate. The king had four viziers, to all of whom he said, Go you to the merchant's house, take a view of his daughter, and if she is worthy of my choice, bring her immediately. The viziers entered the merchant's house, and, on beholding the daughter's face, were deprived of their senses. They consulted together, and said, If the king should see a woman with so beautiful a counte-nance, he would lose his reason, and, remaining with her night and day, will pay no attention to the duties of royalty, so that all public affairs will go to ruin. Then the four viziers returned to the king, and thus reported: This virgin is not remarkably handsome: in the royal palace are many that have equal pretensions to beauty. The king said, If it is as you represent, then I will not marry her. In short, the king did not ask the merchant's daughter in marriage. The mer-chant, in despair, married his daughter to the cutwal of that city. One day the young woman said to herself, It is extraordinary that the king rejected me, who am so beautiful; some time or other I will shew myself to him. In short, one day, as the king was passing by the cutwal's ha-bitation, the woman was standing on the roof of the house, and shewed herself to the king, who, as soon as he saw her, fell in love; and, having sent for the viziers, said to them, Why did you tell me such false words? They answered, We unanimously agreed, that, if your Majesty were to see this woman, you would neglect the affairs of your kingdom. The king approved of the viziers' excuse, and his love for the woman affected his health. The ministers of state recommended, that the king should demand the woman of the cut-wal; and if he did not resign her willingly, that she should be taken from him by force. The king said: I am the prince of this kingdom; be careful how you advise: I will not be guilty of an action so very repugnant to justice; it does not become monarchs to behave with such ty-ranny towards their subjects and servants. In short, after a few days, the king was seized with melancholy on account of this woman; he became emaciated, and, at length, died of grief.”

The parrot having finished this story, said to Kho-jisteh, “It is not adviseable for you to restrain your passion; arise, and have an interview with your lover, or else you, like the king, will suffer in your health.” Khojisteh wanted to have gone; instantly the cock crowed, and dawn appearing, her departure was deferred.