The Emperor of China, in a dream, falls
in love with the Queen of Room

WHEN the sun had set, and the moon was risen, Khojisteh, full of thought, went to the parrot, and said, “O thou, who art my associate! I have heard that some one asked a great man, What is love? He answered, Love is a kind of death in the midst of life. Now this same love, which is my occu-pation, is arrived at such a pitch that I wish to relinquish it altogether, and not even to mention the word love in future.” The parrot said, “O Khojisteh, there is a wide difference between speak-ing and acting. What relation hath love with pa-tience? and can the lover exist without the mis-tress? If a woman could live (continued he) uncon-nected with man, then the queen of Room had re-mained single; but notwithstanding she had for years felt an aversion towards man, she at last took unto herself a husband.” Khojisteh asked— “What kind of story is this?”

The parrot said—“It is thus related: Once on a time, there was an emperor of China, who had a wise vizier. One day, when the emperor was asleep, the vizier, having come to consult him on some affairs of government, awaked him. The emperor, on being roused from his sleep, drew his sword, and pursued the vizier, who fled from his presence, and escaped into another house. The emperor smote his hands together, rent his gar-ments, and uttered exclamations. The ministers of state said, What has befallen you? He an-swered, At that juncture I saw in a dream a place where was a woman surpassing in beauty all I have ever beheld. Sometimes she kissed my hands, and sometimes I placed my head on her feet; at that instant the vizier awaked me out of the dream. In short, the emperor was continually contemplating that form. He had another vizier, who was a skilful limner; to him he described the face, and the vizier drew the picture. He erected a hermitage on the high road, where he attended every day; and to every person who ar-rived from a distant country he shewed this pic-ture, and asked, Have you seen or heard of any woman resembling this portrait? But no person answered in the affirmative. After some time, a traveller came into the hermitage, to whom the vizier shewed the portrait, and asked him about it. The traveller said, I know this face very well; this is the portrait of the Queen of Room: after this, he was lavish in her praise, and said, With all this beauty she will not marry. The vizier asked, Do you know any reason why she does not like to marry? He answered, I do know the reason, which is this: Once on a time the queen was sit-ing in a summer-house situated in a garden, where, on the top of a tree, a peahen had deposited her eggs. Suddenly the garden was struck with light-ning, which burnt all the trees; when, the flames approaching that tree, the peacock, unable to sup-port the heat of the fire, inhumanely quitted the nest; but the hen, from her affection for the eggs, remained with them and was burnt. When the queen saw this want of feeling in the male, she exclaimed, Men are very faithless! I vow to my-self never to speak of a man! Accordingly years have elapsed without her having mentioned the name of a man. When the vizier heard this dis-course, he went to the emperor and said, From the day that I drew the picture of the woman whom your Majesty saw in a dream, I have been stationed on the road; and whenever a traveller arrived from afar, I asked him if he knew such a face. To-day arrived a traveller, to whom I shewed the picture, and he said, This is the por-trait of the Queen of Room. The emperor was highly pleased at this discovery, and said, This very day some person must be sent to the territory of Room, to require the queen in marriage for me. The vizier said, The queen has agreed with her-self never to accept of a husband. The emperor asked, What mystery is there in this resolution formed by the queen? The vizier related, as he had heard from the traveller, the story of the pea-cock. The emperor said, What ought to be done? The vizier answered, If I am commanded, I my-self will go, and shew her your picture; and, as you fell in love with her appearance in a dream, she, whilst awake, will be enamoured of your por-trait. The emperor replied, It will be well. The vizier immediately took his leave, and set out for Room, where he passed himself off for a painter. When the queen heard of his skill, she commanded him to be brought, in order that he might exer-cise his art in her palace, and decorate it with as many portraits as he was able to delineate. The vizier repaired to the queen's palace, and painted the emperor's portrait, with the beasts in the me-nagerie. The queen, on viewing these paintings, was struck with amazement; she asked, Whose picture is that, and what place is here represented? The vizier answered, It is the portrait of the Em-peror of China; this is his bull; and these are his beasts, deer and fawns. One day, as the empe-ror was sitting in a balcony belonging to a sum-mer-house, a deer brought thither a fawn. Sud-denly the river overflowed its banks, when the doe, not having resolution to face the water, separated herself at a distance from her young; that is the representation of the female running away: but the buck, having more natural affection, staid there with the fawn and was drowned. May it please your Majesty, from the day he saw such inhu-manity committed by the doe, he has never men-tioned the name of woman. When the queen had heard this relation, and perceived that the empe-ror's adventure was similar to her own, she said to the painter, The emperor's case is parallel with mine: I, from having seen the inhumanity of the peacock, forsook the society of man; whilst he, on viewing the insensibility of the doe, resolved not to mention the name of woman. If an alli-ance could be formed between us, how delightful it would be! In short, the next day, the queen sent an ambassador to the emperor of China, and consented to marry him.”

When the parrot had proceeded thus far with the tale, he observed to Khojisteh, “My mistress, you say you will abandon your friend; if every person had persisted in this course, the Queen of Room would not have married the Emperor of China. Get up now, and be going to your friend.” Kho-jisteh wanted to have done so; instantly the cock crowed, and the dawn appearing, her departure was deferred.