The Fidelity of a Sentinel towards the King of Teberistan.

WHEN the day was entirely spent, and night ar­rived, Khojisteh arose from the costly couch; and having called for different kinds of food, and various fruits, ate thereof. She composed her countenance with a benignity resembling the moon; and, having adjusted her head attire, and put on apparel of rich brocade, came to the parrot for permission to visit the prince.

The parrot said to her, “Be cheerful, without thinking or contriving, for I will be zealous and active in your cause, and be the means of intro-ducing you to the prince's presence; but you, Khojisteh, must preserve for him, in your mind, such friendship, benevolence, ardour, and affection, as shall equal the attachment and fidelity which a sentinel in the service of the king of Teberistan maintained in his heart towards that monarch, and, in reward thereof, acquired prosperity.”

Khojisteh asked, “Of what nature, and after what manner is the story of the king of Teberistan? Relate it at full length.”

The parrot said, “Men of former times, the sages of antiquity, have thus related:—Once upon a time the king of Teberistan prepared such a banquet and convivial meeting as equalled paradise. At this feast were displayed the most exquisite and delicious viands, the choicest liquors, and all sorts of roasted meats; there were present all the princes, nobility, sages, and learned doctors, belonging to the city, who did eat of the victuals, and, amongst the rest, of the roasts, and they drank of the li-quors.

“Suddenly a man, who was a stranger, entered the place. The nobles of the court inquired who he was, and from whence he came? He an-swered, I am a gladiator, and a lion-catcher. I profess the art of archery, in which I am such an adept, that I can drive my arrow through a hard stone; and besides this, I know many other valu-able arts and mysteries. I first engaged in the service of Ameer Khojend, but he knew not the value of my skill; for which reason, having quitted his employ, I am now come to the king of Teberistan. The king of Teberistan, having heard his speech, commanded his courtiers to en-tertain the man in the capacity of a guard or sen-tinel; ??, immediately, in conformity to the king's command, they received him into the ser-vice: and this sentinel kept watch every night, standing on one leg, with his eyes fixed on the royal palace.

“One night the king was walking, till after mid-night, on the roof of the palace; and, after looking about on all sides, cast his eyes below, when he saw a man standing on one leg: the king inquired his name, and why he was standing in this man-ner at midnight? He answered, I am the senti-nel, watch, or guard, in charge of the king's palace, and for some days have stood on one leg, in ear-nest expectation of his majesty's august presence. To-night, through the aid and assistance of fortune. and the stars, it has been my good luck to behold his majesty's graces in perfection, and I am greatly delighted on the occasion.

“During this conversation, the king heard a voice issuing from the wilds and deserts, which said, I am going, who is the man that will cause me to return back? The king was astonished at hearing this noise, and asked the sentinel whether he had re-marked it. The sentinel replied, I have heard this noise several nights, but my duty requires my attendance on my post, and, for that reason, I have not inquired about it; but now, if your majesty gives me orders, I will ascertain what the noise is with all possible expedition, and report it to the court, peopled by the slaves of the most holy law.* The king rejoined, Go! and having learnt the meaning of the cause, convey the intelligence to the seat of holiness.*

“The sentinel instantly departed; and the king, after having covered all his body and face with a black blanket, followed at a short distance; when he saw, standing on the road, a beautiful woman, crying out, I am going! who is the man that will cause me to turn back? The sentinel addressed her, saying, Who art thou, O woman possessing such exquisite beauty and delicacy of form! and why dost thou utter those words? The woman set forth, I am the representation and emblem of the king of Teberistan's life, the term of which being come to a period, I am now about to de-part. The sentinel said, O thou emblem of the king's life! by what means art thou to be pre-vailed on to return back? The figure replied, If thou, O sentinel! wilt give the life of your own son in exchange for that of the king, I will certainly return, in order that the king may live some time longer in the world, and not die immediately. The king and the sentinel experienced satisfaction and delight on hearing these words from the figure. The sentinel replied, My own life, with that of my son, I will devote, offer and bestow, to prolong his majesty's days; do you tarry and delay one hour, till I can go to my house and bring my son, and sacrifice him in your presence.

“Briefly—The sentinel went to his own house, and told his son all the circumstances. The son, being loyal, made this declaration, His majesty is just and equitable, affectionate to his subjects, and kind to strangers; the existence of such a monarch causes, and will secure, the prosperity of the king-dom, and the happiness of his people. I have learnt the following lesson from my tutor, (on whom be the mercy of God!) and which he taught to all the children of the school: That if, in order to avert the destruction of a just king, the minis-ters of state were to put to death a man from amongst his subjects, it is not to be accounted a sin or transgression; because, if a good monarch is rescued from death, and continued in safety, he pre-serves in tranquillity thousands who are under his dominion: God forbid that this just king should die, lest he may be succeeded by a tyrant, through whose cruelty and oppression thousands of mankind might perish, and the whole kingdom become a desert! It is therefore fit and expedient that you take me quickly, and put me to death.

“After this resolution, the sentinel carried his son to the phantom, and having bound his hands and feet, took in his hand a sharp knife, and stooped down to cut his son's throat. At this juncture the phantom arrested the sentinel's hand, saying, Do not ??rifice your son! The Almighty, being satisfied with your intention, is gracious, and hath commanded me to remain sixty years longer.

“The sentinel, on hearing these glad tidings, was filled with joy and delight. The king, who had seen from a distance all the acts and deeds of the father and his son, was highly pleased; and getting the start of the sentinel, repaired quickly to the roof of the palace, and then walked about in the same manner as before.—Half an hour afterwards the sentinel appeared in the king's presence, the treasury of munificence, and then performing the usual ceremonies of homage and obeisance, uttered the following salutation:—Long life, wealth, peace, and splendour attend the monarch of the world! The king commanded him to relate and explain the meaning of the noise. The sentinel folded his arms on his bosom in token of respect, and thus addressed himself to the presence abounding with mercies:—‘A beautiful and elegant woman finding ‘her husband's ill treatment insupportable, forsook ‘his house, and was sitting on the ground making this ‘lamentation. I approached her, and, by speaking ‘in soft and conciliating terms, tempered with truth, ‘have restored peace and good understanding between ‘her and the husband; and now the woman has pro-‘mised, bargained, and agreed, never again to quit ‘his house for the space of sixty years.’

“The king, having seen, comprehended, and ap-proved of his loyalty and good conduct, discovered himself, saying, At the time you went from hence, I followed you, and have seen and heard all that passed between you, the woman, and your son, tes-tifying the attachment, affection, and loyalty of both. This is my determination: hitherto you have been poor and needy, so that your mind has been trou-bled and perplexed: but trust in God for the fu-ture, and be easy and happy; for, with the divine assistance, I will make you rich, and promote you to high dignity.

“Then the king retired, and reposed himself on a couch. When the true dawn shone forth, the king, being seated on his throne, commanded the ministers of state to require the attendance of all the omrah, viziers, sages, and governors of pro-vinces throughout the empire; and, before all per-sons present at the council of state, appointed the sentinel his vicegerent, and committed to his care all the locks and keys of his treasury, &c.”

By the time the parrot had made an end of the story of the king of Teberistan, the true dawn had appeared, and the sun was risen and shone forth; on which account Khojisteh's departure was deferred; and having been kept all night without sleep, hear­ing the story, she retired, and reposed herself on a velvet couch.