THE Seventh Vizier, on the following day, ap­proached the King, and having told him that his lenity towards Bakhtyār was made the subject of public conversation, added many arguments to procure an order for the execution of that un­fortunate young man. The King, changing colour with anger, sent immediately for the Queen, and asked her advice concerning Bakhtyār. She de­clared that he deserved death; in consequence of which the King ordered his attendants to bring him from the prison. When he came into the royal presence, he begged for mercy, saying: “My inno­cence will appear hereafter; and though your Majesty can easily put to death a living man, you cannot restore a dead man to life.”—“How,” said the King, “can you deny your guilt, since the women of the harem all bear witness against you?”—Bakhtyār re­plied: “Women, for their own purposes, often devise falsehoods, and are very expert in artifice and fraud, as appears from the story of the daughter of the King of ‘Irāk and her adventures with the King of Abyssinia, which, if your Majesty permit, I shall briefly relate.”—Having obtained permission, he began the story as follows:


IT is related that Abyssinia was once governed by a certain monarch, whose armies were very numerous, and his treasury well filled; but not having any enemy to engage him in war, he neglected his troops, and withheld their pay, so that they were reduced to great distress, and began to murmur, and at last made their complaints to the Vizier. He, pitying their situation, promised that he would take measures for their relief, and desired them to be patient for a little while. He then considered within himself what steps he should take; and at length, knowing the King's inclination to women, and understanding that the Princess of ‘Irāk was uncommonly beautiful, he resolved to praise her charms in such extravagant language before the King, as to induce him to demand her from her father, who, from his excessive fondness, would not probably con­sent to bestow her on him, and thus a war would ensue, in which case the troops should be employed, and their arrears paid off.

Pleased with the ingenuity of this stratagem, the vizier hastened to the King, and after conversing for some time on various subjects, he contrived to mention the King of ‘Irāk, and immediately described the beauty of his daughter in such glowing colours, that the King became enamoured, and consulted the vizier on the means whereby he might hope to obtain possession of that lovely Princess. The vizier replied, that the first step was to send ambassadors to the King of ‘Irāk, soliciting his daughter in marriage. In con­sequence of this advice, some able and discreet per­sons were despatched as ambassadors to ‘Irāk. On their arrival in that country, the King received them courteously; but when they disclosed the object of their mission he became angry, and declared that he would not comply with their demand.

The ambassadors returned to Abyssinia, and having reported to the King the unsuccessful result of their negotiation, he vowed that he would send an army into ‘Irāk, and lay that country waste, unless his de­mands were complied with.

In consequence of this resolution, he ordered the doors of his treasury to be thrown open, and caused so much money to be distributed among the soldiers that they were satisfied. From all quarters the troops assembled, and zealously prepared for war. On the other hand, the King of ‘Irāk levied his forces, and sent them to oppose the Abyssinians, who invaded his dominions; but he did not lead them to the field himself, and they were defeated and put to flight. When the account of this disaster reached the King of ‘Irāk, he consulted his vizier, and asked what was next to be done. The vizier candidly declared that he did not think it necessary to prolong the war on account of a woman, and advised his Majesty to send ambassadors with overtures of peace, and an offer of giving the Princess to the King of Abyssinia. This advice the King of ‘Irāk followed, although reluctantly. Ambassadors were despatched to the enemy with offers of peace, and a declaration of the King's consent to the marriage of his daughter.

These terms being accepted, the Princess was sent with confidential attendants to the King of Abyssinia, who retired with her to his own dominions, where he espoused her; and some time passed away in festivity and pleasure. But it happened that the King of ‘Irāk had some years before given his daughter in marriage to another man, by whom she had a son; and this boy was now grown up, and accomplished in all sciences, and such a favourite with the King of ‘Irāk, that he would never permit him to be one hour ab­sent from him. The Princess, when obliged to leave him, felt all the anxiety of a mother, and resolved to devise some stratagem whereby she might enjoy his society in Abyssinia.

One day the King of Abyssinia, on some occasion, behaved harshly to the Queen, and spoke disrespect­fully of her father. She in return said: “Your king­dom, it is true, is most fertile and abundant; but my father possesses such a treasure as no other monarch can boast of—a youth sent to him by the kindness of Heaven, skilled in every profound science, and accomplished in every manly exercise; so that he rather seems to be one of the inhabitants of Paradise than of this earth.” These praises so excited the curiosity of the King, that he vowed he would bring this boy to his court, were he even obliged to go himself for him. The Queen replied: “My father would be like a distracted person were he deprived, even for an hour, of this boy's society; but some in­telligent person must be sent to ‘Irāk in the character of a merchant, and endeavour by every means to steal him away.”

The King approved of this advice, and chose a per­son well skilled in business, who had experienced many reverses of fortune, and seen much of the world. To this man he promised a reward of a hundred male slaves and a hundred beautiful damsels, if he should succeed in bringing away this boy from the King of ‘Irāk's court. The man inquired the name of the boy, which was Farrukhzād, and, disguised as a merchant, set out immediately for ‘Irāk.

Having arrived there, he presented various offerings to the King; and one day found an opportunity of conversing with the boy. At last he said: “With such accomplishments as you possess, were you in Abyssinia for one day, you would be rendered master of slaves and damsels, and riches of every kind.” He then described the delights of that country, which made such an impression on Farrukhzād, that he be­came disgusted with ‘Irāk, and attached himself to the merchant, and said: “I have often heard of Abyssinia, and have long wished to enjoy the pleasures which it yields. The King's daughter is now in that country, and if I could contrive to go there, my happiness would be complete. But I know not how to escape from this place, as the King will not permit me to be one hour absent from him.”

The merchant gladly undertook to devise some means for the escape of Farrukhzād; and at last having put him into a chest, and placed him upon a camel, he contrived one evening to carry him off unnoticed. The next day the King of ‘Irāk sent messengers in all directions to seek him. They inquired of all the cara­vans and travellers, but could not obtain any intelli­gence concerning him. At last the merchant brought him to Abyssinia, and the King, finding that his accom­plishments and talents had not been over-rated, was much delighted with his society; and as he had not any child, he bestowed on him a royal robe and crown, a horse, a sword, and a shield, and adopted him as his son, and brought him into the harem.

When the Queen beheld Farrukhzād, she wept for joy, embraced him, and kissed him with all the fond­ness of a mother. It happened that one of the ser­vants was a witness, unperceived, of this interview. He immediately hastened to the King, and represented the transaction in such a manner as to excite all his jealousy and rage. However, he resolved to inquire into the matter; but Farrukhzād did not acknowledge that the Queen was his mother; and when he sent for her she answered his questions only by her tears. From these circumstances he concluded that they were guilty; and accordingly he ordered one of his attendants to take away the young man to a burying-ground without the city, and there to cut off his head.

The attendant led Farrukhzād away, and was pre­paring to put the King's sentence into execution, but when he looked in the youth's face, his heart was moved with compassion, and he said, “It must have been the woman's fault, and not his crime;” and he resolved to save him. When he told Farrukhzād that he would conceal him in his own house, the boy was delighted, and promised that if ever it was in his power he would reward him for his kindness. Having taken him to his house, the man waited on the King, and told him that he had, in obedience to his orders, put Farrukhzād to death.

After this the King treated his wife with the utmost coldness; and she sat melancholy, lamenting the ab­sence of her son. It happened that an old woman beheld the Queen as she sat alone, weeping, in her chamber. Pitying her situation, she approached, and humbly inquired the occasion of her grief. The Queen made no reply; but when the old woman pro­mised, not only to observe the utmost secrecy, if en­trusted with the story of her misfortunes, but to find a remedy for them, she related at length all that had happened, and disclosed the mystery of Farrukhzād's birth.

The old woman desired the Queen to comfort her­self, and said: “This night, before the King retires to rest, you must lay yourself down, and close your eyes, as if asleep; he will then place something, which I shall give him, on your bosom, and will command you, by the power of the writing contained in that, to reveal the truth. You must then begin to speak, and, without any apprehension, repeat all that you have now told me.”

The old woman, having then found that the King was alone in his summer-house, presented herself before him, and said: “O King, this solitary life occasions melancholy and sadness!” The King re­plied that it was not solitude which rendered him melancholy, but vexation on account of the Queen's infidelity, and the ingratitude of Farrukhzād, on whom he had heaped so many favours, and whom he had adopted as his own son. “Yet,” added he, “I am not convinced of his guilt; and since the day that I caused him to be killed, I have not enjoyed repose, nor am I certain whether the fault was his or the Queen's.”

“Let not the King be longer in suspense on this subject,” said the old woman, I have a certain talis­man, one of the talismans of Solomon, written in Grecian characters, and in the Syrian language; if your Majesty will watch an opportunity when the Queen shall be asleep, and lay it on her breast, and say: ‘O thou that sleepest! by virtue of the talisman, and of the name of God, which it contains, I conjure thee to speak to me, and to reveal all the secrets of thy heart, she will immediately begin to speak, and will declare everything that she knows, both true and false.”

The King, delighted at the hopes of discovering the truth by means of this talisman, desired the old woman to fetch it. She accordingly went home, and taking a piece of paper, scrawled on it some unmean­ing characters, folded it up, and tied it with a cord, and sealed it with wax; then hastened to the King, and desired him to preserve it carefully till night should afford an opportunity of trying its efficacy.

When it was night, the King watched until he found that the Queen was in bed; then gently approaching, and believing her to be asleep, he laid the talisman on her breast, and repeated the words which the old woman had taught him. The Queen, who had also received her lesson, still affecting the appearance of one asleep, immediately began to speak, and related all the circumstances of her story.

On hearing this the King was much affected, and tenderly embraced the Queen, who started from her bed as if perfectly unconscious of having revealed the secrets of her breast. He then blamed her for not having candidly acknowledged the circumstance of Farrukhzād's birth, who, he said, should have been considered as his own son.

All that night they passed in mutual condolence, and on the next morning the King sent for the person to whom he had delivered Farrukhzād, and desired him to point out the spot where his body lay, that he might perform the last duty to that unfortunate youth, and ask forgiveness from his departed spirit. The man replied: “It appears that your Majesty is ignorant of Farrukhzād's situation: he is at present in a place of safety; for although you ordered me to kill him, I ventured to disobey, and have concealed him in my house, from whence, if you permit, I shall immedi­ately bring him.” At this information the King was so delighted that he rewarded the man with a splendid robe, and sent with him several attendants to bring Farrukhzād to the palace.

On arriving in his presence, Farrukhzād threw him­self at the King's feet, but he raised him in his arms and asked his forgiveness, and thus the affair ended in rejoicing and festivity.

“Now,” said Bakhtyār, having concluded his story, “it appears that women are expert in stratagems; and if Farrukhzād had been put to death, according to the King's command, what grief and sorrow would have been the consequence! To avoid such,” added he, “let not your Majesty be precipitate in ordering my execution.”

The King resolved to wait another day, and Bakht-yār was sent back to prison.