ON the next morning, the Eighth Vizier, having paid his compliments to the King, addressed him on the subject of Bakhtyār, and said: “Government resembles a tree, the root of which is legal punishment. Now, if the root of a tree become dry, the leaves will wither: why then should the pun­ishment of Bakhtyār be any longer deferred?”

In consequence of this discourse, the King ordered the executioner to prepare himself, and Bakhtyār was brought from prison. When the unfortunate young man came before the King, he addressed him, and said: “If your Majesty will consider the consequences of haste and precipitancy, it will appear that they are invariably sorrow and repentance; as we find con­firmed in the Story of the Jewel-Merchant.”

The King expressed his desire of hearing the story to which he alluded; and Bakhtyār began it accord­ingly, in the following manner:


THERE was a certain jewel-merchant, a very wealthy man, and eminently skilled in the knowledge of pre­cious stones. His wife, a very prudent and amiable woman, was in a state of pregnancy when it happened that the King sent a messenger to her husband, desiring his attendance at court, that he might con­sult him in the choice of jewels. The merchant received the King's messenger with all due respect, and immediately prepared to set out on his journey to the capital. When taking leave of his wife, he desired her to remember him in her prayers; and, in case she should bring forth a boy, to call his name Bihrūz.

After this injunction he departed from his house, and at length arrived in the capital, where he waited on the King, and having paid his respects, was em­ployed in selecting from a box of pearls those that were most valuable. The King was so much pleased with his skill and ingenuity, that he kept him con­stantly naer his own person, and entrusted to him the making of various royal ornaments, crowns, and girdles studded with jewels.

At length the wife of this jewel-merchant was de­livered of two boys; one of whom, in compliance with her husband's desire, she called Bihrūz, the other Rūzbih; and she sent intelligence of this event to the father, who solicited permission from the King that he might return home for a while and visit his family; but the King would not grant him this indul­gence. The next year he made the same request, and with the same success. Thus during eight years he as often solicited leave to visit his wife and sons, but could not obtain it.

In the course of this time the boys had learned to read the Qur'ān, and were instructed in the art of penmanship and other accomplishments; and they wrote a letter to their father, expressing their sorrow and anxiety on account of his absence. The jewel-merchant, no longer able to resist his desire of seeing his family, represented his situation to the King in such strong colours that he desired him to send for his wife and children, and allowed him an ample sum of money to defray the expenses of their journey.

A trusty messenger was immediately despatched to the jewel-merchant's wife, who, on receipt of her husband's letter, set out with her two sons on their way to the capital. One evening, after a journey of a month, they arrived at the sea-side. Here they resolved to wait until morning; and, being refreshed with a slight repast, the boys amused themselves in wandering along the shore.

It happened that the jewel-merchant, in expectation of meeting his wife and children, had come thus far on the way; and having left his clothes and money concealed in different places, he bathed himself in the sea, and on returning to the shore put on his clothes, but forgot his gold. Having taken some refreshment, he was proceeding on his journey, when he thought of his money, and went back to seek it, but could not find it. At this moment he perceived the two boys, who had wandered thus far, amusing themselves playing along the shore. He immediately suspected that these boys had discovered and taken the gold, and accused them accordingly. They de­clared their ignorance of the matter, which so enraged the jewel-merchant, that he seized them both, and cast them headlong into the sea.

After this he proceeded on his way; whilst the wife was so unhappy at the long absence of her sons, that the world became dark in her eyes, and she raised her voice and called upon the boys. When the jewel-mer­chant heard the voice of his wife, he hastened to meet her, and inquired after his two sons, expressing his eager desire of seeing them. The wife told him that they had left her some time before, and had wandered along the sea-side. At this intelligence the jewel-merchant began to lament, and tore his clothes, and exclaimed: “Alas, alas, I have drowned my sons!” He then related what had happened, and proceeded with his wife along the shore in search of the boys, but they sought in vain. Then they smote their breasts and wept. And when the next morning came, they said: “From this time forth, whatsoever happens must be to us a matter of indifference;” and they set out on their journey towards the city, with afflicted bosoms and bleeding hearts, being persuaded that their sons had perished in the water.

But they were ignorant of the wonderful kindness of Providence, which rescued the two boys from de­struction; for it happened that the King of that country, being on a hunting excursion, passed along the shore on that side where Bihrūz had fallen. When he perceived the boy, he ordered his attendants to take him up, and finding him of a pleasing counten­ance, although pale from the terror of the water and the danger he had escaped, he inquired into the circumstances which had befallen him. The boy informed him, that with his brother he had been walking on the shore, when a stranger seized upon them, and flung them into the water. The King, not having any child, inquired the name of the boy; and when he answered, that his name was Bihrūz, he exclaimed: “I accept it as a favourable omen,* and adopt you as my own son.” After this, Bihrūz, mounted on a horse, accompanied the King to his capital, and all the subjects were enjoined to obey him as heir to the crown. After some time the King died, and Bihrūz reigned in his place, with such wisdom, liberality, and uprightness, that his fame resounded through all quarters of the world.

It happened in the meantime, that the other boy, whose name was Rūzbih, had been rescued from the water by some robbers, who agreed to sell him as a slave, and divide the price amongst them. The jewel-merchant and his wife had reached the city and pur­chased a house, where they resolved to pass the remainder of their lives in prayer and exercises of devotion. But finding it necessary to procure an at­tendant, the jewel-merchant purchased a young boy at the slave-market, whom he did not know, but whom natural affection prompted him to choose. On bring­ing home the young slave, his wife fainted away, and exclaimed: “This is your son Rūzbih!” The parents as well as the child wept with joy, and returned thanks to Heaven for such an unexpected blessing.

After this the jewel-merchant instructed Rūzbih in his own profession, so that in a little time he became perfectly skilled in the value of precious stones; and having collected a very considerable number, he ex­pressed a wish of turning them to profit, by selling them to a certain King in a distant country, one who was celebrated for his generosity and kindness to strangers.

The father consented that he should visit the court of this monarch, on condition that he would not afflict his parents by too long an absence. Rūzbih accord­ingly set out, and arrived at the capital of that King, who happened to be his own brother Bihrūz. Him, however, after the lapse of many years, he did not recognise. The King, having graciously received the present which Rūzbih offered, purchased of him all the jewels, and conceived such an affection for him that he kept him constantly in the palace, day and night.

At this time a foreign enemy invaded the country; but the King thought the matter of so little import­ance, that he contented himself with sending some troops to the field, and remained at home carousing and drinking with Rūzbih. At length, one night, at a very late hour, all the servants being absent, the King became intoxicated, and fell asleep. Rūzbih, not perceiving any of the guards or attendants, resolved that he would watch the King until morning; and accordingly, taking a sword, he stationed himself near the King's pillow.

After some time had elapsed, several of the soldiers who had gone to oppose the enemy returned, and, entering the palace, discovered Rūzbih and the King in this situation. They immediately seized Rūzbih; and when the King awoke, they told him that, by their coming, they had saved his Majesty from assassination, which the jeweller, with a drawn sword, had been ready to perpetrate. The King, at first, ordered his immediate execution; and as day was beginning to dawn, and the approach of the enemy required his presence at the head of his troops, he sent for the executioner, who, having bound the eyes of Rūzbih and drawn his sword, exclaimed: “Say, King of the world, shall I strike or not?”

The King, considering that it would be better to inquire more particularly into the affair, and, knowing that, although it is easy to kill, it is impossible to re­store a man to life, resolved to defer the punishment until his return, and sent Rūzbih to prison.

After this he proceeded to join the army, and having subdued his enemies, returned to the capital; but, during the space of two years, forgot the unfortunate Rūzbih, who lingered away his life in confinement. In the meantime his father and mother, grieving on account of his absence, and, ignorant of what had be­fallen him, sent a letter of inquiry by a confidential messenger to the money-changers (or bankers) of that city. Having read this, they wrote back, in answer, that Rūzbih had been in prison for two years.

On receiving this information, the jewel-merchant and his wife resolved to set out and throw themselves at the feet of this King, and endeavour to obtain from him the pardon and liberty of their son. With heavy hearts they accordingly proceeded on their journey, and having arrived at the capital, presented them­selves before the King, and said: “Be it known unto your exalted Majesty, that we are two wretched strangers, oppressed by the infirmities of age, and overwhelmed by misfortune. We were blessed with two sons, one named Bihrūz, the other Rūzbih; but it was the will of Heaven that they should fall into the sea, where one of them perished, but the other was restored to us. The fame of your Majesty's generosity and greatness induced our son to visit this imperial court; and we are informed that, by your orders, he is now in prison. The object of our peti­tion is, that your Majesty might take compassion on our helpless situation, and restore to us our long-lost son.”

The King on hearing this was astonished, and for a while imagined that it was all a dream. At length, when convinced that the old man and woman were his own parents, and that Rūzbih was his own brother, he sent for him to the prison, embraced them and wept, and placed them beside him on the throne; and for the sake of Rūzbih, set at liberty all those who had been confined with him. After this he divided the empire with his brother, and their time passed away in pleasure and tranquillity.

This story being concluded, Bakhtyār observed, that the jewel-merchant, by his precipitancy, had nearly occasioned the death of his two sons; and that Bihrūz, by deferring the execution of his brother, had prevented an infinity of distress to himself and his parents. This observation induced the King to grant Bakhtyār another day's reprieve, and he was taken back to prison.