EARLY on the next morning the Tenth Vizier sent a woman to the Queen with a message, urging her to exert her influence over the King, and induce him to give orders for the execution of Bakhtyār. The Queen, in consequence of this, addressed the King on the subject before he left the palace, and he replied, that Bakhtyār's fate was now decided, and that his execution should not be any longer deferred. The King then went forth, and the Viziers attended in their proper places. The Tenth Vizier was rising to speak, when the King informed him of his resolution to terminate the affair of Bakht-yār by putting him to death on that day.

He was brought accordingly from the prison; and the King on seeing him said: “You have spoken a great deal of your innocence, yet have not been able to make it appear; therefore no longer entertain any hopes of mercy, for I have given orders for your exe­cution.”—On hearing this, Bakhtyār began to weep, and said: “I have hitherto endeavoured to gain time, conscious of my innocence, and hoping that it might be proved, and a guiltless person saved from an igno­minious death; but I now find it vain to struggle against the decrees of Heaven. Thus the King of Persia foolishly attempted to counteract his destiny, and triumph over the will of Providence, but in vain.”

The King expressed a desire of hearing the story to which Bakhtyār alluded, and the young man began to relate it as follows:


THERE was a certain King of Persia, a very powerful and wealthy monarch, who, not having any child, em­ployed all the influence of prayers and of alms to procure the blessing of a son from Heaven. At length one of his handmaids became pregnant, and the King was transported with joy; but one night, in a dream, he was addressed by an old man, who said: “The Lord has complied with your request, and to­morrow you shall have a son; but in his seventh year a lion shall seize and carry off this son to the top of a mountain, from which he shall fall, rolling in blood and clay.” When the King awoke, he assembled the viziers, and related to them the horrors of his dream. They replied: “Long be the King's life! If Heaven has decreed such a calamity who can oppose or con­trol it?”—The King presumptuously declared that he would struggle against and counteract it; but one of his viziers, eminently skilled in astrology, discovered one day, by the power of his science, that the King would, after twenty years, perish by the hand of his own son. In consequence of this, he immediately waited on the King, and informed him that he had to communicate a certain matter, for the truth and cer­tainty of which he would answer with his life. The King desired him to reveal it; and he, falling on the knees of obedience, related all that he had discovered in the stars. “If it happens not according to what you predict,” said the King, “I shall certainly put you to death.”

In the meantime, however, he caused a subter­raneous dwelling to be constructed, to which he sent the boy, with a nurse. There they remained during the space of seven years, when, in compliance with the heavenly decree, a lion suddenly rushed into the cave, and devoured the nurse, and having wounded the child, carried him up to the summit of a neighbouring mountain, from which he let him fall to the bottom, covered with blood and earth. It happened that one of the King's secretaries came by, in pursuit of game, and perceived the boy in this situation, and the lion standing on the summit of the mountain. He im­mediately resolved to save the child; and having taken him to his own house, he healed his wounds, and instructed him in various accomplishments.

On the day after the nurse had been devoured and the child carried away by the lion, the King resolved to visit the cave, and finding it deserted, he concluded that the nurse had escaped to some other place. He instantly despatched messengers to seek her in every quarter, but in vain.

In process of time the boy grew up, and acted as keeper [of pen and ink] to the secretary. In this situation, having been employed at the palace, it happened that the King saw and was much pleased with him, and felt within his bosom the force of pater­nal affection. In consequence of this he demanded him of the secretary, and clothed him in splendid garments; and after some time, when an enemy in­vaded the country, and required the King's presence with his army, he appointed the young man to be his armour-bearer; and, accompanied by him, proceeded to battle.

After a bloody conflict, the troops of the enemy were victorious, and those of the King began to fly; but he, in the impulse of rage and fury, threw himself into the midst of his adversaries, fighting with the most desperate valour. In this state of confusion it was impossible to know one person from another; the young armour-bearer, who fought also with the utmost bravery, no longer distinguishing the King, rushed into a crowd of combatants, and striking furiously on all sides, cut off the hand of one man whom he sup­posed to be of the enemy's side; but this person was the King, who, on recognising the armour-bearer, upbraided him with this attempt upon his life, and being unable to remain any longer in the field, he retired, with his troops, to the capital, and the next day concluded a peace with the enemy, on condition of paying a considerable sum of money. He then gave orders that the armour-bearer should be arrested, and although he persevered in declarations of in­nocence, they availed him not; he was thrown into prison, and loaded with chains.

In the meantime the King was reposing on the pillow of death; and when he found that all hopes of recovery were vain, he resolved to punish the vizier who had told him that his son should be torn by a lion, and that he should fall by the hand of that son. “Now,” said the King, “my son has been carried away to some other country by his nurse, and I have been wounded by the hand of a different per­son.” Having said this, he sent for the vizier, and desired him to prepare for death. “This armour­bearer,” added he, “and not my own son, has wounded me, contrary to your prediction; and, as you consented to be punished in case your prediction should not be accomplished, I have resolved to put you to death.”— “Be it so,” replied the vizier; “but let us first inquire into the birth of this young armour-bearer.”

The King immediately sent for the young man, and asked him concerning his parents and his country. He answered that of the country which gave him birth he was ignorant; but that he had been with his mother in a subterraneous place, and that she had in­formed him of his father's being a king, but he had never seen his father; that one day a lion carried him away to the summit of a mountain, from which he fell, and was taken up by the secretary, by whom he was instructed in various accomplishments, and from whose service he passed into that of the King.

When the King heard this, he was amazed, and his hair stood on end; and he sent for the viziers and secretary, who confirmed what the young man had said.

Having thus ascertained that the armour-bearer was his own son, he resigned to him the crown and throne; and having invested the vizier with the robe of prime-minister, he expired in the course of three days.

Here Bakhtyār concluded his narrative, and ob­served, that he had struggled against his evil destiny, like that king, but in vain. Having said this, the King wished to send him back to prison; but the Ten Viziers unanimously declared that they would leave the country if Bakhtyār's punishment was any longer deferred.

The King then acknowledged that he could not bear to behold the execution of the young man; in consequence of which the Viziers led him away, and assembled all the people by proclamation, that they might see him put to death.