ON the following morning the third Vizier pre­sented himself before the King, and, having paid his respects, expressed many apprehensions that the indulgence shown to Bakhtyār might prove of dangerous consequences, by encouraging other crim­inals, and strongly advised his speedy execution. The King, having sent for Bakhtyār, the executioner pre­pared to blindfold him; but he petitioned for mercy, and said: “The imprisonment of suspected persons is certainly a just measure, as the guilt or innocence of the prisoner will probably be ascertained in the course of time; but if a King will not have patience, but punish without due investigation of the offence, what can result from such precipitancy but affliction and repentance? Thus it happened to a son of the King of Aleppo, whose impatience occasioned the loss of that kingdom, and infinite misery.”

The King's curiosity being excited, he desired Bakht-yār to relate the story of the Impatient Prince of Aleppo; and Bakhtyār, having kissed the ground of obedience, thus began:


THE King of Aleppo was an upright and generous monarch, who protected strangers and permitted not any person to oppress or insult another; and he had a son named Bihzād, a young man of excellent genius, polite accomplishments, and many good qualities; but so very impatient, that he would not admit a moment's delay in the gratification of any desire, whatsoever might be the consequences of his rash haste.

It happened once, that, being seated with several of his companions, he desired one of them to relate his adventures. The young man accordingly began his story in the following words:

“About two years ago, being in possession of con­siderable wealth, I purchased several beasts of burthen, and, having loaded them with various commodities, I undertook a journey, but on the way was attacked by robbers, who plundered me of all my property, and I proceeded with a disconsolate heart until night came on, and I found myself in a place without any vestige of inhabitants. I took shelter beneath a great tree, and had remained there for some time, when I per­ceived a light, and several persons who passed by with much festivity and mirth. After them came some who held vessels full of burning incense, so very fragrant, that the desert was perfumed by its delightful odour. When they had passed on, a magnificent litter ap­peared, before which walked several damsels holding torches, scented with ambergris. In this litter was seated a fair one, of such exquisite beauty, that the radiance of her charms far exceeded the light of the torches, and quite dazzled my fascinated eyes.”

When the young man had advanced thus far in his narrative, Bihzād began to show symptoms of impa­tience, having fallen in love with the lady, though unseen. The young man continued his story, and said:

“The next morning I proceeded on my journey, and arrived at the city of Rūm, the capital and resi­dence of the Kaisar, or Greek Emperor; and having made inquiries, I was informed that the beautiful damsel whom I had seen was the Princess Nigārīn, daughter of the Kaisar, who had a villa at a little distance from the city, to which she sometimes went for recreation.”

Here the young man concluded his narrative, and Prince Bihzād immediately arose and hastened to the house of the vizier, and said: “You must go this moment to my father, and tell him that if he is solicitous about my happiness, he will provide me a wife without delay.” The vizier accordingly went to the palace and informed the King of Bihzād's wishes. The King desired the vizier to assure the Prince that he only waited to find a suitable match for him; but that, if he had fixed his affections on any fair object, he would do everything in his power to obtain her for him.

This being reported to Bihzād, he sent back the vizier with another message to the King, informing him that the object of his choice was the Princess Nigārīn, the lovely daughter of the Kaisar of Rūm, and request­ing that ambassadors might be sent to ask her in marriage for him. The King replied to this message, and said: “Tell Bihzād that it were in vain for me to send ambassadors on such an errand to the Kaisar: he is the powerful Emperor of Rūm, and I am only a petty sovereign of Aleppo; we are of different religions and of different manners; and there is not any prob­ability that he would comply with our demand.

The vizier returned to Bihzād, and delivered him this message from his father. The impatient Prince immediately declared that, if the King would not send ambassadors to solicit the Kaisar's daughter in marriage for him, he would set out on that errand himself.

The King, being informed of his son's resolution, sent for the Prince, whom he loved with a tender affection, and at last consented that ambassadors should be despatched to Rūm. The Kaisar received with due respect the ambassadors from the King of Aleppo; but when they disclosed the object of their mission, he replied, with great indignation, and in­formed them, that no one should obtain his daughter without paying the sum of one hundred lacs of dīnars (or pieces of gold); and that whoever should consent to pay that sum might become her husband.

The ambassadors returned to Aleppo, and related to the King all that the Kaisar had said. “Did I not tell you,” said the King to Bihzād, “that the Greek Emperor would refuse his consent to so unequal a match?”—“He has not refused his consent,” replied Bihzād; “but he requires money, which must be im­mediately sent.”—The King declared that he could not make up so considerable a sum; but, at Bihzād's request, having collected all his wealth, he found he possessed thirty lacs. Bihzād then urged him to sell his male and female slaves, and all his household goods. Having done so, he found that they pro­duced twenty lacs.

Then Bihzād advised the King to make up the requisite sum, by compelling his subjects to contribute their money; but the King was not willing to distress his people. However, by the persuasion of Bihzād, he extorted from them an additional sum of twenty lacs. Having thus collected seventy lacs of dīnars, Bihzād proposed that they should be immediately transmitted to the Kaisar of Rūm. Letters were accordingly written, and messengers despatched with the money, who were instructed to say, that the re­maining sum of thirty lacs should speedily be sent after. When these messengers arrived at Rūm, they presented the letters and gifts to the Kaisar, with the money. He treated the messengers with great respect, accepted the money, and agreed to the proposed con­ditions; after which they returned to Aleppo, and reported their success. Bihzād then urged his father to collect by any means the thirty lacs of dīnars still deficient, either by a forced loan from the merchants, or by taxing the peasants of the country; but the King advised him to be patient, and wait until they should recover from the effects of the late exactions; and said: “You have already rendered me poor, and now you wish to complete my ruin, and occasion the loss of my kingdom.”

Bihzād desired his father to keep his kingdom, and declared his intention of setting out immediately. The King, much afflicted at the thought of his son's departure, entreated him to wait one year, that the people might forget the sums they had already paid; but Bihzād would not consent. The King then begged that he would be patient for six months; this also he refused.—“Wait even three months,” said his father. —“I cannot wait three days,” said the impatient youth. On which the King, disgusted with such ob­stinacy, desired his son to go wherever he pleased. Bihzād immediately retired; and, having clothed him­self in armour, with two confidential servants set out upon his journey.

It happened that one morning they overtook a cara­van, consisting of a hundred camels loaded with valu­able commodities, proceeding on the way to Rūm. The chief of this caravan was a man of considerable wealth, with a numerous train of attendants, and he was held in great esteem by the Kaisar. When Bih-zād and his two companions espied the caravan, they rushed forward with loud shouts, but were instantly seized, and their hands and feet bound: they were then brought before the chief, who ordered that they should be flung upon a camel. When they arrived at Rūm, the chief took Bihzād to his own house, and kept him confined for three days.

On the third day, having looked attentively at his prisoner, he discovered in his air and manner some­thing that bespoke his princely origin and education. He inquired into the circumstances of his adventure, but Bizhād answered only with tears. The chief then said: “If you tell me the truth of this affair, I will set you free; and if you do not, I shall inform the Kaisar of your offence, and he will cause you to be hanged.”

Bihzād, not knowing what else to do, related his whole history to the chief of the caravan, who, moved with compassion, desired him not to despair, for he would lend him the thirty lacs of dīnars, and procure him the Kaisar's daughter, on condition of his being repaid whenever Bihzād should become king.

To this Bihzād gladly consented; and the chief, having unloosed his fetters, clothed him in royal garments, and dressed his servants also in splendid attire; and having given him thirty lacs of dīnars, he led him to the palace: then he left Bihzād at the door, whilst he himself went in and informed the Kaisar that the Prince of Aleppo was waiting for the honour of presenting to his Majesty the thirty lacs of dīnars, which he had brought sealed up.

The Kaisar consented to receive Bihzād, who, on being introduced, paid due homage, and was treated with great kindness, and placed by the Kaisar's side. After much conversation, the Kaisar desired him to declare the object of his wishes, and promised that, whatever it might be, he would endeavour to procure it for him. Bihzād replied, that his only desire in this world was to obtain the Princess for his wife. The Kaisar begged that he would wait ten days; but to this delay he would not consent. The Kaisar then entreated that he would be patient for five days; and this also he refused to do.—“At least,” said the Kaisar, “wait three days, that the women may have time to make the necessary preparations.” But Bihzād would not consent.—“This one day, however,” then said the Kaisar, “you must be patient, and to-morrow you shall espouse my daughter.”—“Since it must be so,” replied Bihzād, “I'll wait this day, but no longer.”

The Kaisar gave orders that the Princess should be brought to the garden of the palace, and all the nobles assembled, and banquets provided for the entertainment of Bihzād. When night came, Bihzād, having indulged in wine, became impatient to behold the Princess, and, going to the summer-house, in which she was, he dis­covered an aperture in the wall, to which he applied his eye. The Princess at that moment happened to perceive the aperture, and found that some person was looking at her through it. She immediately ordered her attendants to burn out his eyes with red-hot irons.

This order was put in execution without delay. The unhappy Bihzād, crying aloud, fell on the ground, deprived of sight. His voice being at length recog­nised, the servants ran out and beheld him rolling in agony on the ground. They exclaimed, and tore their hair, but all in vain. The news was brought to the Kaisar, who said: “What can be done? This silly youth has brought the evil on himself by his own impatience, and has occasioned the loss of his own eyes.” He then directed that Bihzād should be sent back to Aleppo, as he could not give his daughter to a person deprived of sight.

When the unhappy youth returned to Aleppo, his father and mother, and the inhabitants of the city, all wept at his misfortunes; but their compassion was of no avail. After some time the King died; but the people introduced a stranger, and placed him on the throne, saying that a blind man was not capable of governing. And the remainder of Bihzād's life passed away in misery, and in repentance for his rashness and impatience.

“Now,” added Bakhtyār, “had that unfortunate young man waited until night, the Princess Nigārīn would have been his, and he would have saved his eyes and his kingdom, and not have had occasion to repent of impatience. If the King will send me back to prison, he will not be sorry for the delay, as my innocence will hereafter appear; and if he hasten my execution, any future repentance will not avail.”

The King ordered Bakhtyār to go back to prison for that day.