WHEN the next morning arrived, the fifth Vizier waited upon the King, and represented the danger that might attend any further delay in the execution of Bakhtyār, as the indulgence which had been shown to him would be an encouragement to others, and induce them to commit offences, by giving them hopes of impunity. In consequence of this, the King ordered everything to be prepared for the execution of the young man, who, being brought before him, entreated his Majesty for a longer respite, and assured him that he would, on a future day, be as rejoiced at having spared his life, as a certain King of Yemen was at having pardoned the offence of his slave.

The King desired Bakhtyār to relate the particular circumstances of this story; and he accordingly began it in the following manner:


IN former times the kingdom of Yemen was governed by a very powerful but tyrannical Prince, who, for the slightest offences, inflicted the most severe punish­ments. He had, however, a certain slave, named Abraha, of whom he was very fond. This young man was the son of the King of Zangībār, who by chance had fallen into slavery, and never disclosed the secret of his birth.

Abraha used frequently to attend the King of Yemen on his hunting parties. During one of these excursions, it happened that a deer bounded before the King's horse: he discharged some arrows at it without effect; when Abraha, who was close behind him, spurred on his horse, and aimed a broad-bladed arrow at the deer; but it so happened that the arrow passed by the side of the King's head, and cut off one of his ears. The King, in the first impulse of anger, ordered his attendants to seize Abraha; but afterwards declared that he pardoned his offence.

They then returned to the city; and, after some time had elapsed, having gone on board a vessel and sailed into the ocean, a tempest arose, and the ship was wrecked, and the King saved himself by clinging to a plank, and was driven on the coast of Zangībār.

Having returned thanks to Providence for his pre­servation, he proceeded till he reached the chief city of that country. As it was night, the doors of the houses and all the shops were shut; and, not know­ing where he might find a better place of repose, he sheltered himself under the shade of a merchant's house. It happened that some thieves, in the course of the night, broke open the house, and having mur­dered the merchant and his servants, plundered it of everything that was valuable. The King of Yemen, overcome by fatigue, had slept the whole time, un­conscious of this transaction; but some of the blood had by accident fallen on his clothes.

When morning came, everybody was employed in endeavouring to discover the murderers of the mer­chant; and the stranger, being found so near the house, with blood upon his clothes, was immediately seized and dragged before the tribunal of the King.

The King of Zangībār asked him why he had chosen his capital as the scene of such an infamous murder; and desired him to acknowledge who were his accomplices, and how he had disposed of the mer­chant's property. The King of Yemen declared that he was innocent, and perfectly ignorant of the whole transaction; that he was of a princely family; and, having been shipwrecked, was driven on the coast, and had by accident reposed himself under the shade of that house when the murder was committed. The King of Zangībār then inquired of him by what means his clothes had become stained with blood, and finding that the stranger could not account for that circum­stance, he ordered the officers of justice to lead him away to execution. The unfortunate King of Yemen entreated for mercy, and asserted that his innocence would on some future day become apparent. The King consented to defer his execution for a while, and he was sent to prison.

On one side of the prison there was an extensive plain, with a running stream, to which every day the prisoners were brought, that they might wash them­selves; and it was the custom that once every week the King resorted to that plain, where he gave public audience to persons of all ranks. On one of those days the King of Zangībār was on the plain, surrounded by his troops, and the prisoners were sitting by the side of the stream, along which ran a wall of the prison. It happened that Abraha, who had been the King of Yemen's slave, was standing near this wall, but his former master did not recognise him, as they had been separated for some time, Abraha having found means to return to Zangībār, his native country.

At this moment a crow chanced to light upon the wall, which the King of Yemen perceived, and taking up a large flat bone, he threw it with his utmost strength, and exclaimed, “If I succeed in hitting that crow, I shall obtain my liberty,” but he missed his aim; the bone passed by the crow, and striking the cheek of Abraha, cut off one of his ears. Abraha immediately caused an inquiry to be made, and the person who had thrown the bone to be brought before the King, who called him a base-born dog, and or­dered the executioner to cut off his head. The King of Yemen sued for mercy, and requested that at most he might be punished according to the law of retalia­tion, which would not award a head for an ear. The King gave orders that one of his ears should be cut off; and the executioner was preparing to fulfil this sentence when he perceived that the prisoner had already lost an ear.

This circumstance occasioned much surprise, and excited the King's curiosity. He told the prisoner that he would pardon him, on condition of his relating the true story of his adventures.

The King of Yemen immediately disclosed his real name and rank, described the accident by which he lost his ear, the shipwreck which he suffered, and the circumstances which occasioned his imprisonment.

At the conclusion of his narrative, Abraha, having recognised his former master, fell at his feet, embraced him, and wept. They mutually forgave each other; and the King of Yemen, being taken to a warm bath, was clothed in royal garments, mounted on a noble charger, and conducted to the palace; after which he was furnished with a variety of splendid robes and suits of armour, horses, slaves, and damsels. During two months he was feasted and entertained with the utmost hospitality and magnificence, attended con­stantly by Abraha. In the course of this time, the robbers who had murdered the merchant were dis­covered and punished; and after that the King of Yemen returned to his own country.

Bakhtyār having thus demonstrated that appearances might be very strong against an innocent person, the King resolved to defer his execution for another day, and he was accordingly led back to prison.