After the usual three days of hospitality had passed and Khayrandísh had imparted his counsels to Nassar, he brought forth the deposit entrusted to him by Nassar's father, and handing it to him, said: “Almost twenty years have elapsed since your father gave this casket into my charge, but I know not what it con­tains; if you have no objection we will see what is in it.” Nassar at once opened the packet and took out a mirror cut out of a piece of emerald and surrounded with a number of other precious stones. In the centre of the mirror was a peacock whose eyes were constantly moving and whose feathers changed their colours every moment; and the workmanship was so exquisite and delicate that Khayrandísh and Nassar were perfectly amazed, while the former exolaimed: “My dear friend, no sovereign has ever possessed so admirable an object, and it is probable that you will not be able to sell it to a private individual except at a price far below its real value. Therefore you should present it to some mighty king, and it may thus become to you the cause of great prosperity. Show it to no one during your journey, lest it should excite the cupidity of some person.”

Nassar most willingly promised to follow his friend's advice, and received from him a ring with the injunc­tion that should any calamity befall him he must go to Aleppo and show it to a pious recluse called Abú Jurjás, who would do his utmost to help him. After taking leave of Khayrandísh he departed in the com­pany of some men who were travelling to Egypt, where they all arrived in safety. Nassar happened to meet the king of that country, who was on a hunting excur­sion with a very numerous retinue. He saluted the monarch very humbly and presented to him the mirror as a gift, which the king accepted, and on his return to the capital invested Nassar with a robe of honour* in full court, and also took into his hand the mirror, the workmanship of which he greatly admired, as did also his courtiers. Then the king said to Nassar: “You appear to be well educated. Pray, what is your greatest accomplishment?” He replied: “Your majesty's humble servant is skilled in several arts, but especially in archery.” After this the king gave him in charge of one of his officials, who took him to his house and showed him much attention.

During the night the official felt very unwell, and there being no servant at hand, he went to a cupboard and taking out an apple began to peel it; and while thus engaged some plaster fell down from the ceiling, which caused him to run out of the room in great fear, and stumbling in the dark he fell on the knife which he still held in his hand, and received from it a wound in consequence of which he expired on the spot. When this accident became known, the eunuchs, the servants, and the inmates of the haram were so confused that they accused each other of having murdered their master, and at last they came to blows, and several of them were wounded and killed. In the morning the unfortunate occurrence was reported to the king, who was much grieved at the loss of a most faithful minister, and appointed his son to succeed him in the service.

Some time afterwards Nassar ventured to make his appearance at court, and was respectfully standing in the line of persons near the throne, when the monarch observed him and exclaimed: “Young man, we have heard of your archery but have never seen it. Now we wish to have a proof of it.” Nassar desired that a ring should be tied to a hair and suspended at a distance of seventy paces. Then he shot an arrow through the ring without moving it, and repeated the feat thirty-nine times more.* The king and his courtiers were astonished at his skill, while the spec­tators uttered shouts of approbation; and the king was considering how to reward him when an explosion of gunpowder took place in the manufactory close by, which destroyed the building and killed more than a thousand persons; but Nassar escaped unhurt. This catastrophe so occupied the mind of the king that he rose up in a melancholy mood, forgot Nassar, and retired to his private apartments.

In course of time the king resumed his customary duties and amusements, and it happened one day while engaged in the chase that an eagle flew near him, when he called out: “Is there any one who can strike that eagle while he is flying?” Nassar immediately responded to the call, and the eagle fell to the ground pierced through by his arrow. The king wished to reward him on the spot, but the arrow, after passing through the eagle's body, having struck the eye of the king's horse it became restive, began to gallop, and a helter-skelter race followed, but the horse could not be stopped, until, one of its legs going into a hole in the ground, it threw its rider, and dragged him hanging by one foot in the stirrup, into a very rapid stream. When the attendants beheld their sovereign in such great peril they hastened to save him, which they did, but not before he had swallowed a great quantity of water, was wounded, and more dead than alive, and about five hundred men had been drowned. One of the king's servants said to Nassar: “Your archery is very unlucky, since for every arrow that you shoot hundreds of men lose their lives.” The king was taken in a litter to the palace, and only recovered his health after forty days' medical treatment.

When the bodies of the king's followers were taken out of the water the other attendants pierced the heart of Nassar with the shafts of irony and disappro­bation, and he concluded that, as he had been so many times thwarted in his purpose of deserving the favour of the king, it would be advisable for him to quit the scene of his exploits lest his life should be endangered. He was yet undecided where to go when he perceived on the opposite bank of the river a village, which he resolved to visit. The current was very rapid, but he entered the water saying to himself: “Let happen what will, my cup of bitterness is already brimful.” As he was crossing, the water became so deep that his horse began to swim, and the violence of the flood soon swept Nassar from its back. He was a good swimmer, but his arms and accoutrements were heavy, so that he was obliged to throw away everything, and landed on the other side in a state of nudity. He waited for the evening, being ashamed thus to enter the village, and when it was dark he roamed about the streets untíl he found a mosque, in a corner of which he concealed himself, naked, starving, and tired as he was. It happened that a party of thieves had plundered the house of the village headman, and about midnight brought their booty into the mosque for the purpose of dividing it. They kindled lights and made some noise, and Nassar, awaking from sleep and dazzled by the lights, fancied it was morning and that the people had come to prayer. As he had a good voice, he said to himself: “Great blessings and rewards are in store for those who call the faithful to prayer, and if I do so, possibly the Most High may open the portals of abundance to my destiny.” And so he ascended to the minaret and pronounced the usual form of invocation, which when the robbers heard they weened that the morning had already dawned while they had been so deeply absorbed in dividing their plunder as to forget the lapse of time. Therefore they made haste to finish the division, then extinguished the lights, and with their bundles on their backs were flying from the mosque when they were met by Nassar, who stopped them and said: “O ye bouquet-binders in the garden of piety and devotion, now is the opportune time to seek the benefits obtainable in the house of God, and this is the place for kindling the lamp of prayer and supplication! Whither are you going? Have you not heard that any person coming to the mosque for the performance of his matutinal duty must remain there till sunrise?” The thieves took him for the muezzin,* who wished to detain them till he could hand them over to justice, and, one of them having given him a box on the ear, they all ran off at the top of their speed. Nassar, now certain that they could not be of the pious, ran after the thieves, and being an excel­lent boxer and swordsman, attacked them boldly, and snatching the weapon from one of them he struck about him to such purpose that he killed one and wounded several of the others, upon which they abandoned their plunder and fled.

Nassar was at a loss what to do with the booty and the corpse, fearing lest he should be held responsible for all that had occurred, and thus fall into fresh danger. Some people, who lived near the mosque, having been aroused from their slumbers by the untimely call from the minaret, said one to another: “Surely that fellow has gone mad, since he calls to morning prayer before midnight is past;” and when they heard the noise of the scuffle they imagined that some vagabonds of the village, whom Satan had seduced to adopt the doctrines of the Súfís, were holding their nocturnal assembly in the mosque.* So they hastened thither to expel the intruders; but when they entered they saw only Nassar, who was saying to himself: “I wonder from what poor fellow the thieves have stolen this property.” When the folk beheld a man standing alone and muttering to himself they at once concluded he was a súfí in one of his ecstacies, who had thus stripped himself naked; and as they walked according to the commandments of the Most High and in conformity with the holy law of the Prophet, and hated all súfís, innovators, and enthu­siasts, they burst into reproaches against them, crying: “O ye transgressors of the divine commands and de­stroyers of the ordinances of the Refuge of Prophecy;* who degrade the house of God to a brothel, by the wiles of Satan, who has made you his own, and is your guide in irreligious proceedings! What breach is this that you wish to make in Islám?” Nassar mistook them for the thieves who had come back to recover their plunder and wished to deceive him with such speeches, so he said: “You rogues, I shall not be circumvented by your tricks,” and seizing the sword which was still near him he wounded one of them and put the others to flight. Then he tied a rope to the neck of the wounded man and said: “Come, tell the truth. From what house have you stolen these goods?” But the man, knowing nothing of the robbers, believed him to be a súfí in a trance, speaking nonsense, and replied: “O you wretched vagabond and fanatic and transgressor of the divine commands! I know not what you say. Have I not come hither from my house on account of the tumult which you made?”

Meanwhile the other villagers who had been driven away by Nassar went to the officials and thus addressed them: “Is Islám no longer dominant in this country, that hypocrites and infidels are allowed to enter the mosque and desecrate it with their orgies? People who live near the mosque hear every night the dia­bolical revellings of a pack of vagabonds. Last night they again entered the mosque, and, contrary to law, shouted the call to prayer in the middle of the night. They have even sorely wounded one of the faithful, and we do not know what has become of him.” The officials ordered a party of constables to accompany them and to seize the law-breakers; and when they entered the mosque they found Nassar still engaged in examining his prisoner, and mistaking them also for the thieves he wounded one of them likewise. “Súfí,” they exclaimed, “what impudence and wickedness is this? Do pious and virtuous men ever fight and kill the servants of God in the mosque?” Quoth Nassar: “You vile robbers! you cannot deceive me. I intend to slay you all this night, to deserve the reward of God.” When they saw him speaking so boldly, naked as he was, they said: “Look at the presumption of this súfí, to behave in such a manner in the mosque!” By this time, the morning having dawned, numbers of the people came to prayer, and Nassar fled, with the sword in his hand, and wounded several persons who attempted to stop him. But he ran so fast that no one was able to overtake him, and his pursuers then returned to their homes. Soon afterwards, however, a company of súfís came into the village and were at once accused of having committed the robbery; a general tumult ensued and many men were slain or wounded. Ultimately the affair came before the king of Egypt, who caused the súfís to be punished and fined, although they were entirely innocent of the crime laid to their charge.

Nassar now wandered from town to town, pursued by misfortunes. One day the king of Egypt asked his courtiers what had become of him, but they could only reply that in consequence of the various calami­ties that followed his archery feat he had disappeared. His majesty observed that for these accidents Nassar was in no way accountable, because they had all occurred by the decree of Fate, and he despatched messengers in every direction to search for him. Nassar was at last discovered in a village, in a very destitute and miserable condition. He was carried to the capital, and before bringing him into the king's presence it was necessary to take him to the bath, after which his majesty received him with great kindness and inquired of him: “Are you skilled in any other things besides archery?” Nassar bowed his head and replied: “I am acquainted with military tactics, mathematics, commerce, mineralogy, boxing, fencing, and also with cooking.”* Quoth the king: “All these accomplishments adorn the character of a man, none of them, however, can equal your skill in archery; but when you acquired it your destiny was unpropitious and the moon was evidently in the mansion of the Scorpion.* It will therefore be proper for you to abstain from shooting arrows and to practice other arts until the lucky hour comes when these calamities have disappeared from your horoscope. This day I wish to give a banquet, and you must exhibit your skill in boxing; and as you tell me that you also possess a knowledge of the art of cooking, I give you leave to prepare any dishes you please, for it is long since I was able to relish any kind of food.”

Accordingly Nassar made various savoury dishes, and when he had finished his work the king com­manded him to show his skill in boxing until the dinner hour. Nassar said that he was ready to box and wrestle with two hundred men who excelled in these arts, and when they were produced he very easily vanquished them one after another.* The king gave orders that more men should be brought, but to his astonishment none could be found willing to encounter such a formidable antagonist. But recol­lecting that he possessed a Circassian slave named Fírúz Bakht, lately presented to him by the Sultan of Turkey, who was skilled in wrestling, he ordered him to attack Nassar. The slave caught Nassar about the loins so forcibly that his own hands bled, but he was unable to move him a hair's breadth from the spot where he stood. To be brief, they wrestled long and skilfully, the Circassian trying two hundred different tricks without effect. At last, however, Nassar turned the game and lifted Fírúz Bakht from the ground with as much ease as if he were a child; but the slave so firmly grasped a pillar of the shed in which the sport was taking place that Nassar could not pull him from it; and making a final effort he tugged so hard that along with Fírúz Bakht he wrenched the pillar away, which killed the slave and about twenty of the spectators by a portion of the roof falling down on them after its support had been thus withdrawn. The king, with all his attendants, fled from the place in alarm, and the banquet, which was to be one of joy, became one of mourning.

Although the king was greatly affected by this sad accident he said to his courtiers: “As this event only took place by the immutable decree of Fate, I can in no way blame the young stranger; and if I lose my life together with my kingdom, a thousand accidents such as this will not influence me against him.” The courtiers tried to comfort the king, but as he was very melancholy their efforts were fruitless. When the table-decker made his appearance and announced that the dinner prepared by Nassar was ready to be served up, the king said: “Though we have at present no inclination to eat anything, yet, as the dinner is prepared, cause it to be brought in.” When, however, the king had tasted some of the dishes he found them to be more delicious than aught he had ever eaten before; and, thus seduced, he ate so heartily that he became ill, and having but lately recovered from sickness he was unable to digest the food, and only recovered after a long course of medicine.

But that magnanimous and kind-hearted monarch, albeit he had never been sick before he had come in contact with Nassar, would ascribe neither his indis­position nor the other calamities to that circumstance, but to the decrees of Fate, and bore him no ill-will. He invested Nassar with a robe of honour, made him various presents, and was about to appoint him to a high office, when one of the vazírs, who had by his natural sagacity guessed the king's purpose, said that, although his majesty was of a liberal and kind dis­position and Nassar a deserving person, yet it would be inadvisable to bestow on him any great favours at the present time, because experience had abun­dantly shown that the withering blasts of his unfor­tunate destiny had not yet ceased to blow, and only mischief would be the result. Therefore, he went on to say, it would be better to give him a con­siderable sum of money and dismiss him, with the injunction to remain in some other place until his destiny had changed for the better, when he might return to the service of the king, whose favours, if now bestowed, would be thrown away. He con­tinued: “It is also certain that in the same way as all efforts to aid persons who are predestined to be unfortunate are in vain, so also the devotional and religious wishes of silly though well-meaning men are of little avail to them.” The king asked: “How is that?” Upon which the vazír related the