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A short story by Adam Oehlenschlager

The Ali And Gulhyndi

Title:     The Ali And Gulhyndi
Author: Adam Oehlenschlager

There once lived in Bagdad a wealthy merchant named Ibrahim. His only son, Ali, a young man of eminent talent, though but little resembling his father, was his pride and delight. The father's notion of happiness consisted in the enjoyment of life and in the industry requisite to procure the key to all earthly enjoyments--wealth; the son's mind, on the contrary, was devoted to contemplation and the pursuit of knowledge. He but rarely quitted his room, and was only wont to walk in the cool of the evening along the banks of the Tigris outside the city, to the tomb of Iman Izaser, a Mahommedan saint, which stood in a circular temple surrounded by date trees, about a league distant. Here he usually seated himself in the shade, and his delight consisted in observing those who passed by on their way to the temple to perform their devotions. He had, above all, observed, as well as the close veil would permit, the slight and charming form of a female who went almost daily to the mosque, accompanied by an attendant, who appeared somewhat older than herself. His eyes followed with delight the muffled form as she gracefully moved along; he had often witnessed her kneeling in the temple, and praying fervently, and he imagined that he in his turn was not unnoticed by the stranger. Thus without having ever spoken to each other they had formed a kind of acquaintance, which, however, did not disturb Ali in his contemplations. As soon as the shadows of evening appeared, he rose and walked silently homewards, while his eyes gazed on the moonlit waves of the Tigris, or the fresh verdure of its banks.

"How is it possible, my son," once said his father, on his return from a long journey, after his camels were unladen, "that you, so young in years, can totally renounce the world? I esteem your application; but you should not forget that next to our holy Koran, nature herself is the wisest book, and contains the most sublime doctrines on every page. What is knowledge without experience? Has not one of our wise men himself said, that a journey is a fire, around which the raw meat must be turned in order to become eatable and savoury."

"Dear father," answered Ali, "leave me but a few years longer to myself, and then on entering the world I shall work with much more energy. You were right in saying that nature is the wisest book; yet it is often written in so indistinct a style that it requires strong eyes to see and read it correctly. What we cannot do for ourselves we must leave to others to do for us; and thus I travel perhaps as much in my own room as you do upon your camel through the desert. All cannot travel. If I in conformity to the duty of a good Mussulman make a single journey in my life to Mecca, I shall perhaps have travelled enough."

Though Ibrahim was not satisfied altogether by this contradiction of his favourite opinions, he could not help commending the singular industry of his son; moreover, it was not displeasing to his paternal vanity to hear all who knew Ali call him the pattern of a young man.

The words of the father were not, however, uttered without making some impression upon the son. He began to perceive the difference between mere ideas and actual enjoyments, and when he read of any thing grand, beautiful, or wonderful, he was no longer in such raptures at the mere reading. He now wished to experience the things themselves. When in this mood, he often ascended the balcony of the house, where he had a clear view of the Tigris and the sandy desert, and of the distant mountains, and where, in serene weather, he could descry the ruins of ancient Babylon on the banks of the Euphrates. For whole hours he would stand and dream himself into the most wonderful and adventurous situations. When, as usual, he went in the evening to Izaser's temple under the date trees, it seemed to him monotonous and insignificant. He fancied he felt contempt for himself in contemplating the rapidly flowing waves of the Tigris, which had made such enormous journeys from the highland of Asia through caverns and rocks never yet seen. When thus sitting in the dusk of evening, it appeared as if the foaming waves which rushed over the pebbles, told him tales of events of which it had been an eye-witness on distant shores.

Now he resolved again to wander to the ruins of Babylon, where he had once been in his childhood. His father, who was delighted with his plan, hoped that he discerned in it the beginning of a new career of life, and readily gave Ali permission to spend several days on the pilgrimage.

"My son," said he, "here in miniature you will find a picture of the Great, for short as the way is, it is not without variety. In the immediate neighbourhood it is as much cultivated as the broad valley, further on it is barren and waste, indeed it is like a desert till the green carpet of the mountains again meets the sandy plains, and invites you to the most beautiful woody regions. I should consider it superfluous to give you any admonitions for the way, did I not know that young people like yourself, often load their imaginations with old and remote things, without thinking of what takes place immediately around them. Take care, then, that you do not pass the desert between Babylon and Bagdad at night time; and rather arrange your journey so as to start in the morning or evening. There is a general report that Zelulu, an evil spirit, has selected that desert for his abode; and that he hovers over the desert at night, and delights in destroying those men who disturb his nocturnal flights by their presence."

The son promised to do so, and strapping his knapsack on his back, commenced his journey early the next morning with staff in hand.

He crossed the long bridge of boats, fastened by iron chains across the rapid Tigris, which takes its name Thir (an arrow), from its rapidity. All hastened through the almost dilapidated suburb and came to a beautiful mosque, near which the caravan, with which his father had lately arrived, was still halting. They were taking rest in order to continue their journey. How strange it appeared to him to wander through this moveable commercial city, where houses were camels, and elephants were palaces! Ali passed one of these elephants, on the back of which was constructed a house of tolerable size. It was noon, and the children who were playing about on the grass were called to their dinner. Their father, who stood among them, took one after the other and handed them over to the elephant, who, raising them with his trunk, lifted them slowly and carefully through the air, and then bent his trunk over his head, and gave the child to its mother, who stood above in the door and received them from him without the least sign of fear, and without any of the children crying from terror. The open mosque was crowded with people, some of whom were offering thanks to Allah for their happy return, while others were imploring a blessing on the progress of their journey. Ali was so pleased with this singular and motley assembly, that he loitered the whole day among them. Towards the evening some merchants invited him into their tents, where Indian youths and girls danced to the sound of the triangle and flute. These hospitable Arabs were delighted at being able to offer him a good supper and a comfortable resting-place for the night.

Early in the cool of the next morning he started on his way, and wandered over a barren uninhabited plain. He found pleasure in working his way through the sand to reach some fertile spots which lie, like islands, in the yellow dust, with their verdant ground and their isolated palm trees, which pleasantly spread their leaves like parasols, while there is something divine in their refreshing coolness.

Ali felt himself inspired: the Arab in his desert feels like the mountaineer on his rocky mountains, and like the islander at the sight of the ocean. When he sees it for the first time, he finds himself like a bird in its own element, and confidently abandons himself to the impulse of his feelings. The over-excited youth exhausted all his strength. Noon approached, and the heat was oppressive. Ali hastened with quick pace towards the distant mountains, and, like his ancestress Hagar, in former days, wished for a fountain to quench his thirst.

Having once heard of a fountain near the spot where he now was, his delight was great on approaching a large tract where many palms of an indifferent growth arched themselves over a spring. The rippling water excited and increased his thirst as he stood near it.

Think of his sorrow when he saw, rising from the water, clouds of smoke which smelt of sulphur! In despair at this disappointment he threw himself on the ground under the palm trees, and, being exhausted from heat, and wearied with his exertions, fell asleep immediately.

He had not been sleeping long, when he was suddenly aroused by a powerful voice. On opening his eyes he perceived a man in a loose linen gown, sitting on a camel which was laden with pitchers and leather water-pipes.

"Unhappy man!" he cried, "are you weary of your life that you lie here so wantonly to end it?"

Ali jumped up, and the man on his camel started, as he had not expected thus to arouse the sleeper, although, urged by compassion, he had called to him.

"What do you mean?" asked Ali, "what harm can I suffer in sleeping, during the heat of noon, under these palm trees?"

"Do you not know this spring?" asked the stranger.

"No!" said Ali; and he began to tell whence he came and whither he intended to go.

The man replied, "It seems as if the evil spirit is busy here, not merely at midnight, but also in the clear noon day. Follow me to the palm tree farthest from the spring there, and I will refresh you with a cooling draught. I live in the next village, where the water is still so bad that we are obliged to fetch our daily supply from the Tigris. All the pitchers and pipes which you see, are filled from the river of your native city. I cannot but laugh to think that you come to us from the Tigris to drink; indeed that you choose the most noxious spring, of one of which it may be said that it is supplied by hell itself."

These words would have excited Ali's curiosity immediately, had not his thirst proved the stronger. He went with the man, who reached him a pitcher, and said: "There, quench your thirst, and then mount my camel with me. We shall soon be in my village, where you can take rest, and towards the evening you may proceed quietly to Babylon."

Ali thanked him, and mounted the camel, and they rode in silence across the plain for the rest of the way, until they came to a yet larger oasis covered with trees and huts. Only a broad sandy road separated them from the verdant ground which sloped down from the mountains towards the desert in all its freshness. The water-carrier made Ali enter his hut, where they mutually invited each other as guests, the former asking the latter to partake of his cooling sherbet, the latter inviting the former to partake of the good things which he had in his knapsack.

They had scarcely satisfied their hunger and thirst, than the water-carrier, at Ali's request, began to say "I am astonished that you have never heard of Ali Haymmamy's spring. Know then that this spring, as I before said, was formerly a pure one, indeed it was a mineral spring whither innumerable paralytics resorted. It takes its name from Ali, son-in-law of our holy prophet, who is said to have knelt once on this spot to perform his devotions. Wishing as a sincere Mussulman to wash his face and hands before prayer, and finding no water near, it is reported that he rubbed his hands, in full confidence in the Almighty, in the hot sands, and that this immediately ran from his fingers like limpid water--from this it is said the spring takes its origin. But the evil spirits, that mar every thing as far as they are able, have, by Allah's long suffering and hidden intention, since taken possession of this spring, particularly the abominable Zelulu, who fixes his nocturnal abode in the desert. It is believed that he dwells in the spring; and that he has not only corrupted the water, so that it has entirely lost its healing virtue, but that it has, moreover, become poisonous and mortal. The sulphureous vapours arising from it infect the air with pestilence. You will now readily understand my astonishment at finding you asleep there, and you may thank your sound constitution and my assistance for your deliverance."

Great was Ali's astonishment on hearing this. He pressed the carrier's hand with gratitude, and some pieces of gold accompanied the pressure. The poor man was so delighted at this, that Ali quite forgot the danger he had escaped in the joy of his companion. The latter accompanied him some distance on his way, and now Ali soon came to pleasant groves of cypress, maple, and cedar, through which he went down to the ruins of Babylon which lay on the mighty river.

There he now stood surrounded by widely scattered ruins overgrown with grass and moss. Some pillars and fragments of walls rose near the banks and were reflected in the waves of the slowly flowing Euphrates. A herdsman sat on an architrave playing his reed-pipe, while his goats wandered about browsing on the grass between the stones.

"Do you know this place?" asked Ali.

"I have a hut in the neighbourhood," said the shepherd.

"And what mean these heaps of stones?"

"It is said that in ancient time a city stood upon this spot."

"Cannot you tell me something about it?"

"No; it has been desolate from time immemorial; neither my father nor my grandfather ever saw it different."

Ali stood lost in thought. He was moved by seeing the young shepherd sitting on the stone like the unconcerned Present on the grave of the Past,--on the shore of the stream of time which rushes by like the paradisaical Euphrates, the river that saw the fall of Adam as well as that of Babylon, and still rolls onwards its fresh and youthful waves. Every uncommon mark in the mouldering stones delighted him, and his thoughts were as much engaged with surrounding objects as the young shepherd seemed indifferent to them. Like Ali he plucked the grass from the ruins, though not like him in order to read the inscriptions, but to give to his goats what they were unable to reach for themselves.

Towards the evening Ali set out on his way back to Bagdad, and wandered thoughtfully over the plain. The evening was cool and bright, and after he had proceeded a few hundred paces, his eyes already discerned Bagdad. He did not think it necessary to hasten, feeling sure that he must soon reach the city, but loitered long on the charming verdant spots in the sandy plain. The moon arose and shone so brightly, that the night appeared almost as light as day. Hence Ali did not take any account of the time; he felt weary, and seeing a large stone at some distance from him in which seats were cut out, he could not resist sitting down and, with his head resting on his hand, gazing over the calm, clear, and cool, desert before him. The wind was rustling through the palms over his head. Conceive his astonishment when the wind was suddenly hushed, and when he again heard the spring ripple a few yards off, and smelt the noxious vapours which the breezes had before wafted to the opposite side.

Terrified, he jumped up and ran back more than a hundred yards. He saw that a thunder-storm was suddenly approaching. By the dim moonlight, which every moment threatened to be obscured by the black clouds, he could scarcely distinguish the path that would lead him home. However, he hastened onwards, and cursed the habit which, on the slightest occasion, always misled him to shut himself up from surrounding objects, like flowers which close in the evening, so that he did not think where he was, or what took place near him. It grew darker and darker, thick clouds obscured the moon, loud thunder rolled over his head, but not a drop of rain descended. A burning wind rushed through the desert and stirred up the sand, so that he was obliged every minute to shut his eyes.

"Are there really evil spirits living," he said to himself, "that can hurt man? No; innocence is the real great seal of Solomon, which not even the terrible Eblis dares to break." He had scarcely uttered these words than a frightful darkness forced him to stand still. Suddenly the sky and earth were burning with a pale flame, a forked flash of lightning shot over his head, and struck a hollow tree close by his side. At the same time a pelting shower of rain streamed from the clouds, and Ali fell to the ground, stunned by the tremendous thunder-claps. Thus he lay for some time. At length all became calm, and he arose; but what was his horror when he saw against the deep blue moonlit sky, a monstrous black giant standing on the plain! The huge head reached high in the air, and looked upon Ali with a large sparkling eye. Ali was about to flee, but fear paralysed his feet. Trembling, he again turned his face towards the formidable figure which he fancied would crush him. How surprised and delighted was he on discovering that the formidable monster was nothing but a large black cloud, the last remnant of the thunderstorm, with an opening in the centre, through which the moon was beaming! This discovery restored his courage as quickly as he had before lost it. He now perceived that the whole was nothing more than a natural phenomenon, such, doubtless, as had often occurred in this narrow valley, and had given rise to the superstition of the people. He now proceeded onwards with fresh vigour, and it was not long before he crossed the bridge of the Tigris with a light heart, delighted at having so fortunately completed his adventure. But the black, Zelulu (for he it really was who amused himself with deceiving the conceited youth), stared smiling after him with his glowing eye, and then burst out into such loud laughter, that the palms of the desert trembled. Then, shaking the mane of his monstrous head, he folded up the large airy bulk of his body and floated over the spring, where, forming himself into a pillar, he suddenly rushed down with a tremendous howl. From this time he determined to persecute the youth.

Ali, on his return, found his father's house in the greatest state of confusion and distress. His father was not there, and when he asked after him, an old slave said to him, "Unhappy son, at this moment the executioner is perhaps inflicting the fatal wound on him." Ali stood speechless and pale. The cause of the unhappy event was as follows:

Ibrahim bore an implacable hatred against Hussain, Cadi of Bagdad, and the latter entertained a similar feeling in return; nay, people in the city were wont to name Ibrahim and Hussain if they wished to cite an instance of two irreconcileable enemies. Both had been educated, after the death of their parents, in the house of a mutual relative. Nothing can be worse than men of an entirely opposite disposition being compelled to hold daily intercourse; repugnance and hatred increase more and more, and their conversation becomes a constant feud. Hussain was proud and gloomy; Ibrahim vehement and animated. Daily did they reproach each other; the former considering the latter a frivolous sensualist, the latter considering the former a cold, selfish egotist. As they advanced in years their hatred increased. Their guardian had a beautiful daughter, whom both, as members of the family, had opportunities of seeing. Ibrahim fell in love with her, and hoped that his affections would be returned, and the father's consent obtained. But as Hussain, by his natural talent, industry, and perseverance, soon raised himself to an important station, he obtained, contrary to Ibrahim's expectation, the consent of the beautiful Mirza and her parent. Ibrahim was so enraged at this, that out of revenge he shortly after took two wives. One presented him with Ali at the cost of her own life. Mirza lived with Hussain for some years before she bore him a daughter. Some time had now past, Mirza had died, and separation, which usually weakens enmity as well as friendship, had almost extinguished the hatred of the cheerful Ibrahim. An occurrence, however, showed that it still burned fiercely in the heart of the haughty Hussain; and this poured fresh oil into Ibrahim's fire, which, as it appeared, death alone could now extinguish.

Two years ago, Ibrahim had returned from a journey, and among other precious articles, had brought with him some Indian gold cloth, such as had never been seen before. Hussain heard of this, and as his daughter had grown up to be one of the most beautiful maidens in Bagdad, his paternal pride was set upon adorning his lovely child by all the means of art and of wealth. He had seen the cloth in passing Ibrahim's shop, but not wishing to purchase it himself, had sent a slave to Ibrahim, and commissioned him to settle the bargain. Ibrahim looked upon this as the first step towards a reconciliation on the part of Hussain; and being of a more forgiving disposition than he, and, moreover, being in a cheerful humour, in anticipation of a happy future, he gave the cloth to the slave, telling him to say to Hussain, that he wished him to accept of it as a token of former friendship. A short time after this, the slave returned with the cloth, and said that his master had looked upon it as a great insult, that a merchant presumed to offer presents to the cadi, as these must always look, more or less, like bribes; and that Ibrahim ought to name a price for it, as the cadi was quite able to pay for it, although he did not every year bring home riches on his mules. This haughty answer was so revolting to Ibrahim, that he took the cloth from the slave's hands, and tearing it to pieces, exclaimed: "Tell your master, that thus I tear the last bonds of our former friendship,--that I tear up by the roots the flowers which childhood had woven into the golden ground of our life."

Late in the evening of the day on which this had happened, and after Ibrahim had for some time shut up his shop, he heard a knock at the door. He went and opened it, but did not see any body. He had scarcely gone away, when the knocking was repeated. He opened again, and again saw no one. Vexed at this, he was returning to his room, when suddenly a louder knocking than before was heard. He now ran quickly to the door, and burst it open, in hopes of meeting the insolent person who was thus tantalising him. As soon as he had opened it, there stood outside a pretty, middle-aged woman in black, holding a staff in her hand. "What do you want?" cried Ibrahim.

"I have a request to make, friend," said she. "My beautiful daughter is soon to be married; I am poor, and cannot afford a handsome bridal dress, such as she deserves. Give me the gold cloth which you have torn to-day; it will be good enough for us, and has lost its greatest value for you. If old friends forsake us, we must look for new ones."

Ibrahim, who was liberal, gave her the cloth, which she contemplated attentively, and then said: "It has suffered great injury; it will cost pains to stick it together again; still it can be remedied." Upon this she saluted Ibrahim kindly, and went away, and he never again saw her.

Ibrahim now gave daily vent to his anger in vehement words against Hussain; and whatever he said was reported to the latter, with additions, so that the enraged cadi only watched for an opportunity to take revenge. This occurred sooner than he expected. The kind, mild government of Haroun al Raschid, however beneficent in some respects, produced in a certain degree disagreeable consequences for himself. The populace had scarcely perceived that they were not forced to tremble slavishly before the noble caliph, than they began to censure his conduct and calumniate him, with the greatest audacity. For some time he allowed this to pass unnoticed. But the insolence increased; and he now all at once issued orders, that any one presuming to revile the actions of the caliph should be executed without mercy. This order had been made public a few days after Ibrahim's return, indeed on the very morning when his son had gone to Babylon. Being much engaged, he remained at home during that morning, and it was not till nearly evening that he went to a khan, where he was in the habit of spending a few hours every day. He had not spoken to any person, and knew nothing of the proclamation. He had scarcely entered the khan, when a crier came through the street, exclaiming that every one should step aside to make way, as Zobeide, the favourite wife of the caliph was about to pass with her slaves. Ibrahim, who was in a merry mood, and did not often weigh his words nicely, said: "They call Haroun al Raschid the wisest man. It may be that he possesses singular qualities; but as regards women, he is the weakest creature that I never knew. My son, who is twenty years old, is ten times wiser on that score than he is."

Ibrahim had no sooner said these words, than he was seized by the officers of the cadi, and brought before Hussain. His grief can easily be conceived, when he heard the sentence of death. He entreated Hussain, in the name of their youthful friendship, to save his life.

"You yourself have violated our friendship," replied the latter, coldly; "there are here witnesses of your words, and I cannot save you. All I can do is, to bring you to the Commander of the Faithful, who wishes to see the first violator of his proclamation, and to witness his execution."

So far the old slave related. Ali was paralysed with horror; a messenger from the caliph first recalled him to consciousness. "Do you bring me his gray head?" asked Ali; "has the axe already dyed his thin silvery hair with blood?"

"I will bring you to your father," replied the messenger. "The caliph has granted him permission to take leave of his son before he dies."

"Is he still living?" cried Ali, and he hastened to the palace. On entering it, he saw the caliph sitting on his throne; while before him his father, with his hands tied behind him, was kneeling on a carpet. A silver basin stood near, and the executioner had already drawn his bright, sharp sword. Ali embraced his father.

"I cannot clasp you in my arms, my son," said the old man, "but I die for your sake; parental fondness made my lips utter those words."

"Untie his hands!" cried the caliph; "let him embrace his son before he dies."

Ali threw himself at the caliph's feet, and said, imploringly: "Restore me my father."

"I pity your fate," said Haroun al Raschid, with emotion, "but I have sworn that the blood of him who should revile my majesty and benevolence shall flow."

"Oh! then there is hope of delivery," cried Ali. "Am I not blood of my father's blood? Let, then, my blood flow for his, that I may fall a sacrifice to your revenge, and that my death may release you from your oath."

"What is it that you dare to offer me, young man?" said the caliph, sternly. "Do not think to soften my heart by a trick so common! What I have determined is unalterable, and in the name of Almighty God I tell you your tears cannot move me."

Ali knelt down. "Strike!" he cried to the slave, as he stretched out his neck.

"What are you doing, my son?" cried the old man.

"I imitate my father," said Ali. "From love to me you have exposed yourself to death, from love to you I will suffer it for you."

"And your mistress--how will she wring her white hands!" said the caliph.

"Commander of the Faithful, I have none," said Ali.

"How? Have you no passion? has not all-powerful love struck root in your heart?"

"I love God," said Ali, "my father, and you, my liege, even in death; for I know that you are otherwise good and just; I love nature, men, and every thing beautiful that flourishes and lives; but no woman has yet awakened a passion!"

"Then Ibrahim was right," cried Haroun al Raschid, laughing; "then you are really wiser than the caliph. Rise, my friends," he continued, "neither of you shall die. Ibrahim has not violated my law; he knew it not. He has not praised his son at the expense of the caliph; my oath does not require his blood. Forgive me the terrors of death which I have caused you. A prince has seldom an opportunity of looking into the secrets of the heart with his own eyes. Only on the boundary which separates death from life, all considerations disappear, and only thus could I discover in you a virtue which I now admire. Go home, honest Ibrahim, you are healthy and cheerful, by nature, so that this shock will not be attended with any dangerous consequences. And you, wise Ali," he continued, smiling, "I will see you again a year hence, and learn whether you are then as wise as you are now." As soon as he had concluded, he dismissed them, and sent them home laden with splendid presents.

Hussain was an eye-witness of the scene. It may easily be conceived how this sudden act of grace inflamed his hatred, and with what triumph the father and son returned home again.

Ibrahim lived happily with his son, who applied himself anew, with great industry, to the acquisition of knowledge. Once a slave came to Ali's room and begged him to come down, as his father had purchased something for him in the market. He went down accordingly, and was much surprised at seeing a little, deformed creature, dressed as a slave, standing before him. The little man wore a high hat, with a cock's feather, on his head; his chest, as well as his back, formed a hump; his squinting eyes were of a pale gray, like those of a cat; and his nose hung over his mouth like a bunch of grapes, and was of a violet colour. For the rest, he was cheerful, brisk, and healthy, notwithstanding all his excrescences; and with his right eye, which was triangular, he looked attentively at Ali, whilst the left was concealed in the angle between the nose and forehead.

Whilst Ali stood wondering at this paragon of human ugliness, his father could not suppress his laughter, and said: "Have I not been to the market at a lucky moment? An hour afterwards it would have been too late, so numerous were those who wished to purchase him. I owe it to my prompt decision that I got him for two hundred pieces of gold. Only think, my wise son, you lock yourself up within four walls, to suck, like a bee, sweetness from old manuscripts; and yet this hunchback slave, who never has had time to sit at home and pore over books, is declared by the opinion of all connoisseurs, to be unequalled in learning throughout Arabia and Persia. You may easily see it in him; wisdom breaks forth in every part of him, and, therefore, great must be the superfluity within! Take him with you; I present him to you to assist you in your studies, and divert you in your hours of leisure."

When Ali had returned to his room attended by his deformed slave, and the latter saw the great quantity of books and parchments which laid about in every direction, he raised his hands in amazement, and cried with warmth, "The wise Confucius might well say, 'Blessed is he who recognises the end of his destiny! The way that he must go to reach his goal stands marked before his eyes. Uncertainty and doubt leave him as soon as he enters on that way. Peace and tranquillity strew roses on his path.' But he also truly said, 'Unhappy is he who mistakes the branches of the tree for its roots, the leaves for fruit, the shadow for the substance, and who knoweth not how to distinguish the means from the end."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Ali.

"Sadi has said," replied the little slave, "that the most unprofitable of human beings, is a learned man who does not benefit his fellow-creatures by his learning; we hear the mill clapping but see no flour; a word without a deed is a cloud without rain, and a bow without a string."

Ali now wished to try whether the knowledge of the slave went beyond these and similar maxims. He examined him and was astonished at his proficiency in the Arabian, Persian, Hindoo, and Chinese philosophy.

"What is your name?" continued Ali.

"When I was born," replied the hunchback, "my mother was of opinion that I was so easily distinguishable as to require no name, thinking that people would soon enough separate the ram from the goats without tying a red ribbon round his neck."

"Are you a Mohammedan?" asked Ali, again.

"Mahomet could neither read nor write; I worship Mithra; to him I bow the knee, not to the rising in the east but to the setting in the west."

"Then you worship the sun?"

"The sun itself is cold, and produces warmth only when combined with the atmosphere of our earth. The fire has beautiful yellow locks and sparkling eyes, it vivifies every thing with its love, and burns most beautifully at night."

"Still I must call you by a name," said Ali.

"I am as diminutive, deformed, and ugly, as the renowned Lockman," said the slave, "and he was as shrewd and knew as much as I do. It was the same with AEsop. Many are of opinion that they are one and the same person; if this may be said of two it may also be applied to three. Call me Lockman, and believe in the metempsychosis. It is the cheapest belief, as it costs the creator least."

Ali knew not whether to smile or be angry at this frivolous joke. Indeed, he did not know whether he was joking; for every thing that Lockman (as we shall call the slave,) said, was mixed with a certain serious grimace which again frequently changed into sarcastic ridicule.

On the same evening Ali read aloud the following passage from Zoroaster's "Wisdom:"

"The power hath work'd from all eternity:
Two angels are its subjects--Virtue, Vice,
Of light and darkness mingled;--aye at war.
When Virtue conquers, doubled is the light;
When Vice prevails the black abyss is glad.
To the last day the struggle shall endure.
Then Virtue shall have joy, and Vice have pain,
And never more these enemies shall meet."

When Ali had read thus far, Lockman, who was still in the room, had so violent a bleeding at the nose that he was obliged to leave it, and Ali saw him no more that evening.

Early in the morning he was awakened by a singing which ascended from the garden. He opened the window and heard a hoarse, though well practised voice, sing the following words:

"Lovely spring returns again,
And his merry glance is warm,
And he sings a lively strain,
But the youth he cannot charm.

"Rosebuds all their fragrance shed,
But his heart they cannot move,
Seeking joys for ever fled,
Through the ruins he must rove.

"Does he dwell amid the flowers,
By some kindly beauty blest?
No; amid the ruin'd towers,
Where the screech owl builds her nest.

"No fair arms around him cling,
Ne'er he tastes a honied kiss;
Songs that ancient dreamers sing,
Those alone afford him bliss.

"Wake him from this sullen sleep,
Lovely spring thy pow'r display,
Or the youth too late will weep,
For the joys he flings away."[1]

Ali went into the garden, and found Lockman sitting under a tree with a guitar in his hand.

"Do you sing too?" asked Ali.

"If the screeching of an owl can be called singing," replied he, "I sing like the feathered songster of the grove."

"Your guitar has a pleasant sound."

"That it learned from a sheep when a wolf struck its claws into its entrails."

"What were you singing?"

"A poor song on a great subject composed by one of those poets who always entreat us to take the will for the deed. Do you wish to hear another?"

He sung again.

"Sure some madness it must be,
Thus the present hour to slight,
And to take thy sole delight
In the tales of memory.
Why shouldst thou thy time despise?
Why the past thus fondly prize?
Seek'st thou only what is gone?
Nay, what is't thou wouldst recall?
Dreamy pleasures--that is all;
Fit for puling babes alone.

"Nay, suppose this honor'd Past
Should return to thee at last,
Friend, thou soon wouldst say: 'The star
Shines more brightly when afar.'
When the Future's sunbeams glow,
Fancy paints a glittering bow;
O'er the cloudy Past 'tis spread,
Venture near, and it has fled.
In the centre thou shouldst be,
If thou wouldst the magic see."

From this time Ali, as usual, went frequently to Izaser's temple, attended by Lockman.

"Why do you always go this way?" he once asked Ali. "Are not the other suburbs also beautiful?"

"I do not know them as well as these," replied Ali. "This neighbourhood has been familiar to me from childhood; every step recalls to my memory some moment of my past life, and cannot, therefore, but be most dear to me."

When they were on the point of going out on the following day, Lockman had put off the handsome dress which Ali had given to him, and appeared again in his former tattered slave's coat.

"What is that?" asked Ali. "Why have you again put on those rags? Have I not given you a good, decent suit?"

"Forgive me, master," said he, "I am not so familiar with my new suit as with this: this has been familiar to me in my early life, every hole and every rent recalls to my memory some past moment, and therefore cannot but be extremely dear to me."

Ali understood him, and found that he was not altogether wrong. "Go back," said he, "and put on your new suit, and then I will go another way with you."

They went out at the opposite gate which brought them to another winding of the Tigris. Here they found many gardens surrounded by high walls, between which were beautiful avenues of trees, and stone benches for the repose of travellers. Ali sat down on one of these benches, and, having looked round for some time, sank as usual into a deep reverie. When he had awakened from it he was going to ask Lockman for something, but not seeing him, was obliged to call him several times. Upon which his slave appeared from a thick copse adjoining the wall.

"Come, Lockman," cried Ali, "I want you to tell me something."

"Such things cannot be told at all," replied the latter, with a sigh. "Do you wish to hear trite similes of rosy cheeks, ruby lips, pearly teeth, lily hands, bosoms like pomegranates covered with snow, eyebrows like rainbows? Come and see for yourself, for you will behold an incomparable beauty, who being a female is probably not always the same."

Ali approached the copse, where, through a hole in a wall, he could see into a beautiful garden, with splendid jets d'eau which fell into basins of marble. A lovely female form was sitting on the turf, and many other beautiful girls surrounded her as the paler lights of heaven surround the evening star. Her youth was in its highest splendour, and was adorned with those beautiful colours which are otherwise found only in the most dissimilar objects in nature, and which Lockman had named. But Ali perceived besides, a grace playing on her lips, and a spirit in her eyes such as we see neither in the lustre of rubies nor in that of diamonds. Innocence and infantine serenity animated her countenance; her movements were natural and easy, like those of a Zephyr; and from the affability which she showed to her attendants, Ali inferred the gentleness of her disposition. He stood enraptured in the contemplation of this beauty, believing that he beheld an angelic being. A deep red was suddenly suffused over his face, while, beckoning to his slave, he retired from the wall. He looked in again, and perceived that her slaves were undressing her. Her long hair already fell over her bare shoulders, and her white garment floated loosely round her beautiful bosom. Officious hands loosened the tight bodice, and from all the preparations it was evident that she was about to take a refreshing bath in the hour of evening.

"Master," cried Lockman, "in the name of Allah and the prophet, pray wait and continue watching."

Ali, incensed, took him by the collar and threw him backwards.

"Oh, you are not in your senses," cried the slave, vexed, as he followed him; "you shut your mouth close that you may not enjoy the manna in the wilderness which falls from heaven; you will not take a refreshing draught in the desert when it is offered. You are no Mussulman. A Mussulman loves sensual pleasure, the prophet has permitted it to us in this life, and promised it in the next."

"The prophet did not enjoin what he permitted," said Ali. "As the angel took out of his heart the black drops in which were concealed the seeds of evil, in the same manner also can the angel purify the heart of every man."

"You are no true Mussulman," said Lockman, "neither war nor sensual pleasure delight you."

"No," replied Ali, "they do not; but courage and love do."

"Go to the foggy Europe," cried Lockman; "you are no Asiatic; the prophet of Nazareth has misled you. Your virtue is not an active one, it is only abstinence; your life is but a continued preparation for death."

Ali broke off the conversation, and went away vexed, but soon forgot Lockman. The lovely maiden on the turf was still present to his imagination in all her beauty.

In anxious expectation he waited for the next evening, and went unattended by Lockman.

On first arriving he sat down, and meditated to whom this garden could possibly belong. He then walked several times up and down the avenue between the walls, and not seeing any one near, could not resist stopping by the hedge and looking through the hole into the garden. However he saw no one, for the garden was forsaken. On the turf, opposite the jet d'eau, lay a rose which he wished to possess. As he still stood gazing some one tapped him softly on the shoulder, upon which he looked around, and saw standing before him a middle-aged and affable woman, who asked him smiling,

"What are you looking after, young gentleman?"

Ali was embarrassed.

"You need not answer," said she. "Your little dwarf has been here this morning, and has settled every thing with me. My mistress is very anxious to see you."

And without waiting for an answer, she took Ali by the hand, and led him through an open garden door into a thick arbour where she left him.

The beautiful Gulhyndi came to meet him dressed in a fine black suit of satin with short sleeves, which enhanced the natural whiteness of her arms, hands, and neck. Her hair flowed in long tresses down her back; and a deep bodice set with precious stones encircled her slender waist.

"You will be surprised, sir," she said with natural freedom from embarrassment, "at being brought so suddenly before a young girl whom you do not know. I will at once free you from the state of uncertainty in which you might easily remain to my disadvantage. Know then that I have hazarded this step as the only means of becoming acquainted with a man of such excellent qualities, whose intellectual conversation I have long wished to enjoy. It is not for the first time that we see each other; indeed, we have known each other for a long time."

The fair one now took a long veil which concealed her face, leaving a small opening only for the eyes, walked a few paces up and down, and then asked him, "Do you know me thus?"

Ali started; it was his unknown friend of Izaser's temple.

"I am certain you now know me. My name is Gulhyndi. I have long known you, and better than you imagine. A pious dervish with whom I often conversed in the temple on holy things, frequently spoke of you; and I will not deny," she continued, blushing, "that your appearance seems to confirm me in what I have heard of you. My nurse, who is a Christian, has exerted a great influence upon my education. We poor Arab women are condemned to sit like prisoners in a cage without receiving instruction or any cultivation for our minds. But I can bear it no longer, and beseech you, noble young Mussulman, who surpass in sense and judgment so many of your age, not to make me repent a step which reason sanctions, although as a timid girl I must blush at it."

"Lovely stranger," said Ali, "I swear to you by Allah that I will strive to merit your confidence, and never to make myself unworthy of it."

"All depends upon our devising a disguise under which I may see you daily. Do you play an instrument?"

"I play the guitar," replied Ali.

"That is fortunate. My father has promised that I shall learn this instrument, and has given me permission to receive daily instruction from a Frank slave in the presence of my nurse. You must be this slave: will you not?"

"Lovely Gulhyndi," said Ali, "I am your slave already."

Gulhyndi blushed.

"You already act in character, you say sweet things to me, a fault with all Franks; in this respect we Orientals have the advantage over them, we tell the true feeling of our hearts plainly."

"So do I; I have not disguised my nature."

"This is a repetition," cried she, laughing; "I see you are more cunning than I thought; perhaps I have done wrong in reposing such confidence in you."

It was now agreed that Ali should procure a Frank dress, such as liberated slaves wore, and should come the next day with his guitar. Maria, the nurse, accompanied him to the door, entreating him to pardon Lockman, who, from zeal for his master, and without his orders, had that morning arranged the whole plan. The enraptured Ali promised it, and inquired of her who her mistress was.

"As you value your own happiness and hers," answered Maria, "ask me no questions. Be it sufficient for you to know that her name is Gulhyndi. She knows no more of you than that your name is Ali. The moment you know more than this of each other, all your joy will be turned to sadness."

Ali was forced to promise that he would not inquire further. He hastened to buy a beautiful guitar, and impatiently awaited the hour which should again reveal to him his earthly Paradise. It arrived. He entered the garden, and was led to the arbour as he had been the day before, though Maria did not go away, but remained at the entrance. Gulhyndi met him much more splendidly attired than on the previous day. According to the fashion of Persia, she appeared in a light gay velvet garment, which hung loosely around her body, and was not confined by a bodice. Her beautiful face was encircled with strings of genuine pearls and precious stones; on her fingers she wore diamonds set in silver, the Orientals not being permitted to wear gold rings. She had green stockings, which showed the symmetry of her ancles, and on her small feet were shoes embroidered with gold. Smiling, she said: "Do not think, dear Ali, that I have chosen this dress from vanity. My father, who loves pomp, has been with me, and I have not had time to change it as I expected. I will leave you for a moment, and will be with you immediately, for this attire is not sociable. I can scarcely turn my head with the weight of these jewels, nor move my fingers with these rings."

Having said these words, she went away, attended by Maria. Ali followed her with his eyes; and though he wished he might see her in a plain attire, which would rather display than conceal her graceful form, yet he could not refrain, as she went away, from exclaiming, with the poet; "How lovely is thy gait in shoes, thou daughter of princes! Thy cheeks are lovely with gems, and thy neck with chains. Thine eyes are as the eyes of doves, between thy tresses. Thy slender form is as that of the palm-tree, and thy bosom is like doves. Oh! my dove in the rock, show thy form again, and let me hear thy voice, for thy voice is sweet, and thy form is lovely!"

It was not long before she returned in her black dress. How much more beautiful did she look! On her partly veiled, swelling bosom, which dazzled the eyes of Ali by its whiteness, hung a ruby, which was blood-red with anger, at being surpassed by the redness of her lips. A lily of silver was entwined in her hair. She took the guitar, saying: "We must lose no time; you shall not bring it in vain; therefore, now teach me."

Ali obeyed, and taught her the touch of the strings. How did he tremble, when he had to touch her white hands and delicate fingers! She was as delighted as a child when she could play the first chord. "How much sometimes there is in the combination of the elementary sounds," she cried.

"Lovely Gulhyndi," said Ali, "the holy seven tones have the same heavenly relation, by nature, as the holy seven colours that beam to us from the rainbow. All we see and hear is nothing but a repetition, and the variation of these."

"Why, then, has the prophet forbidden music in the churches?" asked Gulhyndi.

"The human voice," replied he, "is the noblest instrument, and the most worthy of Omnipotence; the prophet considered it a duty that man should offer the best to God. We, fair Gulhyndi, will not despise the music of these chords in this earthly life, since it supports and elevates our human voice, and connects man with nature."

The sun was now setting, and cast its last gleam over the wall into the arbour. "Play and sing another song, as a farewell," said she. Ali sang as follows:

"My tuneful strings your music swell,
And sweetly tell
The feelings words can never tell aright.
Resound! In you my joys should be expressed.
Soften that breast,
And breathe to spring my transports of delight.

"Sing, as the nightingale from some dark tree
Pours melody;
And bear along my feelings on your wings;
And let my thoughts like some fair streamlet flow,
In evening's glow,
When to far lands its gentle sound it brings.

"The thoughts for which all language is too weak,
The lyre can speak;
Although love's fetters have the tongue confined.
When love has come, repose gives place to pain,
And words are vain.
Notes have no words--yet is their sense divined."

After this Ali had frequent opportunities of seeing Gulhyndi. Once finding her pale, and with her eyes red from weeping, he asked her with sympathy: "Lovely Gulhyndi, what ails you?"

"I will and must tell you, Ali," said she; "when you have heard me you will be convinced of the necessity I felt to seek your advice and confidence. I have told you already that my nurse is a Christian. She has endeavoured to convert me to the Christian faith; but the lessons which my mother gave me in my childhood have always closed my heart against her persuasions and proofs. Still she has often rendered me most uneasy; and though unsuccessful in these endeavours to convert me to her religion, has shaken my faith in ours. 'The prophet,' she says, 'excludes the female half of mankind from heaven; therefore, what are you striving for? In this life you need no supernatural assistance, and in the next it is denied you. But to go no farther than this life; what have you become through the cruel institution of Mahomet? Before your marriage you are a bird shut up in a cage, and when married, an unhappy wife, who shares the favours of a tyrant with a hundred others. Follow my advice, take your jewels and flee to Europe. My family is large and happy, my native country is extensive and beautiful; its women are much respected. Many youths will strive to please you; every one will esteem himself happy to obtain your hand. The Christian church will receive you in her bosom, and in the next life infinite mercy awaits you."

Gulhyndi was silent for a moment, to hear whether Ali would say any thing in reply. As he continued silent, contemplating her attentively with an affectionate look, she continued:

"I should not perhaps have been strong enough to withstand her persuasions had not a singular occurrence taken place to confirm me. During a sleepless night, when tormented with grief and anguish of conscience, I lay on my couch with my hands folded, and all at once fell into a sweet sleep, during which I dreamt I saw the ceiling of the room opening, and a charming fairy coming down to me on a rosy cloud, which filled the room with perfume. She appeared in an azure silk garment, over which hung a transparent crape, on which were wrought silver stars; on her head was a crown of diamonds, and her hands held a sceptre of emerald. She bent over my pillow, touched my temples with her sceptre, and said, 'Be of good cheer daughter, flee not, and deny not your faith. Virtue is a flower that blooms in every clime. Be firm without despairing. I promise you a youth who will love you alone and be faithful to you. He shall, like yourself, spring from the tribe of Ishmael, and dwell in your tents.' When she had said this she disappeared. I have often seen her after this, when I have been in trouble; but she has only floated down to me and contemplated me smiling for a moment, which, however, has always inspired me with fortitude for many days. For two months, however, I have not seen her, and Maria urges me daily. Thus I met you in this state of excitement. Oh, Ali! forsake not the timid roe which seeks shelter in your protection."

How was it possible for Ali to conceal his sentiments any longer?

"Gulhyndi," he cried, "the youth which the good fairy promised you, you have already found, if you will be satisfied with my love and fidelity."

"Ali," said she, trembling, "let not compassion for an unhappy being make you think you love her."

"I have not known before this day what love is," said he; "but if it be a feeling that supplants every other, and makes the beloved object its sole desire on earth, then I love you."

She could find no words in answer; her arms embraced the happy Ali, and in the first kiss he enjoyed the highest happiness.

"But," continued she, when she had in a measure recovered from the first transport, "you still must flee, Ali, you must leave your country if you love me. Oh, Allah, how could I expect this from thee," she exclaimed, with a sigh; "no, no, I shall act against the warning of my good fairy. She promised me a lover with whom I should not be compelled to flee, who should dwell with me in my tents. Alas, Ali, this is impossible with you, and without you the world has no joys for me."

"Be of good cheer, beloved Gulhyndi, my father is a wealthy and respected man; I do not know yours, but he cannot have any objection to our union if the wealthy Ibrahim solicits you for his son, and grants him the dowry."

He had scarcely uttered these words, when the terrified Maria came running to them, and crying: "For Heaven's sake, children, compose yourselves as you value your life. Your father is coming," she said to Gulhyndi; "play, play," she said, to Ali.

He took the guitar and had scarcely played a few notes, when Hussain Cadi entered the arbour. Ali's terror may easily be conceived. His hand almost dropped the guitar so greatly was he embarrassed.

Hussain looked at him attentively. "Is this the Greek slave, daughter," he asked, "whom your nurse procured to instruct you in music?"

"Yes, father," replied Gulhyndi, trembling.

"You are agitated, you have been weeping, what is the meaning of all this?"

"Father, he has sung to me an air which has affected me deeply."

"Ah! does he so well understand the art of moving your feelings?" asked Hussain. "Play, you Christian dog," said he, turning to Ali, "move me, also, for once."

"Pardon your slave, sir," said Ali, "feelings cannot be forced; if this sweet art is to produce its effect, the mind must be favourably attuned before hand."

"Then I suppose you understand how to effect this?" asked Hussain, looking at Ali with a searching glance.

Ali was silent.

"Are you a freed slave? Who was your master in Bagdad before?"

In answer to this Ali mentioned a name.

"You seem to me to be rather an Arab than a Frank," said Hussain, very emphatically.

As Ali was going to reply, Hussain suddenly exclaimed, "Yes, it is he, I know the hateful countenance, I know the detestable features." Pale with fury he put his hands to his side, but did not find his sword. "Wait a moment," he said, with affected indifference, "I shall be here again instantly."

Leaving the arbour hastily, he clapped his hands to summon a slave; but none appearing, he hurried to the house. Ali and Gulhyndi were now in the utmost despair.

"Come, my beloved," she said, as she embraced Ali, "only through the heart of his daughter shall his sword find its way to yours."

"That would not be a very strong shield," cried a hoarse voice, from the wall; "come, master, save your life, and own the fidelity of your servant."

Ali cast his eyes upwards and saw Lockman sitting astride on the wall, with a rope ladder which he quickly lowered. He embraced his beloved, and availed himself of this mode of rescue, which came as if sent by Heaven. He was soon on the other side of the wall with Lockman, who, with singular speed, took him round the corner and concealed him in a thick hedge. As soon as night came on he hastened home, attended by Lockman, and thanked him for his marked fidelity and his intrepid courage.

The first thing he now did was to speak to his father and confide his secret to him. He said, at length, "As you love your son, conquer your hatred against Hussain, go with me to him, solicit the hand of his daughter for me, and offer your hand to him in reconciliation."

"Is this possible, my son?" said Ibrahim. "Can love so far carry you away that it makes you forget what you owe to your father? You ask of me to degrade myself for the sake of your passion?"

"Is it degrading to reconcile oneself with one's enemy?" asked Ali.

"I did once make a step towards a reconciliation," replied Ibrahim, "which was contemptuously spurned, and I have sworn by the Omnipotent Allah that as sure as the gold cloth was torn, so surely shall Hussain be for ever torn from my heart. Compose yourself, my son, conquer your passion; there are pretty girls enough in Bagdad besides her. I am rich and can buy the most beautiful slaves for you; but never think of an alliance with the blood of Hussain; it would be an union against nature, and the day of your union would be the day of your father's death."

All the entreaties and persuasions of Ali were of no avail with his father; the otherwise mild Ibrahim was incensed against his son to a degree that had never been known before, and, turning his back upon him, he said, "Be silent and forget your folly if you do not wish, me to curse the moment in which your mother brought you into the world. He who loves Hussain's daughter cannot love me, and I must look upon him as an enemy who intends evil against me."

Ali was now left alone in despair. Soon, however, Lockman made his appearance, and asked him, "Why are you so dejected?"

"Fate will deprive me of my earthly bliss," replied Ali.

"When did fate ever do so?" rejoined Lockman, "that must have happened in a moment when I was not present."

"Begone," cried Ali, "am I not unhappy enough without your mockery aggravating my grief?"

"I come not only with mockery," said Lockman, "but sometimes with rope ladders."

"Pardon me," said Ali, "grief made me forget your kindness."

"Well," replied Lockman, "I forgive every thing but awkwardness."

"And what remedy is there for me?"

"Nothing easier than to find the remedy for you, provided you will make use of it."

Ali looked at him amazed.

"Have you then forgotten the caliph entirely? His favour, and what he told you at the time?" asked Lockman.

A ray of hope now darted through Ali's desponding mind.

"Go to the caliph," continued Lockman, "confess all to him; he will be amused, nay, rejoiced, for it will flatter him to find that you have been at last caught in the net of love. You have before now found favour in his sight; he will laugh at your love intrigue and give his orders; one word from him will be the foundation of your happiness."

Ali was delighted, but his joy shortly left him after a closer examination of Lockman's advice. He thought of the wrath of Hussain, his vindictive disposition, and said to himself: "If I am to go I must go at once, to-morrow it will be too late; he is spiteful, he is cadi, and has the power to put his evil designs into execution."

"Then go this very evening," said Lockman.

Ali wrapt himself in his cloak and went. The evening was already advanced, but the weather was fine and the moon shone. When he arrived at the palace he saw that it was splendidly lighted up, and he heard music. "Ah," he said, with anxious heart, "the caliph is celebrating a festival to-night; there is no hope of my being admitted, and to-morrow it will be too late."

His fears were confirmed by the words of the porters, who told him that the caliph would speak to no one so late, and that he must return the next day. One of them, however, said: "What can this stranger have to say to the caliph? Why is he wrapt up in a large cloak, and why does he come at this hour of the night? Confusion is in his face. Might he not be a traitor who intends to murder the caliph in a private interview? I think it will be most advisable to bring him to the cadi that he may guard him for the night in his house. To-morrow he can be released again if found innocent."

Several of the others agreed to this proposal, saying: "It is not the first time that such an attempt has been made against the caliph's life. The caliph is too noble-minded to have any suspicion; but it is the duty of his servants to watch over his safety."

The terror of Ali may easily be conceived when one of the guard laid hands on him to conduct him to Hussain. In his alarm he threw back his cloak, and cried: "I am Ali the son of Ibrahim! the caliph knows me and has shown me distinguished favour. I have to communicate things of importance, and you will incur his highest displeasure if you treat a peaceful citizen like a base vagabond."

Fortunately for Ali one of the guard knew him; and persuaded the others to release him, assuring him that it was impossible to speak to the caliph that night, and that he must return the following day.

Ali, in this state of uncertainty, walked a long time up and down the street. He had been denied an appeal to his only deliverer; he was unwilling to return to the house of his incensed father without having effected his purpose; and from the enraged cadi he had to fear the worst. Deeply distressed, he sat down on a bench on the banks of the Tigris.

He had not been there long before he perceived three old dervishes coming slowly up the street. They saluted him, but he scarcely noticed it. One of them came up to him and sat down next to him, whilst the others pursued their way.

"Let it not displease you, sir," said the old man, "that I address you without knowing you,--but if one has no acquaintance one must try to make some. We are dervishes, and are coming from Basra in order to speak to the caliph on matters of consequence. Unfortunately we arrived here too late. He celebrates a festival for a new slave whom he has received into his harem: and we were obliged to quit the palace without succeeding in our object. We had hoped to be allowed to sleep quietly in the outer court of the palace until to-morrow; but this hospitality is no longer permitted, as they fear the safety of the caliph might be endangered. We have already been walking about for more than an hour to find accommodation in an inn. I am the oldest, and am most weary,--permit me, therefore, to rest myself at your side; my companions will perhaps be more successful in their search."

"I regret," said Ali, "that this evening I am disposed to any thing rather than to entertaining people by my conversation. But if you will go to my father's house (telling him at the same time where he resided) he will receive you hospitably, and will feel pleasure in entertaining you during your stay in Bagdad. Come with me and I will show you the way. It is, moreover, not safe for us to loiter any longer about the streets, for the constables of the cadi have orders to arrest every one whom they meet after a certain hour."

"Why, we have nothing to fear from them to night," replied the dervish, "as they are making merry at the cadi's expense, in consequence of the great fortune which his daughter has met."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Ali.

"Why," replied he, "have you not heard that she has been given to the caliph, and that the festival is celebrated on her account? If the love she has kindled in the caliph, when he saw her for the first time, is of lasting duration, she may entertain the hope of becoming one of his most favourite wives."

"Impossible!" cried Ali.

"It is quite true," said the dervish.

"Then," exclaimed Ali, "I must speak to the caliph. He must restore her to me! I will strike down the guards if they offer to prevent my entrance. I will murder the caliph, and then her and myself----"

"Young man, you are mad! Would you murder the Commander of the Faithful? The mere utterance of such a design is high treason."

"I go," cried Ali, half frantic, "I can die with Gulhyndi, but not survive her dishonour and my own."

"What dishonour?" asked the dervish. "Can it be any thing but the highest honour for her to rest in the arms of Haroun al Raschid?"

"Heaven and earth!" said Ali, as he attempted to go.

"Wait an instant," said the old man, "and compose yourself. Is it possible," he continued, "that the same city can contain two men of such opposite temperaments? Love has changed you to a blood-thirsty tiger, and a youth named Ali is said to live here who is a pattern of such a cool nature, that his fame has reached us even at Basra."

"I am this very Ali!" cried the unfortunate youth.

"You Ali? Impossible! Ali is wise."

"The highest wisdom is love," said Ali; "but why do I tarry here, and waste my time upon you, while--ah?----"

He was going to tear himself away from the old man and hasten to the palace, but the dervish said, "As you are in such great haste, I will detain you only long enough to listen to one word of reason, if your agitated feelings will allow you. You have offered us a night's lodging without knowing us, and thereby laid us under some obligation, and as it is, moreover, the duty of men of our pious order to assist believers as far as we can, follow my advice and come with us, and we will bring you before the caliph. My companions are approaching and will go with us. Your purpose of striking down the guards is sheer madness, and you will repent it if you reflect a moment. In order to be admitted, we must say we come on important business from the governor of Basra. Once in the caliph's presence, we will, as ministers of religion and virtue, throw ourselves at his feet and solicit your betrothed from him. Perhaps we may move him,--perhaps he will be touched by your situation, and if he is not, then there is still time enough for you to act as despair prompts you." Ali thanked the good dervish for his offer. The other two were soon informed of the plan, and immediately assented to it as the best arrangement, though they had some difficulty in persuading Ali, who, notwithstanding the distracted state of his mind, perceived to what danger they exposed themselves on his account.

Arrived at the palace, they found but little difficulty in obtaining admittance; a few words to the guards procured them a ready entrance, and much respect was shown to the eldest. They were led through several apartments into a magnificent saloon, which was lighted with innumerable wax tapers. In the back ground stood the caliph's throne, and a great number of young girls afforded amusement by music and dancing. Ali, however, could discern neither the caliph nor Gulhyndi; and turning to the old dervish, with his face quite pale, he asked, "Where are they?"

"The caliph has probably retired to his own apartment with his young bride," replied he. "Alas! poor Ali, we have come too late."

Ali shuddered, when the dervish began to break out into loud laughter, and throwing off his cap and cloak, stood before him in princely splendour as Haroun al Raschid. "Wise Ali," he cried, "must I see you again in a situation where you are not a hair's breadth wiser than the caliph?" So saying, he took him by the hand and led him to an adjoining apartment, where he was received by Gulhyndi. "Accept your bride from my hands," said the caliph; "she is yours, and I renounce all my claims to her. But I will not proceed in an arbitrary manner in this affair; I have sent for your parents, and trust to obtain their consent." He had scarcely uttered these words, when Hussain and Ibrahim were brought in. "Hussain!" said the caliph, sternly, "I have reason to be very angry with you. You have not offered me your daughter on my own account, you have employed me as an instrument to wreak your revenge. You have sacrificed this poor girl to prevent Ali's union with her; she would be unhappy, had not despair inspired her with courage to disclose all to me. Give your consent, as that is the only way by which you can be restored to my favour."

"Commander of the Faithful!" replied Hussain, "yours is the power, but you are good and just, and you will not abuse it. From the moment when I discovered that my daughter would be beautiful, I formed the resolution that she should belong to you or none. I was obliged thus suddenly to put this resolution into effect by this youth, the son of my deadly enemy, who has not solicited my daughter from me, but has cunningly crept into my house in order to seduce her. That I give to you what I thought too good for every one else cannot surely displease you. You are the father of your people, and you will not punish with your displeasure your slave, who in his trouble, flies to you for refuge."

"I know all," said the caliph; "use no shifts. You and Ibrahim shall become friends again, and render your children happy;--such is my will."

"This alliance," replied Hussain, "would be my greatest misfortune, and death more welcome. I entreat you, sire, if I have shown any fidelity and zeal towards you during my long service; reward them by allowing me the authority of a father; do not deprive me of the power over the fate of my child."

"She cannot be mine," cried Al Raschid.

"Then," said Hussain, "my misfortune is great; permit me and my daughter to go home, and mourn the loss of your favour in sackcloth and ashes."

"And you, Ibrahim," said the caliph, turning to him, "will you not advance a step towards the happiness of your child?"

"Commander of the Faithful," said Ibrahim, "I do not think that a man is made more unhappy by not obtaining a woman upon whom he has set his heart, perhaps only for a moment. If it were so, I ought to be very unhappy, for Hussain is the very man who once robbed me of my betrothed, and with her the hope of my youth. I trust my son will be contented to share the fate of his father, and to suffer what I have suffered--a grief which I know, from experience, does not endure long, and for which the world affords us sufficient compensation."

The blood came into Al Raschid's face, and a fire flashed from his eyes, which usually was the forerunner of sudden wrath; still he restrained himself. "Is it your unalterable resolution," he asked, "to conspire against the happiness of this young man, and against my will?"

Both parents perceived the emotion of the caliph's mind. Hussain continued calm, but Ibrahim turned pale, and threw himself at the caliph's feet, exclaiming: "I am your slave, your pleasure be done! You are wise, and you act as the successor of the Prophet, as the guardian angel of religion and the people. I give my consent." "My son," he thought within himself, "may take several wives; he may repudiate her whom he took first; I shall not lose so much as Hussain, and be no nearer to him than formerly."

Hussain contemplated him, smiling, with a chilling and contemptuous expression.

"And what do you say, Hussain?" asked the caliph.

"Commander of the Faithful, your will be done. To-morrow I will celebrate the nuptials of my daughter; but you will permit me to take her home with me to-night. Ali's betrothed must not pass the night in the harem of the caliph."

"Take her; but your life shall answer for her."

"I answer for her with my life," said Hussain, with composure; and taking his daughter by her hand, he retired.

"Oh! let him not go hence!" exclaimed Ali. "Gulhyndi, my beloved!"

She turned round, and looked at Ali with a sorrowful smile, and then went away with her father. The caliph consoled Ali, who went home with Ibrahim, in the greatest despair.

When Hussain arrived home, he ordered his daughter to go to bed immediately, that she might rise with the early dawn, bathe, perform her devotions, and prepare for a long journey which they would make together. Poor Gulhyndi passed the night in the greatest affliction, being convinced that her father had arranged every thing for flight, and that she had seen Ali for the last time.

Early the next morning Hussain entered her chamber, and seeing her on her knees in fervent prayer, retired until she had finished; he then ordered Maria to go to her room. He now said to his daughter: "I was delighted to see you praying so fervently. I doubt not but that Allah will forgive the sins that you have committed in this world against your father and your honour. All is now over in this world. My enemy has triumphed; he has won the heart of the caliph, and Haroun al Raschid will use his power, and have me executed if I do not comply with his wish. As ever since I commenced life, honour always had a higher worth than life itself, I now much prefer death to disgrace. But I will not quit this world until I have deprived you of the possibility of degrading me after my death, by a shameful alliance with the son of my worst enemy. The prophet has given every Mussulman the right of chastising his children, and has made him the master of their lives. As a wise guardian, who sees that the flower which he has carefully cultivated will, in time, be destroyed by worms, so do I pluck you, fair bud, that you may not wither disgracefully. I take you with me to the everlasting habitations, and hope to answer there for this act with a good conscience. Praised be Allah, the Lord of the creation, the Judge of the last day, the most merciful Being!"

With these words he took a dagger from his bosom, and plunged it into the heart of the beautiful Gulhyndi. For an instant he held his daughter, who was now pale in his arms, looked at her, and then laid her gently on the ground. He now took a blue silk cord, put it round his neck, drew it tight without trembling, and thus voluntarily cut short his days, faithful to his pride and implacability.

The following morning the caliph went for Hussain and Gulhyndi; only their corpses were found. Ali shed many tears on the pale face of his Gulhyndi, but they could not wake her. It being a custom with the Mohammedans to bury their dead three hours after their decease, Hussain and his daughter were deposited immediately in a burial vault outside of the city, whither Ali followed his beloved. When all had retired, he alone continued sitting in the burying-ground, on her tomb. In the clear night, when the moon illumined the tomb, he said, after a deep silence: "I must see her once more; the sacred moon shall once more shine upon her in my arms, before her beautiful body is reduced to dust." As he said these words, he saw something moving in the high grass between the graves. In hopes that it was the grave-digger, he went near, to ask him to lift the stone from the tomb. On approaching quite close, he discovered that it was Lockman, and shuddered at meeting this little monster on so sacred a spot. By the pale moonlight he appeared to him more hideous and fiend-like than formerly. "What are you doing here?" he asked him.

"I assist my master, as I am ever wont to do."

"I no longer want your assistance; you are the cause of her misfortune and her death; you seduced me to see her; without me she would still live and be happy."

"Would you rather wish never to have seen her?"

"Go call the grave-digger, and then go home."

"The grave-digger is from home; I know what you want, and can afford you better assistance than he."

"You shall not move the stone from the grave."

"That would be of little use, for she is not in it."

"She is with Allah, but her body is there. I have myself lowered the coffin into the vault, and have never since left the spot."

"Where her body is, there she also is," said Lockman; "but neither of them is in the vault."

Having said these words, he picked up a human bone from the ground, and knocked with it gently three times on the stone, which moved of its own accord. "Now look in," said he.

Ali looked, and saw Gulhyndi's and Hussain's coffins standing open and empty. "Heaven! what is this?" cried Ali, rending his clothes in despair.

"Gulhyndi is not dead," said Lockman; "she lives, and still lives for you; if you wish to see her, go some night across the desert. Rest yourself near the spring of Ali Haymmamy, and then go towards the ruins of Babylon; towards the west there is a large grotto of marble; at its entrance you will find me ready to conduct you to your beloved. Banish fear from your heart, and harbour no unworthy suspicion towards your friend and protector."

When Lockman had thus spoken, he went away and disappeared among the graves, a few pale blue ignes fatui alone marking the way which he went. Ali, who followed him with his eye, started up as from a frightful dream, scarcely knowing what to think of all that had happened. The moon cast her pale light on the tomb enclosing the coffins; a heavy dew had fallen on the grass, and grasshoppers were chirping on its moist blades.


In the centre of Upper Asia, the most ancient, and, at the same time the least known country in the world, is a high table-land, across which runs a chain of lofty rocky mountains. Its soil consists of coarse sand and gravel, in which, however, are often found the most beautiful precious stones. Here and there is found, during the summer-season, patches of rich pasture to which the Mongols bring their cattle. Over its greatest extent it is quite barren, without either tree or shrub, although in some places springs are gushing forth which soon run off in the stony ground. The elevated basins in the snow-capped mountains are reservoirs from which innumerable small rivulets flow down in every direction through the crevices, and form the mighty rivers of Asia.

Large heaps of stones are piled up at short distances, pointing out the way to the caravans, and near them wells are dug out for their refreshment in the burning heat. Besides these are found many salt lakes among these mountains, which, viewed from a distance, have a reddish appearance. The wild horse Dscheggetai is seen running about in herds. In its slight make it resembles the mule; and with its slim stag-like neck, and its beautiful cream colour, it rushes across the desert like clouds of drifted sand. All the domestic animals of Europe, the dog, cat, ox, rein-deer, and horse, here rove in their primitive wildness, at war with the still wilder and untamed lions, tigers, panthers, and the horrible serpents who dwell in the clefts and creep forth in the darkness of night. Here and there the diggers of rhubarb have built their huts on some rocky fastness under the green cedars, and are the only human beings who are met in this wild scene.

In these immense unknown regions there are parts surrounded by chains of lofty mountains, where beautiful nature still blooms in a paradisaical youthfulness, which no mortal eye ever yet has seen.

Here the spirits live in all their natural grandeur, as in the first days of creation before Allah had formed man. They choose their abode according to their several dispositions; the evil spirits, whose nature is malicious, and whose deeds are destructive, haunt, for the most part, the wildest and most barren spots, living in dark damp caverns deep below the earth, and bestride at night the pestilential winds to visit the men on the fertile southern coasts of Asia. The good spirits live in cool grottoes in the beautiful and fertile parts near springs, and often with the morning dawn soar through the air to Arabia, Persia, and India, to refresh and accompany those men who render themselves worthy of their assistance. The Eastern nations call this unknown wonderful land Ginistan; and though knowing it to be on the earth, they yet think it inaccessible, and separate it from all the inhabited countries of the globe.

In one of these beautiful grottoes, where clear crystals forced themselves like icicles through stones glittering with ore, the lovely Gulhyndi for the first time reopened her eyes, being roused by a rippling spring in the back ground, which gushed down into a basin of polished jasper. The limpid stream served her as a mirror when she awoke, and there she saw herself reflected in the most charming morning-dress. After having contemplated herself for a moment, she uttered a sigh of wonder: all around her became animated. From the streamlet rose nymphs with rushes in their hair, the water still flowing from their snowy bosoms; in their hands they had instruments which they held against the rippling of the stream, and these struck the cords and produced wonderful sounds. In the trees hung beautiful boys with wings of splendid colours; their golden locks flowed from their heads like foliage, and a glow like that of the rising sun beamed from their rosy cheeks. From the clefts in the rocks fantastic figures stretched forth their faces, pale, mournful faces, with crowns of gold and precious stones on their heads, holding silver gongs in their hands, on which were suspended silver bells, which they struck. Gulhyndi's astonishment was at its height, when she heard these singular creatures sing the following words:

"Mountains, rivers, breezes fleet,
Greet thee, sweet.
Greet thee in the dew drop's bright,
Queen of light.
The night has lull'd the rose's child,
Soft and mild,
Has she wrapp'd it in her veil,
But its leaves are opened all
When sunbeams fall
Warmly at morn into the vale.
And thy fate has been the same.
Thy soft frame
Died away in slumber deep.
Soon has sleep
Colour'd thy fair cheeks again.
The wild bird's strain
Wakes thee from thy sweet repose.
In the fresh-blooming lap of nature
Thou hast gained new charms, fair creature,
Like the rose."

Then these fantastic forms vanished again, and she heard the spring ripple, as before the rustling of the trees, and the echoes through the vaults of the cavern. Soon a troop of girls dressed in white came into the grotto, spread a carpet, and put upon it the most exquisite viands, placed two cushions, one for her, and another for a second person, and then bowed and said, "Your guardian angel is coming."

Gulhyndi had scarcely recovered from her astonishment, than, amidst a train of singing and dancing creatures, a handsome youth entered, dressed far more splendidly than the Caliph of Bagdad himself. A mantle of the finest purple hung down from his shoulders, the rest of his attire was of snow-white silk, and he had a crown of glittering rubies on his head. He sat down, and asked Gulhyndi to do the same. When the dancers and singers had retired, he said, "Gulhyndi is now in the bliss of Paradise."

She was silent and trembled. The splendid king begun to take some of the meats that were served up, and said, after a short silence, "Gulhyndi is in the abode of enjoyment, let her enjoy without fear."

Upon this she rose and fell down at his feet, saying, "Powerful being, I cannot enjoy any thing; my enjoyments were few when I was living, they are still less now that a superior power has placed me in your Eden. Give me back my Ali when he has ended his days; until then my dreams within these sacred shades shall recall to me the past and prepare me for a blissful eternity."

"Am I less ethereal than you?" said the young king, "and do I not participate in these things? Take one of these fruits, its juice is heavenly, its enjoyment spiritual."

Gulhyndi bowed low, but found it impossible to accept the fruit he offered her; for, notwithstanding his beauty, there was something in his features that inspired her with terror and warned her not to accept it.

At this he smiled and rose, saying, as he retired: "This earthly nature must be purified."

Gulhyndi was alone all day. She went out of the grotto to walk about in the beautiful country around. Towards sunset she was tormented with hunger and said to herself: "Can one really feel such an earthly appetite in a state of bliss? But, alas! I am not in a state of bliss; I feel as earthly as I did before; deep melancholy and yearning are gnawing my heart." As she said these words her eyes glanced at a bread tree which overhung a fountain. It looked so innoxious that she plucked some fruit, ate it, took some water in the hollow of her hands and drank. She felt herself refreshed and invigorated by her scanty repast, and her heart felt lighter. The setting sun shone kindly on her through the deep clefts of the snow-capped mountains that bounded the horizon, as he cast his beams on the gold leaved shrub, called Dsaac, which bloomed on the brink. Flying fish moved their silver fins in his last rays. Gulhyndi walked peacefully back to her grotto amid the evening song of the twittering birds. A sweet slumber soon came over her as she reclined on her couch, during which a pleasant dream showed her her beloved Ali.

For some days she repeated her walk, and at evening returned to her grotto. The young king came daily with increased pomp; he spoke kindly to Gulhyndi, had dances and music performed, and sang himself, whilst his eyes tenderly contemplated her charms. She continued taciturn and reserved; she touched none of the dainties that were placed before her, and opened neither her ear nor her heart to his singing. He always smiled when he departed and said: "The earthly nature must be purified."

Gulhyndi was delighted when he was gone, for she could then wander about in the delightful and verdant region. Oh, how much did she wish that her Ali was with her! The beauties of nature were here greater than imagination could conceive. Among the many variegated birds she was particularly pleased with a pheasant of the Argus species; she tamed him in the few first days; he walked by her side, stood before her in the sun, with his yellow body and black spots on his wings; his head and neck were red, and the former was adorned by a blue crest. When she stroked him he spread out his long wings with orange feathers like a fan, which glittered with large oval eyes. In the fresh green meadows she found a quantity of the fine plant called ginseng, which the eastern nations so highly esteem, because it cures all diseases. She had no doubt that she was in Paradise; but for the angel, as he was called, she could feel no affection, having, on the contrary, a dislike to him. He seemed to be a sensual spirit, and though so handsome she thought she discovered features which reminded her of a man of hideous appearance whom she had seen once or twice in her life, namely, Lockman, Ali's slave. Once while she was walking across a field leading to a forest, a dreadful tiger came running towards her with open jaws; he stopped on coming quite close, couched down and stared at her, as if he were going to pounce on her and tear her to pieces. At first Gulhyndi was terrified, but soon recovered herself. At this moment the young king, returning from hunting amid the sounds of bugles, approached, and seeing the tiger in this menacing attitude before her, hastened to kill him with his spear. "I have saved your life, fair maiden," said he.

"Impossible, sir," she replied; "my earthly life, as you have before told me, I have lost already, and my eternal life I can obtain only by a good conscience, and lose only by sinful thoughts, from which may Allah preserve me!"

"I appreciate your courage and sagacity," said the young king, vexed, and he left her in anger.

After several days had passed, and Gulhyndi still continued the same, the young king said, "It is my duty, fair Gulhyndi, to show you what you do not desire to see. You are lavishing your affections on an unworthy mortal, and thereby render yourself unfit for joys of a higher order. Are you desirous of seeing your Ali once more?"

"Oh!" cried she, "favour me with this blessed sight, and you shall reap my eternal gratitude."

"You shall see him this very night in your grotto," replied he.

In the evening, shortly after sunset, while the moon shed her beams on the grotto, he came again, dressed as when she first saw him, in his purple mantle, and with a crown of rubies on his head, which sparkled brightly in the moon's rays. "Look into the depth of the cavern while all is dark," he said, "but take care not to look at me during the appearance of the apparition, otherwise all will suddenly vanish."

He now waved his wand, and Gulhyndi saw through a bright opening, her Ali in the deep recess, in the arms of a beautiful young girl, and she heard him say, "Fair Zulima! can you love me: Gulhyndi is dead, and my love has expired with her." On hearing these words Gulhyndi grew pale, but recovering herself suddenly, and remembering the warning of the young king, she turned her head quickly, without being observed, and now beheld by her side, instead of the beautiful youth, Lockman, with his hideous humps, squinting eyes, and cock's feathers, on his pointed hat. He no sooner perceived that she was looking at him, than the apparition disappeared, and he again stood before her in his former beauty.

"Holy Allah! Mighty prophet!" exclaimed she, falling on her knees and extending her white arms towards the moon, "save me from this fiend! Remove this seducer who harasses me!" As she uttered these words the young king vanished, and her faithful Argus came in and sat down at her side. The birds were singing in the bushes; the fountain, which had ceased flowing, again murmured, and Gulhyndi fell into a sweet slumber, during which a dream showed her Ali, with his hand on his heart, saying, "I am faithful." From this time she saw the young king no more. She lived on the roots of the earth, the fruit of the trees, and drank from the fountain. No nymph or other creature appeared again. Her heart being tranquilised, hope revived again in her soul, and she bloomed like the rose in the valley. She tamed many pretty animals, and lived among them like a shepherdess, praying night and morning to Allah, that he might show her Ali, who appeared nightly, in her most pleasing dreams.

While the fair Gulhyndi thus lived happily, her father, on awaking, found himself in a condition quite the reverse of hers. When he opened his eyes, he was stretched on a barren rock, under a burning sun, and with the cord still round his neck. Stung by an innumerable quantity of gnats and flies, that were buzzing round him, he sprung up, and with all the torments of a parching thirst, which allowed him no time for reflection, he ran about seeking a spring to refresh himself, but found none--not even a tree was nigh to cast a shade in which he might repose. Just as he was falling senseless to the ground, he discovered a cavern, which, by the rays of the sun shining into it, he found was spacious.

Further in the back ground some rays of light fell in through an aperture. Hussain entered, and found a table cut out in the rock. A stone near it served as a chair, a wooden goblet stood on it, and close by a fountain was bubbling. The first thing he did was to take the goblet and run to the fountain in order to fill it and drink. He filled it a second time, but finding it too cool in the shady cavern, and apprehensive of producing a fever, he took the goblet, sat down at the entrance of the cavern in the sun, and slowly emptied its contents. While doing this, it seemed as if something was moving at the bottom of the goblet, and on looking in he discovered a black leech writhing. Disgusted, he threw from him the goblet, the contents of which caused vomiting, and he fell fainting on the ground.

He was roused by a violent shaking. Opening his eyes, he saw a little deformed figure standing before him with a hump on his chest and back, with squinting eyes, and with a nose that hung over his mouth like a bunch of purple grapes. His clothes were black, and he wore a miner's apron, having on his head a black cap, upon which appeared a death's head and cross bones. In his hand he held a miner's hammer. "What are you doing here?" asked the monster, "Who gave you permission to enter my cavern, to cast my goblet in the sand, and to sleep on my ground?"

"Pardon me, sir," replied Hussain; "I am a poor unhappy wretch, and know not how I am come hither. I was once Cadi of Bagdad, thus much I recollect; I had a beautiful daughter, who was to be married to the son of my enemy, but I would not give my consent. What took place further is concealed from my memory as if by a mist."

"You have come here without my permission," said the little miner; "you have cast my goblet into the dust; you would not allow your daughter to marry; all this deserves punishment."

He now took poor Hussain by the hand, and led him into a cavern, where the icy cold water incessantly poured into the abyss below, like a shower bath, through innumerable holes. Hussain was obliged to stand on a narrow piece of rock, where, in spite of a shivering fit of ague, he dared not move lest he should fall into the well beneath. When he had thus stood for a long time, the miner led him out and threw him on the sand, under the burning sun, where he could not move. "This will teach you not to throw my cup on the ground again, not to sleep again in my cavern without my permission, and not to forbid again the marriage of your daughter," said the dwarf. He then filled the goblet with water, took a piece of black bread from a recess in the rock, and put both before Hussain, saying, "Eat, drink, and be my slave, but do not venture twenty paces from the cavern; rest yourself that you may be strong for work on my return."

When he was gone, Hussain took the bread which hunger made him relish, notwithstanding it was very bad. As he took the goblet and again saw the leech in it, he was near despair, put it down again, but unable to resist any longer, he seized it and drank, as tormenting thirst at last overcame his loathing. He had no sooner drank than the leech fastened on his lip and bit him so sharply that he fell on the ground senseless. Being aroused again by shaking, the little miner stood before him, crying, "Have you thrown my goblet to the ground a second time?"

Hussain trembled, but made no reply.

"For this time it may pass. Follow me," said the monster.

Hussain was obliged to follow him further into the desert, when the little man said, "I want to find gold and precious stones for my crowns; but you are as yet too weak and ignorant to work in my mines: I have, therefore, for the present, destined you for some light work. You shall seek gold and precious stones on the desert. Every evening you must bring me at least three good stones, and one ounce and a half of gold; if you fail to do so, you may reckon upon punishment for your idleness."

What a task for the unfortunate Hussain! He was obliged to walk the whole day on the dry sand, and search under a scorching sun. He could but rarely satisfy his cruel master, who generally punished him by hunger and thirst, and the terrible icy cold bath. His food consisted of mouldy bread, some fruits, and water out of the loathsome goblet; but he was already so accustomed to the leech, that he was no longer disgusted with it, making it rather his sole friend and companion. When his hands were swollen from his long search between sharp stones, and his feet with walking on them, he applied the leech to the blisters, which mitigated his pains by sucking the inflamed blood. Thus he lived for a long time. His pride and haughtiness, which in former days had caused his daughter and himself so much sorrow, were gradually forgotten; only his hatred and abhorrence for Ibrahim was still felt, as though he were the cause of his misery.

But it is now time to return to Ali and see what in the meanwhile has happened to him. The first weeks of his disconsolate state had passed; despair had exhausted itself; and hope began to revive him by pleasing anticipations, reminding him daily of Lockman as the sole sheet-anchor of his happiness. He indeed at first shuddered at the idea of resorting to an evil spirit, but afterwards said within himself, "Is it then really certain that he is evil? What has he done to prove him malignant? Near Ali Haymmamy's fountain in the desert I have seen nothing but what is in the natural order of things. Lockman has served me with his knowledge; he has endeavoured to withdraw me from solitude; has procured me the pleasure of seeing my beloved; has saved my life from the wrath of her father, and inspired me with hope when all hope had fled. That he is hideous, that there is something repulsive in his features; that blue flames flash from the earth where he treads--what does all this signify? If he is a spirit, it must be easy for him to assume what appearance he likes on earth. If he were a subtle spirit he would show himself in the most captivating form of temptation. But he despises this. Certainly he is one of those capricious beings, who exert their influence on human life, and make men happy or miserable as they please. He has favoured me, and it would be folly without parallel not to avail myself of his kindness. What do I risk, now that I have lost all on earth?"

Ali found it an easy matter to obtain his father's permission to wander again to Babylon. The old man rejoiced that his son could still take pleasure in something, and hoped he would soon console himself for his loss. Ali therefore took his knapsack on his back, and set out on his way as he had formerly done, being careful to observe the right time. He crossed the desert in the delightful cool of morning, and met nothing remarkable on his way. First, when he reached Ali Haymmamy's fountain, he was surprised to find the spot totally changed. The palm trees were fresh and verdant, flowers grew round the brink of the fountain, and he perceived no sulphurous exhalation; but saw, on drawing near, a delightful brook of clear water. A cup of emerald hung by a golden chain near the fountain, and invited him to drink. His hand already held the cup filled, when suddenly a shuddering seized him. He poured the water away, and dropped the cup, saying to himself, "It is still cool, and I really feel no thirst, it is not well to amuse oneself with supernatural things." He spent the noon with his old acquaintance the water-carrier, and towards evening proceeded in the direction of Babylon.

He searched long before he found the spot described by Lockman. The sun had already sunk and cast his rays on some stones overgrown with ivy, when Ali perceived an entrance, and fancied he saw Lockman. As he went towards him, Lockman said:

"Have you come at last? I have been waiting for you here more than an hour. But what is the matter with you? You look pale and bewildered. You do not seem to have confidence in me; why did you not drink at the fountain? Have I not told you that without confidence nothing can succeed?"

"I have confidence," replied Ali; "whoever you are, mighty spirit, bring me to my Gulhyndi!"

"I am a man like yourself," replied Lockman, "a poor, good-hearted fellow, who takes pleasure in helping others without thought of himself. My industry has taught me various secrets of nature; and I have applied my skill to your deliverance. Having discovered some magnificent ancient vaults of Babylon, now in ruins for many generations, I have fitted them for your use; there you may dwell happy and undisturbed with your fair Gulhyndi. During the day you may walk in these delightful fields, and at night the magnificent castle beneath will enclose you within its strong walls. I will serve you as formerly, and my delight shall be, as it ever has been, to show you my fidelity and devotedness." When he had said these words, he took Ali by the hand, and conducted him down a stone staircase.

Ali followed readily; but when he had counted nearly three hundred steps in his descent into the earth, and still found no end, he began to quake. It was pitch-dark around him, the only light they had being from a dark lantern, which Lockman held in his hand, and which shone full on his face, showing Ali his hideous features. He fancied he often saw him distort his face, and smile malignantly. Just as he had counted the three hundred steps he stopped, and cried: "Whither do you lead me? I can go no farther. My Gulhyndi is an angel of light, she cannot be in the darkest abodes of the subterranean world."

Lockman burst out into a roar of laughter, making the cavern tremble, and the light in his lantern was extinguished. "Are you afraid to be in the dark?" he asked. "Well, then, it shall soon be light!"

He now struck the solid rock with his wand; it burst, and Ali found himself in a most beautiful place, such as he had never seen. He seemed to stand in a large church; slender columns of brown porphyry rose high, like trees, supporting an arched ceiling of emerald, like intertwined foliage. In the back ground stood a shining globe of red crystal, semi-transparent, upon an altar. This globe illumined the whole edifice, and appeared like the full moon in the horizon, shedding her light into a dark forest. From this place they proceeded through a narrow passage, which ended in a cheerful apartment, the walls of which were of white polished marble. In its centre was suspended a chandelier of diamonds, and at the further end a purple curtain, falling in symmetrical folds, concealed a magnificent couch. On each side of the couch stood two lions of brass, so naturally formed as to appear living, had not the brightness of the metal proved the contrary. "You are now in the haven of your joy and destination," said Lockman. "Upon this couch slumbers Gulhyndi, whom Heaven has destined for you. She stretches her arms towards you, and it remains with you to choose the moment when you will be the happiest of mortals."

When Lockman had said these words, he drew the curtain, and Ali saw his Gulhyndi sleeping in the most charming attitude on black silk cushions. Lockman, contemplating Ali, said, as he left the room, "Venture, and be happy."

Ali stood there, blushing and trembling. The noble beauty of Gulhyndi inflamed his heart. "Come, my beloved," she cried in her sleep, stretching out her arms, "come to my heart."

Ah hesitated; he approached her, but suddenly stopped. "No, Gulhyndi," he said to himself, "it is not thus we should meet again! Sleep sweetly! I will go and await the moment when you rise and come towards me."

With these words he drew the purple curtain, and hastened with quick steps to the church.

Perfect silence and peace reigned here. The brown porphyry columns rose majestically, and the light from the moon in the choir played strangely in the innumerable precious stones which covered the ceiling like sparkling foliage. Ali knelt down. "Eternal Allah!" he cried, "I stand far removed from thy bright moon, far from thy genial blooming forest that adorns the surface of the earth! Anguish and expectation oppress my bosom in the dark bowels of the earth, where burning lamps and dead stones are to supply, by their flickering gleam, thy holy light, thy fresh, young, and ever-changing nature. But where I am, there thou art also! Thou seest me in the bowels of the earth, as on the highest rocks. I am in thy power, wherever I go, and resign myself confidently to thy protection."

He now approached the choir, where the shining crystal globe was slowly turning on the altar. Curious to know how it was contrived, he went towards it; but passing an open door which he perceived on his left, and which seemed to be the entrance to a magnificent burial vault, he drew near it. On both sides of the door stood two giants carved in black stone, with drawn swords in their hands. Just as he was going to enter, they dropped their swords crosswise before the entrance, and would undoubtedly have cut him to pieces, had he not started back immediately. He paused a moment in astonishment, but soon became himself. He saw that the giants again raised their swords, and that all was done by skilful mechanism. He, therefore, was careful not to go straight up to the door, but slipped boldly round one of the giants, treading on his feet instead of the threshold, and thus by a dexterous turn found himself suddenly in a curious vault. The knotty walls and arches were of black granite; here and there blue rays of light fell through fissures in the rocks, as if from burning saltpetre. In the centre stood an open silver coffin, in which was the body of a female stretched out, attired in cloth of silver, and with a crown of diamonds on her head. One blue ray fell through the ceiling, and illumined her pale face. Ali shuddered, and was starting back, when at the same instant he discovered a sparkling serpent moving on the breast of the corpse, and pointing its sting at her heart. Inspired with a pious veneration for the dead now before him, and indignant that a creeping vermin should desecrate an embalmed body, Ali, without hesitation, and forgetful of his own danger, hastened near, and seized the serpent by the head to fling it away. But what was his astonishment at perceiving that what he held in his hand was a talisman composed of precious stones! He had no sooner removed it than the corpse sighed deeply, opened her eyes, extended her arms, and rose in the coffin. She looked around and contemplated Ah, who stood there amazed, with the talisman in his hand. With her fore-finger on her lips, she seemed collecting her thoughts; then stepped from the coffin and approached Ali, with the splendid crown on her head, whilst the silver train of her dress swept the ground. Ali, shuddering, exclaimed: "Praised be Allah, the most merciful being!"

"Praised be Allah!" she repeated.

When Ali heard her utter the name of Allah, he took courage, and his confidence increased when he saw the living red return to her cheeks. She dropped the stiff silver robe to the ground, and now stood before him in an azure garment, over which fell a gauze wrought with silver stars; but she still retained the crown of diamonds. She now walked back to the coffin to take the emerald sceptre that had laid at her side, and as she seized it she exclaimed: "Now I have regained the power I lost; thanks be to Ali's courage, which has disenchanted me!"

Ali knelt down; he knew from Gulhyndi's description that she was the beautiful fairy who had once appeared to his beloved in a dream, who had often comforted her, and of whom they had heard nothing of late.

"You see the cause of my not having appeared to Gulhyndi," said the gracious Peribanu, who guessed his thoughts; "I am still your mutual friend. Follow me to the mosque; a few words will disclose all the past."

Thus saying, she took his hand and led him to the splendid vault, sat down upon a couch at some distance from the radiating globe, and said as follows: "I am a good fairy, and have been living for some time at enmity with the wicked Zelulu. Being once inflamed with love for me, he solicited my hand, and on my treating him with contempt, he has ever since entertained a violent hatred towards me. As he was not able to vent it on me, he has wreaked his vengeance on many innocent persons. This inveterate hatred towards them proceeds from his belief that they do not really possess any good qualities. He thinks that their inclinations deserve nothing better than to be disappointed, and he has repeatedly told me, that he has no more compassion for a fallen man, than for the insect that flies of its own accord into the flame, and burns its wings.

"When I once met him in a windy moonlight night, in a desert of Upper Asia, I cried to him as I passed, 'Zelulu, have pity on poor humanity.'

"'Peribanu,' he replied, 'you have none on me, and why should I have any on wretched mortals?'

"'Love cannot be forced,' said I, 'but reason rules every thing, and ought to rule you. Do you not tremble at the vengeance of the judge?'

"'Teach me to esteem them,' he exclaimed, 'and I will cease to persecute them.'

"Some time after that he came to me in a friendly manner, saying, 'Peribanu, allow me to present you with a magnificent ornament for the bosom. I shall consider your acceptance of it the only way of compensating for the contempt you have expressed.'

"I was imprudent enough to accept this beautiful serpent of precious stones, which you now hold in your hand, and placed it on my bosom. I had scarcely done so when I fell into a death-like trance. In this state Zelulu's slaves brought me into this vault, where I should have continued for centuries without hope of deliverance, had not Heaven, through you, rescued me. Thus the wicked Zelulu exercised his power over me without any resistance. He came to me every night, asking me whether I would love him; for the charm was so contrived that it deprived me of the exercise of my power and of motion, without depriving me of consciousness. I have always answered his importunities with a loud and distinct 'No!' so that he was obliged to depart without hope."

The fairy now took Ali by the hand, and led him out of the mosque, through a long corridor, into the apartment of white marble. She touched his eyelids with her sceptre, and drew aside the curtain. What was his astonishment when, instead of his Gulhyndi, he saw an image of wax, which had but an imperfect resemblance to his beloved! The figure stared at him with dull, glassy eyes, like a painted corpse. He could not conceive how it was possible to have mistaken this horrible pale lump for his Gulhyndi. Peribanu struck the wax figure with her sceptre, it broke, and a hideous knot of poisonous serpents rolled from its bowels, and fled into the clefts of the rocks for fear of her wand. Ali cast his eyes on the two metal lions which stood on either side of the couch, and saw in amazement that they were living. They wagged their tails, and stared with fiery eyes at him. "Flee," cried the fairy, raising her wand, and they fled quickly, like obedient dogs.

"Go home to your father," said the good fairy, "do all he commands you, and this shall be the means of your happiness. You will see Gulhyndi again."

With these words she led him up the steps to an aperture, saying, "Go, you will find yourself in a well-known spot, not far from your native city. Remember what I have told you, and forget me not."

Saying this, she vanished. Ali stepped out, and found himself by the brink of Ali Haymmamy's fountain. It was a fine morning, and the rising sun cast his rays upon him. He stood for a moment and looked down into the depth, scarcely knowing whether what he had passed through was a dream or reality: he remarked at the same time that he still had the talisman in his hand. He was careful not to bring it near his bosom; but kept it as a sign of the past singular events, and wrapped it in the folds of his turban. Now he set out on his way with a heart joyful and full of hope, and before noon he arrived at his father's at Bagdad.

The following morning Ibrahim said to Ali, "I am rejoiced, my son, that you have begun to compose yourself. There is no better remedy against melancholy thoughts than amusement. I intend taking a journey to Samarcand in a few days, and doubt not that it will be very advantageous to us. I have already received my goods from a port on the Red Sea, and expect to barter them profitably for the precious things of Upper Asia. My advantage is yours; therefore go too, it will cheer you and assist me."

Ali, recollecting what the fairy had told him, looked upon his father's proposal as a presage of his happiness; and soon Ibrahim and his son departed from Bagdad, with a large number of slaves and heavily laden camels. Not far from the city they fell in with another caravan, and now hastened, as quickly as circumstances permitted, through many remarkable countries and cities of the far-famed Samarcand.

During their journey they were often obliged to cross deserts and trackless steppes, where Ibrahim, never having made this journey before, trusted himself to a guide. After having thus travelled for several months, and stopped at different places, they one evening passed through a desert. The guide, a little deformed man, with a red nose, assured them that this would be the last, and promised that within three days they would reach their destination.

As they now passed through a narrow valley, bounded on either side by lofty rocks, and thickly overgrown with pine trees, a most terrible phenomenon presented itself, that dispersed the whole caravan. A thunder-storm came on, and the lightning struck a mighty cedar, the resinous bark of which immediately ignited. The whole tree was instantly in a blaze, and the crackling fire spread on every side; all the pine, fir, larch, and cedar trees were in one blaze. The lurid tongues of the flames rushed fearfully along the mountain ridge in the dark night. A thick smoke arose and darkened the air beyond. In the universal confusion, where each only thought of saving himself, Ibrahim lost sight of his son. Ali anxiously searched for his father but without success. Throughout the awful night he rode about on his camel until it would no longer carry him. Terrified at the fire, it at length threw him off and rushed into the flames. Ali forced his way boldly through a narrow pass in the rocks, which the fire had not yet reached. Having passed through it, he saw before him a large valley and a wood beyond. He rallied his last energies to reach it, and sank down exhausted near a tree, where, by the light of the burning forest, he saw that the fire was not likely to penetrate so far; more, his failing strength did not permit him to observe, and weariness closed his eyes.

When he awoke, his first thought was of his father. He felt refreshed by a short sleep, and hastened onward. The country, although it was autumn, was blooming as though it were spring; nature had not purchased her fruits with her blossoms, but fruit and blossoms glowed side by side in sisterly concord. He had never seen such green fresh turf, nor such a variety of flowers. Straight before him opened a beautiful grove, with splendid orange and date trees, where he sat down and took refreshment in the cool solitude. As he sat buried in thought, he heard a voice call, "Ali! Ali!" Astonished, he looked round but saw no one. Thinking he had been mistaken, he continued eating his repast quietly. Suddenly the voice again cried directly opposite to him, "Ali! Ali!" and the name was repeated in several places. He now discovered a quantity of beautiful parrots flying about, which looked at him, and repeated with complacency his name. "Who has taught them this?" said Ali, to himself, and a sweet glow darted through his veins. The parrots still repeated, "Ali! Ali! Come! Come!" and fluttered from bough to bough. He followed them, and found himself at length before a thick hedge that was impenetrable. The birds flew over it, perched within it, and again cried, "Ali! Ali!" He now looked for an entrance, and finding one, at last entered, and saw a splendid lawn, enclosed by a semicircular hedge, both ends of which terminated by a rocky wall. In the centre of the turf was a flowerbed, whither one of the birds flew, again repeating his name. Looking at the plants, he discovered they were all arranged in letters;--great was his delight when he found an A. and G. beautifully entwined, and he no longer doubted where he was. He discovered the beautiful grotto, and hastened to it, exclaiming, "My Gulhyndi, where art thou?" To these words a sweet voice replied:

"Ali, dear Ali! where canst thou be?
Oft thy Gulhyndi weeps for thee."

"What is that? It is not her voice, it is not the voice of birds."

"My Ali! My beloved friend! thy Gulhyndi often weeps for thee," said a pert starling, hopping about on the ground and picking up some seeds.

"Ali! Ali!" cried the parrots, without.

"Ali! Ali! my beloved friend! Gulhyndi often weeps for thee," said the starling, stretching out her neck, bending not, and looking at him shrewdly.

Now a fine bird, in a golden cage, began to whistle a melody which Ali had taught Gulhyndi shortly before they parted. "Oh, she loves me!" he cried. "She is here! She has taught these feathered songsters my name and my songs. How many times must her lips have repeated these words before these birds knew them." At this moment he heard some one approaching; "It is she!" he said to himself, "but she must not see me yet--I must prolong this blessed moment." With his staff he traced the following lines in the sand:

"Lovely Gulhyndi, sorrow no more,
What hate has taken, love will restore;
The sun is more bright when the storm is o'er."

He had scarcely done this than the fair Gulhyndi, like a lovely queen of nature, appeared with her numerous train. As a proud body guard, there stepped before, with majestic step, two large bay coloured lions, with thick manes. By her side walked the beautiful Argus, as a faithful friend; while the most lovely birds fluttered, and the most lovely beasts of the forest gamboled around her. The train was closed by a troop of snow-white lambs with red ribbons round their necks, each having a singing-bird on its head, chirping, while the lambs bleated. Last of all came a stag, whose large antlers were hung with bells; so that the bleating of lambs, the singing of birds, and the bells of the stag were not unlike a merry band of Turkish music.

When they arrived at the grotto, the two lions lay down on either side of the entrance, and Gulhyndi, with her Argus, entered. All the rest remained without, forming a semicircle, while Gulhyndi took her repast. Two monkeys stood behind her couch, officiating as servants, and offering her fruit, and water from the fountain. Argus stood by her side, and, with his beak, caught in the air all the fragments which she flung to him with her white hand. All that he missed, so that it fell to the ground, the little starling snapped up before Argus had time to stoop after it.

When the repast was over, Argus went to the entrance, spread his shining fan, and turned it several times, upon which the assembled courtiers without dispersed. Only the lions remained at their post, and Argus remained in the grotto with her mistress, as lady in waiting.

Ali trembled with emotion when he beheld Gulhyndi, her fair hair flowing in long tresses. She wore a green silk robe, fastened with a purple girdle, without any other ornament. She appeared taller, more blooming and majestic; she was no longer the languishing, pensive, Oriental beauty sighing for liberty, but the healthy, sprightly daughter of Eve, blooming as the fairest flower in nature. Still a soft desire seemed to depress her arched brow, and indicated that, in the midst of abundance, she still lacked something.

While she was sitting with her eyes cast downwards, she discovered the lines traced on the sand. She immediately recognised the characters, but was doubtful whether she should trust her eyes. What was her delight when convinced of the truth, by the happy Ali hastening and throwing himself at her feet! Both now were in Paradise.

When their first transport was over, they related all that had happened to them since they last met. She told him that once, when she was alone in the grotto, the two lions had suddenly broken through the hedge. At this she was at first alarmed, but soon recovered on seeing that they lay down on either side of the entrance, like obedient dogs, and followed her as faithful guards. Ali could not suppress an inward shudder at seeing that they resembled the bronze lions which, at Peribanu's command, had become hairy, and left the subterranean apartment. He now built a hut in the neighbourhood of his Gulhyndi, without concern for his father, whom he confidently supposed was in the power of the fairy. But, unfortunately, this poor father had not fared so well as his happy son wished.

Ibrahim wandered for a long time in that awful night; he hastened to the opposite side to get clear of the burning wood, instead of penetrating through it as Ali had done. The ground became so stony and rugged, that he could no longer ride on his camel. He tied it to a tree, and endeavoured to make his way on foot through the thick bushes, in order to reach a high tree, on which he might pass the night without fear of serpents and wild beasts. As he proceeded, he fell into a dark, damp, deep pit, where he lay for some time senseless. When he recovered, he had only a faint recollection of the causes of his present situation; he had quite forgotten Hussain's and Gulhyndi's death, and fancied he had fled with his son from Bagdad, to escape the persecutions of the malicious cadi.

He had not remained long in this state before he saw coming through a narrow rocky path, a little person dressed in black like a miner, with a lantern in his hand. "Lockman," cried Ibrahim, who immediately recognised him, "you here, and in this garb! What does this mean? Where is my son?"

"You had better be your son's keeper yourself," replied Lockman; "I have nothing to do with him, but I have something to do with you. Up to work! you are now my slave."

With these words he seized Ibrahim, exhausted as he was, and led him to the icy cold bath in the cleft. He then brought him out again, and gave him bread and water, such as he had given to Hussain; but in his cup there was no leech, and, on the whole, he treated him less harshly than the cadi.

When Ibrahim had taken his scanty meal, Lockman said: "Get up and go with me; it was always your favourite business to seek riches. I will show you the way to gold and precious stones."

He then took him to the desert, and commanded him to search. When Ibrahim was left alone he was much confused, and grieved, but Lockman's threats made him obey. Walking about in the burning heat, he passed a high piece of rock, in the shade of which some grass was growing. He there beheld a pale, haggard man with sunken cheeks, sitting down, greatly exhausted. Being naturally compassionate, he quickly ran for a pitcher of water, which he had taken to the desert to quench his thirst while working, and which, to keep the water fresh, he had buried in the sand. This he brought, and put it to the lips of the fainting man. The poor man drank, was refreshed, folded his hands as he raised his eyes, and said: "Who art thou, angel from heaven, that assistest me in my extremity?"

Ibrahim knew the voice, and cried in amazement, "Hussain, is it you?"

Hussain stared at him, saying, as well as exhaustion permitted, "Ibrahim, are you here? How, have you come into this vale of tears to comfort your enemy?"

"By some evil fate I have fallen into the hands of mine enemy," replied Ibrahim, "who has condemned me to seek gold and precious stones in this desert." When he said these words, Hussain put out his hands for the sack which he had filled that day with much labour; but what was his terror on finding it half empty! "What is this?" he cried; "have you come even in the last moments of my life to rob me and expose me to frightful punishment?"

Ibrahim affirmed that he had taken nothing; he felt compassion for poor Hussain, and forgot his own trouble.

"You lie, infamous fellow," cried Hussain; "your bag is full, you have filled it from mine."

"I assure you," replied Ibrahim, "that I have taken nothing, nor have I ever thought of grieving you, and, as a proof, I will exchange my bag for yours whenever you wish." He then offered his own. "Stop here and rest yourself," he continued. "I am not yet so tired as to be unable to try to fill a second bag before evening." He left him, and with much pains collected the second half. Hussain did not know what to think of all this, and both went together to the cavern without speaking.

"Are your bags full:" cried the monster, who was sitting at the entrance as they arrived. "Empty them before me." Ibrahim emptied his bag first; it was full of gold and precious stones. Hussain came with the one Ibrahim had given him--and it contained nothing but sand and pebbles. Lockman looked silently incensed at Hussain, took him by the arm, and led him, weak and fainting, again to the terrible rushing shower-bath, where, for want of strength, he would have fallen into the abyss, had not Lockman seized him and flung him half dead on the sand.

"He is a villain," said he to Ibrahim, while the other lay fainting. "I will tell you plainly that he has slandered you to me, and is the sole cause of my receiving you so harshly. I hate him, for he is not even fit to do the work of a slave. If you will do me a service I will restore you to liberty, bring you to your son, and arrange every thing so that you may again live in Bagdad in your former happy circumstances."

"What do you desire?" asked Ibrahim.

"I am a spirit, and cannot dispose arbitrarily of the life of a mortal. You, on the other hand, have power to destroy each other; take this knife and thrust it into Hussain's heart, then I will restore you to your former happiness, and give you all the gold-dust and precious stones in my cavern."

"Far be it from me," said Ibrahim, "to act thus even to my bitterest enemy. May God forgive the evil we have done, and for which we are both now suffering. My hatred is extinguished. I have this day exchanged my bag for his, with the honest intention of lightening his burden. That it has turned out so badly is not my fault."

"Kill him," cried Lockman, threatening as he reached him the knife, "or I will throw you a hundred fathoms deep into the abyss, among serpents and adders!"

"Throw me," cried Ibrahim, with firmness, clasping his hands, and raising his eyes to the stars.

"You have regained courage," said Lockman, scoffing.

"Misfortune inspires that," replied Ibrahim.

"Daring man," cried Lockman, "you are not yet ripe, I will chastise you slowly." So saying he left him.

"Poor Hussain!" sighed Ibrahim as he looked on the pale man. Hussain opened his eyes, gave a friendly smile, and extended his hand to him, saying,

"I heard what passed between you and the sorcerer; whose wicked design has ill succeeded. What was to separate us has united us. I now know you; can you forgive me?"

Ibrahim embracing him said, "Will you again be my friend?"

"For life and death," said Hussain, returning the embrace of his former enemy. They knelt down, and Mahommed's holy moon shone on their reconciliation, which was sealed by a kiss, as she cast her pale gleam over the desert, and the faint reflection from the sand was increased, as if rejoicing that from the desert of affliction a flower had sprung, which the Eden of a life of luxury could not produce.

Lockman returned, looked at the reconciled friends, and burst into a hideous laugh. "I suppose you now fancy yourselves happy, and that you have gained peace of mind," he said; "do not think it. Hussain is lost for ever. Allah has turned his eyes from him for endeavouring to shorten the days of his child and his own. He is mine for ever!"

"None possesses that eternal power but Allah," cried Hussain, who had now recovered. "Having saved my life, you have, against your will, assisted my salvation. As long as there is life there is hope; as long as man lives he may become better."

"You have killed your daughter," said Lockman; "you have spilled her blood, you are an infanticide!"

Hussain turned pale.

"She lives," cried a sweet voice from on high, "take courage and hope."

"Ah! is she released from her sleep of death?" exclaimed Lockman in consternation, and vanished.

From this time Ibrahim and Hussain were faithful friends, they shared their troubles, and found consolation in each other's society. It was no longer difficult to discover gold and precious stones in the desert; they had only to go out and search, and immediately found what they wished. During this time the sun was shaded, and a light breeze was blowing; they at last discovered recesses in the rocks for shade, flowers, and springs. When Lockman perceived this he took them into the mines, where he forced them to laborious employment. But even here their fortune attended them. They learned of themselves to cut the ore which they easily found. In this familiar intercourse with quiet, sublime nature, their hearts opened, their minds became elevated, and their bodies strengthened. They no longer loved wealth and vanity, but God, the wonderful works of nature, and each other. Lockman had no further power to molest them.

The only thing that still caused them exertion, and even bodily pain, was a torn apron of thick, hard leather, such as miners wear, which Lockman had given them to sew together. The needle often broke under their bleeding fingers while sewing it. They shared their task freely, each taking it when the other was tired. One evening, when it was still far from being finished, Lockman ordered them, with violent threats, to remain up all night to complete it by the next morning. They exerted all their strength to accomplish this task, though they hardly thought it possible, when Hussain, who was sewing, towards morning, while Ibrahim was sleeping, unluckily thrust the awl so deep into his hand that he screamed with pain, and in despair threw the hard leather on the ground. Ibrahim awaking at this, sought his turban to bind Hussain's wound. Whilst looking at it he perceived that it was his son's, which he had mistaken for his own the last night they spent together. As he now took off the cloth, the singular talisman which Ali had concealed met his view. He looked long at it, and discovering the many precious stones, said: "Our tyrant has a fancy for rare and precious stones, and these are finer than I have ever seen, I will, therefore, place this splendid jewel on his bed; he will rejoice on awaking, and his stern mind will relent, perhaps, even though he may not find the apron repaired." With this intention he went into the cavern where Lockman slept, and placed the talisman on the bare chest of the sorcerer. He then hastened back, bound his friend's wound, and continued sewing as long as he was able.

The sun was now high, but Lockman still slept, contrary to his custom. Hussain crept in and found him in a profound slumber. Both friends thanked Providence, which saved them from ill-treatment, and Ibrahim said: "Perhaps he may sleep the whole day, and we shall gain time to finish our task."

They now vied with each other, one sewing while the other rested or fetched water and bread for refreshment, but the night came, and still their work was unfinished. Thus they went on for three days and four nights, their hands bleeding and swollen, their eyes dim with working, but their courage unabated. Their mutual feelings of friendship and sympathy and their honest exertion enabled them to accomplish their work. A secret presentiment told them it was for the happiness of their future life that they had to restore the hard, rigid, and torn apron.

When the fourth morning dawned, they put in the last stitch, and with tears of joy, then embraced each other, exclaiming in rapture, while they extended their hands towards heaven in gratitude: "It is finished!" "It is finished!" they heard an harmonious voice repeating. They raised their eyes, and behold, the damp, dark cavern where they stood, was changed into a beautiful bright grotto. Before them stood the lovely Peribanu, with her crown of stars and her emerald sceptre, saying, with a friendly smile, "It is finished! Look what you have joined again!" Hussain and Ibrahim looked at the apron they still held, and behold! it was the splendid gold cloth which Ibrahim once in anger had torn in the market-place, and with it Hussain's friendship.

"It had suffered great damage," said Peribanu, "and it has cost you labour and trouble to sew it together again; but it is restored. The threads of early friendship are again united, the flowers of childhood, which were torn up by the roots, are again planted in the golden ground of your life."

Ibrahim recognised in her beautiful features the kindly woman who had once come to him in the hour of midnight, to beg the gold cloth as a bridal dress for her daughter. "You must really give it me for a bridal dress for my daughter," said Peribanu, "this very day I shall celebrate her nuptials." Ibrahim gave it her. Peribanu waved her sceptre, a curtain was raised, and Ibrahim and Hussain saw their children crowned with flowers, kneeling at an altar before the sacred image of the Moon.

"The beaming symbol of the prophet perpetually changes," said Peribanu, "bringing joy and sorrow according to the law of eternal fate. On you it has now bestowed happiness. The life of Ali and Gulhyndi will be like a fine spring morning, and the old age of Ibrahim and Hussain a glorious September day."

When she had said this, she conducted the bridal pair to their parents, who embraced them with delight, and gave them the paternal blessing. "Your joy will no more be troubled by the snares of malice," she said, "for it is caught in its own trap." She again waved her sceptre, the rock burst, and they saw the young king with a crown of rubies on his head, in a purple mantle, stretched out, pale as death, on a couch, while the lamp of death was burning over his head. The expression of cunning and malice was in his countenance even in his death-slumber. "Sleep on for ever," cried the fairy. "Levity will some day again release me," he said in a hollow voice, and the vault closed. "For this cycle, at least, nothing is to be feared," replied Peribanu.

Hereupon the good fairy celebrated the nuptials of the young couple, and beautiful Nature, with all her creatures, shared the festival. They lived long and happily in the bosom of nature, like our first parents in the beginning of creation, and gave to posterity lovely children, who became the ancestors of a powerful race in the mountains. Hussain and Ibrahim died at a great age, and their grandchildren mourned over them. The good fairy never left Ali and Gulhyndi.

C. A. F.

[1] Both in this and the following song a verse has been omitted, as unsuitable to the general English reader.

[The end]
Adam Oehlenschlager's short story: Ali And Gulhyndi