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本书主要内容由王勋、纪飞编译。参加本书故事素材搜集整理及编译工作的还有郑佳、刘乃亚、赵雪、熊金玉、李丽秀、熊红华、王婷婷、孟宪行、胡国平、李晓红、贡东兴、陈楠、邵舒丽、冯洁、王业伟、徐鑫、王晓旭、周丽萍、熊建国、徐平国、肖洁、王小红等。限于我们的科学、人文素养和英语水平，书中难免会有不当之处，衷心希望读者朋友批评指正。仙鹤哈里发/How the Caliph became a Stork导读
MANY years ago, on a lovely afternoon, the Caliph Casid of Bagdad sat at his ease on a luxurious sofa. It was a very hot day；he had had a sound nap, and had awakened in the happiest of moods.He drew a few puffs through his long rosewood-stemmed pipe, sipped the coffee brought by an obsequious slave, and stroked his long beard with an air of extreme satisfaction.It was evident that the Caliph felt at peace with the world.Indeed, at such an hour he was easy to approach, and so every day he received a visit from his Grand Vizier, Mansor.
But on this particular afternoon the Grand Vizier seemed rather thoughtful and disinclined to talk；so the Caliph, taking his pipe from his mouth, said：
“What is the matter with you to-day, Mansor？”
The Grand Vizier crossed his arms on his breast, and bowing low answered：
“Mighty lord, there is really nothing the matter；but outside the Castle stands a merchant who has such beautiful wares that I feel quite unhappy that I have no money to spare and to spend.”
The Caliph, who had always rather favoured the Grand Vizier, at once sent a black slave to conduct the merchant to his presence. Not many moments did he wait ere a little fat man, with sunbrowned face and ragged garments, appeared.This was the merchant, and he carried a pack containing all sorts of treasures-pearls and rings, richly ornamented pistols, golden cups and combs.The Caliph and the Vizier turned the articles over and over, and the Caliph bought some fine pistols for himself and Mansor, and for the Vizier's wife acomb.While the merchant was packing up his wares in his box, the Caliph noticed therein a small drawer, and asked what it held.The merchant opened the drawer, and showed them a snuff-box containing some black powder, and a small piece of paper, on which was written something which neither the Caliph nor the Vizier could read.
“I got these from a merchant in Mecca，”said the pedlar，“and do not know what the writing means. If you like, you can have them for a trifling sum.”
The Caliph, who had in his library many rare manuscripts which he could not decipher, but in the possession of which he took pride, bought both snuff-box and paper and dismissed the pedlar. He was, however, very curious about the meaning of the writing, so asked the Vizier if he knew any one who could translate it.
“Gracious lord and master，”answered Mansor，“near the great Mosque lives a man named Selim the Scholar, who understands all languages. Bid him come hither；perhaps he can read these secret instructions.”
The learned man was sent for at once.
“Selim，”said the Caliph，“you are said to be well informed. Look at this writing：if you can read it you shall have a fine new coat；if you cannot, you shall be bastinadoed on back and feet, and every one shall know that Selim the Scholar has not the wisdom he pretends.”
Selim bowed humbly and said：“Thy will be done, great lord！”For some minutes he scanned the writing, then exclaimed：“This is Latin, great lord；if not, may I be hanged！”
“Then if it be Latin, tell us what it says，”returned the Caliph.
Selim read thus：“‘Thou, who this findest, praise Allah for his mercy！Whoever snuffs the powder in this box and says“Mutabor，”changes himself to the form of an animal, and will be able to understand animal language. Should he desire to resume his manhood, he need only turn to the east, bow three times, and repeat the word.But he must beware lest during his metamorphosis he laugh；if so, he will forget the magic word and remain for ever an animal.'”
Satisfied with Selim's translation, the Caliph, binding him by solemn oaths not to divulge the secret between them, gave him a new kaftan and sent him away. To his Grand Vizier he said：“I call that a good bargain, Mansor！I should like for once in a way to be an animal.To-morrow morning come to me.We will go together outside the city, snuff a little of this powder, and understand, perhaps, the language of those which fly, swim, or crawl.”
Hardly had the Caliph Casid breakfasted the following morning ere the Grand Vizier appeared ready for the appointed walk. The Caliph put the snuff-box safely in his sash, and bidding his followers remain in the city, set out alone with the Grand Vizier.First they walked through the gardens of the Caliphate；but hurriedly, for they were anxious to try the experiment, and theVizier spoke of a pond outside the walls where he had seen many animals, but particularly storks, whose dignified actions and hoarse cries had often attracted his attention.
The Caliph, therefore, decided in favour of the pond, and together they walked to its bank, where there were quite a number of these quaint birds, who took no notice of their approach, but continued to fish for frogs. At the same time they noticed overhead another stork which was hastening to join the rest.
“I'll wager my beard，”said the Vizier，“that these storks have plenty to say to each other. What do you think of our turning storks for a time？”
“An excellent idea，”said the Caliph.“But first let us carefully remember exactly how to become men again. We must bow three times to the east, and say‘Mutabor，'then I shall be Caliph and you Grand Vizier.But, in the name of Allah, no laughing, or we shall indeed be in a fix！”
While the Caliph was speaking, he observed how the Stork above their heads balanced his wings and slowly dropped to earth. Quickly he drew forth the box, took a good pinch of snuff, the Vizier doing the same, and both cried：“Mutabor.”
Immediately their legs shrivelled and became thin and red；their lovely yellow slippers became storks'feet and their arms wings；their necks stretched till they were nearly a yard long；their beards disappeared, and their bodies were covered with feathers.哈里发和宰相同时说了咒语“穆塔博尔”
“You have a beautiful bill, my Grand Vizier，”said the Caliph in some astonishment.“By the beard of the Prophet, this is indeed a transformation.”
“Thank you for the compliment，”said the Grand Vizier, bowing.“May I return it by saying that your Highness is even handsomer as a stork than as a Caliph？But would it not be as well to join our comrades at once, and ascertain whether we really can understand stork language？”
By this time the other Stork had settled down. It rubbed its bill against its feet, plumed its feathers and went to the pond.The two new Storks, however, hurried after it, and on nearing the group, to their amazement, heard the following conversation：
“Good morning, Madame Longlegs. You are out early this morning.”
“Good morning to you, dear Chatterbox！Yes, I have had a nice little breakfast. How have you fared？I suppose you only‘pecked a bit'-a mere quarter of a lizard or hind leg of a frog！”
“Thank you very much. I have not much appetite to-day.Besides, I have to dance for the entertainment of my father's guests.Excuse me if I leave you.I must practise a few steps.”
And without ceremony Miss Stork left her companions and at once began her posturing. The Caliph and the Vizier watched her with curious interest；but when she stood on one foot and waved her wings affectedly, they could no longer contain their feelings, butbroke into a hearty peal of laughter.
The Caliph was the first to realise the seriousness of the situation.“This is a joke which gold cannot pay for，”said he.
The Grand Vizier, too, began to regret that they had not sufficiently remembered that they were on no account to laugh. He tried to conceal his discomfiture by exclaiming：“By Mecca and Medina！It would be a fine thing if I must remain a stork for ever.Can you, my lord, remember that stupid word？It has completely slipped my memory.”
Said the Caliph：“Three times must we bow towards the east；and then say‘Mu—Mu—Mu—'”but no more could he recall, and both he and the Caliph had no choice but to remain Storks.
Sadly they wandered through the fields, not knowing what their unfortunate condition might bring upon them. Storks they must remain for the present.It was useless to return to the city and attempt to explain themselves, for who would believe a Stork if he said：“Good people, I am your Caliph！”Or, if belief were accorded, was it likely that the people of Bagdad would consent to be ruled by a Stork？So day by day passed by, and they sustained themselves with wild fruit, finding some difficulty in eating with those long bills.For lizards and frogs they had no appetite.Their one pleasure in this unfortunate state was the ability to fly, and they often flew to Bagdad, and from the roofs watched the doings in the city.看到居民向死敌的儿子致敬
At first they only noticed much sorrow and bewilderment on the part of the people；but about four days after their transformation, as they were resting on the roof of the Caliph's palace, they saw a splendid procession pass through the streets.
Drums and pipes sounded, a man in a gold and scarlet cloak sat on a splendidly caparisoned horse surrounded with liveried guards. Half Bagdad acclaimed him thus：
“Hail, Miszra, Lord of Bagdad！”
The two Storks looked at one another；and then the Caliph said：
“Guess you not, Mansor, why I have been bewitched？This Miszra is the son of my greatest enemy, the mighty magician Cassimir, who in an evil hour swore revenge against me. But I will not despair！Come with me, faithful companion in misery.Let us make a pilgrimage to the grave of the Prophet.Perhaps on that holy spot we shall recall the magic word.”
So they forsook the roof of the Palace, and flew towards Medina.
But they were not yet well accustomed to flying, for they had had little practice, and at last the Grand Vizier gasped out：
“Great lord, with your permission I will rest a little. You fly too fast for me.Evening draws near；would it not be well to seek some shelter for to-night？”
To this the Caliph agreed, and as they perceived in the valley near by a ruin which still had some sort of a roof, they flew in its direction. It had evidently been at one time a castle.Although terribly dilapidated, there were remains of stately apartments and splendid passages.The Caliph and the Vizier traversed these with some interest, but suddenly Mansor stopped.猫头鹰坐在窗台上哭泣
“Lord and deliverer，”faltered he，“it is rather ridiculous for a Grand Vizier, even for a Stork, to be afraid of ghosts. But I hear sobbings and sighings, and my courage fails me！”
The Caliph paused and listened, and heard most unmistakably the soft weeping either of a human being or some animal. Full of impatience, he would have pressed forward to ascertain the cause of this distress, but the Grand Vizier seized hold of Casid's wing so that he should not wantonly rush into any new danger.But it was no use.The Caliph, whether man or stork, had a brave heart, and wrenching himself free at the expense of a few feathers, he plunged into a dark passage.Ere long he came to some broken stairs leading to a door, only half fastened, and from behind which the sobs evidently came.Pressing his beak against this door and carefully awaiting surprises, he saw through the narrow opening a ruined chamber, lighted only by a deep casement window on the sill of which was sitting a large night-owl.Thick tears were streaming from her big round eyes, and with plaintive cries she bemoaned her lot.But when she saw the Caliph and the Grand Vizier she uttered a joyful cry.Hastily brushing the tears from her eyes with a dexterous movement of her brown wings, she, much to the astonishment of thetwo men, called out in excellent Arabic：
“Welcome, welcome, good Storks. You are the tokens of my deliverance；for long ago it was told me that through Storks I should meet with good luck.”
As soon as the Caliph recovered from his astonishment, he drew his feet together in an elegant pose, bowed his long neck, and said：
“Night-Owl！From your words I gather you are a fellow-sufferer with ourselves. But, alas！any hope you may have formed as to our capacity to assist you is doomed to disappointment.You will the better understand this if we relate to you our sad story.”
When the Caliph concluded his recital the Owl said：
“Listen to my tale of woe, and then you will agree that I am as unfortunate as you. My father is the King of India, and I, his only and unhappy daughter, am named Lusa.The magician Cassimir, who bewitched you, worked his arts on me also.He came one day to my father, and asked me in marriage for his son Miszra.My father threw him down the palace stairs.But the wretch determined on an abominable vengeance, and one morning when I was walking in the palace garden he disguised himself as a slave, and brought me a goblet containing a draught, which had the effect of changing me into an Owl.He then conveyed me to this place, and his hateful voice hissed in my ear these terrible words：
“‘In this horrible tower you shall remain till you die, unlesssome one, in spite of your hideous condition, will make you his wife. So I revenge myself on you and your father！'
“Since then many months have passed by, and all alone I have lived in this gloomy tower. Nature's beauties cannot console me, for in the daytime I am blind；only at night can I see.”
The Owl paused, and again brushed from her eyes the tears caused by her sad thoughts.
The story told by the Princess made the Caliph very grave.
“It seems to me，”he said at last，“that between your troubles and mine own there is some resemblance；but where shall we find the key to this riddle？”
The Owl replied：
“My lord, I only know this, that when I was a quite young girl, a wise woman foretold that a Stork would bring me luck；and I have an idea how we may deliver ourselves.”
The Caliph was astounded, and asked what she meant.
“The magician who has wrought evil on us all，”said she，“comes once every month to these ruins. Not far from this apartment is a large hall；there he and others of his sort hold feastings and consultations.I have often watched them.They tell each other of their scandalous tricks；perhaps this next time they meet, the magic word you have so unfortunately forgotten may be disclosed.”
“Oh, dearest Princess，”cried the Caliph，“tell us when will theycome, and where is the hall？”
The Owl was silent for a few minutes. Then：“Do not think me unkind，”said she，“but it is only on one condition that I can grant your wish—”
“Name it, name it，”cried Casid.“Every moment is precious, and no conditions will be too difficult！”
The Owl replied：“I also wish to be free；but this can only happen if one of you offers to marry me-that is the condition.”
At this the Storks seemed rather confused, and the Caliph beckoned the Grand Vizier aside.
“Mansor，”said he, whispering，“this is a stupid idea；but you can marry the Owl afterwards.”
“Indeed，”said the Vizier，“so that my wife may scratch my eyes out when I return home！Besides, look what an old man I am. You are young and unmarried, and can easily offer your hand to a young and beautiful Princess！”
“That is just the point，”sighed the Caliph dejectedly, drooping his wings.“How do we know she is young and beautiful？I do not care to buy a pig in a poke.”
They spoke seriously for some time, but when the Caliph realised that the Vizier would rather remain a Stork than marry the Owl, he gave way, and agreed himself to fulfil this hard condition. The Owl was delighted with the result of their conference.She assured them that they had all chanced to meet at a particularlylucky moment, for this very night the merchants would assemble.
So all three together they left the chamber and went towards the hall. Through many dark passages they softly stepped.At last a bright light streamed through a crack in a wall.As they approached nearer the Owl begged them to make no noise whatever.From the stones on which they stood they could perceive all that was going on in the hall.Many-coloured lamps shed a light equal to that of day.In the middle was a round table with a variety of choice dishes thereon.Round about the table were couches on which men were sitting.In one of these men the Caliph recognised the pedlar who had sold the magic powder.His neighbour at table was asking him for the latest details of his business.Then, among other anecdotes, he told the story of the Caliph and his Vizier.
“And what was the word you gave him？”asked another magician.
“A Latin word，‘Mutabor，'”was the reply.
When the Storks heard this they were beside themselves with joy. They ran so fast from the place that the Owl could scarcely keep up with them.
Then said the Caliph to the Owl：“Saviour of my life and of the life of my friend, receive our ever-heartfelt thanks and honour me by becoming my wife.”Then he turned to the east, for the first rays of the morning sun were showing above the mountain-tops, and he and the Vizier bowed their long necks.
“Mutabor，”cried they, and in an instant were they restored to their former state；and in the delight of the moment the Caliph and Vizier laughed and wept in each other's arms. But imagine their astonishment when they saw a lovely woman, most beautifully dressed, standing before them, who smilingly gave her hand to the Caliph.
“Cannot you recognise your Night-Owl？”said she；and the Caliph was so enraptured with her beauty and grace than he more than once declared that he was only too glad that he had been changed into a Stork.
Three very happy people journeyed together to Bagdad. The Caliph found among his clothes, not only the snuff-box, but his purse；and was therefore able to buy, in the villages they passed through, such things as were necessary, so without any delay they reached the city.Arriving there the Caliph heard strange news.He had been mourned as dead.Now, however, his people hastened to rejoice over his happy return, and with each hour their hatred of the usurper Miszra increased.The crowd rushed to the Palace and seized both father and son.The old man was sent by the Caliph to the tower in which the Princess had lived as an Owl, and there he was hanged.To the son, who was ignorant of his father's magic arts, the Caliph gave the choice of death or a pinch of snuff.As he chose the latter, the Grand Vizier handed him the box.A mighty pinch-and the magic word pronounced by the Caliph changedMiszra into a Stork, and confined in an iron cage, he passed the rest of his life in the Palace garden.
Long and happily lived the Caliph Casid with his Princess wife：his happiest hours, perhaps, still being those of the Grand Vizier's afternoon calls, when they often talked over their strange experiences. And sometimes when the Caliph was in a merry mood he would tease the Grand Vizier about his appearance as a Stork.He would strut stiffly up and down the apartment, flap his arms as if they were wings, and bow as the forgetful Vizier did, crying，“Mu, Mu！”This little scene always gave great delight to the Calipha and her children；but after the Caliph had made fun of his friend with his clapping, croaking, and bowing, and his“Mu, mu, mu！”the Vizier was wont to request that the part of the story referring to the Night-Owl the Calipha herself should relate.援救妹妹法特迈/The Rescue of Fatima导读
FOR many years Lezah was Cadi of Acara. He had two children, whose names were Mustapha and Fatima.There was only two years difference in their ages, and they loved each other dearly.When Fatima's sixteenth birthday came, her brother prepared a little feast, to which he invited all their playfellows.The repast included only the daintiest dishes, and towards evening he suggested that they should all go for a row on the sea in a barque, which he had had specially decorated for the occasion.
Fatima and her young guests were delighted, for the evening was so fine and the view of the town from the water very picturesque. The girls, however, enjoyed themselves so much that they persuaded Mustapha to row farther and farther away from the shore.This he rather unwillingly did, for a few days ago he had noticed the presence of a Corsair in the bay.
Not far from the town there was a promontory stretching out into the sea, and the maidens wished to go there and watch the setting sun sink into the peaceful waters. As they rowed round it they noticed a boat, in which were some armed men, and fearingdisaster, Mustapha ordered his men to turn the barque round and go back to the landing stage.It seemed almost as if his misgivings were correct, for the other boat immediately followed Mustapha's, then passed it, and kept deliberately between it and the shore.The maidens when they realised their danger became so frightened that they clung together and wept and wailed, and in spite of Mustapha's efforts to reassure them, and his warnings that if they did not sit still the barque might be upset, they became so wild with terror that on the near approach of the Corsair's boat, they crowded to one side and were overturned.
In the meantime the people on the banks had noticed the strange boat, and their suspicions had been aroused；and several craft had put off in order to assist Mustapha should it be necessary. But they only arrived in time to witness the accident.In the confusion the strange boat got away, and as the rescued were placed in different skiffs it was impossible to know at once if all were saved.But by degrees it was only too certain that Fatima and one of her playmates were missing, and that in one of the boats was a man whom no one knew.In reply to Mustapha's threats he admitted that he belonged to a ship which was anchored about two miles away, and that his captors had left him in the lurch as he was trying to save some of the young girls；and that he knew they had taken two off to the ship.
The old father's grief was terrible to witness, and Mustaphawas simply heartbroken, for besides the loss of Fatima, the playmate also missing was a young girl to whom he was secretly betrothed；the slender circumstances of her parents having prevented him from acquainting his own father, a proud and haughty man, of the fact.
When his grief had somewhat subsided, the Cadi sent for Mustapha and said：“Through your stupidity I have lost the light of my eyes and the comfort of my old age. Go away from here；I banish you for ever from my sight.May my curse pursue you, only to be removed when you bring Fatima again to me！”
This was a shock to Mustapha；for he had made a vow to find his sister and her companion, and would fain have asked his father's blessing on the endeavour；but now he was sent out into the world bearing the heavy burden of a curse. And the bitterest thought was that it was undeserved.
He sought out the prison where the pirate sailor lay, and asked for news as to the trade of the ship；and was told that the captain trafficked in slaves, which he sold in the great market-place at Balsora. When he returned to the house to prepare for his journey, he found that his father was less angry, and had sent him a purse of gold for the expenses of his journey.Mustapha next took a tearful farewell of Zoraide's parents, and started on the way to Balsora, going as far as possible by land, as no ship was leaving Acara for the port he desired, and travelling in hot haste, so as not to be far behind the pirates.At the end of four days, as he was riding all alone, three men suddenly attacked him.He saw that they were well armed, and as he valued his horse and his gold less than his life, he shouted that he would surrender.They bound his feet together beneath his horse, set him in their midst, and one of them took his reins and led him along without speaking a word.莫斯塔法遇到三个强盗的袭击
Mustapha now felt afraid that his father's curse was beginning to work, and could hardly dare to hope that his quest on behalf of his sister and Zoraide could succeed, since all his valuables were seized and only his wretched life spared him. He and his silent captors had ridden for about an hour, when they came upon a little valley, surrounded by high trees, and through which flowed a narrow silvery brook.Here he saw from fifteen to twenty tents, and tethered near by were camels and splendid horses；from one of the tents came the sound of a zither and men's voices singing.It seemed to Mustapha that people who could choose such a lovely place to camp in could not have any evil designs on him, and he followed his captors, who had loosened his bonds and signed to him to dismount, without anxiety or hesitation.They led him towards the largest tent, which was beautifully arranged inside.Splendidly covered cushions, hand-made carpets, golden censers, proved that this tent belonged to no common robber.On one of the cushions sat a little old man, hideous to behold；but by the behaviour of his companions Mustapha felt sure that not for him was the tent sohandsomely furnished.
“Where is the Chief？”asked one of the men.
“He is out hunting，”was the reply，“and ordered me to take his place in his absence.”
“That is a pity，”said one of the robbers，“for we want to know if this man shall live or die；and he can decide that better than you.”
The little man rose with offended dignity, and would evidently have liked to pull the robber by the ear, but failing in his intention, the two together began struggling and fighting. Suddenly the curtain of the tent was thrown back, and a tall, handsome man entered.His garments, his splendid weapons, betokened his condition, but more impressive far were his noble features, and calm, penetrating eyes.
“Who is it who dares to quarrel in my tent？”he asked.
A brief silence-and then one of the men who brought Mustapha to the camp explained how it happened；and hearing him, the Chief's fine face reddened with anger.
“When did I set you in my place, Hassan？”thundered he.
The little man crept crestfallen from the tent, his lingering steps quickened by a threatening gesture on the part of the Chief.
When Hassan had withdrawn, the three robbers brought Mustapha to the Chief, who had thrown himself on the luxurious cushions.
“We bring you one whose capture you desired，”said they.
The Chief looked earnestly at Mustapha and said：
“Bashaw of Sulieika, thy conscience will tell thee why thou standest before Orbassan.”
When Mustapha heard these words, he threw himself before the Chief and cried：“My lord, there is some great mistake. I am a most unhappy wretch, but not the Bashaw whom thou seekest.”
All those in the tent were amazed at these words, and Orbassan said：“Your denial will not help you, for I can call people who know you well；”and he gave orders that Zuleima should be brought before him；who when asked if she recognised the prisoner, said：“Certainly, my lord, he is the Bashaw of Sulieika, and no one else！”
“See，”said the Chief，“how little your lie has availed you. I despise you too much to soil my dagger with your miserable blood；but on the back of one of my horses shall you be bound to-morrow morning, and through the forest I will pursue you until the sun sets behind the hills of Sulieika.”
Then Mustapha's courage failed him.“My father's curse is haunting me，”he cried，“and now indeed, dear sister, and still dearer Zoraide, are you lost.”
“Resistance is no good，”whispered one of the robbers, as he bound the captive's hands behind his back.“Best come quietly out of the tent, for the Chief is biting his lips and looking at his dagger. Come, if you wish to live till to-morrow.”
As the robbers drew Mustapha out of the tent, they met three comrades with a prisoner.
“We bring the Bashaw, as you commanded，”said they, and led the captive before the Chief. As the prisoner was going into the tent, Mustapha had an opportunity of observing him, and was struck with the extraordinary likeness to himself, save that the stranger was darker and his beard blacker.
The Chief was also astonished at the resemblance between the two men.“Which of you is the right man？”he asked, looking from one to the other.
“If you mean which is the Bashaw of Sulieika，”said the latest prisioner haughtily，“I am he！”
The Chief looked attentively at him, then signed to the men to take their prisoner away, and when alone with Mustapha cut his bonds with the dagger blade, and invited him to be seated.
“I am sorry, stranger，”said he，“that I mistook you for another；but you may thank Heaven that you did not fall into my brother's hands.”
Mustapha then begged permission to continue his journey without delay, as every moment was of such dire importance. The Chief inquired the object of his travellings, and having heard, suggested that a night's rest would be best for man and beast, and promised on the morrow to show him a short route by which he would reach Balsora in a day and a half.Mustapha willingly consented to remain, and slept soundly till morning.
When he awoke he found himself alone in the tent, but throughthe curtains he could hear voices in discussion, among them those of the Chief and the little black man. He listened, and, to his horror, heard the dwarf suggest that Mustapha should be put to death in case he might betray them.Mustapha was certain that the dwarf owed him a grudge on account of the struggle in the tent the day before；but the Chief, after a moment's thought, said：
“No！he is my guest, and as such his person is sacred, and I am sure he is no traitor！”
As he spoke these words he threw the curtains back and cried：“Peace be with you, Mustapha. Let us pledge each other, and then you must prepare for your journey.”
The attendant immediately brought goblets of sherbet, and when they had drunk, they mounted their steeds, and with a light heart Mustapha took his departure.
They soon left the camp behind, and crossed an open space which led into the forest. The Chief told Mustapha that the Bashaw, whom they had once caught on the chase, had promised not in any way to molest them；but for many weeks he had captured their bravest men, and after tormenting them cruelly had hanged them.The Chief had been watching for him some time, and to-day the Bashaw must die.Mustapha felt thankful at his own happy escape.
At the far end of the forest the Chief reined in his horse, instructed Mustapha as to his way, shook him by the hand, and said：
“Mustapha, you have, by extraordinary circumstance, been theguest of the bandit Orbassan. I know well you will not disclose anything you have seen or heard.You have passed through danger of death, and I admire your fortitude.Take this dagger in remembrance, and should you need help at any time, send it to me, and I will hasten to your assistance.This purse, I pray you, use on your journey.”
Mustapha thanked him for his generosity；he took the dagger, but returned the gold. Orbassan, however, dropped it from his hand, and it lay unheeded on the ground as he sprang to his horse.When he was well out of sight Mustapha picked up the purse, and was startled to find such evidence of his host's magnificence, for the value of the gold was great.He thanked God for his escape, commended the noble robber to His protection, and continued his journey to Balsora at his best speed.
On the seventh day of his journeyings Mustapha rode through the gates of Balsora. Dismounting at an inn, he asked when the slave-market would be held.To his dismay he learnt that he was two days late.The bystanders sympathised with his disappointment, and told him he had lost an excellent opportunity, for on the very last day of the market two most lovely slaves had been brought in, who had attracted the admiration of all the buyers.
Many wished to purchase them, but the biddings went so high that no one could compete with their ultimate possessor. Further inquiries convinced Mustapha that these two slaves were his sisterand Zoraide.He also learnt that their owner was named Thiuli-Kos, and lived quite forty hours'journey from Balsora.He was a rich and elderly man, formerly ruler of Kapudan and a Bashaw, but now quietly managed his large dominions.
Mustapha felt inclined to mount his horse at once and follow Thiuli-Kos without delay. But he remembered that alone and without escort he was powerless against a mighty traveller, and had to think what would be a really possible way to carry out his plans.The strange likeness between himself and the Bashaw of Sulieika, which had nearly been so disastrous to him, gave him the idea of assuming the name, and of so gaining an entrance into the house of Thiuli-Kos, with the prospect of rescuing the unfortunate maidens.
He was able, thanks to Orbassan's generosity, to hire servants and horses, and buy suitable outfit for them and himself ere starting on his journey to the Castle. After five days they were in its neighbourhood.It stood in a fine position, and was surrounded by walls which were almost as high as the building itself.
When he reached the Castle, he dyed his hair and beard black, but only slightly darkened the colour of his skin in order to make his face more like to the Bashaw's. Then he sent his servants in advance to the Castle to crave a night's hospitality for the Bashaw of Sulieika.The servants returned, and with them four handsomely dressed slaves, who took Mustapha's horse by the bridle and led it to the courtyard.There they held it while he dismounted, and fourother attendants led him up a broad marble staircase to Thiuli, who with great friendliness welcomed him, and ordered a meal to be prepared.After he had eaten, Mustapha turned the conversation to the subject of the new slaves, and Thuili spoke enthusiastically of their good looks, but feared their continual fretting would soon destroy their beauty.Satisfied with the success, so far, of his adventure, Mustapha withdrew to rest.
He could hardly have slept an hour, when he was disturbed by the glare of a lamp held close to his face. He roused himself, and thought he must be dreaming, for it was no other than the little brown-faced dwarf from Orbassan's tent who had awakened him.Mustapha pinched and pulled himself to see if it were reality or imagination.
“Why are you here by my bed？”cried Mustapha, as soon as he had recovered from his surprise.
“Do not excite yourself, my lord，”said the dwarf.“I know well why you are come hither. Your face is perfectly familiar to me, though if I had not with my own hands helped to hang the Bashaw, I might have been deceived.Now I have something to ask.”
“First tell me why you are here，”said Mustapha, furious to find he had been recognised.
“Willingly. I could no longer bear the rule of the Chief Orbassan, so I left him；but you, Mustapha, were partly the cause of our quarrel, so you must promise me your sister for my wife.If you do so I will help you in both rescue and flight；if not, I will go to my new master and tell him you are an impostor.”矮个子威胁莫斯塔法
Mustapha was beside himself with rage to think that just as he had so nearly succeeded in his difficult task, this wretched dwarf should suddenly thwart him. There was only one way out of the difficulty-he must kill the man, and he sprang from his couch with sudden, intention；but the dwarf was not unprepared, and, dropping the lamp, ran out into the dark corridor screaming for help.
Here indeed was a catastrophe. His own safety was of first importance, and Mustapha rushed to the window to see if he could possibly jump out.It was rather high from the ground, and beyond was a wall over which he must climb.As he paused to think, he heard voices near, even at the door of his apartment.Securing his dagger and his clothes he swung himself from the casement.The fall was hard, but he had broken no bones, so ran as fast as be could to the wall, reaching it before his pursuers, and found himself once more free.He ran on till he came to a small wood, where he threw himself down to rest and consider what next to do.His horses and his servants he must leave where they were；but his money, most fortunately, was safe in his cummerbund.His busy brain soon worked out another plan.He went through the wood until he came to a village, where he bought a horse and rode to the nearest town.There he sought an apothecary, and was directed to an old and venerable man；to whom he offered a large price for a drug whichwould produce a deathlike sleep, and for another which would instantaneously act as an antidote.
With these in his possession he bought a long false beard, a black gown, and some books, so that he could impersonate a travelling doctor, bound these things upon a donkey's back, and went back to the Castle of Thiuli-Kos. He hoped this time to be more successful, for the beard changed his appearance so that he hardly knew himself.When he reached Thiuli, he announced himself as the physician Chakamankabudibaba, and, as he had hoped, the old ruler immediately ordered his attendance.Chakamankabudibaba presented himself before Thiuli, and they had hardly conversed for an hour before the old man thought his slave-women might as well consult this famous doctor.Mustapha could hardly conceal his pleasure at the prospect of seeing his dear sister again, and with a beating heart followed Thiuli to the Seraglio.They paused in a beautifully decorated but empty room.
“Chambaba, or whatever your name is, great doctor，”said Thiuli-Kos，“observe that hole in the wall. Through it each slave will put her arm, and you can tell by the pulse if she be well or ill.”
This was hardly what Mustapha desired；but he consented to do as Thiuli wished, and the old man took a long roll out of his girdle and began to call his slaves by name, and each in turn passed her hand through the wall, and the physician felt her pulse.
Six had already been declared well and strong when Thiulicalled“Fatima，”and a little white hand slipped through the wall. Trembling with joy, Mustapha seized it, and declared the owner to be ill undoubtedly.Thiuli was much concerned, and begged his wise Chakamankabudibaba to find some medicine which would cure her.
The physician went outside and wrote on a little slip of paper“Fatima, I will save you, if you can shut yourself up and take a draught which will make you unconscious for two days. I have another which will bring you back to life.Do not be afraid.”Then Mustapha returned to the room where Thiuli was impatiently waiting, and taking with him the little draught he felt Fatima's pulse once more and slipped the paper beneath her bracelet, passing the medicine through the opening in the wall.Thiuli seemed in great distress about Fatima, and impatiently awaited the result of the examination.As he left the room with Mustapha, he said in a sad voice：“Chadibaba, what is the matter with Fatima？”
Chakamankabudibaba answered with a deep sigh：
“By the beard of the Prophet, she has a severe fever, which may, perhaps, end fatally.”
At this Thiuli flew into a violent rage.
“How dare you tell me that, accursed dog of a physician. Is she, for whom I gave two thousand golden pieces, to die like an animal？By my oath, if you do not save her, I will cut your head off！”
Then Mustapha perceived that he had made a mistake, and spoke rather more hopefully. But at this moment a slave came out ofthe Seraglio and said that the medicine did not seem to have had a good effect.
“Put forth all your skill, Chakambababa, and whatever fee you ask shall be yours，”cried Thiuli-Kos, almost beside himself with anxiety at the thought of losing so much money spent on a slave.
“I will give her another draught which will greatly help her recovery，”said the physician.
“Do, do；lose no time，”said old Thiuli.
Full of joy, Mustapha went to get his sleeping-draught, and when he had carefully explained to the black slave exactly how it was to be given to the patient, he went to Thiuli and said that he must go out and search for a healing herb on the shore of the lake, and left the Castle. Into the lake, which was not far from the Castle, he threw his disguise, and watched clothes and beard floating on the water；then he withdrew to a short distance, waited for sunset, and then hid himself in the burying-ground adjoining Thiuli's Castle.
Mustapha had hardly been an hour absent from the Castle when the news was brought to Thiuli that his slave Fatima was dying. He sent to the lake, telling his messenger to bring back the physician at once.The man returned alone, and told him that the poor doctor had fallen in the lake and was drowned；his black gown and beard could plainly be seen floating on the waves as they rose and fell.When Thiuli saw there was no more hope, he cursed everything and everybody, tore out the hair of his beard, and banged his headagainst the wall.But this did no good；and Fatima, meantime, died.When he heard the sad news, he ordered a coffin to be made directly, for he would have no dead bodies in his house, and said she was to be taken to the burial-ground.The bearers brought the coffin there, set it down, and ran away, for they had heard mysterious sobs and groans proceeding from it.
Mustapha, who had hidden himself behind some coffins and had noticed how quickly the hearers ran away from the place, stepped forward, and lighted a lamp he had brought with him. Then he drew forth the phial containing the awakening dose, and raised the lid of Fatima's coffin.But what a sad surprise awaited him！The light of the lamp shone on other features than those of his dear sister.Neither she nor Zoraide lay in that coffin, but altogether a different person.He was much cast down at this fresh blow；fate did indeed seem against him；but pity mingled with his disappointment.He opened the bottle, and poured the medicine between the lips of the swooning girl, who sighed, opened her eyes, and seemed to wonder where she was.At last she remembered all that had happened, and stepping out of the coffin threw herself at Mustapha's feet.
“How can I ever thank you, good friend，”said she，“for delivering me from my dreadful seclusion？”
Mustapha interrupted her thanks with the question how it was that she, and not his sister Fatima, was the fortunate slave.
She looked at him in bewilderment.
“Now, I begin to understand，”she said，“all that puzzled me before. In the Harem I was called Fatima, and you effected my escape through a misunderstanding.”
Mustapha begged the slave to give him some news of his sister and Zoraide, and learnt that they were both in the castle, but Thiuli had given them other names. They were now called Mirza and Nourmahal.
When Fatima, the rescued slave, saw how bitterly downcast Mustapha was, she bade him not despair, and said she thought she could tell him of a way to seek and find his dear ones. Overjoyed at the possibility, Mustapha implored her to lose no time but to explain her meaning.
“I was for five months Thiuli's favourite，”she said，“but my thoughts were always bent on escape, though alone and unaided it seemed too difficult. In the innermost courtyard you may have noticed a fountain which spouts its water through ten tubes.This fountain interested me.I remembered one like it in my father's house, and that its waters ran through a wide underground passage.In order to ascertain if this fountain was so built, I flattered Thiuli one day as to its beauty, and asked who the designer was.‘I myself；'answered he；‘and what you see is not all.The water comes at least a distance of a thousand yards, from a brook, and passes through a conduit the height of a man.All this I myself designed.'When I heard this, I often wished only for one moment to have the strengthof a man；so as to remove one stone from the side of the fountain, and thus be able to escape.I will now show you this waterway；through it you can make your entrance into the Castle at night, and free your sister and Zoraide.But you must take at least two men with you, so that you can overpower the slaves who guard the Seraglio.”
As she finished speaking, Mustapha, in spite of the want of success of his former efforts, felt a keen desire to make one more