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THE BAKHTYÄR NĀMA.

CHAPTER I.

HISTORY OF KING ĀZĀDBAKHT AND THE VIZIER'S

DAUGHTER.

HUS it is recorded by the authors of remarkable histories, and the narrators of delightful tales,

that there was once in the country of Sistan, a certain King, possessing a crown and a throne, whose name was Āzādbakht; and he had a Vizier entitled Sipahsālār, a person of such bravery and skill that the moon concealed herself among the clouds from fear of his scimitar. This Vizier had a daughter endowed with such exquisite beauty that the rose of the garden and the moon of the heavenly spheres were confounded at the superior lustre of her cheeks. Sipahsālār loved this daughter with excessive fondness, so that he could scarcely exist an hour without her. Having gone on

an expedition to inspect the state of the country, it happened that he found himself under a necessity of passing some time from home. He immediately despatched confidential persons with orders to bring his daughter to him from the capital. These persons, having arrived at the Vizier's palace, paid their obeisance to the damsel, who ordered her attendants to prepare for the journey to her father. The horses were instantly caparisoned, and a litter provided with magnificence suitable to a princely traveller. The damsel, seated in this, commenced her journey, and went forth from the city.

It happened that the King, who had gone on a hunting-party, was at that moment returning from the chase. He beheld the litter with its ornaments and splendid decorations; and, whilst he gazed, it was borne quite out of the town. He sent to inquire about it; and the attendants said that it belonged to the daughter of Sipahsālār, who was going to her father. When the King's servants returned and reported to him this intelligence, he rode up to the litter that he might send his compliments to Sipahsālār. On his approach the attendants alighted from their horses, and kissed the ground of respectful obedience.

The King, having desired that they would bear his salutations to the Vizier, and they having promised punctually to do so, was preparing to turn back, when suddenly, the wind lifting up a corner of the hangings which covered the litter, his eyes were fixed by the fascinating beauty of the damsel; and he who in the chase had sought for game became now the captive prey of this lovely maid, and fell into the snares of love. At length he ordered the attendants to despatch a messenger to the north, where Sipahsālār was, and to inform him that the King would accept his daughter as a wife, hoping that he might not be esteemed an unworthy son-in-law.

When the attendants heard this, they kissed the ground of obedience, saying: "Long be the King's life!the sovereign of the earth and of the age, and the ruler of the world! If Sipahsālār could even dream of this honour, he would be supreme in happiness. But, if the King permit, we will proceed with the damsel to her father, and inform him of what has happened, that he may prepare everything necessary for the occasion, and then send her back to the city." When the servant of the damsel had thus spoken, the King, who was displeased with his dis

course, exclaimed: "How darest thou presume to counsel or advise me?" He would have punished the servant on the spot, but he feared lest the tender heart of his fair mistress should be distressed thereby. He accordingly remitted the punishment; and taking the reins into his own hands, he conducted the litter back towards the city, which he entered at the time when the shades of evening began to fall.

The next day he assembled the magistrates and chief men; and, having asked the damsel's consent to the marriage, he caused the necessary ceremonies to be performed. The secretaries were employed in writing letters of congratulation; and Sipahsālār was informed of the insult offered to him during his absence, which caused the tears to flow from his eyes whilst he perused the letters of congratulation. He dissembled, however; and, concealing his vexation, wrote letters to the King, and addressed him in language of the strongest gratitude, declaring himself at a loss for words whereby to express his sense of the honour conferred upon him.

Such was the purport of his letters; but in his mind he cherished hopes of revenge, and day and

night were employed in devising stratagems by means of which he might obtain it.

After two or three months spent in this manner, Sipahsālār assembled all the chief officers of the army, and informed them that, confiding in their secrecy and fidelity, he would communicate to them an affair of considerable importance. They all assured him of their attachment and regard; and declared that the flourishing state of the empire was the result of his wisdom, prudent management, and bravery. To this Sipahsālār replied: "You all know what actions I have performed, and what troubles I have undergone, to raise the empire to its present state of glory and prosperity but what has been my recompense ? You have seen how the ungrateful monarch carried off my daughter." Having thus spoken, a shower of tears fell from his eyes; and the chiefs who were assembled about him said: "We have been acquainted with this matter for some time, and it has given us great concern. But now the moment is arrived when we may depose this king."

Then Sipahsālār threw open the doors of his treasury, and distributed considerable sums of money amongst

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