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ingly set out, and arrived at the capital of that King, who happened to be his own brother Bihrūz. Him, however, after the lapse of many years, he did not recognise. The King, having graciously received the present which Rüzbih offered, purchased of him all the jewels, and conceived such an affection for him that he kept him constantly in the palace, day and night.
At this time a foreign enemy invaded the country; but the King thought the matter of so little importance, that he contented himself with sending some troops to the field, and remained at home carousing. and drinking with Rūzbih. At length, one night, at a very late hour, all the servants being absent, the King became intoxicated, and fell asleep. Ruzbih, not perceiving any of the guards or attendants, resolved that he would watch the King until morning; and accordingly, taking a sword, he stationed himself near the King's pillow.
After some time had elapsed, several of the soldiers who had gone to oppose the enemy returned, and, entering the palace, discovered Rūzbih and the King in this situation. They immediately seized Ruzbih;
and when the King awoke, they told him that, by their coming, they had saved his Majesty from assassination, which the jeweller, with a drawn sword, had been ready to perpetrate. The King, at first, ordered his immediate execution; and as day was beginning to dawn, and the approach of the enemy required his presence at the head of his troops, he sent for the executioner, who, having bound the eyes of Rūzbih and drawn his sword, exclaimed: "Say, King of the world, shall I strike or not?"
The King, considering that it would be better to inquire more particularly into the affair, and, knowing that, although it is easy to kill, it is impossible to restore a man to life, resolved to defer the punishment until his return, and sent Rūzbih to prison.
After this he proceeded to join the army, and having subdued his enemies, returned to the capital; but, during the space of two years, forgot the unfortunate Rūzbih, who lingered away his life in confinement. In the meantime his father and mother, grieving on account of his absence, and, ignorant of what had befallen him, sent a letter of inquiry by a confidential messenger to the money-changers (or bankers) of that
city. Having read this, they wrote back, in answer, that Rūzbih had been in prison for two years.
On receiving this information, the jewel-merchant and his wife resolved to set out and throw themselves at the feet of this King, and endeavour to obtain from him the pardon and liberty of their son. With heavy hearts they accordingly proceeded on their journey, and having arrived at the capital, presented themselves before the King, and said: "Be it known unto your exalted Majesty, that we are two wretched strangers, oppressed by the infirmities of age, and overwhelmed by misfortune. We were blessed with two sons, one named Bihrūz, the other Rūzbih; but it was the will of Heaven that they should fall into the sea, where one of them perished, but the other was restored to us. The fame of your Majesty's generosity and greatness induced our son to visit this imperial court; and we are informed that, by your orders, he is now in prison. The object of our petition is, that your Majesty might take compassion on our helpless situation, and restore to us our long-lost son."
The King on hearing this was astonished, and for
a while imagined that it was all a dream. At length, when convinced that the old man and woman were his own parents, and that Rūzbih was his own brother, he sent for him to the prison, embraced them and wept, and placed them beside him on the throne ; and for the sake of Rūzbih, set at liberty all those who had been confined with him. After this he divided the empire with his brother, and their time passed away in pleasure and tranquillity.
This story being concluded, Bakhtyar observed, that the jewel-merchant, by his precipitancy, had nearly occasioned the death of his two sons; and that Bihrūz, by deferring the execution of his brother, had prevented an infinity of distress to himself and his parents. This observation induced the King to grant Bakhtyar another day's reprieve, and he was taken back to prison.
HEN the next morning came, the Ninth
that his extraordinary forbearance and lenity in respect to Bakhtyar had given occasion to much scandal; as every criminal, however heinous his offence, began to think that he might escape punishment by amusing the King with idle stories.
The King, on hearing this, sent to the prison for Bakhtyār, and desired the executioner to attend. When the unfortunate young man came before the King, he requested a respite only of two days, in the course of which he hoped his innocence might be proved; "although," said he, "I know that the malice of one's enemies is a flame from which it is almost impossible to escape: as appears from the story of Abū Temām, who, on the strength of a false accusa