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THE FORTUNES OF AHMED,
[Tue Sultan Schahnir, having listened to many a pleasant tale of the tireless Scheherazade, and becoming more and more suspicious that they were all composed by the same person, at length resolved to ask for one by a different hand. “For," said he to himself,
even though it should prove inferior to the others, it will afford a change, and perhaps I shall afterwards relish the old style all the better for it. Charming Scheherazade," said he, “ am I right in surmising that the exquisite tales which you have told with so much grace and spirit are the production of one mind ? ” “Sire, you have guessed with your usual shrewdness,” replied the Sultana ; "they were composed by my uncle Schirzad for the amusement of his nephews and nieces." “He was a wonderful man, truly," observed the Sultan. “I look upon him as on one who has given me a magnificent feast, in which nothing important was lacking. I have now and then thought I should have relished some parts of it more heartily had they but had the benefit of a sharper contrast with somethingsome foreign spice, perhaps, or even a little dried fruit, provided it came from the other end of the world.” “Sire, I understand and appreciate your objection,” replied the Sultana, gently ; we cannot read one author forever, even though he were the greatest of all. I will now tell you a story that possesses certain points peculiar to itself. It is the work of an honorable mind, and for that reason cannot be wholly destitute of merit.” “I shall be charmed to hear it!” said the Sultan. Scheherazade at once took her accustomed place, and began as follows:]
rather than to the college. In the colOn the side of a mountain, near lege, I admit, I could do better justice Lassa, the capital city of Thibet, lived to those native talents which the priests a poor widow with her only son, Ah- pretended to see in my eye when the med. Their garden was a small level Dalai-lama * died. Buttract not far from the house; and here, “Son, son," said the mother, severewhen the weather was favorable—which ly, “how often have I warned you to in that rigorous climate is too rarely be more respectful to the priesthood ! the -the widow often came to I know you are not impious in thought; assist her son in making the most of why, then, should your careless speech the sunshine. Ahmed could not refuse do you injustice ? Sometimes I fear her aid, so cheerfully rendered, for their lest Shigemooni should strike you subsistence depended mainly on the dumb when you thus insult his represale of their surplus produce in the city. sentatives."
One summer afternoon Ahmed was “Pardon me, dear mother !” exresting within the house-jf "house" claimed the impulsive youth ; "it was it could be called, that from a distance only my modesty that made me turn looked more like a heap of stones-for their good opinions into empty complihe had been to the city, and felt more ments. I won't pretend again that they fatigue than was usual after those tedi
were not sincere. But, were I ever so ous journeys. “Yes, mother,” he said, certain of my ability, you see that sucas though resuming the thread of a
cess as a philosopher or plıysician is, if previous conversation, the more I think of this tiresome life, and what improve greatest of all the lamas who govern Thibet both
* The Dalai-lama is the Grand Lama--the ment a little money would make, the
temporally and spiritually. When he dies, the more I incline to the School of Magic,* inferior lamas select some child whom they declare
he has appointed his successor. The Dalai-lama * In Thibet, besides colleges in which the ordi- represents the highest god (Shigemooni), as the nary branches of scholastic learning are taught, Arabian caliphs do. But he is more divine, and there are others devoted to the study of the sc cnce has an eternal existence, which is transmitted to of Magic.
his successor, his spirit being born anew.
anywhere, far in the distance; and, But, whatever the nature of this mysmeanwhile, I am very poor. Whereas, tery, the truth must be spoken. once I am master of the glorious secrets Ahmed,” she said, very gravely, “a senof Magic, I have my fortune in my own sible person will only preach when there hands."
is need of a sermon, You are aware “ Is that so certain, son ?” asked the that your father was a scholar; and permother; “ do we not know many magi- haps I may have learned something cians who are still poor ?”
from that pure spirit—which I do not “ Truly," answered Ahmed ; " but of doubt is aiding me this moment. He these poor magicians some are unskil- could have enriched himself in the way ful, and others do not desire riches. you seem so taken with ; but he disThey confine themselves to exorcising dained any thing meanly won. evil spirits, or finding out important spected himself, and was respected by secrets for those who can pay but a others. The visit of the priests, who small fee. On the other hand, there are spoke so well of your character, was several who are rich and powerful-so owing to the repute of your father ; for great that even the priests fear them." they knew that a good tree is apt to
“But these magicians, son, all prac- produce good fruit." tise black magic,* do they not ?"
These words, so seriously spoken by “ It is so said,” Ahmed replied. one so dear to him—for Ahmed really
“I have always thought their gains loved and honored his mother—made unholy," said the mother, seriously. a deep impression. He rose from the " It is like enjoying stolen fruit. They yak-skin * and paced backward and surely take what was never intended forward several minutes. Then, pausfor them. And, moreover, it is degrad- ing before his mother, and dropping his ing to accept gifts from an enemy. And voice-for he had observed, through are not the demons our enemies? Still the open door, an old man, a wanderfurther : whether the gift came from an ing stranger, seated not far distant--he enemy or a friend, the only riches that said, " It is best, mother, that I should ennoble one are those that are gained tell you why I am thus eager, all at by one's own exertion. The great men once, for riches. I have to-day seen a are those who make themselves. Rich- face that has enchanted me, So much es easily won dwarf the soul, instead beauty and sweetness were never before of expanding it.”
seen in a human countenance !” “ That is all true, mother,” said Ah- “A face, son ?- in love with a face ?" med, quietly; "but who has inspired “A face with a soul in it, mother !” you? You surpass the priests both in said Ahmed, with fervency. “ Some sense and eloquence !”
souls are so bright they shine through The mother paused. There was a the flesh. If the priests could read my conflict in her feelings. Her reverence character in my eyes before it was realwas again shocked; her self-respect was ly formed, how much more could they wounded; her son had grieved her. read hers, in those lovely features and But was this a time to redress these in- that tender and expressive glance !" juries ? No; for he was willing to lis- Well, son,” said the mother, with a ten, and now, if ever, she should forget sigh, “I grant every perfection of the herself, in the endeavor to do him good. young lady. She has made a sudden Something had lately stirred him up; conquest, and must therefore be very that was evident. Never before had charining. What is her name ?” poverty so embittered his thoughts. “ That I do not know," answered
Ahmed, timidly. "I have seen her; I * Three kinds of magic are known in Thibet : theurgy, or white magie, i.e., that which is wrought by means of heavenly assistance; natural magic, * The skin of the yak (the “yak of Tartary,” which avails itself of the powers of nature; and a race of cattle with a hunch on the shoulders, black magic, or necromancy, which invokes the very useful, particularly as a beast of burden) is
covered with long, thick, soft hair.
aid of demons.
know she exists; that is all. Yet, not length approaching, as though he had all; for I am satisfied I am not indiffer- intended from the first to enter, he at ent to her.”
this juncture appeared in the doorway “What is her condition in life ?" of the cottage, and saluted its inmates
“Ah, that is the hard point!" ex- with great courtesy. “Pray enter," claimed Ahmed, with emotion. said the widow; "all that I have is at lives in one of the most splendid pal- your service.” aces in Lassa. And I know, from her 5* I shall do nothing, kind lady," said dress and air, that she is no menial; the stranger, w to make you wish you she can be no other but the daughter had been less hospitable. All I at presand heiress of the house."
ent need is a single draught of water." The mother of Ahmed remained Ahmed hastened to supply him. silent for a while, and then said, “ If “For hospitality's sake, you will taste your impression, that this rich young a barley-cake?” said the good hostess. lady returns the interest you feel in her, “That the blessing of your kindness is correct
may fully descend on me," said the “I only know this,” Ahmed began, guest, “I take and eat it." His air was availing himself of the pause : " when gentle and dignified. He seemed to I passed her the first time being not confer a favor, when he so graciously more than a few rods distant-her eyes and cordially accepted one. kindied the moment she saw me, and The good woman seated her guest, her whole face lighted up with wonder- and modestly awaited his leisure. After ful quickness. She was then at her s moment's pause, during which he rewindow, working embroidery. When garded both mother and son with a beI passed the second time, she was still nignant glance, he said, “There is no there; and as soon as she observed me such pleasure in the world as that of she started, as with an agreeable sur- doing good. When we can be reasonprise, and the next instant her lovely ably certain that what we contemplate face was covered with blushes."
will bave a favorable result, it is de“Yes," said the mother, “it is prob- lightful to anticipate and in imaginaable she is pleased with you. And what tion see the good already accomplished, I was going to say a while since is, that the happiness already enjoyed. Do you she must have perceived you are poor. Sgree with me, kind lady?” This, I admit, speaks well for her mod- “What you say I know to be quite esty. As it is you, then, and not your true," said the mother. supposed grandeur and importance, that “And you, dear youth ?” she fancies, wherefore all this anxiety “I am equally certain of it," said about riches? Should not your own per- Ahmed ; though my mother, being sonal worthiness be your chief concern?” older and kinder than I, has had many
“So far as relates to her, that is true more proofs of its correctness.” enough," replied Ahmed. “ But there Well and modestly said," observed are others to be thought of. Probably the guest. “But, when we would do her family are proud, and look high for good, and yet cannot feel certain that her. And, even were this not so, a what we have projected will be useful sense of propriety would suggest that I —nay, more: when we fear lest the should so appear to her friends and the seeming good may turn to evil, then the world that none could sneer, and thus case is very different ; is it not ?" make her suffer for my sake, if not her Both his hearers assented to this own. They would justly ask, “How is proposition also, and within themselves this beggar to support his queen?' On were much mystified by these singular that head there must be no room for observations. conjecture."
“From the few words I chanced to The couple, in their earnestness, had overhear just now," he resumed, adlong forgotten the old man outside. At dressing the mother, “I infer that your
son is in dejection on account of his that he may not be kept waiting. Bepoverty. It seems to him that, if he sides, I am very impatient-in fact, were rich, he could be the happiest of half wild !" mortals. I once, as a poor young man,
“I can well believe that,” the mother had the same conviction. But my real answered. But she saw, in her son's exunhappiness dated from the day I sud- citement, a mood quite unfavorable to denly acquired my propefty. Now, 1 good impressions. At a venture, then, am able to assist your son.
The doubt she said, “Be true to yourself, son Ahis, whether what I could confer on him med, and I can ask no more. Do not would prove a blessing or a curse." be dazzled too easily. If there is a
When the stranger announced bis choice, choose what is plain. Be modability to help poor Ahmed, the youth's est, and all may turn out well. Go, countenance lighted up, his eyes glis- now; and may the spirit of your dear tened, and his breath came and went father protect you !" rapidly through his parted lips.
“How strange,” thought Ahmed, as “ An hour ago, kind sir," said the he turned to go," that, while I am so mother, “I should have known well full of joy, they are both so serious !” what to say to any plan for aiding my “We will go up the mountain a little son; I should have declined the offer at way,” said the stranger, who stroked his once. But in his present state of mind long beard as he walked, and seemed -which I am sure he has not exagge- disposed to contemplation. At length rated in the account he has just given he broke silenće by asking Ahmed how me-I fear that the prospect of a life long he had been in love. of poverty would fairly ruin his health. “Since mid-day," replied Ahmed. He is in love, as you are aware, and all “Ah!” said his companion, “I had lovers are alike; not one of them is supposed it to be an affair of years. quite sane. If, therefore, you can do And what is your age?” any thing for him, in such a way that “ Nineteen." he will not be dazzled and spoiled by “ And the probable age of your his good fortune, why, I shall be glad charmer isindeed ; and there is no need to assure Sixteen, I should say,” returned you of our gratitude.”
Ahmed. “I will do my best to please you,” “A serious business, truly!” mutsaid the old man. “ The mode and de- tered the old man, striding on. He gree of benefit, however, must depend moved so rapidly that Ahmed had on him alone. In this matter, from the almost to run to keep up with him. moment I undertake the service, he is “Is he laughing at me?” thought the to receive no advice from any quarter; youth. his own instincts, his own sense of what At length they reached a level place, is right and good, must decide. There with higher ground all around it, and fore speak now, if you wish to counsel the heights of the mountain still before him. I will await him outside." With them. “How still and dreary!” said a courteous bow the stranger then with. Ahmed to himself. drew.
“ Can you find any thing to make a “Oh, he is a magician-I'm sure he fire with ?” asked his companion. is !” exclaimed Ahmed, joyfully.
“It is doubtful,” said Ahmed, who " That is my own impression, son Ah- saw nothing but sand; “but I will med," said his mother. “But, do you look.” He presently returned with an notice, he is not in haste to serve you ? armful of small plants, and went in And there I bonor him. It is a very search of more. He observed that the serious thing, this benefiting another.” old man stood aside, with head bent
“I believe you, though I can't under- and arms folded, apparently taking no stand it,” said Ahmed. “But tell me interest in these preparations. Presentquickly what you would have me do, ly, when fuel enough had been pro
vided, the stranger aroused himself a low, clear voice, very sweet and musifrom his reverie, and directed Ahmed cal, “ that your sentiments give me great to place certain stones, which he point- pleasure. To be loved by you has ed out, in such a position that the fire seemed to me, since I first saw you, as might be raised from the ground and at the summit of earthly felicity. Do you the same time protected from the wind. really love me as truly as you say? This having been done to his satisfac- As she said this, her ardent gaze rested tion, and some stems and stalks of the fully on his face. plants made ready, he kindled a fire by “So well and truly,” exclaimed Aha process unknown to Ahmed; the med, with emotion, “ that without you flame at first being bluish, but growing I must die!” ruddy by degrees. On the bright coals “Ah, this is happiness indeed!" she he threw a powder that sent up a cloud murmured, as Abmed embraced her tenof incense. The cloud grew more and derly. “To be loved !-to be loved !" more dense, and quite enveloped the In a kind of rapturous trance the lovmagician, so that Ahmed saw him in- ers wandered about, one moment talkdistinctly and as though at a great dis- ing eagerly, the next feeling a rapture tance. He began to feel a drowsiness too great for definite expression, At coming on, which he attributed to fa- length they sought the open air. The tigue and excitement. The magician garden, filled with rare flowering plants Now stretched a small red wand toward and shrubbery, and with trees of pleasLassa, and his lips moved as though he ing shape, where the choicest singinguttered words. Suddenly, as though a birds made their nests, gave them great great fan had swept away the smoke on delight. Approaching a fountain, they either hand, the air became calm, and lost themselves in admiration of its he revived. But the magician was beauties, and its eccentric and shifting gone. Ahmed found himself no longer character. From a few jets it changed in the open air, but in a vast apartment, to niany, and these crossed each other's of an order of architecture that was course in the most fantastic and gracequite new to him. Columns beautifully ful manner; the many jets still further sculptured supported the almost invisi- multiplied, and grew finer, until, though ble ceiling; the walls were adorned each was still distinct, the whole towith the noblest specimens of statuary; gether resembled a mist. Through the through the great windows, made of mist Ahmed thought he perceived the the clearest crystal, he beheld a garden m cian walking leisurely in an orangeso lovely that it seemed to him like
grove. The mist at length became a Paradise. As he advanced wondering- cloud, which grew denser and denser, ly, he suddenly heard the rustle of a and at the same time extended its limits dress. Turning about, he beheld a sight till it enveloped them both. So surthat transported him. At a little dis- prised were the lovers, that their hands tance was a young lady of charming dropped; and, the moment they were figure and graceful carriage, in whose quite separate, the cloud dispersed, and blushing countenance he at once dis- Ahmed saw only the magician. Glanccerned the features already so dear to ing around, le perceived that they were him. Drawn to her by an irresistible on the very spot where the enchantment attraction, he seized her hand and kissed had begun. “Where is my beloved ?" it passionately. “Dearest one," he he cried. said, “I cannot believe that a few hours “You saw only her apparition," said ago I saw you for the first time! Though the magician. “It was necessary that I do not even know your name, it seems I should see you together, before proas though I had known you for ages. ceeding. If I have distressed you, it is What happiness to be in this charming an injury that I can easily redress.” place, with you !”
“Ah, this is cruel !” cried Ahmed. “I confess, sir,” the lady replied, in “May the great and good Shigemooni