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Said’s Adventures
by [?]

In the time of Haroun-al-Raschid, the ruler of Bagdad, there lived in Balsora a man named Benezar. He was possessed of considerable means, and could live quietly and comfortably without resorting to trade. Nor did he change his life of ease when a son was born to him. “Why should I, at my time of life, dicker and trade?” said he to his neighbors, “just to leave Said a thousand more gold pieces if things went well, and if they went badly a thousand less? ‘Where two have eaten, a third may feast,’ says the proverb; and if he is only a good boy, Said shall want for nothing.” Thus spake Benezar, and well did he keep his word, for his son was brought up neither to a trade nor yet to commerce. Still Benezar did not omit reading with him the books of wisdom, and as it was the father’s belief that a young man needed, with scholarship and veneration for age, nothing more than a strong arm and courage, he had his son early educated in the use of weapons, and Said soon passed among boys of his own age, and even among those much older, for a valiant fencer, while in horsemanship and swimming he had no superior.

When he was eighteen years old, his father sent him to Mecca, to the grave of the Prophet, to say his prayers and go through his religious exercises on the spot, as required by custom and the commandment. Before he departed, his father called him to his side and praised his conduct, gave him good advice, provided him with money, and then said:

“One word more, my son Said. I am a man above sharing in the superstitions of the rabble. I listen with pleasure to the stories of fairies and sorcerers as an agreeable way of passing the time; still I am far from believing, as so many ignorant people do, that these genii, or whatever they may be, exert an influence on the lives and affairs of mortals. But your mother, who has been dead these twelve years, believed as devoutly in them as in the Koran; yes, she even confided to me once, after I had pledged her not to reveal the fact to any one but her child, that she herself from her birth up had had association with a fairy. I laughed at her for entertaining such a notion; and yet I must confess, Said, that certain things happened at your birth that caused me great astonishment. It had rained and thundered the whole day, and the sky was so black that nothing could be seen without a light. But at four o’clock in the afternoon I was told that I was the father of a little boy. I hastened to your mother’s room to see and to bless our first-born; but all her maids stood before the door, and in response to my questions, answered that no one would be allowed in the room at present, as Zemira (your mother) had ordered every body out of her chamber because she wished to be alone. I knocked on the door, but all in vain; it remained locked. While I waited somewhat indignantly, before the door, the sky cleared more quickly than I had ever seen it do before,–but the most wonderful thing about it was, that it was only over our loved city of Balsora that the clear blue sky appeared, for the black clouds rolled back, and lightning flashed on the outskirts of this circle. While I was contemplating this spectacle curiously, my wife’s door flew open. I ordered the maids to wait outside, and entered the chamber alone to ask your mother why she had locked herself in. As I entered, such a stupefying odor of roses, pinks, and hyacinths greeted me that I almost lost my senses. Your mother held you up to me, at the same time pointing to a little silver whistle that was attached to your neck by a golden chain as fine as silk. ‘The good woman of whom I once spoke to you has been here,’ said your mother, ‘and has given your boy this present.’ ‘And was it the old witch also who swept away the clouds and left this fragrance of roses and pinks behind her?’ said I with an incredulous laugh. ‘But she might have left him something better than this whistle: say a purse full of gold, a horse, or something of the kind.’ Your mother besought me not to jest, because the fairies, if angered, would transform their blessings into maledictions. To please her, and because she was sick, I said no more; nor did we speak again of this strange occurrence until six years afterwards, when, young as she was, she felt that she was going to die. She gave me then the little whistle, charging me to give it to you only when you had reached your twentieth year, and before that hour not to let it go out of my possession. She died. Here now is the present,” continued Benezar, producing from a little box a small silver whistle, to which was attached a long gold chain; “and I give it to you in your eighteenth, instead of your twentieth year, because you are going away, and I may be gathered to my fathers before you return home. I do not see any sensible reason why you should remain here another two years before setting out, as your anxious mother wished. You are a good and prudent young man, can wield your weapons as bravely as a man of four-and-twenty, and therefore I can as well pronounce you of age to-day as if you were already twenty; and now go in peace, and think, in fortune and misfortune–from which last may heaven preserve you–on your father.”