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Said’s Adventures
by [?]

Thus spake Benezar of Balsora, as he dismissed his son. Said took leave of him with much emotion, hung the chain about his neck, stuck the whistle in his sash, swung himself on his horse, and rode to the place where the caravan for Mecca assembled. In a short time eighty camels and many hundred horsemen had gathered there; the caravan started off, and Said rode out of the gate of Balsora, his native city, that he was destined not to see again for a long time.

The novelty of such a journey, and the many strange objects that obtruded themselves upon his attention, at first diverted his mind; but as the travelers neared the desert and the country became more and more desolate, he began to reflect on many things, and among others, on the words with which his father had taken leave of him. He drew out his whistle, examined it closely, and put it to his mouth to see whether it would give a clear and fine tone; but, lo! it would not sound at all. He puffed out his cheeks, and blew with all his strength; but he could not produce a single note, and vexed at the useless present, he thrust the whistle back into his sash. But his thoughts shortly returned to the mysterious words of his mother. He had heard much about fairies, but he had never learned that this or that neighbor in Balsora had had any relations with a supernatural power; on the contrary, the legends of these spirits had always been located in distant times and places, and therefore he believed there were to-day no such apparitions, or that the fairies had ceased to visit mortals or to take any interest in their fate. But although he thought thus, he was constantly making the attempt to believe in mysterious and supernatural powers, and wondering what might have been their relations with his mother; and so he would sit on his horse like one in a dream nearly the whole day, taking no part in the conversation of the travellers, and deaf to their songs and laughter.

Said was a very handsome youth; his eye was clear and piercing, his mouth wore a pleasing expression, and, young as he was, he bore himself with a certain dignity that one seldom sees in so young a man, and his grace and soldierly appearance in the saddle commanded the attention of many of his fellow-travellers. An old man who rode by his side was much pleased with his manner, and sought by many questions to become more acquainted with him. Said, in whom reverence for old age had been early inculcated, answered modestly, but wisely and with circumspection, so that the old man’s first impressions of him were strengthened. But as the young man’s thoughts had been occupied the whole day with but one subject, it followed that the conversation between the two soon turned upon the mysterious realm of the fairies; and Said finally asked the old man bluntly whether he believed in the existence of fairies, who took mortals under their protection, or sought to injure them.

The old man shook his head thoughtfully, and stroked his beard, before replying: “It can not be disputed that there have been instances of the kind, although I have never seen a dwarf of the spirits, a giant of the genii, a sorcerer, or a fairy.” He then began to relate so many wonderful stories that Said’s head was fairly in a whirl, and he could believe nothing else than that everything, which had happened at his birth–the change in the weather, the sweet odor of roses and hyacinths–were the signs that he was under the special protection of a kind and powerful fairy, and that the whistle was given him for no less a purpose than to summon the fairy in case of need. He dreamed all night of castles, winged horses, genii and the like, and dwelt in a genuine fairy realm.