He remained in that place, possessing it and all the treasure; but notwithstanding this, he was uneasy, reflecting upon the conduct of the sheykhs. And while he was meditating one day upon the words of the sheykh, and his charge to him not to open the door, it occurred to his mind that he might look at it.


So he went in that direction, and searched until he saw an elegant door, over which the spider had woven its webs, and upon it were four locks of steel. When he beheld it, he remembered how the sheykh had cautioned him, and he departed from it. His soul desired him to open the door, and he restrained it during a period of seven days; but on the eighth day his soul overcame him, and he said, “I must open that door, and see what will happen to me in consequence;

for nothing will repel what God (whose name be exalted!) decreeth and predestineth, and no event will happen but by His will.” Accordingly he arose and opened the door, after he had broken the locks. And when he had opened the door he saw a narrow passage, along which he walked for the space of three hours; and lo! he came forth upon the bank of a great river. At this the young man wondered. And he walked along the bank, looking to the right and left; and behold! a great eagle descended from the sky, and taking up the young man with its talons, it flew with him, between heaven and earth, until it conveyed him to an island in the midst of the sea. There it threw him down, and departed from him.


So the young man was perplexed at his case, not knowing whither to go; but while he was sitting one day, lo! the sail of a vessel appeared to him upon the sea, like the star in the sky; wherefore the heart of the young man became intent upon the vessel, in the hope that his escape might be effected in it. He continued looking at it until it came near unto him; and when it arrived, he beheld a bark of ivory and ebony, the oars of which were of sandal-wood and aloes-wood, and the whole of it was encased with plates of brilliant gold. There were also in it ten damsels, virgins, like moons. When the damsels saw him, they landed to him from the bark, and kissed his hands, saying to him, “Thou art the king, the bridegroom.” Then there advanced to him a damsel who was like the shining sun in the clear sky, having in her hand a kerchief of silk, in which were a royal robe, and a crown of gold set with varieties of jacinths. Having advanced to him, she clad him and crowned him; after which the damsels carried him in their arms to the bark, and he found in it varieties of carpets of silk of divers colours. They then spread the sails, and proceeded over the depths of the sea.


“Now when I proceeded with them,” says the young man, “I felt sure that this was a dream, and knew not whither they were going with me. And when they came in sight of the land, I beheld it filled with troops, the number of which none knew but God (whose perfection be extolled, and whose name be exalted!) clad in coats of mail. They brought forward to me five marked horses, with saddles of gold, set with varieties of pearls and precious stones; and I took a horse from among these and mounted it. The four others proceeded with me; and when I mounted, the ensigns and banners were set up over my head, the drums and the cymbals were beaten, and the troops disposed themselves in two divisions, right and left. I wavered in opinion as to whether I were asleep or awake, and ceased not to advance, not believing in the reality of my stately procession, but imagining that it was the result of confused dreams, until we came in sight of a verdant meadow, in which were palaces and gardens, and trees and rivers and flowers, and birds proclaiming the perfection of God, the One, the Omnipotent. And now there came forth an army from among those palaces and gardens, like the torrent when it poureth down, until it filled the meadow. When the troops drew near to me, they hailed, and lo! a king advanced from among them, riding alone, preceded by some of his chief officers walking.”


The king, on approaching the young man, alighted from his courser; and the young man, seeing him do so, alighted also; and they saluted each other with the most courteous salutation. Then they mounted their horses again, and the king said to the young man, “Accompany us; for thou art my guest.” So the young man proceeded with him, and they conversed together, while the stately trains in orderly disposition went on before them to the palace of the king, where they alighted, and all of them entered, together with the king and the young man, the young man’s hand being in the hand of the king, who thereupon seated him on the throne of gold and seated himself beside him. When the king removed the litham from his face, lo! this supposed king was a damsel, like the shining sun in the clear sky, a lady of beauty and loveliness, and elegance and perfection, and conceit and amorous dissimulation. The young man beheld vast affluence and great prosperity, and wondered at the beauty and loveliness of the damsel. Then the damsel said to him, “Know, O king, that I am the queen of this land, and all these troops that thou hast seen, including every one, whether of cavalry or infantry, are women. There are not among them any men. The men among us, in this land, till and sow and reap, employing themselves in the cultivation of the land,


and the building and repairing of the towns, and in attending to the affairs of the people, by the pursuit of every kind of art and trade; but as to the women, they are the governors and magistrates and soldiers.” And the young man wondered at this extremely. And while they were thus conversing, the vizier entered; and lo! she was a grey-haired old woman, having a numerous retinue, of venerable and dignified appearance; and the queen said to her, “Bring to us the Kádee and the witnesses.” So the old woman went for that purpose. And the queen turned towards the young man, conversing with him and cheering him, and dispelling his fear by kind words; and, addressing him courteously, she said to him, “Art thou content for me to be thy wife?” And thereupon he arose and kissed the ground before her; but she forbade him; and he replied, “O my mistress, I am less than the servants who serve thee.” She then said to him, “Seest thou not these servants and soldiers and wealth and treasures and hoards?” He answered her, “Yes.” And she said to him, “All these are at thy disposal; thou shalt make use of them, and give and bestow as seemeth fit to thee.” Then she pointed to a closed door, and said to him, “All these things thou shalt dispose of; but this door thou shalt not open; for if thou open it, thou wilt repent, when repentance will not avail thee.” Her words were not ended when the vizier, with the Kádee and the witnesses, entered, and all of them were old women, with their hair spreading over their shoulders, and of venerable and dignified appearance. When they came before the queen, she ordered them to perform the ceremony of the marriage-contract. So they married her to the young man. And she prepared the banquets and collected the troops; and when they had eaten and drunk, the young man took her as his wife. And he resided with her seven years, passing the most delightful, comfortable, and agreeable life.

the young man

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