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Ali

Ali image
Parent Issue
Day
28
Month
April
Year
1891
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

In the last years of the Eighth century there reigned in Bagdad the Caliph Abnlfeda. Into the eoffers of his predecessors the wealth of the east had been poiired with a most tinsparing hand, and the magnificent "City of the Enchantress" was not only the "Abode of Peace," bnt a splendid jewel in the Empire of the Faithful. Of all the calipha of this wonderf nl eity since Almansor, its founder, no two had blessed or cnrsed the world with the same idea of what it was necessary that man shonld do to enjoy life in this world, and at death to be worthy of a place among the dark eyed damsels and beautiful youths of the gardens of Paradise. The magnificent Almamotm scattered his inestimable wealth in the greatest contrast with the abstemiousness and fragality of the mighty Omar; and the Haroun-el Rascnid of Bagdad is vastly different f rom the Akbah, whose fanatic advance only the heaving waves of the Atlantic were able to hinder. The Caliph Abulfeda had succ'eeded his father, whose desire to gather the gold of the then known world into Bagdad, without expending it for any purpose, had put the youthful prince to many disadvantages, and fostered inhim the desire to do otherwise when he would succeed to the mantle of the prophet. Therefore when his own sons were choosing their ends or pleasures the Caliph Abulfeda was always ready to forward or indulge them. Among the youngest of his many children was Ali. For years he had brooded over and planned on the idea of a wonderful edifice that he hoped in time to construct Of all the magnificent structures it had been his privilege as a son of the Commander of the Faithf nl to see, none was in all things the perfection of which the y oung prince dreamed. Therefore, on the death of his father, the prince began the building of the long deferred happiness. In time there arose on the banks of the river the most wonderful architectural dream that even that magie age and that wonderful city had produceÁ. Yet to the prince it was unfinished; something was yet lacMng to make it the abode of perfect pleasure. One evening the prince was satmtering along one of the most magnificent of the curiously carved arcades of the palace when a voice called his name: ■FrinceAli! son of Abtüfeda! Prince Ali! son of Abulfeda!" The young priuce glanced quickly around on all sides, but beheld no one escept the silent sentinels on gnard around the palace and the pictnresqiie horsemen that, at a little distance, rode slowly back and forth as safeguards against approaching danger. Again came the voice: "Prince Ali! son of Abulfeda! Prince AH! son of Abulfedaj" Quick as a flash the prince drew the splendidly ornamented and equally splendidly tempered blade at bis side and stood ready to face any opponent. But it was unnecessary. Before him stood an old man, bowed and whitened by the sorrows and trials of many years. His dress and manner also distinguished him as belonging to some other period. "Prince Ali! son of Abulfedal" he began. "I ain," assented Prince Ali, scarcely knowing whether to tower up to bis full height and .answer with tho pride he feit in his noble name, or acknowledge his inferiority before a bigher power. "I know you, I know yon," answered the aged man. "I knew your honored father and your father's fathers, and" - a supernatural expression spreading over his visage - "and I stood side by side with the prophet himself in many a dearly won fight with the enemies of the only true belief. But I wronged him. I did him an injnstice, and therefore is my slumber in the tomb disturbed. Wben the Commander of the Faithful, or one of his children, has an earnest longing or desire, I, or some other who has wronged the prophet, is called from the tomb, in answer to their prayers. "Prince Ali! son of Abulfeda! What is thy desire?" The prince thereupon began at the birth of his hope for the possession of an architectural wonder, and related all until its complction. "I understand! I understand!" cried the old man, slowly beckoning the prince to silence. "You have exhausted your worldly knowledge in attempting to succeed to happiness, in gratifying your desire, and have failed? Is it not as I say?" "It is," answered the prince, "and I now yearn for something beyond the power of man to accomplish or understand." "Be it then as you desire," answered the aged father. "Behold this staff. Ask not from whence it came, nor discover tho mystery to any living man, until I return for its possession." The prince took the staff and looked it curiously over, but nothing extraordinary accurred. Seeing his expectancy the aged man continued: "The followers of the good man Jesus, whom the Christians believe, and the worshipers of the stars and moon, and the elements. and other works and doings of the one and only God - for there is but one God, and Mohammed is his prophet - have images beautiful to behold, yet far from the handiwork of the creator. To us is forbidden such images. Would you fill the strncture you have built with more wonderful images, beyond the construction or understanding of mankind?" "I would! I would!" exclaimed the prince, delighted with the expectation. "The power is in your hand," answered the strange visitor, and vanished. For several minutes the prince stood as if awakened from a dream. But not long, for just at that moment a young girl, a favorite with the prince, came on tiptoe behind him. Noiselessly, as the soft breeze that scarce moved the dark hair that feil uncontrolled over her white shoulders, she crept up, and was about to clasp her small hands over lus eyes, when the prince, seeing the shadow, and excited by the strange visitor who had just left him, wheeled suddenly around, and in doing so touched the langhing girl wlth his staff. As a statue of the whitest marble, she stood before him. As the prince stood wondering at the magie power of the apparently commonplace staff, a courier approached in all haste with a message from a distant province governed by a very dear f riend of Prince Ali. The breathless messenger feil on his face before the prince, and after salaming after the manner of the day and recovering breath enough to speak, he begged the pardon of the prince f or first exacting a promise of secrecy in regard to the matter upon which he had been sent, it being his master's special order. In his anxiety the prince raised the hand that held the staff and placed it on the shoulder of the exhansted messenger, and he, too, was marble. As the days went by the palace filled with strange images, the possessor of the wonderful staff began to long for the supernatural donor. The possession of his gift began to be a weight, and each image added to the palace was a weight added to the burden of its raler. Still the longed for visitor carne not. At last, when the prince was almost driven to madness, his strange visitor again appeared. Before he conld ask a question of the descendant of the great Mahmotjd the staff was thrnst into his hands and he was prayed by the memory of the great leader to restore to lif e the silent images that, instead of adoming, cast a gloom over the palace. "Is that not beatitifal?" asked the strange visitor, pointing to the figure of the mischievous girl favorite. "Look at the grace, the smile ahnost bursting into laughter." "Itis beautiful, most beantiful," answered the prince, "but her langh would be to me more beautiful than all." "And that!" exclaimed the aged man. "Look how natural that courier is about to relate his message." "Most natural, most natural," sighed the prince, "but the unspoken message is locked in that marble breast." To several others the strange visitor drew the shrinking prince, and commented on the peculiar beauty of each. But the prince could not be diverted from the melancholy that possessed him. "Take them away! Take them away!" exclaimed the prince. "Leave my palace as it was and I will be happy, perfectly happy!" "Be it as you say," answered the aged man, "and profit by the lesson." There was a slight rastle in the conrts of the palace, and when it passed all was as it had been; even the strange visitor himself was gone. The palace of Prince Ali of Bagdad stood for ages as it was erected, except this inscription over the main entrance: ALJ, SON OF ABULFEDA, TO THE , PRINCES OF THE WORLD. There is no pleasure where the happiness of a fellow creature is endangered; nor is there loveliness in anythini; where there is either adding to or taking from the handiwork of the Most Hierh God. V