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Haroun Al Raschid

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The renowned Caliph rose one morning iu a very melancholy humor. He at once suuimoued his Grand Vizier, who hastened to obey. He thus addressod hisjpreinier. " Í feel vory disconsolate. I had a dream last night, wheu I beheld all the wouien of ruy kingdoui at the foot of iny ttuone, bcseeching me to help thera. - ïheir grievancos were that they were unhappy, asking me to remove their wretchedness ; and L must admit it is true, their life is very hard." ïho Graad Vizier replied : " Sire, I assure you there is no ground for their complaint, and that among all not one would consent to exchange her condition." "I am a ware that my ministers are always ready to deal in such phrases whenover they are told that tho people and their iuterests are neglected. But I swear by Allah I shall havo you stran gled if you do not produce in tho space of oue month one hajipy woman. Do you hear?. But one single instance out of my whole kingdom. It is certainly a demand of no great hardship. Audnowyou may go in peace, and I shall expect your return after one month. But if you have not complied with my conimands by that time, fear my wrath." The Grand Vizier retired disheartened, as you, my gentle readers, may well imagine. He at one sought an interview with the President of the Bagdad pólice, from whom he obtaiued little comfort, who expressed a serious doubt whether one happy woman could be found in Haroun al Easchid's entire kingdom - nay, in the whole world. Lea ving him with a heavy heart, the Premier undertook the task himself, well knowiug that his life was at st&ke. As a man of acute understanding, he commonced his inquines with ihe tana. Taken by surprise, she replied : " Do you expect me to be happy when th'e Caliph scarcely devotes an hour to me, but instead, walks the street all night in disguiso, while I iuust be lilled with constant dread of his meeting with some accident at any time 't Do not think of it ! The very poorest woman is happier than I am." The Premier, cast down.left the palace, when he met a maidon with blooming cheeks, carrying a water vessel on her head, and singing merrily as sho went. He cslled to her, aaying, " Art thou happy r" " I happy ? Oh no ! I am handsome as the Sultana, and should like to be in her place. I know I should please the Caliph as well, if he would but direct his attention toward me." Again defeated, he left her, cogitating upon new adventures. Suddenly he thought of his own wife, and asked her, "Are you happy r"' "Happy!"' she answered : " with such a man it would, indeed, bo a difficult undertaking." Ho had already turned his back upon her, to try his fortune with some other ladies of Bagdad. But the further he went the less hopeful he was. Wherevcr he inquired, nothing but complaints, the same fatal result. Admitting that it was rather a peculiar idea to ask the ladies whether they are happy, would they teil the truth ? The Grand Vizier thought so. In his place I would have seriously questioned it. He went to the market place und there found an honest woman, a vender of dates. ín reply to his query wnetner sne was nappy, she said, ' Hippy ? I happy ? No, indeed. I work trom morning early until evening late, and scarcely luake a living. I ara obliged to riso early and retire late to my rest, not having earned enough frequently to pay for a scanty ineal." Fooi that I was, the minister concluded, that I should come here to look for a happy people, and quickly went to the wife of a rich Jewish banker. She certainly must bo happy, reflected the Vizier; she is eomfortably situated, ciad in the richest of apparel, decked with the most costly jewelry, and surrounded by slaves to do her bidding. She knows neither care nor want. ' Alas !" was the reply to the general question, turning her handsomedark eyes witti longing toward heaven, " Sire, I am the most unhappy of all women of Bagdail. My husband loves naught but money and tnoney matters, leaving his wife to her own sadness. A wife is like unto a flower, but to livo and flourish when supported by the majestic palm tree, but neglected and forsaken, as the wife is without love, she is made to wither." " By the Prophet, one who loves her husbaud with such ardor certainly do serves to be happy. Where sball I find the desired person V" The sigb had hardly escaped his breast, when he ran as if pursued to the opposite part of the city. Thero dwelt a woman who had been married but two inonths ago. He exclaimed, " I have found her !' I have found her !" and entered the house with joy. " Hail to the happy woman !" were his words of greeting, making a low bow to the young wife and waiting with anxiety for an answer. " Happy F I happy ?V replied the young bride, shrugging her shoulders. " Oh, no, no longer ; my husbaud gives me not a moment's peace. He cannot bear to leavo me alone for an instunt. I know he loves me, but he repeats the story too often, and if a pause does ensue, he theroupon expects me to begin. He swears some thousand times a day that he loves me ; yea, he seals it with the most awful oaths, and seems not to be satisfied until I join with him in a like strain. At first this little game was quito pleasant, but now - " The ill-fated minister now began to despair. He abandoned his search in the capital, aud determined to try the coun try. But despite of his zeal, he there too did not succeed - eould not discover the precious pearl demanded by the Caliph. Besides, the time allotted was nearly at an end, and he had but one village more to exploro. Wheu about entering it, he observed a peasant and his wife in the field. The latter was crying aloud bocause her husband had struck her. The Vizier separated them, and said to the man, " It is not right that we should render our wive's lives miserable." "I miserable! I unhappy!" exclaimed the woman. " On tho contrary I am very happy." "But did I not see your busband strike you ?" " Truo, he does strike mo at times, but it matters not ; he is able, also, to protect me with a strong arm." " Then you adrait you know what it is to be happy ?" " Most certainly, I am perfectly happy-" The Grand Vizier, now relieved of his heavy burden, exclaimed : " Finally, I huvo found one happy woman !" and he took her triumphantly to Bagdad. Appearing with his conquest before the Caliph, the latter said : "Well, you havo found a happy woman?" " Yes, indeed, Sire." "Oh, mighty Caliph," exclaimed the peasant's wife at his feet, "have mercy upon me, miserable." ' What is that '" The Grand Vizier became frightend, saying, " Did you not teil me that you were happy ?" " Yes, at home with my husband and children, from whom you have torn me away. How is it possiblo ihat I should be happy at this place, so far away trom them " " Be at ease," Haroun al Haschid addressed his Premier, with a malieious smile on his countenance. " I pardon you ; for during your absence I have discovered a happy wonian even here in Bagdad." Opening his eyes widely, the Vizier askod, " Here in Bagdad Y " " Yes, your own wife. I sent a page to ask hor, in my name, whether sho was happy." "And what did she answer ï" " She answered : 'Ofcoursel am happy, my husband boing on a journoy.'" i - i


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