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Husn Banu with her nurse secreted themselves at a lattice window, where they watched the thieves, and recognised them. After they were gone, and it had become daylight, Husn Banu gathered together the few domestics that had survived from the murderous hands of the treacherous dervise, and went to the King's court and presented her grievance.
The King asked, "Who is this woman, and against whom does she demand justice?"
His attendant replied, "Sire, this is the daughter of Burzak, the merchant. She says, if the King pleases, she will come to his presence and represent her grievance."
The King then summoned Husn Banu to his presence. When she appeared she cried aloud, "Long live the King! Yesterday, as a sacred duty, I gave an entertainment to a dervise, and bestowed on him my food; last night he committed robbery and murder in my house. He, with his forty attendants, secretly entered my dwelling, and carried off the whole of my money and property, and my people lie grievously wounded and slain in this way has this evilminded dervise acted towards me."
The King on hearing this accusation was enraged, and said, "Foolish woman, bringest thou accusation against the most exalted among the living?-he covets nothing worldly!"
Husn Banu replied, "Oh! upright prince, he deserves not to be called the exalted, but rather the fiend of the world."
At this reply the King grew furious, and ordered that both Husn Banu and her attendants should be stoned to death, so that others might take warning, and not utter such calumnies against his Majesty's spiritual guide and pious counsellor.
Thereupon the King's prime minister stood up and said
Sire, this is the daughter of Burzak the merchant, and you have been pleased hitherto to show her much kindness; but now, when her father is no more, if you cause the daughter to be put to death then will perish from the hearts of your subjects all confidence in the King's protection towards their surviving children, and, instead thereof, they will be filled with mistrust. For this reason, sire, I have deemed it my duty to warn you."
To this the King replied, "Well, for the sake of Burzak, we will spare her life; but you shall expel her from our city and confiscate her house. This instant she must be driven without the gates."
'Husn Banu said, “ I am a woman, and alone, how can I bring it out of the earth ?"
The nurse endeavoured to console her, saying, "My child, what remedy can be applied against the changes of fortune?"
In a few days they reached the Desert, where, while resting beneath a shady tree, exhausted with hunger and thirst, they fell asleep. And lo! Husn Banu dreamed a dream, in which a man with shining face appeared to her, saying, "Be no longer sorrowful, oh my child; beneath this tree lies buried the treasures of the seven regions, which wealth the Lord of Truth has here kept hidden for thy sake. Arise, thou, and take possession thereof."
To this the man replied,
"Do thou dig a little with a spade. Exert thyself, and God will give thee strength. Moreover, no one shall be able forcibly to deprive thee of this wealth. Arise, then, and build a city on this
The lady awoke her nurse and related her dream, and accordingly they got up, and with a piece of wood began to dig the earth, when speedily a cave full of yellow gold presented itself. To their eyes it seemed like seven houses filled with pure gold; and there were also chests full of jewels of every description. Beside these, there were four cups full of rubies and costly pearls of the size of ducks' eggs.
Husn Banu rejoiced, and, like a true believer, bowed her head to the grounů, and, kneeling, rendered thanks to God the Most High. She then handed some of the gold to her nurse, and said, "Mother, do thou return to the city and procure us servants; and bring with thee some food to eat and raiment to put on. At the same time inquire out labourers, and masons, and architects, for on this spot I will build a substantial edifice."
The nurse objected to this, saying, "How can I leave thee here alone until some one else arrives ?"
While they were engaged in this conversation, who should happen to pass by but the foster-brother of Husn Banu dressed like a mendicant. He recognised them, and fell at the feet of Husn Banu, who, weeping for joy, lifted him up to her side, and consoled him, saying,
"Brother, be of good cheer: God, the great and glorious, has bestowed on us abundance of wealth, even beyond all calculation. Take a portion of it and proceed to the city; bring hither all my dependents and relations, and purchase tents, and bring them also, for on this spot we shall build lofty edifices, forming a spacious city; but, be prudent: you must not communicate this secret to anyone."
The foster-brother, taking some of the gold, proceeded to the city, and, having assembled Husn Banu's former dependents, who were wandering about the streets begging, he procured elegant tents and returned with them to the Desert.
Husn Banu was delighted with the manner in which he had fulfilled her commands, and had the tents erected. Soon afterwards her foster-brother went a second time to the city, and called upon the principal builder, saying,
"Send along with me your brother craftsmen; my master intends to build a mansion in the Desert. He is a most generous man, and will requite you amply."
The builder to whom he spoke sent one of his brothers, by name Muâmmir, along with Husn Banu's foster-brother, and both returned to where that lady dwelt.
The builder then selected a pleasant spot, and there erected a lofty mansion, and Husn Banu bestowed on him a liberal remuneration. Thereupon the builder, greatly delighted, sent for his friends, and strenuously laboured in the rearing of edifices, the digging of wells, and the building of a lofty palace.
Husn Banu showed them the greatest kindness, and said, "Now we must have a city built here." Muâmmir, the builder, replied that it was not lawful to build a city without an order from the King; but if his Majesty would grant permission it will be an easy matter.
Husn Banu admitted the truth of this remark, and, having dressed herself in man's apparel, she mounted an Arab steed, and summoned several of her attendants to her side.
She also carried with her as a present to the King a cup full of rubies and a casket of bright jewels, and then proceeded to the city, where in a few days she arrived. She then made some valuable presents to the King's officers, who speedily conveyed information to their master that a certain merchant had arrived from abroad, who wished to offer presents to the King; that he now stood at the gate-a man of beautiful countenance and of elegant form.
The King ordered them to bring him in, and Husn Banu accordentered; and, after making her obeisance to the King, she presented to him the casket of jewels and the cup full of rubies. When the King beheld the jewels and the cup he was greatly delighted, and said, "Sir, whence comest thou ?"
Husn Banu replied, "Oh! King, my father was a merchant of Iram, who, in the course of events, died at sea. As I happened to be passing this way, and had heard of your Majesty's goodness, my desire of expressing my attachment and of tendering my most humble services became excessive. It is the wish of your slave to pass the remainder of his life in the service of your Majesty. When admitted to kiss the threshold of your lofty gates, my prosperity will become permanent, and my happiness be complete. Now I have no kindred. I am an orphan, and have pitched my tents in an oasis of the Desert, where I hope, through your Majesty's kindness and generosity, to be allowed to build a city."
At this statement the King showed much sympathy, and presented
The slaves then executed the King's order, and Husn Banu, with her nurse, turned their faces to the Desert with weeping and lament-ingly ation; and all the servants of that hapless lady, being reduced to poverty, wandered through the streets of the city, begging their bread. Husn Banu frequently said, "Oh, mother! this dervise has been a grievous curse to us; and yet, oh God! what crime have we committed that we should be involved in such calamities ?"
the stranger with a badge of honour, adding, with the greatest courtesy and affection,
As you have no father, let me be as a father to you, and let me adopt you as my son."
Husn Banu, with profound obeisance, replied, "Since your Majesty has adopted me into the royal family, and has raised this abject slave from the dust, let me state that my name is Behram. May I hope that my name will be deemed worthy of this threshold, of which may the head be exalted."
Hereupon Kurdan Shah bestowed on Husn Banu the name of Mahru Shah, and said, " My dear son, the Desert is far distant, you must build your city near my capital, and I shall call your city by the name of Shahabad."
Husn Banu respectfully replied, "May the King live for ever. have taken a fancy to the Desert, and, beside, it would be disrespectful in me to build a city in the vicinity of your Majesty's capital. May I hope that an order will be issued to the principal architects enjoining them to make preparations for the building of a city?"
Kurdan Shah gave the necessary orders to the architects, and taking a most affectionate leave of Husn Banu, said, " My dear son, when will you return? You must not long deprive me of your society."
Husn Banu, making a profound obeisance, said, "I hope that once every month I may kiss your Majesty's threshold."
Pleased and delighted, Husn Banu returned to the Desert, and ordered Muâmmir to draw out the plan of a city, to send for more workmen, and to proceed speedily with the building. Muâmmir engaged in the building of the edifices which were to form the city, and prosecuted the work night and day with all expedition. Husn Banu from month to month made a journey to the city to visit the King, whose kindness and affection towards her increased daily.
After two or three years a spacious city was built, and it was called Shahabad; thereupon Husn Banu ordered the builders to be munificently rewarded.
It happened one day, after Husn Banu had arrived to wait upon the King, that his Majesty was proceeding to visit the dervise before mentioned, and his eye having caught sight of Husn Banu, he said,
"My dear Mahru Shah, to day I am going to visit the most exalted man of the age: if you desire to do me a favour pray accompany me; for to have seen this living saint is of itself eternal felicity."
In reply, Husn Banu said, "Truly my happiness in this is twofold; first, in being honoured with the sight of this eminent personage, and, secondly, in attending your Majesty thither." But she said in her heart that such a tiend was an abomination in her sight. However, she accompanied the King to the abode of the dervise, and, following his Majesty's example, paid her respects to that hypocrite.
Kurdan Shah spoke much in praise and commendation of Mahru Shah (or Husn Banu), who meanwhile held down her head and listened, thinking in her own mind, "these praises are bestowed upon me on account of the jewels and cup (which I presented him), for in fact I am the daughter of Burzak, the merchant, whom this very King once expelled from his city."
When the King was about to take leave of the dervise, Husn Banu stood up respectfully, and said,
"If your Holiness will deign to visit my house, I hope such condescension will not be thought unbecoming in the most illustrious."
The hypocritical dervise replied, "I will assuredly come." Then said Husn Banu, "The house of your slave is far distant, but in the capital is the residence of Burzak, the merchant, a very commodious house, and which, I hope, you will honour with a
She then addressed the King, saying, "The house of Burzak happens to be unoccupied ; may I be favoured for a few days with the use of it, that I may perform my respects to his Holiness without his having the trouble of going to a distance; after giving him an entertaiment I shall then proceed to my own city."
The King enquired, "Whence, my son, have you learned the
name of Burzak ?"
Husn Banu replied, "There are in this city many men who were in his service, of them I have learned that his is a house most suitable for a few days' residence."
The King said, "I bestow upon you that house as a present." Husn Banu, having made her obeisance, went to her father's house; and when she found it fallen to decay sife shed many tears, and gave orders to have it repaired.
Meanwhile she returned to her city, and about a month afterwards she sent to her father's house the materials for the entertainment, including trays of gold and silver; and having selected a cup full of rubies and jewels likewise, she carried them with her.
She then sent forward her attendants to the mansion, and went herself before the King, and said,
"Now, O King, I go for a few days to the house of Burzak; tomorrow I expect to entertain the renowned dervise with a banquet, and pass some time in attendance upon him."
The King replied, "It is well, such being the choice of my son, but consider that house now as your own."
"Your august Majesty's befriended slave is truly fortunate, but unable to express his gratitude. This slave has no wish but the will of your Majesty: wheresoever you command me there will I stay."
The King added, "Wheresoever you be let your heart be contented."
Husn Banu, having taken leave of the King, went to her father's house, and ordered the materials for the banquet to be prepared. She also sent one of her servants to wait upon the dervise, and say, that if his Holiness would deign to visit her next day, he would confer the highest of favours.
When the detestable dervise, Azrak, heard the word banquet, he replied that he would assuredly come next day. Husn Banu ordered a princely throne to be prepared, as on the previous occasion, and made ready the entertainment.
Next day the abominable dervise came, and Husn Banu presented for his acceptance the cup of rubies and the jewels which she had brought with her; the dervise rejected them all. She at the same time placed all her plate and utensils on a sideboard, in order that the eye of the dervise might constantly fall upon them, and that his avarice might be excited.
The dervise observed them, and said in his heart, "To-night I shall contrive to carry off all this treasure" at the same time Husn Banu was rejoicing in her heart, thinking that, "this night I shall have you, with all this property, tied together and carried before the King."
The banquet being placed before the dervise, he was presented with rose water to wash his hands, and offered food of every sort and description. He, with his forty attendants, then began to eat. After taking a few mouthfuls, he commanded that they should desist.
Husn Banu made many apologies, and said, "Do me the kindness to eat of my banquet, for your doing so will be happiness to your slave."
The dervise answered, saying, "To pious dervises a few mouthfuls are sufficient; to please you I have eaten heartily, but my usual food consists only of a few dates, and water from the spring.'
When they had ceased eating, they were presented with perfumes, but the dervise was saying in his heart, "The whole of this property shall be mine."
After a time the villanous Azrak took leave of Mahru Shah and
proceeded to his own house; he then held council with his attendant myrmidons, saying,
"I have made a vow and registered it, and all the food you have eaten is to you as well as myself as an accursed thing, till you bring away the jewels, the gold, and the silver from Burzak's house. The attendants all replied, "Be it so ;" and when the night set in, the whole of them, with their chief, were in readiness for the theft.
Husn Banu also counselled with her own people, and ordered them to leave all the plate as it was at the banquet, and leave all the doors unfastened. She also wrote an explanatory letter to the captain of the night-watch, concluding,
"We shall be on our guard here, Kotwal; do you also come and place yourselves in ambush, and the instant that my people raise a shout you shall present yourselves with the utmost speed."
She then charged her own people, saying, "When the thieves come, you are not to move till, having stolen all my property, they are about to depart, then you shall seize and bind them all fast, with the goods in their possession; and give the signal to the Kotwal, that he may come and arrest them."
Husn Banu's men, agreeably to their mistress's commands, stationed themselves in various secret places, and remained as quietly as if they were dead.
Meanwhile, Azrak with his forty slaves arrived at and entered the residence of Mabru Shah, and all the property in money or effects which they found they tied up in bundles and were about to carry them off-Azrak himself, having taken in his hands the cup full of rubies, was retreating with them.
At that instant Husn Banu's people raised a shout and those belonging to the Kotwal rushed from their hiding places, and seized the thieves, whose hearts were ready to burst with rage, and bound
their hands behind their backs.
The thieves were then consigned to the custody of the night-watch, each having the bundle which he had stolen fastened around his neck; and strict orders were issued to bind them fast till morning, when the affair should be investigated before the King.
When Husn Banu saw that the thieves were overpowered and
taken captives, pleased and delighted she called her servants together and rewarded them munificently, and then said, "As much of the night still remains, that period you may pass in repose."
Next morning, when the King opened the public court, and was seated on his royal throne, he remarked,
"Last night there was a very great uproar; pray, does any one know the cause of it?"
The Kotwal then entered, and gave his report saying,
O King, live for ever! About the time of midnight a gang of thieves entered the dwelling of Mahru Shah, the house that belonged to Burzak the merchant; they seized all the property that Mahru Shah had taken thither with him, and were escaping with it when information was given to me: I hurried to the spot, and secured the thieves with the stolen property. I have now brought them before the public court; and of the truth of this, Sire, we are certain, for we have witnessed the deed." Whilst they were thus discoursing, Mahru Shah entered and made his obeisance.
The King having commanded him to be seated, said, " My son, pray did the thieves break into your house last night?"
Husn Banu said, in reply, "Long live your Majesty! The Kotwal of the city arrived with timely assistance; and now it will be best to summon all the thieves into your royal presence."
To this the King agreed, and ordered the thieves to be brought in. The Kotwal led them before the King in a row, at the head of which was Azrak with the cup of rubies suspended to his neck, and after him the other dervises, each having the bundle which he had stolen suspended round his neck and his hands tied behind him.
The instant the King saw them he remarked,
"This man at their head greatly resembles a certain dervise." Husn Banu said, "Please your majestly, let them be brought nearer, and closely inspected; it is impossible that he should be the pious dervise."
The King gave a signal to the Kotwal, who made the thieves, each with his bundle, pass one by one before his Majesty.
The Kotwal having thus sent them up by turns, Husn Banu rose up, and seizing hold of the dervise with the cup of rubies, led him before the King.
His Majesty asked, "What is this suspended to the neck of Azrak?"
Husn Banu displayed the cup of rubies to the King, who was lost in amazement; at length he spoke, and said,
"Let every one of these wretches be executed on the scaffold, in order that the rest of the priesthood may be deterred from such villany, and that they may not mislead the people; and let them also be stripped naked."
When the thieves were stripped of their clothes all their implements of thieving were discovered.
The King then issued an order, saying
"Let them be speedily executed on the gibbet, and let whatever property belongs to Mahru Shah be returned into his possession." When Husn Banu saw that they were conveying Azrak to execution, she arose from her seat and stood with hands clasped before the King.
His Majesty said, "What is your request?"
"Oh, my Lord, I am the hereditary child of your court, nay, I am your Majesty's adopted daughter, the child of Burzak, the merchant. I am she whom your Majesty, on account of this very dervise, sentenced to banishment from your capital. The property that belonged to my dear father is still in the dwelling of the dervise; his house must, therefore, be strictly searched, in order that the whole of his villany may be made manifest, and the veracity of your daughter's declaration will then be confirmed before your Majesty."
The King, on hearing these words, was greatly surprised, and gave orders for searching the house of Azrak. He then addressed Husn Banu, saying
"I lately called thee my child-then my tongue uttered, and my mind conceived, what was true. Thou art no longer Burzak's daughter, thou art my own daughter."
May I then hope," said Husn Banu, "that your Majesty will condescend to visit the house of your daughter in the Desert; there I have immense wealth, which I will freely bestow on him who is both my King and my father."
This invitation his Majesty was graciously pleased to accept; and, in the meantime, all the property left by Burzak, found in the house of Azrak, was presented by Husn Banu to the King. She then returned to Shahabad, and ordered the streets of the city to be adorned on each side with elegant banners, preparatory to his Majesty's visit.
Two days after this event Kurdan Shah arrived at Shahabad, where Husn Banu received him with due honour, and conducted him to her palace. She then presented his Majesty with another cup full of rubies and a golden tray filled with rare jewels; after which she pointed out the cave containing the gold.
His Majesty was greatly delighted, and Husn Banu requested him to issue orders to his attendants for conveying the gold by loads to the royal treasury. The King gave his prime minister orders to that effect, who, along with the accountants, proceeded to the mouth of the cave. But whenever they attempted to take up the gold, in order to convey it away, the whole of it assumed the forms of serpents and dragons.
The attendants were terrified, and sent information of it to the King.
His Majesty, on hearing this statement, was astonished, and IIusn Banu's countenance turned pale whilst she dreaded what proceedings he might adopt.
The King, observing her anxiety, said
"My child, why has thy face turned pale? Let nothing disturb thy mind; but be of good heart, this gold is destined only for thee; over it I have no control. Do with it whatsoever thou pleasest; take it into thy possession and use it."
Husn Banu bowed her head, and addressed the following request to the King:
"Sire, it is my wish to make this city my home, and to spend this treasure in the service of God; and, also, that no one may be allowed to molest me in my retirement."
Kurdan Shah, in courteous phrase, replied, "Wheresoever thou dwellest thou art my child, and hast the command of this treasure in thy own hand; do, therefore, as thou thinkest fit."
He then sent back his people to guard his palace, and after residing seven days at the house of Husn Banu, returned to his capital.
After that Husn Banu fitted up another house for entertaining travellers, and bounteously furnished each guest with food and raiment suitable to his rank, and, at his departure, presented him with money for his journey, and such other articles as might be deemed useful; thus showing her guests every attention and consideration.
In a short time the name of Husn Banu became celebrated by travellers through every city and town, in the following terms:
"There is a young lady, not yet married, Husn Banu by name, who is extremely bountiful to her fellow-creatures. Her servants and attendants are so endowed with integrity that they will not exact from the stranger a single coin. Gracious heaven! what an age is this when even menials are so conscientious. What wonderful liberality, whereby they freely bestow golden dinars upon the poor! At the present day worldly people, generally, begrudge every farthing they give to the poor, and menials unscrupulously pilfer men's property; but such as these have neither the fear of God nor respect for his Prophet."
In short, Husn Banu's fame shone brighter than the sun throughout every quarter of the globe, even to the uttermost confines of the earth.
(To be continued.)
THE MAY QUEEN.
You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear,
So I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.
If you do not call me loud when the day begins to break;
Little Effie shall go with me to-morrow to the green.
Athens, and that at the place where she lived the cruel law could not be put in force against Hermia (this law not extending beyond the boundaries of the city), he proposed to Hermia that she should steal out of her father's house that night, and go with him to his aunt's house, where he would marry her. "I will meet you," said Lysander, "in the wood a few miles without the city; in that delightful wood, where we have so often walked with Helena in the pleasant month of May."
To this proposal Hermia joyfully agreed; and she told no one of her intended flight but her friend Helena. Helena (as maidens will do foolish things for love) very ungenerously resolved to go and tell this to Demetrius, though she could hope no benefit from betraying her friend's secret but the poor pleasure of following her faithless lover to the wood: for she well knew that Demetrius would go thither in pursuit of Hermia.
The wood, in which Lysander and Hermia proposed to meet was the favourite haunt of those little beings known by the name of Fairies.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. HERE was a law in the city of Athens which gave to its citiÅ zens the power of compelling their daughters to marry whomsoever they pleased; for upon a daughter's refusing to marry the man her father had chosen to be her husband, the father was empowered by this law to cause her to be put to death; but as fathers do not often desire the death of their own daughters, even though they do happen to prove a little refractory, this law was seldom or never put in execution, though perhaps the young ladies of that city were not unfrequently threatened by their parents with the terrors of it.
There was one instance, however, of an old man, whose name was Egeus, who actually did come before Theseus (at that time the reigning Duke of Athens), to complain that his daughter Hermia, whom he had commanded to marry Demetrius, a young man of a noble Athenian family, refused to obey him, because she loved another Young Athenian, named Lysander. Egeus demanded justice of Theseus, and desired that this cruel law might be put in force against his daughter. Hermia pleaded, in excuse of her disobedience, that Demetrius had formerly professed love for her dear friend Helena, and that Helena loved Demetrius to distraction; but this honourable reason which Hermia gave for not obeying her father's command, moved not the stern Egeus. Theseus, though a great and merciful prince, had no power to alter the laws of his country; therefore he could only give Hermia four days to consider of it; and at the end of that time, if she still refused to marry Demetrius, she was to be put to death.
When Hermia was dismissed from the presence of the duke, she went to her lover Lysander, and told him the peril she was in, and that she must either give him up and marry Demetrius, or lose her life in four days.
Lysander was in great affliction at hearing these evil tidings; but recollecting that he had an aunt who lived at some distance from
Oberon the king and Titania the queen of the Fairies, and all their tiny train of followers, in this wood held their midnight revels.
Between this little king and queen of sprites there happened, at this time, a sad disagreement; they never inet by moonlight in the shady walks of this pleasant wood but they were quarrelling, till all their fairy elves would creep into acorn-cups and hide themselves
The cause of this unhappy disagreement was Titania's refusing to give Oberon a little changeling boy, whose mother had been Titania's friend; and upon her death the fairy queen stole the child from its nurse, and brought him up in the woods.
The night on which the lovers were to meet in this wood, as Titania was walking with some of her maids of honour, she met Oberon attended by his train of fairy courtiers.
"Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania," said the fairy king. The queen replied, "What, jealous Oberon, is it you? Fairies, skip hence; I have foresworn his company." "Tarry, rash fairy," said Oberon; "am I not thy lord? Why does Titania cross her Oberon? Give me your little changeling boy to be my page."
"Set your heart at rest," answered the queen; "your whole fairy kingdom buys not the boy of me." She then left her lord in great anger."Well, go your way," said Oberon: before the morning dawns I will torment you for this injury."
Oberon then sent for Puck, his chief favourite and privy counsellor.
Puck (or, as he was sometimes called, Robin Goodfellow) was a shrewd and knavish sprite, that used to play comical pranks in the neighbouring villages; sometimes getting into the dairies and skimming the milk, sometimes plunging his light and airy form into the butter-churn, and while he was dancing his fantastic shape in the churn, in vain the dairy maid would labour to change her cream into butter; nor had the village swains any better success; whenever Puck chose to play his freaks in the brewing copper, the ale was sure to be spoiled. When a few good neighbours were met to drink some comfortable ale together, Puck would jump into the bowl of ale in the likeness of a roasted crab, and when some old goody was going to drink, he would bob against her lips and spill the ale over her withered chin; and presently after, when the same old dame was gravely seating herself to tell her neighbours a sad and melancholy story, Puck would slip her three-legged stool from under her and down toppled the poor old woman, and then the old gossips would hold their sides and laugh at her, and swear they
never wasted a merrier hour.
"Come hither, Puck," said Oberon to this merry wanderer of the night; "fetch me the flower which maids call Love in Idleness; the juice of that little purple flower laid on the eyelids of those that sleep will make them when they wake dote on the first thing they see. Some of the juice of that flower I will drop on the eyelids of my Titania when she is asleep; and the first thing she looks upon when she opens her eyes she will fall in love with, even though it be a lion or a bear, a meddling monkey or a busy ape; and before I will take this charm from off her sight, which I can do with another charm I know of, I will make her give me that boy to be my page."
Puck, who loved mischief to his heart, was highly diverted with this intended frolic of his master, and ran to seek the flower; and while Oberon was waiting the return of Puck, he observed Demetrius and Helena enter the wood; he overheard Demetrius reproaching Helena for following him, and after many unkind words on his part and gentle expostulations from Helena reminding him of his former love and professions of true faith to her he left her (as he said) to the mercy of the wild beast, and she ran after him as swiftly as she could.
The fairy king, who was always friendly to true lovers, felt great compassion for Helena; and perhaps, as Lysander said they used to walk by moonlight in this pleasant wood, Oberon might have seen Helena in those happy times when she was beloved by Demetrius
However that might be, when Puck returned with the little purple flower, Oberon said to his favourite, "Take a part of this flower: there has been a sweet Athenian lady here, who is in love with a disdainful youth; if you find him sleeping drop some of the love juice in his eyes, but contrive to do it when she is near him, that the first thing he sees when he awakes may be this despised lady. You will know the man by the Athenian garments which he wears." Puck promised to manage this matter very dexterously; and then Oberon went, unperceived by Titania, to her bower, where she was preparing to go to rest. Her fairy bower was a bank, where grew wild thyme, cowslips, and sweet violets, under a canopy of woodbine, musk-roses, and eglantine. There litania always slept some part of the night; her coverlet the enameled skin of a snake, which, though a small mantle, was wide enough to wrap a fairy in.
He found Titania giving orders to her fairies, how they were to employ themselves while she slept. "Some of you," said her majesty," must kill cankers in the musk-rose buds, and some wage war with the bats for their leathern wings, to make my small elves coats; and some of you keep watch that the clamorous owl, that nightly boots, come not near me: but first sing me to sleep." They then began to sing this song:
You spotted snakes with double tongue,
Sing in your sweet lullaby;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby; lulla, lulla, lullaby; Never harm nor spell nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So good night with lullaby.
When the fairies had sung their queen asleep with this pretty lullaby, they left her, to perform the important services she had enjoined them. Oberon then softly drew near his Titania, and dropped some of the love juice on her eyelids, saying
What thou seest when thou dost wake Do it for thy true-love take.
But to return to Hermia, who made her escape out of her father's house that night to avoid the death which she was doomed to for refusing to marry Demetrius. When she entered the wood she found her dear Lysander waiting for her, to conduct her to his aunt's house; but before they had passed half through the wood, Hermia was so much fatigued, that Lysander, who was very careful of this dear lady, who had proved her affection for him even by hazarding her life for his sake, persuaded her to rest till morning on a bank of soft moss, and lying down himself on the ground at some little distance, they soon fell fast asleep. Here they were found by Puck, who seeing a handsome young man asleep, and perceiving that his clothes were made in the Athenian fashion and that a pretty lady was sleeping near him, concluded that this must be the Athenian maid and her disdainful lover whom Oberon had sent him to seek; and he naturally enough conjectured that, as they were alone together, she must be the first thing he would see when he awoke ; so, without any more ado, he proceeded to pour some of the juice of the purple flower into his eyes. But it so fell out that Helena came that way, and instead of Hermia was the first object Lysander beheld when he opened his eyes; and strange to relate, so powerful was the love charm, all his love for Hermia vanished away, and Lysander fell in love with Helena.
Had he first seen Hermia when he awoke, the blunder Puck committed would have been of no consequence, for he could not love that faithful lady too well; but for poor Lysander to be forced by a fair love charm to forget his own true Hermia, and to run after another lady, and leave Hermia asleep quite alone in a wood at midnight, was a sad mischance indeed.
Thus this misfortune happened. Helena, as has been before related, endeavoured to keep pace with Demetrius when he ran away so rudely from her; but she could not continue this unequal race long, men being always better runners in a long race than ladies. Helena soon lost sight of Demetrius; and as she was wandering about, dejected and forlorn, she arrived at the place where Lysander was sleeping. "Ah!" said she, "this is Lysander lying on the ground; is he dead or asleep?" Then, gently touching him, she said, "Good sir, if you are alive, awake." Upon this Lysander opened his eyes. and (the love charm beginning to work) immediately addressed her in terms of extravagant love and admiration; telling her she as much excelled Hermia in beauty as a dove does a raven, and that he would run through fire for her sweet sake; and many more such lover-like speeches. Helena knowing Lysander was her friend Hermia's lover, and that he was solemnly engaged to marry her, was in the utmost rage, when she heard herself addressed in this manner; for she thought (as well she might) that Lysander was making a jest of her. "Oh!" said she, "why was I born to be
mocked and scorned by every one? Is it not enough, is it not enough, young man, that I can never get a sweet look or a kind word from Demetrius, but you, sir, must pretend in this disdainful manner to court me? I thought, Lysander, you were a lord of more true gentleness." Saying these words in great anger, she ran away: and Lysander followed her, quite forgetful of his own Hermia, who was still asleep.
When Hermia awoke, she was in a sad fright at finding herself alone. She wandered about the wood, not knowing what was become of Lysander, or which way to go to seek for him. In the mean time, Demetrius, not being able to find Hermia and his rival Lysander, and fatigued with his fruitless search, was observed by Oberon fast asleep. Oberon had learnt by some questions he had asked of Puck, that he had applied the love charm to the wrong person's eyes; and now, having found the person first intended, he touched the eyelids of the sleeping Demetrius with the love juice, and he instantly awoke; and the first thing he saw being Helena, he, as Lysander had done before, began to address love speeches to her; and just at that moment Lysander, followed by Hermia (for through Puck's unlucky mistake it was now become Hermia's turn to run after her lover), made his appearance; and then Lysander and Demetrius, both speaking together, made love to Helena, they being each one under the influence of the same potent charm.
The astonished Helena thought that Demetrius, Lysander, and her once dear friend Hermia, were all in a plot together to make a jest of her.
Hermia was as much surprised as Helena; she knew not why Lysander and Demetrius, who both before loved her, were now become the lovers of Helena; and to Hermia the matter seemed to be no jest.
The ladies, who before had always been the dearest of friends, now fell to high words together.
"Unkind Hermia," said Helena, "it is you have set Lysander on to vex me with mock praises; and your other lover Demetrius, who used almost to spurn me with his foot, have you not bid him call me goddess, nymph, rare, precious, and celestial? He would not speak thus to me, whom he hates, if you did not set him on to make a jest of me. Unkind Hermia, to join with men in scorning your poor friend. Have you forgot our school-day friendship? How often, Hermia, have we two, sitting on one cushion, both singing one song, with our needles working the same flower, both on the same sampler wrought; growing up together in fashion of a double cherry, scarcely seeming parted? Hermia, it is not friendly in you, it is not maidenly to join with men in scorning your poor friend."
"I am amazed at your passionate words," said Hermia; "I scorn you not; it seems you scorn me. "Ay, do," returned Helena, persevere, counterfeit serious looks, and make mouths at me when I turn my back; then wink at each other, and hold the sweet jest up. If you had any pity, 'grace, or manners, you would not use me thus."
While Helena and Hermia were speaking these angry words to each other, Demetrius and Lysander left them, to fight together in the wood for the love of Helena.
When they found the gentleman had left them, they departed, and once more wandered weary in the wood in search of their lovers.
As soon as they were gone, the fairy king, who, with little Puck, had been listening to their quarrels, said to him, "This is your negligence, Puck; or did you do this wilfully ?" "Believe me, King of Shadows," answered Puck," it was a mistake; did not you tell me I should know the man by his Athenian garments? However, I am not sorry this has happened, for I think their jangling makes excellent sport." "You heard," said Oberon, "that Demetrius and Lysander are gone to seek a convenient place to fight in. I command you to overhang the night with a thick fog, and lead these quarrelsome lovers so astray in the dark that they shall not be able to find each other. Counterfeit each of their voices to the other, and with bitter taunts provoke them to follow you, while they think it is their rival's tongue they hear. See you do this, till they are so weary they can go no further; and when you find they are asleep, drop the juice of this other flower into Lysander's eyes, and when he awakes he will forget his new love for Helena, and return to his old passion for Hermia; and then the two fair ladies may each one be happy with the man she loves, and they will think all that has passed a vexatious dream. About this quickly, Puck, and I will go and see what sweet love my Titania has found."
Titania was still sleeping, and Oberon seeing a clown near her, who had lost his way in the wood, and was likewise asleep: "This fellow," said he, "shall be my Titania's true love ;" and clapping an ass's head over the clown's, it seemed to fit him as well as if it had grown upon his own shoulders. Though Oberon fixed the ass's head on very gently, it awakened him, and rising up, unconscious of what Oberon had done to him, he went towards the bower where the fairy queen slept.