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The Arabian Nights         Page 1
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The Arabian Nights

Introduction



In the chronicles of the ancient dynasty of the Sassanidae, who

reigned for about four hundred years, from Persia to the borders

of China, beyond the great river Ganges itself, we read

the praises of one of the kings of this race, who was said to be

the best monarch of his time. His subjects loved him, and his

neighbors feared him, and when he died he left his kingdom in

a more prosperous and powerful condition than any king had

done before him.



The two sons who survived him loved each other tenderly,

and it was a real grief to the elder, Schahriar, that the laws of

the empire forbade him to share his dominions with his brother

Schahzeman. Indeed, after ten years, during which this state of

things had not ceased to trouble him, Schahriar cut off the

country of Great Tartary from the Persian Empire and made his

brother king.



Now the Sultan Schahriar had a wife whom he loved more

than all the world, and his greatest happiness was to surround

her with splendour, and to give her the finest dresses and the

most beautiful jewels. It was therefore with the deepest shame

and sorrow that he accidentally discovered, after several years,

that she had deceived him completely, and her whole conduct

turned out to have been so bad, that he felt himself obliged to

carry out the law of the land, and order the grand-vizir to put

her to death. The blow was so heavy that his mind almost gave

way, and he declared that he was quite sure that at bottom all

women were as wicked as the sultana, if you could only find

them out, and that the fewer the world contained the better. So

every evening he married a fresh wife and had her strangled

the following morning before the grand-vizir, whose duty it was



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