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her countenance was distorted. Nourassin, who was doubtful of the event, had withdrawn to conceal his confusion; and Almerine, not knowing that these dreadful appearances were the presages of recovery, and shewed that the fatal effects of the poison were expelled from the citadel of life, conceived her dissolution to be near, and in the agony of remorse and terror earnestly requested to see the king. Soliman hastily entered her apartment, and beheld the ruins of her beauty with astonishment; which every moment increased, while she discovered the mischief which had been intended against him, and which had now fallen
her own head. Soliman, after he had recovered from his astonishment, retired to his own apartment; and in this interval of recollection he soon discovered that the desire of beauty had seduced him from the path of justice, and that he ought to have dismissed the
person whose affections he believed to have another object. He did not, therefore, take away the life of Nourassin for a crime to which he himself had furnished the temptation ; but as some punishment was necessary as a sanction to the laws, he condemned him to perpetual banishment. He commanded that Almerine should be sent back to her father, that her life might be a memorial of his folly; and he determined, if possible, to atone by a second marriage for the errors of the first. He considered how he might enforce and illustrate some general precept; which would contribute more to the felicity of his people, than his leaving them a sovereign of his own blood; and at length he determined to publish this proclamation, throughout all the provinces of his empire: Soliman, whose judgment has been perverted, and whose life endangered, by the influence and the treachery of unrivalled beauty, is now resolved to place equal deformity upon his throne; that, when this event is re
corded, the world may know, that by Vice beauty became yet more odious than ugliness; and learn, like Soliman, to despise that excellence, which, without virtue, is only a specious evil, the reproach of the possessor, and the snare of others.'
Shelimah, during these events, experiencerl a very different fortune. She remained, till she was thirteen years of age, in the castle; and it happened that, about this time, the person to whose care she had been committed, after a short sickness died. Shelimah imagined that she slept; but perceiving that all attempts to awaken her were ineffectual, and her stock of provisions being exhausted, she found means to open the wicket, and wander alone into the wood. She satisfied her hunger with such berries and wild fruits as she found, and at night, not being able to find her way back, she lay down under a thicket and slept. Here she was awaked early in the morning by a peasant, whose compassion happened to be proof against deformity. The man asked her many questions; but her answers rather increasing than gratifying his curiosity, he set her before him on his beast, and carried her to his house in the next village, at the distance of about six leagues. In his family she was the jest of some, and the pity of others; she was employed in the meanest offices, and her figure procured her the name of Goblin. But amidst all the disadvantages of her situation, she enjoyed the utmost felicity of food and rest; as she formed no wishes, she suffered no disappointment; her body was healthful, and her mind at peace. In this station she had continued four
when the heralds appeared in the village with the proclamation of Soliman. Shelimah ran out with others to gaze at the parade; she listened to the proclamation with great attention, and when it was ended, she perceived that the eyes of
the multitude were fixed
upon her. One of the horsemen at the same time alighted, and with great ceremony entreated her to enter a chariot which was in the retinué, telling her, that she was without doubt the person whom Nature and Soliman had destined to be their queen. Shelimah replied with a smile, that she had no desire to be great; but,' said she, if your proclamation be true, I should rejoice to be the instrument of such admonition to mankind; and, upon this condition, I wish that I were indeed the most deformed of my species.' The moment this wish was uttered, the spell of Farimina produced the contrary effect; her skin, which was scaly and yellow, became smooth and white, her stature was perceived gradually to increase, her neck rose like a pillar of ivory, her bosom expanded, and her waist became less; her hair, which before was thin and of a dirty red, was now black as the feathers of the raven, and flowed in large ringlets on her shoulders; the most exquisite sensibility now sparkled in her eyes, her cheeks were tinged with the blushes of the morning, and her lips moistened with the dew ; every limb was perfect, and every motion was graceful. A white robe was thrown over her by an invisible hand : the crowd fell back in astonishment, and gazed with insatiable curiosity upon such beauty as before they had never
Shelimah was not less astonished than the crowd: she stood awhile with her eyes • the ground; and finding her confusion increase,
would have retired in silence; but she was prevented by the heralds, who having with much importunity prevailed upon her to enter the chariot, returned with her to the metropolis, presented her to Soliman, and related the prodigy.
Soliman looked round upon the assembly, in doubt whether to prosecute or relinquish his purpose; when Abbarán, a hoary sage, who had presided in the
fixed upon council of his father, came forward, and placing his forehead on the footstool of the throne; • Let the King,' said he, accept the reward of virtue, and take Shelimah to his bed. In what age, and in what nation shall not the beauty of Shelimah be honoured ? to whom will it be transmitted alone? Will not the story of the wife of Soliman descend with her name? will it not be known, that thy desire of beauty was not gratified, till it had been subdued ? that by an iniquitous purpose beauty became hideous, and by a virtuous wish deformity became fair?'
Soliman, who had fixed his eyes' upon Shelimah, discovered a mixture of joy and confusion in her countenance, which determined his choice, and was an earnest of his felicity; for at that moment, Love, who, during her state of deformity, had been excluded by the fairy Elfarina's interdiction, took possession of her breast.
The nuptial ceremony was not long delayed, and Elfarina honoured it with her
When she departed, she bestowed on both her benediction ; and put into the hand of Shelimah a scroll of vellum, on which was this inscription in letters of gold:
Remember, Shelimah, the fate of Almerine, who still lives the reproach of parental folly, of degraded beauty, and perverted sense. Remember Almerine; and let her example and thy own experience teach thee, that wit and beauty, learning, affluence, and honour, are not essential to human felicity; with these she was wretched, and without them thou wast happy. The advantages which I have hitherto bestowed, must now be obtained by an effort of thy own : that which gives relish to the coarsest food, is Temperance; the apparel and the dwelling of a peasant and a prince, are equal in the estimation of Humility; and the torment of ineffectual desires is prevented, by the resignation of Piety
to the will of Heaven ; advantages which are in the power of every wretch, who repines at the unequal distribution of good and evil, and imputes to Nature the effects of his own folly.' The King, to whom Shelimah communicated
of the Fairy, caused them to be transcribed, and with an account of the events which had produced them, distributed over all his dominions. Precepts which were thus enforced, had an immediate and extensive influence; and the happiness of Soliman and of Shelimah was thus communicated to the multitudes whom they governed.