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voice of 'humility said, We, the slaves of the key, salute thee, oh King ! we come to do thy bidding, to put down cruelty and oppression, and to uphold merit. When, raising himself up, an iron litter was brought forward, upon which Azbeaz was invited to sit, and thus he was marched forward, followed by bodies of men all clad in black armour, bearing shields and wielding lances, and making collectively a mass that looked like a column of polished iron.
The 'army thus headed by Azbeaz, though small, was compact as the ore it represented, and, as they emerged from the cavern,, took the direction of the city. They marched in solemn silence--not a word was spoken, nor was a sound heard save the heavy tramping of the troops and the clashing of their armour. When they had got within sight of the city, the column began to extend itself and exhibit a larger front. Azbeaz all this while sat immoveable in his iron litter, waiting with patience the result of this extraordinary adventure, but lost in surprise at the strangeness of his position.
The King in the mean while had reached the summit of the tower before the army had extended its front, and when he perceived the smallness of its size, he took confidence and laughed the supposed danger to scorn. The flatterers by whom he was surrounded encouraged him to believe that the whole was child's play, and that ,no sooner would his troops appear in the field than the invaders would disperse.
The grand vizier in person having headed the troops ordered the gates to be thrown open, and advanced to meet, the coming foe. The King became a degree more. alarmed when he perceived the army extending its front; but when he saw the great number of his own troops, he again resumed confidence and feigned a scornful laugh.
The conflicting armies were now fairly, drawn up in array before each other; and, strange to say, ere the grand vizier had given the word of command to attack, the sword of each of the royal combattants was unconsciously drawn from its scabbard, and suddenly seen to fly through the air, and making straight in the direction of the invading army, become attached with the adhesiveness of wax to the shields of their opponents.
The ringing sound produced by this extraordinary concussion was heard far and wide, and inspired terror and dismay in the disarmed troops, whilst it became the signal for the renewed forward movement of the invaders. Magic and magnetism were here combined, and the result was conclusive and instantaneous. The King's troops, without arms, became like a flock, of sheep before a pack of wolves, and fled without hesitation, seeking shelter within the city walls. They entered in utter confusion, creating alarm and desolation by their account of the magic exercised against them, and showing the inutility of resistance.
The King, having seen the performance of the miracle from the lower top, was led away senseless. It was then that the utter pusillanimity of his character became remarkable, and had he been capable of making an observation, he would have commented upon the ingratitude and falseness of men, who so long as prosperity shone upon him remained faithful, but who, the moment reverse ensued, left him alone and unprotected.
The invaders now proceeded in grim array to the very walls of the city, and having conducted Azbeaz in safety to the city gates, which flew open at his approach, he made his entry surrounded by his black escort, to the astonishment and wonder of all beholders.
Is not that Azbeaz, the shoemaker ?, said they, as he passed by with all the circumstance and power of a monarch. « If it be not him, it is one very much like him, for he is laughing still..
• It is Azbeaz, - said a neighbour in the bazaar, who saw him upheld above the crowd; « there is his very cap-there also is his well-known hump."
By my soul, exclaimed a third, we shall have a merry monarch if it be Azbeaz, for he never appears but to grin.
The whole city was in a state of astonishment and uncertainty apprehensive of evil, and still looking forward to good.
Those who had caught a glimpse of their new monarch, ran busily with the news to his brother Sakalchok, exclaim
« Mujdeh, mujdeh, good news, your brother is King ! » whilst he, being thus informed, looked bewildered with the intelligence.
Azbeaz King!» he exclaimed ; « what ashes have fallen upon my head! what becomes of the dirt which I have so long made him eat?—whither shall I fly to hide myself ?but it cannot be: what words are these? Azbeaz King! no, such a thing was never before heard of in the world; whatever may happen I will go and see. »
Upon which, covering his head over with a shawl, and leaving his attendants behind, he glided through the streets to obtain a glimpse of the new King's face.
The five old men too, who had so grossly insulted Azbeaz, began to shake in their shoes. They were afraid to stir abroad when apprized of the astonishing fact, lest, seeing any one of them, the injuries he had received at their hands might recur to his recollection. However, when they brought to mind the character of benevolence which he enjoyed, they flaltered themselves that among his bad qualities he did not count revenge.
In the mean while Azbeaz, on his iron litter, upheld above the heads of the surrounding crowd, was borne forward by his victorious bands, headed and directed by their colossal chieftain, until he reached the royal palace, the gates of which, denoting an expiring effort lo save the King, he found closed; but upon his approach, the iron bolts and fastenings by which they were kept together darted forth, and afforded an easy entrance. He then was led straightway to the identical golden throne, so recently occupied by his predecessor, taken from his litter, and installed upon it with all the outward demonstrations of respect showu to eastern kings on such an occasion. All this while he, the man Azbeaz, was considering within his inmost thoughts, whether what he was witnessing, and experienced in his own person, was real or a dream.
His face exhibited a stolid look of incredulity, although never, for a moment, cheated out of its smile. The only words he said, and which he constantly repeated to himself, were, «we shall see, » as if he were conscious that he had not yet reached the end of his adventures, reserving a final adjustment of himself whenever he should be fixed in his new position; like the cogitation which a man may be supposed to hold within his breast, when falling from a great height, saying, this is all very well as long as it lasts. » As soon
as Azbeaz was seated on the throne, his resistless protector having drawn up his troops in a line before him, he cast his eyes around, above and below, in utter surprise at the glitter and magnificence which surrounded him, and scarcely could he venture to place himself at his ease upon the costly and luxurious cushions, embroidered in gold and precious stones, with which his seat was overspread. Wherever he gazed, he beheld emblems of royalty, and grandeur only to be seen in king's bouses, such as paintings, gildings, precious stones, silken bangings, and costly carpets. He looked beseechingly around into every man's face, as if he would enquire, are all these things for me?
He had not sat long, before his conductor, falling down on his face before him, said, « Oh, King, live for ever!
! We, the slaves of the key, have now performed our appointed task, in virtue of which we again deliver to your sublime majesty the instrument of the power by which we have been enabled to act. Upon which, arising, he drew from his breast the key, and placed it with all due respect before the throne. He then made another prostration, and afterwards, in a manner incredible to the astounded and bewildered Azbeaz, he and his troops disappeared from the courts of the palace and from the city, leaving the inhabitants to pursue their wonted avocations.
Azbeaz had wit enongh to perceive that his whole safety depended upon the possession of the key, which he forthwith placed within the folds of his girdle, until he should have time and opportunity to deposit it in a safer place, and he had scarcely done so, before he perceived himself surrounded by richly-dressed men, who stationed themselves in different parts of the court which extended before the throne.
These were the nobles, the ministers of state, the generals, the men of the law, and the courtiers, who, having witnessed the miraculous manner in which their country had been deprived of one King and replaced by another, came to offer all the necessary congratulations on the occasion, and to seek, by an exhibition of their loyalty, a renewed installation in their respective situations.
After the due prostrations of body had been made, according to the prescribed forms of etiquette, the grand vizier stepped forward, and renewing his obeisance, covering over his hands with the sleeves of his cloak, and showing other marks of high respect, said:
« It is right and proper that the meanest of your slaves, by virtue of his office, should inform your Majesty, the kebleh of the world, and the asylum of nations, that appointed as your Majesty has been by Allah, and that destiny which rules over mankind, to be our King and governor, it is expedient that the proper forms of installation into the kingly office should be effected, in order that we, your Majesty's slaves, men of the law, men of the pen, and men of the sword, may be enabled forthwith to present your Majesty to the nation and the people of this city, as their lawful sovereign.»
To which speech there was a universal assent given by the congregated courtiers, by the words beli, beli, and hai, hai, words which were intended as incense to the foot of the throne.
Azbeaz listened with unfeigned surprise and curiosity to the words of the grand vizier, and, when he had finished his speech, beckoned to him to approach, which being done,” he said in a most confidential tone,
Now, as you have a soul, tell me who you are ? »
Your slave is your highness's grand vizier, » answered the other.
Now tell me who I am? » returned Azbeaz.