The Man who never Laughed
” Accordingly he arose and opened the door, after he had broken the locks. And when he had opened the door he saw a narrow passage, along which he walked for the space of three hours; and lo! he came forth upon the bank of a great river. At this the young man wondered. And he walked along the bank, looking to the right and left; and behold! a great eagle descended from the sky, and taking up the young man with its talons, it flew with him, between heaven and earth, until it conveyed him to an island in the midst of the sea. There it threw him down, and departed from him.
So the young man was perplexed at his case, not knowing whither to go; but while he was sitting one day, lo! the sail of a vessel appeared to him upon the sea, like the star in the sky; wherefore the heart of the young man became intent upon the vessel, in the hope that his escape might be effected in it. He continued looking at it until it came near unto him; and when it arrived, he beheld a bark of ivory and ebony, the oars of which were of sandal-wood and aloes-wood, and the whole of it was encased with plates of brilliant gold. There were also in it ten damsels, virgins, like moons. When the damsels saw him, they landed to him from the bark, and kissed his hands, saying to him, “Thou art the king, the bridegroom.” Then there advanced to him a damsel who was like the shining sun in the clear sky, having in her hand a kerchief of silk, in which were a royal robe, and a crown of gold set with varieties of jacinths. Having advanced to him, she clad him and crowned him; after which the damsels carried him in their arms to the bark, and he found in it varieties of carpets of silk of divers colours. They then spread the sails, and proceeded over the depths of the sea.
“Now when I proceeded with them,” says the young man, “I felt sure that this was a dream, and knew not whither they were going with me. And when they came in sight of the land, I beheld it filled with troops, the number of which none knew but God (whose perfection be extolled, and whose name be exalted!