The Black Slave
There was once a princess who had a black man slave.
“Princess,” said the black slave one day, “I know that you love the good Count of Yanno very much; but you cannot marry him, for he is already married. Why not, then, marry me?”
“I love, as you say, the Count of Yanno, and I know that he is married; but my father is a very powerful king, and he can render his marriage void. As for you,” continued the princess, “I would rather marry the lowest born man of my own race than a nigger!”
“Remember, princess, for how many years I have been your true slave—how I used to look after you when you were a child. Did I not once save you from the fangs of a wolf?”
“You need not tell me,” answered the princess, “that you love me as slaves love their superiors; but should you ever speak again about marrying me, I will tell my royal father.”
“If you mention the love that slaves generally have to their owners, I will not contradict you; but I think that sometimes masters are more unworthy the love of their slaves than the slaves are entitled to the love of their masters,” said the slave.
“You belong to us by purchase or by inheritance,” continued the princess, “and we do not belong to you. The white man gains the love of the lady of his choice by deeds of arms; he bears on his lance the banner embroidered by his lady-love, and, as a true knight, he makes verses in her honour.”
“Chivalry, as you understand it, is to me a fable; for if one of your pale-faced knights risk his life, it is on behalf of his family pride, although he may mention his lady-love’s name with his dying breath; but if a slave lay down his life for his master or mistress, it is only reckoned a part of his duty,” urged the slave.
“I command you not to speak to me again like this,” said the princess, “or I will have you severely punished.”
The poor slave was very sorrowful when he heard the princess, whom he loved so dearly, threaten to have him punished. “Death is the leveller of all ranks and of all races,” said he; “the dust of the dead white man and of the nigger are alike; in death, the king is no more than the beggar.
The Adventures of Haroun-al-Raschid, Caliph of Bagdad
Category: Arabic folktales
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