THERE was, in olden time, and in an ancient age and period, in Damascus of Syria, a King, one of the Khali fehs, named 'Abd-El-Melik the son of Marwan; and he was sitting, one day, having with him the great men of his empire, consisting of Kings and Sultans, when a discussion took place among them, respecting the traditions of former nations. They called to mind the stories of our lord Suley-man the son of Da'ud (on both of whom be peace!), and the dominion and authority which God (whose name be exalted!) had bestowed upon him over mankind and the Jinn and the birds and the wild beasts and other things; and they said, We have heard from those who were before us that God (whose perfection be extolled, and whose name be exalted!) bestowed not upon any one the like of that which He bestowed upon our lord Suleyman, and that he attained to that to which none other attained, so that he used to imprison the Jinn and the Marids and the Devils in bottles of brass, and pour molten lead over them, and seal this cover over them with a signet.

Then Talib [the son of Sahl] related, that a man embarked in a ship with a company of others, and they voyaged to the island of Sicily, and ceased not in their course until there arose against them a wind which bore them away to one of the lands of God, whose name be exalted! This happened during the black darkness of night, and when the day shone forth, there came out to them, from caves in that land, people of black complexion and with naked bodies, like wild beasts, not understanding speech. They had a King of their own race, and none of them knew Arabic save their King. So when they saw die ship and those who were in her, he came forth to them attended by a party of his companions, and saluted them and welcomed them, and inquired of them respecting their religion. They therefore acquainted him with their state; and he said to them, No harm shall befall you. And when he asked them respecting their religion, each of them was of some one of the religions prevailing before the manifestation of El-Islam, and before the mission of Mohammad, may God bless and save him!- wherefore the people of the ship said, We know not what thou sayest. Then the King said to them, There hath not come to us any one of the sons of Adam before you. And he entertained them with a banquet of the flesh of birds and of wild beasts and of fish, beside which they had no food. And after this, the people of the ship went down to divert themselves in the city, and they found one of the fishermen who had cast his net in the sea to catch fish, and he drew it up, and lo, in it was a bottle of brass, stopped with lead, which was sealed with the signet of Suleyman the son of Da'ud, on both of whom be peace! And the fisherman came forth and broke it; whereupon there proceeded from it a blue smoke, which united with the clouds of heaven; and they heard a horrible voice, saying, Repentance! repentance! O Prophet of God!-Then, of that smoke there was formed a person of terrible aspect, of terrific make, whose head would reach [as high as] a mountain; and he disappeared from before their eyes. As to the people of the ship, their hearts were almost eradicated; but the blacks thought nothing of the event. And a man returned to the King, and asked him respecting this; and the King answered him, Know that this is one of the Jinn whom Suleyman the son of Da'ud, when he was incensed against them, imprisoned in these bottles, and he poured lead over them, and threw them into the sea. When the fisherman casteth his net, it generally bringeth up these bottles; and when they are broken, there cometh forth from them a Jinni, who imagineth that Suleyman is still living; wherefore he repenteth, and saith, Repentance! O Prophet of God!

And the Prince of the Faithful, 'Abd-El-Melik the son of Marwan, wondered at these words, and said, Extolled be the perfection of God! Suleyman was endowed with a mighty dominion!-And among those who were present In that assembly was En-Nabighah Edh-Dhubyani ;l and he said, Talib hath spoken truth in that which he hath related, and the proof of his veracity is the saying of the Wise, the First, [thus versified].

And [consider] Suleyman, when the Deity said to him, Perform the office of Khalifeh, and govern with diligence; And whoso obeyeth thee, honour him for doing so; and whoso disobeyeth thee, imprison him for ever.

He used to put them into bottles of brass, and to cast them into the sea.-And the Prince of the Faithful approved of these words, and said, By Allah, I desire to see some of these bottles! So Talib the son of Sahl replied, O Prince of the Faithful, thou art able to do so, and yet remain in thy country. Send to thy brother 'Abd-El-'Aziz, the son of Marwan, desiring him to bring them to thee from the Western country,* that he may write orders to Musa* to journey from the Western Country to this mountain which we have mentioned, and to bring thee what thou desirest of these bottles; for the furthest tract of his province is adjacent to this mountain.-And the Prince of the Faithful approved of his advice, and said, O Talib, thou hast spoken truth in that which thou hast said, and I desire that thou be my messenger to Musa the son of Nuseyr for this purpose, and thou shalt have a white ensign, together with what thou shalt desire of wealth or dignity or other things, and I will be thy substitute to take care of thy family. To this, Talib replied, Most willingly, O Prince of the Faithful. And the Khalifeh said to him, Go in dependence on the blessing of God, and his aid. Then he gave orders that they should write for him a letter to his brother 'Abd-El-'Aziz, his viceroy in Egypt, and another letter to Musa, his viceroy in the Western Country, commanding him to journey, himself, in search of the bottles of Suleyman, to leave his son to govern the country in his stead, and to take with him guides, to expand wealth, and to collect a large number of men, and not to be remiss in accomplishing that object, nor to use any pretext to excuse himself. He sealed the two letters, and delivered them to Talib the son of Sahl, commanding him to hasten, and to elevate the ensigns over his head; and he gave him riches and riders and footmen to aid him in his way: he gave orders also to supply his house with every thing requisite.

1 An Arab poet* who, however, died before Islam. » El-Maghrib, North Africa.

* úThe Arab general who conquered North Africa and Spain].