A long time ago, in the Chronicles of the ancient Kings of Persia, there lived a Sultan
named Shahariyaar of Samarcande. Shahriyar had a wife whom he loved more than all the entire world, and his greatest happiness was to surround her with splendor. After several
years, Shahariyaar became very disappointed with his wife’s behavior while he was away, so he declared all the women unfaithful and ordered to behead his wife.
The blow was so heavy that his mind almost gave way, and he declared that he was
quite sure that at the bottom all women were as wicked as the sultana. So every evening he
married a fresh wife and had her strangled the following morning before the grand vizier
(Minister), whose duty it was to provide these unhappy brides for the Sultan. The poor man
fulfilled his task with reluctance.
This behavior caused the greatest horror in the town. The grand vizier himself was the father of two daughters, of whom the elder was
called Scheherazade, and the younger Dinarzade. (Shaharzaad and Deenaarzaad)
Scheherazade: “Father, I have a favor to ask of you. Will you grant it to me?”
Vizier: “I can refuse you nothing just and reasonable.”
Scheherazade: “I am determined to stop this barbarous practice of the Sultan’s and to deliver
the girls and mothers from the awful fate that hangs over them.”
Vizier: “It would be an excellent thing to do, but how do you propose to accomplish it?”
Scheherazade: “My father, it is you who have to provide the Sultan daily with a fresh wife, and I
beg(implore) you, to allow the honor to fall upon me.”
Vizier: “Have you lost your senses? What has put such a thing into your head? You ought to
know by this time what it means to be the sultan’s bride!”
Scheherazade: “Yes, my father, I know it well, and I am not afraid to think of it. If I fail, my death will be a glorious one, and if I succeed I shall have done a great service to my country.”
Vizier: “It is of no use; I will not kill my daughter at the morning’s light!” Scheherazade: “Once again, my father, will you grant me what I ask?”
Vizier: “What, are you still so obstinate? Why are you so resolved upon your ruin?”
But the maiden refused to attend to her father’s words. In despair, the vizier was obliged to give away and went sadly to the palace to tell the Sultan that the following
evening he would bring him Scheherazade. The Sultan received this news with the greatest astonishment.
Shahryar: “Let there be no mistake, vizier, remember you will have to take her life yourself. If at all you refuse, I swear that your head shall pay a forfeit.”
Vizier: “Sure, Whatever the cost, I will obey you. Though a father, I am also your subject.”
So the Sultan told the grand‐vizier he might bring his daughter as soon as he liked. The vizier took back this news to Scheherazade, who received it as if it had been the most pleasant thing in the world. In the meantime, Scheherazade asked her sister to do her a favor,
Scheherazade: “Today I will be married to Sultan. Tomorrow morning, he will execute me.
Before this execution, I want you to help me. After the marriage, I will request him to take you with me, which I think he should grant. Your job is only to wake me up one hour before sunrise, and say “Sister if you are not asleep, tell me one of your interesting stories.” Then I will start telling stories. Hopefully, I will save my people thus.”
Dinarzade replied that she would do with pleasure what her sister wished. When the usual hour arrived the grand vizier conducted Scheherazade to the palace,
and left her alone with the Sultan, he bade her raise her veil and was amazed at her beauty. But seeing her eyes full of tears, he asked.
Shahariyaar: “What happened sultana?”
Scheherazade: “Sire, I have a sister who loves me as tenderly as I love her. Grant me the favor of allowing her to sleep this night in the same room, as it is the last we shall be together.”
Shahariyaar consented to Scheherazade’s petition and Dinarzade was sent for.
An hour before daybreak Dinarzade awoke, and exclaimed, as she had promised,
Dinarzade: “My dear sister, if you are not asleep, tell me one of your charming stories. It is the last time that I shall have the pleasure of hearing you.”
Scheherazade: “Will your highness permit me to do as my sister asks?”
and So Scheherazade began.