The sultan Shahabaam, singling out, at a glance
of his eagle eye, the beautiful Tulipia, said immediately, -- “She is a
The consequence was, that he named her for his
This situation was brilliant, but treacherous,
under a prince so fantastic, capricious, and devoted to pleasure, as was the
Accordingly Tulipia’s influence, which at first
was unbounded, gradually declined.
Shahabaam first transferred his affections to a
bear, and then to red fishes. In about three months, it was considered settled
in the seraglio, that an actress from the Varietés, lately taken captive, would
soon be promoted to the rank of chief sultana.
Had Tulipia’s ambition equaled her beauty, she
might long have preserved her power. But she was indifferent. Her mind was
inactive. She knew not how to sing, to dance, to make puns, or to solve riddles;
and these were great deficiencies in the eyes of a master so sagacious as
The chief sultana’s apartments looked out on a
splendid garden. Open blinds gave admission to the cool breezes, which played
among the slats with flashes of bright reflection. As Tulipia, weeping, reclined
upon her ottoman, she uttered, in broken phrases, the following soliloquy: --
“Why did fate assign to me a master so
intellectual as Shahabaam? I am handsome – but that is all. The tulip has
nothing to boast of but her figure. Then I had selected so happily my former
residence. I wished to live, and I had, in fact, become a Dutch-woman. It would
seem that fortune had undertaken to favor me still more, when she caused me to
fall into the hands of the Barbary corsair. Have I not, indeed, all the
requisites of an odah-lic, whose entire duties are comprised in these two words
– pleasure and beauty? But how unfortunately has it all turned out! Does any one
of you know this rival, whom Shahabaam prefers to me?”
Tulipia said this to a group of females
reclining at her feet upon the carpet.
These women, as the intelligent reader has
probably discovered were so many flowers, which had selected the seraglio for
their abode: some of them, like the tuberose and the monkshood, from their
ardent and voluptuous disposition; others from their indifference, as the
hortensia and the snowball.
“You have to do with a powerful competitor, my dear
Tulip,” said the Monkshood. “This actress from the Varietés is no other than our
sister, Rose-pompon,* with whose sprightly graces you are well acquainted.”
“I am ruined,” mournfully exclaimed the Tulip.
“Were any other than Shahabaam to decide, I should not hesitate to enter the
lists against Rose-pompon; but with him it is impossible.”