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Two Ways of Putting it - Harper's


The Sultan awoke with a stifled scream:
His nerves were shocked by a fearful dream:

An omen of terrible import and doubt—
His teeth in one moment all fell out.

His wisemen assembled at break of day,
And stood by the throne in solemn array.

And when the terrible dream was told,
Each felt a shudder, his blood ran cold,

And all stood silent, in fear and dread,
And wondering what was best to be said.

At length an old soothsayer, wrinkled and gray,
Cried, "Pardon, my lord, what I have to say;

"'Tis an omen of sorrow sent from on high:
Thou shalt see all thy kindred die."

Wroth was the Sultan; he gnashed his teeth,
And his very words seemed to hiss and seethe,

As he ordered the Wiseman bound with chains,
And gave him a hundred stripes for his pains.

The wisemen shook as the Sultan's eye
Swept round to see who next would try;

But one of them, stepping before the throne,
Exclaimed, in a loud and joyous tone:

"Exult, O head of a happy state!
Rejoice, O heir of a glorious fate!

"For this is the favor thou shalt win,
O Sultan—to outlive all thy kin!"

Pleased was the Sultan, and called a slave,
And a hundred crowns to the wiseman gave.

But the courtiers they nod, with grave, sly winks,
And each one whispers what each one thinks,

"Well can the Sultan reward and blame:
Didn't both of the wisemen foretell the same?"

Quoth the crafty old Vizier, shaking his head,
"So much may depend on the way a thing's said!"