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from the ark; and upon dragging it ashore and opening the lid, a female babe appeared, softly cushioned upon the richest silk, and at its feet were a pair of shoes, wrought of silver feathers; a richly chased gold ring, set with one costly stone; and a small dagger, the handle of which was gold, inlaid with diamonds and emeralds.
Ben Hafiz wondered at the strange costliness of the articles, and having soothed the crying babe in his bosom, carried her home with all her dowry to his wife Sherzaran. The old couple resolved to cherish their little foundling, both for its innocent self, and because they believed it to be the offspring of some one, nothing less in rank than a prince.
At night-fall, when their meal was ended, they passed the short hour before going to rest with talking over the event of the past day, and amusing themselves with the pretty innocence of the babe, that appeared to be but three months old. They also examined the quality of the gorgeous dagger, the elegant shape of the silver-feathered shoes, and the exceeding lustre of the ring. No sooner had Sherzaran taken this into her hand, than both perceived the room to be filled with a gracious odour, as of the breath of violets, and they felt an uncommon joy of heart; but when she gave it to the little Narina to play with, the eyes of the babe were suddenly enlightened to an awful brilliance, her countenance became fixed for a moment with an intent look, and then broke into one of those radiant smiles that children are wont to do when they recognise their mother; and all the while a hushing low murmur was heard in the room ; like the far-off tender note of the turtledove in a silent wood at sunset. Both noticed the sweet look and smile of the child, and Sherzaran reminded her husband, that “children are said to see angels when they smile.” “ And if my old eyes are not going, wife,” said Ben Hafiz, “I saw, over the head of the babe, while seated on your knee, a countenance of one of the shining ones, that looked upon her with a love and fondness that I can never forget. A blessed spirit watches over the child, and over us; for the breeze before sun-rise, coming from a garden of roses, never gave to my heart such a feeling of quiet joy, as the heavenly things I have seen this night.”
Some time after this event, as Ben Hafiz was seated at the door of his cottage, watching his flock, that were eating their evening meal in the valley that lay before him, and the little infant, whom he had named Narina, was crawling on the grass around him, pulling the flowers, and laying them at his feet, and then looking up in his face with a playful smile, a desire came upon him that he would again prove the power of the wondrous ring; so, turning into the cottage, he brought it out, and placed it upon the forefinger of the child, when it instantly closed to the proper size, and her face and eyes became bright as before, while she laughed and struggled with outstretched arms. Upon removing the ring, it as suddenly increased to its original dimension. The marvel of this circumstance prompted Ben Hafiz to try whether it would fit one of his own fingers. It glided on to the forefinger of his right hand as though it had been made of the softest silk; and at the same moment he heard a soft and sweet voice in the air bidding him look up without fear. He raised his eyes and beheld, over the mountain ridge that enclosed his little valley, a bright spot in the heavens which quickly gathered up the rays of the setting