MÓSTAFA Alvilá was califf of a conquered province in Spain, where he reigned with oriental state. The tributary people were ground down with hard work to minister to his treasury, and the vast sums he amassed were spent in beautifying his Alcázar, and filling it with costly productions from all parts. Merchants from every climate under heaven were encouraged to come and offer him their choicest wares.
One day, a merchant of Persia brought a large pack of shawls and carpets, all woven in gold and pearls, and wools and silks of brilliant colours, but among them all the most beautiful was one carpet of great price, on which Móstafa Alvilá's choice was immediately set; but in all his treasury there was not found the price of it. Nothing would do, he must possess it: then Ali Babá his vizier came forward and said, "Let ten thousand dogs of Christians be sold, and with the price of them you shall purchase the carpet."
Móstafa Alvilá answered and said, "The advice is good!" So they sent and sold ten thousand Christians, and with the price of them the carpet was bought.
Móstafa Alvilá sat contemplating the curious devices, and tracing the wonderful arabesque patterns with which the carpet was covered; and there was one pattern, all shining with gold and pearls, quite prominent in the centre, which had a likeness to the characters of an inscription; and when Móstafa Alvilá saw it, he was very curious to know if it was an inscription, and what it meant, so he sent to recall the merchant; but he was gone from the Alcázar. Then he sent his servants after him, and though they travelled three days' journey by every road, they could neither find him nor obtain any tidings of whither he had passed. Then Móstafa Alvilá was more curious, and sent and gathered all the learned men in his califate, and inquired of them what the inscription might mean. They all looked troubled, and said they could not tell, they had never seen such letters. But one there was who concealed the difficulty he was in so ill, that Móstafa Alvilá saw he knew what the writing meant, so he looked very severely upon him and threatened him with instant death if he did not tell him exactly what the writing was.
Then the interpreter, when he found there was no other way to save his life, with great fear and trembling said, this is the meaning thereof:--
"Shiroes, son of Chosroes, killed his father; and he died six months after."
Móstafa Alvilá was greatly troubled when he heard the sentence; for he had ascended the califate by killing his father, and he had reigned six months all but one day. So he sent and commanded that the interpreter and all who had heard the sentence should be put to death, that no one might know the omen.
But that night, in the middle of the dark hours, when Móstafa Alvilá was alone in his chamber, a horrible vision came to him. He thought he saw the body of his father whom he had murdered rise up to convict him. He sunk down in his bed, and covered his face in fear and horror.
In the morning, when they came to call him, they found only his lifeless corpse.