I was scarcely past my infancy when the king my father perceived that I was endowed with a great deal of sense, and spared nothing in improving it; he employed all the men in his dominions that excelled in science and art to be constantly about me. No sooner was I able to read and write than I learned the Koran from the beginning to the end by heart; that admirable book which contains the foundation, the precepts, and the rules of our religion; and that I might be thoroughly instructed in it, I read the works of the most approved authors, by whose commentaries it had been explained. I added to this study that of all the traditions collected from the mouth of our Prophet by the great men that were contemporary with him. I was not satisfied with the knowledge of all that had any relation to our religion, but made also a particular search into our histories. I made myself perfect in polite learning, in the works of poets, and in versification. I applied myself to geography, chronology, and to speak our Arabic tongue in its purity. But one thing which I was fond of and succeeded in to a special degree was to form the characters of our written language, wherein I surpassed all the writing masters of our kingdom that had acquired the greatest reputation.
Fame did me more honour than I deserved, for she not only spread the renown of my talents through all the dominions of the king my father, but carried it as far as the Indian court, whose potent monarch, desirous to see me, sent an ambassador with rich presents to demand me of my father, who was extremely glad of this embassy for several reasons; he was persuaded that nothing could be more commendable in a prince of my age than to travel and visit foreign courts, and he was very glad to gain the friendship of the Indian sultan. I departed with the ambassador, but with no great retinue, because of the length and difficulty of the journey.
When we had travelled about a month, we discovered at a distance a great cloud of dust, and under that we very soon saw fifty horsemen, well armed, that were robbers, coming towards us at full gallop.
As we had ten horses laden with baggage and presents that I was to carry to the Indian sultan from the king my father, and my retinue was but small, these robbers came boldly up to us. Not being in a position to make any resistance, we told them that we were ambassadors belonging to the Sultan of the Indies, and hoped they would attempt nothing contrary to that respect which is due to him, thinking by this means to save our equipage and our lives.
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