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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete - 120/272 -


day, and not daring to hide himself among his young companions, lest his father should search for him in their houses, he went a little way out of town, and took sanctuary in a garden, where he had never been before, and where he was totally unknown. He did not return home till it was very late, when he knew his father was in bed; and then his mother's women, opening the door very softly; admitted him without any noise. He quitted the house again next morning before his father was stirring; and this plan he pursued for a whole month, to his great mortification. Indeed, the women never flattered him, but told him plainly, his father's anger was not at all diminished, and that he protested if he came into his sight he would certainly kill him.

The vizier's lady learnt from her women that Noor ad Deen slept every night in the house, but she could not summon resolution to supplicate her husband for his pardon. At last, however, she ventured. One day she said to him, "I have hitherto been silent, sir, not daring to take the liberty of talking to you about your son; but now give me leave to ask what you design to do with him? It is impossible for a son to have acted more criminally towards a father than he has done, in depriving you of the honour and gratification of presenting to the king a slave so accomplished as the fair Persian. This I acknowledge; but, after all, are you resolved to destroy him, and, instead of a light evil no more to be thought of, to draw upon yourself a far greater than perhaps you at present apprehend? Are you not afraid that the malicious world, which inquires after the reason of your son's absconding, may find out the true cause, which you are so desirous of concealing? Should that happen, you would justly fall into a misfortune, which it is so much your interest to avoid."

"Madam," returned the vizier, "there is much reason in what you have urged; but I cannot think of pardoning our son, till I have mortified him as he deserves." "He will be sufficiently mortified," replied the lady, "if you will only do what has just suggested itself to my mind. Your son comes home every night after you have retired; he sleeps here, and steals out every morning before you are stirring. Wait for his coming in to-night, make as if you designed to kill him, upon which I will run to his assistance, and when he finds he owes his life entirely to my prayers and entreaties, you may oblige him to take the fair Persian on what condition you please. He loves her, and I am well satisfied the fair slave has no aversion for him."

Khacan readily consented to this stratagem. Accordingly, when Noor ad Deen came at the usual hour, before the door was opened, he placed himself behind it: as soon as he entered, he rushed suddenly upon him, and got him down under his feet. Noor ad Deen, lifting up his head, saw his father with a dagger in his hand, ready to stab him.

At that instant his mother arrived, and catching hold of the vizier's arm, cried, "Sir, what are you doing?" "Let me alone," replied the vizier, "that I may kill this base, unworthy son." "You shall kill me first," returned the mother; "never will I suffer you to imbue your hands in your own blood." Noor ad Deen improved this moment. "My father," cried he with tears in his eyes, "I implore your clemency and compassion; nor must you deny me pardon, since I ask it in his name before whom we must all appear at the last day."

Khacan suffered the dagger to be taken out of his hand; and as soon as Noor ad Deen was released, he threw himself at his father's feet and kissed them, to shew how sincerely he repented of having offended him. "Son," said the vizier, "return thanks to your mother, since it is for her sake I pardon you. I propose also to give you the fair Persian, on condition that you will bind yourself by an oath not to regard her any longer as a slave, but as your wife; that you will not sell her, nor ever be divorced from her. As she possesses an excellent understanding, and abundantly more wit and prudence than yourself, I doubt not but that she will be able to moderate those rash sallies of youth, which are otherwise so likely to effect your ruin."

Noor ad Deen, who little expected such indulgent treatment, returned his father a thousand thanks, and the fair Persian and he were well pleased with being united to each other.

The vizier Khacan, without waiting for the king's inquiries about the success of the commission he had given him, took particular care to mention the subject often, representing to his majesty the many difficulties he met, and how fearful he was of not acquitting himself to his majesty's satisfaction. In short, he managed the business with so much address, that the king insensibly forgot it. Though Saouy had gained some intimation of the transaction, yet Khacan was so much in the king's favour, that he was afraid to divulge what he had heard.

This delicate affair had now been kept rather more than a year with greater secrecy than the vizier at first expected, when being one day in the bath, and some important business obliging him to leave it, warm as he was, the air, which was then cold, struck to his breast, caused a defluxion to fall upon his lungs, which threw him into a violent fever, and confined him to his bed. His illness increasing every day, and perceiving he had not long to live, he thus addressed himself to his son, who never quitted him during the whole of his illness: "My son," said he, "I know not whether I have well employed the riches heaven has blessed me with, but you see they are not able to save me from the hands of death. The last thing I desire of you with my dying breath is, that you would be mindful of the promise you made me concerning the fair Persian, and in this assurance I shall die content."

These were the vizier Khacan's last words. He expired a few moments after, and left his family, the court, and the whole city, in great affliction, The king lamented him as a wise, zealous, and faithful minister; and the people bewailed him as their protector and benefactor.. Never was there a funeral in Bussorah solemnized with greater pomp and magnificence. The viziers, emirs, and in general all the grandees of the court, strove for the honour of bearing his coffin, one after another, upon their shoulders, to the place of burial; and both rich and poor accompanied him, dissolved in tears.

Noor ad Deen exhibited all the demonstrations of a sorrow proportioned to the loss he had sustained, and long refrained from seeing any company. At last he admitted of a visit from an intimate acquaintance. His friend endeavoured to comfort him; and finding him inclined to hear reason, told him, that having paid what was due to the memory of his father, and fully satisfied all that decency required of him, it was now high time to appear again in the world, to converse with his friends, and maintain a character suitable to his birth and talents. "For," continued he, "though we should sin against the laws both of nature and society, and be thought insensible, if on the death of our fathers we neglected to pay them the duties which filial love imposes upon us; yet having performed these, and put it out of the power of any to reproach us for our conduct, it behoves us to return to the world, and our customary occupations. Dry up your tears then, and reassume that wonted air of gaiety which has always inspired with joy those who have had the honour of your friendship."

This advice seemed too reasonable to be rejected, and had Noor ad Deen strictly abided by it, he would certainly have avoided all the misfortunes that afterwards befell him. He entertained his friend honourably; and when he took his leave, desired him to come again the next day, and bring with him three or four friends of their acquaintance. By this means he insensibly fell into the society of about ten young men nearly of his own age, with whom he spent his time in continual feasting and entertainments; and scarcely a day passed but he made every one of them some considerable present.

The fair Persian, who never approved of his extravagant way of living, often spoke her mind freely. "I question not," said she, "but the vizier your father has left you an ample fortune: but great as it may be, be not displeased with your slave for telling you, that at this rate of living you will quickly see an end of it. We may sometimes indeed treat our friends, and be merry with them; but to make a daily practice of it, is certainly the high road to ruin and destruction: for your own honour and reputation, you would do better to follow the footsteps of your deceased father, that in time you may rise to that dignity by which he acquired so much glory and renown."

Noor ad Deen hearkened to the fair Persian with a smile: and when she had done, "My charmer," said he, with the same air of gaiety, "say no more of that; let us talk of nothing but mirth and pleasure. In my father's lifetime I was always under restraint; and I am now resolved to enjoy the liberty I so much sighed for before his death. It will be time enough for me hereafter to think of leading the sober, regular life you talk of; and a man of my age ought to taste the pleasures of youth."

What contributed still more to the ruin of Noor ad Deen's fortune, was his unwillingness to reckon with his steward; for whenever he brought in his accounts, he still sent him away without examining them: "Go, go," said he, "I trust wholly to your honesty; only take care to provide good entertainments for my friends."

"You are the master, sir," replied he, "and I but the steward; however, you would do well to think upon the proverb, ‘He that spends much, and has but little, must at last insensibly be reduced to poverty.' You are not contented with keeping an extravagant table, but you must lavish away your estate with both hands: and were your coffers as large as mountains, they would not be sufficient to maintain you." "Begone," replied Noor ad Deen, "I want not your grave lessons; only take care to provide good eating and drinking, and trouble your head no farther about the rest."

In the meantime, Noor ad Deen's friends were constant guests at his table, and never failed to take advantage of the easiness of his temper. They praised and flattered him, extolling his most indifferent actions; but, above all, they took particular care to commend whatever belonged to him; and in this they found their account. "Sir," said one of them, "I came the other day by your estate that lies in such a place; nothing can be so magnificent or so handsomely furnished as your house; and the garden belonging to it is a paradise upon earth." "I am very glad it pleases you," replied Noor ad Deen: "bring me pen, ink, and paper; without more words, it is at your service; I make you a present of it." No sooner had others commended one of his houses, baths, or public buildings erected for the use of strangers, the yearly revenue of which was very considerable, than he immediately gave them away. The fair Persian could not forbear stating to him how much injury he did himself; but, instead of


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