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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete - 70/272 -

rows they had formed, and prostrated myself upon the carpet that was under the princess's feet. She ordered me to rise, did me the honour to ask my name, my family, and the state of my fortune; to all which I gave her satisfactory answers, as I perceived, not only by her countenance, but by her words. "I am glad," said she, "that my daughter," (so she used to call the favourite lady,) "for I look upon her as such after the care I have take of her education, has made this choice; I approve of it, and consent to your marriage. I will myself give orders for having it solemnized; but I wish my daughter to remain with me ten days before the solemnity; in that time I will speak to the caliph, and obtain his consent: mean while do you remain here; you shall be taken care of."

Pursuant to the commands of the caliph's lady, I remained ten days in the women's apartments, and during that time was deprived of the pleasure of seeing the favourite lady: but was so well used by her orders, that I had no reason to be dissatisfied.

Zobeide told the caliph her resolution of marrying the favourite lady; and the caliph leaving to her the liberty to act in the business as she thought proper, granted the favourite a considerable sum by way of settlement. When the ten days were expired, Zobeide ordered the contract of marriage to be drawn up and brought to her, and the necessary preparations being made for the solemnity, the musicians and the dancers, both male and female, were called in, and there were great rejoicings in the palace for nine days. The tenth day being appointed for the last ceremony of the marriage, the favourite lady was conducted to a bath, and I to another. At night I had all manner of dishes served up to me, and among others, one seasoned with garlic, such as you have now forced me to eat. This I liked so well, that I scarcely touched any of the other dishes. But to my misfortune, when I rose from table, instead of washing my hands well, I only wiped them; a piece of negligence of which I had never before been guilty.

As it was then night, the whole apartment of the ladies was lighted up so as to equal the brightness of day. Nothing was to be heard through the palace but musical instruments, dances, and acclamations of joy. My bride and I were introduced into a great hall, where we were placed upon two thrones. The women who attended her made her robe herself several times, according to the usual custom on wedding days; and they shewed her to me every time she changed her habit.

All these ceremonies being over, we were conducted to the nuptial chamber: as soon as the company retired, I approached my wife; but instead of returning my transports, she pushed me away, and cried out, upon which all the ladies of the apartment came running in to inquire the cause: and for my own part, I was so thunderstruck, that I stood like a statue, without the power of even asking what she meant. "Dear sister," said they to her, "what has happened since we left you? Let us know, that we may try to relieve you." "Take," said she, "take that vile fellow out of my sight." "Why, madam?" I asked, "wherein have I deserved your displeasure?" "You are a villain," said she in a furious passion, "to eat garlic, and not wash your hands! Do you think I would suffer such a polluted wretch to poison me? Down with him, down with him on the ground," continued she, addressing herself to the ladies, "and bring me a bastinado." They immediately did as they were desired; and while some held my hands, and others my feet, my wife, who was presently furnished with a weapon, laid on me as long as she could stand. She then said to the ladies, "Take him, send him to the judge, and let the hand be cut off with which he fed upon the garlic dish."

"Alas!" cried I, "must I be beaten unmercifully, and, to complete my affliction, have my hand cut off, for partaking of a dish seasoned with garlic, and forgetting to wash my hands? What proportion is there between the punishment and the crime? Curse on the dish, on the cook who dressed it, and on him who served it up."

"All the ladies who had seen me receive the thousand strokes, took pity on me, when they heard the cutting off of my hand mentioned. "Dear madam, dear sister," said they to the favourite lady, "you carry your resentment too far. We own he is a man quite ignorant of the world, of your quality, and the respect that is due to you: but we beseech you to overlook and pardon his fault." "I have not received adequate satisfaction," said she; "I will teach him to know the world; I will make him bear sensible marks of his impertinence, and be cautious hereafter how he tastes a dish seasoned with garlic without washing his hands." They renewed their solicitations, fell down at her feet, and kissing her fair hands, said, "Good madam, moderate your anger, and grant us the favour we supplicate." She made no reply, but got up, and after uttering a thousand reproaches against me, walked out of the chamber: all the ladies followed her, leaving me in inconceivable affliction.

I continued thus ten days, without seeing any body but an old female slave that brought me victuals. I asked her what was become of the favourite lady. "She is sick," said the old woman; "she is sick of the poisoned smell with which you infected her. Why did you not take care to wash your hands after eating of that cursed dish?" "Is it possible," thought I, "that these ladies can be so nice, and so vindictive for such a trifling fault!" I loved my wife notwithstanding all her cruelty, and could not help pitying her.

One day the old woman told me my spouse was recovered, and gone to bathe, and would come to see me the next day. "So," said she, "I would have you call up your patience, and endeavour to accommodate yourself to her humour. For she is in other respects a woman of good sense and discretion, and beloved by all the ladies about the court of our respected mistress Zobeide."

My wife accordingly came on the following evening, and accosted me thus: "You perceive that I must possess much tenderness to you, after the affront you have offered me: but still I cannot be reconciled till I have punished you according to your demerit, in not washing your hands after eating of the garlic dish." She then called the ladies, who, by her order, threw me upon the ground; and after binding me fast, she had the barbarity to cut off my thumbs and great toes herself, with a razor. One of the ladies applied a certain root to staunch the blood; but by bleeding and by the pain, I swooned away.

When I came to myself, they gave me wine to drink, to recruit my strength. "Ah! madam," said I to my wife, "if ever I again eat of a dish with garlic in it, I solemnly swear to wash my hands a hundred and twenty times with alkali, with ashes, and with soap." "Well," replied she, "upon that condition I am willing to forget what is past, and live with you as my husband."

"This," continued the Bagdad merchant, addressing himself to the company, "is the reason why I refused to eat of the dish seasoned with what is now on the table."

The ladies applied to my wounds not only the root I mentioned, but likewise some balsam of Mecca, which they were well assured was not adulterated, because they had it out of the caliph's own dispensatory. By virtue of that admirable balsam, I was in a few days perfectly cured, and my wife and I lived together as agreeably as if I had never eaten of the garlic dish. But having been all my lifetime used to enjoy my liberty, I grew weary of being confined to the caliph's palace; yet I said nothing to my wife on the subject, for fear of displeasing her. However, she suspected my feelings; and eagerly wished for liberty herself, for it was gratitude alone that made her continue with Zobeide. She represented to her mistress in such lively terms the constraint I was under, in not living in the city with people of my own rank, as I had always done, that the good princess chose rather to deprive herself of the pleasure of having her favourite about her than not to grant what we both equally desired.

A month after our marriage, my wife came into my room with several eunuchs, each carrying a bag of silver. When the eunuchs were gone; "You never told me," said she, "that you were uneasy in being confined to court; but I perceived it, and have happily found means to make you contented. My mistress Zobeide gives us permission to quit the palace; and here are fifty thousand sequins, of which she has made us a present, in order to enable us to live comfortably in the city. Take ten thousand of them, and go and buy us a house."

I quickly found a house for the money, and after furnishing it richly, we went to reside in it, kept a great many slaves of both sexes, and made a good figure. We thus began to live in a very agreeable manner: but my felicity was of short continuance; for at the end of a year my wife fell sick and died.

I might have married again, and lived honourably at Bagdad; but curiosity to see the world put me upon another plan. I sold my house, and after purchasing several kinds of merchandize, went with a caravan to Persia; from Persia I travelled to Samarcand, and from thence to this city.

"This," said the purveyor to the sultan of Casgar, "is the story that the Bagdad merchant related in a company where I was yesterday." "This story," said the sultan, "has something in it extraordinary; but it does not come near that of the little hunch-back." The Jewish physician prostrated himself before the sultan's throne, and addressed the prince in the following manner: "Sir, if you will be so good as to hear me, I flatter myself you will be pleased with a story I have to tell you." "Well spoken," said the sultan; "but if it be not more surprising than that of little hunch-back, you must not expect to live."

The Jewish physician, finding the sultan of Casgar disposed to hear him, gave the following relation.

The Story told by the Jewish Physician.

When I was studying physic at Damascus, and was just beginning to practise that noble profession with some reputation, a slave called me to see a patient in the governor of the city's family. Accordingly I went, and was conducted into a room, where I found a very handsome young man, much dejected by his disorder. I saluted him, and sat down by him; but he made no return to my compliments, only a sign with his eyes that he heard me, and thanked me. "Pray, sir," said I, "give me your hand, that I may

The Arabian Nights Entertainments Complete - 70/272

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