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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments Volume 1 - 50/114 -

present to you, and is to be my son-in-law. I hope you will do me the honour to be present at his wedding, which I am resolved to celebrate this day. The noblemen, who could not take it ill that he preferred his nephew before all the great matches that had been proposed to him, said, that he had very good reasons, for what he did, were willing to be witnesses to the ceremony, and wished that God might prolong his days to enjoy the satisfaction of the happy match.

The lords met at the vizier's, having testified their satisfaction at the marriage of his daughter with Noureddin, sat down to dinner, which lasted a good while; and the latter course was sweet-meats, of which every one, according to custom, took what he thought fit. The notaries came in with the marriage-contract, when the chief lords signed it; and, after the company departed, the grand vizier ordered his servants to prepare a bagnio, and have every thing else provided for Noureddin in the best manner: When he had washed and dried himself, he was going to put on his former apparel, but had an extraordinary rich suit brought him. Being dressed and perfumed with the most odoriferous essence, he went to see the grand vizier, his father-in-law, who was exceedingly well pleased with his genteel mien; and having made him sit down, My son, said he, you have declared unto me who you are, and the quality you had at the court of Egypt. You have also told me of a difference betwixt you and your brother, which occasioned you to leave your country. I desire you to make me your entire confident, and to acquaint me with the cause of your quarrel; for now you have no reason either to doubt me, or to conceal any thing from me. Noureddin accordingly gave him an account of every circumstance of the quarrel; at which the vizier burst out into a fit of laughter, and said, This is one of the oddest things that I ever heard: Is it possible, my son, that your quarrel should rise so high about an imaginary marriage? I am sorry you fell out with your elder brother upon such a frivolous matter; but I find he is in the wrong to be angry at what you only spoke in jest, and I ought to thank Heaven for that difference which has procured me such a son-in-law. But, said the old gentleman, it is late, and time for you to retire; go to your bride, my son; she expects you; to-morrow I will present you to the sultan, and hope he will receive you in such a manner as shall satisfy us both. Noureddin took leave of his father-in-law, and went to his spouse's apartment. It is remarkable, continued Giafar, that Schemseddin happened also to marry at Cairo the very same day that this marriage was solemnized at Balsora; the particulars are as follow. After Noureddin left Cairo, with an intention never to return, Schemseddin, who was gone a hunting with the sultan of Egypt, did not come back in a month; for the Sultan loved the game extremely, and continued the sport all that while. Schemseddin, on his return, ran to Noureddin's apartment, but was much surprised when he understood, that, under pretence of taking a journey of two or three days, he had gone away on a mule the same day that the sultan went a hunting, and never appeared since. This circumstance vexed him so much the more, beeause he did not doubt that the hard words he had used were the cause of his going away. He sent a messenger in search of him, who went to Damascus, and as far as Aleppo, but Noureddin was then at Balsora. When the courier returned, and brought word that he heard no news of him, Schemseddin intended to make further inquiry after him in other parts; but in the mean time had a fancy to marry, and obtained the daughter of one of the greatest lords in Cairo upon the same day that his brother married the daughter of the grand vizier of Balsora.

But this is not all, said Giafar; at the end of nine months, Schemseddin's wife was delivered of a daughter at Cairo, and on the same day Noureddin's wife had a son at Balsora, who was named Bedreddin Hassan. The grand vizier of Balsora testified his joy for the birth of his grandson by great gifts and public entertainments; and, to show his son-in-law the great esteem he had for him, he went to the palace, and begged the sultan to grant Noureddin his office, that he might have the comfort, before his death, to see his son-in-law made grand vizier his stead. The sultan, who had taken a great liking to Noureddin when his father presented him after his marriage, and had ever since heard every body speak well of him, readily granted his father-in-law's request, and caused Noureddin immediately to put on the robe of a grand vizier. The next day, when the father saw his son-in-law preside in council as he himself had done, and perform all the offices of grand vizier, his joy was complete. Noureddin behaved himself so well in every thing, that one would have thought he had been all his lifetime employed in such affairs. He continued afterwards to assist in council every time when the infirmities of age would not permit his father-in-law to appear. The old gentleman died about four years after, and Noureddin performed the last duties to him with all possible love and gratitude. As soon as his son Bedreddin had attained to seven years of age, he provided him a most excellent tutor, who taught him as became his birth. The child had a ready wit, a genius capable of receiving all the instructions that could be given, and, after having been two years under the tuition of his master, learned the alcoran by heart. His father Noureddin put him afterwards to other tutors, by whom his mind was cultivated to such a degree, that, when he was twelve years of age, he had no more occasion for them; and then, as his physiognomy promised wonders, he was admired by all.

Noureddin had hitherto kept him to his studies, and had not yet brought him into public; but now he carried him to the palace, on purpose to have the honour of kissing the hand of the sultan, who received him very graciously. The people who saw him in the streets were charmed with his genteel mien, and gave him a thousand blessings. His father, purposing to make him capable of supplying his place, spared no cost for that end, brought him up to business of the greatest moment, and in short omitted nothing to advance a son he loved so well. But as he began to enjoy the fruits of his labour, he was all of a sudden taken with a violent fit of sickness; and, finding himself past recovery, disposed himself to die like a good Mussulman. In his last moments he forgot not his son Bedreddin, but called for him, and said, My son, you see this world is transitory; there is nothing durable but that to which I shall speedily go. You must therefore from henceforth begin to fit yourself for this change, as I have done; you must prepare for it without murmuring, so as to have no trouble of conscience for not acting the part of a really honest man. As for your religion, you are sufficiently instructed in it by what you have learned from your tutors, and by your own study. As to what belongs to an honest man, I shall give you some instructions, of which I hope you will make good use; and as it is a necessary thing to know one's self, and you cannot come to that knowledge unless you first understand who I am, I shall now tell you. I am a native of Egypt; my father, your grandfather, was first minister to the sultan of that kingdom. I myself had the honour to be vizier to that same sultan, and so has my brother, your uncle, who, I suppose, is yet alive; his name is Schemseddin. I was obliged to leave him, and come into this country, where I have raised myself to the high dignity which I now enjoy. But you will understand all these matters more fully by a manuscript which I shall leave you. Noureddin pulled out his pocket-book, which he had written with his own hand, and carried always about him, and giving it to Bedreddin, Take it, says he, and read it at your leisure; you will find, among other things, the day of my marriage, and that of your birth; these are such circumstances as perhaps you may hereafter have occasion to know; therefore you must keep it very carefully. Bedreddin, being most afflicted to see his father in that condition, and sensibly touched with his discourse, could not but weep when he received the pocket-book, and promised never to part with it.

That very moment Noureddin fainted, so that it was thought he would have expired; but he came to himself again, and uttered these words: My son, the first instruction I give you is, not to make yourself familiar with all sorts of people. The way to live happy is to keep your mind to yourself, and not tell your thoughts too freely. Secondly, Not to do violence to any body whatever, for in that case you will draw every body's hatred upon you. You ought to consider the world as a creditor, to whom you owe moderation, compassion, and forbearance. Thirdly, Not to say a word when you are reproached; for, as the proverb says, he that keeps silence is out of danger. In this case particularly you ought to practise it. You also know what one of our poets says upon this subject, That silence is the ornament and safeguard of life; and that our speech ought not to be like a storm of rain that spoils all. Never did any man yet repent of having spoken too little, though many have been sorry that they spoke too much. Fourthly, To drink no wine, for that is the source of all vices. Fifthly, To be frugal in your way of living; if you do not squander your estate away, it will maintain you in time of necessity. I do not mean you should be either too liberal or too niggardly; for though you have but little, if you husband it well, and lay it out upon proper occasions, you will have many friends; but if, on the contrary, you have great riches, and make a bad use of them, the world will forsake you, and leave you to yourself.

In short, Noureddin Ali continued, till the last moment of his breath, to give good advice to his son, by whom he was magnificently interred.

Bedreddin Hassan of Balsora, for so he was called because born in that town, was so overwhelmed with grief for the death of his father, that instead of a month's time to mourn, according to custom, he kept himself closely shut up in tears and solitude about two months without seeing any body, or so much as going abroad to pay his duty to the sultan of Balsora, who, being displeased at his neglect, and regarding it as a slight put upon his court and person, suffered his passion to prevail, and in his fury called for the new grand vizier, (for he had created a new one as soon as Noureddin died,) commanded him to go to the house of the deceased, and seize upon it, with all his other houses, lands, and effects, without leaving any thing for Bedreddin Hassan, and to bring him prisoner along with him. The new grand vizier, accompanied by a great many messengers belonging to the palace, justices and other officers, went immediately to execute his commission; but one of Bedreddin's slaves, happening accidentally to come into the crowd, no sooner understood the vizier's errand, than he ran in all haste to give his master warning. He found him sitting in the porch of his house, as melancholy as if his father had been but newly dead. He fell down at his feet quite out of breath; and, after he had kissed the hem of his garment, cried out, My lord, save yourself immediately. Bedreddin, lifting up his head, said, What is the matter? what news dost thou bring? My lord, said he, there is no time to be lost; the sultan, horribly incensed against you, has sent people to take all you have, and to seize your person.

The words of this faithful and affectionate slave put Bedreddin into great confusion. May not I have so much time, said he, as to take some money and jewels along with me? No, sir, replied the slave; the grand vizier will be here this moment. Begone

The Arabian Nights Entertainments Volume 1 - 50/114

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