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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments Volume 1 - 60/114 -

you credit with all my heart, and allow you to carry off the stuff, if it were mine, but it belongs to that young man you see here, and this is the day on which we state our accounts. Why, said the lady in a surprise, why do you offer to use me so? Am not I a customer to your shop? and as often as I have bought of you, and carried home the things without paying ready money for them, did I ever fail to send you your money next morning? Madam, said the merchant, it is true, but this very day I have occasion for money. There, said she, throwing the piece at him, take your stuff; may God confound you and all other merchants: you are all of you of one kidney; you respect nobody. She then rose up in a passion, and walked out.

When I saw that the lady walked off, I found in my breast a great concern for her; so I called her back, saying, Madam, do me the favour to return; perhaps I can find a way to content you both. In fine, back she came, saying, it was for the love of me that she complied. Mr Bedreddin, said I to the merchant, what do you say, you must have for this stuff that belongs to me? I must have eleven hundred drams; I cannot take less. Give it to the lady then, said I, let her take it home with her; I allow a hundred drams profit to yourself, and shall now write you a note, empowering you to discount that sum upon the other goods you have of mine. In fine, I wrote, signed, and delivered the note, and then handed the stuff to the lady: Madam said I, you may take the stuff with you, and as for the money, you may either send it to-morrow or next day; or, if you will, accept the stuff as a present from me. I beg your pardon, sir, said she, I mean nothing of that; you use me so very civilly and obligingly, that I ought never to show my face in the world again, if I did not show my gratitude to you. May God reward you in enlarging your fortune; may you live many years when I am dead; may the gate of heaven be opened to you when you remove to the other world, and may all the city proclaim your generosity.

These words inspired me with some assurance: Madam, said I, I desire no other reward for any service I have done to you than the happiness of seeing your face; that will repay me with interest. I had no sooner spoken than she turned towards me, took off the muslin that covered her face, and discovered to my eyes a killing beauty. I was so struck with the surprising sight, that I could not express my thoughts to her. I could have looked upon her for ever without being cloyed; but fearing any one should take notice, she quickly covered her face, and pulling down the crape, took up the piece of stuff, and went away, leaving me in a quite different sort of temper from what I was in when I came to the shop. I continued for some time in great disorder and perplexity. Before I took leave of the merchant, I asked him if he knew the lady? Yes, said he, she is the daughter of an emir, who left her an immense fortune at his death.

I went home, and sat down to supper, but could not eat, neither could I shut my eyes during the night; I thought it the longest night in my lifetime. As soon as it was day, I got up in hopes to see once more the object that disturbed my repose; and, to engage her affection, I dressed myself yet more nicely than I had done the day before. I had but just got to Bedreddin's shop, when I saw the lady coming in more magnificent apparel than before, and attended by her slave. When she came in, she did not regard the merchant; but, addressing herself to me, Sir, said she, you see I am punctual to my word. I am come on purpose to pay the sum you were so kind as to pass your word for yesterday, though you had no knowledge of me: such an uncommon piece of generosity I shall never forget. Madam, said I, you had no occasion to be so hasty; I was well satisfied as to my money, and am sorry you should put yourself to so much trouble about it. I had been very unjust, answered she, if I had abused your generosity. With these words, she put the money into my hand, and sat down by me.

Having this opportunity of conversing with her, I made the best use of it, and mentioned to her the love I had for her; but she rose and left me very abruptly, as if she had been angry with the declaration I had made. I followed her with my eyes as long as she was in sight; and as soon as she was out of sight, I took leave of the merchant, and walked out of the bezestein, without knowing where I went. I was musing upon this adventure, when I felt somebody pulling me behind, and turning about to see who it was, I had the agreeable surprise to perceive it was the lady's slave. My mistress, said the slave, I mean the young lady you just spoke with in the merchant's shop, wants to speak one word with you; so if you please to give yourself the trouble to follow me, I will conduct you. Accordingly I followed her, and found my mistress staying for me in a banker's shop. She made me sit down by her, and spoke to this purpose; Dear sir, said she, do not be surprised that I left you so abruptly: I thought it not proper, before that merchant, to give a favourable answer to the discovery you made of your affection for me. But to speak the truth, I was so far from being offended at it, that I was pleased when I heard it; and I account myself infinitely happy in having a man of true merit for my lover. I do not know what impression the first sight of me could make upon you; but I assure you that I no sooner saw you than I had tender thoughts of you. Since yesterday I have thought only of what you said to me; and the haste I made to come and find you out this morning may convince you that I have no small regard for you. Madam, said I, transported with love and joy, nothing can be more agreeable to me than what I now hear; no passion can be greater than that with which I love you; since the happy moment I cast my eyes upon you, my eyes were dazzled with so many charms, that my heart yielded without resistance. Do not let us trifle away the time in needless discourse, said she, interrupting me: I make no doubt of your sincerity, and you shall quickly be convinced of mine. Will you do me the honour to come to my home? or, if you will, I will come to yours. Madam, said I, I am a stranger, lodging in a khan, which is not a proper place for the reception of a lady of your quality and merit. It is more proper, madam, for me to come to you at your home, if you will please to tell me where it is. The lady complying with this desire, I live, said she, in Devotion-street; come next Friday after noon prayers, and ask for the house of Abbon Schamam, surnamed Bercount, late master of the emirs; there you will find me. This said, we parted, and I passed the next day in great impatience.

On Friday I got up betimes, and put on my best clothes, with fifty pieces of gold in my pocket: thus prepared, I mounted an ass, which I had bespoken the day before, and set out, accompanied by the man that lent me the ass. When we came to Devotion-street, I directed the owner of the ass to inquire for the house I wanted: he accordingly inquired, and conducted me to it. I paid him liberally, and sent him back directing him to observe narrowly where he left me, and not to fail to come back with the ass to-morrow morning to carry me back again.

I knocked at the door, and presently two little girl slaves, white as snow, and neatly dressed, came and opened it. Be pleased to come in, sir, said they, our mistress expects you impatiently; for two days she has spoken of nothing but you. I entered the court, and saw a great pavilion raised upon seven steps, and surrounded with iron rails that parted it from a very pleasant garden. Besides the trees which embellished the prospect, and formed an agreeable shade, there was an infinite number of other trees loaded with all manner of fruit. I was charmed with the warbling of a great number of birds, which joined their notes to the murmurings of a very high water-work in the middle of a ground-plot enamelled with flowers. This water- work was a very agreeable sight; four large gilded dragons adorned the angles of the bason, which was of a square form; and these dragons spouted out water clearer than rock crystal. This delicious place gave me a charming idea of the conquest I had made. The two little slaves conducted me into a parlour magnificently furnished, and while one of them went to acquaint her mistress with my arrival, the other tarried behind, and pointed out to me the ornaments of the hall.

I did not tarry long in the hall, said the young man of Bagdad, ere the lady I loved appeared, adorned with pearls and diamonds; but the splendour of her eyes did far outshine that of her jewels. Her shape, which was not now disguised by the habit usual in the streets, was extremely fine and charming. I need not mention with what joy we received one another; it leaves all expression far behind it: I shall only tell you, that when the first compliments were over, we sat both down upon a sofa, and there entertained one another with all imaginable satisfaction. After that, we had the most delicious messes served up to us, and, after eating, continued our discourse till night. At night we had excellent wine brought up, and such fruit as is apt to promote drinking, and timed our cups to the sound of musical instruments joined to the voices of the slaves. The lady of the house sung herself, and by her songs screwed up my passion to the height. In fine, I passed the night in the full enjoyment of all manner of pleasure.

Next morning I slipped under the bolster of the bed the purse with the fifty pieces of gold I had brought with me, and took leave of the lady, who asked me when I would see her again? Madam, said I, I give you my promise to return this night. She seemed transported with my answer, and, conducting me to the door, conjured me, at parting, to be mindful of my promise. The same man that had carried me thither waited for me with his ass to carry me home again; so I mounted the ass, and went straight home, ordering the man to come to me again in the afternoon at a certain hour; to secure which, I would not pay him till the time came. As soon as I arrived at my lodging, my first care was to order my folks to buy a good lamb and several sorts of cakes, which I sent by a porter as a present to the lady. When that was done, I minded my serious affairs till the owner of the ass came; then I went along with him to the lady's house, and was received by her with as much joy as before, and entertained with equal magnificence.

Next morning I took leave, and left her another purse with fifty pieces of gold. I continued to visit the lady every day, and to leave her every time a purse of fifty pieces of gold, till the merchants whom I employed to sell my cloth, and whom I visited regularly twice a week, owed me nothing: In this way I became moneyless, and even hopeless of having any more.

In this desperate condition I walked out of my lodging, not knowing what course to take, and by chance steered towards the castle, where there was a great crowd of people, to see the sultan of Egypt. As soon as I came up to them, I wedged in among the crowd, and by chance happened to stand by a cavalier well mounted and handsomely clothed, who had upon the bow of his saddle a bag half open, with a string of green silk hanging out of it, I clapped my hand into the bag, concluding the silk- twist might be the string of a purse within the bag: in the mean time, a porter, with a load of wood upon his back, passed by the other side of the horse, so near, that the gentleman on horse-* back was forced to turn his head towards him to avoid being rubbed by the wood. In that very moment did the devil tempt me; I took the

The Arabian Nights Entertainments Volume 1 - 60/114

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