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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments Volume 1 - 70/114 -

the streets; the barber thought it was I that cried out, and that I was maltreated. Prepossessed with this thought, he screamed out most fearfully, rent his clothes, threw dust upon his head, and called the neighbourhood to his assistance. The neighbourhood came, and asked what ailed him, and what relief he wanted that they could give? Alas! cried he, they are assassinating my master, my dear patron: and, without saying any other thing, he ran all the way to my house with the very same cry in his mouth. From thence he returned, followed by all my domestics, armed with batoons. They knocked with inconceivable fury at the cadi's door, and the cadi sent a slave to see what was the matter; but the slave being frightened, returned to his master, crying, Sir, above ten thousand men are going to break into your house by force.

Immediately the cadi ran himself, opened the door, and asked what they wanted? His venerable presence could not inspire them with respect: they insolently said to him, You cursed cadi, you dog of a cadi, what reason have you to assassinate our master? What has he done to you? Good people, replied the cadi, for what should I assassinate your master, whom I do not know, and who has done no offence? My house is open to you, come see and search. You bastinadoed him, said the barber; I heard his cries not above a minute ago. But pray, replies the cadi, what offence could your master do to me, to oblige me to use him after that rate? Is he in my house? If he is, how came he in, or who could have introduced him? Ah! wretched cadi cried the barber, you and your long beard shall never make me believe what you say. What I say I know to be true; your daughter is in love with our master, and gave him a meeting during the time of noon-prayers; you, without doubt, have had notice of it; you returned home, and surprised him, and made your slave bastinado him: but this your wicked action shall not pass with impunity; the caliph shall be acquainted with it, and he shall give true and brief justice. Let him come out; deliver him to us immediately: or if you do not, we will go in and take him from you, to your shame. There is no occasion for so many words, replied the cadi, nor to make so great a noise: if what you say is true, go in and find him out, I give you free liberty. Thereupon the barber and my domestics rushed into the house like furies, and looked for me all about.

When I heard all that the barber said to the cadi, I sought for a place to hide myself, and could find nothing but a great empty trunk, in which I lay down, and shut it upon me. The barber, after he had searched every where, came into the chamber where I was, and opening the trunk, as soon as he saw me, he took it upon his head, and carried it away. He came down a high stair-case into a court, which he went through very speedily, and got to the street. While he carried me, the trunk unhappily opened, and I, not being able to endure to be exposed to the view and shouts of the mob that followed us, leaped out into the street with so much haste that I hurt my leg, so as I have been lame ever since. I was not sensible how bad it was at first, and therefore got up quickly to get away from the people, who laughed at me; nay, I threw handfuls of gold and silver among them, and, whilst they were gathering it up, I made my escape by cross streets and alleys. But the cursed barber, improving the stratagem that I made use of to get away from the mob, followed me close, crying, Stay, sir, why do you run so fast? If you knew how much I am afflicted at the ill treatment you received from the cadi, you who are so generous a person, and to whom I and my friends are so much obliged! Did not I tell you truly that you would expose your life by your obstinate refusal to let me go with you? See now what has happened to you by your own fault; and if I had not resolutely followed you to see whither you went, what would have become of you? Whither do you go then, sir? stay for me.

Thus the wretched barber cried aloud in the streets; it was not enough for him to have occasioned so great a scandal in the quarter of the cadi, but he would have it be known through the whole town. I was in such a rage that I had a great mind to have staid and cut his throat; but considering that would have perplexed me further, I chose another course; for perceiving that his calling after me exposed me to vast numbers of people, who crowded to the doors or windows, or stopped in the streets, to gaze on me, I entered into a khan or inn, the chamberlain of which knew me; and finding him at the gate, whither the noise had brought him, I prayed him, for the sake of Heaven, to hinder that madman from coming in after me. He promised to do so, and was as good as his word, but not without a great deal of trouble, for the obstinate barber would go in, in spite of him, and did not retire without calling him a thousand ill names; and after the chamberlain shut the gate, the barber continued telling the mob what great service he had done me. Thus I rid myself of that troublesome fellow.

After that, the chamberlain prayed me to tell him my adventure, which I did, and then desired him to let me have an apartment until I was cured: But, sir, says he, would it not be more convenient for you to go home? I will not return thither, said I; for the detestable barber will continue plaguing me there, and I shall die of vexation to be continually teazed with him. Besides, after what has befallen me to-day, I cannot think of staying any longer in this town; I must go whither my ill fortune leads me. And actually, when I was cured, I took all the money I thought necessary for my travels, and divided the remainder of my estate among my kindred.

Thus, gentlemen, I left Bagdad, and came hither. I had ground to hope that I should not meet this pernicious barber in a country so far from my own, and yet I found him amongst you. Do not be surprised, then, at my haste to be gone; you may easily judge how disgusting to me the sight of a man is who was the occasion of my lameness, and of my being reduced to the melancholy necessity of living at so great a distance from my kindred, friends, and country.

When the lame young man had spoken these words, he rose, and went out: the master of the house conducted him to the gate, and told him he was sorry that he had given him, though innocently, so great a subject of mortification.

When the young man was gone, continued the tailor, we were all astonished at the story; and turning to the barber, told him he was very much in the wrong, if what we had just now heard was true. Gentlemen, answered he, raising up his head, which till then he had held down, my silence during the young man's discourse is enough to testify that he advanced nothing but what was really true; but, notwithstanding all that he has said to you, I maintain that I ought to have done what I did; I leave yourselves to be judges of it. Did not he throw himself into danger, and could he have come off so well without my assistance? He was too happy to escape with a lame leg. Did not I expose myself to a greater danger in getting him out of a house where I thought he was ill-treated? Has he any reason to complain of me, and to give me so many bad words? This is what one gets by serving unthankful people. He accuses me of being a prattling fellow, which is a mere slander. Of seven brothers, I am he who speaks the least, and have most wit for my share; and, to convince you of it, gentlemen, I need only tell my own story and theirs. Honour me, I beseech you, with your attention.


In the reign of the caliph Moustancer Billah [Footnote: He was raised to this dignity in the year of the Hegira 623, and Anno Dom. 1226; and was the thirty-sixth caliph of the race of the Abassides.], continued he, a prince famous for his vast liberality towards the poor, ten highwaymen infested the roads about Bagdad, who had for a long time committed unheard-of robberies and cruelties. The caliph having notice of this, sent for the judge of the police some days before the feast of Bairam, and ordered him, on pain of death, to bring all the ten to him.

The judge of the police, continued the barber, used so much diligence, and sent so many people in pursuit of the ten robbers, that they were taken on the day of Bairam. I was then walking on the banks of the Tigris, and saw ten men, richly apparelled, go into a boat. I might have known they were robbers, had I observed the guards that were with them; but I looked only to them; and, thinking they were people who had a mind to spend the festival-day in jollity, I entered the boat with them, without saying one word, in hopes they would allow me to be one of the company. We went down the Tigris, and landed before the caliph's palace; and I then had time to consider with myself, and to find out my mistake. When we came out of the boat, we were surrounded by a new troop of the judge of the police's guard, who tied us all, and carried us before the caliph. I suffered myself to be tied as well as the rest, without speaking one word: for to what purpose should I have spoken, or made any resistance? That would have been the way to have been ill treated by the guards, who would not have listened to me, for they are brutish fellows, who will hear no reason: I was with the robbers, which was sufficient to make them believe me to be one.

When we came before the caliph, he ordered the ten highwaymen's heads to be cut off immediately. The executioner drew us up in a file within the reach of his arm, and by good fortune I was the last. He cut off the heads of the ten highwaymen, beginning with the first; and when he came to me he stopped. The caliph, perceiving that he did not meddle with me, grew angry: Did not I command thee, said he, to cut off the heads of ten highwaymen? Why, then, hast thou cut off but nine? Commander of the faithful, said he, Heaven preserve me from disobeying your majesty's orders! Here are ten corpses upon the ground, and as many heads which I cut off; your majesty may count them.

When the caliph saw himself that what the executioner said was true, he looked upon me with astonishment; and, perceiving that I had not the face of a highwayman, said to me, Good old man, how came you to be among those wretches, who have deserved a thousand deaths? I answered, Commander of the faithful, I shall make a true confession. This morning I saw those ten persons, whose unhappy fate is a proof of your majesty's justice, take boat; and I embarked with them, thinking they were men going to an entertainment to celebrate this day, which is the most remarkable in our religion.

The caliph, who could not forbear laughing at my adventure, instead of treating me as a prattling fellow, as the lame young man did, admired my discretion and constant silence. Commander of the faithful, said I, your majesty need not wonder at my keeping silence on such an occasion, which would have made another apt to speak. I make a particular profession of holding my peace; and on

The Arabian Nights Entertainments Volume 1 - 70/114

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