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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 2 - 10/66 -

thing in the order in which I had left it.

In sweeping and cleaning out the hall where I had eaten with the ladies, one of my servants found a gold chain necklace, with ten very large and perfect pearls strung upon it at certain distances. He brought it to me, when I knew it to be the same I had seen upon the lady's neck who was poisoned; and concluded it had broken off and fallen. I could not look upon it without shedding tears, when I called to mind the lovely creature I had seen die in such a shocking manner. I wrapped it up, and put it in my bosom.

I rested some days to recover from the fatigues of my journey; after which, I began to visit my former acquaintance. I abandoned myself to every species of pleasure, and gradually squandered away all my money. Being thus reduced, instead of selling my furniture, I resolved to part with the necklace; but I had so little skill in pearls, that I took my measures very ill, as you shall hear.

I went to the bazaar, where I called a crier aside, and strewing him the necklace, told him I wished to sell it, and desired him to show it to the principal jewellers. The crier was surprised to see such a valuable ornament. "How beautiful," exclaimed he, gazing upon it with admiration, "never did our merchants see any thing so rich; I am sure I shall oblige them highly in strewing it to them; and you need not doubt they will set a high price upon it, in emulation of each other." He carried me to a shop which proved to be my landlord's: "Stop here," said the crier, "I will return presently and bring you an answer."

While he was running about to shew the necklace, I sat with the jeweller, who was glad to see me, and we conversed on different subjects. The crier returned, and calling me aside, instead of telling me the necklace was valued at two thousand sherifs, assured me nobody would give me more than fifty. "The reason is," added he, "the pearls are false; consider if you will part with it at that price." I took him at his word, wanting money. "Go," said I, "I take your word, and that of those who know better than myself; deliver it to them, and bring me the money immediately."

The crier had been ordered to offer me fifty sherifs by one of the richest jewellers in town who had only made that offer to sound me, and try if I was well acquainted with the value of the pearls. He had no sooner received my answer, than he carried the crier to the judge, and shewing him the necklace; "Sir," said he, "here is a necklace which was stolen from me, and the thief, under the character of a merchant, has had the impudence to offer it to sale, and is at this minute in the bazaar. He is willing to take fifty sherifs for a necklace that is worth two thousand

which is a clear proof of his having stolen it."

The Judge sent immediately to seize me, and when I came before him, he asked me if the necklace he had in his hand was not the same that I had exposed to sale in the bazaar. I told him it was. "Is it true," demanded he, "that you are willing to sell it for fifty sherifs,?" I answered I was. "Well," continued he, in a scoffing way "give him the bastinado; he will quickly confess notwithstanding his merchant's disguise, that he is only an artful thief; let him be beaten till he owns his guilt." The pain of the torture made me tell a lie; I confessed, though it was not true that I had stolen the necklace; and the judge ordered my hand to be cut off according to the sentence of our law.

This made a great noise in the bazaar, and I was scarcely returned to my house when my landlord came. "My son," said he, "you seem to be a young man well educated, and of good sense; how is it possible you could be guilty of such an unworthy action, as that I hear talked of? You gave me an account of your property yourself, and I do not doubt but the account was just. Why did not you request money of me, and I would have lent it you? However, after what has happened, I cannot allow you to remain longer in my house; you must go and seek for other lodgings." I was extremely troubled at this; and entreated the jeweller, with tears in my eyes, to let me stay three days longer; which he granted.

"Alas," thought I, "this misfortune and affront are unsufferable; how shall I dare to return to Moussol? Nothing I can say to my father will persuade him that I am innocent."

Three hours after this fatal accident my house was forcibly entered by the judge's officers, accompanied by my landlord, and the merchant who had falsely accused me of having stolen the necklace. I asked them, what brought them there? But instead of giving me any answer, they bound and gagged me, calling me a thousand abusive names, and telling me the necklace belonged to the governor of Damascus, who had lost it above three years before, and that one of his daughters had not been heard of since. Judge of my sensations when I heard this intelligence. However, I summoned all my resolution, "I will," thought I, "tell the governor the truth, and it will rest with him either to put me to death, or to protect my innocence."

When I was brought before him, I observed he looked upon me with an eye of compassion, from whence I augured well. He ordered me to be untied, and addressing himself to the jeweller who accused me, and to my landlord: "Is this the man," asked he, "that sold the pearl necklace?" They had no sooner answered yes, than he continued, "I am sure he did not steal the necklace, and I am much astonished at the injustice that has been done him." These words giving me courage: "Sir," said I, "I do assure you I am perfectly innocent. I am likewise fully persuaded the necklace never did belong to my accuser, whom I never saw, and whose horrible perfidy is the cause of my unjust treatment. It is true, I made a confession as if I had stolen it; but this I did contrary to my conscience, through the force of torture, and for another reason that I am ready to give you, if you will have the goodness to hear me." "I know enough of it already," replied the governor, "to do you one part of the justice to which you are entitled. Take from hence," continued he, "the false accuser; let him undergo the same punishment as he caused to be inflicted on this young man, whose innocence is known to myself."

The governor's orders were immediately put in execution; the jeweller was punished as he deserved. Then the governor, having ordered all present to withdraw, said to me: "My son, tell me without fear how this necklace fell into your hands, conceal nothing from me." I related plainly all that had passed, and declared I had chosen rather to pass for a thief than to reveal that tragical adventure. "Good God," exclaimed the governor, "thy judgments are incomprehensible, and we ought to submit to them without murmuring. I receive, with entire submission, the stroke thou hast been pleased to inflict upon me." Then directing his discourse to me: "My son," said he, "having now heard the cause of your disgrace, for which I am truly concerned, I will give you an account of the affliction which has befallen myself. Know then, that I am the father of both the young ladies you were speaking of. The first lady, who had the impudence to come to your house, was my eldest daughter. I had given her in marriage at Cairo to one of her cousins, my brother's son. Her husband died, and she returned home corrupted by every vice too often contracted in Egypt. Before I took her home, her younger sister, who died in that deplorable manner in your arms, was a truly virtuous girl, and had never given me any occasion to complain of her conduce. But after that, the elder sister became very intimate with her, and insensibly made her as wicked as herself. The day after the death of the younger not finding her at home, I asked her elder sister what was become of her; but she, instead of answering, affected to weep bitterly; from whence I formed a fatal presage. I pressed her to inform me of what she knew respecting her sister ‘Father,' replied she, sobbing, ‘I can tell you no more than that my sister put on yesterday her richest dress, with her valuable pearl necklace, went out, and has not been heard of since.' I searched for her all over the town, but could learn nothing of her unhappy fate. In the mean time the elder, who doubtless repented of her jealous fury, became melancholy, and incessantly bewailed the death of her sister; she denied her self all manner of food, and so put an end to her deplorable days. Such is the condition of mankind! such are the misfortunes to which we are exposed! However, my son," added he, "since we are both of us equally unfortunate, let us unite our sorrow, and not abandon one another. I will give you in marriage a third daughter I have still left, she is younger than her sisters, and in no respect imitates their conduct; besides, she is handsomer, and I assure you is of a disposition calculated to make you happy. You shall have no other house but mine, and, after my death, you and she shall be heirs to all my property." "My lord," I replied, "I am overcome by your favours, and shall never be able to make a sufficient acknowledgment." "Enough," said he, interrupting me, "let us not waste time in idle words." He then called for witnesses, ordered the contract of marriage to be drawn, and I became the husband of his third daughter. He was not satisfied with punishing the jeweller, who had falsely accused me, but confiscated for my use all his property, which was very considerable. As for the rest, since you have been called to the governor's house, you may have seen what respect they pay me there. I must tell you further, that a person despatched by my uncles to Egypt, on purpose to inquire for me there, passing through this city found me out last night, and delivered me a letter from them. They inform me of my father's death, and invite me to come and take possession of his property at Moussol. But as the alliance and friendship of the governor have fixed me here, and will not suffer me to leave him, I have sent back the express with a power, which will secure to me my inheritance. After what you have heard, I hope you will pardon my seeming incivility during the course of my illness, in giving you my left instead of my right hand.

" This," said the Jewish physician, "is the story I heard from the young man of Moussol. I continued at Damascus as long as the governor lived; after his death, being still in the vigour of my age, I had the curiosity to travel. Accordingly I went through Persia to the Indies, and came at last to settle in this your capital, where I have practised physic with reputation."

The sultan of Casgar was well pleased with this story. "I must confess," said he to the Jew, "the story you have told me is very singular; but I declare freely, that of the little hump-back is: yet more extraordinary, and much more diverting; so you are not to expect that I will give you your life, any more than the rest. I will have you all four executed." "Pray, sir, stay a minute," said the tailor, advancing, and prostrating himself at the sultan's feet. "Since your majesty loves pleasant stories, I have one to tell you that will not displease you." "Well, I will hear thee too," said the sultan; "but do not flatter thyself that I will suffer thee to live, unless thou tellest me some adventure that is yet more diverting than that of my hump-backed jester." Upon this the tailor, as if he had been sure of success, spoke

The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 2 - 10/66

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