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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 2 - 3/66 -

without knowing me; any other man would have been afraid I should have run away with it." To be short, he came again at the end of the third month, and was still mounted on his ass, but more handsomely dressed than before.

As soon as I saw the young man, I intreated him to alight, and asked him if he would not take his money? "There is no hurry," said he, with a pleasant easy air, "I know it is in good hands; I will come and take it when my other money is all gone. Adieu," continued he, "I will return towards the end of the week." With that he struck the ass, and soon disappeared. "Well," thought I, "he says he will see me towards the end of the week, but he may not perhaps return for a great while; I will make the most I can of his money, which may bring me much profit."

As it happened, I was not deceived in my conjecture; for it was a full year before I saw my young merchant again. He then appeared as richly appareled as before, but seemed to have something on his spirits. I asked him to do me the honour to walk into my house. "For this time," replied he, "I will: but on this condition, that you shall put yourself to no extraordinary charge on my account." "I will do just as you please," said I, "only do me the favour to alight and walk in." Accordingly he complied. I gave orders to have a repast prepared, and while this was doing, we entered into conversation. All things being ready, we sat down. I observed he took the first mouthful with his left hand, and not with the right. I was at a loss what to think of this. "Ever since I have known this young man," said I inwardly, "he has always appeared very polite; is it possible he can do this out of contempt? What can be the reason he does not use his right hand?"

After we had done eating, and every thing was taken away, we sat upon a sofa, and I presented him with a lozenge by way of dainty; but still he took it with his left hand. I said to him, "Pardon, Sir, the liberty I take in asking you what reason you have for not using your right hand? Perhaps you have some complaint in that hand." Instead of answering, he heaved a deep sigh, and pulling out his right arm, which he had hitherto kept under his vest, shewed me, to my great astonishment, that it had been cut off. "Doubtless you were displeased," said he, "to see me feed myself with the left hand; but I leave you to judge, whether it was in my power to do otherwise." "May one ask," said I, "by what mischance you lost your right hand?" Upon that he burst into tears, and after wiping his eyes, gave me the following relation.

You must know that I am a native of Bagdad, the son of a rich merchant, the most eminent in that city for rank and opulence. I had scarcely launched into the world, when falling into the company of travellers, and hearing their wonderful accounts of Egypt, especially of Grand Cairo, I was interested by their discourse, and felt a strong desire to travel. But my father was then alive, and would not grant me permission. At length he died; and being then my own master, I resolved to take a journey to Cairo. I laid out a large sum of money in the purchase of several sorts of fine stuffs of Bagdad and Moussol. and departed.

Arriving at Cairo, I went to the khan, called the khan of Mesrour, and there took lodgings, with a warehouse for my bales, which I had brought with me upon camels. This done, I retired to my chamber to rest, after the fatigue of my journey, and gave some money to my servants, with orders to buy some provisions and dress them. After I had eaten, I went to view the castle, some mosques, the public squares, and the other most remarkable places.

Next day I dressed myself, and ordered some of the finest and richest of my bales to be selected and carried by my slaves to the Circassian bazaar, whither I followed. I had no sooner made my appearance, than I was surrounded with brokers and criers who had heard of my arrival. I gave patterns of my stuffs to several of the criers, who shewed them all over the bazaar; but none of the merchants offered near so much as prime cost and carriage. This vexed me, and the criers observing I was dissatisfied, said, "If you will take our advice, we will put you in a way to sell your goods without loss."

The brokers and the criers, having thus promised to put me in a way of losing nothing by my goods, I asked them what course they would have me pursue . "Divide your goods," said they, among several merchants, they will sell them by retail; and twice a week, that is on Mondays and Thursdays, you may receive what money they may have taken. By this means, instead of losing, you will turn your goods to advantage, and the merchants will gain by you. In the mean while you will have time to take your pleasure about the town or go upon the Nile."

I took their advice, and conducted them to my warehouse; from whence I brought all my goods to the bazaar, and there divided them among the merchants whom they represented as most reputable and able to pay; and the merchants gave me a formal receipt before witnesses, stipulating that I should not making any demands upon them for the first month.

Having thus regulated my affairs, my mind was occupied with ordinary pleasures. I contracted acquaintance with divers persons of nearly the same age with myself, which made the time pass agreeably. After the first month had expired, I began to visit my merchants twice a week, taking with me a public officer to inspect their books of sale, and a banker to see that they paid me in good money, and to regulate the value of the several coins. Every pay-day, I had a good sum of money to carry home to my lodging at the khan of Mesrour. I went on other days to pass the morning sometimes at one merchant's house, and sometimes at that of another. In short, I amused myself in conversing with them, and seeing what passed in the bazaar.

One Monday, as I was sitting in a merchant s shop, whose name was Buddir ad Deen, a lady of quality, as might easily be perceived by her air, her apparel, and by a well-dressed slave attending her, came into the shop, and sat down by me. Her external appearance, joined to a natural grace that shone in all her actions, prepossessed me in her favour, and inspired me with a desire to be better acquainted with her. I know not whether she observed that I took pleasure in gazing on her, and whether this attention on my part was not agreeable to her; but she let down the crepe that hung over the muslin which covered her face, and gave me the opportunity of seeing her large black eyes; which perfectly charmed me. In fine, she inflamed my love to the height by the agreeable sound of her voice, her graceful carriage in saluting the merchant, and asking him how he did since she had seen him last.

After conversing with him some time upon indifferent subjects, she gave him to understand that she wanted a particular kind of stuff with a gold ground; that she came to his shop, as affording the best choice of any in all the bazaar; and that if he had any such as she asked for, he would oblige her in showing them. Buddir ad Deen produced several pieces, one of which she pitched upon, and he asked for it eleven hundred dirhems of silver. "I will," said she, "give you your price for it, but I have not money enough about me; so I hope you will give me credit till to- morrow, and in the mean time allow me to carry home the stuff. I shall not fail," added she, "to send you tomorrow the eleven hundred dirhems." "Madam," said Buddir ad Deen, "I would give you credit with all my heart if the stuff were mine; but it belongs to the young man you see here, and this is the day on which we settle our accounts." "Why," said the lady in surprise, "do you use me so? Am not I a customer to your shop And when I have bought of you, and carried home the things without paying ready money for them, did I in any instance fail to send you your money next morning?" "Madam," said the merchant, "all this is true, but this very day I have occasion for the money." "There," said she, throwing the stuff to him, "take your stuff, I care not for you nor any of the merchants. You are all alike; you respect no one." As she spoke, she rose up in anger, and walked out.

When I saw that the lady walked away, I felt interested on her behalf, and called her back, saying, "Madam, do me the favour to return, perhaps I can find a way to satisfy you both." She returned, saying, it was on my account that she complied. "Buddir ad Deen," said I to the merchant, "what is the price you must have for this stuff that belongs to me?" "I must have," replied he, "eleven hundred dirhems, I cannot take less." "Give it to the lady then," said I, "let her take it home with her; I allow a hundred dirhems profit to yourself, and shall now write you a note, empowering you to deduct that sum upon the produce of the other goods you have of mine." In fine, I wrote, signed, and gave him the note, and then delivered 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 the next day; or, if you will, accept it as a present from me." "Pardon me," returned she, "I mean no such thing. You treat me with so much politeness, that I should be unworthy to appear in the world again, were I to omit making you my best acknowledgments. May God reward you, by an increase of your fortune; may you live many years after I am dead; may the gate of paradise be open 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," I replied, "I desire no other reward for the service I have done you than the happiness of seeing your face; which will repay me with interest." I had no sooner spoken than she turned towards me, took off her veil, and discovered to me a wonderful beauty. I became speechless with admiration. I could have gazed upon her for ever; but fearing any one should observe her, she quickly covered her face, and letting down the crepe, took up the piece of stuff, and went away, leaving me in a very different state of mind from that in which I had entered the shop. I continued for some time in great confusion 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."

I went back to the khan of Mesrour, and sat down to supper, but could not eat, neither could I shut my eyes all the night, which seemed the longest in my life. As soon as it was day I arose, in hopes of once more beholding the object that disturbed my repose: and to engage her affection, I dressed myself much richer than I had done the day before.

I had but just reached Buddir ad Deen's shop, when I saw the lady coming in more magnificent apparel than before, and attended by her slave. When she entered, she did not regard the merchant, but addressing herself to me, said, "Sir, you see I am punctual to my word. I am come for the express purpose of paying the sum you were so kind as to pass your word for yesterday, though you had no knowledge of me. Such uncommon generosity I shall never forget."

"Madam," said I, "you had no occasion to be in such haste; I was

The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 2 - 3/66

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