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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 2 - 30/66 -

will have more liberty in another house of mine where no one resides at present; I will immediately furnish it for their reception." "There remains nothing then for me to do," replied the confidant, "but to bring Schemselnihar to consent to this. I will go and speak to her, and return speedily with an answer."

She was as diligent as her promise, and returning to the jeweller, told him that her mistress would not fail to keep the appointment in the evening. In the mean time she gave him a purse, and told him it was to prepare a collation. He carried her immediately to the house where the lovers were to meet, that she might know whither to bring her mistress: and when she was gone, he went to borrow from his friends gold and silver plate, tapestry, rich cushions, and other furniture, with which he furnished the house very magnificently; and when he had put all things in order, went to the prince of Persia.

You may easily conceive the prince of Persia's joy, when the jeweller told him that he came to conduct him to the house he had prepared to receive him and Schemselnihar. This news made him forget all his former trouble. He put on a magnificent robe, and went without his retinue along with the jeweller; who led him through several by-streets that nobody might observe them, and at last brought him to the house, where they conversed together until Schemselnihar's arrival.

They did not wait long for this passionate lover. She came after evening prayer, with her confidant, and two other slaves. It is impossible to express the excess of joy that seized these two lovers when they saw one another. They sat down together upon a sofa, looking upon one another for some time, without being able to speak, they were so much overjoyed: but when their speech returned, they soon made up for their silence. They said to each other so many tender things, as made the jeweller, the confidant, and the two other slaves weep. The jeweller however restrained his tears, to attend the collation, which he brought in himself. The lovers ate and drank little, after which they sat down again upon the sofa: Schemselnihar asked the jeweller if he had a lute, or any other instrument, The jeweller, who took care to provide all that could please her, brought her a lute: she spent some time in tuning it, and then sung.

While Schemselnihar was charming the prince of Persia, and expressing her passion by words composed extempore, a great noise was heard; and immediately the slave, whom. the jeweller had brought with him, came in great alarm to tell him that some people were breaking in at the gate; that he asked who they were, but instead of any answer the blows were redoubled. The jeweller, being alarmed, left Schemselnihar and the prince to inform himself of the truth of this intelligence. No sooner had he got to the court, than he perceived, notwithstanding the darkness of the night, a company of men armed with spears and cimeters, who had broken the gate, and came directly towards him. He stood close to a wall for fear of his life, and saw ten of them pass without being perceived by them. Finding he could give no great assistance to the prince of Persia and Schemselnihar, he contented himself with lamenting their fate, and fled for refuge to a neighbour's house, who was not yet gone to bed. He did not doubt but this unexpected violence was by the caliph's order, who, he thought, had been informed of his favourite's meeting the prince of Persia there. He heard a great noise in his house, which continued till midnight: and when all was quiet, as he thought, he desired his neighbour to lend him a cimeter; and being thus armed, went on till he came to the gate of his own house: he entered the court full of fear, and perceived a man, who asked him who he was; he knew by his voice that it was his own slave. "How did you manage," said he, "to avoid being taken by the watch?" "Sir," answered the slave, "I hid myself in a corner of the court, and I went out as soon as I heard the noise. But it was not the watch who broke into your house: they were robbers, who within these few days robbed another house in this neighbourhood. They doubtless had notice of the rich furniture you brought hither, and had that in view."

The jeweller thought his slave's conjecture probable enough. He entered the house, and saw that the robbers had taken all the furniture out of the apartment where he received Schemselnihar and her lover, that they had also carried off the gold and silver plate, and, in a word, had left nothing. Perceiving this desolation, he exclaimed, "O heaven! I am irrecoverably ruined! What will my friends say, and what excuse can I make when I shall tell them that the robbers have broken into my house, and robbed me of all they had generously lent me? I shall never be able to make up their loss. Besides, what is become of Schemselnihar and the prince of Persia? This business will be so public, that it will be impossible but it must reach the caliph's ears. He will get notice of this meeting, and I shall fall a sacrifice to his fury." The slave, who was very much attached to him, endeavoured to comfort him. "As to Schemselnihar," said he, "the robbers would probably consent themselves with stripping her, and you have reason to think that she is retired to her palace with her slaves. The prince of Persia too has probably escaped, so that you have reason to hope the caliph will never know of this adventure. As for the loss your friends have sustained, that is a misfortune that you could not avoid. They know very well the robbers are numerous, that they have not only pillaged the house I have already spoken of, but many other houses of the principal noblemen of the court: and they are not ignorant that, notwithstanding the orders given to apprehend them, nobody has been yet able to seize any of them. You will be acquitted by restoring your friends the value of the things that are stolen, and, blessed be God, you will have enough left."

While they were waiting for day-light, the jeweller ordered the slave to mend the street door, which was broken, as well as he could: after which he returned to his usual residence with his slave, making melancholy reflections on what had happened. "Ebn Thaher," said he to himself, "has been wiser than I; he foresaw the misfortune into which I have blindly thrown myself: would to God I had never meddled in this intrigue, which will, perhaps, cost me my life!"

It was scarcely day when the report of the robbery spread through the city, and a great many of his friends and neighbours came to his house to express their concern for his misfortune; but were curious to know the particulars. He thanked them for their affection, and had at least the consolation, that he heard no one mention Schemselnihar. or the prince of Persia: which made him believe they were at their houses, or in some secure place.

When the jeweller was alone, his servants brought him something to eat, but he had no appetite. About noon one of his slaves came to tell him there was a man at the gate, whom he knew not, that desired to speak with him. The jeweller, not choosing to receive a stranger into his house, rose up, and went to speak to him. "Though you do not know me," said the man; "I know you, and I am come to talk to you about an important affair." The jeweller desired him to come in. "No," answered the stranger "if you please, rather take the trouble to go with me to your other house." "How know you," asked the jeweller, "that I have another house?" "I know very well," answered the stranger; "follow me, and do not fear any thing: I have something to communicate which will please you." The jeweller went immediately with him; and after he had considered by the way how the house they were going to had been robbed, he said to him that it was not fit to receive him.

When they were before the house, and the stranger saw the gate half broken down, he said to the jeweller, "I see you have told me the truth. I will conduct you to a place where we shall be better accommodated." When he had thus spoken, he went on, and walked all the rest of the day without stopping. The jeweller being fatigued with his walk, vexed to see night approach, and that the stranger went on without telling him where he was going, began to lose his patience, when they came to a path which led to the Tigris. As soon as they reached the river, they embarked in a little boat, and went over. The stranger led the jeweller through a long street, where he had never been before; and after he had brought him through several by-streets, he stopped at a gate, which he opened. He made the jeweller go in before him, he then shut and bolted the gate, with a huge iron bolt, and conducted him to a chamber, where there were ten other men, all of them as great strangers to the jeweller as he who had brought him hither.

These ten men received him without much ceremony. They desired him to sit down, of which he had great need; for he was not only out of breath with walking so far, but his terror at finding himself with people whom he thought he had reason to fear would have disabled him from standing. They waited for their leader to go to supper, and as soon as he came it was served up. They washed their hands, obliged the jeweller to do the like, and to sit at table with them. After supper the men asked him, if he knew whom he spoke to? He answered, "No; and that he knew not the place he was in." "Tell us your last night's adventure," said they to him, "and conceal nothing from us." The jeweller, being astonished at this request, answered, "Gentlemen, it is probable you know it already." "That is true," replied they; "the young man and the young lady, who were at your house yesternight, told it us; but we would know it from your own mouth." The jeweller needed no more to inform him that he spoke to the robbers who had broken into and plundered his house. "Gentlemen," said he, "I am much troubled for that young man and lady; can you give me any tidings of them?"

Upon the jeweller's inquiry of the thieves, if they knew any thing of the young man and the young lady, they answered, "Be not concerned for them, they are safe and well," so saying, they shewed him two closets, where they assured him they were separately shut up. They added, "We are informed you alone know what relates to them, which we no sooner came to understand, but we shewed them all imaginable respect, and were so far from doing them any injury, that we treated them with all possible kindness on your account. We answer for the same," proceeded they, "for your own person, you may put unlimited confidence in us."

The jeweller being encouraged by this assurance, and overjoyed to hear that the prince of Persia and Schemselnihar were safe, resolved to engage the robbers yet farther in their interest. He commended them, flattered them, and gave them a thousand benedictions. "Gentlemen," said he, "I must confess I have not the honour to know you, yet it is no small happiness to me that I am not wholly unknown to you; and I can never be sufficiently grateful for the favours which that knowledge has procured me at your hands. Not to mention your great humanity, I am fully persuaded now, that persons of your character are capable of keeping a secret faithfully, and none are so fit to undertake a great enterprise, which you can best bring to a good issue by your zeal, courage, and intrepidity. Confiding in these qualities, which are so much your due, I hesitate not to tell you

The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 2 - 30/66

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