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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 2 - 4/66 -

well satisfied as to my money, and am sorry you should put yourself to so much trouble." "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 determined to improve 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 continued in sight; then taking leave of the merchant walked out of the bazaar, without knowing where I went. I was musing on this adventure, when I felt somebody pulling me behind, and turning to see who it was, I was agreeably surprised to perceive it was the lady's slave. "My mistress," said she, "I mean the young lady you spoke to in the merchant's shop, wants to speak with you, if you please to give yourself the trouble to follow me." Accordingly I followed her, and found her mistress sitting waiting for me in a banker's shop.

She made me sit down by her, and spoke to this purpose. "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 it gave me pleasure; and I account myself infinitely happy in having a man of your merit for my lover. I do not know what impression the first sight of me may have made on you, but I assure you, I had no sooner beheld you than I found my heart moved with the tenderest emotions of love. Since yesterday I have done nothing but think of what you said to me; and my eagerness to seek you this morning may convince you of my regard." "Madam," I replied, transported with love and joy, "nothing can be more agreeable to me than this declaration. No passion can exceed that with which I love you. My eyes were dazzled with so many charms, that my heart yielded without resistance." "Let us not trifle away the time in needless discourse," said she, interrupting me; "make no doubt of your sincerity, and you shall quickly be convinced of mine. Will you do me the honour to come to my residence? Or if you will I will go to yours." "Madam," I returned, "I am a stranger lodged in a khan, which is not the proper place for the reception of a lady of your quality. It is more proper, madam, that I should visit you at your house; have the goodness to tell me where it is." The lady consented; "Come," said she, "on Friday, which is the day after to-morrow, after noon-prayers, and ask for the house of Abon Schama, surnamed Bercour, 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 put on my richest apparel, and took fifty pieces of gold in my purse. I mounted an ass I had bespoken the day before, and set out, accompanied by the man who let me the ass. I directed the owner of the ass to inquire for the house I wanted; he found it, and conducted me thither. I paid him liberally, directing him to observe narrowly where he left me, and not to fail to return next morning with the ass, to carry me again to the khan of Mesrour.

I knocked at the door, and presently two little female slaves, white as snow, and neatly dressed came and opened it. "Be pleased to come in, Sir, said they, "our mistress expects you impatiently; these two days she has talked of nothing but you. I entered the court, and saw a pavilion raised seven steps, and surrounded with iron rails that parted it from a very pleasant garden. Besides the trees which only embellished the place, and formed an agreeable shade, there was an infinite number of others loaded with all sorts of fruit. I was charmed with the warbling of a great number of birds, that joined their notes to the murmurings of a fountain, in the middle of a parterre enamelled with flowers. This fountain formed a very agreeable object; four large gilded dragons at the angles of the basin, which was of a square form, 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 saloon magnificently furnished; and while one of them went to acquaint her mistress with my arrival, the other tarried with me, and pointed out to me the beauties of the hall.

I did not wait long in the hall, ere the lady I loved appeared, adorned with pearls and diamonds ; but the splendour of her eyes far outshone that of her jewels. Her shape, which was now not disguised by the habit she wore in the city, appeared the most slender and delicate. I need not mention with what joy we met once more; it far exceeded all expression. When the first compliments were over, we sat down upon a sofa, and there conversed together with the highest satisfaction. We had the most delicious refreshments served up to us; and after eating, continued our conversation till night. We then had excellent wine brought up, and fruit adapted 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 raised my passion to the height. In short, I passed the night in full enjoyment.

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 to be transported with my answer, and conducting me to the door, conjured me at parting to be mindful of my promise.

The same man who had carried me thither waited for me with his ass, which I mounted, and went directly to the khan; ordering the man to come to me again in the afternoon at a certain hour, to secure which, I deferred paying him till that time came.

As soon as I arrived at my lodging, my first care was to order my people to buy a lamb, and several sorts of cakes, which I sent by a porter as a present to the lady. When that was done I attended to my business till the owner of the ass arrived. I then 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, left her another purse with fifty pieces of gold, and returned to my khan.

I continued to visit the lady every day, and to leave her every time a purse with fifty pieces of gold, till the merchants whom I employed to sell my goods, and whom I visited regularly twice a week, had paid me the whole amount of my goods and, in short, I came at last to be moneyless, and hopeless of having any more.

In this forlorn condition I walked out of my lodging, not knowing what course to take, and by chance went towards the castle, where there was a great crowd to witness a spectacle given by the sultan of Egypt. As soon as I came up, I wedged in among the crowd, and by chance happened to stand by a horseman well mounted and handsomely clothed, who had upon the pommel of his saddle a bag, half open, with a string of green silk hanging out of it. I clapped my hand to the bag, concluding the silk-twist might be the string of a purse within: in the mean time a porter, with a load of wood upon his back, passed by on the other side of the horse so near, that the rider was forced to turn his head towards him, to avoid being hurt, or having his clothes torn by the wood. In that moment the devil tempted me; I took the string in one hand, and with the other pulled out the purse so dexterously, that nobody perceived me. The purse was heavy, and I did not doubt but it contained gold or silver.

As soon as the porter had passed, the horseman, who probably had some suspicion of what I had done while his head was turned, presently put his hand to his bag, and finding his purse was gone, gave me such a blow, that he knocked me down. This violence shocked all who saw it. Some took hold of the horse's bridle to stop the gentleman, and asked him what reason he had to strike me, or how he came to treat a Mussulmaun so rudely. "Do not you trouble yourselves," said he briskly, "I had reason for what I did; this fellow is a thief." At these words I started up, and from my appearance every one took my part, and cried out he was a liar, for that it was incredible a young man such as I was should be guilty of so base an action: but while they were holding his horse by the bridle to favour my escape, unfortunately passed by the judge, who seeing such a crowd about the gentleman on horseback, came up and asked what the matter was. Every body present reflected on the gentleman for treating me so unjustly upon the presence of robbery.

The judge did not give ear to all that was said; but asked the cavalier if he suspected any body else beside me? The cavalier told him he did not, and gave his reasons why he believed his suspicions not to be groundless. Upon this the judge ordered his followers to seize me, which they presently did; and finding the purse upon me, exposed it to the view of all the people. The disgrace was so great, I could not bear it, and I swooned away. In the mean time the judge called for the purse.

When the judge had got the purse in his hand, he asked the horseman if it was his, and how much money it contained. The cavalier knew it to be his own, and assured the judge he had put twenty sequins into it. Upon which the judge called me before him; "Come, young man," said he, "confess the truth. Was it you that took the gentleman's purse from him? Do not wait for the torture to extort confession." Then with downcast eyes, thinking that if I denied the fact, they, having found the purse upon me, would convict me of a lie, to avoid a double punishment I looked up and confessed my guilt. I had no sooner made the confession, than the judge called people to witness it, and ordered my hand to be cutoff. This sentence was immediately put in execution, to the great regret of all the spectators; nay, I observed, by the cavalier's countenance, that he was moved with pity as much as the rest. The judge would likewise have ordered my foot to be cut off, but I begged the cavalier to intercede for my pardon; which he did, and obtained it.

When the judge was gone, the cavalier came up to me, and holding out the purse, said, "I see plainly that necessity drove you to an action so disgraceful and unworthy of such a young man as you appear. Here, take that fatal purse; I freely give it you, and am heartily sorry for the misfortune you have undergone." Having thus spoken, he went away. Being very weak by loss of blood, some of the good people of the neighbourhood had the kindness to carry me into a house and give me a glass of cordial; they likewise dressed my arm, and wrapped up the dismembered hand in a cloth, which I carried away with me fastened to my girdle.

Had I returned to the khan of Mesrour in this melancholy condition, I should not have found there such relief as I wanted; and to offer to go to the young lady was running a great hazard, it being likely she would not look upon me after being informed of my disgrace. I resolved, however, to put her to the trial; and to tire out the crowd that followed me, I turned down several by-

The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 2 - 4/66

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