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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 2 - 60/66 -
"here is the slave, she is yours; take her."
The words were scarcely out of Hagi Hassan's mouth, when Noor ad Deen, catching hold of the fair Persian, pulled her to him, and giving her a box on the ear, "Come hither, impertinence," said he, "and get you home again; for though your ill-humour obliged me to swear I should bring you hither, yet I never intended to sell you: I have business for you to do yet; and it will be time enough to part with you when I have nothing else left."
This conduct of Noor ad Deen put the vizier Saouy into a violent passion. "Miserable debauchee," cried he, "wouldst thou have me believe thou hast any thing else left to make money of but thy slave?" and at the same instant, spurring his horse directly against him, endeavoured to carry off the fair Persian. Noor ad Deen. nettled to the quick at the affront the vizier had put upon him, quitted the fair Persian, and laying hold of his horse's bridle, made him run two or three paces backwards. "Vile dotard," said he to the vizier, "I would tear thy soul out of thy body this moment, were it not out of respect for the crowd of people here present."
The vizier Saouy being hated by all, there was not one among them but was pleased to see Noor ad Deen mortify him; and by signs they gave him to understand, that he might revenge himself upon him as much as he pleased, for nobody would interfere in their quarrel.
Saouy endeavoured to force Noor ad Deen to quit the bridle; but he being a lusty, vigorous man, and encouraged by those that stood by, pulled him off his horse, gave him several blows, and dashed his head against the stones, till it was all over blood. The slaves who waited upon the vizier would have drawn their cimeters, and fallen upon Noor ad Deen; but the merchants interposing prevented them. "What do you mean?" said they to them; "do you not see that one is a vizier, the other a vizier's son? Let them fight it out; perhaps they will be reconciled one time or another; whereas, if you had killed Noor ad Deen, your master, with all his greatness, could not have been able to protest you against the law?"
Noor ad Deen having given over beating the vizier Saouy, left him in the mire, and taking the fair Persian, marched home with her, attended by the people, with shouts and acclamations for the action he had performed.
The vizier, cruelly bruised with the blows he had received, made shift to get up, with the assistance of his slaves, and had the mortification to see himself besmeared with blood and dirt. He leaned on the shoulders of two slaves, and in that condition went straight to the palace in the sight of all the people, with the greater confusion, because no one pitied him. As soon as he reached the king's apartment, he began to cry out, and call for justice in a lamentable tone. The king ordered him to be admitted; and asked who it was that had abused and put him into that miserable plight. "Sire," cried Saouy, "it is the favour of your majesty, and being admitted into your sacred councils, that has occasioned me to be so barbarously treated." "Say no more of that," replied the king, "only let me hear the whole story simply, and who the offender is; and if he is in the wrong, you may depend upon it he shall be severely punished."
"Sire," said Saouy, telling the whole matter to his own advantage, "having occasion for a cook, I went to the market of women-slaves to buy one: when I came thither, there was a slave just cried at four thousand pieces of gold; I ordered them to bring her before me, and I think my eyes never did nor will behold a more beautiful creature: I had no sooner examined her beauty with the highest satisfaction, than I immediately asked to whom she belonged; and upon inquiry found that Noor ad Deen, son to the late vizier Khacan, had the disposing of her.
"Your majesty may remember, that about two or three years ago, you gave that vizier ten thousand pieces of gold, strictly charging him to buy you a slave with that sum. The money, indeed, was laid out upon this very slave; but instead of bringing her to your majesty, thinking his son deserved her better, he made him a present of her. Noor ad Deen, since his father's death, having wasted his whole fortune in riot and feasting, has nothing left but this slave, whom he at last resolved to part with; and she was to be sold in his name, I sent for him; and, without mentioning any thing of his father's prevarication, or rather treachery to your majesty, I in the civilest manner said to him, ‘Noor ad Deen, the merchants, I perceive, have put your slave up at four thousand pieces of gold; and I question not, but, in emulation of each other, they will raise the price considerably: let me have her for the four thousand pieces; I am going to buy her for the king our lord and master; this will be a handsome opportunity of making your court to him: and his favour will be worth far more than the merchants can propose to give you.'
"Instead of returning me a civil answer, the insolent wretch, beholding me with a fierce air, "Impotent villain,' said he, ‘I would rather give my slave to a Jew for nothing than to thee for money.' ‘Noor ad Deen,' I replied, without passion, though I had some reason to be a little warm,'you do not consider, that by talking in this manner you affront the king, who raised both your father and me to the honours we have enjoyed.'
"This admonition, instead of softening him, only provoked him to a higher degree; so that, falling upon me like a madman, without regard to my age or rank, he pulled me off my horse, and put me into this miserable plight. I beseech your majesty to consider, that it is on your account I have been so publicly affronted."
The abused king, highly incensed against Noor ad Deen by this relation, so full of malice and artifice, discovered by his countenance the violence of his anger; and turning to the captain of his guards, who stood near him, "Take forty of your soldiers," said he, "immediately plunder Noor ad Deen's house, and having ordered it to be razed to the ground, bring him and his slave to the presence."
Before the captain of the guards was gone out of the king's presence, an officer belonging to the court, who overheard the order given, hastened out. His name was Sangiar; and he had been formerly a slave of the vizier Khacan who had introduced him at court, where by degrees he had raised himself.
Sangiar, full of gratitude to his old master and affection for Noor ad Deen, whom he remembered a child, being no stranger to Saouy's hatred of Khacan's family, could not hear the order without concern. "This action," said he to himself, "may not be altogether so black as Saouy has represented it. He has prejudiced the king against him, who will certainly put him to death, without allowing him time to justify himself." He made so much haste to Noor ad Deen's house, as to get thither soon enough to acquaint him with what had passed at court, and give him time to provide for his own and the fair Persian's safety. He knocked so violently at the door, that Noor ad Deen, who had been a great while without any servant, ran immediately to open it. "My dear lord," said Sangiar, "there is no safety for you in Bussorah; you must lose no time, but depart hence this moment."
"How so?" demanded Noor ad Deen. "What is the reason I must be gone so soon?" "Make haste away, sir," replied Sangiar, "and take your slave with you. In short, Saouy has been just now acquainting the king, after his own way of telling it, all that passed between you and him; and the captain of the guards will be here in an instant, with forty soldiers, to seize you and the fair Persian. Take these forty pieces of gold to assist you in repairing to some place of safety. I would give you more if I had it about me. Excuse my not staying any longer; I leave you with reluctance." Sangiar gave Noor ad Deen but just time to thank him, and departed.
Noor ad Deen acquainted the fair Persian with the absolute necessity of their going that moment. She only put on her veil; they both stole out of the house, and were fortunate enough not only to get clear of the city, but also safely to arrive at the Euphrates, which was not far off, where they embarked in a vessel that lay ready to weigh anchor.
As soon as they were on board, the captain came on deck amongst his passengers. "Children," said he to them, "are you all here? have any of you any more business to do in the city? or have you left any thing behind you?" They were all there, they answered him, and ready; so that he might sail as soon as he pleased. When Noor ad Deen came aboard, the first question he asked was, whither the vessel was bound? and being told for Bagdad, he rejoiced at it. The captain, having weighed anchor, set sail; and the vessel, with a very favourable wind, lost sight of Bussorah.
The captain of the guards came to Noor ad Deen's house, and knocked at the door; but no one answering, he ordered his soldiers to break it open, who immediately obeyed him, and rushed in. They searched the house; but neither he nor the fair Persian were to be found. The captain of the guards made them inquire of the neighbours; and he himself asked if they had seen them lately. It was all in vain; for if they had seen him go out of his house, so universally beloved was Noor ad Deen by the people, that not one of them would have said the least word to his prejudice. While they were rifling the house, and levelling it to the ground, he went to acquaint the king with the news. "Look for them," said he, "every where; for I am resolved to have them."
The captain of the guards made a second search, and the king dismissed the vizier Saouy with honour. "Go home," said he, "trouble yourself no farther to punish Noor ad Deen; I will revenge your injuries."
Without delay the king ordered to be proclaimed throughout the whole city a reward of a thousand pieces of gold for any person that should apprehend Noor ad Deen and the fair Persian, also a severe punishment upon those who should conceal them. No tidings however could be heard of them; and the vizier Saouy had only the comfort of seeing the king espouse his quarrel.
In the mean time, Noor ad Deen and the fair Persian, after a prosperous voyage, landed safe at Bagdad. As soon as the captain came within sight of that city, pleased that his voyage was at an end, "Rejoice, my children," cried he to the passengers; "yonder is that great and wonderful city, where there is a perpetual concourse of people from all parts of the world: there you shall meet with innumerable crowds, and never feel the extremity of cold in winter, nor the excess of heat in summer, but enjoy an eternal spring with all its flowers, and the delicious fruits of autumn."
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