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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 3 - 40/74 -
The hopes of getting more money for his plate induced Alla ad Deen to pull it from under his vest, and shew it to the goldsmith, who at first sight saw that it was made of the finest silver, asked him if he had sold such as that to the Jew, when Alla ad Deen told him that he had sold him twelve such, for a piece of gold each. "What a villain!" cried the goldsmith; "but," added he, "my son, what is passed cannot be recalled. By shewing you the value of this plate, which is of the finest silver we use in our shops, I will let you see how much the Jew has cheated you."
The goldsmith took a pair of scales, weighed the dish, and after he had mentioned how much an ounce of fine silver cost, assured him that his plate would fetch by weight sixty pieces of gold, which he offered to pay down immediately. "If you dispute my honesty," said he, "you may go to any other of our trade, and if he gives you more, I will be bound to forfeit twice as much; for we gain only the fashion of the plate we buy, and that the fairest dealing Jews are not contented with."
Alla ad Deen thanked him for his fair dealing, so greatly to his advantage, took the gold, and never after went to any other person, but sold him all his dishes and the tray, and had as much for them as the weight came to.
Though Alla ad Deen and his mother had an inexhaustible treasure in their lamp, and might have had whatever they wished for, yet they lived with the same frugality as before, except that Alla ad Deen dressed better; as for his mother, she wore no clothes but what she earned by spinning cotton. After their manner of living, it may easily be supposed, that the money for which Alla ad Deen had sold the dishes and tray was sufficient to maintain them some time.
During this interval, Alla ad Deen frequented the shops of the principal merchants, where they sold cloth of gold and silver, linens, silk stuffs, and jewellery, and oftentimes joining in their conversation, acquired a knowledge of the world, and respectable demeanour. By his acquaintance among the jewellers, he came to know that the fruits which he had gathered when he took the lamp were, instead of coloured glass, stones of inestimable value; but he had the prudence not to mention this to any one, not even to his mother.
One day as Alla ad Deen was walking about the town, he heard an order proclaimed, commanding the people to shut up their shops and houses, and keep within doors, while the princess Buddir al Buddoor, the sultan's daughter, went to the baths and returned.
This proclamation inspired Alla ad Deen with eager curiosity to see the princess's face, which he could not do without admission into the house of some acquaintance, and then only through a window; which did not satisfy him, when he considered that the princess, when she went to the baths, would be closely veiled; but to gratify his curiosity, he presently thought of a scheme, which succeeded; it was to place himself behind the door of the bath, which was so situated that he could not fail of seeing her face.
Alla ad Deen had not waited long before the princess came, and he could see her plainly through a chink of the door without being discovered. She was attended by a great crowd of ladies, slaves and eunuchs, who walked on each side, and behind her. When she came within three or four paces of the door of the baths, she took off her veil, and gave Alla ad Deen an opportunity of a full view.
As soon as Alla ad Deen had seen the princess, his heart could not withstand those inclinations so charming an object always inspires. The princess was the most beautiful brunette in the world; her eyes were large, lively, and sparkling; her looks sweet and modest; her nose was of a just proportion and without a fault, her mouth small, her lips of a vermilion red and charmingly agreeable symmetry; in a word, all the features of her face were perfectly regular. It is not therefore surprising that Alla ad Deen, who had never before seen such a blaze of charms, was dazzled, and his senses ravished by such an assemblage. With all these perfections the princess had so fine a form, and so majestic an air, that the sight of her was sufficient to inspire love and admiration.
After the princess had passed by, and entered the baths, Alla ad Deen remained some time astonished, and in a kind of ecstacy, retracing and imprinting the idea of so charming an object deeply in his mind. But at last, considering that the princess was gone past him, and that when she returned from the bath her back would be towards him, and then veiled, he resolved to quit his hiding place and go home. He could not so far conceal his uneasiness but that his mother perceived it, was surprised to see him so much more thoughtful and melancholy than usual; and asked what had happened to make him so, or if he was ill? He returned her no answer, but sat carelessly down on the sofa, and remained silent, musing on the image of the charming Buddir al Buddoor. His mother, who was dressing supper, pressed him no more. When it was ready, she served it up, and perceiving that he gave no attention to it, urged him to eat, but had much ado to persuade him to change his place; which when he did, he ate much less than usual, all the time cast down his eyes, and observed so profound a silence, that she could not obtain a word in answer to all the questions she put, in order to find the reason of so extraordinary an alteration.
After supper, she asked him again why he was so melancholy, but could get no information, and he determined to go to bed rather than give her the least satisfaction. Without examining how he passed the night, his mind full as it was with the charms of the princess, I shall only observe that as he sat next day on the sofa, opposite his mother, as she was spinning cotton, he spoke to her in these words: "I perceive, mother, that my silence yesterday has much troubled you; I was not, nor am I sick, as I fancy you believed; but I assure you, that what I felt then, and now endure, is worse than any disease. I cannot explain what ails me; but doubt not what I am going to relate will inform you.
"It was not proclaimed in this quarter of the town, and therefore you could know nothing of it, that the sultan's daughter was yesterday to go to the baths. I heard this as I walked about the town, and an order was issued that all the shops should be shut up in her way thither, and everybody keep within doors, to leave the streets free for her and her attendants. As I was not then far from the bath, I had a great curiosity to see the princess's face; and as it occurred to me that the princess, when she came nigh the door of the bath, would pull her veil off, I resolved to conceal myself behind the door. You know the situation of the door, and may imagine that I must have had a full view of her. The princess threw off her veil, and I had the happiness of seeing her lovely face with the greatest security. This, mother, was the cause of my melancholy and silence yesterday; I love the princess with more violence than I can express; and as my passion increases every moment, I cannot live without the possession of the amiable Buddir al Buddoor, and am resolved to ask her in marriage of the sultan her father."
Alla ad Deen's mother listened with surprise to what her son told her; but when he talked of asking the princess in marriage, she could not help bursting out into a loud laugh. Alla ad Deen would have gone on with his rhapsody, but she interrupted him. "Alas! child," said she, "what are you thinking of? you must be mad to talk thus."
"I assure you, mother," replied Alla ad Deen, "that I am not mad, but in my right senses; I foresaw that you would reproach me with folly and extravagance; but I must tell you once more that I am resolved to demand the princess of the sultan in marriage, and your remonstrances shall not prevent me."
"Indeed, son," replied the mother seriously, "I cannot help telling you that you have forgotten yourself; and if you would put this resolution of yours in execution, I do not see whom you can prevail upon to venture to make the proposal for you." "You yourself," replied he immediately. "I go to the sultan!" answered the mother, amazed and surprised. "I shall be cautious how I engage in such an errand. Why, who are you, son," continued she, "that you can have the assurance to think of your sultan's daughter? Have you forgotten that your father was one of the poorest tailors in the capital, and that I am of no better extraction; and do not you know that sultans never marry their daughters but to princes, sons of sovereigns like themselves?"
"Mother," answered Alla ad Deen, "I have already told you that I foresaw all that you have said, or can say: and tell you again, that neither your discourse nor your remonstrances shall make me change my mind. I have told you that you must ask the princess in marriage for me: it is a favour I desire of you, and I beg of you not to refuse, unless you would rather see me in my grave, than by your compliance give me new life."
The good old woman was much embarrassed, when she found Alla ad Deen obstinately persisting in so wild a design. "My son," said she again, "I am your mother, who brought you into the world, and there is nothing that is reasonable but I would readily do for you. If I were to go and treat about your marriage with some neighbour's daughter, whose circumstances were equal with yours, I would do it with all my heart; and even then they would expect you should have some little estate or fortune, or be of some trade. When such poor folks as we are wish to marry, the first thing they ought to think of, is how to live. But without reflecting on the meanness of your birth, and the little merit and fortune you have to recommend you, you aim at the highest pitch of exaltation; and your pretensions are no less than to demand in marriage the daughter of your sovereign, who with one single word can crush you to pieces. I say nothing of what respects yourself. I leave you to reflect on what you have to do, if you have ever so little thought. I come now to consider what concerns myself. How could so extraordinary a thought come into your head, as that I should go to the sultan and make a proposal to him to give his daughter in marriage to you? Suppose I had, not to say the boldness, but the impudence to present myself before the sultan, and make so extravagant a request, to whom should I address myself to be introduced to his majesty? Do you not think the first person I should speak to would take me for a mad woman, and chastise me as I should deserve? Suppose, however, that there is no difficulty in presenting myself for an audience of the sultan, and I know there is none to those who go to petition for justice, which he distributes equally among his subjects; I know too that to those who ask a favour he grants it with pleasure when he sees it is deserved, and the persons are worthy of it. But is that your case? Do you think you have
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