My father and my uncles left me in Damascus, and pursued their journey. After their departure, I used great caution not to lay out my money idly. But at the same time I took a stately house, built of marble, adorned with paintings of gold, silver foliage, and a garden with fine water-works. I furnished it, not so richly indeed as the magnificence of the place deserved, but at least handsomely enough for a young man of my rank. It formerly belonged to one of the principal lords of the city; but was then the property of a rich jewel-merchant, to whom I paid for it only two sherifs a month. I had a number of domestics, and lived honourably; sometimes I gave entertainments to such people as I had made an acquaintance with, and sometimes was treated by them. Thus did I spend my time at Damascus, waiting for my father's return; no passion disturbed my repose, and my only employment was conversing with people of credit.
One day, as I sat taking the cool air at my gate, a very handsome, well-dressed lady came to me, and asked if I did not sell stuffs? She had no sooner spoken the words, than she went into my house.
When I saw that the lady had entered the house, I rose, and having shut the gate, conducted into a hall, and prayed her to sit down. "Madam," said I, "I have had stuffs fit to be strewn to you, but at present, I am sorry to say, I have none." She removed the veil from her face, and discovered such beauty as affected me with emotions I had never felt before. "I have no occasion for stuffs," replied she, "I only come to see you, and, if you please, to pass the evening in your company; all I ask of you is a light collation."
Transported with joy, I ordered the servants to bring us several sorts of fruit, and some bottles of wine. These being speedily served, we ate, drank, and made merry till midnight. In short, I had not before passed a night so agreeably as this. Next morning I would have put ten sherifs into the lady's hands, but she drew back instantly. "I am not come to see you," said she, "from interested motives; you therefore do me wrong. So far from receiving money from you, I must insist on your taking some from me, or else I will see you no more." In speaking this, she put her hand into her purse, took out ten sherifs, and forced me to take them, saying, "You may expect me three days hence after sun- set. She then took leave of me, and I felt that when she went she carried my heart along with her."
She did not fail to return at the appointed hour three days after; and I received her with all the joy of a person who waited impatiently for her arrival. The evening and the night we spent as before; and next day at parting she promised to return the third day after. She did not, however, leave me without forcing me to take ten sherifs more.
She returned a third time; and at that interview, when we were both warm with wine, she spoke thus: "My dear love, what do you think of me? Am I not handsome and agreeable?" "Madam," I replied, "I think this an unnecessary question: the love which I shew you ought to persuade you that I admire you; I am charmed to see and to possess you. You are my queen, my sultaness; in you lies all the felicity of my life." "Ah!" returned she, "I am sure you would speak otherwise, if you saw a certain lady of my acquaintance, who is younger and handsomer than I am. She is of such a pleasant lively temper, that she would make the most melancholy people merry: I must bring her hither; I spoke of you to her, and from the account I have given of you she is dying with desire to see you. She intreated me to procure her that pleasure, but I did not dare to promise her without speaking to you beforehand." "Madam," said I, "do what you please; but whatever you may say of your friend, I defy all her charms to tear my heart from you, to whom it is so inviolably attached, that nothing can disengage it." "Be not too positive," returned she; "I now tell you, I am about to put your heart to a severe trial."
We continued together all night, and next morning at parting, instead of ten sherifs she gave me fifteen, which I was forced to accept. "Remember," said she, "that in two days' time you are to have a new guest; pray take care to give her a good reception: we will come at the usual hour." I had my hall put in great order, and a handsome collation prepared against they came.
I waited for the two ladies with impatience and at last they arrived at the close of the day. They both unveiled, and as I had been surprised with the beauty of the first, I had reason to be much more so when I saw her friend. She had regular features, an elegant person, and such sparkling eyes, that I could hardly bear their splendour. I thanked her for the honour she did me, and entreated her to excuse me if I did not give her the reception she deserved. "No compliments," replied she; "it should be my part to make them to you, for allowing my friend to bring me hither. But since you are pleased to suffer it, let us lay aside all ceremony, and think only of amusing ourselves."
I had given orders, as soon as the ladies arrived, to have the collation served up, and we soon sat down to our entertainment. I placed myself opposite the stranger, who never ceased looking upon me with a smiling countenance. I could not resist her conquering eyes, and she made herself mistress of my heart, without opposition. But while she inspired me with a flame, she caught it herself; and so far from appearing to be under any constraint, she conversed in very free and lively language.
The other lady, who observed us, did nothing at first but laugh. "I told you," said she, addressing herself to me, "you would find my friend full of charms; and I perceive you have already violated the oath you made of being faithful to me." "Madam," replied I, laughing as well as she, "you would have reason to complain, if I were wanting in civility to a lady whom you brought hither, and who is your intimate friend; both of you might then upbraid me for not performing duly the rites of hospitality."
We continued to drink; but as the wine warmed us, the strange lady and I ogled one another with so little reserve, that her friend grew jealous, and quickly gave us a dismal proof of the inveteracy of her feelings. She rose from the table and went out, saying, she would be with us presently again: but in a few moments after, the lady who stayed with me changed countenance, fell into violent convulsions, and expired in my arms while I was calling for assistance to relieve her. I went out immediately, and enquired for the other lady; when my people told me, she had opened the street door and was gone. I then suspected what was but too true, that she had been the cause of her friend's death. She had the dexterity, and the malice, to put some very strong poison into the last glass, which she gave her with her own hand.
I was afflicted beyond measure with the accident. "What shall I do?" I exclaimed in agony. "What will become of me?" I considered there was no time to lose, and it being then moon-light, I ordered my servants to take up one of the large pieces of marble, with which the court of my house was paved, dig a hole, and there inter the corpse of the young lady. After replacing the stone, I put on a travelling suit, took what money I had; and having locked up every thing, affixed my own seal on the door of my house. This done I went to the jewel-merchant my landlord, paid him what I owed, with a year's rent in advance and giving him the key, prayed him to keep it for me. "A very urgent affair," said I, "obliges me to be absent for some time; I am under the necessity of going to visit my uncles at Cairo." I took my leave of him, immediately mounted my horse, and departed with my attendants from Damascus.
I had a good journey, and arrived at Cairo without any accident. There I met with my uncles, who were much surprised to see me. To excuse myself, I pretended I was tired of waiting; and hearing nothing of them, was so uneasy, that I could not be satisfied without coming to Cairo. They received me kindly, and promised that my father should not be displeased with me for leaving Damascus without his permission. I lodged in the same khan with them, and saw all the curiosities of Cairo.
Having finished their traffic, they began to talk of returning to Moussol, and to make preparations for their departure; but I, having a wish to view in Egypt what I had not yet seen, left my uncles, and went to lodge in another quarter at a distance from their khan, and did not appear any more till they were gone. They sought for me all over the city; but not finding me, supposed remorse for having come to Egypt without my father's consent had occasioned me to return to Damascus, without saying any thing to them. So they began their journey, expecting to find me at Damascus, and there to take me up.
After their departure I continued at Cairo three years, more completely to indulge my curiosity in seeing all the wonders of Egypt. During that time I took care to remit money to the jewel- merchant, ordering him to keep my house for me; for I designed to return to Damascus, and reside there some years longer. I had no adventure at Cairo worth relating; but doubtless you will be much surprised at that which befell me on my return to Damascus.
Arriving at this city, I went to the jewel-merchant's, who received me joyfully, and would accompany me to my house, to shew me that no one had entered it whilst I was absent. The seal was still entire upon the lock; and when I went in, I found every thing in the order in which I had left it.
In sweeping and cleaning out the hall where I had eaten with the ladies, one of my servants found a gold chain necklace, with ten very large and perfect pearls strung upon it at certain distances. He brought it to me, when I knew it to be the same I had seen upon the lady's neck who was poisoned; and concluded it had broken off and fallen. I could not look upon it without shedding tears, when I called to mind the lovely creature I had seen die in such a shocking manner. I wrapped it up, and put it in my bosom.
I rested some days to recover from the fatigues of my journey; after which, I began to visit my former acquaintance. I abandoned myself to every species of pleasure, and gradually squandered away all my money. Being thus reduced, instead of selling my furniture, I resolved to part with the necklace; but I had so little skill in pearls, that I took my measures very ill, as you shall hear.
I went to the bazaar, where I called a crier aside, and strewing him the necklace, told him I wished to sell it, and desired him to show it to the principal jewellers. The crier was surprised to see such a valuable ornament. "How beautiful," exclaimed he, gazing upon it with admiration, "never did our merchants see any thing so rich; I am sure I shall oblige them highly in strewing it to them; and you need not doubt they will set a high price upon it, in emulation of each other." He carried me to a shop which proved to be my landlord's: "Stop here," said the crier, "I will return presently and bring you an answer."
While he was running about to shew the necklace, I sat with the jeweller, who was glad to see me, and we conversed on different subjects. The crier returned, and calling me aside, instead of telling me the necklace was valued at two thousand sherifs, assured me nobody would give me more than fifty. "The reason is," added he, "the pearls are false; consider if you will part with it at that price." I took him at his word, wanting money. "Go," said I, "I take your word, and that of those who know better than myself; deliver it to them, and bring me the money immediately."
The crier had been ordered to offer me fifty sherifs by one of the richest jewellers in town who had only made that offer to sound me, and try if I was well acquainted with the value of the pearls. He had no sooner received my answer, than he carried the crier to the judge, and shewing him the necklace; "Sir," said he, "here is a necklace which was stolen from me, and the thief, under the character of a merchant, has had the impudence to offer it to sale, and is at this minute in the bazaar. He is willing to take fifty sherifs for a necklace that is worth two thousand
which is a clear proof of his having stolen it."
The Judge sent immediately to seize me, and when I came before him, he asked me if the necklace he had in his hand was not the same that I had exposed to sale in the bazaar. I told him it was. "Is it true," demanded he, "that you are willing to sell it for fifty sherifs,?" I answered I was. "Well," continued he, in a scoffing way "give him the bastinado; he will quickly confess notwithstanding his merchant's disguise, that he is only an artful thief; let him be beaten till he owns his guilt." The pain of the torture made me tell a lie; I confessed, though it was not true that I had stolen the necklace; and the judge ordered my hand to be cut off according to the sentence of our law.
This made a great noise in the bazaar, and I was scarcely returned to my house when my landlord came. "My son," said he, "you seem to be a young man well educated, and of good sense; how is it possible you could be guilty of such an unworthy action, as that I hear talked of? You gave me an account of your property yourself, and I do not doubt but the account was just. Why did not you request money of me, and I would have lent it you? However, after what has happened, I cannot allow you to remain longer in my house; you must go and seek for other lodgings." I was extremely troubled at this; and entreated the jeweller, with tears in my eyes, to let me stay three days longer; which he granted.
"Alas," thought I, "this misfortune and affront are unsufferable; how shall I dare to return to Moussol? Nothing I can say to my father will persuade him that I am innocent."
Three hours after this fatal accident my house was forcibly entered by the judge's officers, accompanied by my landlord, and the merchant who had falsely accused me of having stolen the necklace. I asked them, what brought them there? But instead of giving me any answer, they bound and gagged me, calling me a thousand abusive names, and telling me the necklace belonged to the governor of Damascus, who had lost it above three years before, and that one of his daughters had not been heard of since. Judge of my sensations when I heard this intelligence. However, I summoned all my resolution, "I will," thought I, "tell the governor the truth, and it will rest with him either to put me to death, or to protect my innocence."
When I was brought before him, I observed he looked upon me with an eye of compassion, from whence I augured well. He ordered me to be untied, and addressing himself to the jeweller who accused me, and to my landlord: "Is this the man," asked he, "that sold the pearl necklace?" They had no sooner answered yes, than he continued, "I am sure he did not steal the necklace, and I am much astonished at the injustice that has been done him." These words giving me courage: "Sir," said I, "I do assure you I am perfectly innocent. I am likewise fully persuaded the necklace never did belong to my accuser, whom I never saw, and whose horrible perfidy is the cause of my unjust treatment. It is true, I made a confession as if I had stolen it; but this I did contrary to my conscience, through the force of torture, and for another reason that I am ready to give you, if you will have the goodness to hear me." "I know enough of it already," replied the governor, "to do you one part of the justice to which you are entitled. Take from hence," continued he, "the false accuser; let him undergo the same punishment as he caused to be inflicted on this young man, whose innocence is known to myself."
The governor's orders were immediately put in execution; the jeweller was punished as he deserved. Then the governor, having ordered all present to withdraw, said to me: "My son, tell me without fear how this necklace fell into your hands, conceal nothing from me." I related plainly all that had passed, and declared I had chosen rather to pass for a thief than to reveal that tragical adventure. "Good God," exclaimed the governor, "thy judgments are incomprehensible, and we ought to submit to them without murmuring. I receive, with entire submission, the stroke thou hast been pleased to inflict upon me." Then directing his discourse to me: "My son," said he, "having now heard the cause of your disgrace, for which I am truly concerned, I will give you an account of the affliction which has befallen myself. Know then, that I am the father of both the young ladies you were speaking of. The first lady, who had the impudence to come to your house, was my eldest daughter. I had given her in marriage at Cairo to one of her cousins, my brother's son. Her husband died, and she returned home corrupted by every vice too often contracted in Egypt. Before I took her home, her younger sister, who died in that deplorable manner in your arms, was a truly virtuous girl, and had never given me any occasion to complain of her conduce. But after that, the elder sister became very intimate with her, and insensibly made her as wicked as herself. The day after the death of the younger not finding her at home, I asked her elder sister what was become of her; but she, instead of answering, affected to weep bitterly; from whence I formed a fatal presage. I pressed her to inform me of what she knew respecting her sister Father,' replied she, sobbing, I can tell you no more than that my sister put on yesterday her richest dress, with her valuable pearl necklace, went out, and has not been heard of since.' I searched for her all over the town, but could learn nothing of her unhappy fate. In the mean time the elder, who doubtless repented of her jealous fury, became melancholy, and incessantly bewailed the death of her sister; she denied her self all manner of food, and so put an end to her deplorable days. Such is the condition of mankind! such are the misfortunes to which we are exposed! However, my son," added he, "since we are both of us equally unfortunate, let us unite our sorrow, and not abandon one another. I will give you in marriage a third daughter I have still left, she is younger than her sisters, and in no respect imitates their conduct; besides, she is handsomer, and I assure you is of a disposition calculated to make you happy. You shall have no other house but mine, and, after my death, you and she shall be heirs to all my property." "My lord," I replied, "I am overcome by your favours, and shall never be able to make a sufficient acknowledgment." "Enough," said he, interrupting me, "let us not waste time in idle words." He then called for witnesses, ordered the contract of marriage to be drawn, and I became the husband of his third daughter. He was not satisfied with punishing the jeweller, who had falsely accused me, but confiscated for my use all his property, which was very considerable. As for the rest, since you have been called to the governor's house, you may have seen what respect they pay me there. I must tell you further, that a person despatched by my uncles to Egypt, on purpose to inquire for me there, passing through this city found me out last night, and delivered me a letter from them. They inform me of my father's death, and invite me to come and take possession of his property at Moussol. But as the alliance and friendship of the governor have fixed me here, and will not suffer me to leave him, I have sent back the express with a power, which will secure to me my inheritance. After what you have heard, I hope you will pardon my seeming incivility during the course of my illness, in giving you my left instead of my right hand.
" This," said the Jewish physician, "is the story I heard from the young man of Moussol. I continued at Damascus as long as the governor lived; after his death, being still in the vigour of my age, I had the curiosity to travel. Accordingly I went through Persia to the Indies, and came at last to settle in this your capital, where I have practised physic with reputation."
The sultan of Casgar was well pleased with this story. "I must confess," said he to the Jew, "the story you have told me is very singular; but I declare freely, that of the little hump-back is: yet more extraordinary, and much more diverting; so you are not to expect that I will give you your life, any more than the rest. I will have you all four executed." "Pray, sir, stay a minute," said the tailor, advancing, and prostrating himself at the sultan's feet. "Since your majesty loves pleasant stories, I have one to tell you that will not displease you." "Well, I will hear thee too," said the sultan; "but do not flatter thyself that I will suffer thee to live, unless thou tellest me some adventure that is yet more diverting than that of my hump-backed jester." Upon this the tailor, as if he had been sure of success, spoke boldly to the following purpose.
The Story told by the Tailor.
A citizen of this city did me the honour two days ago to invite me to an entertainment, which he was to give to his friends yesterday morning. Accordingly I went early, and found there about twenty persons.
The master of the house was gone out upon some business, but in a short time returned, and brought with him a young man, a stranger, very well dressed, and handsome, but lame. When he entered, we all rose, and out of respect to the master of the house, invited the young man to sit down with us upon the estrade. He was going to comply; but suddenly perceiving a barber in our company, flew backwards, and made towards the door. The master of the house, surprised at his behaviour, stopped him. "Where are you going?" demanded he. "I bring you along with me to do me the honour of being my guest among the rest of my friends, and you are no sooner got into my house, than you are for running away." "Sir," replied the young man, "for God's sake do not stop me, let me go, I cannot without horror look upon that abominable barber, who, though he was born in a country where all the natives are white, resembles an Ethiopian; and his soul is yet blacker and more horrible than his face."
We were all surprised to hear the young man speak in this manner, and began to have a very bad opinion of the barber, without knowing what ground the young man had for what he said. Nay, we protested we would not suffer any one to remain in our company, who bore so horrid a character. The master of the house intreated the stranger to tell us what reason he had for hating the barber. "Gentlemen," resumed the young man, "you must know this cursed barber is the cause of my being lame, and having fallen into the most ridiculous and teasing situation you can imagine. For this reason I have sworn to avoid all the places where he is, and even not to stay in the cities where he resides. It was for this reason that I left Bagdad, where he then dwelt; and travelled so far to settle in this city, at the extremity of Tartary; a place where I flattered myself I should never see him. And now, after all, contrary to my expectation, I find him here. This obliges me, gentlemen, against my will, to deprive myself of the honour of being merry with you. This very day I shall take leave of your town, and go, if I can, to hide my head where he cannot come." This said, he would have left us, but the master of the house earnestly intreated him to stay, and tell us the cause of his aversion for the barber, who all this while looked down and said not a word. We joined with the master of the house in his request; and at last the young man, yielding to our importunities, sat down; and, after turning his back on the barber, that he might not see him, gave us the following narrative of his adventures. My father's quality might have entitled him to the highest posts in the city of Bagdad, but he always preferred a quiet life to the honours of a public station. I was his only child, and when he died I had finished my education, and was of age to dispose of the plentiful fortune he had left me; which I did not squander away foolishly, but applied to such uses as obtained for me everybody's respect. I had not yet been disturbed by any passion: I was so far from being sensible of love, that I bashfully avoided the conversation of women. One day, walking in the streets, I saw a large party of ladies before me; and that I might not meet them, I turned down a narrow lane, and sat down upon a bench by a door. I was placed opposite a window, where stood a pot of beautiful flowers, on which I had my eyes fixed, when the window opened, and a young lady appeared, whose beauty struck me. Immediately she fixed her eyes upon me; and in watering the flowerpot with a hand whiter than alabaster, looked upon me with a smile, that inspired me with as much love for her as I had formerly aversion for all women. After having watered her flowers, and darted upon me a glance full of charms that pierced my heart, she shut the window, and left me in inconceivable perplexity, from which I should not have recovered, if a noise in the street had not brought me to myself. I lifted up my head, and turning, saw the first cauzee of the city, mounted on a mule, and attended by five or six servants: he alighted at the door of the house, where the young lady had opened the window, and went in; from whence I concluded he was her father. I went home in an altered state of mind; agitated by a passion the more violent, as I had never felt its assaults before: I retired to bed in a violent fever, at which all the family were much concerned. My relations, who had a great affection for me, were so alarmed by the sudden disorder, that they importuned me to tell the cause; which I took care not to discover. My silence created an uneasiness that the physicians could not dispel, because they knew nothing of my distemper, and by their medicines rather inflamed than checked it. My relations began to despair of my life, when an old lady of our acquaintance, hearing I was ill, came to see me. She considered me with great attention, and after having examined me, penetrated, I know not how, into the real cause of my illness. She took my relations aside, and desired all my people would retire out of the room, and leave her with me alone.
When the room was clear, she sat down on the side of my bed. "My son," said she, "you have obstinately concealed the cause of your illness; but you have no occasion to reveal it to me. I have experience enough to penetrate into a secret; you will not deny when I tell you it is love that makes you sick. I can find a way to cure you, if you will but inform me who that happy lady is, that could move a heart so insensible as yours; for you have the character of a woman-hater, and I was not the last who perceived that such was your disposition; but what I foresaw has come to pass, and I am now glad of the opportunity to employ my talents in relieving your pain."
The old lady having thus spoken, paused, expecting my answer; but though what she had said had made a strong impression upon me, I durst not lay open to her the bottom of my heart; I only turned to her, and heaved a deep sigh, without replying a word. "Is it bashfulness," said she, "that keeps you silent? Or is it want of confidence in me? Do you doubt the effect of my promise? I could mention to you a number of young men of your acquaintance, who have been in the same condition with yourself, and have received relief from me."
The good lady told me so many more circumstances that I broke silence, declared to her my complaint, pointed out to her the place where I had seen the object which occasioned it, and unravelled all the circumstances of my adventure. "If you succeed," added I, "and procure me the happiness of seeing that charming beauty, and revealing to her the passion with which I burn for her, you may depend upon it I will be grateful." "My son," replied the old woman, "I know the lady you speak of; she is, as you rightly judged, the daughter of the first cauzee of this city: I am not surprised that you are in love with her. She is the handsomest and most lovely lady in Bagdad, but very proud, and of difficult access. You know how strict our judges are, in enjoining the punctual observance of the severe laws that confine women; and they are yet more strict in the observation of them in their own families; the cauzee you saw is more rigid in that point than any of the other magistrates. They are always preaching to their daughters what a heinous crime it is to shew themselves to men; and the girls themselves are so prepossessed with the notion, that they make no other use of their own eves but to conduct them along the street, when necessity obliges them to go abroad. I do not say absolutely that the first cauzee's daughter is of that humour; but that does not hinder my fearing to meet with as great obstacles on her side, as on her father's. Would to God you had loved any other, then I should not have had so many difficulties to surmount. However, I will employ all my wits to compass the matter; but it requires time. In the mean while take courage and trust to me."
The old woman took leave; and as I weighed within myself all the obstacles she had been talking of, the fear of her not succeeding in her undertaking inflamed my disorder. Next day she came again, and I read in her countenance that she had no favourable news to impart. She spoke thus: "My son, I was not mistaken, I have somewhat else to conquer besides the vigilance of a father. You love an insensible object, who takes pleasure in making every one miserable who suffers himself to be charmed by her; she will not deign them the least comfort: she heard me with pleasure, when I spoke of nothing but the torment she made you undergo; but I no sooner opened my mouth to engage her to allow you to see her, and converse with her, but casting at me a terrible look, You are very presumptuous,' said she, to make such a proposal to me; I charge you never to insult me again with such language.'
"Do not let this cast you down," continued she; "I am not easily disheartened, and am not without hope but I shall compass my end." To shorten my story, this good woman made several fruitless attacks in my behalf on the proud enemy of my rest. The vexation I suffered inflamed my distemper to that degree, that my physicians gave me over. I was considered as a dead man, when the old woman came to recall me to life.
That no one might hear what was said, she whispered in my ear; "Remember the present you owe for the good news I bring you." These words produced a marvellous effect; I raised myself up in the bed, and with transport replied, "You shall not go without a present; but what is the news you bring me?" "Dear sir," said she "you shall not die; I shall speedily have the pleasure to see you in perfect health, and very well satisfied with me. Yesterday I went to see the lady you love, and found her in good humour. As soon as I entered, I put on a sad countenance heaved many deep sighs, and began to squeeze out some tears. My good mother,' demanded she what is the matter with you, why are you so cast down?' Alas, my dear and honourable lady,' I replied, I have just been with the young gentleman of whom I spoke to you the other day, who is dying on your account.' I am at a loss to know,' said she, how you make me to be the cause of his death. How can I have contributed to it?' How?' replied I; did not you tell me the other day, that he sat down before your window when you opened it to water your flower-pot? He then saw that prodigy of beauty, those charms that your mirror daily represents to you. From that moment he languished, and his disorder has so increased, that he is reduced to the deplorable condition I have mentioned.'
"You well remember,' added I, how harshly you treated me at our last interview; when I was speaking to you of his illness, and proposing a way to save him from the threatened consequences of his complaint. After I left you I went directly to his house, and he no sooner learnt from my countenance that I had brought no favourable answer than his distemper increased. From that time, madam, he has been at the point of death; and I doubt whether your compassion would not now come too late to save his life.' The fear of your death alarmed her, and I saw her face change colour. Is your account true?' she asked. Has he actually no other disorder than what is occasioned by his love of me?' Ah, madam!' I replied, it is too true; would it were false!' Do you believe,' said she, that the hopes of seeing me would at all contribute to rescue him from his danger?' I answered, Perhaps it may, and if you will permit me, I will try the remedy.'? Well,' resumed she, sighing, give him hopes of seeing me; but he must pretend to no other favours, unless he aspire to marry me, and obtains my father's consent.' Madam,' replied I. your goodness overcomes me; I will instantly seek the young gentleman, and tell him he is to have the pleasure of an interview with you.' The best opportunity I can think of,' said she, for granting him that favour, will be next Friday at the hour of noon prayers. Let him observe when my father goes out, and then, if his health permits him to be abroad, come and place himself opposite the house. I shall then see him from my window, and will come down and open the door for him: we will converse together during prayer-time; but he must depart before my father returns.'
"It is now Tuesday," continued the old lady "you have the interval between this and Friday to recover your strength, and make the necessary dispositions for the interview." While the good old lady was speaking, I felt my illness decrease, or rather, by the time she had done, I found myself perfectly recovered. "Here, take this," said I, reaching out to her my purse, which was full, "it is to you alone that I owe my cure. I reckon this money better employed than all that I gave the physicians, who have only tormented me during my illness."
When the lady was gone, I found I had strength enough to get up: and my relations finding me so well, complimented me on the occasion, and went home.
On Friday morning the old woman came, just as I was dressing, and choosing out the richest clothes in my wardrobe, said, "I do not ask you how you are, what you are about is intimation enough of your health; but will not you bathe before you go?" "That will take up too much time," I replied; "I will content myself with sending for a barber, to shave my head." Immediately I ordered one of my slaves to call a barber that could do his business cleverly and expeditiously.
The slave brought me the wretch you see here, who came, and after saluting me, said, "Sir, you look as if you were not well." I told him I was just recovered from a fit of sickness. "May God," resumed he, "deliver you from all mischance; may his grace always go along with you." "I hope he will grant your wish, for which I am obliged to you." "Since you are recovering from a fit of sickness," he continued, "I pray God preserve your health; but now let me know what I am to do; I have brought my razors and my lancets, do you desire to be shaved or to be bled?" I replied, "I am just recovered from a fit of sickness, and you may readily judge I only want to be shaved: come, do not lose time in prattling; for I am in haste, and have an appointment precisely at noon."
The barber spent much time in opening his case, and preparing his razors Instead of putting water into the basin, he took a very handsome astrolabe out of his case, and went very gravely out of my room to the middle of the court to take the height of the sun: he returned with the same grave pace, and entering my room, said, "Sir, you will be pleased to know this day is Friday the 18th of the moon Suffir, in the year 653, from the retreat of our great prophet from Mecca to Medina, and in the year 7320 of the epocha of the great Iskender with two horns; and that the conjunction of Mars and Mercury signifies you cannot choose a better time than this very day and hour for being shaved. But, on the other hand, the same conjunction is a bad presage to you. I learn from it, that this day you run a great risk, not indeed of losing your life, but of an inconvenience which will attend you while you live. You are obliged to me for the advice I now give you, to avoid this accident; I shall be sorry if it befall you."
You may guess, gentlemen, how vexed I was at having fallen into the hands of such a prattling, impertinent fellow; what an unseasonable adventure was it for a lover preparing for an interview with his mistress! I was quite irritated. "I care not," said I, in anger, "for your advice and predictions; I did not call you to consult your astrology; you came hither to shave me; shave me, or begone." "I will call another barber, sir," replied he, with a coolness that put me out of all patience; "what reason have you to be angry with me? You do not know, that all of my profession are not like me; and that if you made it your business to search, you would not find such another. You only sent for a barber; but here, in my person, you have the best barber in Bagdad, an experienced physician, a profound chemist, an infallible astrologer, a finished grammarian, a complete orator, a subtle logician, a mathematician perfectly well versed in geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and all the refinements of algebra; an historian fully master of the histories of all the kingdoms of the universe. Besides, I understand all parts of philosophy. I have all our sacred traditions by heart. I am a poet, I am an architect; and what is it I am not? There is nothing in nature hidden from me. Your deceased father, to whose memory I pay a tribute of tears every time I think of him, was fully convinced of my merit; he was fond of me, and spoke of me in all companies as the first man in the world. Out of gratitude and friendship for him, I am willing to attach myself to you, to take you under my protection, and guard you from all the evils that your stars may threaten."
When I heard all this jargon, I could not forbear laughing, notwithstanding my anger. "You impertinent prattler!" said I, "will you have done, and begin to shave me?"
"Sir," replied the barber, "you affront me in calling me a prattler; on the contrary, all the world gives me the honourable title of Silent. I had six brothers, whom you might justly have called prattlers. These indeed were impertinent chatterers, but for me, who am a younger brother, I am grave and concise in my discourse."
For God's sake, gentlemen, do but suppose you had been in my place. What could I say when I saw myself so cruelly delayed? "Give him three pieces of gold," said I to the slave who was my housekeeper, "and send him away, that he may disturb me no more; I will not be shaved this day." "Sir," said the barber, "pray what do you mean? I did not come to seek for you, you sent for me; and as that is the case I swear by the faith of a Moosulmaun, I will not stir out of these doors till I have shaved you. If you do not know my value, it is not my fault. Your deceased father did me more justice. Every time he sent for me to let him blood, he made me sit down by him, and was charmed with hearing what witty things I said. I kept him in a continual strain of admiration; I elevated him; and when I had finished my discourse, My God,' he would exclaim, you are an inexhaustible source of science, no man can reach the depth of your knowledge.' My dear sir,' I would answer, you do me more honour than deserve. If I say anything that is worth hearing, it is owing to the favourable audience you vouchsafe me; it is your liberality that inspires me with the sublime thoughts which have the happiness to please you.' One day, when he was charmed with an admirable discourse I had made him, he said, Give him a hundred pieces of gold, and invest him with one of my richest robes.' I instantly received the present. I then drew his horoscope, and found it the happiest in the world. Nav. I carried my gratitude further; I let him blood with cupping-glasses."
This was not all; he spun out another harangue that was a full half hour long. Tired with hearing him, and fretted at the loss of time, which was almost spent before I was half ready, I did not know what to say. "It is impossible," I exclaimed, "there should be such another man in the world who takes pleasure, as you do, in making people mad."
I thought I might perhaps succeed better if I dealt mildly with my barber. "In the name of God," said I, "leave off talking, and shave me directly: business of the last importance calls me, as I have already told you." At these words he fell a laughing: "It would be fortunate," said he, "if our minds were always in the same state; if we were always wise and prudent. I am willing, however, to believe, that if you are angry with me, it is your disorder that has caused the change in your temper, for which reason you stand in need of some instructions, and you cannot do better than follow the example of your father and grandfather. They came and consulted me upon all occasions, and I can say, without vanity, that they always highly prized my advice. Pray observe, sir, men never succeed in their undertakings without the counsel of persons of understanding. A man cannot, says the proverb, be wise without receiving advice from the wise. I am entirely at service, and you have only to command me."
"What! cannot I prevail with you then," I demanded,, interrupting him, "to leave off these long speeches, that tend to nothing but to distract my head, and detain me from my business? Shave me, I say, or begone:" with that I started up in anger, stamping my foot against the ground.
When he saw I was in earnest, he said, "Sir, do not be angry, we are going to begin." He lathered my head, and began to shave me; but had not given four strokes with his razor before he stopped, and addressed me, "Sir, you are hasty, you should avoid these transports that only come from the devil. I am entitled to some consideration on account of my age, my knowledge, and my great virtues."
"Go on and shave me," said I, interrupting him again, "and talk no more." "That is to say," replied he, "you have some urgent business to go about; I will lay you a wager I guess right." "Why I told you two hours ago," I returned, "you ought to have shaved me before." "Moderate your passion," replied he; "perhaps you have not maturely weighed what you are going about; when things are done precipitately, they are generally repented of. I wish you would tell me what mighty business this is you are so earnest upon. I would tell you my opinion of it; besides, you have time enough, since your appointment is not till noon, and it wants three hours of that yet." "I do not mind that," said I; "persons of honour and of their word are rather before their time than after. But I forget that by reasoning with you, I give into the faults of you prattling barbers; have done, have done; shave me."
The more haste I was in, the less speed he made. He laid down the razor, and took up his astrolabe; then laid down his astrolabe, and took up his razor again.
The barber quitted his razor again, and took up his astrolabe a second time; and so left me half shaved, to go and see precisely what hour it was. Back he came, and exclaimed, "Sir, I knew I was not mistaken, it wants three hours of noon. I am sure of it, or else all the rules of astronomy are false." "Just heaven!" cried I, "my patience is exhausted, I can bear this no longer. You cursed barber, you barber of mischief, I can scarcely forbear falling upon you and strangling you." "Softly, sir," said he, very calmly, without being moved by my anger: "are you not afraid of a relapse? Be not in a passion, I am going to shave you this minute." In speaking these words, he clapped his astrolabe in his case, took up his razor, and passing it over the strap which was fixed to his belt, fell to shaving me again; but all the while he was thus employed, the dog could not forbear prattling. "If you would be pleased, sir," said he, "to tell me what the business is you are going about at noon, I could give you some advice that might be of use to you." To satisfy the fellow, I told him I was going to meet some friends at an entertainment at noon, to make merry with me on the recovery of ray health.
When the barber heard me talk of regaling; "God bless you this day, as well as all other days!" he cried: "you put me in mind that yesterday I invited four or five friends to come and eat with me as this day; indeed I had forgotten the engagement, and have made no preparation for them." "Do not let that trouble you," said I; "though I dine abroad, my larder is always well furnished. I make you a present of all that it contains; and besides, I will order you as much wine as you have occasion for; I have excellent wine in my cellar; only you must hasten to finish shaving me: and pray remember, as my father made you presents to encourage you to speak, I give you mine to induce you to be silent."
He was not satisfied with my promise, but exclaimed, "God reward you, sir, for your kindness: pray shew me these provisions now, that I may see if there will be enough to entertain my friends. I would have them satisfied with the good fare I make them." "I have," said I, "a lamb, six capons, a dozen chickens, and enough to make four courses." I ordered a slave to bring all before him, with four great pitchers of wine. "It is very well," returned the barber; "but we shall want fruit, and sauce for the meat." These I ordered likewise; but then he left off shaving, to look over every thing one after another; and this survey lasted almost half an hour. I raged and stormed like a madman; but it signified nothing, the wretch made no more haste. However, he took up his razor again, and shaved me for some minutes; then stopping suddenly, exclaimed, "I could not have believed, sir, that you would have been so liberal; I begin to perceive that your deceased father lives again in you. Most certainly, I do not deserve the favours with which you have loaded me; and I assure you I shall have them in perpetual remembrance; for, sir, to let you know, I have nothing but what I obtain from the generosity of such gentlemen as you: in which respect, I am like to Zantout, who rubs the people in the baths; to Sali, who cries boiled peas in the streets; to Salout, who sells beans; to Akerscha, who sells greens; to Aboumecarez, who sprinkles the streets to lay the dust; and to Cassem, the caliph's lifeguard man. Of all these persons, not one is apt so be melancholy; they are neither impertinent nor quarrelsome; they are more contented with their lot, than the caliph in the midst of his court; they are always gay, ready to sing and dance, and have each of them their peculiar song and dance, with which they divert the city of Bagdad; but what I esteem most in them is, that they are no great talkers, any more than your slave, that has bow the honour to speak to you. Here, sir, is the song and dance of Zantout, who rubs the people in the baths; mind me, pray, and see if I do not imitate it exactly."
The barber sung the song, and danced the dance of Zantout; and let me say what I could to oblige him to finish his buffooneries, he did not cease till he had imitated, in like manner, the songs and dances of the other persons he had named. "After that," addressing himself to me, "I am going," said he, "to invite all these honest men to my house; if you will take my advice you will join us, and disappoint your friends, who perhaps are great talkers. They will only teaze you to death with their impertinent discourse, and make you relapse into a disorder worse than that from which you are so lately recovered; whereas at my house you shall have nothing but pleasure."
Notwithstanding my anger, I could not forbear laughing at the fellow's impertinence. "I wish I had no business upon my hands," I replied, "I would accept your invitation, and go with all my heart to partake of your entertainment; but I beg to be excused, I am too much engaged; another day I shall be more at leisure, and then we will make up the same party. Come, finish shaving me, and make haste home; perhaps your friends are already arrived at your house." "Sir," replied he, "do not refuse me the favour I ask of you; were you but once in our company, it would afford you so much pleasure as abundantly to compensate you for forsaking your friends." "Let us talk no more of that," said I; "I cannot be your guest."
I found I gained no ground by mild terms. "Since you will not come to my house," replied the barber, "you must allow me to go along with you: I will carry these things to my house, where my friends may eat of them if they like, and I will return immediately; I would not be so uncivil as to leave you alone. You deserve this piece of complaisance at my hands." "Heavens!" cried I, "then I shall not get clear of this troublesome fellow to-day. In the name of the living God, leave off your unreasonable jargon; go to your friends, drink, eat, and be merry with them, and leave me at liberty to go to mine. I must go alone, I have no occasion for company; besides, I must needs tell you, the place to which I go is not one where you can be received." "You jest, sir," said he; "if your friends have invited you to a feast, what should prevent you from allowing me to go with you? You will please them, I am sure, by introducing to them a man who can talk wittily like me, and knows how to divert company. But say what you will, I am determined to accompany you."
These words, gentlemen, perplexed me much. "How," thought I, "shall I get rid of this cursed barber? If I persist in contradicting him, we shall never have done."
Besides, I heard at this instant the first call to noon-prayers, and it was time for me to go. In fine, I resolved to say nothing, and to make as if I consented to his accompanying me. He then finished shaving me, and I said to him, "Take some of my servants to carry these provisions along with you, and return hither; I will stay for you, and shall not go without you."
At last he went, and I dressed myself as expeditiously as I could. I heard the last call to prayers, and hastened to set out: but the malicious barber, who guessed my intention, went with my servants only within sight of the house and stood there till he saw them enter it, after which he concealed himself at the corner of the street, with an intent to observe and follow me. In fine, when I arrived at the cauzee's door, I looked back and saw him at the head of the street which alarmed me to the last degree.
The cauzee's door was half open, and as I went in I saw an old woman waiting for me, who, after she had shut the door, conducted me to the chamber of the young lady who was the object of my love; but we had scarcely begun to converse, when we heard a noise in the streets. The young lady put her head to the window, and saw through the gate that it was her father already returning from prayers. At the same time I looked, and saw the barber sitting over-against the house, on the bench from which I had first seen the young lady.
I had then two things to fear, the arrival of the cauzee, and the presence of the barber. The young lady mitigated my apprehension on the first head, by assuring me the cauzee, came but seldom to her chamber, and as she had forseen that this misadventure might happen, she had contrived a way to convey me out safely: but the indiscretion of the accursed barber made me very uneasy; and you shall hear that my uneasiness was not without ground.
As soon as the cauzee was come in, he caned one of his slaves, who had deserved chastisement. This slave made a horrid noise, which was heard in the streets; the barber thought it was I who cried out, and was maltreated. Prepossessed with this thought, he roared out aloud, rent his clothes, threw dust upon his head, and called the neighbourhood to his assistance. The neighbours collected, and asked what assistance he wanted? "Alas!" cried he, "they are assassinating my master, my dear patron;" and without saying anything more, he ran all the way to my house, with the very same cry in his mouth. From thence he returned, followed by all my domestics armed with sticks. They knocked with inconceivable fury at the door, and the cauzee sent slave to see what was the matter; but the slave being frightened, returned to his master, crying, "Sir, above ten thousand men are going to break into your house by force."
Immediately the cauzee himself ran, opened the door, and asked what they wanted. His venerable presence could not inspire them with respect. They insolently said to him, "You cursed cauzee, what reason have you to assassinate our master? What has he done to you?" "Good people," replied the magistrate, "for what should I assassinate your master, whom I do not know and who has done me no harm? my house is open to you, come and search." "You bastinadoed him," said the barber; "I heard his cries not a minute ago." "What harm could your master do to me," replied the cauzee, "to oblige me to abuse him at that rate? Is he in my house? If he is, how came he in, or who could have introduced him?" "Ah! wretched cauzee, cried the barber, "you and your long beard shall never make me believe you; I know your daughter is in love with our master, and appointed him a meeting during the time of noon-prayer, you without doubt have had notice of it, returned home, and surprised him, and made your slaves bastinado him: but this your wicked action shall not pass with impunity; the caliph shall be acquainted with it, and he will give true and brief justice. Let him come out, deliver him to us immediately; or if you do not, we will go in and take him out to your shame." "There is no occasion for so many words," replied the cauzee, "nor to make so great a noise: if what you say is true, go and find him out, I give you free liberty." Thereupon the barber and my domestics rushed into the house like furies, and looked for me all about.
As I heard all that the barber said to the cauzee, I sought for a place to conceal myself, and could find nothing but a large empty trunk, in which I lay down, and shut it upon me. The barber, after he had searched everywhere, came into the chamber where I was, and opened the trunk. As soon as he saw me, he took it upon his head and carried it away. He descended a high staircase into a court, which he crossed hastily, and at length reached the street door. While he was carrying me, the trunk unfortunately flew open, and not being able to endure the shame of being exposed to the view and shouts of the mob who followed us, I leaped out into the street with so much haste, that I have been lame ever since. I was not sensible of the hurt at first, and therefore got up quickly to avoid the people, who laughed at me; nay, I threw handfuls of gold and silver among them, and whilst they were gathering it up, I made my escape by cross streets and alleys. But the cursed barber followed me close, crying, "Stay, sir; why do you run so fast? If you knew how much I am afflicted at the ill treatment you received from the cauzee, you, who are so generous, and to whom I and my friends are so much obliged! Did I not tell you truly, that you would expose your life by your obstinate refusal to let me go with you? See what has happened to you, by your own fault; and if I had not resolutely followed, to see whither you went, what would have become of you? Whither do you go, sir? Stay for me."
Thus the barber cried aloud in the street it was not enough for him to have occasioned so great a scandal in the quarter where the cauzee lived, but he would have it known through the whole town. I was in such a rage, that I had a great mind to stop and cut his throat; but considering this would have perplexed me farther, I chose another course. Perceiving that his calling after me exposed me to vast numbers of people, who crowded to the doors or windows, or stopped in the street to gaze at me, I entered an inn, the chamberlain of which knew me, and finding him at the gate, whither the noise had brought him, I prayed him, for the sake of heaven, to hinder that madman from coming in after me. He promised to do so, and was as good as his word, but not without a great deal of trouble; for the obstinate barber would enter in spite of him, and did not retire without calling him a thousand names. After the chamberlain had shut the gate, the barber continued telling all he met what great service he had done me. Thus I rid myself of that troublesome fellow. After this, the chamberlain prayed me to tell him my adventure, which I did, and then desired him to let me have an apartment until I was cured . "But sir," said he, "will it not be more convenient for you to go home?" "I will not return thither," replied I: "for the detestable barber will continue plaguing me there, and I shall die of vexation to be continually teazed by him. Besides, after what has befallen me to-day, I cannot think of staying any longer in this town; I must go whither my ill-fortune leads me." Accordingly, when I was. cured, I took all the money I thought necessary for my travels, and divided the rest of my property among my kindred.
Thus, gentlemen, I left Bagdad, and came hither. I had ground to hope that I should not meet this pernicious barber in a country so far from my own, and yet I find him amongst you. Be not surprised then at my haste to be gone: you may easily judge how unpleasant to me is the sight of a man who was the occasion of my lameness, and of my being reduced to the melancholy necessity of living so far from my kindred, friends, and country.
When he had spoken these words, the lame young man rose up and went out; the master of the house conducted him to the gate, and told him, he was sorry that he had given him, though innocently, so great a subject of mortification.
When the young man was gone, continued the tailor, we were all astonished at the story, and turning to the barber, told him he was very much to-blame, if what we had just heard was true. "Gentlemen," answered he, raising up his head, which till then he had held down, "my silence during the young man's discourse is sufficient to testify that he advanced nothing that was not true: but for all that he has said to you, I maintain that I ought to have done what I did; I leave you to be judges. Did not he throw himself into danger, and could he have come off so well without my assistance? He may think himself happy to have escaped with the lame leg Did not I expose myself to greater danger to get him out of a house where I thought he was ill-treated? Has he any reason to complain of and abuse me? This is what one gets by serving unthankful people. He accuses me of being a prattling fellow, which is a mere slander: of seven brothers, I speak least, and have most wit to my share; and to convince you of this, gentlemen, I need only relate my own story and theirs. Honour me, I beseech you, with your attention."
The Story of the Barber.
In the reign of the caliph Mustunsir Billah, that is, seeking victory of God, a prince so famous for his liberality towards the poor, ten highwaymen infested the roads about Bagdad, and for a long time committed unheard-of robberies and cruelties. The caliph, having notice of this, sent for the judge of the police, some days before the feast of Bairam, and ordered him, on pain of death, to bring all the ten to him.
The judge of the police used so much diligence, and sent so many people in pursuit of the ten robbers, that they were taken on the very day of Bairam. I was walking at the time on the banks of the Tigris, and saw ten men richly appareled go into a boat. Had I but observed the guards who had them in custody, I might have concluded they were robbers; but my attention was fixed on the men themselves, and thinking they were people who designed to spend the festival in jollity, I entered the boat with them, hoping they would not object to my making one of the company. We descended the Tigris, and landed before the caliph's palace: I had by this time had leisure to reflect, and to discover my mistake. When we quitted the boat, we were surrounded by a new troop of the judge of the police's guard, who bound us all, and carried us before the caliph. I suffered myself to be bound as well as the rest, without speaking one word: for what would it have availed to have spoken, or made any resistance? That had been the way to have got myself ill-treated by the guards, who would not have listened to me, for they are brutish fellows, who will hear no reason: I was with the robbers, and that was enough to make them believe me to be one of their number.
When we had been brought before the caliph, he ordered the ten highwaymen's heads to be cut off immediately. The executioner drew us up in a file within reach of his arm, and by good fortune I was placed last. He cut off the heads of the ten highwaymen, beginning at the first; and when he came to me, he stopped. The caliph perceiving that he did not strike me, grew angry: "Did not I command thee," said he, "to cut off the heads of ten highwaymen, and why hast thou cut off but nine?" "Commander of the faithful," he replied, "Heaven preserve me from disobeying your majesty's orders: here are ten bodies upon the ground, and as many heads which I have cut off; your majesty may count them." When the caliph saw that what the executioner said was true, he looked at me with amazement, and perceiving that I had not the face of a highwayman, said to me, "Good old man, how came you to be among those wretches, who have deserved a thousand deaths?" I answered, "Commander of the faithful, I will make a true confession. This morning I saw those ten persons, whose punishment is a proof of your majesty's justice, take boat: I embarked with them, thinking they were men going to celebrate this day, which is the most distinguished in our religion." The caliph could not forbear laughing at my adventure; and instead of treating me as a prattling fellow, as this lame young man did, he admired my discretion and taciturnity. "Commander of the faithful," I resumed, "your majesty need not wonder at my silence on such an occasion, as would have made another apt to speak. I make a particular profession of holding my peace, and on that account have acquired the glorious title of Silent; by which I am distinguished from my six brothers. This is the effect of my philosophy; and, in a word, in this virtue consists my glory and happiness." "I am glad," said the caliph, smiling, "that they gave you a title which you know so well how to use. But tell me what sort of men were your brothers, were they like you?" "By no means," I replied; "they were all of them loquacious, prating fellows. And as to their persons, there was still a greater difference betwixt them and me. The first was hump-backed; the second had rotten teeth; the third had but one eye; the fourth was blind; the fifth had his ears cut off; and the sixth had hare-lips. They had met with such adventures as would enable you to judge of their characters, had I the honour of relating them to your majesty:" and the caliph seemed desirous to hear their several stories, I went on without waiting his commands.
The Story of the Barber's Eldest Brother.
My eldest brother, whose name was Bacbouc the hump-back, was a tailor: when he came out of his apprenticeship, he hired a shop opposite a mill, and having but very little business, could scarcely maintain himself. The miller, on the contrary, was very wealthy, and had a handsome wife. One day as my brother was at work in his shop, he saw the miller's wife looking out of the window, and was charmed with her beauty. The woman took no notice of him, but shut her window, and made her appearance no more that day The poor tailor did nothing all day long but lift up his eyes towards the mill. He pricked his finger oftener than once, and his work was not very regular. At night, when he was to shut his shop, he could scarcely tell how to do it, because he still hoped the miller's wife would once more come to the window; but at last he was forced to shut up, and go home, where he passed but a very uncomfortable night. He arose betimes in the morning, and ran to his shop, in hopes to see his mistress; but he was no happier than the day before, for the miller's wife did not appear at the window above a minute in the course of the day, but that minute made the tailor the most amorous man that ever lived. The third day he had more ground of satisfaction, for the miller's wife cast her eyes upon him by chance, and surprised him as he was gazing at her, which convinced her of what passed in his mind.
No sooner did the miller's wife perceive my brother's inclination, than, instead of allowing it to excite her resentment, she resolved to divert herself with it. She looked at him with a smiling countenance, and my brother returned her smile, but in so ludicrous a way, that the miller's wife hastily shut her window, lest her loud laughter should make him sensible that she only ridiculed him. Poor Bacbouc interpreted her carriage to his own advantage, and flattered himself that she looked upon him with pleasure.
The miller's wife resolved to have sport with my brother: she had a piece of very fine stuff, with which she had a long time designed to make a vest; she wrapped it up in a fine embroidered silk handkerchief, and sent it to him by a young slave whom she kept; who being taught her lesson, went to the tailor's shop, and told him, "My mistress gives you her service, and prays you to make her a vest of this stuff according to this pattern; she changes her dress often, so that her custom will be profitable to you." My brother doubted not but the miller's wife loved him, and thought she had sent him work so soon after what had passed betwixt them, only to signify that she knew his mind, and convince him that he had obtained her favour. He charged the slave to tell her mistress, that he would lay aside all work for hers and that the vest should be ready next morning. He worked at it with so much diligence, that he finished it in the course of the same day. Next morning the young slave came to see if the vest was ready. Bacbouc delivered it to her neatly folded up, telling her, "I am too much concerned to please your mistress to neglect her work; I would engage her by my diligence to employ no other than myself for the time to come." The young slave went some steps as if she had intended to go away, and then coming back, whispered to my brother, "I had forgotten part of my commission; my mistress charged me to make her compliments to you, and to ask how you passed the night; as for her, poor woman, she loves you to that degree that she could not sleep." "Tell her," answered my silly brother, "I have so strong a passion for her, that for these four nights I have not slept one wink." After such a compliment from the miller's wife, my brother thought she would not let him languish long in expectation of her favours.
About a quarter of an hour after, the slave returned to my brother with a piece of satin: "My mistress," said she, "is very well pleased with her vest, nothing in the world can fit her better, and as it is very handsome, she will not wear it without a new pair of drawers; she prays you to make her one, as soon as you can, of this piece of satin." "Enough," said Bacbouc, "I will do it before I leave my shop: you shall have it in the evening." The miller's wife shewed herself often at her window, and was very prodigal of her charms, to encourage my brother. You would have laughed to see him work. The pair of drawers was soon made, and the slave came for it, but brought the tailor no money, neither for the trimming he had bought for the vest, nor for the making. In the mean time, this unfortunate lover, whom they only amused, though he could not see it, had eaten nothing all that day, and was forced to borrow money at night to buy his supper. Next morning, as soon as he arrived at his shop, the young slave came to tell him that the miller wanted to speak to him. "My mistress," said she, "spoke to him so much in your praise, when she shewed him your work, that he has a mind you should work for him also; she does this on purpose, that the connection she wishes to form betwixt you and him may crown your mutual wishes with success." My brother was easily persuaded, and went to the mill with the slave. The miller received him very kindly, and shewed him a piece of cloth, and told him he wanted shirts, bade him make it into twenty, and return him again what was left.
My brother had work enough for five or six days to make twenty shirts for the miller, who afterwards gave him another piece of cloth to make him as many pair of drawers. When they were finished, Bacbouc carried them to the miller, who asked him what he must have for his pains. My brother answered, he would be content with twenty dirhems of silver. The miller immediately called the young slave, and bade her bring him his weights to see if his money was right. The slave, who had her lesson, looked at my brother with an angry countenance, to signify to him, that he would spoil all if he took money. He knew her meaning, and refused to take any, though he wanted it so much that he was forced to borrow some to buy the thread to sew the shirts and drawers. When he left the miller, he came to me to borrow money to purchase provisions, and told me they did not pay him. I gave him some copper money I had in my purse, and upon that he subsisted for some days. It is true, indeed, he lived upon nothing but broth, nor had he his fill of that.
One day he went to the miller, who was busy at his work, and thinking my brother came for money, offered him some; but the young slave being present, made him another sign not to take it, which he complied with, and told the miller he did not come for his money, but only to know how he did. The miller thanked him, and gave him an upper garment to make. Bacbouc carried it to him the next day. When the miller drew out his purse, the young slave gave my brother the usual sign, on which he said to the miller, "Neighbour, there is no haste, we will reckon another time;" so that the poor ninny went to his shop again, with three terrible distempers, love, hunger, and an empty purse. The miller's wife was not only avaricious, but ill-natured; for, not content with cheating my brother of his due, she provoked her husband to revenge himself upon him for making love to her, which they accomplished thus. The miller invited Bacbouc one night to supper, and after giving him a very sorry treat, said to him, "Brother, it is too late for you to return home, you had better stay here all night," and then took him to a place in the mill, where there was a bed; there he left him, and went to bed with his wife. About the middle of the night, the miller came to my brother, and said, "Neighbour, are you asleep? My mule is ill, and I have a quantity of corn to grind; you will do me a great kindness if you will turn the mill in her stead." Bacbouc, to shew his good nature, told him, he was ready to do him that service, if he would shew him how. The miller tied him by the middle in the mule's place, and whipping him soundly over the back, said to him, "Go on, neighbour." "Ho!" exclaimed my brother, "why do you beat me?" "It is to make you brisk," replied the miller, "for without a whip my mule will not go." Bacbouc was amazed at this treatment, but durst not complain. When he had gone five or six rounds, he would fain have rested; but the miller gave him a dozen sound lashes, saying, "Courage, neighbour! do not stop, pray; you must go on without taking breath, otherwise you will spoil my meal."
The miller obliged my brother to turn the mill thus all night. About break of day he left him without untying him, and went to his wife's chamber. Bacbouc continued there for some time, and at last the young slave came and untied him. "Ah!" said the treacherous wretch, "how my mistress and I pitied you! We had no hand in this wicked trick which her husband has played you." The wretched Bacbouc answered not a word, he was so much fatigued with work and blows; but crept home to his house, resolving never to think more of the miller's wife.
The telling of this story, continued the barber, made the caliph laugh. "Go home," said he to me, "I have ordered something to be given you to make up for the loss of the good dinner you expected." "Commander of the faithful," I replied, "I pray your majesty to let me stay till I have told the story of my other brothers." The caliph having signified by his silence that he was willing to hear me, I went on thus.
The Story of the Barber's Second Brother.
My second brother, who was called Backbarah the Toothless, going one day through the city, met in a distant street an old woman, who came up to him, and said, "I want one word with you, pray stop a moment." He did so, and asked what she would have. "If you have time to come with me," said she, "I will bring you into a stately palace, where you shall see a lady as fair as the day. She will receive you with much pleasure, and treat you with excellent wine. I need say no more." "But is what you say true?" demanded my brother. "I am no lying hussy," replied the old woman. "I say nothing to you but what is true. But hark, I have something to ask of you. You must be prudent, say but little, and be extremely polite." Backbarah agreed to all this. The old woman went on, and he followed her. They came to the gate of a great palace, where there was a number of officers and domestics. Some of them would have stopped my brother, but no sooner did the old woman speak to them than they let him pass. Then turning to my brother, she said to him, "You must remember that the young lady I bring you to loves good-nature and modesty, and cannot endure to be contradicted; if you please her in these respects, you may be sure to obtain of her what you please." Backbarah thanked her for this advice, and promised to follow it.
She brought him into a superb court, answerable to the magnificence of the palace. There was a gallery round it, and a garden in the middle. The old woman made him sit down on a handsome sofa, and bade him stay a moment, till she went to acquaint the young lady with his arrival.
My brother, who had never been in such a stately palace before, gazed on the fine things that he saw; and judging of his good fortune by the magnificence of the palace, he was scarcely able to contain himself for joy. In a short time he heard a great noise, occasioned by a troop of merry slaves, who came towards him with loud fits of laughter; and in the middle of them he perceived a young lady of extraordinary beauty, who was easily known to be their mistress by the respect they paid her. Backbarah, who expected private conversation with the lady, was extremely surprised when he saw so much company with her. In the mean time, the slaves, as they drew near, put on a grave countenance; and when the young lady came up to the sofa, my brother rose and made her a low obeisance. She took the upper seat, prayed him to sit down, and said to him with a smiling countenance, "I am much pleased to see you, and wish you all the happiness you can desire." "Madam," replied Backbarah, "I cannot desire a greater happiness than to be in your company." "You seem to be of a pleasant humour," said she, "and to be disposed to pass the time agreeably."
She commanded a collation to be brought; and immediately a table was covered with several baskets of fruit and sweetmeats. The lady sat down at the table with the slaves and my brother; and he being placed just opposite to her, when he opened his mouth to eat, she perceived he had no teeth; and taking notice of this to her slaves, she and they laughed heartily. Backbarah, from time to time, lifted up his head to look at her, and perceiving her laugh, concluded it was from the pleasure she derived from his company, and flattered himself that she would speedily send away her slaves, and remain with him alone. She guessed his thoughts, and amusing herself to flatter him in this mistake, addressed him in the most pleasant language, and presented him the best of every thing with her own hand. The entertainment being finished, they rose from the table; ten slaves took musical instruments, and began to play and sing, and others to dance. My brother, to please them, danced likewise, and the lady danced with them. After they had danced some time, they sat down to take breath, and the young lady calling for a glass of wine, looked upon my brother with a smiling countenance, to signify that she was going to drink his health. He rose and stood while she drank. When she had done instead of giving back the glass, she ordered it to be filled, and presented it to my brother, that he might pledge her.
My brother took the glass from the young lady's hand, which he kissed at the same time and stood and drank to her, in return for the favour she had done him. The lady then made him sit down by her, and began to caress him. She put her hand behind his head, and gave him some tips from time to time with her fingers: ravished with these favours, he thought himself the happiest man in the world, and felt disposed to kiss the charming lady, but durst not take that liberty before so many slaves, who had their eyes upon him, and laughed at their lady's wanton tricks. The young lady continued to tip him with her fingers, but at last gave him such a sound box on the ear, that he grew angry; the colour came into his face, and he rose up to remove to a greater distance from such a rude playfellow. Then the old woman, who brought him thither, gave him a look, to let him know that he was in the wrong, and that he had forgotten her advice, to be very complaisant. He owned his fault, and to make amends, went near the young lady again, pretending that he did not remove out of any ill-humour. She drew him by the arm, made him sit down by her, and gave him a thousand malicious squeezes. Her slaves took their part in the diversion; one gave poor Backbarah several fillips on the nose with all her might; another pulled him by the ears, as if she would have pulled them off; and others boxed him in a manner that might have made it appear they were not in jest. My brother bore all this with admirable patience, affecting a gay air, and looking at the old woman, said to her with a forced smile, "You told me, indeed, that I should find the lady perfectly kind, pleasant, and charming; I am mightily obliged to you!" "All this is nothing," replied the old woman; "let her go on, you will see other things by and by." Then the young lady said to him, "Brother, you are a brave man; I am glad to find you are so good-humoured and complaisant to bear with my little caprices, and that your humour is so conformable to mine." "Madam," replied Backbarah, who was charmed with this address, "l am no more at my own disposal, I am wholly yours, you may do with me as you please." "How you oblige me," returned the lady, "by such submission! I am well pleased with you, and would have you be so with me: bring him perfume, and rose-water." Upon this, two slaves went out and returned speedily, one with a silver casket, filled with the best of aloes wood, with which she perfumed him; and the other with rose-water, which she sprinkled on his face and hands. My brother was quite enraptured with this handsome treatment. After this ceremony, the young lady commanded the slaves, who had already played on their instruments and sung, to renew their concerts. They obeyed, and while they were thus employed, the lady called another slave, and ordered her to take my brother with her, and do what she knew, and bring him back to her again. Backbarah, who heard this order, got up quickly, and going to the old woman, who also rose to accompany him and the slave, prayed her to inform him what they were to do with him. "My mistress is only curious," replied the old woman softly; "she has a mind to see how you look in a woman's dress, and this slave, who is desired to take you with her, has orders to paint your eyebrows, to cut off your whiskers, and to dress you like a woman." "You may paint my eyebrows as much as you please," said my brother, "I consent to that, because I can wash it off again; but to shave me, you know I must not permit. How can I appear abroad again without moustaches?" "Beware of refusing what is asked of you," returned the old woman, you will spoil your fortune, which is now in as favourable a train as heart can wish. The lady loves you, and has a mind to make you happy; and will you, for a nasty whisker, renounce the most delicious favours that man can obtain?" Backbarah listened to the old woman, and without saying a word went to a chamber with the slave, where they painted his eyebrows with red, cut off his whiskers, and were going to do the like with his beard.. My brother's patience then began to fail: "Oh!" said he, "I will never part with my beard." The slave told him, that it was to no purpose to have parted with his whiskers, if he would not also part with his beard, which could never comport with "woman's dress; and she wondered that a man, who was upon the point of being loved by the finest lady in Bagdad, should be concerned about his beard. The old woman threatened him with the loss of the young lady's favour; so that at last he allowed them to do what they would. When he was dressed in female attire, they brought him before the young lady, who laughed so heartily when she saw him, that she fell backward on the sofa. The slaves laughed and clapped their hands, so that my brother was quite out of countenance. The young lady got up, and still laughing, said to him, "After so much complaisance, I should be very much to blame not to love you with all my heart: but there is one thing more you must do for me, and that is, to dance as we do." He obeyed, and the young lady and her slaves danced with him, laughing as if they had been mad. After they had danced some time, they all fell upon the poor wretch, and did so box and kick him, that he fell down like one out of his senses. The old woman helped him up again: and that he might not have time to think of his ill-treatment, bade him take courage, and whispered in his ear, that all his sufferings were at an end, and that he was just about to receive his reward.
The old woman continued her discourse to Backbarah thus: "You have only one thing more to do, and that is but a small one. You must know that my mistress has a custom, when she has drunk a little, as you see she has done to-day, to let no one that she loves come near her, except they be stripped to their shirt; and when they have done so, she takes a little advantage of them and begins running before them through the gallery, and from chamber to chamber, till they catch her. This is one more of her humours: what advantage soever she takes of you, considering your nimbleness, you will soon overtake her; strip yourself then to your shirt, undress yourself without ceremony."
My silly brother had done too much to hesitate at anything now. He undressed himself; and in the mean time the young lady was stripped to her shift and drawers, that she might run the more nimbly. When they were ready, the young lady took the advantage of twenty paces, and then began to run with surprising swiftness: my brother followed as fast as he could, the slaves in the mean time laughing heartily and clapping their hands. The young lady, instead of losing ground, gained upon my brother: she made him run two or three times round the gallery, and then entering a long dark passage, made her escape. Backbarah, who still followed, having lost sight of her in the passage, was obliged to slacken his pace, because of the darkness of the place: at last perceiving a light, he ran towards it, and went out at a door, which was immediately shut after him. You may imagine how he was surprised to find himself in a street inhabited by curriers, and they were no less surprised to see him in his shirt, his eyes painted red, and without beard or moustaches: they began to clap their hands and shout at him, and some of them ran after him and lashed his back with leather straps. They then took him and set him upon an ass which they met by chance, and carried him through the town exposed to the laughter of the people.
To complete his misfortune, as he went by the judge's house, he would needs know the cause of the tumult. The curriers told him, that they saw him come in that condition from the gate of the apartments of the grand vizier's women, which opened into their street; upon which the judge ordered unfortunate Backbarah to have a hundred blows with a cane on the soles of his feet, and sent him out of the town with orders never to return.
"Thus, commander of the faithful," said I to the caliph, "I have given an account of the adventure of my second brother, who did not know that our greatest ladies divert themselves sometimes by putting such tricks upon young people, who are so foolish as to be caught in the snare."
The barber, without breaking off, told the story of his third brother in the following manner.
The Story of the Barber's Third Brother.
Commander of the faithful, my third brother, whose name was Backbac, was blind, and his evil destiny reduced him to beg from door to door. He had been so long accustomed to walk through the streets alone, that he wanted none to lead him: he had a custom to knock at people's doors, and not to answer till they opened to him. One day he knocked thus, and the master of the house, who was alone, cried, "Who is there?" My brother made no answer, and knocked a second time: the master of the house asked again and again, "Who is there?" but to no purpose, no one answered; upon which he came down, opened the door, and asked my brother what he wanted? "Give me something for Heaven's sake," said Backbac. "You seem to be blind," replied the master of the house. "Yes, to my sorrow," answered my brother. "Give me your hand," resumed the master of the house. My brother did so, thinking he was going to give him alms; but he only took him by the hand to lead him up to his chamber. Backbac thought he had been carrying him to dine with him, as many other people had done. When they reached the chamber, the man let go his hand, and sitting down, asked him again what he wanted? "I have already told you," said Backbac, "that I want something for God's sake." "Good blind man," replied the master of the house, "all that I can do for you is to wish that God may restore you your sight." "You might have told me that at the door," replied my brother, "and not have given me the trouble to come up stairs." "And why, fool," said the man of the house, "do not you answer at first, when people ask you who is there? Why do you give any body the trouble to come and open the door when they speak to you?" "What will you do with me then?" asked my brother. "I tell you again," said the man of the house, "I have nothing to give you." "Help me down the stairs then, as you brought me up." "The stairs are before you," said the man of the house, "and you may go down by yourself if you will." My brother attempted to descend, but missing a step about the middle of the stairs, fell to the bottom and hurt his head and his back: he got up again with much difficulty, and went out cursing the master of the house. who laughed at his fall.