Page images

At these words the merchant, without seeming much abashed told him he was sorry he had offerded him; but that he thought freedom had been dearer to him than he found it was.

19. However, added he, as he turned his back, you will reflect upon my proposal, and perhaps by to-morrow you may change your mind. Hamet disdained to arswer, and the merchant went his way.

20. The next day, however, he returned in company with his son, and mildly accosted Hamet thus; The abruptness of the proposal I yesterday made you, might, perhaps, astonish you; but I am now come to discourse the matter more calmly with you, and I doubt not, when you have heard my reasons――

21. Christian, interrupted Hamet, with a severe, but composed countenance, cease at length to insult the miserable with proposals more shocking than even these chains. If thy religion permit such acts as those, know that they are execrable and abominable to the soul of every Mahometan; therefore, from this moment, let us break off all farther intercourse, and be strangers to each other.


22. No, answered the merchant, flinging himself into the arms of Hamet, let us from this moment be more closely linked than ever! Generous man, whose virtues may at once disarm and enlighter thy enemies! Fondness for my son first made me interested in thy fate; but from the moment that I saw thee yesterday, I determined to set thee free. Therefore, pardon me this unnecessary trial of thy virtue, which has only raised thee higher in my esteem.

23. Francisco has a soul which is averse to deeds of treachery and blood, as even Hamet himself. From this moment generous man, thou art free; thy ransom is already paid, with no other obligation than that of remembering the affection of this thy young and faithful friend; and perhaps, hereafter, when thou seest an unhappy Christian groaning in Turkish fetters, thy generosity may make thee think of Venice.

24. The feelings of Hamet at this unexpected deliverance, are not to be described. Francisco put him on board a ship, which was bound to one of the Grecian Islands, and after taking leave of him in the tenderest manner, forced him to accept of a purse of gold to pay his expences.


25. Affectionate was the parting of Hamet with his little friend, whom he embraced in an agony of tenderness, wept over him, and implored Heaven to grant him all the blessings of this life.

26. About six months afterwards, one morning, while the family were all in bed, Francisco's house was discovered to be on fire, and great part of the house was in flames before the family were alarmed. The terrified servant had but just time to awaken Francisco, who was no sooner got into the street, than the whole staircase gave way, and fell into the flames.

27. If the merchant thought himself happy on having saved himself, it was only for a moment, as he soon recollected, that his beloved son was left behind to the mercy of the flames. He sunk into the deepest despair, when upon inquiry he found, that his son, who slept in an upper apartment, had been forgotten in the general confusion.

28. He raved in agonies of grief, and offered half his fortune to any one who would risk his life to save his child. As he was known to be very rich, several ladders were instantly raise by those who wished to obtain the reward; but the violence of the flames drove every one down who attempted it.

29. The unfortunate youth then appeared on the top of the house, extending his arms, and calling out for aid. The unhappy father became motionless, and remained in a state of insensibility. At this critical moment, a man rushed through the crowd and ascended the tallest ladder, seemingly determined to rescue the youth, or perish in the attempt.

30. A sudden gust of flame bursting forth, led the people to suppose he was lost; but he presently appeared descending the ladder with the child in his arms, without receiving any material injury. A universal shout attended this noble action, and the father, to his inexpressible surprise, on recovering from his swoon, found his child in his arms.

31. After giving vent to the first emotions of tenderness, he inquired after his generous deliverer, whose features were so changed by the smoke, that they could not be distinguished. Francisco immediately presented him

with a purse of gold, promising the next day to give him the reward he had offered.

32. The stranger replied that he should accept of no reward. Francisco started, and thought he knew the voice, when his son flew to the arms of his deliverer, and cried out, "It is my dear Hamet! it is my dear Hamet!"

33. The astonishment and gratitude of the merchant were equally excited; and retiring from the crowd, he took Hamet with him to a friends house. As soon as they were alone, Francisco enquired by what means he had been a second time enslaved.

34. I will tell you in a few words, said the generous Turk. When I was taken by the Venetian gallies, my father shared in my captivity. It was his fate and not my own, which so often made me shed those tears, which first attracted the notice of your amiable son.

35. As soon as your bounty had set me free, I flew to the Christian who had purchased my father. I told him, that as I was young and vigorous, and he aged and infirm, I would be his slave instead of my father.

36. I added too, the gold which your bounty had bestowed on me, and by these means, I prevailed on the Christian to send back my father in that ship you had provided for me, without his knowing the cause of his freedom. Since that time I have staid here a willing slave, and Heaven has been so gracious as to put it into my power to save the life of that youth, which I value a thousand times more than my own.

37. The merchant was astonished at such an instance of gratitude and affection, and pressed Hamet to accept of the half of his fortune, and to settle in Venice for the remainder of his days. Hamet, however, with a noble magnanimity, refused the offer, saying, he had done no more than what every one ought to do in a similar situation.

38. Though Hamet seemed to underrate his past services to the merchant, yet the latter could not suffer things to pass in this manner. He again purchased his freedom, and fitted a ship out on purpose to take him back to his own country. At parting, they mutually embraced each other, and, as they thought, took an eternal farewell.

39. After many years had elapsed, and yourg Francisco was grown up to manhood, beloved and respected by every one, it so happened that some business made it necessary for him and his father to visit a neighbouring city on the coast; and as they supposed a passage by sea would be more expeditious than by land, they embarked in a Venetian vessel which was bound to that port, and ready to sail.

40. A favourable gale soon wafted them out of sight, and promised them a speedy passage: but, unfortunately for thein, before they had proceeded half their voyage, they were met by some Turkish vessels, who, after an obstinate resistance from the Venetians, boarded them, loaded them with irons, and carried them prisoners to Tunis. There they were exposed in the market place in their chains, in order to be sold as slaves.

41. At last, a Turk came to the market, who seemed to be a man of superior rank, and after looking over the prisoners, with an expression of compassion, he fixed his eyes upon young Francisco, and asked the captain what was the price of that young captive.

42. The captain replied, that he would not part with him for less than five hundred pieces of gold. The Turk considered that as a very extraordinary price since he had seen him sell others, that exceeded him in strength and vigor, for less than a fifth part of that money.

43. That is true, replied the captain; but he shall either fetch me a price that will repay me the damage he has occasioned me, or he shall labour all the rest of his life at the ear. The Turk asked him, what damage he could have done him more than the rest of the crew.

44. It was he, replied the captain, who animated the Christians to make a desperate resistance, and thereby proved the destruction of many of my bravest seamen. We three times boarded them with a fury that seemed invincible, and each time did that youth attack us with a cool and determined opposition; so that we were obliged to give up the contest, till other ships came to our assistance. I will therefore have the price for him, or I will punish him for life.

45. The Turk now surveyed young Francisco more attentively than before; and the young man, who had hitherto fixed his eyes in sullen silence on the ground, at length raised them up; but he had no sooner beheld the person who was talking to the captain, than, in a loud voice, he uttered the name of Hamet. The Turk; struck with astonishment, surveyed him for a moment, and then caught him in his arms.

46. After a moment's pause, the generous Hamet lifted up his hands to heaven, and thanked his God, who had put it in his power to show his gratitude; but words cannot express his feelings, when he found that both father and son were slaves. Suffice it to say, that he instantly bought their freedom, and conducted them to his magnificent house in the city.

[ocr errors]

47. They had here full leisure to discourse on the strange vicissitudes of fortune, when Hamet told his Venetian friend, that after their generosity had procured him liberty, he became an officer in the Turkish ny, and hap pening to be fortunate in all his enterprizes, he had been gradually promoted, till he arrived at the dignity of Bashaw of Tunis.

48. That in this situation, he found the greatest consolation in alleviating the misfortunes of the Christain prisoners, and always attended the sales of those unhappy slaves', to procure liberty to a certain number of them. And gracious Allah, added, he, has this day put it in my power in some measure to return the duties of gratitude.

49. They continued some days with Hamet, who did every thing in his power to amuse and divert them; but as he found their desire was to return to their own country, he told them that he would not detain them against their wishes; and that they should embark the next day in a ship bound for Venice, which would be furnished with a passport to carry them safe there.

50. The next day, he dismissed them with every mark of tenderness and affection, and ordered a party of his own guards to attend them to the vessel. They had no sooner got on board, than they found to their inexpressible surprise and joy, that they were in the very ship in which they had been taken, and that, by the generosity of Hamet,


« PreviousContinue »