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full conviction. ‘Nor are they to be believed, who affirm that my nose is flat, or my cheeks sunken.' Obeidollah was about to express his horror at the idea of such profanation, when the maiden, removing the concealment entirely from her face, flashed upon his sight in all her beauty, like the planet Zohara from a mist. The young merchant, as many full-grown merchants might have done, stood in speechless amazement at the sudden view of so much loveliness. Nor was the lady's confusion less obvious; the frolicsome spirit which had prompted her to the enterprise seemed for a moment to desert her, and a colour, such as our poets weary themselves in finding comparisons for, diffused itself over her face and bosom; and' heightened the beauty which might have seemed unimproveable. Thus they both stood silent for some moments. Obeidollah was the first to speak.
"Fairest of creatures,” said he, “to what delightful accident do I owe the view of those charms, which are hidden by a veil from the eyes of the less fortunate of my sex?!!
These words of the merchant gave the lady new courage, inasmuch as they saved her the embarrassment of opening her own case; accordingly, after a moment's hesitation, she replied.
“Courteous sir, behold before you an unfortunate damsel, who craves your favourable construction of a measure which may at first sight appear altogether unjustifiable; but which has been forced upon her by the unnatural selfishness and cruelty of those, from whom she might bave expected better treatment. You must know that my mother, who was sister to a rich emir of Mecca, died some years ago, leaving my father in possession of an immense fortune, and myself his sole heiress. I am now seventeen; my personal endowments are such as you behold, and a very small portion of my late mother's dowry would suffice to obtain for me a handsome establishment in marriage; and yet, such is the unfeeling avarice of my only surviving protector, that he absolutely refuses the smallest trifle to settle me in life. The only counsellor to whom I could apply for help in this extremity, was my kind old nurse; and it is through her advice, added to the high opinion I have uniformly heard expressed of your merits, that I have been induced to throw myself upon your goodness in the extraordinary manner you now witness,"
The reader may easily imagine the emotions of the young merchant on this unexpected communication.“Cruel parent !” he exclaimed; "he must be a rock of the desert, and not a man, who can condemn so charming a person to perpetual solitude, when the slightest possible sacrifice on his part might prevent it!—May I inquire his name?”
“He is the Chief Cadi,” replied the maiden, and disappeared like a vision.
In about a quarter of an hour from this time, as Obeidollah's friend Saleh the barber sate on his cushion
smoking composedly, as was his custom, in expectation of patients, he was surprised to see his old companion and gossip enter the shop, succinct for speed, and lacking only those outward proprieties of chin and whisker which it was Saleh's office to confer, but with an air of hurry and abstraction quite different from his accustomed free and joyous manner. Astonished at this deviation from the usual order of things, the good-natured barber endeavoured, by the simple process of interrogation, to develope, the cause of his friend's perplexity. Failing, however, in the attempt - for the young merchant only stared as if doubtful of his meaning, and then resumed his former thoughtful air, — he betook himself to another method. Taking a circuitous route, he struck into the wide and varied field of subjects appropriate to the place and occasion, hoping that some casual turn in the road might bring him to his object; passed from the war in Egypt to the reported plague in Syria — thence to the non-arrival of the Indian fleet -- the miraculous escape of the last caravan — the shameful price of dales— the affair of the Imam’s wife with the Greek physician, etc., to each and all of which our merchant listened with about the same attention as if he had been reciting the moral aphorisms of Abu'l Moosa. Once only, when his friend announced that Sheik Ibrahim's favourite spouse had been delivered of a daughter, he exclaimed, “An exquisite creature !” And then relapsed again into abstraction, leaving the perplexed artist to weave, out of his own brain, a web of historical conjecture for the elucidation of the text thus briefly and enigmatically set forth.
No sooner was the ceremony over, than Obeidollah started from his seat, and having adjusted himself at the mirror, asked abruptly, “Does the chief Cadi sit to day?”
“I-I believe so," answered Saleh ; “wherefore the inquiry ?” — but ere the latter words were uttered, the young merchant had crossed the threshold, and was posting with the speed of an antelope, in the direction of the principal court of justice. His friend attempted to stop him, but in vain ; he then looked after him for a few moments, and exclaiming, “A bridle for a wilful man, and a chain for the wind of the desert!” returned quietly to his pipe and cushion, meditating upon the events of the morning.
And he said in his heart, Unhappy is he who putteth his trust
The business of the morning was just over, and the Cadi about to arise from his carpet of justice, when the young merchant entered. He was a portly looking personage of about fifty, in whose fair and ample counte
nance, together with much plain common sense and phlegmatic good-nature, a skilful physiognomist might have discerned a slight tinge of official importance and pride of birth. His eyes turned interrogatively towards the merchant as he entered.
“Most excellent sir,” said Obeidollah, “I am come to demand your daughter in marriage, of whom I am deeply enamoured.”
The Cadi received this unexpected address with an air of thoughtfulness and perplexity, of which it was difficult to determine whether it arose from surprise at the abruptness of the proposition, disapprobation of the offer itself, or some less obvious cause. The apprehensions of our lover, of course, interpreted it in the most unfavourable sense, and he was about to reinforce the position he had just laid down with the most powerful arguments which the logic of love could furnish, when the Cadi thus answered :
“My daughter is unworthy of the honour you design for her: accompany me, however, to my dwelling, and we will talk over this matter more at leisure.”
Obeidollah, accordingly followed the worthy magistrate to his abode, which was pleasantly situated in the outskirts of the city, amidst a fair garden planted with cypresses and other evergreens. They were ushered by a slave into a large apartment, the walls of which were superbly painted with gold and silver flowers, while in the centre a fountain was playing. Here, as they