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“Peace be with thee, friend Obeidollah,” said Cogia Hassan, the apothecary; “we wish thee joy of thy lovely bride.”
“Behold the effects of love!” exclaimed Malek the jeweller ; “ here we are, met together to felicitate our friend on the happiest event of his life, and he stares at us as though we were night-robbers; he has not even the courtesy to offer us a cup of coffee.”
“Let us leave him to himself,” said Sheik Ibrahim; “ the transcendant charms of his young bride have bewildered him; he will recover by the time the moon hath completed her circle, such being the period fixed by the sage Avicenna. Allah be favourable unto thee, Obeidollah, son of Mohammed!”
And with this pious ejaculation, the mirthful company withdrew. Scarcely, however, had he had time to recover from the shafts thus aimed at him successively from so many quarters, when his friend Saleh, whom he had dreaded more than all the rest, approached on the same provoking errand.
“ Health to thee, most excellent Obeidollah,” he began, “and a thousand years of happiness with thy fair consort! Truly, I marvel no longer at the ecstatic and self-involved air which perplexed thee two days ago, seeing that, as Abu'l Mooza saith, “The expectation of happiness lifteth up the soul like unto strong drink;' and again, “He who loveth, seeth as though he saw not, and heareth as though he heard not.' Howbeit ”
But here the career of the worthy barber's rhetoric was arrested, by the evident and extreme vexation which appeared on the countenance of his friend. Surprised, as well as grieved, the honest operator requested to know the cause of his anxiety. Obeidollah was about to reply, when, on turning his eyes in the direction of the square, he beheld, advancing towards him, the lovely form of her whose blandishments had caused his misfortune. But as this apparition, and its consequences, are of too much importance to be slurred over at the end of a chapter, we must postpone the consideration of them to another section.
When the heart of a man is oppressed with care,
The young lady was attired even more splendidly than on the former day. She came dancing forward airily and joyously, like a young twig in the summer breeze; and there was a playful smile on her lips, and a glancing in her dark eye, which bespoke at once anticipated triumph and consciousness of her own charms, mixed with, perhaps, somewhat of a softer feeling. It may easily be imagined that our young merchant's vengeful resolutions were at once forgotten; he arose, and hastened to meet
the beautiful vision, which seemed to him like a bright star sent to guide the bewildered mariner.
“May this day be propitious to thee, dearest Obeidollah !” said the damsel; “ may Allah protect and bless thee!”
“Fairest of earthly creatures,” replied the merchant, “how have I offended thee, that thou shouldst thus make me the object of thy sport?”
“From thee,” answered the maiden, “I have received no injury; none, at least, that is personal to myself.”
“What then,” rejoined the merchant, “can have been thy motive for practising so cruel a deception upon one who never harmed thee!”
The young lady made no reply, but pointed to the inscription over the front of Obeidollah's establishment. A slight shade of mortified vanity passed over the countenance of the young merchant, on perceiving his sarcasms thus triumphantly confuted by one of the very sex against which they were levelled; it was not unmingled, however, with satisfaction at discovering the trifling nature of the ground of offence, from whence he was led to augur that the offence itself could not be very deeply rooted; a conjecture which was further confirmed, as his eyes reverted to the beautiful countenance which was regarding him with a look of arch triumph. “Fair lady,” said he “if recantation of the false doctrine which has been so distasteful to you be of any avail, I hereby renounce it with all my heart, as you have given me good reason to do; my only
hope is, that as you have been the instrument of my conversion, you will have pity on the penitent, and contribute your aid to deliver me from the evils which I have justly incurred by my presumption.”
“It is well,” said the young lady; “promise only to reverse your inscription, and I engage to extricate you from all your perplexities.”
The merchant immediately called to him one of his slaves, and giving him a written tablet and a piece of gold, “Go,” said he, “ to Yacoub Ebn Nasser the writer, who lives near the Syrian gate, and say that I desire him to trace for me, in his best style, and largest characters of blue and gold, the inscription herein contained.”
While this important business was performing, the merchant, the young lady, and the friendly Saleh, were closeted together in an interior apartment, in deep consultation on the actual state of things. Of the result of their debate, however, and of the further transactions of that day, nothing need be said at present; save that, within an hour from the slave's departure, the obnoxious sentence had disappeared, and the following, brilliantly inscribed and richly ornamented, was seen occupying its place
TRULY THERE IS NO CUNNING LIKE UNTO THE CUNNING OF WOMEN, SEEING THAT IT SURPASSETH AND CON
FOUNDETII EVEN THE CUNNING OF MEN.
On the following morning, as the Cadi and his son-inlaw were seated at coffee in the apartments of the former, their attention was arrested by an unusual noise in the street below. On descending to the hall to investigate the cause of the disturbance, they found that it proceeded from a'motley and tumultuous assemblage which had collected itself before the gates of the magistrate's house, with what intentions it was difficult to ascertain. In one part was a man exhibiting the feats of a dancing bear; in another, a boy leading a monkey by a string; while a third worthy superintended the motions of a host of wooden puppets. Here was a chorus of street musicians, tormenting the air with their strains; there, a party of dancing girls, throwing out their limbs in all conceivable and inconceivable directions ; beside mimics, storytellers, itinerant physicians, and various other gentry of the same kind, all jumbled together in one heterogeneous mass, rending the air with acclamations, and vociferating at intervals the name of Obeidollah, with the superadded title of cousin. On the appearance of the young merchant and his father-in-law at the gates of the hall, the multitude resolved itself into a kind of irregular cavalcade, and, headed by a grave-looking person in a mask, paraded up the court-yard to the door-steps; when the leader of the party (who was no other than our friend Saleh in disguise), halting before the portal, addressed the young merchant as follows.
“Most excellent sir! we come, deputed by the honour