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♪1øø1~Story told by the Christian Merchant♪


Story told by the Christian Merchant

"O great king, i was not born in any spot within the limits of your empire. I am a stranger, a native of Cairo in Egypt, of Coptic parents, and by religion a Christian. My father was a corn dealer by trade, and had amassed a large fortune, which he left to me when he died, and i continued to carry on his business. One day, when i was in the public corn market at Cairo, which is frequented by those who deal in all sorts of grain, a young an handsome merchant, richly dressed, and mounted upon an ass, accosted me. He saluted me, and opening a handkerchief in which he had a sample of sesame, he showed it to me, and inquired how much a large measure of grain of a similiar quality was worth. I examined the sample and told him that, according to the present price, a large measure was worth a hundred drachms of silver. Then he said, 'Find me a merchant who will buy it at that price and come to the gate called Victory, where you will see a khan standing apart from every other house, and i will wait for you there.'
Thereupon he went away and left me the sample of sesame which i showed to different merchants on the spot. They all said they would take as much as i would sell them at one hundred and ten drachms of silver a measure, and at this rate i should gain ten drachms for each measure sold."

"Elated at so large a profit, i went directly to the gate called Victory, where the merchant was waiting for me. He took me into his werehouse, which was full of sesame. I had the heap measured, and there were about fifty large measures. I then loaded the corn upon asses, and went and sold it for five thousand drachms of silver. Then the young man said to me, 'You have right, according to our agreement, to five hundred drachms of this money, at the rate of ten drachms a measure, the rest belongs to me, but as i have no immediate use for it, go and put it by for me till i shall come and demand it of you.'
I told him it should be ready at any time when he came for it. I kissed his hand, and he left me."

"A whole month passed without my seeing him, at the end of that time he appeared. Then he said, 'Where are the four thousand five hundred drachms of silver which you owe me?'
'They are all ready,' i replied, 'and i will immediately count them out to you.'
As he was mounted upon an ass, i requested him to alight and do me the honour to eat with me before he received his money. 'No,' he answered, 'i have no time. I have some urgent business which requires my presence, but on my way back i will call for my money.'
So saying he went away, i waited for him a long time, but he did not return till a month afterwards. 'This young merchant,' thought i to myself, 'places a deal of confidence to me, to leave the sum of four thousand five hundred drachms of silver in my hands without knowing anything of me.'
At the end of the third month i saw him come back mounted upon the same ass, but much more magnificently dressed than he had been before."

"As soon as i perceived the young man, i went out to meet him. I entreated him to alight, and asked whether he wished me to count out the money which i had in trust for him. 'Never mind that,' he replied, in a contented manner, 'i am in no hurry. I know it is in good hands, and i will come and take it when i have spent all i now have, and there is nothing left. Farewell,' he added, 'Expect me again at the end of the week.'
At these words he gave his ass a stroke with his whip and was out of sight in a moment. 'This is excellent,' said i to myself, 'he told me to expect him in a week, and yet, if i may judge from his conversation, i may not see him for a long time. Why should not i, in the meantime, make some use of this money? It will be of considerable advantage to me.'"

"I was not mistaken in my conjecture, for a whole year passed before i heard anything of the young man. At the end of that time he again appeared, as richly dressed as when he last came, but it seemed to me that there was something which affected his spirits. I entreated him to honour me by entering my house. 'I agree to do so for this once,' he replied, 'but it is only on condition that you put yourself to no additional trouble or expense on my account.'
'I will do exactly as you please,' i said, 'if you will favour me by coming in.'
He immediately alighted, and came with me. I then gave orders for refreshments. Directy he began to eat, i observed he fed himself with his left hand, and i was much astonished to observe that he never made use of his right. I knew not what to think of it, and said to myself, 'From the very first moment i have known this merchant, i have always seen him behave with the greatest politeness. It is impossible that he can act thus out of contempt for me. What can be the reason that he makes no use of his right hand?'
This matter continued to puzzle me extremely."

"When the repast was over we went and sat down on a sofa. 'I entreat you, sir,' i cried at last, 'to pardon the liberty i take in asking you how it happens that you always make use of your left hand, and never of the right. Some accident surely has happened to you?'
At this speech of mine he gave a deep sigh, and instead of answering me, he drew out his right arm from his robe, under which he had till now quite concealed it, when i saw to my utter astonishment that his hand had been cut off! 'You were much shocked,' he said, 'at seeing me eat with my left hand, but you now see i could not do otherwise.'
'May i inquire,' i asked, 'how you had the misfortune to lose your right hand?'
At this request he told the following history:"

"'I must in the first place inform you,' said the young man, 'that i am a native of Bagdad. My father was extremely rich, and one of the most eminent men, both as to rank and possessions, in that city. I had hardly begun to take part in the business of the world, when i was struck with the accounts which many people who had travelled in Egypt gave of the wonderful and extraordinary sights to be seen in that country. Their conversation made a deep impression on my mind, and i became very anxious to journey thither. But my father would not give me permission. He at lenght died, and, as his death left me master of my own actions, i resolved to go to Cairo. I invested a large sum of money in the purchase of different sorts of the fine stuffs and manufactures of Bagdad and Moussoul, and began my travels.'"

"'When i arrived at Cairo i stopped at the khan of Mesrour. I took up my abode there, and also hired a warehouse, in which i placed the bales of merchandise i had brought with me.'"

"'The next morning i dressed myself very carefully, and took from my bales some very beautiful and rich stuffs, which i purposed carrying to a bazaar, to know what buyers would offer me for them. I gave these pieces of stuff to some of my slaves, and we went to the bazaar of the Circassians. I was instantly surrounded by a multitude of brokers and criers, who had been informed of my arrival. I gave specimens of my different stuffs to several criers, who went and showed them all over the place. But no merchant offered me even so much as the original cost of the merchendise and the expenses of the carriage. This vexed me very much, and the criers were witness to my anger and disappointment. 'If you will depend upon us,' they said,' we will show you how you may lose nothing by your stuffs.'
I asked them what method i should adopt to sell my goods to advantage. They replied thus, 'Distribute them among different merchants, who will sell them in small quantities, and you may come twice every week and receive the money for which the goods have been sold. By this method you will make some profit, instead of losing anything, and the merchants also will have an advantage in the business.'"

"'I followed their advice, and took them with me to my warehouse, from whence i brought out all my goods, and, returning to the market place, i distributed the stuffs among those of the merchants whom the criers pointed out to me as the most trusty and creditable. The merchants gave me a receipt, and stipulated that i should make no demand upon them for the first month.'"

"'Having thus arranged all my business, i gave myself up entirely to pleasure and gaiety. I made acquaintance with several young men about my own age, who contributed very much to make my time pass agreeably. When the first month had elapsed, i began to call upon my merchants regularly twice every week. In this manner i constantly brought away a considerable sum of money, which i took with me to the khan of Masrour, where i lodged. This business did not prevent me from going, on the intervening days of the week, to pass the morning sometimes with one merchant, and sometimes with another, and i was much pleased with their conversation, and amused at the various scenes in the bazaar.'"

"'One monday, while i was sitting in the shop of one of these merchants, whose name was Bedreddin, a lady, richly attired and of a distinguished air, and accompanied by a female slave, entered the shop, and sat down close to me. Her appearance, and a certain natural grace which accopanied her every movement, interested me very much in her favour, and excited a great desire in me to know more of her. I know not whether she perceived that i took a pleasure in beholding her, or whether my attention pleased her or not, but she lifted up the thick crape veil that hung over the muslin which concealed the lower part of her face, and thus gave me an opportunity of seeing her black eyes, by which i was quite charmed. She completed her conquest, and made me quite in love with her, by the pleasant tone of her voice, and by the obliging and modest manner with which she addressed the merchant.'"

"'After she had conversed some time upon various subjects, she told him that she was in search of a particular sort of stuff, with a gold ground. She said that if he had such a thing, he would much oblige her by letting her see it. Bedreddin having spread out a great many different pieces, she at lenght selected one, and asked the price of it. He said he could afford to sell it her for eleven hundred drachms of silver. 'I will agree to give you that sum,' she replied, 'though i have not the money about me, but i hope you will give me credit for it till tomorrow, and suffer me to carry the stuff home, and i will not fail to send you the eleven hundred drachms in the course of tomorrow.'
'Lady,' answered the merchant, 'i would gladly give you credit, and you ...
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