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♪1øø1~Story told by the Tailor♪

1001 NIGHTS

The story told by the Tailor


"Two days since, a tradesman of this city did me the honour of inviting me to an entertainment which he purposed giving to his friends. I repaired to his house yesterday at an early hour, and found about twenty people assembled.

"We were waiting for the master of the house, who had gone out on some sudden business, when we saw him come, accompanied by a young stranger. This young man was handsomely dressed, and of a good figure; but he was lame. We all rose, and, to do honour to the master of the house, we begged the young man to sit with us on the sofa. He was just going to sit down, when, perceiving a certain barber among the company, he abruptly stepped back, and turned as if to go. Surprised at this, the master of the house stopped him. 'Where are you going?' said he; ‘I have brought you here that you may give me the honour of your company, and you scarcely enter before you want to depart! ' 'In the name of Allah, sir,' replied the stranger, 'I entreat you not to detain me, but suffer me to go. I cannot without horror behold that abominable barber who is sitting yonder. Although he was born in a country where the complexion of the people is white, he looks like an Ethiopian; but his mind is of a dye deeper and more horrible than his visage.'

"We were all very much surprised at this speech, and began to form a very bad opinion of the barber, though we knew not what reason the young stranger had for speaking of him in such terms. The master of the house begged the stranger to let us know the cause of his hatred to the barber. 'My master,' said the young man, 'you must know that I am lame through this barber's fault, and he has moreover brought upon me the most cruel affair which is possible to be conceived. For this reason I have made a vow to quit any place where he may be. I will not even reside in any town where he lives: for this reason I left Bagdad, where he was, and undertook a long journey to come and settle in this city, where I flattered myself I should be secure of never beholding him again. However, contrary to my hopes, I find him here: this obliges me, my masters, to deny myself the honour of partaking of your feast. I will this day leave your city, and go to hide myself, if I can, in some place where yonder barber can never again offend my sight.' With this speech he was going to leave us; but the master of the house still detained him, and entreated him to relate to us the cause of the aversion he had against the barber, who all this time had kept his eyes fixed on the ground, without speaking a word. The young man seated himself, and, turning his back towards the barber, began his history in these words:-

"My father, who lived in Bagdad, was entitled by his rank to aspire to the highest offices of state; but he preferred leading a quiet life to all the chances of gaming honour. I was his only child; and when he died I was old enough to manage the large possessions he had bequeathed me. I did not waste them in folly, but employed them in a way that procured me the esteem of every one.

"I had not yet felt the tender emotions of love, and I carefully avoided the society of women. One day, as I was walking in a street, I saw a great number of ladies coming towards me. To avoid them, I turned into a little street that lay before me, and sat down on a bench near a door opposite me, in a window, stood a number of very fine flowers, and my eyes were fixed on them, when the window opened, and a lady appeared whose beauty dazzled me. She cast her eyes on me; and as she watered the flowers she looked at me with a smile, which inspired me with as much love for her as I had hitherto felt aversion towards the rest of her sex. After she had tended her flowers, she shut the window, and left me in state of perturbation which I cannot describe.

"I should have remained a considerable time in thought had not a noise I heard in the street brought me to my senses. I turned my head as I got up, and saw one of the first cadis of the city approaching, mounted on a mule, and accompanied by five or six of his people. He alighted at the door of the house where the young lady had opened the window; and from this I concluded he was her father.

"I returned home, agitated by a passion all the more violent from its being the first attack. I was seized with a raging fever, which caused great affliction in my household. My relations, who loved me, alarmed by my sudden illness, importuned me to tell them the cause; but I was very careful to keep my secret.

"My friends began to despair of my life, when an old lady who had been informed of my illness arrived. She looked at me with a great deal of attention, and at length discovered, I know not how, the cause of my disorder. She took my relations aside, and begged them to leave her alone with me.

"When the room was cleared she seated herself near my pillow. 'My son,' said she, 'you have hitherto persisted in concealing the cause of your illness; nor do I require you to confess it now; I have sufficient experience to penetrate into this secret. You are love-sick. I can probably accomplish your cure, provided you will tell me the name of the happy lady who has been able to wound a heart so insensible as yours; for you have the reputation of a woman-hater.

"In short, the good lady said so much to me that at length I described to her the street where I had seen the lady, and related all the circumstances of my adventure. 'If you succeed,' continued I, 'and procure me the happiness of seeing this enchanting beauty, and of expressing to her the love with which I burn, you may rely on my gratitude.' 'My son,' replied the old lady, 'I know the person you mention. You were quite right in supposing her to be the daughter of the principal cadi in this city. I am not surprised that you should love her. She is the most beautiful as well as the most amiable lady in Bagdad; but she is very haughty and difficult of access. Would to Heaven you loved any other lady I should not have so many difficulties to surmount as I foresee here. I will nevertheless employ all my art, but I shall require time for my advances. Nevertheless, take courage, and place confidence in me.'

"The old lady left me; and the fear that she would not succeed took hold on me, and increased my disease. My old friend came to visit me the following day, and I soon read in her countenance that she had no favourable intelligence to announce. She said: 'My son, I was not mistaken. You love one who delights in letting those burn with unrequited passion who suffer themselves to be charmed with her beauty. She listened to me with pleasure whilst I talked to her only of the pain she made you suffer; but as soon as I opened my mouth to persuade her to allow you an interview, she cast an angry look at me, and said: "You are very insolent to attempt to make such a proposition; and I desire you will never see me more, if you intend to hold such language as this!"

"'But let not that afflict you,' continued the old lady: 'I hope at last to accomplish my design.'

"Not to protract my narration," continued the young man, "I will only say that this good messenger made several fruitless attempts in my favour with the haughty enemy of my peace. The vexation I endured increased my disorder to such a degree that I was considered as a man at the point of death, when the old lady came to give me new life.

"That no one might hear her, she whispered in my ear: 'Determine what present you will make me for the good news I bring you.' These words produced a wonderful effect upon me. I raised myself in my bed, and replied with transport: ‘The gift shall be worthy of you; what have you to tell me ' ‘My good friend,' resumed she, 'you will not die this time; and I shall soon have the pleasure of seeing you in perfect health. Yesterday I went to the lady with whom you are in love, and found her in very good humour. I at first put on a mournful countenance, uttered a number of sighs, and shed some tears. "My good mother," said the lady; "why are you in such affliction?" "Alas! my dear lady," replied I, "I have just come from the young gentleman of whom I spoke to you the other day. He is at the point of death, and all for love of you. Alas! you are very cruel." "I do not know, "said she, "why you should accuse me of being the cause of his death: how can I be blamed for his illness?" "How!" replied I, "did I not tell you that he seated himself before your window, just as you opened it to water your flowers? He beheld this prodigy of beauty, these charms, which your mirror reflects every day. He has languished for you, and his disease has taken such a hold on him that he is now reduced to the pitiable state I have described to you. You may remember, lady," continued I, "how harshly you reproved me lately, when I was going to tell you of his illness, and propose to you a method of relieving him in his dangerous condition. I returned to him after I left you, and when he perceived that I did not bring a favourable report his malady at once increased. From that time he has been in the most imminent danger of death; and I do not know whether you could now save his life even if you were inclined to take pity on him."

"'The fear of your death startled her, and I saw her face change colour. "Is what you say to me quite true?" said she, "and does his illness proceed only from his love for me?" "Ah, lady," replied I, "it is but too true; would to Heaven it were false!" "And do you really think," resumed she, " that the hope of seeing and speaking to me would diminish the peril in which he lies?" "Very probably," said I; "and if you desire me, I will try this remedy." "Then," replied she, sighing, "let him hope he may see me; but he must not expect my acceptance if he aspires to marry me, unless my father gives his consent," "O lady," said I, "you are very good: I will go and announce to him that he will have the delight of seeing and conversing with you." "I do not know," said she, "that I can fix a more convenient time for our interview than Friday next, during the midday prayer. Let him observe when my father goes out to the mosque; and then let him come immediately to this house. I shall see him from my window, and will come down to let him in. We will converse together during the hour of prayer, and he will retire before my father returns."'

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