Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/50

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him the tray of food went away and left the trap door open: so Ala al-Din came forth from the vault and went in to his mother, with whom was a company of women of rank. As they sat talking, behold, in came upon them the youth as he were a white slave drunken[1] for the excess of his beauty; and when they saw him, they veiled their faces and said to his mother, "Allah requite thee, O such an one! How canst thou let this strange Mameluke in upon us? Knowest thou not that modesty is a point of the Faith?" She replied, "Pronounce Allah's name[2] and cry Bismillah! this is my son, the fruit of my vitals and the heir of Consul Shams al-Din, the child of the nurse and the collar and the crust and the crumb."[3] Quoth they, "Never in our days knew we that thou hadst a son"; and quoth she, "Verily his father feared for him the evil eye and reared him in an under-ground chamber;"—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Two Hundred and Fifty-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ala al-Din's mother said to her lady-friends, "Verily his father feared for him the evil eye and reared him in an underground chamber; and haply the slave forgot to shut the door and he fared forth; but we did not mean that he should come out, before his beard was grown." The women gave her joy of him, and the youth went out from them into the court yard where he seated himself in the open sitting room; and behold, in came the slaves with his father's she mule, and he said to them, "Whence cometh this mule?" Quoth they, "We escorted thy father when riding her to the shop, and we have brought her back." He asked, "What may be my father's trade?"; and they answered, "Thy father is Consul of the merchants in the land of Egypt and Sultan of the Sons of the Arabs." Then he went in to his mother and said to her, "O my mother, what is my father's trade?" Said she, "O my son, thy sire is a merchant and Consul of the merchants in the land of Egypt

  1. Meaning that he appeared intoxicated by the pride of his beauty as though it had been strong wine.
  2. i.e. against the evil eye.
  3. Meaning that he had been delicately reared.