Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/51

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and Sultan of the Sons of the Arabs. His slaves consult him not in selling aught whose price is less than one thousand gold pieces, but merchandise worth him an hundred and less they sell at their own discretion; nor cloth any merchandise whatever, little or much, leave the country without passing through his hands and he disposeth of it as he pleaseth; nor is a bale packed and sent abroad amongst folk but what is under his disposal. And "Almighty Allah, O my son, hath given thy father monies past compt." He rejoined, "O my mother, praised be Allah, that I am son of the Sultan of the Sons of the Arabs and that my father is Consul of the merchants! But why, O my mother, do ye put me in the underground chamber and leave me prisoner there?" Quoth she, "O my son, we imprisoned thee not save for fear of folks' eyes: 'the evil eye is a truth,'[1] and most of those in their long homes are its victims." Quoth he, "O my mother, and where is a refuge-place against Fate? Verily care never made Destiny forbear; nor is there flight from what is written for every wight. He who took my grandfather will not spare myself nor my father; for, though he live to day he shall not live tomorrow. And when my father dieth and I come forth and say, 'I am Ala al-Din, son of Shams al-Din the merchant', none of the people will believe me, but men of years and standing will say, 'In our lives never saw we a son or a daughter of Shams al-Din.' Then the public Treasury will come down and take my father's estate, and Allah have mercy on him who said, 'The noble dieth and his wealth passeth away, and the meanest of men take his women.' Therefore, O my mother, speak thou to my father, that he carry me with him to the bazar and open for me a shop; so may I sit there with my merchandise, and teach me to buy and sell and take and give." Answered his mother, "O my son, as soon as thy sire returneth I will tell him this." So when the merchant came home, he found his son Ala al-Din Abu al-Shamat sitting with his mother and said to her, "Why hast thou brought him forth of the underground chamber?" She replied, "O son of my uncle, it was not I that brought him out; but the servants forgot to shut the door and left it open; so, as I sat with a company of women of rank, behold, he came forth and walked in to me." Then she went on to repeat to him his son's words; so he said, "O my son, to-morrow, Inshallah!

  1. A traditional-saying of Mohammed.