Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 4.djvu/53

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al-Din seated himself in his shop that day as usual, the traders came not to him as accustomed; so he called the Deputy and said to him, "Why come not the merchants together as usual?" Answered Mohammed Samsam, "I know not how to tell thee these troubles, for they have agreed to depose thee from the Shaykh ship of the market and to recite the Fatihah to thee no more." Asked Shams al-Din, "What may be their reason?"; and asked the Deputy, "What boy is this that sitteth by thy side and thou a man of years and chief of the merchants? Is this lad a Mameluke or akin to thy wife? Verily, I think thou lovest him and inclines lewdly to the boy." Thereupon the Consul cried out at him, saying, "Silence, Allah curse thee, genus and species! This is my son." Rejoined the Deputy, "Never in our born days have we seen thee with a son," and Shams al-Din answered, "When thou gavest me the seed-thickener, my wife conceived and bare this youth; but I reared him in a souterrain for fear of the evil eye, nor was it my purpose that he should come forth, till he could take his beard in his hand.[1] However, his mother would not agree to this, and he on his part begged I would stock him a shop and teach him to sell and buy." So the Deputy Syndic returned to the other traders and acquainted them with the truth of the case, whereupon they all arose to accompany him; and, going in a body to Shams al-Din's shop, stood before him and recited the "Opener" of the Koran; after which they gave him joy of his son and said to him, "The Lord prosper root and branch! But even the poorest of us, when son or daughter is born to him, needs must cook a pan-full of custard[2] and bid his friends and kith and kin; yet hast thou not done this." Quoth he, "This I owe you; be our meeting in the garden."—And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

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

Her sister Dunyazad said to her, "Pray continue thy story for us, as thou be awake and not inclined to sleep." Quoth she:—With pleasure and goodwill: it hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Consul of the merchants promised them a banquet and said "Be our meeting in the garden." So when morning dawned he despatched the carpet layer to the saloon of the garden-pavilion and

  1. i.e. when the evil eye has less effect than upon children. Strangers in Cairo often wonder to see a woman richly dressed leading by the hand a filthy little boy (rarely a girl) in rags, which at home will be changed to cloth of gold.
  2. Arab. "Asídah" flour made consistent by boiling in water with the addition of "Same" clarified butter) and honey: more like pap than custard.