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of the slaves, and the Scrivener asked him: "By the beard of the Prophet, I adjure you to tell us who this old man is, with whom we were speaking, and who is so greatly honoured by the Sheik?"

“What?” cried the overseer of the slaves, clapping his hands in surprise. "Do you not know this man?" No, we do not know who he is."


"But I have seen you talking with him several times in the street, and my master, the Sheik, has also noticed this, and only lately remarked: "Those must be clever young men whom this man favours with his conversation."

"But do tell us who he is!" cried the young merchant with the greatest impatience.

"Go away, you only want to make a fool of me," replied the overseer of the slaves. "As a rule no one is allowed to enter this room unless he is expressly invited, and to-day the old man sent to the Sheik asking for permission to bring some young men with him into the hall. Ali Banu sent word to him to say that his whole house was at his command!"

"Do not leave us any longer in uncertainty. As true as I live, I do not know who that man is. We made his acquaintance quite accidentally and conversed with him!"

"Well, you may consider yourselves very fortunate, for you have conversed with a learned and celebrated man, and all here present honour and admire you on that account. It is no one else than Mustapha, the learned dervish."

"Mustapha! the wise Mustapha, who educated the Sheik's son and who wrote so many learned books, and has made such great journeys in all parts of the world? We have spoken with Mustapha? And spoken to him, just as if he were like one of us, and that without the slightest reverence?"

The young men were still engaged in conversation about these tales and about the old man, the dervish Mustapha. They felt themselves not a little honoured, that so

old and celebrated a man should have favoured them with his attention, and had even spoken and argued with them on several occasions. Suddenly the overseer of the slaves approached, and invited them to go with him to the Sheik who desired to speak to them. The hearts of the young men throbbed. Never before had they spoken with so distinguished a man, no not even in private, much less in so grand an assembly. They soon, however, recovered self-possession in order not to appear as fools, and went with the overseer of the slaves to the Sheik. Ali Banu was sitting upon a richly embroidered cushion and drinking sherbet. On his right sat the old man, his plain dress lay upon the splendid cushions, his poor sandals he had laid on a magnificent carpet of Persian manufacture, but his fine head, his eye full of dignity and wisdom, indicated that he was worthy to sit by the side of such a man as the Sheik.

The Sheik looked very grave, and the old man appeared to be consoling and encouraging him. The young men thought that they discovered, in having been called to the presence of the Sheik, some ruse of the old man, who was probably anxious to distract the mourning father by a conversation with them.

"Be welcome, young men,' " said the Sheik. "Be welcome to Ali Banu's house. My old friend here has earned my thanks by introducing you; I am nevertheless somewhat angry at his not having introduced me to you before. Who amongst you is the young scribe?

"I am he, my lord, and at your service! said the young scribe, whilst crossing his arms across his breast and making a deep bow.


Is it you who are so fond of listening to stories, and delight in reading books containing beautiful verses and maxims?"

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The young man blushed and said: "My lord, it is true; as far as I am concerned there is no more pleasant occupation for me than to spend the whole day in such things. They improve the mind and while away the time. But everyone to his liking, and I certainly do not blame any one who does not

"All right, all right," interrupted the Sheik laughing,

and beckoned the second to approach, "Who are you?" he asked him.


"Sir, my profession is that of an assistant to a physician, and I have also already healed some sick people myself." Just so," replied the Sheik, "and it is you who are so fond of good living; you would like to dine with some merry friends now and again, and be of good cheer? Is that not so? Have I not guessed it?"

The young man was ashamed; he felt he was betrayed, and that the old man must also have spoken to the Sheik about him. He soon, however, recovered his self-possession and said: "Quite true, O master, I count it amongst the blessings of life to enjoy myself every now and again with some good friends. My means are limited to buying for my friends only water-melons, and such like cheap things with which to regale them; but still even then we are cheerful, and it may be easily imagined we should be more so, if I were richer."

The Sheik was delighted at this candid answer, and could not refrain from laughing at it. "Who, then, is the young merchant?" he asked further.

The young merchant bowed before the Sheik with an easy grace, for he was a young man of good education. The Sheik however said: "Well, and you? you delight in music and dancing? You are fond of listening to clever artists when they play or sing something, or watching dancers performing some clever dances?"

The young merchant answered: "I perceive, O Master, that that old man yonder, in order to amuse you, has betrayed all our foolishnesses. If he has succeeded in cheering you up by it, I am glad I have amused you. But as to music and dancing, I must confess there is nothing which rejoices my heart more. But you must not imagine however that I blame you on that account, my lord, if you do not as well

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"That will do, no more!" cried the Sheik, smiling, motioning him off with his hand. Every one to his liking, you were going to say I suppose; but I see one more standing there; I dare say that is the one who would like to travel! Who are you, young man?


"I am a painter, my lord," replied the young man; "I

paint landscapes on the ceilings of halls and also on canvas. To see foreign countries is certainly my desire, for one sees there all sorts of pretty scenes which can be turned to advantage again: and what one sees and draws is as a rule much more beautiful than what he invents himself."

The Sheik now looked at the handsome young men, and his eye became grave and gloomy. "Once upon a time I too had a beloved son," he said, "and he would be by this time almost as tall as you. You would be his comrades and companions, and every one of your wishes would be gratified. With one he would read, with the other listen to music, and with the other he would invite pleasant friends, and be cheerful and in high spirits, and with the painter I should allow him to travel in beautiful countries, and would have the assurance that he would always return to me. Allah, however, has not decreed it so, and I submit to his will without murmuring. But still, it is in my power to fulfil your wishes after all, and you shall depart from Ali Banu with a glad heart.'


"You, my learned friend," he continued, whilst turning to the Scribe, "take up your abode henceforth at my house, and act as my librarian. You may buy any books you like and which you consider instructive, and your only occupation shall be, after having read some beautiful story, to relate it to me. You, who are fond of a good table amongst friends, shall be appointed overseer of my pleasures. Although I myself live in a secluded and sad manner, yet it is my duty, and my position requires it, to invite many guests now and again. You shall look after everything instead of me, and be permitted to invite as many of your friends as you like; of course to something better than water-melons. As regards the young merchant I must not take him away from his business, which procures for him money and honour; but every evening, my young friend, dancers, singers, and musicians are at your service as much as you like. Let them play to you, and dance to your heart's content. And you," he said to the painter, "you shall travel in foreign countries, and improve your talent by experience. My treasurer will give you a thousand gold pieces for your first journey, sc that you may start to-morrow, together with two horses

and a slave. Travel wherever your heart desires, and whenever you see anything beautiful, paint it for me."

The young men were beside themselves with surprise, and speechless with joy and thanks. They were about to kiss the earth at the feet of the kind man, but he prevented them. "If your thanks are due to anyone," he said, “it is to this wise man here, who spoke to me about you. has also caused me great pleasure by having procured me the acquaintance of four such bright young men as


you are.

The dervish Mustapha, however, declined the thanks of the young men. "Behold," he said, "how one ought never to judge hastily: did I tell you too much about this generous man?" "Let us listen to the story of one more slave who is to be set at liberty to-day; "interrupted Ali Banu, and the young men went back to their places.

That young slave who had in such a high degree attracted the attention of everyone by his stature, his beauty, and his bold look, now arose, bowed to the Sheik, and commenced in a clear voice to relate :


My Lord! the men who have spoken before me have related many wonderful stories, which they had heard in foreign countries; I regret to have to confess that I do not know one single story which is worthy of your attention. If I do not weary you however, I will relate to you the wonderful adventures of one of my friends.

Upon that Algerian corsair boat, from which your kind hand has liberated me, was a young man of my age, who did not seem to have been born for the slave's dress which he wore. The other unfortunate ones on the ship were either coarse men, with whom I did not care to live, or people whose language I did not understand; and, therefore, whenever we had an hour to spare I liked to be with this young man. He called himself Almansor, and to judge from his pronunciation he was an Egyptian. We conversed with each other in a most pleasant manner, and one day it occurred to us to relate the story of our lives to

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