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Said’s Adventures
by [?]

Thus spake the merchant; and Said, strong as was his desire to see his father once more, rejoiced at the prospect of seeing Bagdad and its famous ruler, Haroun-al-Raschid.

After a ten-days’ journey, they arrived at their destination; and Said was astonished at the magnificence of this city, then at the height of its splendor. The merchant invited him to go with him to his house, and Said gladly accepted the invitation; as it now occurred to him for the first time, among the crowd of people, that with the exception of the air, the water of the Tigris, and a lodging on the steps of the mosque, nothing could be had without money.

The day after his arrival in Bagdad, as soon as he had dressed himself–thinking that he need not be ashamed to show himself on the streets of Bagdad in his splendid soldierly costume–the merchant entered his room, looked at the handsome youth with a knavish smile, stroked his beard and said: “That’s all very fine, young man! but what shall be done with you? You are, it appears to me, a great dreamer, taking no thought for the morrow; or have you money enough with you to support such style as that?”

“Dear Kalum-Bek,” replied the young man, greatly disconcerted, “I certainly have no money, but perhaps you will furnish me with the means to reach home; my father would surely repay you.”

“Your father, fellow?” cried the merchant, with a loud laugh. “I think the sun must have scorched your brain. Do you think I would take your simple word for that yarn you spun me in the desert–that your father was a rich citizen of Balsora, you his only son?–and about the attack of the robbers, and your life with the tribe, and this, that, and the other? Even then I felt very angry at your frivolous lies and utter impudence. I know that all the rich people in Balsora are traders; I have had dealings with all of them, and should have heard of a Benezar, even if he had not been worth more than six thousand Tomans. It is, therefore, either a lie that you hail from Balsora, or else your father is a poor wretch, to whose runaway son I would not lend a copper. Then, too, the attack in the desert! Who ever heard, since the wise Caliph Haroun has made the trade routes across the desert safe, that robbers dared to plunder a caravan and lead the men off into captivity? And then, too, it would have been known; but on my entire journey, as well as here in Bagdad, where people gather from all parts of the world, there has not been a word said about it. That is the second lie, you shameless young fellow!”

Pale with anger, Said tried to interrupt the wicked little man, but the merchant talked still louder, and gesticulated wildly with his arms. “And the third lie, you audacious liar, is the story of your life in Selim’s camp. Selim’s name is well known by every body who has ever seen an Arab, but Selim has the reputation of being the most cruel and relentless robber on the desert, and you pretend to say that you killed his son and was not at once hacked to pieces; yes, you even pushed your impudence so far as to state the impossible,–that Selim had protected you against his own tribe, had taken you into his own tent, and let you go without a ransom, instead of hanging you up to the first good tree; he who has often hanged travellers just to see what kind of faces they would make when they were hung up. O you detestable liar!”

“And I can only repeat,” cried the youth, “that by my soul and the beard of the Prophet, it was all true!”

“What! you swear by your soul?” shouted the merchant, “by your black, lying soul? Who would believe that? And by the beard of the Prophet,–you that have no beard? Who would put any trust in that?”