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Said’s Adventures
by [?]

“I certainly have no witnesses,” continued Said; “but did you not find me bound and perishing?”

“That proves nothing to me,” replied the merchant. “You were yourself dressed like a robber, and it might easily have happened that you attacked some one stronger than yourself, who conquered and bound you.”

“I should like to see any one, or even two,” returned Said, “who could floor and bind me, unless they came up behind me and flung a noose over my head. Staying in your bazar as you do, you cannot have any notion of what a single man is able to do when he has been brought up to arms. But you saved my life, and my thanks are due you. What would you have me do? If you do not support me I must beg; and I should not care to ask a favor of any one of my station. I will go to see the caliph.”

“Indeed!” sneered the merchant, “you will ask assistance of no one but our most gracious master? I should call that genteel begging! But look you, my fine young gentleman! access to the caliph can be had only through my cousin Messour, and a word from me would acquaint him with your capacity for lying. But I will take pity on your youth, Said. You shall have a chance to better yourself, and something may be made out of you yet. I will take you into my shop at the bazar; you can serve me there for a year; and when that time is past, if you don’t choose to remain with me any longer, I will pay you your wages and let you go where you will, to Aleppo or Medina, to Stamboul or Balsora, or, for aught I care, to the Infidels. I will give you till noon to decide; if you agree to my proposal, well and good; if you do not, I will make out an estimate of the expense you put me to on the journey, and for your seat on the camel, pay myself by taking your clothes and all you possess, and then throw you into the street; then you can beg where you like, of the caliph or the mufti, at the mosque or in the bazar.”

With these words the wicked man left the unfortunate youth. Said looked after him with loathing. He rebelled against the wickedness of this man, who had designedly taken him to his house so that he might have him in his power. He looked about to see if he could escape, but found the windows grated and the door locked. Finally, after his spirit had long revolted at the idea, he decided to accept the merchant’s proposal for the present. He saw clearly that nothing better remained for him to do; for even if he were to run away, he could not reach Balsora without money. But he made up his mind to seek the caliph’s protection as soon as possible.

On the following day, Kalum-Bek led his new servant to his shop in the bazar. He showed Said the shawls, veils, and other wares in which he dealt, and instructed the youth in his strange duties. These required that Said, stripped of his soldierly costume and clad like a merchant’s servant, should stand in the doorway of the shop, with a shawl in one hand and a splendid veil in the other, and cry out his wares to the passers-by, name the price, and invite the people to buy. And now, too it became evident to Said why Kalum-Bek had selected him for this business. The merchant was a short, ugly-looking man, and when he himself stood at the door and cried his wares, many of the neighbors, as well as the passersby, would make fun of his appearance, or the boys would tease him, while the women called him a scarecrow; but everybody was pleased with the appearance of young Said, who attracted customers by his graceful deportment and by his clever and tasteful way of exhibiting his shawls and veils.