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Said’s Adventures
by [?]

When Kalum-Bek saw that customers thronged to his shop since Said had taken his stand at the door, he became more friendly with the young man, gave him better things to eat than before, and was careful to keep him finely dressed. But Said was little touched by this display of mildness in his master; and the whole day long, and even in his dreams, tried to hit upon some means of returning to his native city.

One day when the sales had been very large, and all the errand boys who delivered parcels at the houses were out on their rounds, a woman entered and made several purchases. She then wanted some one to carry her packages home. “I can send them all up to you in half an hour,” said Kalum-Bek; “you will either have to wait that long or else take some outside porter.”

“Do you pretend to be a merchant and advise your customers to employ strange porters?” exclaimed the woman. “Might not such a fellow run off with my parcels in the crowd? And then whom should I look to? No, you are bound by the practice of the bazar to send my bundles home for me, and I insist on your doing it!”

“But wait for just half an hour, worthy lady!” exclaimed the merchant excitedly. “All my errand boys have been sent out.”

“It’s a poor shop that don’t have errand boys constantly at hand,” interrupted the angry woman. “But there stands one of your good-for-nothings now! Come, young fellow, take my parcel and follow after me.”

“Stop! Stop!” cried Kalum-Bek. “He is my signboard, my crier, my magnet! He cannot stir from the threshold!”

“What’s that!” exclaimed the old lady, thrusting her bundle under Said’s arm without further parley. “It is a poor merchant that depends on such a useless clown for a sign, and those are miserable wares that cannot speak for themselves. Go, go, fellow; you shall earn a fee to-day.”

“Go then, in the name of Ariman and all evil spirits!” muttered Kalum-Bek to his magnet, “and see that you come right back; the old hag might give me a bad name all over the bazar if I refuse to comply with her demands.”

Said followed the woman, who hastened through the square and down the streets at a much quicker pace than one would have believed a woman of her age capable of. At last she stopped before a splendid house, and knocked; the folding doors flew open, and she ascended a marble stair-case, beckoning Said to follow. They came shortly to a high and wide salon, more magnificent than any Said had ever seen before. The old woman sank down exhausted on a cushion, motioned the young man to lay down his bundle, handed him a small silver coin, and bade him go.

He had just reached the door, when a clear, musical voice called: “Said!” Surprised that any one there should know him, he looked around and saw, in place of the old woman, an elegant lady sitting on the cushion, surrounded by numerous slaves and maids. Said, mute with astonishment, crossed his arms and made a low obeisance.

“Said, my dear boy,” said the lady, “much as I deplore the misfortune that is the cause of your presence in Bagdad, yet this was the only place decided on by destiny where you might be released from the fate that would surely follow you if you left the homestead before your twentieth year. Said, have you still your whistle?”

“Indeed I have,” cried he joyfully, drawing out the golden chain, “and you perhaps are the kind fairy who gave me this token at my birth?”

“I was the friend of your mother, and will be your friend also as long as you remain good. Alas! would that your father–unthinking man–had followed my counsel! You would then have been spared many sorrows.”

“Well, it had to come to pass!” replied Said. “But, most gracious fairy, harness a strong northeast wind to your carriage of clouds, and take me up with you, and drive me in a few minutes to my father in Balsora; I will wait there patiently until the six months are passed that close my nineteenth year.”