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Day-dreaming

from Europa's Fairy Book





Now there was once a man at Bagdad who had seven sons, and when he
died he left to each of them one hundred dirhems; and his fifth son,
called Alnaschar the Babbler, invested all this money in some
glassware, and, putting it in a big tray, from which to show and sell
it, he sat down on a raised bench, at the foot of a wall, against
which he leant back, placing the tray on the ground in front of him.
As he sat he began day-dreaming and said to himself: "I have laid out
a hundred dirhems on this glass. Now I will surely sell it for two
hundred, and with it I will buy more glass and sell that for four
hundred; nor will I cease to buy and sell till I become master of
much wealth. With this I will buy all kinds of merchandise and jewels
and perfumes and gain great profit on them till, God willing, I will
make my capital a hundred thousand dinars or two million dirhems. Then
I will buy a handsome house, together with slaves and horses and
trappings of gold, and eat and drink, nor will there be a singing girl
in the city but I will have her to sing to me." This he said looking
at the tray before him with glassware worth a hundred dirhems. Then he
continued: "When I have amassed a hundred thousand dinars I will send
out marriage-brokers to demand for me in marriage the hand of the
Vizier's daughter, for I hear that she is perfect in beauty and of
surpassing grace. I will give her a dowry of a thousand dinars, and if
her father consent, 'tis well; if not, I will take her by force, in
spite of him. When I return home, I will buy ten little slaves and
clothes for myself such as are worn by kings and sultans and get a
saddle of gold, set thick with precious jewels. Then I will mount and
parade the city, with slaves before and behind me, while the people
will salute me and call down blessings upon me: after which I will go
to the Vizier, the girl's father, with slaves behind and before me, as
well as on either hand. When the Vizier sees me, he will rise and
seating me in his own place, sit down below me, because I am his
son-in-law. Now I will have with me two slaves with purses, in each a
thousand dinars, and I will give him the thousand dinars of the dowry
and make him a present of another thousand dinars so that he may
recognize my nobility and generosity and greatness of mind and the
littleness of the world in my eyes; and for every ten words he will
say to me, I will answer him only two. Then I will return to my house,
and if any one come to me on the bride's part, I will make him a
present of money and clothe him in a robe of honour; but if he bring
me a present I will return it to him and will not accept it so that
they may know how great of soul I am." After a while Alnaschar
continued: "Then I will command them to bring the Vizier's daughter to
me in state and will get ready my house in fine condition to receive
her. When the time of the unveiling of the bride is come, I will put
on my richest clothes and sit down on a couch of brocaded silk,
leaning on a cushion and turning my eyes neither to the right nor to
the left, to show the haughtiness of my mind and the seriousness of my
character. My bride shall stand before me like the full moon, in her
robes and ornaments, and I, out of my pride and my disdain, will not
look at her, till all who are present shall say to me: 'O my lord, thy
wife and thy handmaid stands before thee; deign to look upon her, for
standing is irksome to her.' And they will kiss the earth before me
many times, whereupon I will lift my eyes and give one glance at her,
then bend down my head again. Then they will carry her to the
bride-chamber, and meanwhile I will rise and change my clothes for a
richer suit. When they bring in the bride for the second time, I will
not look at her till they have implored me several times, when I will
glance at her and bow down my head; nor will I cease doing thus, till
they have made an end of parading and displaying her. Then I will
order one of my slaves to fetch a purse, and, giving it to the
tire-women, command them to lead her to the bride-chamber. When they
leave me alone with the bride, I will not look at her or speak to her,
but will sit by her with averted face, that she may say I am high of
soul. Presently her mother will come to me and kiss my head and hands
and say to me: 'O my lord, look on thy handmaid, for she longs for thy
favour, and heal her spirit,' But I will give her no answer; and when
she sees this, she will come and kiss my feet and say, 'O my lord,
verily my daughter is a beautiful girl, who has never seen man; and if
thou show her this aversion, her heart will break; so do thou be
gracious to her and speak to her.' Then she will rise and fetch a cup
of wine, and her daughter will take it and come to me; but I will
leave her standing before me, while I recline upon a cushion of cloth
of gold, and will not look at her to show the haughtiness of my heart,
so that she will think me to be a Sultan of exceeding dignity and will
say to me: 'O my lord, for God's sake, do not refuse to take the cup
from thy servant's hand, for indeed I am thy handmaid.' But I will not
speak to her, and she will press me, saying: 'Needs must thou drink
it,' and put it to my lips. Then I will shake my fist in her face and
spurn her with my foot thus." So saying, he gave a kick with his foot
and knocked over the tray of glass, which fell over to the ground, and
all that was in it was broken.





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