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The excited youth was for a moment promising a speedy repetition of the unable to trust himself to speak. visit. “Yes,” he finally replied ; "and did Ahmed's joy almost made him inyou notice her impassioned and deli- His late tender experience, with cate interpretation of their sentiment ?” the sweet assurance of Nourmahal's love
“ To be sure I did," said Noureddin; terminating all his anxiety, rendered " but the words are her own."
him for a time extravagantly happy. The company now repaired to the His unfitness for study occasioned much garden. While the other gentlemen wonder among the faculty. But, comdisposed themselves for a siesta, Ah- manding himself, he at length succeedmed, who had heard much of Alman- ed in fixing his attention, and even his sor's elegant grounds, which invariably companions soon ceased to observe any filled the stranger with agreeable sur- thing unusual in his conduct. prise, roamed about admiringly, paus- The eccentric noble by degrees grew ing every few moments to examine more so fond of Ahmed, and so resigned to attentively some fine plant or flower. the idea of being excelled by him in all He at length came to a huge fountain, * his favorite amusements, that he sent that some way reminded him of the one for him almost every day. Encouraged he had seen in the vision. As he stood by this partiality, Ahmed one day debefore it, listening to the sweet patter- cided to make known his passion. On ing of the water, and half lost in this occasion they were alone. So soon thought, he heard behind him the rust- as Almansor comprehended Ahmed's ling of a dress. Turning quickly, he meaning, he began to laugh. “Ho, started with surprise to discover the hol my friend-ho, ho! ho, ho! I've beautiful Nourmahal, dressed precisely been expecting this !” he cried. “And as then, her face wearing the same look now, let me tell you that, if you can of sweetness and trusting love. That show me you are able to support a wife instant he felt drawn to her with mys- handsomely, you are the very son-interious force. Kissing her hand with law I want-a man of skill and courrespectful tenderness, and observing her age, sound in head, heart, and stommodest confusion, he said, “Dear Nour- ach !" mahal, is it possible that this pleasure, Overwhelmed with his good fortune, so often dreamed of, is at length really Abmed seized his hand and kissed it. mine ? Believe me, I love you dearly! “ Thanks, noble sir ! ” he cried. “If What happiness to be in this charming you will accompany me, I will show place, with you!"
you whether I am in a condition to These were the very words he had maintain your daughter properly.” uttered in the mountain ; and Nourma- The noble consenting, they went to hal's reply-which he remembered word Ahmed's house. by word—was also the same. The vis- Ahmed conducted their guest to an ion was perfectly reproduced in blissful inner apartment, where, after raising reality.
the loose boards of the floor, he disThe interview was interrupted, as played the ten chests, which he prothey stood near the fountain, by the ceeded to open, Almansor was astonmercurial Noureddin, who came to ap- ished, of course. “ Why, my dear Ahprise his friend that their host was call- med,” he exclaimed, “ you are the riching for him. This errand, however, he est young man in Thibet! Yet, I value did not announce till he had paid the your personal qualities more than all most humble deference to the blushing this gold. Nothing but the natural Nourmahal. They now rejoined the concern of a father for his daughter's rest of the company.
welfare could have made me think of Coffee was served in a charming asking any other qualification in her summer-house; and, soon afterward, husband than those I already knew Ahmed and Noureddin departed, after when you made your proposal. I was
not aware, Ahmed, that
father was neous merchandise, in various parts of a rich man."
the empire. It would have been well This remark was embarrassing. But for the youth had his tastes been more after some reflection, Ahmed told the business-like. Even his mother remonamazing story of his enrichment. strated vainly. The gold was going by
Well, I must say, Ahmed,” the no- degrees; but he knew that Calcar had ble exclaimed, smiling good-humored- a "genius for grand designs," as Ganem ly, “the magician has found a desery- expressed it, and was aware that these ing beneficiary. He was right in sup- huge magazines of goods could not be posing that the son of so excellent a founded and maintained without money. father and so admirable a mother could The wedding-day approached. Gascarcely prove an unworthy recipient of nem volunteered in the kindest manner bis bounty."
to act as esquire and general managerThe two friends now rejoined the an office that should include the purmother, whom they pleased with the chase of jewelry and works of art, and announcement of the intended mar- other suitable gifts; in short, his fine riage. After a long discussion, they talents seemed to be wholly bent towards concluded that, as both Ahmed and the spending of Ahmed's gold, Nourmahal were quite young, and the Just before the wedding-day, Ganem former had but just begun his scholas, went to Almansor, and, intimating that tic career, the marriage should be de- he had a matter of serious importance ferred two years. Before his guest de- to communicate, was granted a private parted, Ahmed placed in his hands the interview. “ Kind sir,” he said, with gold box that contained the beautiful an air of the utmost gravity and sornecklace of pearls, as a present to Nour- row, “it pains me to say it, but the mahal,
truth is, your intended son-in-law is a
beggar ! ” It now occurred to Ahmed that it “ A beggar !” exclaimed the noble; would be well to carry out the advice with the greatest surprise.“ Why, how of the magician in respect to a steward. long is it since I myself saw almost un-He therefore made inquiries among his countable gold in his possession! Is it friends; and Ganem—who of late had possible it is all gone? been very friendly-recommended one “Not only possible, but true,” replied Calcar so warmly, that he concluded to Ganem. “Even if it were not alto
gether squandered, it could last but a Son, I do not quite like his looks,” little wbile in the hands of such a said the mother, after the first business spendthrift. Have you heard of his interview with the steward. “But, business enterprises ?." since so excellent a friend as Ganem “Not a word,” was the reply. has guaranteed his capability, it is per- Upon this, Ganem proceeded to make haps wrong to feel suspicious."
known that imprudent investments and “ That is just my own impression, wild speculations had actually made mother," said Ahmed; and there it way with Ahmed's property, and that rested.
even his house could hardly be proThe two years quickly passed. The nounced safe from his creditors. lovers became more enamored of each This intelligence deeply affected the other day by day. Such was his devo- noble, who had often pictured to himtion to his studies, his passion, and his self the felicity of the happy pair, so gymnastics, 'that Ahmed found little worthy of each other and so fond, and time to investigate the affairs of his could not without pain reflect that his steward, who by degrees engaged more own estates were so far depreciated, and more deeply in mercantile specula- through long neglect, that, at present, tions; and, to further them, founded he was quite unable to repair the disasimmense bazaars, or dépôts of miscella- ter. Moreover, he could not avoid some
indignation with Ahmed for his culpa- hal, and was eager to place myself at ble negligence, which certainly was the once in a position that might justify an immediate cause of his ruin. "Of application for her hand. Next, I alcourse, the wedding can't take place," lowed myself to become absorbed in he said. " Nourmahal must not be schemes of exercise and thoughts of given to a beggar, even though that love, to the neglect of my studies and beggar were a prince.”
my business. The operations of my Sad as was the blow to Almansor, it steward were so extraordinary, that was naturally much more terrible to the they should have had my attention long young and innocent lovers. Ahmed ago. My mother spoke of it repeatedwas prostrated by it, and thrown into a ly, but I had no time and no taste for delirious fever. “ It is Ganem's work!" such things. But one word from you said poor Nourmahal, in so calm a voice will decide whether my errors are to be that all were deceived; but presently, my final ruin.” with a faint cry, she fell to the floor, "Explain yourself, good Ahmed," and was taken up for dead.
said Almansor, kindly; for, in spite of By the time that Ahmed was himself himself, he was affected by these simple again, his mother, who had meanwhile and honest words. dismissed the steward, was ready with " Most willingly,” said Ahmed. “Two a statement of his affairs, quite clear years ago you said that you had considand thorough, which she had prepared ered me a suitable husband for your with the assistance of Noureddin. It daughter, even before you knew of my appeared that a sale of his remaining riches. How am I now less worthy ! property would suffice to balance all Now, what I ask is this : Give me a accounts with his creditors, leaving year to work in; meanwhile, let it be him nothing but the consciousness of understood that Nourmahal and I have having acted honorably under circum- not resigned each other. If, at the end stances that strongly tempt a man to of that time, I cannot show an imtrickery. He decided to pay his debts. provement in my fortunes, with reasonHis servants, who loved him, felt the able prospects, I shall be willing to reseparation keenly, and expressed their sign my claims; and, whether willing grief in loud lamentations. Several of or not, shall justify you in considering his creditors, touched by his courage- the engagement at an end." ous spirit of self-sacrifice, made up Why, that is but justice, Ahmed," among themselves a small sum, which answered the noble. “It is true, Ganem they presented to him, with such ex- has made advances; but Nourmahal pressions of regard that he could not detests him, and has utterly refused to persist in his determination to refuse it. see him more. A good father is tender With this money he was able to redeem to his child. She loves you, that is certhe little cottage on the mountain, and tain. Yes, I consent." to purchase a few simple articles of fur- “ Thanks, kind sir !” exclaimed Ahniture, with some books and other com- med, kissing the extended hand; "you forts which his late studies and habits shall see that your confidence is well had rendered indispensable.
founded." Taking his leave respectfulJust before removing, he sought the ly, he returned home with a light heart, noble, who kindly consented to see him. for he felt that, with health and strength, “My misfortunes," said Ahmed, when he could casily make good his pledge. the first constrained greetings were Upon entering, his mother asked if
are severe, but not unmerited. he had brought any thing to eat, for My wealth, to begin with, was meanly there was nothing in the house. He acquired; for, when I so tamely accept- felt for his purse; it was gone! “Shade ed it, I had the choice of earning a com- of my father!” he exclaimed ; "this is petence by steady labor, and declined misery !—nothing to eat, and no money it. I had just begun to love Nourma- to buy with !"
“ What! have you lost your purse ?” gold box, receiving a liberal sum. With asked the mother, in alarm.
part of this money he hired several por“I fear I have,” he replied, trying ters to convey the chests to the marketrapidly one pocket after another. place, where they soon attracted the eye
In their excitement and distress, for of a curiosity-fancier, who at once some days they had eaten barely suffi- offered two hundred pieces of gold for cient to keep soul and body together. 'them. Unwilling to risk the loss of Pride forbade the disclosure of their this customer by haggling, Ahmed condition to the neighbors; but food closed the bargain, and hastened homethey must have. What was to be done? ward-happier, in that hour, than he At length, as Ahmed was walking to had ever in his life been before. and fro, thinking sarily of their hard By the middle of the afternoon every fate, and beating his breast with vio- thing he possessed was once more under lence, his hand happened to strike the the roof of the little mountain cottage. little gold box which, in accordance At first it looked mean enough; but with the magician's advice, he had there was consolation in the thought always carried about his person. With that now they were able to make it an exclamation of delight, he eagerly thoroughly comfortable. Already, in drew forth the tiny treasure, and, hur- imagination, he saw and delighted in riedly raising the lid, presented it to his the improvements that were possible. mother. “Taste of that powder !” he And not alone inside; he would beaucried;
“it was intended for just such tify even the out-houses and the gara case as ours."
den. “Ah, dear son," said the mother, tak- As he was standing before the door, ing the box, “ little did we think how turning over in his mind a plan for this useful this powder might one day be to latter reformation, he suddenly descried
We thought it only a grim joke of the magician ascending toward him. our friend, the magician.”
The sight gave him so much pleasure, “But taste it, mother," said Ahmed; that he hastened to meet the good man “and may its virtues lead us to forgive who had tried so well to benefit bim. the joke!”
Truly, it was not the magician's fault They both now partouk freely of the if things had turned out badly. Did powder. The pangs of hunger were in- he not advise Ahmed to satisfy himself stantly allayed, and they ball the sensa- fully in regard to the steward's honesty tion of having just eaten a hearty meal. and capacity, before trusting him ? Closing the box to replace it in his Had that caution been beeded, all bosom, Ahmed felt something rattle would now be well. And even had he within. Opening it once more, he found been deceived, at last, in regard to the several small gold-pieces, that had lain steward's character, the advice was to under the powder, and also a paper, risk but a part of his capital; whereas, that contained these words :
he had risked the whole. “If more is needed, sell the box. “ Well, friend Ahmed,” said the maThe powder, having once being exposed gician, smiling kindly, “and how do
" to the air, will presently lose all its vir- you find yourself, after all your trials ?” tue. If still further relief is desired,
“ Much more cheerful than you may the ten empty chests may also be sold. suppose,” said Ahmed, pleasantly, as he They are made of the rarest woods, pressed the magician's hand. He then skilfully matched and carved, and will described the sale of the chests and the produce a handsome sum.”
box, and what led to it. They raised the chests, and a careful “But, after all," said the magician, inspection fully justified the language " the future is not yet provided for. of the paper. The chests were indeed The little sum you now have is but a exquisite. The next morning Abmed temporary aid. Now, although in strict went to a jeweler's and sold the little justice you may be said to have forfeit
ed all hope of further aid from the oth- powder over the coals, and once more er world—and, indeed, no more gifts waited calmly while the incense was can be yours-still, it is in my power to diffusing itself. So subtile was it, that put you in a way to earn a fortune, in it was quite invisible; yet Ahmed was the way that would have been pointed soon aware of a delicate, delicious odor, out two years ago, had you but decided finer than flowers can yield-something for it."
every way exquisite, possessing moral “Ah, if I had only been so wise!' qualities, one might almost say. Such sighed Ahmed. But I have the wis- was the effect it produced in him, that dom now, and the courage."
he felt certain something unusual was • Nothing but the conviction of your about to happen. Under its influence real worthiness could have induced me every object he beheld seemed transfigto come to you again," said the magi- ured; and the sense of expectation and cian, with seriousness. “Now, then, if of waiting was strongly excited. The you are ready, come up the mountain magician now produced a white wand, once more, and we will take a new and waved it, at first slowly, afterward start."
more rapidly, over the fire, at the same “With all my heart,” replied Ahmed. time uttering strange words, in a tone
As they proceeded in silence, follow which grew louder by degrees, and being the path which they had once be- came imperative. On a sudden he fore trodden, Ahmed had leisure to col- stopped, turned to the East, and looked lect his thoughts. More clearly than upward, as though expecting something ever, now that he was with the grave from the air. Immediately, without and serious man who had so signally warning of any kind, a bright form befriended him, did he perceive his stood before them, as though just alighterrors, and the damage to his character ing from some kind of aerial car. Her that had resulted from the enjoyment eyes beamed graciously, and a most enof wealth too easily gotten. “ The chanting smile parted her lovely lips. great Shigemooni be thanked,” he said In her right hand was a branch of myrto himself, “I have one more opportu- tle. nity of proving myself a man!"
Never had Ahmed dreamed of so They had now reached the scene of marvellous a sight. Knowing that so the former enchantment. “ We shall much beauty and beneficence, and withal need a fire once more," said the magi. such an air of majesty, could not becian. The young man promptly obeyed long to a mere mortal, he knelt to her, the hint, and soon had collected a good that he might pay the homage due to a sized heap of small sticks, bushes, with superior being. At this she frowned, several bones that he had found bleach- and, all the while looking at the maing by the wayside. The latter mate- gician alone, made a slight gesture rial the magician at once rejected, say- of impatience with her myrtle wand ing that, in summoning the powers toward the kneeling figure. “ Worship whom he intended to invoke, no matter God alone !" said the magician to Ahthat had ever had sentient life must be med, in an offended tone. Much abashed, employed. Not to mention other and the youth arose from his knees, and more abstruse reasons, the odor from awkwardly awaited the pleasure of his such material when burning did not superiors. harmonize with that of the incense to “What is thy pleasure, good morbe used, and genii of all classes were tal ?” asked the fairy of the magician, particular on this point.
in a voice of wondrous sweetness. The stones were then placed as be- “Fair lady, pardon my boldness in fore, and the fire kindled in the same summoning thee," said the magician. mysterious manner. The magician, “ Thou knowest I have not abused my pausing till the smoke of the fire had gift. I greatly desire to serve this quite ceased to rise, sprinkled a white youth, who of late has given many