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Noureddin and the fair Persian.
From Arabian Nights Entertainments by Andrew Lang.
Start of Story
Age Rating 8 Plus.
"How! Has my husband not told you that you are destined for the king?"
"Certainly, but Noureddin has just been to tell me that his father has
changed his mind and has bestowed me upon him. I believed him, and so
great is my affection for Noureddin that I would willingly pass my life
"Would to heaven," exclaimed the wife of the vizir, "that what you say
were true; but Noureddin has deceived you, and his father will
sacrifice him in vengeance for the wrong he has done."
So saying, she wept bitterly, and all her slaves wept with her.
Khacan, entering shortly after this, was much astonished to find his
wife and her slaves in tears, and the beautiful Persian greatly
perturbed. He inquired the cause, but for some time no answer was
forthcoming. When his wife was at length sufficiently calm to inform
him of what had happened, his rage and mortification knew no bounds.
Wringing his hands and rending his beard, he exclaimed:
"Wretched son! thou destroyest not only thyself but thy father. The
king will shed not only thy blood but mine." His wife tried to console
him, saying: "Do not torment thyself. With the sale of my jewels I
will obtain 10,000 gold pieces, and with this sum you will buy another
"Do not suppose," replied her husband, "that it is the loss of the
money that affects me. My honour is at stake, and that is more
precious to me than all my wealth. You know that Saouy is my mortal
enemy. He will relate all this to the king, and you will see the
consequences that will ensue."
"My lord," said his wife, "I am quite aware of Saouy's baseness, and
that he is capable of playing you this malicious trick. But how can he
or any one else know what takes place in this house? Even if you are
suspected and the king accuses you, you have only to say that, after
examining the slave, you did not find her worthy of his Majesty.
Reassure yourself, and send to the dealers, saying that you are not
satisfied, and wish them to find you another slave."
This advice appearing reasonable, Khacan decided to follow it, but his
wrath against his son did not abate. Noureddin dared not appear all
that day, and fearing to take refuge with his usual associates in case
his father should seek him there, he spent the day in a secluded garden
where he was not known. He did not return home till after his father
had gone to bed, and went out early next morning before the vizir
awoke, and these precautions he kept up during an entire month.
His mother, though knowing very well that he returned to the house
every evening, dare not ask her husband to pardon him. At length she
took courage and said:
"My lord, I know that a son could not act more basely towards his
father than Noureddin has done towards you, but after all will you now
pardon him? Do you not consider the harm you may be doing yourself,
and fear that malicious people, seeking the cause of your estrangement,
may guess the real one?"
"Madam," replied the vizir, "what you say is very just, but I cannot
pardon Noureddin before I have mortified him as he deserves."
"He will be sufficiently punished," answered the lady, "if you do as I
suggest. In the evening, when he returns home, lie in wait for him and
pretend that you will slay him. I will come to his aid, and while
pointing out that you only yield his life at my supplications, you can
force him to take the beautiful Persian on any conditions you please."
Khacan agreed to follow this plan, and everything took place as
arranged. On Noureddin's return Khacan pretended to be about to slay
him, but yielding to his wife's intercession, said to his son:
"You owe your life to your mother. I pardon you on her intercession,
and on the conditions that you take the beautiful Persian for your
wife, and not your slave, that you never sell her, nor put her away."
Noureddin, not hoping for so great indulgence, thanked his father, and
vowed to do as he desired. Khacan was at great pains frequently to
speak to the king of the difficulties attending the commission he had
given him, but some whispers of what had actually taken place did reach
More than a year after these events the minister took a chill, leaving
the bath while still heated to go out on important business. This
resulted in inflammation of the lungs, which rapidly increased. The
vizir, feeling that his end was at hand, sent for Noureddin, and
charged him with his dying breath never to part with the beautiful
Shortly afterwards he expired, leaving universal regret throughout the
kingdom; rich and poor alike followed him to the grave. Noureddin
showed every mark of the deepest grief at his father's death, and for
long refused to see any one. At length a day came when, one of his
friends being admitted, urged him strongly to be consoled, and to
resume his former place in society. This advice Noureddin was not slow
to follow, and soon he formed little society of ten young men all about
his own age, with whom he spent all his time in continual feasting and
Sometimes the fair Persian consented to appear at these festivities,
but she disapproved of this lavish expenditure, and did not scruple to
warn Noureddin of the probable consequences. He, however, only laughed
at her advice, saying, that his father had always kept him in too great
constraint, and that now he rejoiced at his new-found liberty.
What added to the confusion in his affairs was that he refused to look
into his accounts with his steward, sending him away every time he
appeared with his book.
"See only that I live well," he said, "and do not disturb me about
Not only did Noureddin's friends constantly partake of his hospitality,
but in every way they took advantage of his generosity; everything of
his that they admired, whether land, houses, baths, or any other source
of his revenue, he immediately bestowed on them. In vain the Persian
protested against the wrong he did himself; he continued to scatter
with the same lavish hand.
Throughout one entire year Noureddin did nothing but amuse himself, and
dissipate the wealth his father had taken such pains to acquire. The
year had barely elapsed, when one day, as they sat at table, there came
a knock at the door. The slaves having been sent away, Noureddin went
to open it himself. One of his friends had risen at the same time, but
Noureddin was before him, and finding the intruder to be the steward,
he went out and closed the door. The friend, curious to hear what
passed between them, hid himself behind the hangings, and heard the
"My lord," said the steward, "I beg a thousand pardons for interrupting
you, but what I have long foreseen has taken place. Nothing remains of
the sums you gave me for your expenses, and all other sources of income
are also at end, having been transferred by you to others. If you wish
me to remain in your service, furnish me with the necessary funds, else
I must withdraw."
So great was Noureddin's consternation that he had not a word to say in
The friend, who had been listening behind the curtain, immediately
hastened to communicate the news to the rest of the company.
"If this is so," they said, "we must cease to come here."
Noureddin re-entering at that moment, they plainly saw, in spite of his
efforts to dissemble, that what they had heard was the truth. One by
one they rose, and each with a different excuse left the room, till
presently he found himself alone, though little suspecting the
resolution his friends had taken. Then, seeing the beautiful Persian,
he confided to her the statement of the steward, with many expressions
of regret for his own carelessness.
"Had I but followed your advice, beautiful Persian," he said, "all this
would not have happened, but at least I have this consolation, that I
have spent my fortune in the company of friends who will not desert me
in an hour of need. To-morrow I will go to them, and amongst them they
will lend me a sum sufficient to start in some business."
Accordingly next morning early Noureddin went to seek his ten friends,
who all lived in the same street. Knocking at the door of the first
and chief, the slave who opened it left him to wait in a hall while he
announced his visit to his master. "Noureddin!" he heard him exclaim
quite audibly. "Tell him, every time he calls, that I am not at home."
The same thing happened at the second door, and also at the third, and
so on with all the ten. Noureddin, much mortified, recognised too late
that he had confided in false friends, who abandoned him in his hour of
need. Overwhelmed with grief, he sought consolation from the beautiful