“Mashallah! but he swims well,” said the pacha, breaking up the audience.
The departure of the caravan was delayed for two or three days by the vizier upon various pretexts—although it was his duty to render it every assistance—that Menouni might afford further amusement to the pacha. Menouni was well content to remain, as the liberality of the pacha was not to be fallen in with every day, and the next evening he was again ushered into the sublime presence.
“Khosh amedeid! you are welcome,” said the pacha, as Menouni made his low obeisance, “Now let us have another story. I don’t care how long it is, only let us have no more princesses to be married. That Babe-bi-bobu was enough to tire the patience of a dervish.”
“Your sublime highness shall be obeyed,” replied Menouni. “Would it please you to hear the story of Yussuf, the Water carrier?”
“Yes, that sounds better. You may proceed.”
May it please your highness, it so happened that the great Haroun Alraschid was one night seized with one of those fits of sleepless melancholy with which it had pleased Allah to temper his splendid destiny, and which fits are, indeed, the common lot of those who are raised by fortune above the ordinary fears and vicissitudes of life.
* * * * *
“I can’t say that I ever have them,” observed the pacha. “How is that, Mustapha?”
“Your highness has as undoubted a right to them as the great caliph,” replied Mustapha, bowing; “but if I may venture to state my opinion,” continued he, drawing down to the ear of the pacha, “you have discovered the remedy for them in the strong water of the Giaour.”
“Very true,” replied the pacha; “Haroun Alraschid, if I recollect right, was very strict in his observances of the precepts of the Koran. After all, he was but a pastek—a water-melon. You may proceed, Menouni.”
* * * * *
The caliph, oppressed, as I before observed to your highness, with this fit of melancholy, despatched Mesrour for his chief vizier, Giaffar Bermukki, who, not unaccustomed to this nocturnal summons, speedily presented himself before the commander of the faithful. “Father of true believers! descendant of the Prophet!” said the minister, with a profound obeisance, “thy slave waits but to hear, and hears but to obey.”