“Mashallah! How wonderful is God! Did the Caliph Haroun ever hear such stories?” observed the pacha, taking the pipe from his mouth, as he was indulging in company with Mustapha: “that infidel tells strange histories of strange countries—What will his mouth open to next?”
“The Shaitan Bacheh, for a son of the devil he still is, although he wears the turban and bows to Allah, will prove a treasury of amusement to your sublime highness,” replied Mustapha: “but what are the words of the sage?—’If thou hast gold in thy hazneh, keep it locked and add thereto; thus shalt thou become rich.’”
“They are the words of wisdom,” replied the pacha.
“Then may I advise your highness to walk out this evening in search of more, and not exhaust that which is in your possession?”
“Wallah Thaib! It is well said!” answered the pacha, rising from his musnud or carpet of state: “the moon is up—when all is ready we will proceed.”
In a quarter of an hour the pacha, attended by Mustapha and the armed slaves as before, again set out upon their perambulations through the city of Cairo.
They had not walked more than half-an-hour when they observed two men sitting at the door of a fruit-shop, at high words with each other. The pacha held up his finger to Mustapha, as a sign to stop, that he might over-hear their discourse.
“I tell you, Ali, that it is impossible to hear those long stories of yours without losing one’s temper.”
“Long stories!” whispered the pacha to Mustapha with delight: “the very thing!—Shukur Allah! Thanks be to God!”
“And I tell you in reply, Hussan, that yours are ten times worse. You never have spoken for ten minutes, without my feeling an inclination to salute your mouth with the heel of my slipper. I wish there was any one who would hear us both and decide the point.”
“That I will,” said the pacha, going up to them: “to-morrow I will hear both your stories, and decide upon the merits of each.”
“And who are you?” observed one of the men, with surprise.
“His highness the pacha,” replied Mustapha, coming forward. Both the men prostrated themselves, while the pacha directed Mustapha that they should be brought before him on the following day: and the vizier, having given them in charge to the slaves who had followed at a distance, returned home with the pacha; who was delighted at the rich harvest which he expected to reap from the two people who accused each other of telling such long stories.
When the divan of the following day had closed, the two men were summoned into the presence of the pacha.
“I shall now decide upon the merits of your stories,” observed he. “Sit down there both of you, and agree between yourselves which of you will begin.”
“May it please your highness, you will never be able to listen to this man Ali,” observed Hussan: “you had better send him away.”