“Allah preserve your highness from all evil,” replied Ali, “but more especially from the talking of Hussan, which is as oppressive as the hot wind of the desert.”
“I have not sent for you to hear you dispute in my presence, but to hear your stories. Ali, do you begin.”
“I do assure your highness,” interrupted Hussan, “that you will not listen to him three minutes.”
“I do assure you,” retorted the pacha, “that if you say one word more, until you are ordered, you will be rewarded with the bastinado for your trouble. Ali, begin your story.”
“Well, your highness, it was about thirty years ago, you know, that I was a little boy, you know.”
Here Hussan lifted up his hands, and smiled.
“Well, your highness, you know——”
“I don’t know, Ali; how can I know until you tell me,” observed the pacha.
“Well, then, your highness must know that ever since I was born I have lived in the same street where your highness saw us seated last night, and thirty years, you know is a long period in a man’s life. My father was a gardener, and people of his condition, you know, are obliged to get up early, that they may be in time for the market, where, you know, they bring their vegetables for sale.”
“This is all very true, I dare say,” observed the pacha; “but you will oblige me by leaving out all those you knows, which I agree with your comrade Hussan to be very tedious.”
“That’s what I have already told him, your highness—’Ali,’ says I, ‘if you can only leave out your you knows,’ says I, ’your story might be amusing, but,’ says I——”
“Silence with your says I’s,” observed the pacha; “have you forgotten the bastinado? there seems to be a pair of you. Ali, go on with the story and remember my injunction; the felek and ferashes are at hand.”
“Well, your highness, one morning he rose earlier than usual, as he was anxious to be the first in the market with some onions, which, you know, are very plentiful; and having laden his ass, he set off, at a good round pace, for the city. There, you know, he arrived at the market-place a little after the day had dawned, when, you know,——”
“Did you not receive my orders to leave out you know? Am I to be obeyed or not? Now go on, and if you offend again, you shall have the bastinado till your nails drop off.”
“I shall observe your highness’s wishes,” replied Ali.—“A little after the day had dawned, you—, no, he, I mean, observed an old woman sitting near one of the fruit-stalls, with her head covered up in an old dark-blue capote; and as he passed by, you—she I mean, held out one of her fingers, and said, ‘Ali Baba,’ for that was my father’s name, ‘Listen to good advice; leave your laden beast, and follow me.’ Now my father, you know, not being inclined to pay any attention to such an old woman, you know, replied, you know,——”