‘Why do you think so?’
‘Because you have something of the Armenian look.’
‘I understand you,’ said I; ‘you mean to say that I squint!’
‘Not exactly,’ said the Armenian, ’but there is certainly a kind of irregularity in your features. One eye appears to me larger than the other—never mind, but rather rejoice; in that irregularity consists your strength. All people with regular features are fools; it is very hard for them, you’ll say, but there is no help: all we can do, who are not in such a predicament, is to pity those who are. Well! will you accept my offer? No! you are a singular individual; but I must not forget my own concerns. I must now go forth, having an appointment by which I hope to make money.’
Wish fulfilled—Extraordinary figure—Bueno—Noah—The two faces—I don’t blame him—Too fond of money—Were I an Armenian.
The fulfilment of the Armenian’s grand wish was nearer at hand than either he or I had anticipated. Partly owing to the success of a bold speculation, in which he had some time previously engaged, and partly owing to the bequest of a large sum of money by one of his nation who died at this period in Paris, he found himself in the possession of a fortune somewhat exceeding two hundred thousand pounds; this fact he communicated to me one evening about an hour after the close of ’Change; the hour at which I generally called, and at which I mostly found him at home.
‘Well,’ said I, ‘and what do you intend to do next?’
‘I scarcely know,’ said the Armenian. ’I was thinking of that when you came in. I don’t see anything that I can do, save going on in my former course. After all, I was perhaps too moderate in making the possession of two hundred thousand pounds the summit of my ambition; there are many individuals in this town who possess three times that sum, and are not yet satisfied. No, I think I can do no better than pursue the old career; who knows but I may make the two hundred thousand three or four?—there is already a surplus, which is an encouragement; however, we will consider the matter over a goblet of wine; I have observed of late that you have become partial to my Cyprus.’
And it came to pass that, as we were seated over the Cyprus wine, we heard a knock at the door. ‘Adelante!’ cried the Armenian; whereupon the door opened, and in walked a somewhat extraordinary figure—a man in a long loose tunic of a stuff striped with black and yellow; breeches of plush velvet, silk stockings, and shoes with silver buckles. On his head he wore a high-peaked hat; he was tall, had a hooked nose, and in age was about fifty.
‘Welcome, Rabbi Manasseh,’ said the Armenian. ’I know your knock—you are welcome; sit down.’
‘I am welcome,’ said Manasseh, sitting down; ’he—he—he! you know my knock—I bring you money—bueno!’