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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying ....*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’

*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
People reached
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Engagements
2 shares
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
People reached
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Engagements
2 shares
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
People reached
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Engagements
2 shares
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
People reached
8
Engagements
2 shares
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
People reached
8
Engagements
2 shares
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
People reached
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Engagements
2 shares
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
People reached
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Engagements
2 shares
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
People reached
8
Engagements
2 shares
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
People reached
8
Engagements
2 shares
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Comment
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The Caravan
*In the manner of all good story telling, I shall just start by saying,..*
Once upon a time, a mighty caravan of travellers and merchants were making its way across the desert. The sounds of camel bells and the chinking of the horses’ harnesses could be heard from afar over the vast plain, where nothing could be seen but sand and sky. A thick cloud of dust rose before the caravan and, when a breath of wind did part this, one may have been dazzled by the sight of rich fabric clothing and the shimmering glint on the many weapons.
This was how the caravan appeared to the solitary rider mounted up on a magnificent Arab stallion, with a tiger’s skin draped over it. Small silver bells hung from its deep crimson harness, and a plume of heron’s feathers waved on the horse’s head. The rider himself struck a commanding figure. On his head he had a white turban, richly embroidered with gold threading, his coat and wide trousers were of scarlet silk, and her wore a curved sword at his side, its hilt encrusted with jewels. His turban was set well down over his forehead. This, together with his gleaming black hawk-like eyes and bushy brows, and the long beard flowing from under his hooked nose, gave him a wild look.
When he was some fifty paces from the approaching caravan, he spurred on his horse, and in but a few moments reached the head of the procession. So unusual was it to see a lone horseman riding through the desert that the guards, fearing a surprise attack, levelled their lances toward the stranger.
‘What’s the meaning of this?, cried the rider, at the hostile reception. ’Do you really think that one man will attack this caravan by himself?’ The guards, feeling ashamed, raised the points of their spears again, but their captain rode up to the stranger and asked him what he wanted. ‘Who is the master of this caravan?’ inquired the stranger.’ It belongs to no one man,’ replied the captain, ‘but jointly to several merchants who are on their way home. We are guiding them across the desert to guard them from such rascals and bandits who often attack travellers here,’ ‘Lead me to these merchants,’ the stranger said. ‘I cannot do that now,’ said the captain. ‘We must hurry on without delay, and the merchants are at least a quarter of an hour’s hard ride behind us. However, if you will ride on with me until we pitch camp for the noonday halt, I will do ask you ask then.’
The stranger made no reply but proceeded to untie a long pipe from his saddle and began to smoke it as he rode along at the head of the procession, beside the captain of the guards. The captain did not know what to make of him. He dared not ask directly for the man’s name, and hard as he tried to start up a conversation, the stranger returned only a brief, ‘Yes, indeed!’ to his remarks of ‘That’s a good tobacco you are smoking.’ Or ‘You have a fine horse there!’
Eventually, they reached the place where they wished to halt, and the captain placed his men on guard. He himself waited by the stranger’s side as the caravan came up. Thirty camels passed them by, all heavily laden and led by armed men. After them, riding fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the caravan belonged. Four were elderly men, and looked very grave and serious, but the fifth, who seemed much younger than the others, seemed more cheerful. Many more camels and packhorses were following along behind.
Tents were pitched, and the horses and camels tethered nearby. In the middle stood a huge tent of bright blue silk, and the captain of the guards led the stranger toward it. Lifting the tent flap, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions, with servants proffering food and drink to them. ‘Who is this?’ the youngest merchant asked.
‘I am known as Salim’, the stranger said before the captain could even attempt to reply. ‘I come originally from Baghdad, and I was on a pilgrimage to Mecca when I was taken captive by a band of robbers. Three days ago, I escaped and fled. I heard the bells of your caravan from afar, and so I chanced upon you. Will you let me ride in your company? You will be giving your protection to no unworthy man, and if you will allow me to travel to Baghdad with your party, you shall be rewarded for your kindness, as I am the Grand Vizier’s nephew’ ‘Welcome to our company, Selim’ replied an elder merchant. ‘We are indeed happy to be able to help you! But sit down now and eat and drink with us.’
Salim sat down with the merchants and ate and drank. After the meal, servants took away the dishes and brought in long pipes to smoke, and sherbet to drink. The merchants sat in silence for some time, blowing clouds of blue smoke and watching them intertwine and dance, and finally float away into the air.
At last, the young merchant broke the silence. ’Well, we have been sitting like this for three days now,’ said he, ‘Either sitting on horseback, or at the table, with nothing at all to pass the time away. I am bored. I usually watch dancers after dinner, listen to music and people singing. Can’t you think of anything to help us pass the time my friends?’ The four elder merchants smoked on, looking as if they are thinking very earnestly, but Salim said, ‘If I may, I will suggest that one of us tell a story at each camping place. In this way we would soon while away he time.’ ‘Salim, your suggestion is good!’ said Ahmed, the oldest merchant, ‘Let us do as you suggest.’ ‘ Well, I am glad that idea pleases you,’ said Selim, ‘and to show you I mean fair play, I will tell the first story myself.’
Much pleased, the five merchants moved closer, while Selim seated himself in their midst. The servants refilled their goblets and replenished their pipes and brought glowing coals to light them. As for Selim, he took a long draught of his sherbet, stroked his beard, and began.
‘Listen then carefully, to my strange tale!’
14
People reached
8
Engagements