66 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
his name and rank for all danger to be over. So he whispered hastily to the vizir, who was next to him, to reveal their secret. But the vizir, wiser than his master, wished to conceal from the public the affront they had received, and merely answered, ' After all, we have only got what we deserved.'
Meanwhile Zobeida had turned to the three Calenders and inquired if, as they were all blind, they were brothers.
' No, madam,' replied one, ' we are no blood relations at all, only brothers by our mode of life.'
' And you,' she asked, addressing another, ' were you born blind of one eye?'
' No, madam,' returned he, 'I became blind through a most surprising adventure, such as probably has never happened to anybody. After that I shaved my head and eyebrows and put on the dress in which you see me now.'
Zobeida put the same question to the other two Calenders, and received the same answer.
' But,' added the third, ' it may interest you, madam, to know that we are not men of low birth, but are all three sons of kings, and of kings, too, whom the world holds in high esteem.'
At these words Zobeida's anger cooled down, and she turned to her slaves and said, ' You can give them a little more liberty, but do not leave the hall. Those that will tell us their histories and their reasons for coming here
shall be allowed to leave unhurt; those who refuse------'
And she paused, but in a moment the porter, who understood that he had only to relate his story to set himself free from this terrible danger, immediately broke in,
' Madam, you know already how I came here, and what I have to say will soon be told. Your sister found me this morning in the place where I always stand waiting to be hired. She bade me follow her to various shops, and when my basket was quite full we returned to