92 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
' If he only makes a mess of the paper, you may be sure I will punish him for it. But if, as I hope, he really can write, for he is the cleverest monkey I ever saw, I will adopt him as my son. The one I lost had not nearly so much sense !'
No more was said, and I took the pen and wrote the six sorts of writing in use among the Arabs, and each sort contained an original verse or couplet, in praise of the Sultan. And not only did my handwriting completely eclipse that of the merchants, but it is hardly too much to say that none so beautiful had ever before been seen in that country. When I had ended the officials took the roll and returned to the Sultan.
As soon as the monarch saw my writing he did not so much as look at the samples of the merchants, but desired his officials to take the finest and most richly caparisoned horse in his stables, together with the mos1: magnificent dress they could procure, and to put it on the person who had written those lines, and bring him to court.
The officials began to laugh when they heard the Sultan's command, but as soon as they could speak they said, ' Deign, your highness, to excuse our mirth, but those lines were not written by a man but by a monkey.'
'A monkey! ' exclaimed the Sultan.
' Yes, sire,' answered the officials. ' They were written by a monkey in our presence.'
' Then bring me the monkey,' he replied, ' as fast as you can.'
The Sultan's officials returned to the ship and showed the royal order to the captain.
' He is the master,' said the good man, and desired that I should be sent for.
Then they put on me the gorgeous robe and rowed me to land, where I was placed on the horse and led to the palace. Here the Sultan was awaiting me in great state surrounded by his court.