270 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
than the dealer, wishing to bring the matter to a conclusion, sent for the merchant, and said to him, ' It is not for myself that I wish to buy your slave, but for the king. Her price, however, is too high.'
' Sir,' replied the merchant, ' I should esteem it an honour to present her to his Majesty, did it become a merchant to do such a thing. I ask no more than the sum it has cost me to make her such as she is.'
Khacan, not wishing to bargain, immediately had the sum counted out, and given to the merchant, who before withdrawing said:
' Sir, as she is destined for the king, I would have you observe that she is extremely tired with the long journey, and before presenting her to his Majesty you would do well to keep her a fortnight in your own house, and to see that a little care is bestowed upon her. The sun has tanned her complexion, but when she has been two or three times to the bath, and is fittingly dressed, you will see how much her beauty will be increased.'
Khacan thanked the merchant for his advice, and determined to follow it. He gave the beautiful Persian an apartment near to that of his wife, whom he charged to treat her as befitting a lady destined for the king, and to order for her the most magnificent garments.
Before bidding adieu to the fair Persian, he said to her: ' No happiness can be greater than what I have procured for you; judge for yourself, you now belong to the king. I have, however, to warn you of one thing. I have a son, who, though not wanting in sense, is young, foolish, and headstrong, and I charge you to keep him at a distance.'
The Persian thanked him for his advice, and promised to profit by it.
Noureddin — for so the vizir's son was named — went freely in and out of his mother's apartments. He was young, well-made and agreeable, and had the gift of charming all with whom he came in contact. As soon