272 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
finding his mother in her apartment, would have sought her in that of the Persian. The two little slaves barred the entrance, saying that his mother had given orders that he was not to be admitted. Taking each by an arm, he put them out of the anteroom, and shut the door. Then they rushed to the bath, informing their mistress with shrieks and tears that Noureddin had driven them away by force and gone in.
This news caused great consternation to the lady, who, dressing herself as quickly as possible, hastened to the apartment of the fair Persian, to find that Noureddin had already gone out. Much astonished to see the vizir's wife enter in tears, the Persian asked what misfortune had happened.
' What!' exclaimed the lady, ' you ask me that, knowing that my son Noureddin has been alone with you?'
i But, madam,' inquired the Persian, ' what harm is there in that?'
' How! Has my husband not told you that you are destined for the king?'
' Certainly, but Noureddin has just been to tell me that his father has changed his mind and has bestowed me upon him. I believed him, and so great is my affection for Noureddin that I would willingly pass my life with him.'
' Would to heaven,' exclaimed the wife of the vizir, ' that what you say were true ; but Noureddin has deceived you, and his father will sacrifice him in vengeance for the wrong he has done.'
So saying, she wept bitterly, and all her slaves wept with her.
Khacan, entering shortly after this, was much astonished to find his wife and her slaves in tears, and the beautiful Persian greatly perturbed. He inquired the cause, but for some time no answer was forthcoming. When his wife was at length sufficiently calm to inform him of what had happened, his rage and mortification