274 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
I will obtain 10,000 gold pieces, and with this sum you will buy another slave.'
' Do not suppose,' replied her husband, ' that it is the loss of the money that affects me. My honour is at stake, and that is more precious to me than all my wealth. You know that Saouy is my mortal enemy. He will relate all this to the king, and you will see the consequences that will ensue.'
'My lord,' said his wife, 'I am quite aware of Saouy's baseness, and that he is capable of playing you this malicious trick. But how can he or any one else know what takes place in this house ? Even if you are suspected and the king accuses you, you have only to say that, after examining the slave, you did not find her worthy of his Majesty. Reassure yourself, and send to the dealers, saying that you are not satisfied, and wish them to find you another slave.'
This advice appearing reasonable, Khacan decided to follow it, but his wrath against his son did not abate. Noureddin dared not appear all that day, and fearing to take refuge with his usual associates in case his father should seek him there, he spent the day in a secluded garden where he was not known. He did not return home till after his father had gone to bed, and went out early next morning before the vizir awoke, and these precautions he kept up during an entire month.
His mother, though knowing very well that he returned to the house every evening, dare not ask her husband to pardon him. At length she took courage and said:
' My lord, I know that a son could not act more basely towards his father than Noureddin has done towards you, but after all will you now pardon him? Do you not consider the harm you may be doing yourself, and fear that malicious people, seeking the cause of your estrangement, may guess the real one ?'
' Madam,' replied the vizir, ' what you say is very just,