NOUREDDIN AND THE FAIR PERSIAN 211
also at end, having been transferred by you to others. If you wish me to remain in your service, furnish me with the necessary funds, else I must withdraw.'
So great was Noureddin's consternation that he had not a word to say in reply.
The friend, who had been listening behind the curtain, immediately hastened to communicate the news to the rest of the company.
' If this is so,' they said, i we must cease to come here.'
Noureddin re-entering at that moment, they plainly saw, in spite of his efforts to dissemble, that what they had heard was the truth. One by one they rose, and each with a different excuse left the room, till presently he found himself alone, though little suspecting the resolution his friends had taken. Then, seeking the beautiful Persian, he confided to her the statement of the steward, with many expressions of regret for his own carelessness.
' Had I but followed your advice, beautiful Persian,' he said, ' all this would not have happened, but at least I have this consolation, that I have spent my fortune in the company of friends who will not desert me in an hour of need. To-morrow I will go to them, and amongst them they will lend me a sum sufficient to start in some business.'
Accordingly next morning early Noureddin went to seek his ten friends, who all lived in the same street. Knocking at the door of the first and chief, the slave who opened it left him to wait in a hall while he announced his visit to his master. ' Noureddin !' he heard him exclaim quite audibly. ' Tell him, every time he calls, that I am not at home.' The same thing happened at the second door, and also at the third, and so on with all the ten. Noureddin, much mortified, recognised too late that he had confided in false friends, who abandoned him in his hour of need. Overwhelmed with grief, he sought consolation from the beautiful Persian.