278 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
'Alas, my lord,' she said, 'at last you are convinced of the truth of what I foretold. There is now no other resource left but to sell your slaves and your furniture.'
First then he sold the slaves, and subsisted for a time on the proceeds, after that the furniture was sold, and as much of it was valuable it sufficed for some time. Finally this resource also came to an end, and again he sought counsel from the beautiful Persian.
k My lord,' she said, 'I know that the late vizir, your father, bought me for 10,000 gold pieces, and though I have diminished in value since, I should still fetch a large sum. Do not therefore hesitate to sell me, and with the money you obtain go and establish yourself in business in some distant town.'
' Charming Persian,' answered Noureddin, ' how could I be guilty of such baseness? I would die rather than part from you whom I love better than my life.'
' My lord,' she replied, l I am well aware of your love for me, wThich is only equalled by mine for you, but a cruel necessity obliges us to seek the only remedy.'
Noureddin, convinced at length of the truth of her words, yielded, and reluctantly led her to the slave market, where, showing her to a dealer named Hagi Hassan, he inquired her value.
Taking them into a room apart, Hagi Hassan exclaimed as soon as she had unveiled, ' My lord, is not this the slave your father bought for 10,000 pieces?'
On learning that it was so, he promised to obtain the highest possible price for her. Leaving the beautiful Persian shut up in the room alone, he went out to seek the slave merchants, announcing to them that he had found the pearl among slaves, and asking them to come and put a value upon her. As soon as they saw her they agreed that less than 4,000 gold pieces could not be asked, flagi Hassan, then closing the door upon her, began to offer her for sale — calling out: fc Who will bid 4,000 gold pieces for the Persian slave ?'