NOUREDDIN AND THE FAIR PERSIAN 283
return of Scheih Ibrahim they begged him to open it, and to allow them to enter and admire the magnificence within. Consenting, he brought not only the key, but a light, and immediately unlocked the door. Noureddin and the Persian entering, were dazzled with the magnificence they beheld. The paintings and furniture were of astonishing beauty, and between each window was a silver arm holding a candle.
Scheih Ibrahim spread the table in front of a sofa, and all three ate together. When they had finished eating Noureddin asked the old man to bring them a bottle of wine.
' Heaven forbid,' said Scheih Ibrahim, ' that I should come in contact with wine ! I who have four times made the pilgrimage to Mecca, and have renounced wine for ever.'
' You would, however, do us a great service in procuring us some,' said Noureddin. i You need not touch it yourself. Take the ass which is tied to the gate, lead it to the nearest wine-shop, and ask some passer-by to order two jars of wine; have them put in the ass's panniers, and drive him before you. Here are two pieces of gold for the expenses.'
At sight of the gold, Scheih Ibrahim set off at once to execute the commission. On his return, Noureddin said: ' We have still need of cups to drink from, and of fruit, if you can procure us some.' Scheih Ibrahim disappeared again, and soon returned with a table spread with cups of gold and silver, and every sort of beautiful fruit. Then he withdrew, in spite of repeated invitations to remain.
Noureddin and the beautiful Persian, finding the wine excellent, drank of it freely, and while drinking they sang. Both had fine voices, and Scheih Ibrahim listened to them with great pleasure — first from a distance, then he drew nearer, and finally put his head in at the door. Noureddin, seeing him, called to him to come in and