286 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
his mosque, and asked permission to hold it in the pavilion. I granted his request, but forgot since to mention it to your Majesty.'
' Giafar,' replied the Caliph, ' you have committed three faults —first, in giving the permission; second, in not mentioning it to me ; and third, in not investigating the matter more closely. For punishment I condemn you to spend the rest of the night with me in company of these worthy people. While I dress myself as a citizen, go and disguise yourself, and then come with me.'
When they reached the garden gate they found it open, to the great indignation of the Caliph. The door of the pavilion being also open, he went softly upstairs, and looked in at the half-closed door of the saloon. Great was his surprise to see Scheih Ibrahim, whose sobriety he had never doubted, drinking and singing with a young man and a beautiful lady. The Caliph, before giving way to his anger, determined to watch and see who the people were and what they did.
Presently Scheih Ibrahim asked the beautiful Persian if anything were wanting to complete her enjoyment of the evening.
' If only,' she said, ' I had an instrument upon which I might play.'
Scheih Ibrahim immediately took a lute from a cupboard and gave it to the Persian, who began to play on it, singing the while with such skill and taste that the Caliph was enchanted. When she ceased he went softly downstairs and said to the vizir:
' Never have I heard a finer voice, nor the lute better played. I am determined to go in and make her play to me.'
' Commander of the Faithful,' said the vizir, ' if Scheih Ibrahim recognises you he will die of fright.'
'I should be sorry for that,' answered the Caliph, ' and I am going to take steps to prevent it. Wait here till I return.'