290 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
beautiful Persian, inconsolable at his departure, sank on a sofa bathed in tears.
When Noureddin had left the room, Scheih Ibrahim, who had hitherto kept silence, said: ' Kerim, for two miserable fish thou hast received a purse and a slave. I tell thee I will take the slave, and as to the purse, if it contains silver thou mayst keep one piece, if gold then I will take all and give thee what copper pieces I have in my purse.'
Now here it must be related that when the Caliph went upstairs with the plate of fish he ordered the vizir to hasten to the palace and bring back four slaves bearing a change of raiment, who should wait outside the pavilion till the Caliph should clap his hands.
Still personating the fisherman, the Caliph answered: ' Scheih Ibrahim, whatever is in the purse I will share equally with you, but as to the slave I will keep her for myself. If you do not agree to these conditions you shall have nothing.'
The old man, furious at this insolence as he considered it, took a cup and threw it at the Caliph, who easily avoided a missile from the hand of a drunken man. It hit against the wall, and broke into a thousand pieces. Scheih Ibrahim, still more enraged, then went out to fetch a stick. The Caliph at that moment clapped his hands, and the vizir and the four slaves entering took off the fisherman's dress and put on him that which they had brought.
When Scheih Ibrahim returned, a thick stick in his hand, the Caliph was seated on his throne, and nothing remained of the fisherman but his clothes in the middle of the room. Throwing himself on the ground at the Caliph's feet, he said : ' Commander of the Faithful, your miserable slave has offended you, and craves forgiveness.'
The Caliph came down from his throne, and said : ' Rise, I forgive thee.' Then turning to the Persian he said: ' Fair lady, now you know who I am; learn also