THE STORY OF SIDI-NOUMAN 343
magic. To-day I went to the baker's, to prove for myself the truth of the story, and persuaded the dog to follow me here. Now what do you say ?'
' You are right, mother,' replied the girl, and rising she dipped her hand into a vessel of water. Then sprinkling it over me she said, ' If you were born dog, remain dog; but if you were born man, by virtue of this water resume your proper form.' In one moment the spell was broken. The dog's shape vanished as if it had never been, and it was a man who stood before her.
Overcome with gratitude at my deliverance, I flung myself at her feet, and kissed the hem of her garment. ' How can I thank you for your goodness towards a stranger, and for what you have done ? Henceforth I am your slave. Deal with me as you will!'
Then, in order to explain how I came to be changed into a dog, I told her my whole story, and finished with rendering the mother the thanks due to her for the happiness she had brought me.
' Sidi-Nouman,' returned the daughter, ' say no more about the obligation you are under to us. The knowledge that we have been of service to you is ample payment. Let us speak of Amina, your wife, with whom I was acquainted before her marriage. I was aware that she was a magician, and she knew too that I had studied the same art, under the same mistress. We met often going to the same baths, but we did not like each other, and never sought to become friends. As to what concerns you, it is not enough to have broken your spell, she must be punished for her wickedness. Remain for a moment with my mother, I beg,' she added hastily, ' I will return shortly.'
Left alone with the mother, I again expressed the gratitude I felt, to her as well as to her daughter.
' My daughter,' she answered, ' is, as you see, as accomplished a magician as Amina herself, but you would be astonished at the amount of good she does by her knowledge. That is why I have never interfered, otherwise I