232 STORY OF THE THREE SONS OF HALI
but the adorable Argentine; without her everything is valueless.'
' My dear Cadi,' said the Bassa, ' he is right. The treasure that my son has lost is absolutely priceless.'
' My lord,' replied the Cadi, 'your wisdom is greater than mine. Give judgment I pray you in the matter.'
So the Bassa desired them all to accompany him to his house, and commanded his slaves 'not to lose sight of the three Jewish brothers.
When they arrived at the door of his dwelling, he noticed two women sitting on a bench close by, thickly veiled and beautifully dressed. Their wide satin trousers were embroidered in silver, and their muslin robes were of the finest texture. In the hand of one was a bag of pink silk tied with green ribbons, containing something that seemed to move.
At the approach of the Bassa both ladies rose, and came towards him. Then the one who held the bag addressed him saying, ' Noble lord, buy, I pray you, this bag, without asking to see what it contains.'
' How much do you want for it? ' asked the Bassa.
' Three hundred sequins,' replied the unknown.
At these words the Bassa laughed contemptuously, and passed on without speaking.
' You will not repent of your bargain,' went on the woman. 'Perhaps if we come back to-morrow -you will be glad to give us the four hundred sequins we shall then ask. And the next day the price will be five hundred.'
'Come away,' said her companion, taking hold of her sleeve. ' Do not let us stay here any longer. It may cry, and then our secret will be discovered.' And so saying, the two young women disappeared.
The Jews were left in the front hall under the care of the slaves, and Neangir and Sumi followed the Bassa inside the house, which was magnificently furnished. At one end of a large, brilliantly-lighted room a lady of about