256 THE FAIR CIRCASSIANS
her women to give them all the attention possible, and desired they should be carried into her own rooms.
When the two sisters were in this condition, Ibrahim, who was a very prudent young man, suggested to his parents that as the two Circassians were both unconscious, it would be an excellent opportunity to search them and see if the talismans belonging to the daughters of Siroco were concealed about their persons. But the Bassa, shocked at the notion of treating his guests in so inhospitable a manner, refused to do anything of the kind, adding that the next day he hoped to persuade them to give the talismans up of their own free will.
By this time it was nearly midnight and Neangir, who was standing near the Jewess Sumi, drew out the portrait of Argentine, and heard with delight that she was even more beautiful than her picture. Every one was waiting on tiptoe for the appearance of the two watches, who were expected when the clock struck twelve to come in search of Sumi, and that there might be no delay the Bassa ordered all the doors to be flung wide open. It was done, and there entered not the longed-for watches, but the page who had been sent away in disgrace.
Then the Bassa arose in wrath. ' Azemi,' he said, ' did I not order you to stand no more in my presence ?'
' My lord,' replied Azemi, modestly, ' I was hidden outside the door, listening to the tale of the two Circassians. And as I know you are fond of stories, give me also leave to tell you one. I promise you it shall not be long.'
' Speak on,' replied the Bassa, ' but take heed what you say.'
' My lord,' began Azemi, ' this morning I was walking in the town when I noticed a man going in the same direction followed by a slave. He entered a baker's shop, where he bought some bread which he gave to the slave to carry. I watched him and saw that he purchased many other kinds of provisions at other places, and when