I wish your august and most fortunate lover may avenge you of the malice of Zobeide, by calling you back to him; and when you shall be restored to his wishes, that you may remember the unfortunate Ganem, who is no less your conquest than the caliph. Powerful as that prince is, I flatter myself he will not be able to blot me out of your remembrance.
What I tell you is very serious; I do not talk of my slave's death, but of Abou Hassan's, her husband, whose fate I bewail, and so ought you too." "Madam," said the caliph, putting on a grave countenance, "I tell you without raillery that you are deceived; Nouzhatoul-aouadat is dead, and Abou Hassan is alive, and in perfect health." Zobeide was much piqued at this dry answer of the caliph.
He then commanded the eunuchs to bring them before him, and open them one by one. The first they began with was that in which I lay; so that I was in the last degree of consternation. The favourite lady, who had the key of the trunk, protested it should not be opened. You know very well, said she, I bring nothing hither but what is to serve Zobeide, your mistress and mine.
As to the rest, ladies," said he, addressing himself to all the three sisters, "since you do me so great an honour, do not think that I will abuse it, or look upon myself as deserving of the distinction. No, I shall always look upon myself as one of your most humble slaves." When he had spoken these words he would have returned the money he had received, but Zobeide ordered him to keep it.
Mesrour, who expected the nurse's report would prove favourable on his side, was much mortified to find it so much the contrary, and so vexed at the anger Zobeide expressed against him, for a thing which he thought himself surer of than any body, that he was glad of an opportunity of speaking his mind freely to the old women, which he durst not do to the princess.
The ladies returned their salutations, supposing them to be merchants. Zobeide, as the chief, addressed them with a grave and serious countenance, which was natural to her, and said, "You are welcome. But before I proceed farther, I hope you will not take it ill if we desire one favour of you." "Alas!" said the vizier, "what favour? We can refuse nothing to such fair ladies."
Amene played and sung almost as long upon the same subject, but with so much vehemence, and was so much affected, or rather transported, by the words of the song, that her strength failed her as she finished. Zobeide, desirous of testifying her satisfaction, said, "Sister, you have done wonders, and we may easily see that you feel the grief you have expressed in so lively a manner."
No sooner were these words out of the caliph's mouth, than he heard a voice under Abou Hassan's piece of brocade say, "Commander of the faithful, I died first, give me the thousand pieces of gold." At the same instant Abou Hassan threw off the piece of brocade, and springing up, prostrated himself at his feet, while his wife did the same to Zobeide, keeping on her piece of brocade out of decency.
I leave the care of the wooden figure to you, and will go myself to order the rest." The wooden image was got ready with as much expedition as Zobeide could have wished, and then conveyed by the old lady herself into Fetnah's bed-chamber, where she dressed it like a dead body, and put it into a coffin.
When they reached the bath there were then in it some of the principal female slaves, attendants of Zobeide, who, on the entrance of Mazin's wife, were struck with her uncommon beauty, and instantly collecting round her, rapturously gazed upon her as she was undressing.