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THE SLIPPERS-A TURKISH TALE.
BAKARAK, though a miser, was one of the richest merchants in Bagdad. Camels laden with the most valuable productions of the east, constantly arrived at his warehouses, and the ocean wafted vessels to the harbour but to increase his wealth. Yet he had a treasure in his possession still more desirable than his ivory or his pearls; it was the enchanting Zelica, his only child, who, scarcely fifteen, and blooming like a Houri of the Paradise far outshone them all; but though so sweet a blossom, no one had yet proved sufficiently interesting to wind himself around her heart.
Going one morning to mosque, attended by her black slave only, an aged female, bending beneath the weight of years, murmured an intreaty for alms; while searching for a purse that was suspended at her girdle, she unintentionally let her veil drop aside, and as, with a benevolent smile beaming on her countenance, she was giving the supplicant a zechin, her eye caught a youth ardently gazing at her from a balcony above. An instant warned her of her negligence; hastily replacing her veil, and a deep blush suffusing her cheek, she proceeded, taking the heart of the handsome Karabeg with her, though not leaving him to bewail the loss, for, seizing his cloak, he swiftly followed, keeping, however, at a distance, on account of the attendant. He saw her enter the mosque, and pressed forward, but the number of persons were too great to permit him to procure a place near her; however, he fixed his eyes on her, and followed her every movement, hoping his trouble would be rewarded by a kind look, but being deeply engaged in her devotion, she did not appear to regard him. Before the conclusion of prayers, he arose, and stationing himself at the grand entrance, waited for her; many people passed, and he began to grow impatient-"Why," he muttered to himself, "should I be so foolish? I know her not, nay, perhaps, shall never see her again."-The idea made him involuntarily sigh—he was angry at it—" Psha! I'll not suffer myself to be made captive by the glance of every bright eye-I'll be gone."—He felt inclined to put his threat in execution-advanced a few steps-faltered-turned around-and all his resolution fled, for Zelica again appeared;-with a salute of the head, he made way to let her pass, but in passing, her hand touched his; the touch shot like fire through his veins-he trembled-she sighed "Oh that sigh!" thought he, and she seemed to hesitate, but at that moment, the envious black was behind, and they proceeded.— Karabeg again followed-in turning a street, a troop of janizaries were galloping towards the seraglio; a courser curvetted, plunged, and had nearly thrown his rider. Karabeg darted forward, for Zelica ut
tered a faint shriek, and was running back—“ Be not alarmed, lady,” he exclaimed, "I will protect you with my life." He coloured for having expressed himself with such an emphasis-Zelica trembled too much either to answer or to thank him-the black frowned-" My good fellow," continued Karabeg, perceiving it, "I surely know your face, Mesroud!”— "Ah, master,” cried Mesroud, " 'tis you then-I thought so, and am quite happy!" -"You know Mesroud, sir?" faintly articulated Zelica —“He once belong to my father, did you not?"-Yes, sir, yes, he beat me-but you-oh how good, how kind you were!"-The little tumult the horse had occasioned was now over, and the troop passed on; but as the black had become a friend, there was no opposition to Karabeg's accompanying Zelica further-they soon became intimate, and when they parted, each felt the pleasure of the other's company too much not to regret it. Already Zelica knew Karabeg's history; his father was the cadi, and he-her lover. They had arrived at a portico; Karabeg was entering-" Hold, master," cried Mesroud, "Lady, you forget your father!" It was enough-again Zelica sighed, and removing her veil, intentionally now, her eyes beamed hope on Karabeg's passion, while her lips thanked him for his gallantry!They had both vanished, yet he remained some time on the spot, expecting, though Zelica might not re-appear, to see Mesroud,-but in vain!
The house in which Bakarak resided, was situated on the banks of the river. This Karabeg soon discovered; he rowed beneath the windows, and breathing in his flute, played a Turkish serenade. For once, however, his art was thrown away-all was silent-the air had once pleased him, but as it had failed to produce the intended effect, he now thought it dull, and throwing aside the instrument, he took part of the muslin which composed. his turban, and rolling it into a body, cast it against a casement on the second story, trusting to chance for arousing the right person. He blest his lucky stars, for Zelica soon appeared, but, alas! his pleasure lasted not long, as she motioned him to begone. "Oh, sweet Zelica, I cannot live in your absence."—" You can't, hey!” cried a voice," then you must die in her presence, for if you stay disturbing people with your nonsense, you will certainly be killed.” 'Twas Bakarak at a lower casement who said this, and Karabeg now comprehended why his mistress warned him away. "Oh Sir," said he, "if you knew me better."" By Mohammed! but it strikes me, I know you pretty well already! Are not you the son of old Mustapha the Cadi, who had me punished for throwing a slipper at him?” [Now the truth was, Bakarak had one night been breaking the laws of the prophet, by indulging in a little wine, which caused such a revolution in his head (not the strongest at any time) that seeing Mustapha pass, in his way home, he must needs quarrel with him, and giving him a gentle salutation on the cheek with his slipper, wounded him so deeply, that he was un
der the necessity of giving Mustapha a sum of money to compromise the affair, as, had a trial ensued, and Bakarak's frailty been made public, no power could have protected him from the consequence of such a heinous crime.] "You may tell him," continued Bakarak," he cheated me out of my money, for his head is too thick for my slipper to have had the effect he represented, and at the same time take this to console yourself—When your father complained against me, he no doubt hoped my slipper would prove my ruin; now when his hopes are really fulfilled, you shall have my daughter, and not before, by all the hairs that grace our prophet's beard! -So set off directly, or dread a slipper at your head too."-" Were you not the parent of so sweet a maid," answered Karabeg, "you should repent your threats."-"By Alla! that reminds me; I had forgotten she was still in the balcony.-Girl, go to your chamber instantly:-a pretty thing for you to encourage this impudent fellow. Have you no shame on your father's account?—To make assignations by moon-light:—do you not dread its beams-To talk openly with a man too!-Are you not afraid of the prophet's vengeance?”—“Indeed, father," said Zelica, beseechingly," the young man is so kind, so respectful, it was but this morning he preserved my life, nor, on my honour, have I spoken to him since."-" But I dare say, if you've not spoken, you have made signs.-Oh you jade, I warrant you've not been wicked for want of means!-Women have a thousand tricks at their fingers' ends. I dare say you could contrive, on an emergency, to give this dog a signal of your love, by your veil or your handkerchief." Bakarak little knew how apt a pupil he had; still less did he suspect his precepts would have been so readily put in execution. The hint was certainly not a bad one, and true love soon caught at it. Taking the muslin Karabeg had thrown, which had caught in the iron work that enclosed the window, she put it to her lips, and folding it over her bosom, formed it into a knot over her left breast. Hearing her father, who being below, had not perceived the action (though Karabeg's eyes were not so unwatchful) again repeat his command for her to retire, she left the balcony, motioning her lover away, who kissing his hand, bowed in token of assent. Happily assured that Zelica did not hate him, he thought little of her father's enmity, but feeling perfectly pleased with the events of the evening, he seated himself in his bark, and soon lost sight of the mansion of Bakarak, though the whole scene again passed before him in his dreams, and in imagination he a second time beheld his Zelica assure him of her affection.
When a night's repose had cooled Karabeg's ideas, he began to consider that Zelica's love could not conduct him to the temple of happiness, while those cursed slippers crossed the path. At sunrise he paid his duty to his father, who, far from appearing enraged when he frankly avowed his at
tachment, promised that if his son should surmount Bakarak's dislike, he would not prove an obstacle to his felicity.
As Karabeg was returning home, the preceding evening, a man had dropped lifeless in the streets, and not being known, was carried to the Cadi's house. A thought struck Karabeg, and going where the deceased lay, he took his slippers and placed them in his girdle.
The beams of the morning sun had scarce gilded the spires and minarets of the city, when Karabeg again sought the place that contained all his hopes and wishes. Though he waited long in the street, as it was early he did not fear being discovered. At length the door of Bakarak's house opened; he skipped behind the pillar of a large portico opposite, and anxiously fixed his eyes on it. Bakarak came out, and took the way to the public baths; Karabeg softly followed, and when Bakarak entered, he also went in, though concealing himself from observation. The old man, as was the custom, left his slippers at the entrance; these Karabeg quickly seized, and replacing them with those he had brought, soon regained his father's house.
When Bakarak left the bath, he in vain sought his slippers; but seeing a pair so much handsomer in their place, (for, owing to his miserly disposition, the weight of his own had been increased by some few patches,) went home contented with the exchange. In the course of the morning he was not a little surprised by a troop of guards, who surrounded his doors, and demanded to conduct him instantly to the Hall of Justice. In vain he inquired their orders, expostulated, prayed, demanded; they forced him along, and he soon found himself in the presence of old Mustapha, the cadi, and the judges of the city. Doubting whether he was well awake, he stared in astonishment, but his dread was increased, when accused of having murdered a man in the public streets; his teeth chattered, and he could not answer. At last, however, he gained breath to deny the charge, though in no very coherent manner. As a proof of guilt, his slippers, which had been found on the dead man's person, were produced. Bakarak cursed in his soul both the slippers and those who held them. He could not deny the knowledge of them; many declared having seen them in the court before, and the cadi still remembered the weight of one of them on his cheek.
Those Bakarak had on were next examined; he was asked how he came by them? he explained his adventure at the baths that morning, and was laughed at. He was half mad with rage. The deceased had since been owned, and his brother came forward and declared, that the slippers Bakarak then wore were those of the murdered man. He now really trembled for his life. "How," said the cadi, "could a man who was found dead in the streets last night, go to the public baths this morning, and change a
pair of slippers? The case was clear; Bakarak had equivocated and was guilty: all appeared lost, when a young man stepped forward and begged to be heard. Bakarak could not believe his eyes,-it was Karabeg! He swore that at the time the man was found murdered, Bakarak had been in his own house. The old man breathed again. Karabeg therefore declared Bakarak was not the murderer. Bakarak seized his hand: he said more, that the murdered man was not murdered. Bakarak took him eagerly in his arms and hugged him. An examination ensued; no wounds appeared, and it was discovered by the surgeons that th man had dropped down in a fit. Bakarak was acquitted on paying all the charges, and of course was happy to get off so well; for on the first appearance of the affair, a coincidence of events seemed to forbode his destruction. The unfortunate slippers were delivered to him, and he returned home. All the way he went he thought of what had passed; had it not been for Karabeg he probably would have lost his life; he felt almost inclined to bestow his daughter on the young man. But, when seated in his library, the affair assumed a different appearance; he examined every circumstance coolly, and began to suspect the truth. This irritated him more than ever against Karabeg, and cursing him and the slippers, he vented his rage in execrations. “I see it all,” he exclaimed: "I foolishly said that when these confounded slippers proved my ruin, he should have Zelica, and 'tis thus the wicked dog wants to cheat me out of her, but by Mahommed he shall be baffled." The library overhung the river; the casement was thrown up to admit the breeze; the slippers lay before him: Bakarak felt determined; he seized them in a frenzy, and cast them into the waters. "Thank heaven," ejaculated he, "I am now safe." The action had rather cooled him, and by night he was calm enough to give pretty loud symptoms that the events of the day had not disturbed his repose.
When Bakarak arose in the morning, he went as usual into his library; but who can conceive his astonishment, when he beheld the slippers lay before him? "Surely," he cried, gasping for breath, "some evil spirit possesses them. Am I awake? I am certain yesterday's sun beamed on them in the river; 'tis incredible? but what is this smell?" He turned round, for the slippers had done more mischief than he at first imagined. The truth was, some fishermen came early that morning under Bakarak's windows, to draw their nets, and finding them heavy, conceived they had a good draught; but in searching, all they discovered were the slippers; in a rage they jerked them away, and Bakarak's casement unfortunately happened to be the only one open; in they went, and striking a jar of odour of roses, for which the merchant had paid a large sum the day before, the force of the slippers broke it, and half the liquid had scented the floor. Bakarak, when he beheld the accident, fell on his knees. “Oh Mahommed, deliver me of these slippers, or I shall indeed be ruined." He called his slaves, to save