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Main > Arabic folktales > Fairy tale "The caravan"

The caravan

First, thirty camels passed by, heavily laden, guided by armed drivers. After these, on fine horses, came the five merchants to whom the Caravan belonged. They were, for the most part, men of advanced age, of grave and serious aspect; one, however, seemed much younger, as well as more gay and lively than the rest. A large number of camels and pack-horses closed the procession.

Tents were pitched, and the camels and horses fastened around. In the midst was a large pavilion of blue silk, to which the chief of the escort conducted the stranger. When they reached the entrance, they saw the five merchants seated on gold-embroidered cushions; black slaves were carrying around to them food and drink. “Whom bringest thou hither to us?” exclaimed the young merchant unto the leader: before, however, the latter could reply, the stranger spoke.

“I am called Selim Baruch, and am from Bagdad; I was taken captive by a robber-horde on a ride to Mecca, but three days ago managed to free myself from confinement. The mighty Prophet permitted me to hear, in the far distance, the little bells of your Caravan, and so I came to you. Allow me to ride in your company; you will grant your protection to no unworthy person; and when we reach Bagdad, I will reward your kindness richly, for I am the nephew of the Grand Vizier.”

The oldest of the merchants took up the discourse: “Selim Baruch,” said he, “welcome to our protection! It affords us joy to be of assistance to thee. But first of all, sit down, and eat and drink with us.”

Selim Baruch seated himself among the merchants, and ate and drank with them. After the meal, the slaves removed the table, and brought long pipes and Turkish sherbet. The merchants sat for some time in silence, while they puffed out before them the bluish, smoke-clouds, watching how they formed circle after circle, and at last were dissipated in the ambient air. The young merchant finally broke the silence. “Here sit we for three days,” said he, “on horseback, and at table, without doing any thing to while away the time.

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