Chapter 50

Wish fulfilled - Extraordinary figure - Bueno - Noah - The two faces - I don’t blame him - Too fond of money - Were I an Armenian.

THE fulfilment of the Armenian’s grand wish was nearer at hand than either he or I had anticipated. Partly owing to the success of a bold speculation, in which he had some time previously engaged, and partly owing to the bequest of a large sum of money by one of his nation who died at this period in Paris, he found himself in the possession of a fortune somewhat exceeding two hundred thousand pounds; this fact he communicated to me one evening about an hour after the close of ‘Change; the hour at which I generally called, and at which I mostly found him at home.

‘Well,’ said I, ‘and what do you intend to do next?’

‘I scarcely know,’ said the Armenian. ‘I was thinking of that when you came in. I don’t see anything that I can do, save going on in my former course. After all, I was perhaps too moderate in making the possession of two hundred thousand pounds the summit of my ambition; there are many individuals in this town who possess three times that sum, and are not yet satisfied. No, I think I can do no better than pursue the old career; who knows but I may make the two hundred thousand three or four? - there is already a surplus, which is an encouragement; however, we will consider the matter over a goblet of wine; I have observed of late that you have become partial to my Cyprus.’

And it came to pass that, as we were seated over the Cyprus wine, we heard a knock at the door. ‘Adelante!’ cried the Armenian; whereupon the door opened, and in walked a somewhat extraordinary figure - a man in a long loose tunic of a stuff striped with black and yellow; breeches of plush velvet, silk stockings, and shoes with silver buckles. On his head he wore a high-peaked hat; he was tall, had a hooked nose, and in age was about fifty.

‘Welcome, Rabbi Manasseh,’ said the Armenian. ‘I know your knock - you are welcome; sit down.’

‘I am welcome,’ said Manasseh, sitting down; ‘he - he - he! you know my knock - I bring you money - bueno!

There was something very peculiar in the sound of that bueno - I never forgot it.

Thereupon a conversation ensued between Rabbi Manasseh and the Armenian, in a language which I knew to be Spanish, though a peculiar dialect. It related to a mercantile transaction. The Rabbi sighed heavily as he delivered to the other a considerable sum of money.

‘It is right,’ said the Armenian, handing a receipt. ‘It is right; and I am quite satisfied.’

‘You are satisfied - you have taken money. bueno, I have nothing to say against your being satisfied.’

‘Come, Rabbi,’ said the Armenian, ‘do not despond; it may be your turn next to take money; in the meantime, can’t you be persuaded to taste my Cyprus?’

‘He - he - he! senor, you know I do not love wine. I love Noah when he is himself; but, as Janus, I love him not. But you are merry; bueno, you have a right to be so.’

‘Excuse me,’ said I; ‘but does Noah ever appear as Janus?’

‘He - he - he!’ said the Rabbi, ‘he only appeared as Janus once - una vez quando estuvo borracho; which means - ‘

‘I understand,’ said I; ‘when he was . . .’ and I drew the side of my right hand sharply across my left wrist.

‘Are you one of our people?’ said the Rabbi.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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