Letter 40

, par Stewart

Pharan [1] to Usbek, his sovereign lord

If you were here, magnificent lord, I would come before you all covered in white paper, and there still would not be enough to write down all the aggressions of your principal black eunuch, the most vicious of all men, against me since you left.

On pretext of some satirical remarks which he pretends I made over the misfortune of his condition, he is taking implacable vengeance on me ; he has provoked against me the cruel intendant of your gardens, who since your departure assigns me to insurmountable labors, in which I have a thousand times expected to expire, without losing for a minute my eagerness to serve you. How often have I said to myself : I have a master full of gentleness, and I am the most wretched slave there is on earth !

I confess, magnificent lord, that I did not think I was destined for greater miseries ; but this blackguard of a eunuch has tried to push his cruelty to the maximum. A few days ago, on his own authority, he assigned me to the guard of your sacred wives, in other words to an execution that would be for me a thousand times more cruel than death. Those who at birth have had the misfortune of receiving such treatment from their cruel parents perhaps console themselves by the fact that they have never known any other state than theirs ; but that I should be made to come down from humanity, and be deprived of it, I should die of grief if I did not die from that butchery.

I embrace your feet, sublime lord, in deep humility : allow me to feel the effects of that much-respected virtue, and let it not be said that by your order there is one more miserable person on earth.

From the Fatmé Gardens this 7th day of the moon of Maharram 1713


[1This letter and the following contain the only mentions of this character in the novel.