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before, to sing in the ante-chamber; and beginning with the same melancholy air, there came a voice suddenly through the silken screen, commanding him to desist.
"I have been thinking," said the Sultan, as he turned to Angelina, who was sitting beside him on a sofa in the inner room; "I have been thinking that I should like now to hear some lively tune: the songs I have heard hitherto, though very beautiful, were all of a melancholy cast; and I am curious to know whether the genius of your music will admit also of comical expression."
"I can assure your Highness," said the lady, "there is no country that can boast of such pretty little laughing canzonets as my own, for though we have borrowed many strains from the nightingale, we have others that warble as merrily as the carol of the morning lark.
"You make me impatient to hear one,11 replied the Sultan; whereupon an attendant was sent to convey this command to Benetto, who immediately struck up a very lively tune; and, as he had good news to communicate, he sang with unbounded gaiety and spirit. The words ran thus:—
"Ladders there are none in this place, neither of ropes nor of wood!
"But I have a pretty tree, with many branches, that will stand upright against a wall!
"What if I should place it against a lady's prison, in the middle of the night?
"Shall I see a vision, like Jacob, of a figure stepping down my ladder, who looks like an angel of light?"
The lady, being overjoyed at these welcome tidings, sang with an equal glee, and made answer by the same tune in a similar way.
"0 joy °f j°ys !—To hear this grateful news, there seems now but a mile, paved with wishes, between Florence and me.
"I feel myself already, like a bird with wings, amongst those pleasant boughs!
"Step by step, as I descend, I pluck the sweet apples of liberty, which relish even as the fruits of my own dear land!"
It happened that the piece they had been singing had a pretty little burthen at the end for two voices; so that when the lady came to that part, Benetto joined in with the proper chorus of the song, to the great admiration of the Sultan, who ordered him a piece of gold on his dismissal, which seemed to make the captive defer his plot for another night.
On the following day, about noon, when the superintendent as usual came into the gardens, he was amazed to see Benetto working at a parterre with an extraordinary kind of hoe, the handle of which, rudely fashioned and rough, could not be less than a dozen feet long. The jolly Turk, tucking his hands in his sash, fell to laughing immoderately at this whimsical sight, for Benetto wielded his implement with considerable awkwardness; at last, fetching his breath again, he inquired the reason of such an extraordinary appearance.
Benetto, without turning his head aside, answered very sedately, that it was the universal custom of his country to use hoes with handles ■of that length.
"Now God forgive me V answered the Mussulman; "but you have made me long to travel, since there are such wonderful scenes to be enjoyed abroad:" and with that he fell into a fresh convulsion of laughter.
In the mean time Benetto continued his work with inflexible gravity, though the exertion he used to handle the hoe with dexterity made the sweat-drops start out like great beads upon his forehead. At last, heing fain to obtain a pause, he explained to the Turk, who had done laughing, that it was common in Italy to employ those long-handled hoes, in order to reach the weeds in the middle of a parterre without trampling amongst the plants.
"There is some reason in what you say," returned the superintendent; and taking the tool out of the hand of Benetto, he made aim at certain weeds in the middle of the bed; but at the very first stroke he mowed down a whole cluster of flowers.
Thereupon bursting into a fresh fit of mirth at his own clumsiness, the merry Turk thrust the wonderful hoe back again into the hand of the gardener, who resumed his labour with great earnestness; the Mussulman in the meanwhile walking away, but often turning his head over his shoulder to look back at Benetto, who, as soon as the old fellow had gone out of sight, laid down the ponderous hoe with very