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Front cover of Noah’s Summons end. There I was asked what my favourite evening meals were, so I replied sternly that I did not want to change my normal daily practice and would make do with a piece of cheese and a slice of bread. And I made it a condition that the slice of bread was of the type that could withstand the test of teeth and the soundness of the stomach and intestines. After I had finished dinner, I tried to sleep but couldn’t because the special bed was different from the mattress I was used to. When the policemen noticed that sleep eluded me, they nervously tried to entertain me in any way they could. They laid on a famous dancer for me, but I turned her away before she had the chance of one shake of her rump in front of me: “Anyone who dances for any Tom, Dick and Harry is not going to dance for me,” I said.

The police were disconcerted and sent for a brilliant French actress, hoping to raise my spirits. She soon entered dress in the briefest of attires and said to me: “Welcome, O brother of the Arabs.”

I was shocked and asked: “When did you learn to speak classical Arabic?”

She replied: “This is a question I never get asked, especially since I have written several articles condemning dialects as tools of division among the Arab peoples.”

Her maturity and political awareness pleased me, but when she tried to use her beauty to tempt me, I fended her off with force, saying: “You won’t get me to end the abstinence I am so proud of.”

Her eyes brimmed with tears and she told me she was filled with an innocent, fervent wonder at my words. I said I would set her an examination and, if she passed, I might possibly change my point of view towards her. She nodded in joyful agreement, so I asked her: “What do you know about the Battle of the Masts?”

138 BANIPAL 53 – SUMMER 2015

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