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Tenth Day, Novel III

[016] Being come into the palace, Nathan quartered Mitridanes in a most goodly chamber, where none saw him but those whom he had appointed to wait upon him; and he himself kept him company, doing him all possible honour. [017] Of whom Mitridanes, albeit he reverenced him as a father, yet, being thus with him, forbore not to ask who he was. Whereto Nathan made answer: "I am a petty servant of Nathan: old as I am, I have been with him since my childhood, and never has he advanced me to higher office than this wherein thou seest me: wherefore, howsoever other folk may praise him, little cause have I to do so." [018] Which words afforded Mitridanes some hope of carrying his wicked purpose into effect with more of plan and less of risk than had otherwise been possible. By and by Nathan very courteously asked him who he was, and what business brought him thither; offering him such counsel and aid as he might be able to afford him. [019]Mitridanes hesitated a while to reply: but at last he resolved to trust him, and when with no little circumlocution he had demanded of him fidelity, counsel and aid, he fully discovered to him who he was, and the purpose and motive of his coming thither. [020] Now, albeit to hear Mitridanes thus unfold his norrid design caused Nathan no small inward commotion, yet 'twas not long before courageously and composedly he thus made answer: "Noble was thy father, Mitridanes, and thou art minded to shew thyself not unworthy of him by this lofty emprise of thine, to wit, of being liberal to all comers: and for that thou art envious of Nathan's merit I greatly commend thee; for were many envious for a like cause, the world, from being a most wretched, would soon become a happy place. [021] Doubt not that I shall keep secret the design which thou hast confided to me, for the furtherance whereof 'tis good advice rather than substantial aid that I have to offer thee. Which advice is this. [022] Hence, perhaps half a mile off, thou mayst see a copse, in which almost every morning Nathan is wont to walk, taking his pleasure, for quite a long while: 'twill be an easy matter for thee to find him there, and deal with him as thou mayst be minded. [023] Now, shouldst thou slay him, thou wilt get thee home with less risk of let, if thou take not the path by which thou camest hither, but that which thou seest issue from the copse on the left, for, though 'tis somewhat more rough, it leads more directly to thy house, and will be safer for thee."