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- The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 3 - 74/74 -


him again. But to omit no part of the formality, the supposed cauzee asked the merchant if it was the same; and as by his silence he seemed not to deny it, he ordered it to be opened. He that represented Ali Khaujeh seemed to take off the cover, and the pretended cauzee made as if he looked into it. "They are fine olives," said he, "let me taste them;" and then pretending to eat some, added, "They are excellent: but," continued he, "I cannot think that olives will keep seven years, and be so good, therefore send for some olive-merchants, and let me hear what is their opinion." Two boys, as olive-merchants, then presented themselves. "Are you olive-merchants?" said the sham cauzee. "Tell me how long olives will keep fit to eat."

"Sir," replied the two merchants, "let us take what care we can, they will hardly be worth any thing the third year; for then they have neither taste nor colour." "If it be so," answered the cauzee, "look into that jar, and tell me how long it is since those olives were put into it?"

The two merchants pretended to examine and to taste the olives, and told the cauzee they were new and good. "You are mistaken," said the young cauzee; "Ali Khaujeh says he put them into the jar seven years ago."

"Sir," replied the merchants, "we can assure you they are of this year's growth: and we will maintain there is not a merchant in Bagdad but will say the same."

The feigned merchant who was accused would have objected against the evidence of the olive-merchants; but the pretended cauzee would not suffer him. "Hold your tongue," said he, "you are a rogue; let him be impaled." The children then concluded their play, clapping their hands with great joy, and seizing the feigned criminal to carry him to execution.

Words cannot express how much the caliph Haroon al Rusheed admired the sagacity and sense of the boy who had passed so just a sentence, in an affair which was to be pleaded before himself the next day. He withdrew, and rising off the bench, asked the grand vizier, who heard all that had passed, what he thought of it. "Indeed, commander of the true believers," answered the grand vizier Jaaffier, "I am surprised to find so much sagacity in one so young."

"But," answered the caliph, "do you know one thing? I am to pronounce sentence in this very cause to-morrow; the true Ali Khaujeh presented his petition to me to-day; and do you think," continued he, "that I can give a better sentence?" "I think not," answered the vizier, " if the case is as the children represented it." "Take notice then of this house," said the caliph, "and bring the boy to me to-morrow, that he may try this cause in my presence; and also order the cauzee, who acquitted the merchant, to attend to learn his duty from a child. Take care likewise to bid Ali Khaujeh bring his jar of olives with him, and let two olive-merchants attend." After this charge he pursued his rounds, without meeting with any thing worth his attention.

The next day the vizier went to the house where the caliph had been a witness of the children's play, and asked for the master; but he being abroad, his wife appeared thickly veiled. He asked her if she had any children. To which she answered, she had three; and called them. "My brave boys," said the vizier, "which of you was the cauzee when you played together last night?" The eldest made answer, it was he: but, not knowing why he asked the question, coloured. "Come along with me, my lad," said the grand vizier; "the commander of the faithful wants to see you."

The mother was alarmed when she saw the grand vizier would take her son with him, and asked, upon what account the caliph wanted him? The grand vizier encouraged her, and promised that he should return again in less than an hour's time, when she would know it from himself. "If it be so, sir," said the mother, "give me leave to dress him first, that he may be fit to appear before the commander of the faithful:" which the vizier readily complied with.

As soon as the child was dressed, the vizier carried him away and presented him to the caliph, at the time he had appointed to hear Ali Khaujeh and the merchant.

The caliph, who saw that the boy was much abashed, in order to encourage him, said, "Come to me, child, and tell me if it was you that determined the affair between Ali Khaujeh and the merchant who had cheated him of his money? I saw and heard the decision, and am very well pleased with you." The boy answered modestly, that it was he. "Well, my son," replied the caliph, "come and sit down by me, and you shall see the true Ali Khaujeh, and the true merchant."

The caliph then took him by the hand, seated him on the throne by him, and asked for the two parties. When they were introduced, they prostrated themselves before the throne, bowing their heads quite down to the carpet that covered it. Afterwards the caliph said to them, "Plead each of you your causes before this child, who will hear and do you justice: and if he should be at a loss I will assist him."

Ali Khaujeh and the merchant pleaded one after the other; but when the merchant proposed his oath as before, the child said, "It is too soon; it is proper that we should see the jar of olives."

At these words Ali Khaujeh presented the jar, placed it at the caliph's feet, and opened it. The caliph looked at the olives, took one and tasted it, giving another to the boy. Afterwards the merchants were called, who examined the olives, and reported that they were good, and of that year. The boy told them, that Ali Khaujeh affirmed that it was seven years since he had put them up; when they returned the same answer as the children, who had represented them the night before.

Though the wretch who was accused saw plainly that these merchants' opinion must convict him, yet he would say something in his own justification. But the child, instead of ordering him to be impaled, looked at the caliph, and said "Commander of the faithful, this is no jesting matter; it is your majesty that must condemn him to death, and not I, though I did it yesterday in play."

The caliph, fully satisfied of the merchant's villany, delivered him into the hands of the ministers of justice to be impaled. The sentence was executed upon him, after he had confessed where he had concealed the thousand pieces of gold, which were restored to Ali Khaujeh. The monarch, most just and equitable, then turning to the cauzee, bade him learn of that child to acquit himself more exactly of his duty; and embracing the boy, sent him home with a purse of a hundred pieces of gold as a token of his liberality and admiration of his acuteness.

End of Volume 3.


The Arabian Nights Entertainments vol. 3 - 74/74

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