MERCHANT. But I am certain All Cogia will never return.
WIFE. And I have a strong feeling that he will. What will he think of your honor if he finds the jar has been opened?
MERCHANT. Surely a jar of olives is not to be guarded so carefully, year after year.
WIFE. That is Ali Cogia’s affair, not ours. Besides, the olives can’t be good after all this time.
MERCHANT (taking a plate). I mean to have a taste of them, at least.
WIFE (indignantly). You are betraying the trust your friend placed in you! I will not remain to witness it.
[She leaves the room. The Merchant crosses and takes cover from jar.]
MERCHANT (looking in jar). My wife was right—the olives are covered with mould, but those at the bottom may still be good.
[He turns the jar up and shakes out the olives. Several gold pieces fall out.]
MERCHANT. What is this? Gold pieces! As I live! Gold! gold!
[He shakes the jar again; a shower of gold pieces fall.]
MERCHANT (dropping the jar in astonishment).
A thousand pieces at least!
The top of the jar only was laid with olives!
(He puts the gold into his pockets.)
To-night, when my wife is asleep, I will fill the jar entirely with fresh olives, for these show they have been disturbed. And I will make up the jar so that no one, except Ali Cogia himself, will know they have been touched.
[Illustration: “A THOUSAND PIECES AT LEAST!”]
TIME: one month later; a moonlight night.
PLACE: a small court opening upon a narrow street of Bagdad.
* * * * *
THE GRAND VIZIER.
FIRST CHILD, who plays he is the Cauzee[Footnote: A Mohammedan judge.]
SECOND CHILD, who plays he is the officer.
THIRD CHILD, who plays he is Ali Cogia.
ZEYN, who plays he is the Merchant.
TWO BOYS, who play they are Olive Merchants.
MANY OTHER CHILDREN, who look on.
* * * * *
[The CALIPH, accompanied by his GRAND VIZIER, enters the narrow street upon which the court opens. They are in disguise, appearing as merchants.]
CALIPH. Perhaps we may hear some talk of this affair of Ali Cogia and the merchant, as we go through the city to-night.
VIZIER. It is possible, O Commander of the true Believers! The affair has made a great noise in Bagdad.
CALIPH. Ali Cogia carried the merchant before the Cauzee, I believe.
VIZIER. Yes; he claimed that the merchant had taken from him one thousand pieces of gold.
CALIPH. Proceed; I would know all.
VIZIER. Ali Cogia left with this merchant, so he says, a jar in which he had placed this money. Upon his return, which was but yesterday, he went to the merchant, and, having received the jar, opened it. To his surprise he found that the gold, which he had hidden below a layer of olives, was no longer there.