The Pacha of Many Tales eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 505 pages of information about The Pacha of Many Tales.

“Ill-favoured to a degree.  One was a pot-bellied, rascally-looking fellow, with a great beard, who looked as if he had just come out of a jail. [The caliph winked at his vizier, as much as to say, There is your portrait.] Another was a black-bearded, beetle-browed, hang-dog looking rascal. [Giaffar bowed to the caliph.] And the third was a blubber-lipped, weazen-faced skeleton of a negro. [Mesrour clapped his hand to his dagger with impatience.] In short, your highness, I may safely say that the three criminals whose heads have just been forfeited to justice were, as far as appearances went, honest-looking men compared to the three Moussul merchants.  Nevertheless, as in duty bound, I received these three men, gave them shelter, and spread a table of the best before them.  They indulged in kabobs, and asking for wine and rakee, which, as forbidden by the law, I never taste, I went out and purchased it for them.  They did eat and drink till the dawn broke, and then they departed.”

“Indeed,” said the caliph.

“The next night, to my great annoyance, they aroused me from my devotions as before.  Again did my substance disappear in providing for their demands; and, after having eaten and drunk until they were intoxicated, they went away, and I hoped to see them no more, as they were not sparing in their observations upon the new decree of your highness, relative to the shutting up of the baths.”

“Proceed, good Yussuf.”

“The third night they again came, and having no more money to spare, and finding them still making my house a tavern, I hoped that they would come no more; but they came again, a fourth night, and then behaved most indecorously, singing lewd songs, and calling out for wine and rakee until I could bear it no more, and I then told them that I could no longer receive them.  The fat-stomached one, whom I have before mentioned, then rose, and said, ’Yussuf, we have proved your hospitality, and we thank you.  No one would have received three such ill-favoured persons, and have regaled them for the love of God, as you have done.  We will now reward thee.  Thou art a beeldar of the palace, and we will now present thee with the sword of justice, which has been lost since the days of the great Solomon; take this, and judge not by its outward appearance.  When commanded to take off the head of a criminal, if he is guilty, the sword will flash like fire, and never fail; but should he be innocent, it will become a harmless lath of wood.’  I took the present, and was about to return thanks, when the three ill-favoured Moussul merchants gradually took the form of celestial beings, and vanished.”

“Indeed, this is a strange story—­what, did the big-bellied fellow look like an angel?”

“As an angel of light, O caliph.”

“What, and the weazen-faced negro?”

“Like a houri, O caliph.”

“Well, then,” replied the caliph, “you shall now, Yussuf, try the power of this wonderful sword.  Strike off that criminal’s head.”

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The Pacha of Many Tales from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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