Yussuf returned to the robber, who remained kneeling, and walked round him, crying out with a loud voice, “O sword, if this man be guilty, do thy duty; but if he be, as he has declared in his dying moments, innocent, then become thou harmless.” With these words Yussuf drew his sword, and exhibited a lath of palm-wood. “He is innocent, O caliph; this man, being unjustly condemned, ought to be set free.”
“Most certainly,” replied the caliph, delighted with the manoeuvre of Yussuf, “let him be liberated. Chief of the beeldars, we cannot part with a man, who, like Yussuf, possesses so famous a weapon. Let there be ten more beeldars appointed, and let Yussuf have the command of them as chief, with the same perquisites and salary as the other chiefs.”
Yussuf prostrated himself before the caliph, delighted with his good fortune, and as he retired, he exclaimed, “I am Yussuf; my trust is in God. Allah preserve the three Moussul merchants.”
It was not long before the caliph, Giaffar, and Mesrour appeared again as the merchants to Yussuf, and heartily enjoyed his discomfiture and confusion, when they discovered themselves. Still Yussuf enjoyed the favour of Haroun to the end of his life, and was more fortunate than Giaffar and others, who only once fell under the wrath and suspicion of the all-powerful caliph.
* * * * *
“Such, O pacha, is the history of Yussuf, the water-carrier.”
“Yes, and a very good story too. Have you not another, Menouni?”
“Your highness,” replied Mustapha, “the caravan will depart at break of day, and Menouni has but three hours to prepare. It can no longer be detained without the chief making a report to the authorities, which would not be well received.”
“Be it so,” replied the pacha; “Let Menouni be rewarded, and we will try to find some other storyteller, until his return from his pilgrimage.”
“Mustapha,” observed the pacha, taking his pipe out of his mouth, “what makes the poets talk so much about the Book of Fate?”
“The Book of Fate, your highness, is where is written our Talleh, or destiny. Can I say more?”
“Allah acbar! God is great! and it is well said. But why a book, when nobody can read it?”
“These are great words, and spiced with wisdom. O pacha! doth not Hafiz say, ‘Every moment you enjoy, count it gain.’ Who can say what will be the event of anything?”
“Wallah thaib! well said, by Allah! Then why a book, if the book is sealed?”
“Yet there are wise men who can read our Kismet, and foretell.”
“Yes, very true; but I have observed that it is not until after an event has happened, that they tell you of it. What are these astrologers? Bosh—nothing—I have said.” And the pacha remained some time smoking his pipe in silence.