“I told you that I was a poor man, but that was not true; on the contrary, I am pretty well to do, thank God! Nor do I wander up and down on the face of the earth in search of herds of cattle stolen from me, but for the sake of my only daughter, who is dearer to me than all my treasures, and now also I am in pursuit of her, following clue after clue, in order that I may discover her whereabouts and, if possible, ransom her. You have been my benefactor. You fought the drunken Janissary for my sake, you shared your dwelling with me, you made me lie on your own bed while you slept on the bare ground, you even took off your kaftan to make my couch the softer. Accept, therefore, as a token of my gratitude, the slender purse accompanying this letter. It contains five thousand piastres, so that if ever I visit you again I may find you in better circumstances. God help you in all things!
“Your grateful servant,
“Now, didn’t I say he was mad?” exclaimed Halil, after reading through the letter. “Who else, I should like to know, would have given me five thousand piastres for three red onions?”
Meanwhile, attracted by the noise of the conversation, a crowd of the acquaintances of Halil Patrona and the money-changer had gathered around them, and they laid their heads together and discussed among themselves for a long time the question which was the greater fool of the two—Janaki, who had given five thousand piastres for three onions, or Halil who did not want to accept the money.
Yet Halil it was who turned out to be the biggest fool, for he immediately set out in search of the man who had given him this sum of money. But search and search as he might he could find no trace of him. If he had gone in search of someone who had stolen a like amount, he would have been able to find him very much sooner.
In the course of his wanderings, he suddenly came upon the place where three days previously he had had his tussle with Halil Pelivan. He recognised the spot at once. A small dab of blood, the remains of what had flowed from the giant’s head, was still there in the middle of the lane, and on the wall of the house opposite both their names were written. In all probability the Janissary, when he picked himself up again, had dipped his finger in his own blood, and then scrawled the names upon the wall in order to perpetuate the memory of the incident. He had also taken good care to put Halil Pelivan uppermost and Halil Patrona undermost.
“Nay, but that is not right,” said Halil to himself; “it was you who were undermost,” and snatching up the fragment of a red tile he wrote his name above that of Halil Pelivan.
He hurried and scurried about till late in the evening without discovering a single trace of Janaki, and by that time his head was so confused by all manner of cogitations that when, towards nightfall, he began chaffering for fish in the Etmeidan market, he would not have been a bit surprised if he had been told that every single carp cost a thousand piastres.