Then said the sharper, ’O folk, this is my friend and I deposited with him a deposit, but he denieth it; so in whom shall the folk put trust after this?’ And they said, ’This [FN#49] is a man of worth and we have found in him nought but trustiness and loyality and good breeding, and he is endowed with understanding and generosity. Indeed, he avoucheth no falsehood, for that we have consorted with him and mixed with him and he with us and we know the sincerity of his religion.’ Then quoth one of them to the merchant, ’Harkye, such an one! Bethink thee and consult thy memory. It may not be but that thou hast forgotten.’ But he said, ’O folk, I know nothing of that which he saith, for indeed he deposited nought with me.’ And the affair was prolonged between them. Then said the sharper to the merchant, ’I am about to make a journey and have, praised be God the Most High, wealth galore, and this money shall not escape me; but do thou swear to me.’ And the folk said, ’Indeed, this man doth justice upon himself.’[FN#50] Whereupon the merchant fell into that which he misliked[FN#51] and came near upon [suffering] loss and ill repute.
Now he had a friend, who pretended to quickwittedness and understanding; so he came up to him privily and said to him, ’Let me do, so I may put the change on this trickster, for I know him to be a liar and thou art near upon having to pay the money; but I will turn suspicion from thee and say to him, “The deposit is with me and thou erredst in imagining that it was with other than myself,” and so divert him from thee.’ ‘Do so,’ replied the merchant, ‘and rid the folk of their [false] debts.’
So the friend turned to the sharper and said to him, ’O my lord, O such an one, thou goest under a delusion. The purse is with me, for it was with me that thou depositedst it, and this elder is innocent of it.’ But the sharper answered him with impatience and impetuosity, saying, ’Extolled be the perfection of God! As for the purse that is with thee, O noble and trusty man, I know that it is in the warrant of God and my heart is at ease concerning it, for that it is with thee as it were with me; but I began by demanding that which I deposited with this man, of my knowledge that he coveteth the folk’s good.’ At this the friend was confounded and put to silence and returned not an answer; [and the] only [result of his interference was that] each of them [FN#52] paid a thousand dinars.
So the sharper took the two thousand dinars and made off; and when he was gone, the merchant said to his friend, the [self-styled] man of wit and intelligence, ’Harkye, such an one! Thou and I are like unto the hawk and the locust.’ ’What was their case?’ asked the other; and the merchant said,