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other three among his clothes; hoping that, if they should search him, they might be contented with these, and that he might save those concealed within his mouth. He accordingly put three of the pearls among his clothes, and the other three into his mouth, and went on for some time without exciting any suspicion, or attracting the notice of the robbers. But unluckily opening his mouth to address them, the pearls fell on the ground; and when the robbers saw them, they seized the Merchant, and so terrified him with their threats and violence that he became senseless. The robbers, perceiving this, took up the three pearls and went away. After some time the Merchant recovered his senses, and was overjoyed to find that he had still three of the pearls left.

Proceeding on his journey, he arrived by night at a certain city, where he slept; and next morning went to the shop of a jeweller, to whom he offered the pearls for sale. The jeweller, on beholding them, was astonished; for they far exceeded anything he had ever seen then casting his eyes on the mean and squalid garments of the Merchant, he immediately seized him by the collar, and exclaimed with a loud voice, accusing the unfortunate stranger of having stolen the pearls

from his shop: a violent struggle and dispute ensued, and at length they both proceeded to the tribunal of the King.

The jeweller was a man of some repute in the city, and that which he said was believed by the inhabitants. He accused the Merchant of having contrived a hole through which he stole away a casket of gold and jewels from his shop, and those three pearls were part of the contents of the casket. The Merchant declared himself innocent; but the King ordered him to deliver the pearls to the jeweller, and he was loaded with chains and thrown into prison.

There he pined in misery and affliction, until after some time those divers who had given him the pearls arrived in that city; and going to visit the prison, that they might benefit by seeing the punishment of vice and wickedness, they distributed some money among those who were confined, and at last discovered the Merchant in a corner, loaded with chains. They were astonished, and inquired into the occasion of his disgrace. He related the whole affair, and they, feeling great indignation on account of the injurious treatment which their friend had suffered, desired him not to

despair, as they would soon procure him his liberty. They immediately hastened from the prison to the palace. The chief of them was a man whom the King much respected; and when he had related the story of the Merchant, and of the pearls which they had given him, the King became convinced of the jeweller's guilt, and instantly ordered him to be seized and brought before him, and at the same time that the Merchant should be released from prison. When the jeweller appeared before the King, his confusion and trembling betrayed his guilt. The King asked him why he had thus injured a stranger; but he remained silent, and was then led away to execution. The King caused to be proclaimed throughout the city : "Such is to be the punishment of those who shall injure or do wrong to strangers."

He directed also, that the property of the jeweller should be transferred to the Merchant. Supposing that a man who had seen so much of the world, both of prosperity and adversity, must be well qualified for the service of a King, he ordered a splendid robe to be given to the Merchant; and desired that he should be purified from the filth of a prison in a warm bath, and appointed him keeper of the treasury.

The Merchant employed himself diligently in the duties of his station; but there was a vizier who became envious of his good fortune, and resolved to devise some stratagem whereby to effect his ruin.

The King's daughter had a summer-house adjoining the treasury, and it was her custom to visit this summer-house during six months of the year, once every month. It happened that a mouse had made a hole quite through the wall of the treasury; and one day the Merchant having reason to drive a nail into the wall, it entered into the hole which the mouse had made, and went through and caused a brick to fall out on the road which led to the Princess's summer-house. The Merchant went immediately and stopped up the hole with clay.

The malicious vizier, having discovered this circumstance, hastened to the King, and informed him that he had seen the Merchant making a hole through the wall of the summer-house, and that, when he had found himself detected, he had, in shame and confusion, stopped it up with clay. The King was astonished at this information: he arose and proceeded to the treasury, where finding the Merchant's

hands yet dirty from the clay, he believed what the vizier had told him; and on returning to his palace, ordered his attendants to put out the Merchant's eyes, and to turn him out at the palace-gate. After this the King went to the summer-house, that he might pay a visit to his daughter; but he found that she had not been there for some time, having gone to amuse herself in the gardens. On proceeding to the treasury, the King discovered the hole, which had evidently been the work of a mouse. From these circumstances he began to suspect the truth of the vizier's information, and at last being convinced that the Merchant was innocent, he ordered the vizier to be punished. He lamented exceedingly the hard fate of the Merchant, and was much grieved at his own precipitancy; but his condolence and his sorrow were of no avail.


Having related this story, Bakhtyār observed, that the King would have prevented all this distress had he taken some time to inquire into the affair, and entreated a further respite, that he might be enabled to prove innocence. The King, being pleased with the recital of this story, complied with Bakhtyār's request, and ordered him to be taken back to prison for that day.

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