THE CHIEF OF THE COUS POLICE AND THE SHARPER

It is related that Alaeddin, chief of the police of Cous, (57) was sitting one night in his house, when a man of comely aspect and dignified port, followed by a servant bearing a chest upon his head, came to the door and said to one of the young men, 'Go in and tell the Amir that I would speak with him privily.' So the servant went in and told his master, who bade admit the visitor. When he entered the Amir saw him to be a man of good appearance and carriage; so he received him with honour, seating him beside himself, and said to him, 'What is thy business?' 'I am a highwayman,' replied the stranger, 'and am minded to repent at thy hands and turn to God the Most High but I would have thee help me to this, for that I am in thy district and under thine eye. I have here a chest, wherein is that which is worth nigh forty thousand dinars; and none hath so good a right to it as thou; so do thou take it and give me in exchange a thousand dinars of thy money, lawfully gotten, that I may have a little capital, to aid me in my repentance, and not be forced to resort to sin for subsistence; and with God the Most High be thy reward!' So saying he opened the chest and showed the Amir that it was full of trinkets and jewels and bullion and pearls, whereat he was amazed and rejoiced greatly. Then he cried out to his treasurer, to bring him a purse of a thousand dinars, and gave it to the highwayman, who thanked him and went his way, under cover of the night.

On the morrow, the Amir sent for the chief of the goldsmiths and showed him the chest and what was therein; but the goldsmith found it nothing but pewter and brass and the jewels and pearls all of glass; at which Alaeddin was sore chagrined and sent in quest of the highwayman; but none could come at him.




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