THE THIEF AND THE SHROFF.



A certain Shroff, bearing a bag of gold pieces, once passed by a company of thieves, and one of these sharpers said to the others, "I, and I only, have the power to steal yonder purse." So they asked, "How wilt thou do it?"; and he answered, "Look ye all!"; and followed the money-changer, till he entered his house, when he threw the bag on a shelf [FN#406] and, being affected with diabetes, went into the chapel of ease to do his want, calling to the slave-girl, "Bring me an ewer of water." She took the ewer and followed him to the privy, leaving the door open, whereupon the thief entered and, seizing the money-bag, made off with it to his companions, to whom he told what had passed.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Three Hundred and Forty-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the thief took the money-bag and made off with it to his companions to whom he told what had passed. Said they, "By Allah, thou hast played a clever trick! ''tis not every one could do it; but, presently the money-changer will come out of the privy; and missing the bag of money, he will beat the slave-girl and torture her with grievous torture. 'Tis as though thou hast at present done nothing worthy of praise; so, if thou be indeed a sharper, return and save the girl from being beaten and questioned." Quoth he, ' Inshallah! I will save both girl and purse." Then the prig went back to the Shroff's house and found him punishing the girl because of the purse; so he knocked at the door and the man said, "Who is there?" Cried the thief, "I am the servant of thy neighbour in the Exchange;" whereupon he came out to him and said, "What is thy business?" The thief replied, "My master saluteth thee and saith to thee: 'Surely thou art deranged and thoroughly so, to cast the like of this bag of money down at the door of thy shop and go away and leave it.' Had a stranger hit upon it he had made off with it and, except my master had seen it and taken care of it, it had assuredly been lost to thee." So saying, he pulled out the purse and showed it to the Shroff who on seeing it said, "That is my very purse," and put out his hand to take it; but the thief said, "By Allah, I will not give thee this same, till thou write me a receipt declaring that thou hast received it! for indeed I fear my master will not believe that thou hast recovered the purse, unless I bring him thy writing to that effect, and sealed with thy signet-seal." The money changer went in to write the paper required; and in the meantime the thief made off with the bag of money and thus was the slave-girl saved her beating. And men also tell a tale of