THE VIZIR WHO WAS PUNISHED 37
and intend to kill me. But I will be first, and kill you. Strike,' he added to an executioner who was by,' and rid me of this assassin.'
At this cruel order the physician threw himself on his knees. ' Spare my life,' he cried, ' and yours will be spared.'
The fisherman stopped here to say to the genius: ' You see what passed between the Greek king and the physician has just passed between us two. The Greek king,' he went on, ' had no mercy on him, and the executioner bound his eyes.'
All those present begged for his life, but in vain.
The physician on his knees, and bound, said to the king: ' At least let me put my affairs in order, and leave my books to persons who will make good use of them. There is one which I should like to present to your majesty. It is very precious, and ought to be kept carefully in your treasury. It contains many curious things the chief being that when you cut off my head, if youi: majesty will turn to the sixth leaf, and read the third line of the left-hand page, my head will answer all the questions you like to ask it.'
The king, eager to see such a wonderful thing, put off his execution to the next day, and sent him under a strong guard to his house. There the physican put his affairs in order, and the next day there was a great crowd assembled in the hall to see his death, and the doings after it. The physician went up to the foot of the throne with a large book in his hand. He carried a basin, on which he spread the covering of the book, and presenting it to the king, said: ' Sire, take this book, and when my head is cut off, let it be placed in the basin on the covering of this book ; as soon as it is there, the blood will cease to flow. Then open the book, and my head will answer all your questions. But, sire, I implore your mercy, for I am innocent.'
'Your prayers are useless, and if it were only to