188 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
carried him to the doctor's house. Then they knocked at the door, which opened straight on to a steep staircase. A servant soon appeared, feeling her way down the dark staircase and inquired what they wanted.
' Tell your master,' said the tailor, ' that we have brought a very sick man for him to cure; and,' he added, holding out some money, ' give him this in advance, so that he may not feel he is wasting his time.' The servant remounted the stairs to give the message to the doctor, and the moment she was out of sight the tailor and his wife carried the body swiftly after her, propped it up at the top of the staircase, and ran home as fast as their legs could carry them.
Now the doctor was so delighted at the news of a patient (for he was young, and had not many of them), that he was transported with joy.
' Get a light,' he called to the servant, ' and follow me as fast as you can! • and rushing out of his room he ran towards the staircase. There he nearly fell over the body of the hunchback, and without knowing what it was gave it such a kick that it rolled right to the bottom, and very nearly dragged the doctor after it. ' A light! a light!' he cried again, and when it was brought and he saw what he had done he was almost beside himself with terror.
' Holy Moses!' he exclaimed, ' why did I not wait for the light? I have killed the sick man whom they brought me; and if the sacred Ass of Esdras does not come to my aid I am lost ! It will not be long before I am led to jail as a murderer.'
Agitated though he was, and with reason, the doctor did not forget to shut the house door, lest some passers-by might chance to see what had happened. He then took up the corpse and carried it into his wife's room, nearly driving her crazy with fright.
' It is all over with us!' she wailed, ' if we cannot find some means of getting the body out of the house