THE LITTLE HUNCHBACK 191
his way to the mosque, who, seeing his condition, would send him to prison as a drunkard. In his haste he jostled against the hunchback, who fell heavily upon him, and the merchant, thinking he was being attacked by a thief, knocked him down with one blow of his fist. He then called loudly for help, beating the fallen man all the while.
The chief policeman of the quarter came running up, and found a Christian ill-treating a Mussulman. ' What are you doing?' he asked indignantly.
' He tried to rob me,' replied the merchant, ' and very nearly choked me.'
' Well, you have had your revenge,' said the man, catching hold of his arm. fc Come, be off with you!'
As he spoke he held out his hand to the hunchback to help him up, but the hunchback never moved. 'Oho!' he went on, looking closer, ' so this is the way a Christian has the impudence to treat a Mussulman!' and seizing the merchant in a firm grasp he took him to the inspector of police, who threw him into prison till the judge should be out of bed and ready to attend to his case. All this brought the merchant to his senses, but the more he thought of it the less he could understand how the hunchback could have died merely from the blows he had received.
The merchant was still pondering on this subject when he was summoned before the chief of police and questioned about his crime, which he could not deny. As the hunchback was one of the Sultan's private jesters, the chief of police resolved to defer sentence of death until he had consulted his master. He went to the palace to demand an audience, and told his story to the Sultan, who only answered,
i There is do pardon for a Christian who kills a Mussulman. Do your duty.'
So the chief of police ordered a gallows to be erected, and sent criers to proclaim in every street in the city that