204 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
have asked anyone better. My son is a money-changer, and if you will follow me he will weigh them for you himself. Only we must be quick or he will have gone to his shop.' So saying she led the way to the same house as before, and the door was opened by the same Greek slave.
Again my brother was left in the hall, and the pretended son appeared under the form of the black slave. ' Miserable crone,' he said to my brother, ' get up and come with me,' and turned to lead the way to the place of murder. Alnaschar rose too, and drawing the sabre from under his dress dealt the black such a blow on his neck that his head was severed from his body. My brother picked up the head with one hand, and seizing the body with the other dragged it to the vault, when he threw it in and sent the head after it. The Greek slave, supposing that all had passed as usual, shortly arrived with the basin of salt, but when she beheld Alnaschar with the sabre in his hand she let the basin fall and turned to fly. My brother, however, was too quick for her, and in another instant her head was rolling from her shoulders. The noise brought the old woman running to see what was the matter, and he seized her before she had time to escape. ' Wretch!' he cried, ' do you know me?'
' Who are you, my lord?' she replied trembling all over. 'I have never seen you before.'
'I am he whose house you entered to offer your hypes critical prayers. Don't you remember now ?'
She flung herself on her knees to implore mercy, but he cut her in four pieces.
There remained only the lady, who was quite ignorant of all that was taking place around her. He sought her through the house, and when at last he found her, she nearly fainted with terror at the sight of him. She begged hard for life, which he was generous enough to give her, but he bade her to tell him how she had got into