THE BLIND BABA-ABDALLA 327
Directly the box was in my hands I wrenched off the cover. ' As you are so kind,' I said, ' tell me, I pray you, what are the virtues of this ointment? '
' They are most curious and interesting,' replied the dervish. ' If you apply a little of it to your left eye you will behold in an instant all the treasures hidden in the bowels of the earth. But beware lest you touch your right eye with it, or your sight will be destroyed for ever.'
His words excited my curiosity to the highest pilch. ' Make trial on me, I implore you,' I cried, holding out the box to the dervish. ' You will know how to do it better than I! I am burning with impatience to test its charms.'
The dervish took the box I had extended to him, and, bidding me shut my left eye, touched it gently with the ointment. When I opened it again I saw spread out, as it were before me, treasures of every kind and without number. But as all this time I had been obliged to keep my right eye closed, which was very fatiguing, I begged the dervish to apply the ointment to that eye also.
' If you insist upon it I will do it,' answered the dervish, ' but you must remember what I told you just nowó that if it touches your right eye you will become blind on the spot.'
Unluckily, in spite of my having proved the truth of the dervish's words in so many instances, I was firmly convinced that he was now keeping concealed from me some hidden and precious virtue of the ointment. So I turned a deaf ear to all he said.
' My brother,' I replied smiling, 'I see you are joking. It is not natural that the same ointment should have two such exactly opposite effects.'
' It is true all the same,' answered the dervish, ' and it would be well for you if you believed my word.'
But I would not believe, and, dazzled by the greed of avarice, I thought that if one eye could show me riches, the other might teach me how to get possession of them.