THE STORY OF ALI COGIA S47
After corking the vase tightly down, he carried it to one of his friends, a merchant like himself, and said to him:
' My brother, you have probably heard that I am starting with a caravan in a few days for Mecca. I have come to ask whether you would do me the favour to keep this vase of olives for me till I come back?'
The merchant replied readily, ' Look, this is the key of my shop: take it, and put the vase wherever you like. I promise that you shall find it in the same place on your return.'
A few days later, Ali Cogia mounted the camel that he had laden with merchandise, joined the caravan, and arrived in due time at Mecca. Like the other pilgrims he visited the sacred Mosque, and after all his religious duties were performed, he set out his goods to the best advantage, hoping to gain some customers among the passers-by.
Very soon two merchants stopped before the pile, and when they had turned it over, one said to the other:
' If this man was wise he would take these things to Cairo, where he would get a much better price than he is likely to do here.'
Ali Cogia heard the words, and lost no time in following the advice. He packed up his wares, and instead of returning to Bagdad, joined a caravan that was going to Cairo. The results of the journey gladdened his heart. He sold off everything almost directly, and bought a stock of Egyptian curiosities, which he intended selling at Damascus; but as the caravan with which he would have to travel would not be starting for another six weeks, he took advantage of the delay to visit the Pyramids, and some of the cities along the banks of the Nile.
Now the attractions of Damascus so fascinated the worthy Ali, that he could hardly tear himself away, but at length he remembered that he had a home in Bagdad, meaning to return by way of Aleppo, and after he had crossed the Euphrates, to follow the course of the Tigris.