350 THE ABABIAN NIGHTS
quite right; the olives are rotten, and I have recorked the vase so well that Ali Cogia will never know it has been touched.'
' You would have done better to believe me,' replied the wife. ' I trust that no harm will come of it.'
These words made no more impression on the merchant than the others had done; and he spent the whole night in wondering how he could manage to keep the gold if Ali Cogia should come back and claim his vase. Very early next morning he went out and bought fresh new olives; he then threw away the old ones, took out the gold and hid it, and filled up the vase with the olives he had bought. This done he recorked the vase and put it in the same place where it had been left by Ali Cogia.
A month later Ali Cogia re-entered Bagdad, and as his house was still let he went to an inn ; and the following day set out to see his friend the merchant, who received him with open arms and many expressions of surprise. After a few moments given to inquiries Ali Cogia begged the merchant to hand him over the vase that he had taken care of for so long.
' Oh certainly,' said he, ' I am only glad I could be of use to you in the matter. Here is the key of my shop; you will find the vase in the place where you put it.'
Ali Cogia fetched his vase and carried it to his room at the inn, where he opened it. He thrust down his hand but could feel no money, but still was persuaded it must be there. So he got some plates and vessels from his travelling kit and emptied out the olives. To no purpose. The gold was not there. The poor man was dumb with horror, then, lifting up his hands, he exclaimed, ' Can my old friend really have committed such a crime ? '
In great haste he went back to the house of the merchant. ' My friend,' he cried,' you will be astonished to see me again, but I can find nowhere in this vase a thousand pieces of gold that I placed in the bottom under