THE STORY OF ALI COOIA 353
into the public hall of the palace, and waited the result. After some time the officer appeared, and told him that the Caliph had read his petition, and had appointed an hour the next morning to give him audience. He then inquired the merchant's address, so that he might be summoned to attend also.
That very evening, the Caliph, with his grand-vizir Giafar, and Mesrour, chief of the eunuchs, all three disguised, as was their habit, went out to take a stroll through the town.
Going down one street, the Caliph's attention was attracted by a noise, and looking through a door which opened into a court he perceived ten or twelve children, playing in the moonlight. He hid himself in a dark corner, and watched them.
i Let us play at being the Cadi.' said the brightest and quickest of them all; 'I will be the Cadi. Bring before me Ali Cogia, and the merchant who robbed him of the thousand pieces of gold.'
The boy's words recalled to the Caliph the petition he had read that morning, and he waited with interest to see what the children would do.
The proposal was hailed with joy by the other children, who had heard a great deal of talk about the matter, and they quickly settled the part each one was to play. The Cadi took his seat gravely, and an officer introduced first Ali Cogia, the plaintiff, and then the merchant who was the defendant.
Ali Cogia made a low bow, and pleaded his cause point by point; concluding by imploring the Cadi not to inflict on him such a heavy loss.
The Cadi having heard his case, turned to the merchant, and inquired why he had not repaid Ali Cogia the sum in question.
The false merchant repeated the reasons that the real merchant had given to the Cadi of Bagdad, and also offered to swear that he had told the truth.