THE STORY OF ALI COGIA 355
And if you consult all the merchants in Bagdad you will not find one to give a contrary opinion.'
The accused merchant opened his mouth as if to protest, but the Cadi gave him no time. ' Be silent,' he said, ' you are a thief. Take him away and hang him.' So the game ended, the children clapping their hands in applause, and leading the criminal away to be hanged.
Haroun-al-Raschid was lost in astonishment at the wisdom of the child, who had given so wise a verdict on the case which he himself was to hear on the morrow. ' Is there any other verdict possible ?' he asked the grand-vizir, who was as much impressed as himself. ' I can imagine no better judgment.'
' If the circumstances are really such as we have heard,' replied the grand-vizir, ' it seems to me your Highness could only follow the example of this boy, in the method of reasoning, and also in your conclusions.'
' Then take careful note of this house,' said the Caliph, ' and bring me the boy to-morrow, so that the affair may be tried by him in my presence. Summon also the Cadi, to learn his duty from the mouth of a child. Bid Ali Cogia bring his vase of olives, and see that two dealers in olives are present.' So saying the Caliph returned to the palace.
The next morning early, the grand-vizir went back to the house where they had seen the children playing, and asked for the mistress and her children. Three boys appeared, and the grand-vizir inquired which had represented the Cadi in their game of the previous evening. The eldest and tallest, changing colour, confessed that it was he, and to his mother's great alarm, the grand-vizir said that he had strict orders to bring him into the presence of the Caliph.
' Does he want to take my son from me ?' cried the poor woman; but the grand-vizir hastened to calm her, by assuring her that she should have the boy again in an hour, and she would be quite satisfied when she knew