218 STORY OF THE THREE SONS OF HAL I
by people of this kind, who should be rooted out from the earth. For three years I was changed into a three-legged pot, and only returned to man's shape when one day a turban was laid upon my lid.'
At these words the Bassa rent his robe for joy, and embracing Neangir, he cried, k Oh, my son, my son, have I found you at last? Do you not come from the house of Mohammed and Zinebi ? '
' Yes, my lord,' replied Neangir, ' it was they who took care of me during my misfortune, and taught me by their example to be less worthy of belonging to you.'
'Blessed be the Prophet,' said the Bassa, c who has restored one of my sons to me, at the time I least expected it! You know,' he continued, addressing the Cadi, ' that during the first years of my marriage I had three sons by the beautiful Zambac. When he was three years old a holy dervish gave the eldest a string of the finest coral, saying " Keep this treasure carefully, and be faithful to the Prophet, and you will be happy." To the second, who now stands before you, he presented a copper plate on which the name of Mahomet was engraved in seven languages, telling him never to part from his turban, which was the sign of a true believer, and he would taste the greatest of all joys; while on the right arm of the third the dervish clasped a bracelet with the prayer that his right hand should be pure and the left spotless, so that he might never know sorrow.
' My eldest son neglected the counsel of the dervish and terrible troubles fell on him, as also on the youngest. To preserve the second from similar misfortunes I brought him up in a lonely place, under the care of a faithful servant named Gouloucou, while I was fighting the enemies of our Holy Faith. On my return from the wars I hastened to embrace my son, but both he and Gouloucou had vanished, and it is only a few months since that I learned that the boy was living with a man called Mohammed, whom I suspected of having stolen him.