146 DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND
precious stones ; and so, with many promises and compliments, they parted.
In a place like an Eastern bazaar, where the shops lie with wide open fronts, and with their goods displayed not only within but without on terraces and verandahs raised a few feet above the public roadway, such a long talk as that between Beeka Mull and the merchant could not but attract some attention from the other shop-keepers in the narrow street. If the merchant had but known it, nearly every shop-owner in that district wras a thief, and the cleverest and biggest of all was Beeka Mull. But he did not know it, only he could not help feeling a little uneasy at having thus parted with all his wrealth to a stranger. And so, as he wandered down the street, making a purchase here and there, he managed in one way and another to ask some questions about the honesty of Beeka Mull, and each rascal whom he spoke to, knowing that there was some good reason in the question, and hoping to get in return some share of the spoils, replied in praise of Beeka Mull as a model of all the virtues.
In this way the merchant's fears were stilled, and, with a comparatively light heart, he travelled on to his village ; and within a week or so returned to the city with half-a-dozen sturdy young nephews and friends whom he had enlisted to help him carry home his precious box.
At the great market-place in the centre of the city the merchant left his friends, saying that he would go and get the box of jewels and rejoin them, to which they consented, and away he went. Arrived at the shop of Beeka Mull, he went up and saluted him.
' Good-day, Lala-ji,' said he. But the Lala pretended not to see him. So he repeated the salutation. ' What do you want ? ' snapped Beeka Mull; ' you've said your "good-day" twice, why don't you tell me your business ?'
' Don't you remember me ? ' asked the merchant.