236 GRASP ALL, LOSE ALL
away with a sniff, for it had happened that the night before, when Lena had come round as usual to storm at Dena, he had been rather disturbed to find that his victim was from home, and had frightened the poor woman by his threats. Directly, however, he heard that Dena had come back, Lena appeared in the doorway. For some minutes he talked to the oil-seller at the top of his voice, until he was tired, then Dena said:
' If your honour would deign to walk into my humble dwelling, I will speak.'
So Lena walked in, and the other, shutting as before all the doors, untied the corner of his loin-cloth and showed him the four great flashing stones.
' This is all,' said he, ' that I have in the world to set against my debt, for, as your honour knows, I haven't a penny, but the stones are pretty ! '
Now Lena looked and saw at once that these were magnificent rubies, and his mouth watered for them; but as it would never do to show what was in his mind, he went on :
' What do I care about your stupid stones ? It is my money I want, my lawful debt which you owe me, and I shall get it out of you yet somehow or another, or it will be the worse for you.'
To all his reproaches Dena could answer nothing, but sat with his hands joined together beseechingly, asking for patience and pity. At length Lena pretended that, rather than have a bad debt on his hand, he would be at the loss of taking the stones in lieu of his money; and, whilst Dena nearly wept with gratitude, he wrote out a receipt for the three hundred rupees; and, wrapping the four stones in a cloth, he put them into his bosom, and went off to his house.
' How shall I turn these rubies into money ?' thought Lena, as he walked along ; ' I dare-n't keep them, for they are of great value, and if the rajah heard that I had them he would probably put me into prison on some pretence