THE CLEVER CAT
Near the hut was a small barn in which he kept the produce of the little patch of corn, which grew close to the garden. Here a rat ran out almost under his feet, followed by another and another; but quick as thought the cat was upon them and not one escaped her.
When all the rats were killed, the young man left the barn. He took the path leading to the door of the hut, but stopped on feeling a hand laid on his shoulder.
'Young man,' said the Jew (for such was the stranger), ' you have been a good son, and you deserve the piece of luck which has befallen you this day. Come with me to that shining lake yonder, and fear nothing.'
Wondering a little at what might be going to happen to him, the youth did as the Jew bade him, and when they reached the shore of the lake, the old man turned and said to him:
'Step into the water and shut your eyes! You will find yourself sinking slowly to the bottom; but take courage, all will go well. Only bring up as much silver as you can carry, and we will divide it between us.'
So the young man stepped bravely into the lake, and felt himself sinking, sinking, till he reached firm ground at last. In front of him lay four heaps of silver, and in the midst of them a curious white shining stone, marked over with strange characters, such as he had never seen before. He picked it up in order to examine it more closely, and as he held it the stone spoke.
'As long as you hold me, all your wishes will come true,' it said. 'But hide me in your turban, and then call to the Jew that you are ready to come up.'
In a few minutes the young man stood again by the shores of the lake.
'Well, where is the silver?' asked the Jew, who was awaiting him.
'Ah, my father, how can I tell you! So bewildered was I, and so dazzled with the splendours of everything I saw, that I stood like a statue, unable to move. Then