THE CLEVER CAT
hearing steps approaching I got frightened, and called to you, as you know.'
'You are no better than the rest,' cried the Jew, and turned away in a rage.
When he was out of sight the young man took the stone from his turban and looked at it. ' I want the finest camel that can be found, and the most splendid garments,' said he.
'Shut your eyes then,' replied the stone. And he shut them; and when he opened them again the camel that he had wished for was standing before him, while the festal robes of a desert prince hung from his shoulders. Mounting the camel, he whistled the falcon to his wrist, and, followed by his greyhound and his cat, he started homewards.
His mother was sewing at her door when this magnificent stranger rode up, and, filled with surprise, she bowed low before him.
'Don't you know me, mother?' he said with a laugh. And on hearing his voice the good woman nearly fell to the ground with astonishment.
' How have you got that camel and those clothes ?' asked she. ' Can a son of mine have committed murder in order to possess them ?'
'Do not be afraid; they are quite honestly come by,' answered the youth. 'I will explain all by-and-by; but now you must go to the palace and tell the king I wish to marry his daughter.'
At these words the mother thought her son had certainly gone mad, and stared blankly at him. The young man guessed what was in her heart, and replied with a smile:
'Fear nothing. Promise all that he asks; it will be fulfilled somehow.'
So she went to the palace, where she found the king sitting in the Hall of Justice listening to the petitions of his people. The woman waited until all had been heard