Story of the Stolen Purse, and the Child of
Five Years

ONCE on a time three persons agreed among them­selves to enter into partnership, have everything in common, and share one another's secrets. One was a farmer, another a merchant, and another a dealer in grain. When they had amassed a sum of money, they agreed to deposit it with an old woman of approved honesty, but on this condition, that none should ask it back, unless all the three were present. One of them was an expert sharper. Being with his companions in the street, he pretended that he was going to ask from the woman some clay and other necessaries for the bath. He approached her window, and begged her to hand him out, not what he had mentioned, but the purse. She asked where were his two partners. He said: “They are at hand; look from the window and see that they are both witnesses.” The woman, seeing them, gave him the purse, while his companions never suspected any mischief. The man immediately on receiving it, fled to the desert, and went to another kingdom.

The two friends, after waiting some time in the street, and not finding their companion return, began to suspect what had happened, and hastening in alarm to the house of the old woman, demanded the deposit. She replied that their partner had received the money by their order and in their presence; upon which they took her before the qāzī, who commanded her to re­store the deposit. She begged a delay of three days, which was granted. She departed weeping, and a child of five years of age, whom she met in the street, inquired the cause of her distress. Upon her relating it, the child smiled and said: “Tell the qāzī to-morrow in the court, that when he produces the three partners before you, you are ready to restore the money.”

Next day she did as the child had suggested to her. The qāzī, in astonishment, asked her “who had pierced this pearl.” She at first claimed the merit to herself; but as the qāzī would not believe that a woman could possess such wisdom, she confessed the truth; and whenever in future a difficulty occurred, the qāzī referred to that child for a solution.*