Story of the Devout Woman and the Magpie.

A CERTAIN pious woman, who made pilgrimages to various parts of the world, in the course of one of them came to the court of a sultan, who received her with welcome reverence. One day his queen took the good woman with her to the bath, and handed her a string of jewels, worth two thousand gold dīnars, to take charge of while she bathed. The religious woman placed it upon the sajjāda,* and began to say her prayers. Suddenly a magpie alighted from the roof of the palace, and fled away with the string of jewels in its claws, unobserved by the pilgrim, and ascended to one of the turrets.

When the queen came from the bath, she searched for the string of jewels, but not finding it, demanded it of the pilgrim, who said: “It was here this instant, and I have not moved from this place. Whether any of your domestics may have taken it up or not, I cannot tell.” The queen was enraged, and complained to the sultan, who commanded the pilgrim to be scourged till she should discover the jewels. She was beaten severely, but confessed nothing; after which she was imprisoned, and remained a long time in durance; till one day the sultan, sitting upon the terrace of the palace, beheld a magpie, with the string of jewels twisted round its claws. He commanded the bird to be caught, released the pil­grim, of whom he entreated pardon, kissed her hands, begged forgiveness of God for what he had done, and would have made atonement to her by a valuable present, but she would not accept it. She left the court; and having resolved in her mind, for the re­mainder of her life, not to enter the house of any one, retired to the mountains, till she died. May God have mercy upon her!*

The Damsel then related, as an example of the crafty disposition of men, the