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With these words he died, and the sons turned his face towards the East,—the two eldest setting themselves immediately to divide the money between them, in order to divert their grief; whereas Little Agib, having nothing to do, shed a great many tears. However, it happened so, that the soul of the infirm kinswoman of Abendali took flight to God the same evening, and she left by her will a sum of money, that made Agib equal in means with his brethren; whereupon, having something likewise to occupy his thoughts, his eyes were soon as dry as the others.
After a decent season, the three brothers, desiring a change of scene, and to see a little of the world, determined to travel: accordingly, bestowing their money about their persons, they set forth in company, intending to go towards Damascus; but, before they had gone very far, they were set upon by a band of thieves, who took away all they had. The two elder ones, at this mischance, were very much cast down; but Little Agib, who was no worse off than he had been left by his father, kept up his heart. At last they came to a town, where Agib, who never had any mistrust of his wit, took care to hire a small house without any delay; but his brethren were very much dismayed at so rash an act, for they knew that there was not a coin amongst them all. Notwithstanding, Agib, by several dexterous turns, made shift to provide something every day to eat and drink, which he shared generously with the others, exacting from them only a promise that they would help him whenever they could.
At last even the inventions of Little Agib began to fail, and he was walking through the streets in a very melancholy manner, when he espied an old woman making over towards an artificer's with a brazen pan in her arms. A thought immediately came into his head: therefore, stopping the woman before she could step into the shop, and drawing her a little way apart, he spoke thus. "I doubt not, my good mother, that you were going to the brazier, to have that vessel repaired, and I should be loth to stop the bread from coming to any honest man's mouth. Notwithstanding, I have not eaten for three days;1' here the little hypocrite began to shed tears;—" and as I know something of the craft, if you will allow me to do such a small job for you, it will be a great charity."
The old woman, in reply, told him that she was indeed going to the brazier's on such an errand, but nevertheless, the vessel having a flaw at the bottom, she was very well disposed to let him repair her pan, as it would be an act of charity, and especially as he would no doubt mend it for half-price. The Little Agib agreed to her terms; whereupon leading her to the door of his house, he took the pan from her, and desired her to call again in a certain time.
The brethren wondered very much to see Agib with such a vessel, when they had not provision to make it of any use; but he gave them no hint of his design, requiring only of them that they would go abroad, and raise money upon such parts of their raiment as they could spare. The two elder ones, having a great confidence in his cleverness, did as they were desired, but the greater part of their clothes having been pledged in the same way, they could borrow but two pieces for their turbans, which were left as security.
As soon as he got the money, Agib ran off to the brazier, who has been mentioned before, and ordered him to repair the brass pan in his best manner, and without any delay, which the man punctually fulfilled. Thereupon Agib made him a present of the two pieces, which amounted to much more than the usual charge for such a job, and made haste home with the pan, where he arrived but a breathing space before the old woman knocked at the door. She was very much pleased with the work, for the pan had a brave new bottom, perfectly water-tight, and neatly set in; but the moderate charge that was demanded by Agib delighted her still more, wherefore she began to hobble off, with great satisfaction in her countenance, when he beckoned to her to come back.
"There is but one thing," said he, "that I request of you, which is this; that you will not mention this matter to any one, for otherwise, as I am not a native of the place, I shall have all the braziers of the town about my ears.*'
The old woman promised readily to observe his caution; notwithstanding, as he had foreseen, she told the story to every one of her neighbours, and the neighbours gossiped of it to others, so that the fame of the cheap brazier travelled through the whole of her quarter. Thereupon, every person who had a vessel of brass or copper, or a metal pan of any kind that was unsound, resolved to have it mended at so reasonable a rate; and each one intend