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ing to be beforehand with the others, it fell out, that a great mob came all at once to the door.
As soon as Agib heard the knocking, and the voices, and the jangling of the vessels, for the good people made a pretty concert without, in order to let him know what they wanted, he turned about to his brothers, and said that the time for their usefulness was arrived. Thereupon he opened the door, and saw a great concourse of people, who were all talking together, and holding up towards him the bottoms of kettles and pans. Whenever he could make himself heard through the clamour, he desired every one to make a private mark of their own upon the metal, which being done, he took in the articles one by one, and appointed with the owners to return for them on the morrow at the same hour.
The things which had been brought made a goodly heap in the chamber, being piled up in one corner to the very top of the room, a sight that amused Agib and his brothers very much, for the latter made sure that they were to sell the whole of the metal, and then make off with the money, which was quite contrary to the policy of Agib, who remembered the injunctions of Abendali, as to the danger of such acts. However, there was no time to be wasted, having such a quantity of work before their eyes; accordingly, bidding his brothers perform after his example, Agib sat down on the floor with one of the brazen vessels between his legs, and by help of an old knife and some coarse sand, scraped and scoured the bottom till it looked very bright and clean. The two eldest laboured after the same manner with great patience, and persevered so stedfastly, that by daylight the bottoms of the vessels were all shining as brilliantly as the sun. "Now," said Agib, " we may lie down and rest awhile, for we have done the work of a score of hands."
At the time appointed, which was about noon, the people came in a crowd, as before, to fetch away their pans, every one striving to be first at the door. In the mean time, Agib had the vessels heaped up behind him, so as to be conveniently within reach; whereupon, opening the door, and holding up one of the articles in his right hand, one of the crowd called out, "That is my pan!" Immediately Agib reached forth the vessel to the owner, and without a word stretched out his left hand for the money, which in every case was a piece of the same amount that had been paid by the old woman; and his two brothers, who stood behind with blacked faces, to look like furnacemen, put all the coins into a bag. In this way, Agib, as fast as he could, delivered all the things to the people; who, as soon as they saw the bright bottoms of their pots and kettles, were well satisfied, and withal very much amazed to think that so much work had been performed in such a little space.
"It is wonderful! it is wonderful!" they said to each other; "he must have a hundred workpeople in his house !" and with that and similar sayings they departed to their homes.
When the last of the pot-bearers was gone out of sight, Agib told his brothers that it was time for them to leave the place; whereupon the dull-witted pair began to think of redeeming their turbans, and, in spite of the entreaties of Agib, being very obstinate, as such thick-skulls usually are, they went forth on that errand. In the interval, Agib, who had many misgivings at heart, was obliged to remain in the house; So that the event fell out as unhappily as might have been foretold. In a little while, some of the people, who had paid for the mending of their pans, found out the trick, and these telling the others that were in the same plight, they repaired suddenly to the house, before Agib had time to escape, and carried him into the presence of the Cadi.
The furious people told their story all at once, as they could, to the judge; and withal they held up so many shining pan-bottoms, of brass as well as copper, that he was quite dazzled, and almost as blind as Justice ought to be, according to the painters. Many of them, besides, to eke out their speech, laid sundry violent thumps upon the twanging vessels, so that such an uproar had never been heard before in the court. As for Agib, though he felt his case to be somewhat critical, he could not help laughing at the oddness of the scene; and there were others in the hall, who laughed more violently than he.
It was a common thing with the Caliph of Bagdad to go in disguise through his dominions, as well to overlook the administration of justice in different places, as for his own private diversion. Thus it happened at this moment, that the Caliph was standing, unrecognized, amongst the spectators of the scene. He laughed very heartily at the eagerness of * the complainants and their whimsical concert. At last, sending his royal signet to the Cadi, with a message that it was his pleasure to try