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the cause himself, he went up into the judge's seat.
As soon as the accusers perceived the Caliph, they set up a new clamour, and a fresh clatter of their pans, so that he had much ado to preserve his gravity and his eyesight. However, when he had heard enough to comprehend the matter, he commanded them to hold their peace, and then called upon Agib to say what he could in his defence.
"Commander of the Faithful!" said Agib, "I beseech but your gracious patience, and I will answer all this rabble, and their kettles to boot. Your majesty must know then, that yesterday morning these people all made even such a tumult about my door as you have just heard. As soon as ever I came forth, they held up the bottoms of their vessels one and all towards me, as they have just done to your majesty; and if the Commander of the Faithful understands by that action that he is to mend all the bottoms of their pans, I confess that I am worthy of the bastinado."
The Caliph laughed more heartily than ever at this idea of Agib's, in which he was joined by all the unconcerned parties in the court; whereas the pan-bearers looked very much disconcerted. At last, one of them, speaking in behalf of the rest, besought of the Caliph that the old woman might be sent for, whose pot had been mended by Agib, and accordingly an officer was dispatched to bring her to the court. As soon as she came, the Cadi interrogated her, by the command of the Caliph, as to her transaction with Agib; whereupon she related the whole affair, and proved that he had undertaken, by express words, to put a new bottom to her pan.
The Caliph was very much vexed at this turn of the case against Agib, whereas the complainants were altogether in exultation, and asked eagerly and at once of the old woman, whether her pan was not merely scrubbed bright at the bottom, and unserviceable, like theirs. The old woman, however, declared that it was no such matter, but that her pan was quite water-tight, and repaired with a new bottom in a workmanlike manner; whereupon the vessel being examined, it was discovered that she had told the truth.
The Caliph, who was overjoyed at this favourable result, now laughed again till he was ready to fall out of his seat. Whereas, the pan-bearers fell into a fresh fit of rage, shaking their clanking utensils first at the old woman, and then at Agib, and at last at each other, every one shifting the blame of the failure from himself to his neighbour, who had prevented the cause from being properly heard. In the mean time, all the braziers and metalworkers of the place, who had heard of the subject of the examination, thronged into the court; and began to treat with the enraged people who had been juggled for the repairs of their pans: and these men falling into dispute with each other, there arose a fresh uproar. The Cadi, therefore, would fain have had them all thrust out of the place, but the Caliph desired that the rioters might have their way for a little longer, not doubting that some fresh mirth would arise out of the squabble. Accordingly, before long, the complainants came forward with a fresh accusation against the artificers, that under pretence of examining the vessels, they had thrust fresh holes in them, and withal they flourished the damaged panbottoms once more in the eyes of the Commander of the Faithful.
Little Agib, in the mean time, enjoyed this uproar in his sleeve, and casting a sly glance or two towards the seat of justice, he soon perceived that it was not more displeasing to the Caliph. The latter, after laughing a while longer, put on a grave look by force, and commanded Agib to relate what passed with the people, at the delivery of their wares.
"Sire," replied Agib, "as soon as I had got all the pans together, which were thus forced as it were upon me, I examined them as narrowly as I could; but not being a brazier, nor knowing any thing whatever of that trade, I could perceive only that they wanted a little scouring, which I performed by the help of my two brothers. This morning the people came again for their pots and pans, and seeing that they had only held up the bottoms towards me, in like manner I only held up the bottoms towards them; wherewith they were so well contented, that each gave me a small piece of money, without any demand on my part, and they went on their way.11
As soon as Agib had concluded these words, he was silent; whereupon one of the braziers pushed his way through the crowd, and making his reverence before the Caliph, spoke as follows :—
"Commander of the Faithful, what this young man has said is every word of it true. As for