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Little Muck

“Here are my treasures,” said the king; “choose for thyself: whatever it may be, it shall be thine, if thou wilt free me from this shameful evil.” This was sweet music in the ears of Little Muck: at the moment of entering he had seen his slippers standing upon the floor, and hard by lay his little staff. He moved around the room, as if in wonder at the royal treasures; but no sooner had he reached his beloved shoes, than he hastily slipped into them, and seizing the little cane, tore off his false beard, and displayed to the astonished king the well-known countenance of his exiled Muck.

“False king!” said he, “who rewardest faithful service with ingratitude, take, as well-deserved punishment, the deformity which thou now hast. The ears I leave thee, that, each day they may remind thee of Little Muck.” Having thus spoken, he turned quickly around upon his heel, wished himself far away, and before the king could call for help Little Muck had vanished. Ever since, he has lived here in great affluence, but alone, for men he despises. Experience has made him a wise man—one who, though there is something offensive in his exterior, deserves rather your admiration than your ridicule.

Such was my father’s story. I assured him that I sincerely repented of my behavior towards the good little man, and he remitted the other half of the punishment which he had intended for me. To my comrades I told the wonderful history of the dwarf, and we conceived such an affection for him, that no one insulted him any more. On the contrary, we honored him as long as he lived, and bowed as low to him as to Cadi or Mufti.

The travellers determined to rest a day in this caravansery, in order to refresh themselves and their beasts for the rest of their journey. The gayety of the day before again prevailed, and they diverted themselves with various sports. After the meal, however, they called upon the fifth merchant, Ali Sizah, to perform his duty to the rest, and give them a story. He answered, that his life was too poor in remarkable adventures for him to relate one connected therewith, but he would tell them something which had no relation to it: “The story of the False Prince.

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