The History of Caliph Stork
Once upon a time, on a fine afternoon, the Caliph Chasid was seated on his sofa in Bagdad: he had slept a little, (for it was a hot day,) and now, after his nap, looked quite happy. He smoked a long pipe of rosewood, sipped, now and then, a little coffee which a slave poured out for him, and stroked his beard, well-satisfied, for the flavor pleased him. In a word, it was evident that the Caliph was in a good humor. At this season one could easily speak with him, for he was always very mild and affable; on which account did his Grand-Vizier, Mansor, seek him at this hour, every day.
On the afternoon in question he also came, but looked very serious, quite contrary to his usual custom. The Caliph removed the pipe, a moment, from his mouth, and said, “Wherefore, Grand-Vizier, wearest thou so thoughtful a visage?”
The Grand-Vizier folded his arms crosswise over his breast, made reverence to his lord, and answered: “Sir, whether I wear a thoughtful look, I know not, but there, below the palace, stands a trader who has such fine goods, that it vexes me not to have abundant money.”
The Caliph, who had often before this gladly indulged his Vizier, sent down his black slave to bring up the merchant, and in a moment they entered together. He was a short, fat man, of swarthy countenance and tattered dress. He carried a chest in which were all kinds of wares—pearls and rings, richly-wrought pistols, goblets, and combs. The Caliph and his Vizier examined them all, and the former at length purchased fine pistols for himself and Mansor, and a comb for the Vizier’s wife. When the pedler was about to close his chest, the Caliph espied a little drawer, and inquired whether there were wares in that also. The trader drew forth the drawer, and pointed out therein a box of black powder, and a paper with strange characters, which neither the Caliph nor Mansor could read.
“I obtained these two articles, some time ago, from a merchant, who found them in the street at Mecca,” said the trader.