Before the Cadi of an Eastern city there
came from the desert two torn and bruised travelers.
"There were five of us," they said, "on our way
hither with merchandise. A day’s journey hence we halted and made our
camp, when following us there came a crowd of ill-conditioned fellows
who demanded entrance to our camp and who, on our refusing it, used to
us violent and threatening words, and, when we answered not their threats,
set upon us with force. Three of us were slain and we two barely escaped
with our lives to ask justice."
"Justice you shall have," answered the Cadi. "If
what you say be true, they who assaulted you when you had not assaulted
them shall die. If what you say be not true, your own lives shall pay the
penalty of falsehood."
When the assailants of the merchants arrived they
were brought at once before the Cadi.
"Is the merchants’ story true?" he asked.
"It is, but — "
"I will hear no more" cried the Cadi. "You admit
having reviled men who had not reproached you, and having assaulted men
who had not assaulted you. In this you have deserved death."
But as they were being carried off to execution
the prisoners still tried to explain.
"Hear them, Cadi," said an old man, "lest you
"But they have admitted the merchants’ words are true."
"Yes, but their words may not be all the truth."
So the Cadi heard them, and they said that when
they came up to the merchants’ halting place they found that the merchants
had pitched their camp around the only well in that part of the desert,
and refused to let them enter and drink. They first remonstrated, then
threatened, and then, rather than die of thirst, rushed upon the merchants’
camp and in the melee three of the merchants were slain.
"Is this also true?" asked the Cadi of the merchants.
The merchants were forced to admit that it was.
"Then," said the Cadi, "you told me truth, that,
being only part of the truth, was really a falsehood. You were the aggressors
by taking for yourselves alone the only well from which these men could
drink. Now the death I have decreed is for you."