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♪1øø1~The Little Hunchback♪


The history of the little Hunchback

"In the city of Casgar, which is situated near the confines of Great Tartary, there formerly lived a tailor, who have the good fortune to possess a very beautiful wife, between whom and himself there existed the strongest mutual affection. One day, while this tailor was at work in his shop, a little hunchback fellow sat downt at the door, and began playing on a timbarel, and singing to the sound of this instrument. The tailor was much pleased with his perfomance, and resolved to take him home, and introduce him to his wife, that the hunchback might amuse them both in the evening with his pleasant and humorous songs. He proposed this to the hunchback, who readily accepted this invitation, and the tailor shut up his shop, and took his guest home with him."

"So soon as they reached the tailor's house, his wife put before them a very nice dish of fish which she had been dressing. The all thre sat down, but in eating his portion the little hunchback had the misfortune to swallow a large fish bone, which stuck fast in his throath and almost instantly killed him, before the tailor and his wife could do anything to assist him. They were both greatly alarmed at this accident, for, as the mishap had happened in their house, they had great reason to fear it might come to the knowledge of some officers of justice, who would punish them as murderers. The husband, therefore, devised an expedient to get rid of the dead body."

"He recollected that a Jewis physician lived in his neighbourhood, and he formed a plan, which he put in execution. He and his wife took up the body and carried it to the physician's house. They knocked at the door, at the bottom of a steep and narrow flight of stairs leading to the physician's apartment. A maid servant immediately came down without even staying for a light, and asked them what they wanted. 'Have the kindness to tell your master,' said the tailor, 'that we have brought him a patient who is very ill, and for whom we request his advice.'
Then he held out a piece of money in his hand, saying, 'Give him this in advance, that may be assured we do not intend he should give his labour for nothing.'
While the servant went back to inform the master, the Jewish physician, of this good news, the tailor and his wife quickly carried the body of the little hunchback upstairs, placed him close the door, and returned home as fast as possible."

"In the meantime the servant went and told the physician that a man and a woman were waiting for him at the door, and that they had brought a sick person with them, whom they requested him to see. She then gave him the money she had received from the tailor. Pleased at the thought of being paid beforehand, the physician concludet this must be a most excellent patient, and one who ought not to be neglected. 'Bring a light directy,' cried he to the girl, 'and follow me.'
So saying, he ran towards the staircase in a hurry, without even waiting for the light, and stumbing against the little hunchback, he gave him such a blow with his foot as sent him from the top of the stairs to the bottom. He called out to the servant, bidding her come quickly with the light. She at last appeared, and they went downstairs. When the physician found that it was a dead man who was rolled downstairs, he was so alarmed at the sight that he invoked all the prophets of the law to his assistance. 'Wretch that i am!' exclaimed he, 'Why did i not wait for the light? I have completely killed the sick man whom they brought to me. I am the cause of his death! I am a lost man! Alas? They will come and drag me hence as a murderer!'"

"He immediately took the body, and carried it into the apartment of his wife, who almost fainted when he saw him come in with this fatal load. 'Alas!' she cried, 'We are quite ruined if we cannot find some means of getting rid of this dead man before tomorrow morning. We shall certainly be slain if we keep him till day breaks. What a misfortune! Haw came you to kill this man?'
'Never mind how it happened,' said the Jew, 'our only business at present is to remedy this dreadful calamity.'"

"The physician and his wife then consulted together to devise means to rid themselves of the body during the night. At last his wife said, 'A thought occurs to me. Let us take the corpse up to the terrace of our house, and lower it down the chimney into werehouse of our neighbour the Mussulman.'"

"This Mussulman was one of the sultan's purveyors, and it was office to furnish oil, butter, and other articles of a similiar kind for the sultan's household."

"The Jewish physician approved of his wife's plan. They took the little hunchback and carried him to the roof of the house, and, after fastenig a cord under his arms, they let him gently down the chimney into the purveyor's apartment. They managed this so cleverly that he remained standing on his feet against the wall, exactly as if he were alive. As soon as they found they had landed the hunchback, they drew up the cords, and left him standing in the chimney corner. They then retired to their chamber. Presently the sultan's purveyor came home. He had just returned from the wedding feast, and he had lantern in his hand. He was very much surprised when he saw by the light of his lantern a man standing up in the chimney. But, as he was naturally brave, and thought the intruder was a thief, he sized large stich, which he directly ran at the little hunchback. 'Oh, oh!' he cried, 'I thought it was mice and rats who ate my butter and tallow, and i find you come down the chimney and rob me. I do not think you will ever wish to visit me again.' Then he attacked the hunchback, and gave him many hard blows."

"The body at last fell down, with its face on the ground. The purveyor redoubled his blows, but, at lenght remarking that the person he struck was quite motionless, he stoped to examine his enemy more closely. When he perceived that the man was dead his rage gave place to fear. 'What have i done, unhappy man that i am!' he exclaimed. 'Alas, i have carried my vengeance too far! My Allah have pity upon me, or my life is gone!'
Thus he stood, pale and confounded. He imagined he already saw the officers of justice coming to conduct him to his punishment, and he knew not what to do."

"While the Sultan of Casgar's purveyor was beating the little hunchback he did not perceive his hump. The instant he noticed it, he poured out a hundred imprecations on it. 'Oh, you rascal of hunchback! You dog of deformity! Would to Heaven you had robbed me of all my fat and grease before i had found you here!'
Hereupon he took the body of the hunchback upon his shoulders, went out of his chamber, and walked into the street, where he set it upright against a shop, and then made the best of his way back to his house, without once looking behind him."

"A little before daybreak, a Chrisian merchant, who was very rich, and who furnished the palace of the sultan with most things which were wanted there, after passing the night in revelry and pleasure, had just come from home on his way to a bath. He happened to stop at the corner of the street, close to the shop against which the sultan's purveyor had placed the hunchback's body. He pushed against the corpse, which at the very first touch fell directly against the merchant's back. The latter fancied himself attacked by a robber, and therefore knocked the hunchback down with a blow of his fist on the head. He repeated his blows, and began calling out, 'Thief! Thief!'"

"A guard, stationed in that quarter of the city, came directly on hearing his cries, and seeing a Chrisian beating Mussulman, asked him how he dared ill-treat a Mussulman in that manner. 'He wanted to rob me,' answered the merchant, 'and he came up behind me to seize me ay my throat.'
'You have revenged yourself,' replied the quard, taking hold of the merchant's arm and pulling him away, 'therefore let him go.'
As he said this, he held out his hand to the hunchback to assist him in getting up, but, observing that he was dead, he cried, 'Is it thus that a Chrisian has the impudence to assassinate a Mussulman?'
Hereupon he laid hold of the merchant, and carried him before the magistrate, who sent him to prison till the judge had risen and was ready to examine the accused. In the meantime the merchant became completely sober, and the more he reflected upon his adventure the less could he understand how a single blow with the fist could have taken away the life of a man."

"Upon the report of the guard, and after examining the body which they had brought with them, the judge interrogated the merchant, who could not deny the crime imputed to him, although he in fact was not gullty of it. As the little hunchback was one of the royal jesters, the judge determined to put the Chrisian to death. The judge accordingly ordered a gibbet to be erected, and then sent criers through the city to make known that the Christian was going to be hanged for having killed a Mussulman."

"At last they took the merchant in prison, and brought him on foot to the gallows. The executioner had fastened the cord round the merchant's neck, and was just going to draw him up into the air, when the sultan's porveyor forced his way through the crowd, and rushing straight towards the executioner, called out, 'Stop, stop! It is not he who commited the murder, but i.'
The judge immediately interrogated the purveyor, who gave him a minute account of the manner, in which he had killed the hunchback, and he concluded by saying that he had carried the body to the place where the merchant had found it. 'You are going,' added he, 'to slay an innocent person, for he cannot have killed a man who was not alive. It is enough for me that i have slain a Mussulman, i will not further burden my consience with the murder of a Christian, and innocent man.'"

"When the purveyor of the Sultan of Casgar thus publicly accused himself of having killed the hunchback, the judge could not do otherwise than immediately release the merchant . 'Let the merchant go,' said he to the executioner, 'and hang in his stead this man, by whose own confession it is evident that he is a guilty person.'
The executioner immediately unbound the merchant, and put the rope round the neck of the purveyor, but at the very instant when he was going to put his new victim to death, he heard the voice of the Jewish physician, who exclaimed that the execution must be stopped, that he himself might come and take his place on the foot of the ...
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