Folk-lore of the Holy Land, Moslem, Christian and Jewish, by J. E. Hanauer , at sacred-texts.com
A WEAVER, closing his shop for the night, left a long needle sticking in his work on the loom. A thief got in with a false key, and, as he was stumbling about in the dark, the needle put out one of his eyes. He went out again, and locked the door behind him.
Next morning, he told his story to Karakash, the impartial judge, who at once sent for the weaver, and eyeing him sternly, asked:--
"Did you leave a packing-needle in the cloth on your loom when you shut your shop last night?" "Yes."
"Well, this poor thief has lost his eye through your carelessness; he was going to rob your shop; he stumbled, and the needle pierced his eye. Am I not Karakash, the impartial judge? This poor thief has lost an eye through your fault; so you shall lose an eye in like manner."
"But, my lord," said the weaver, "he came to rob me; he had no right there."
"We are not concerned with what this robber came to do, but with what he did. Was your shop-door broken open or damaged this morning; or was anything missing?"
"He has done you no harm then, and you do but add insult to injury by throwing up his way of
life against him. Justice demands that you lose an eye."
The weaver offered money to the robber, to the Kadi, but in vain; the impartial judge would not be moved. At last, a bright thought struck him, and he said: "An eye for an eye is justice, O my lord the Kadi; yet in this case it is not quite fair on me. You are the impartial judge, and I submit to you that I, being a married man with children, shall suffer more damage in the loss of an eye than this poor robber, who has no one dependent on him. How could I go on weaving with but one eye? But I have a good neighbour, a gunsmith, who is a single man. Let one of his eyes be put out. What does he want with two eyes, for looking along gun-barrels? "The impartial judge, struck with the justice of these arguments, sent for the gunsmith, and had his eye put out.
A carpenter was fitting the doors and lattice-work to a house newly built, when a stone over a window fell and broke one of his legs. He complained to Karakash, the impartial judge, who called the lord of the house, and charged him with culpable negligence. "It is not my fault, but the builder's," pleaded the lord of the house; so the builder was sent for.
The builder said that it was not his fault, because at the moment he was laying that particular stone a girl passed by in a dress of so bright a red that he could not see what he was doing.
The impartial judge caused search to be made for
that girl. She was found, and brought before him.
"O veiled one," 1 he said, "the red dress which you wore on such a day has cost this carpenter a broken leg, and so you must pay the damages."
"It was not my fault, but the draper's," said the girl. "Because when I went to buy stuff for a dress, he had none but that particular bright red."
The draper was forthwith summoned. He said it was not his fault, because the English manufacturer had sent him only this bright red material, though he had ordered others.
"What! you dog!" cried Karakash, "do you deal with the heathen?" and he ordered the draper to be hanged from the lintel of his own door. The servants of justice took him and were going to hang him, but he was a tall man and the door of his house was low; so they returned to the Kadi, who inquired: "Is the dog dead?" They replied, "He is tall, and the door of his house is very low. He will not hang there."
"Then hang the first short man you can find," said Karakash. 2
A certain rich old miser was subject to fainting fits, which tantalised two nephews who desired his death; for, though constantly falling down lifeless, he always got up again. Unable to bear the strain any longer, they took him in one of his fits and prepared him for burial.
They called in the professional layer-out, who took off the miser's clothes which, by ancient custom, were his perquisite, bound up his jaws, performed the usual ablutions upon the body, stuffed the nostrils, ears and other apertures with cotton wool against the entrance of demons, sprinkled the wool with a mixture of water, pounded camphor, and dried and pounded leaves of the lotus-tree, 1 and also with rose-water; bound the feet together by a bandage round the ankles, and disposed the hands upon the breast.
All this took time, and before the operator had quite finished, the miser revived; but he was so frightened at what was going on, that he fainted again; and his nephews were able to get the funeral procession under way.
They had performed half the road to the cemetery when the miser was again brought to life by the jolting of the bier, caused by the constant change of the bearers, who incessantly pressed forward to relieve one another in the meritorious act of carrying a true believer to the grave. Lifting the loose lid, he sat up, and roared for help. To his relief he saw Karakash, the impartial judge, coming down the path the procession was mounting, and appealed
to him by name. The judge at once stopped the procession, and, confronting the nephews, asked:--
"Is your uncle dead or alive?" "Quite dead, my lord." He turned to the hired mourners. "Is this corpse dead or alive?" "Quite dead, my lord," came the answer from a hundred throats. "But you can see for yourself that I am alive!" cried the miser wildly. Karakash looked him sternly in the eyes. "Allah forbid," said he, "that I should allow the evidence of my poor senses, and your bare word, to weigh against this crowd of witnesses. Am I not the impartial judge? Proceed with the funeral!" At this the old man once more fainted away, and in that state was peacefully buried.
122:1 Ya mustûrah. Respectable Moslem and Christian townswomen always go about veiled.
122:2 A delightful compound of this and the foregoing story is given as a reading exercise in "A manual of the Spoken Arabic of Egypt," by J. S. Willmore. It is called "El Harâmi el Mazlûm" (The ill-treated Robber), and the name of Karakash is omitted. It is the funnier from being written in the kind of baby-Arabic spoken by the Egyptian fellahìn.--ED.
123:1 Zizyphus spina Christi.