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Abner, The Jew, Who Had Seen Nothing
by [?]

Sire, I am from Mogadore, on the coast of the Atlantic, and during the time that the powerful Emperor Muley Ismael reigned over Fez and Morocco, the following incident occurred, the recital of which may perhaps amuse you. It is the story of Abner, the Jew, who had seen nothing.

Jews, as you know, are to be found every-where, and every-where they are Jews–sharp, with the eye of a hawk for the slightest advantage to be gained; and the more they are oppressed the more do they exhibit the craft on which they pride themselves. That a Jew may sometimes, however, come to harm through an exhibition of his smartness, is sufficiently shown by what befel Abner, one afternoon, as he took his way through the gates of Morocco for a walk.

He strode along with a pointed hat on his head, his form enveloped in a plain and not excessively clean mantle, taking from time to time a stolen pinch from a gold box that he took special pains to conceal. He stroked his mustaches, and in spite of the restless eyes that expressed fear, watchfulness, and the desire to discover something that could be turned to account, a certain satisfaction was apparent in his shifting countenance, which plainly denoted he must have recently concluded some very good bargains. He was doctor, merchant, and every thing else that brought in money. He had this day sold a slave with a secret defect, had bought a camel-load of gum very cheap, and had prepared the last dose for a wealthy patient–not the last before his recovery, but the last before his death.

He had just emerged from a small thicket of palm and date trees, when he heard the shouts of a number of people running after him. They were a crowd of the emperor’s grooms, headed by the master of the horse, looking about them on all sides as they ran, as if in search of something.

“Philistine!” panted the master of the horse. “Have you not seen one of the emperor’s horses, with saddle and bridle on, run by?”

“The best racer to be seen anywhere–a small neat hoof, shoes of fourteen carat silver, a golden mane, fifteen hands high, a tail three and a half feet long, and the bit of his bridle of twenty-three carat gold?”

“That’s he!” cried the master of the horse. “That’s he!” echoed the grooms. “It is Emir,” said an old riding-master. “I have warned the Prince Abdallah not to ride Emir without a snaffle. I know Emir, and said beforehand he would throw the prince, and though his bruises should cost me my head, I warned him beforehand. But quick! which way did he go?”

“I haven’t seen a horse at all!” returned Abner, smiling. “How then can I tell you where the emperor’s horse ran?”

Astonished at this contradiction, the gentlemen of the royal stables were about to press Abner further, when another event occurred, that interfered with their purpose.

By one of those singular chances of which there are numerous examples, the empress’s lap-dog had turned up missing; and a number of black slaves came running up, calling at the top of their voices: “Have you seen the empress’s lap-dog?”

“A small spaniel,” said Abner, “that has recently had a litter, with hanging ears, bushy tail, and lame in the right fore-leg?”

“That’s she–her own self!” chorused the slaves. “That’s Aline; the empress went into fits as soon as her pet was missed. Aline, where are you? What would become of us if we were to return to the harem without you? Tell us quickly, where did you see her run to?”

“I have not seen any dog, and never knew that my empress–God preserve her–owned a spaniel!”

The men from the stable and harem grew furious at Abner’s insolence, as they termed it, in making jests over the loss of imperial property; and did not doubt for a moment that Abner had stolen both dog and horse. While the others continued the search, the master of the horse and the chief eunuch seized the Jew, and hurried him, with his half-sly and half-terrified expression, before the presence of the emperor.