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The Severed Hand
by [?]

[This story is related by a Greek merchant, in the collection called “Die Karavane.”]

I was born at Constantinople, where my father was a dragoman to the Sublime Porte, and carried on besides, a tolerably lucrative trade in perfumes and silks. He gave me a good education, partly instructing me himself, and partly engaging a priest of our religion for that purpose. He originally intended me for his own business, but as I displayed greater talents than he expected, he determined, by the advice of his friends, to make me a physician, being of opinion that a physician, if he has learned more than the common charlatans, could make his fortune in Constantinople. Our house was frequented by many Franks, one of whom urged my father to let me go to the city of Paris, in his native country, where people might study such things gratis and in the best manner, saying, he would take me with him for nothing when he returned thither.

My father, who in his youth had also travelled, agreed, and the Frank told me to be ready in three months. I was delighted beyond measure at the prospect of seeing foreign lands, and could scarcely await the time when we should embark. Having at length concluded all his business, the Frank prepared for his voyage, and on the evening previous to our departure my father took me to his lodgings. Here I saw beautiful dresses and arms lying on the table; but what most attracted my eyes was a large heap of gold, as I had never before seen so much together. My father embraced me, saying, “Behold, my son, I have provided these clothes for your voyage; those arms are yours, and they are the same your grandfather gave me when I went forth to foreign countries. I know you can wield them, but never use them excepting in self-defence, and then fight bravely. My fortune is not large; but see, I have divided it into three parts, of which one is yours, one shall be for my support and wants, but the third shall be sacred property, and devoted to the purpose of saving you in the hour of need.” Thus spoke my aged father, and tears trembled in his eyes, perhaps from a certain presentiment, for I never saw him again.

Our voyage was prosperous; we soon reached the land of the Franks, and in six days’ journey, after landing, we came to the great city of Paris. Here my Frankish friend hired a room and advised me to use proper discretion in laying out my money, which in all was two thousand thalers. I lived for three years in this city, and learned what every skilful physician ought to know; but I should not speak the truth were I to say that I liked the place, for the manners and customs of this people did not suit me. Moreover, I had but few friends, though these were indeed noble young men.

The desire of seeing my native country, at length, became strong; and having all this time heard nothing of my father, I seized a favourable opportunity to return home.

This opportunity was afforded me by an embassy from the land of the Franks to the Sublime Porte. I engaged myself as surgeon in the suite of the ambassador, and was fortunate enough to return to Constantinople. There I found my father’s house closed, and the neighbours were astonished when they saw me, and told me that my father had died two months since. The priest who had instructed me in my youth brought me the keys of the now desolate house, which I entered alone and forsaken. I found every thing as my father had left it, only the money he had promised to bequeath me was not there. I inquired of the priest about it, who, with a bow, told me that my father had died as a holy man, since he had bequeathed all his money to the church.