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What Befell Mr. Middleton Because Of The Fourth Gift Of The Emir
by [?]

“What an unpleasant surprise it must have been to Klingenspiel,” remarked the emir, when he had completed his narration, “to find all his fine experimenting in the science of heredity merely resulting in nearly accomplishing his own death.”

“His experience is not unique,” said Mr. Middleton. “There is many an economic, social, political, or industrial change which is inaugurated with the highest hopes only to slay its author in the end.”

“We should indeed be careful what waves we set in motion, what forces we liberate,” said the emir thoughtfully. “And I have been, too. I have in my possession a constant reminder to be cautious in all my enterprises and undertakings–a monitor forever bidding me think of the consequences of an action, weigh its possible results. It has been in my family for generations. I believe that our house has learned the lesson. I would be glad to give it to some one who, perchance, has not. If it so happens that you are in no need of such a warning, you can perhaps present it to some one else who is.” And having said a few words to Mesrour in the language of Arabia, the blackamore brought to him a small case and, from the midst of wrappings of dark green silk, he produced a flask of burnished copper that shone with the utmost brilliance. Handing this to Mr. Middleton and that gentleman viewing it in silence for some time and exhibiting no other emotion than a mild curiosity, largely due to its great weight, a ponderosity altogether out of proportion to its size, the emir exclaimed in a loud voice:

“Do you know what you are holding?” and without waiting for an answer from his startled guest, continued: “Observe the inscription upon the side and the stamp of a signet set upon the seal that closes the mouth.”

“I perceive a number of Arabic characters,” said Mr. Middleton.

“Arabic!” said the emir. “Hebrew. You are looking upon the seal of the great Solomon himself and that is the prison house of one of the two evil genii whom the great king confined in bottles and cast into the sea. In that collection of chronicles which the Feringhis style the Arabian Nights, you have read of the fisherman who found a bottle in his net and opened it to see a quantity of dark vapor issue forth, which, assuming great proportions, presently took form, coalesced into the gigantic figure of a terrible genii, who announced to his terrified liberator that during his captivity, he had sworn to kill whomsoever let him out of the bottle. This well-known occurrence and stock example of the necessity of being careful of the possible results of one’s acts, is so familiar to you as to make its further relation an impertinence on my part. Suffice it to say, in cause you have forgotten a minor detail, there was another genii and another bottle in the sea beside the one found by the fisherman.

“The second bottle in some unknown way came into the possession of Prince Houssein, brother of my great-grandfather’s great-grandfather, Nourreddin. This latter prince having need of a certain amount of coin–which was very scarce in Arabia at that time and of great purchasing power, trade being carried on by barter–sent to his brother a request for a loan. The country was in a very disturbed state at that time and Houssein dispatched two messengers at an interval of a day apart. The first of these was robbed and killed. He bore a letter, concealed in his saddle, and the money. The second messenger came in entire safety with that bottle, for no one could be desirous of trifling with anything so fraught with danger as that prison house of the terrible genii. What was the purport of this strange gift has never been guessed. The letter borne by the murdered man doubtless explained. Houssein himself perished of plague before Nourreddin could learn from him.”