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Euterpe   


setting to work: they went by night to the palace, found the stone
in the wall of the building, and having removed it with ease,
plundered the treasury of a round sum.
(2.) When the king next paid a visit to the apartment, he was
astonished to see that the money was sunk in some of the vessels
wherein it was stored away. Whom to accuse, however, he knew not, as
the seals were all perfect, and the fastenings of the room secure.
Still each time that he repeated his visits, he found that more
money was gone. The thieves in truth never stopped, but plundered
the treasury ever more and more. At last the king determined to have
some traps made, and set near the vessels which contained his
wealth. This was done, and when the thieves came, as usual, to the
treasure-chamber, and one of them entering through the aperture,
made straight for the jars, suddenly he found himself caught in one of
the traps. Perceiving that he was lost, he instantly called his
brother and telling him what had happened, entreated him to enter as
quickly as possible and cut off his head, that when his body should be
discovered it might not be recognised, which would have the effect
of bringing ruin upon both. The other thief thought the advice good,
and was persuaded to follow it then, fitting the stone into its place,
he went home, taking with him his brother's head.
(3.) When day dawned, the king came into the room, and marvelled
greatly to see the body of the thief in the trap without a head, while
the building was still whole, and neither entrance nor exit was to
be seen anywhere. In this perplexity he commanded the body of the dead
man to be hung up outside the palace wall, and set a guard to watch
it, with orders that if any persons were seen weeping or lamenting
near the place, they should be seized and brought before him. When the
mother heard of this exposure of the corpse of her son, she took it
sorely to heart, and spoke to her surviving child, bidding him
devise some plan or other to get back the body, and threatening,
that if he did not exert himself, she would go herself to the king,
and denounce him as the robber.
(4.) The son said all he could to persuade her to let the matter
rest, but in vain; she still continued to trouble him, until at last
he yielded to her importunity, and contrived as follows:- Filling some
skins with wine, he loaded them on donkeys, which he drove before
him till he came to the place where the guards were watching the
dead body, when pulling two or three of the skins towards him, he
untied some of the necks which dangled by the asses' sides. The wine
poured freely out, whereupon he began to beat his head, and shout with
all his might, seeming not to know which of the donkeys he should turn
to first. When the guards saw the wine running, delighted to profit by
the occasion, they rushed one and all into the road, each with some
vessel or other, and caught the liquor as it was spilling. The
driver pretended anger, and loaded them with abuse; whereon they did
their best to pacify him, until at last he appeared to soften, and
recover his good humour, drove his asses aside out of the road, and
set to work to rearrange their burthens; meanwhile, as he talked and
chatted with the guards, one of them began to rally him, and make
him laugh, whereupon he gave them one of the skins as a gift. They now
made up their minds to sit down and have a drinking-bout where they
were, so they begged him to remain and drink with them. Then the man
let himself be persuaded, and stayed. As the drinking went on, they
grew very friendly together, so presently he gave them another skin,
upon which they drank so copiously that they were all overcome with
the liquor, and growing drowsy lay down, and fell asleep on the
spot. The thief waited till it was the dead of the night, and then
took down the body of his brother; after which, in mockery, he
shaved off the right side of all the soldiers' beards, and so left
them. Laying his brother's body upon the asses, he carried it home
to his mother, having thus accomplished the thing that she had
required of him.
(5.) When it came to the king's ears that the thief's body was

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