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  • Il Novellino

    LXXIII
    How the Sultan being in need of money, sought to find occasion to proceed against a Jew

    The Sultan, being in need of money, was advised to proceed against a rich Jew, who lived in his country, and to try to take away his substance from him.

    The Sultan sent for this Jew and asked him what was the best religion, thinking he will say surely the Jewish faith, when I will tell him that he sins against mine. And if he says the Saracen, I will ask him why he is a Jew.

    The Jew, hearing the question, replied: Sire, there was a father who had three sons, and he had a ring with a precious stone, one of the finest in the world. Each of the sons begged this father that he should leave him this ring at his death. The father, seeing that each of them desired it, sent for a good jeweller and said to him: master, make me two rings just like this one, and set in each of them a stone resembling this one. The jeweller made the rings so that no one knew the real gem apart save the father. He sent for his sons one by one, and to each he gave a ring in secret, and each believed he had the true ring, and no one knew the truth save the father. And so I tell you of the faiths which are three. God above knows best of all, and his sons who are ourselves each of us thinks he has the true one.

    Then the Sultan hearing the man get out of the difficulty in this manner, did not know how to entrap him, and let him go1.

    1 The story derives from Jewish sources and appeared for what was probably the first time in the Scebet Jehuda. It is to be found in several other places in slightly different forms. See Gesta Romanorum, Avventuroso Ciciliano of Busone da Gubbio, etc.

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    Il Novellino : The Hundred Old Tales
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    Storer, Edward, trans. Il Novellino: The Hundred Old Tales. London: G. Routledge & Sons Ltd.; New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., [1925]. 168-169

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