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One Of Them   By: (1806-1872)

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By Charles James Lever

With Illustrations By Phiz

Boston: Little, Brown, And Company.



My Dear Whiteside, Amongst all the friends I can count over in my own country, and from whom space and the accidents of life have separated, and may separate me to the last, there is not "One of Them" for whom I entertain a sincerer regard, united with a higher hope, than yourself; and it is in my pride to say so openly, that I ask you to accept of this dedication from

Your attached friend,


Spezia, December 90, 1860.


Before I begin my story, let me crave my reader's indulgence for a brief word of explanation, for which I know no better form than a parable.

There is an Eastern tale I forget exactly where or by whom told of a certain poor man, who, being in extreme distress, and sorely puzzled as to how to eke out a livelihood, bethought him to give out that he was a great magician, endowed with the most marvellous powers, amongst others, that of tracing out crime, and detecting the secret history of all guilty transactions. Day after day did he proclaim to the world his wonderful gifts, telling his fellow citizens what a remarkable man was amongst them, and bidding them thank Destiny for the blessing of his presence. Now, though the story has not recorded whether their gratitude was equal to the occasion, we are informed that the Caliph heard of the great magician, and summoned him to his presence, for it chanced just at the moment that the royal treasury had been broken into by thieves, and gems of priceless value carried away.

"Find out these thieves for me," said the Caliph, "or with your own head pay the penalty of their crime."

"Grant me but forty days, O king," cried he, "and I will bring them all before you."

So saying, he went away, but was no sooner at home and in the solitude of his own house than be tore his beard, beat his breast, and, humbling his head to the ground, cried out,

"Son of a burned father was I, not to be content with poverty and a poor existence! Why did I ever pretend to gifts that I had not, or dare to tell men that I possessed powers that were not mine? See to what vainglory and boastfulness have brought me. In forty days I am to die an ignominious death!"

Thus grieving and self accusing, the weary hours passed over, and the night closed in only to find him in all the anguish of his sorrow; nor was it the least poignant of his sufferings, as he bethought him that already one of his forty days was drawing to its close, for in his heart he had destined this period to enjoyment and self indulgence.

Now, though aspiring to the fame of a magician, so little learning did he possess, that it was only by recourse to a contrivance he was able to reckon the days as they passed, and calculate how much of life remained to him. The expedient he hit upon was to throw each night into an olive jar a single date, by counting which at any time he could know how many days had elapsed.

While his own conscience smote him bitterly for the foolish deception he had practised, there were, as it happened, others who had consciences too, and somewhat more heavily charged than his own. These were the thieves who had stolen the treasure, and who firmly believed in the magician's powers. Now, it so chanced that on the very instant he was about to throw his first date into the jar, one of the robbers had crept noiselessly to the window, and, peering through the half closed shutter, watched what was doing within. Dimly lighted by a single lamp, the chamber was half shrouded in a mysterious gloom; still, the figure of a man could be descried, as, with gestures of sorrow and suffering, he approached a great jar in the middle of the room and bent over it. It was doubtless an incantation, and the robber gazed with all eagerness; but what was his terror as he beheld the man drop something into the jar, exclaiming, as he did so, in a loud voice, "Let Allah be merciful to us! there is one of them!" With the speed of a guilty heart he hurried back to his confederates, saying, "I had but placed my eye to the chink, when he knew that I was there, and cried, 'Ha! there is one of them!'"

It is not necessary that I should go on to tell how each night a new thief stole to the window at the same critical moment to witness the same ceremony, and listen to the same terrible words; as little needful to record how, when the last evening of all closed in, and the whole robber band stood trembling without, the magician dropped upon his knees, and, throwing in the last of his dates, cried out, "There are all of them!" The application of the story is easy... Continue reading book >>

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