The Best Mystery and Detective Stories HTML version

The Miracle of Zobéide
Always wise and prudent, Zobéide cautiously put aside the myrtle branches and peeped
through to see who were the persons talking by the fountain in the cool shadow of the
pink sandstone wall. And when she saw that it was only the Rev. John Feathercock, her
lord and master, discoursing as usual with Mohammed-si-Koualdia, she went toward
them frankly but slowly.
When she was quite near she stopped, and from the light that played in her deep black
eyes you would have thought that surely she was listening with the deepest attention. But
the truth is that with all her little brain, with all her mouth, and with all her stomach, she
was craving the yellow and odorous pulp of a melon which had been cut open and put on
the table near two tall glasses half filled with snowy sherbet. For Zobéide was a turtle of
the ordinary kind found in the grass of all the meadows around the city of Damascus.
As she waited, Mohammed continued his story:
"And, as I tell you, O reverend one abounding in virtues, this lion which still lives near
Tabariat, was formerly a strong lion, a wonderful lion, a lion among lions! To-day, even,
he can strike a camel dead with one blow of his paw, and then, plunging his fangs into the
spine of the dead animal, toss it upon his shoulders with a single movement of his neck.
But unfortunately, having one day brought down a goat in the chase by simply blowing
upon it the breath of his nostrils, the lion was inflated with pride and cried: 'There is no
god but God, but I am as strong as God. Let him acknowledge it!' Allah, who heard him,
Allah, the All-powerful, said in a loud voice, 'O lion of Tabariat, try now to carry off thy
prey!' Then the lion planted his great teeth firmly in the spine of the animal, right under
the ears, and attempted to throw it on his back. Onallahi! It was as though he had tried to
lift Mount Libanus, and his right leg fell lamed to the ground. And the voice of Allah still
held him, declaring: 'Lion, nevermore shalt thou kill a goat!' And it has remained thus to
this day: the lion of Tabariat has still all his old-time power to carry off camels, but he
can never do the slightest harm to even a new-born kid. The goats of the flocks dance in
front of him at night, deriding him to his face, and always from that moment his right leg
has been stiff and lame."
"Mohammed," said the Rev. Mr. Feathercock contemptuously, "these are stories fit only
for babies."
"How, then!" replied Mohammed-si-Koualdia. "Do you refuse to believe that God is able
to do whatever he may wish, that the world itself is but a perpetual dream of God's and
that, in consequence, God may change this dream at will? Are you a Christian if you deny
the power of the All-powerful?"