“Togktamish, a rich Tartar, who had three sons by his sole wife Turkan-Katan, consigned to the Cadi, (a local judge) on the eve of his death, a sealed will, in which he declared to be the heir of all his property whoever of his children should prove best that he was son of Togktamish, and of their mother, who was still living. The Cadi knew not on what to resolve in this perplexed affair, and he proposed to leave it to the judgment of the Sultan Togrul. The latter was about to set out for the chase; he therefore ordered the disputants to bring without delay their father’s mummy.
He caused it to be set up at a certain distance, and then presented his bow to the eldest son, saying:
“He among you who shall, with this arrow, hit exactly the heart of the deceased, shall be recognized as son and heir of Togktamish, for it is impossible to remove the difficulty in any other manner.”
The eldest son took aim, and his arrow struck the breast of his father. The second took the bow and succeeded as well as the first. Then the youngest bent the bow; but, at the moment of taking aim, he let it fall from his hands, began to weep, threw himself at the Sultan’s feet, and said :
“My lord, do not be angry if thy slave refuses to obey thy orders. I remember at this moment the numerous benefits I have received from my father. He loved me so tenderly, he showed me so much kindness; he treated me always with as much affection as if I had been, his only son! How can I be so ungrateful as to wound him after his death?”
The Sultan raised him, kissed him on the forehead, and said:
“Thou hast best proved that thou art the son of the excellent Togktamisch : therefore thou shalt be his only heir. But let the two eldest be sold as slaves; for they have proved by their ingratitude that they are not the true sons of a noble father.”
Jeff continued absent mindedly watching the automatic mixer spin in the bottom of the liquid filled beaker.
The senior fellow that was directing Jeff’s project, used his magnetic pass card to allow himself into the lab.
The buzz of the electronic door lock brought Jeff out of his trance. He had no idea how long he had been thinking about the story of the three sons.
The Director asked Jeff “Are you alright?”
Although he was surprised at The Director’s question he answered “Sure, why do you ask?”
“I saw you on the security camera down in the lobby and you have not moved a muscle in fifteen minutes” answered The Director rather sheepishly. He hated to admit that he was watching Jeff on the closed circuit TV.
Jeff noticed the uncomfortable position that The Director was in so he offered a light hearted escape route by saying “That camera has been watching over our safety for two years – – – and now it has turned on me?”
The two men laughed nervously, both realizing that the tense moment had been blunted.
Jeff felt an urge to tell The Director what he had been thinking about. When he was through relating the story he asked the director “Do you think there is a moral in there? I mean besides the obvious one.”
“No, I don’t see one” replied The Director. “Do you?”
“No, yet there is something within that story that seems to be unanswered” responded Jeff.
TOMORROW: 8. El Rakham the Enchanter