12. The Goose, The Eye, The Daughter, and The Arm

A man decided to have a feast, so he killed and stuffed a goose and took it to the baker to be roasted. The magistrate of the village happened to pass by the oven as the baker was basting the goose, and was attracted by the pleasant and appetizing odor. Approaching the baker, the magistrate said it was a fine goose; that the smell of it made him quite hungry, and suggested that he had better send it to his house. The baker refused, saying, “I cannot. It does not belong to me.”

The Magistrate assured him that was no difficulty. “You tell Ahmet, the owner of the goose, that it flew away.”

“Impossible!” said the baker. “How can a roasted goose fly away? Ahmet will only laugh at me, your honour , and I will be thrown into prison.”

“Am I not a Judge?” said the magistrate, “fear nothing.”

At this the baker agreed to send the goose to the magistrate’s house. When Ahmet came for his goose the baker said, “Friend, your goose has flown away.”

“Flown?” said Ahmet, “what lies! Seizing one of the baker’s large shovels, he lifted it to strike him, but, as fate would have it, the handle put out the eye of the baker’s boy, and Ahmet, frightened at what he had done, ran off, closely followed by the baker and his boy, the latter crying, “My eye!”

In his hurry Ahmet knocked over a child, killing it and the father of the child joined in the chase, calling out, “My daughter!”

Ahmet, rushed into a mosque and up a minaret. To escape his pursuers he leaped from the parapet, and fell upon a vender who was passing by, breaking his arm. The vender also began pursuing him, calling out, “My arm!”

Ahmet was finally caught and brought before the magistrate, who no doubt was feeling contented with the world, having just enjoyed the delicious goose.

The magistrate heard each of the cases brought against Ahmet, who in turn told his case truthfully as it had happened.

“A complicated matter,” said the magistrate. “All these misfortunes come from the flight of the goose, and I must refer to the book of the law to give just judgment.”

Taking down a large volume, the magistrate turned to Ahmet and asked him what number egg the goose had been hatched from. Ahmet said he did not know.

“Then,” replied the Magistrate, “the book writes that such a phenomenon was possible. If this goose was hatched from the seventh egg, and the mother also from the seventh egg, the book writes that it is possible for a roasted goose, under those conditions, to fly away.”

“With reference to your eye,” continued the Magistrate, addressing the baker’s lad, “the book provides punishment for the removal of two eyes, but not of one, so if you will consent to your other eye being taken out, I will condemn Ahmet to have both of his removed.”

The baker’s lad, not appreciating the force of this argument, withdrew his claim.

Then turning to the father of the dead child, the Magistrate explained that the only situation for a case like this in the book of the law, was that he take Ahmet’s child in its place, or if Ahmet had no child, to wait till he got one. The bereaved parent not taking any interest in Ahmet’s present or prospective children also withdrew his case.

These cases settled, there remained just the vender’s, who was furious at having his arm broken. The magistrate talked on the justice of the law and its far-seeing provisions, that the vender at least could claim compensation for having his arm broken. The book of the law provided that he should go to the very same minaret, and that Ahmet must station himself at the very same place where he had stood when his arm was broken; and that he might jump down and break Ahmet’s arm.

“But be it understood,” concluded the magistrate, “if you break his leg instead of his arm, Ahmet will have the right to ask someone to jump down on you to break your leg.”

The vender not seeing the force of the Magistrate’s proposal, also withdrew his claim.

Thus ended the cases of the goose, the eye, the daughter, and the arm.