THE merchant Yussuf took great pains to train up his only son in prudence, that he might be able, when he was no more, to carry on his business, as he had done before him, with credit and success. But in spite of all his lessons, he would be continually putting his confidence in worthless persons; and in particular he fostered an intimacy with a young Jew of dangerous character, who had several times, by fraud and cunning, cheated him out of large sums, all the while leading young Yussuf to believe that what he had done was fair and just; nor would he listen to his father's suspicion of him.
The merchant Yussuf had to take a journey to Africa with his son; and while preparing for it, he lamented loudly over the difficulty he was in as to placing his money in safety during his absence.
"Now, if you had not been so suspicious of my friend the Jew," said young Yussuf, "there's a man who would have taken care of it for you!"
"You know my opinion of him," replied his father.
"Ah! you're so suspicious," replied young Yussuf, "I know him better."
"Well, if you think so well of him, I will on your advice ask him to take care of a strong-box for me."
"Well done, father!" replied the young man; "you'll see you'll never repent it."
The same evening, the merchant Yussuf sent a large chest, heavy enough to contain a vast amount of treasure, to the Jew, by the hand of his son; and the next day they set out for Africa.
Having brought their affairs to a prosperous termination, the two Yussufs returned home to Granada.
On the morrow of their arrival, the merchant sent his son to the Jew, to reclaim the strong-box. Young Yussuf returned presently, full of indignation.
"Father, you have insulted my friend beyond all possibility of reconciliation. He tells me it was not money you entrusted to his keeping, but a parcel of broken stones!"
"And pray," replied his father, "how did your honourable friend discover what was in my strong-box? To find this out, he must have broken my locks; which will, I think, show you it was very well I gave no greater value into his keeping."
Young Yussuf hung his head, and suffered himself to be guided after that by his father's experience in his judgment of mankind.