The Ancient Coffer of Nuri Bey

The Ancient Coffer of Nuri Bey

NURI BEY was a reflective and respected Albanian, who had married a wife much younger than himself.
One evening when he had returned home earlier than usual, a faithful servant came to him and said:

‘Your wife, our mistress, is acting suspiciously.
‘She is in her apartments with a huge chest, large enough to hold a man, which belonged to your grandmother.’
‘It should contain only a few ancient embroideries.’
‘I believe that there may now be much more in it.’
‘She will not allow me, your oldest retainer, to look inside.’

Nuri went to his wife’s room, and found her sitting disconsolately beside the massive wooden box.
‘Will you show me what is in the chest?’ he asked.
‘Because of the suspicion of a servant, or because you do not trust me?’
‘Would it not be easier just to open it, without thinking about the undertones?’ asked Nuri.
‘I do not think it possible.’
‘Is it locked?’
‘Where is the key?’

She held it up, ‘Dismiss the servant and I will give it to you.’
The servant was dismissed. The woman handed over the key and herself withdrew, obviously troubled in mind.
Nuri Bey thought for a long time. Then he called four gardeners from his estate. Together they carried the chest by night unopened to a distant part of the grounds, and buried it.
The matter was never referred to again.

Tales of the Dervishes

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The Ancient Coffer of Nuri Bey


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