The Three Travellers
by Edward D. Hoch
Page 5 of 6
Now when they reached the stable Nevar was already there,
toiling with the others. He paused in his labours when he saw the
three, and shot an accusing finger at Gaspar. "You have stolen
away my daughter. I will revenge myself!"
"Your daughter is safe, in the care of Dibon and his family."
His words quieted Nevar, but Melchior asked, "If he was so
concerned, why did he not come after us in the night?"
Balthazar agreed. "Or did he come, and steal our gold away?"
Then presently old Dibon appeared, with the girl Thantia at
his side. She cast not a glance in her father's direction, and he
went about his work ignoring her. Gaspar laboured diligently
through the morning, instructing Dibon and the others in Persian
building techniques. He too ignored Nevar, not wanting more
Once, while Balthazar was off to the well for water, Melchior
whispered, "Is it possible that our companion betrays us, Gaspar?
Might he have stolen the gold himself to cover his losses at the
But Gaspar would hear none of it. "We must never doubt each
other, Melchior. In my heart I know Balthazar is innocent, as I
know you are innocent. And I remember the scene at the stone
game. There were gold coins in front of him. He was winning, not
"How will we recover the gold, Gaspar?"
"Through the power of our minds, Melchior. We are wise men,
and we must use our minds to determine the thief's identity."
"But there is no clue to his identity!"
"Sometimes the lack of a clue can be one."
Balthazar returned with the water and they drank eagerly.
Later as they ate of their supplies, Thantia came to them. "I
thank you for helping me," she said. "The elders have spoken to
my father and he has promised never again to beat me. I will
return to him now."
"We need no thanks," Gaspar assured her.
Then old Dibon came to join them. "How may we repay you for
your work on the stable?"
"You may recover our stolen gold," Balthazar blurted out.
"Gold? Stolen gold?"
"It was stolen from our tent," Balthazar hurried on, before
Gaspar could silence him.
"There are no thieves in Ziza!"
"There is one."
"I will summon the elders. We will search for your gold."
"No, no," said Gaspar. "We will recover it."
"By finding the thief. It is best to say nothing and catch
him off guard."
Old Dibon bowed his head. "I will do as you suggest."
"One favour. Could you ask that our horses be brought to us?
We must appear to be leaving."
Then, as they waited, Balthazar gathered their supplies. And
Melchior said, "I have put my mind to the problem, Gaspar. But
there are too many possibilities. The girl Thantia could be the
thief, or her father Nevar. Or any of the game players."
"Or old Dibon himself, " Balthazar added. "There are too many
Gaspar nodded. "What is needed is an oracle."
"You mean to kill a beast as the Romans do?"
Gaspar shook his head. "My oracle will be a living animal."
He saw the herdsman Ramoth leading their horses. "My steed will
tell me who has our gold."
"Your horse?" fat Balthazar laughed. "Who learns anything
from a dumb animal?"
Gaspar held out some grain for the horse. "You see how he
eats? He is hungry."
"What does that tell us?" Melchior asked.
"That our gold was stolen by Ramoth!"
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