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Great was the alarm in the palace of Rome, which soon spread throughout the entire city. The empress had lost her costly diadem, and it could not be found. They searched in every direction, but all in vain. Half distracted, for the mishap boded no good to her or her house, the empress redoubled her exertions to regain her precious possession, but without result. As a last resource it was proclaimed in the public streets: "The empress has lost a precious diadem. Whoever restores it within thirty days shall receive a princely reward. But he who delays, and brings it after thirty days, shall lose his head."
In those times all nationalities flocked toward Rome; all classes and creeds could be met in its stately halls and crowded thoroughfares. Among the rest was a rabbi, a learned sage from the East, who loved goodness, and lived a righteous life in the stir and turmoil of the Western world. It chanced one night as he was strolling up and down, in busy meditation, beneath the clear, moonlit sky, he saw the diadem sparkling at his feet. He seized it quickly, brought it to his dwelling, where he guarded it carefully until the thirty days had expired, when he resolved to return it to the owner.
He proceeded to the palace, and, undismayed at sight of long lines of soldiery and officials, asked for an audience with the empress.
"What do you mean by this?" she inquired, when he told her his story and gave her the diadem. "Why did you delay until this hour? Don't you know the penalty? Your head must be forfeited."
"I delayed until now," the rabbi answered calmly, "so that you might know that I return your diadem, not for the sake of the reward, still less out of fear of punishment; but solely to comply with the Divine command not to withhold from another the property which belongs to him."
"Blessed be your God!" the empress answered, and dismissed the rabbi without further reproof; for had he not done right for right's sake?