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Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales [1913], at

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The Deceiver and the Thief

HERE was once a cunning woman who had two husbands, neither of whom knew of the other's existence. The one got his living by cheating, the other by stealing, each of which excellent industries they had learnt from the woman.

The thief went with his stolen goods to the merchant, sold them, and took the money to the woman. Then came the other to the merchant, gripped him by the collar, and said: "That is my property; that and more besides have been stolen from me--by thee I am certain. I will that thou takest it all back again to the place whence thou hast stolen it." But the other protested: "Woe is me! I am no thief; I have bought these things from others; how sayest thou they are thine? Let me go, and seek the real thief." There was a great uproar. The thief perceived that they would soon be on his track, so he went home without loss of time. His wife informed him that his theft had been discovered, and advised him to go away for a few days to escape capture by the police.

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The woman took a sheep's tail and cut it in two halves, one of which she made into a package with bread and gave to the thief, who soon shook the dust of the town from his feet.

The sat down to eat

In a short time the cheat came home and told the woman that his game was up; his deception could no longer be hidden. "Give me food," he said, "and I will withdraw myself from public notice until the storm has blown over." So the woman gave him the half loaf and the other half of the sheep's tail, and he quickly took himself off. The first, the thief, weary from long tramping, came to a river, where he sat down to rest. As he was unpacking his food the deceiver came up, sat down, and opening his packet pre pared to eat. The former said: "Friend, let us eat together." So they sat face to face. Presently the one called attention to the similarity of their respective pieces of bread, and putting them together they found the two formed a complete loaf. Presently the two pieces of sheep's tail attracted their notice; these were also put together, and a complete sheep's tail was the result.

Astounded, the deceiver said to the thief: "If I may ask, whence comest thou?" "From such and such a town," was the answer. "What street?" "In such and such a street lives a certain woman--she is my wife." The deceiver was almost choking with excitement. "Allah! Allah!" he cried; "that woman is my wife; she has been my wife for a year. Why dost thou lie?"

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The Deceiver abstracted the wallet from the man's bosom
"Man, art thou out of thy senses, or joking?" returned the thief, "That woman has been my wife for a long time," Knowing not what to make of it, they both scratched their heads. At length the deceiver said: "This is a matter we cannot decide ourselves; let us go to the woman and ask her. Thus shall we know which of us two is her husband." They got up and set forth together. When the woman saw them both coming together she suspected what was the matter. She greeted them, invited them to take seats, and sat herself opposite them. The deceiver opened the conversation. "Tell us," he said, "whose wife art thou?" "Hitherto," she replied, "I have been the wife of you both; henceforth I intend to be his who is the cleverer of you. I have taught you each a trade; he shall be my husband who plies it most to my satisfaction." Both men confessed them selves content to abide by the lady's decision. Said the deceiver to the thief: "Today I will prove my skill, tomorrow thou canst prove thine." On this they left the house together and went to the marketplace.

Now the deceiver observed a man put a thousand gold-pieces into his wallet, which he then hid in his bosom. The former stole after him, and in the pressure of the crowd, abstracted the wallet from the man's bosom. Going to a secluded spot, he took out nine gold-pieces, slipped his seal-ring from his finger into the wallet, fastened it up, and went

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back and replaced it without observation in the bosom of its rightful owner.

We have said he did this "without observation"; there was one person, however, by whom the trick was observed--this was the thief, The deceiver now went away, and returned some time after to the owner of the wallet, grasped him by the scruff of the neck, and shouted: "Ah, rascal! thou hast stolen my wallet with the ducats!" The man was embarrassed, not understanding the accusation, but answered: "My friend, go thy way and leave me in peace. I do not know thee." To this the deceiver replied: "It is not necessary for thee to know me; come with me to the judge." There was nothing for it but to go. The deceiver was the accuser. "How many gold-pieces are there here?" demanded the judge of the accused. "A thousand," was the immediate answer. Then the judge turned to the accuser: "And how many have been stolen from thee?" "Nine hundred and ninety-one," readily replied he, "and my seal-ring will also be found in the wallet." The judge counted the ducats, and lo! there were exactly nine hundred and ninety-one and the seal-ring! The rightful owners was beaten severely, and the ducats handed to the deceiver, who went away.

The next evening the thief took a rope, and in company with the deceiver, went to the palace of the Padishah. The thief threw the rope over the wall, where it caught; he climbed up it and his friend followed. They entered the treasure chamber after trying various keys; and now the thief advised the deceiver to take away as many ducats as he could carry. He himself, dazzled by the sight of so much gold, got together as much as he could put on his back, and away they went. The thief went to the fowl-house, caught a goose, wrung its neck, put it on a spit, made a fire under it and set it to cook, ordering his companion to turn it to prevent its burning. This done he went back to the Padishah's sleeping-chamber. The deceiver called after him

"Stop! Whither goest thou?" "I am going," he answered, "to tell

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the Padishah what a clever thing I've done, and to ask him whether he thinks the woman should belong to me or to thee." His companion called back: "For God's sake, let us go away from here. I'll give up the woman; thou canst have her." "Oh, yes," was the retort, "now thou sayst thus; tomorrow thou wilt alter thy mind. But if the Padishah decides the matter thou art bound to agree."

The thief withdrew the raisin by means of the horse-hair

He slid stealthily into the Padishah's bed chamber. From where he hid he had a good view of the interior, and saw the Padishah lying in bed; a slave was chafing his feet and chewing a raisin. Taking a horsehair which lay on the floor, the thief stuck one end in the slave's mouth so that it adhered to the raisin. The slave being very sleepy he commenced to yawn, and no sooner had he opened his mouth than the thief withdrew the raisin by means of the horse hair and transferred it to his own mouth. The slave now opened his eyes very wide, looked all about the floor, but nowhere could he find his raisin. Shortly afterwards he fell asleep. The thief held a phial of strong spirits under his nose until he lost

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his senses and fell to the floor like a log. Lifting him gently, the thief put him in a basket, hung the basket from the balcony, and commenced himself to chafe the monarch's feet. (The deceiver, who had followed, saw all this from the door of the apartment.) Suddenly the Padishah stirred, and the thief said in a low tone: "O King, if thou permittest, I will tell thee a story." "It is well," murmured the sleepy Padishah; "let me hear."

On this the thief related all that had happened between him and his companion. (Turning to him at the door, he admonished him to go and turn the goose lest it should burn.) He told of his burglary of the treasure-chamber, of the theft of the slave's raisin from his mouth. (All this time his companion was trembling just outside the door and continually crying in his fear: "Come away; let us go." To which the thief, interrupting his story, would retort: "Go and mind the goose.") "Now, O Padishah," concluded the thief, "whose exploit is the greater, mine or my friend's? Which of us has won the woman?" The King answered that the thief's was certainly the greater, and therefore the woman was rightfully his.

The thief continued to chafe the Padishah's feet a little longer until the latter was fast asleep; he then stole noiselessly away and rejoined his companion. " Hast heard what the Padishah said--that the woman belongs to me?" "Yes, yes, I heard," answered the other. Then the thief pressed the point: "Whose is the woman?" "I have said it, she is thine," answered the other rather testily. "Now let us get away from here, lest we should be discovered. I am nearly dead; I shall soon lose my wits." The deceiver was certainly nearly out of his mind with fright. Then the thief began again: "Thou hast lied; I will go once more and ask the Padishah." Terror-stricken, the other shrieked: "Thou wilt be caught. For all the world, let us go away out of this. Not only shall the woman be thy wife, but I also will be thy bond-slave!" At length they went away and took the money with them. They went

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directly to the woman, who was so pleased with the thief's prowess that she married him without further delay.

Next morning the Padishah woke up and called for his slaves. Deep silence reigned everywhere. Seeing that no one came, the monarch waited a little, then called again. Still no slave came. Then, his anger rising, the Padishah sprang from his bed and saw the basket suspended from the balcony. "What's this?" he said, and taking down the basket, saw his attendant in a state of insensibility within. Then calling more loudly, a number of slaves ran in and brought back the stupefied man to consciousness. The King demanded to know what was the matter with the man. He was quite unable to say. Now it began to dawn upon the Padishah that he had during the night listened to some story told by a thief. He seated himself at once on his throne and sent for his vezirs. All the vezirs, beys, and mighty men came, and when they were assembled the King related his experience of the previous night. "This thief must be found," he concluded; "let heralds proclaim in all the city that he may come to me in confidence. I swear by Allah that no harm shall be done him; he may keep the gold he has stolen and he shall have a pension besides."

Thus the heralds proclaimed the will of their lord and master. The thief heard, and when he knew that the Padishah had sworn he went boldly into his presence and said: "O Shah, thou mayst kill me or reward me: I am the man!"

"Why hast thou done this thing?" demanded the monarch. The thief related all from beginning to end.

True to his oath, the Padishah allowed the thief to keep the stolen treasure, and settled a pension on him for life. But the latter, out of gratitude for the Padishah's clemency, vowed on his heart and soul that he would never steal again; and both he and his wife prayed constantly for the health and happiness of the Padishah as long as they lived.

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