Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales , at sacred-texts.com
For many weeks he wandered on, up hill and down dale, until the minarets of the city of Bagdad came in sight. Strolling about the streets one day he met a man who accosted him with "Whence comest thou, my son? What art thou doing here? and what is thy name?" The young man answered; "I am come from a foreign land; I want employment; and my name is Mahomet." The former offered to take Mahomet into his service, and the youth agreeing, they set out together for the stranger's house. Every day Mahomet set the house in
order and did all in his power to please his master and win his confidence. One day the master called him and said: "Mahomet, my son, take this rope and this sack and let us be off." They travelled a long time until the foot of a hill was reached. Here they found a well, and after they had removed the large slabs of stone that covered it the master said: "Now, Mahomet, listen to me. I shall let thee down the well by means of the rope; fill the sack with whatever thou findest at the bottom, then attach it to the rope and I will pull it up; afterwards I shall let down the rope again for thine own ascent."
Mahomet assented, fastening the rope round his waist and taking the sack in his hand, ready to descend.
Arrived at the bottom of the well, a dazzling sight met his astonished eyes. There were piles of gold, silver, diamonds, and pearls. He soon filled his sack, and attached it to the rope, when it disappeared upwards. Then, sad to relate, the stone slabs were replaced over the mouth of the well, and poor Mahomet was abandoned to his fate.
As he paced to and fro on the bottom of the well, wondering whatever would become of him, he espied a narrow passage. He at once made in that direction, and after walking until he was quite tired he reached the border of a valley. Here he sat down to rest awhile and to devise, if possible, some means of requiting the rascality of the man whom he had served to the best of his ability. Feeling somewhat refreshed he got up, and, changing his clothes on the way, ere long found himself once more in the city.
Loitering about, whom should he see but the very man who had served him such a sorry trick at the well. Mahomet being differently clothed, his former master did not recognize him and inquired: "Whence comest thou, my son?" Mahomet replied that he was formerly a merchant in such and such a town, but having been robbed of all his property he was in search of any employment he could get. "Wouldst enter my service?" asked the man. "With pleasure," answered the young man, who now gave the name of Hassan; and they accordingly went home together.
Some ten days elapsed and the master called his servant. "Hassan," said he, "take this rope and the sack and we will be off." Their destination proved to be the same as before--the well. Then said the master: "I am going to let thee down; fill the sack with what thou findest at the bottom, and--." He proceeded no further, for Mahomet (otherwise Hassan) turned upon him angrily: "Thou wretch!" he exclaimed, "Thou hast deceived me once, and now thou thinkest to leave me in the well a second time, eh?" Springing upon him with a knife, Mahomet cut off the man's head and cast it down the well. Replacing the slabs he re turned to the city.
He now took a house and having furnished it luxuriously, lived very happily. Helping himself freely, through the secret way he had discovered, to the treasures at the bottom of the well, he soon became known as the richest man in the whole kingdom.
It happened about this time that the Padishah had declared war upon his neighbour; but, as he had little money, gold was being collected on all sides to meet the expenses of the campaign. Mahomet, having such wealth, gave on a most liberal scale, and by this means the Padishah was able to conquer his enemy. But peace had hardly been signed when the Padishah died. Now the great men of the land met in council, and as
[paragraph continues] Mahomet was so enormously rich, they decided to elect him to the rank and dignity of Padishah, which was accordingly done.
He walked to the nearest town, and strolling about the streets, inquired of the passersby how far it was to Bagdad. No one was able to enlighten him, for it appeared that no one had ever heard of a city of that name. As he proceeded farther, however, and pursued his
inquiries, a very old man answered: "I do not know where Bagdad is, but my grandfather's father was there about two hundred years ago. I have heard my father say so, but how far it is from here I know not." At this the Padishah heaved a deep sigh, for he thought he should never reach Bagdad again. By degrees, however, he grew more resigned to his fate, and entering a coffeehouse he sat down to the enjoyment of a cup of coffee and a chibouque.
When he got up to pay for his coffee he discovered, to his dismay, that his purse was gone. He told the coffeehouse keeper of his difficulty, and then, returning to the cemetery, looked about in the hope of finding his missing property. The search was in vain, and he went back disconsolately to the coffeehouse keeper, who advised him that a certain man in the marketplace could find his money for him.
Accordingly the Padishah sought the person indicated, and related his misfortune. The man asked what kind of a purse it was, and the Padishah replied: "Partly red and partly blue." The man then opened a cupboard, and taking out the identical purse, asked "Is this it?" "Indeed it is!" answered the Padishah, wondering by what extraordinary means this man had come to possess his purse. He was glad to recover his money, and as he liked the town he resolved to stay there for the present.
Some days later he went again to the coffeehouse, and telling the coffeehouse keeper he intended to marry, asked whether he could recommend to him a suitable bride.
"Maiden or widow?" queried the Kavedji.
"It makes no difference to me, so long as she is honest and respectable," replied the Padishah. On this the Kavedji advised him to go again to the marketplace, where he would find a man who could procure him a suitable wife.
Mahomet sought out the man and acquainted him with his requirement. The latter promptly informed his client that at such and such an address
there was the very person he needed--a widow in every way suitable. He then wrote a note and gave it to Mahomet, telling him to take it to the imam, who would introduce the woman.
The imam read the note and then addressed Mahomet as follows: "This matter can be easily arranged, only if thou marriest this woman thou must beware of meddling in the things of Allah; otherwise thou art a lost man." Mahomet bowed his head in assent; the woman was introduced and the pair were married, after which they went to the woman's house.
Next day the woman handed a hundred gold pieces to her husband, saying: "Take this money and open a shop, but be sure to sell all the goods at cost price." In accordance with his wife's advice Mahomet set up a shop in the marketplace, selling everything at the exact price he gave for it. He conducted his business in this fashion from day to day, year in and year out, until one fine day his stock was sold out and there was no money left to buy in again.
"What shall we do now?" he asked his wife sadly. The woman opened a
cupboard, took therefrom a bag, and counting out a hundred gold-pieces, said: "Here are another hundred gold-pieces; buy in a stock of goods and sell them again as before." "But, my dear," objected Mahomet, " what is the meaning of this? With thy first hundred gold-pieces I traded without profit until the whole sum was exhausted; now thou givest me another hundred and tellest me to do again likewise! How can it be possible?" The woman answered: "That is Allah's affair, in which we may not meddle." But Mahomet was inquisitive to get at the bottom of the matter, and as he would give his wife no peace she opened the window and cried: "Dear neighbours, help! My husband is meddling in the things of Allah. Help!"
Instantly there was an uproar: neighbours ran in, armed with sticks, with which they set upon Mahomet, so that he took to flight and ran for his life out of the town.
While in this predicament the great bird swooped down upon him again, seized him, and carried him back to the foot of the stairs whence he had been taken so many years before. He observed that the candle was still where he had put it, and that everything else was undisturbed. He picked up the book, which he had dropped when the bird seized him the first time, and took it to the hodja.
"What a long while thou hast tarried," observed the hodja; on which the Padishah related his adventures.
"Now thou knowest " returned the hodja, "what is the science of astrology."
The Padishah paid heed to the words of his teacher, kissed his hand, and applied himself diligently to the study of reading and writing.