At once Brother Tiger went out and whispered to his son:
“Be careful, my child! You must be very polite with the little Sheep,
and do not get angry, or he will eat you up.”
The Tiger went back to the house, and the two young friends returned to
their play. Soon the young Tiger forgot the counsel of his father, and,
during their frolic, he jumped on the little Sheep and tickled him.
This made the little Sheep laugh and show his teeth.
“Why, what small teeth you have!” cried the little Tiger.
“They are all like that in my family,” said the little Sheep, “and
those of my father are not any longer.”
This set the little Tiger to thinking, and as soon as the visit was
ended he exclaimed, almost before Daddy Sheep’s door was shut:
“Pappy, pappy! did you see the little Sheep’s teeth? They are very
short, and he says that those of all his family are no longer than
“Hush!” exclaimed Brother Tiger. “Speak low, you little rascal, or
Daddy Sheep will hear you and eat us both.”
Brother Tiger, however, who had a mind of his own, thought that there
might be something in what his son had said, and the idea gave him
pleasure. Daddy Sheep was so fat, and his flesh must therefore be so
delicate and tender. For a long time the suggestion of the little Tiger
worried Brother Tiger, and he was absorbed in deep thought. Finally,
one day, he mustered up all his courage, and declared that he would
taste the flesh of Daddy Sheep.
But, he thought to himself, how could he see Daddy Sheep’s teeth? At
last the opportunity presented itself, for Daddy Sheep and his son
paid Brother Tiger a visit Brother Tiger received Daddy Sheep with
the greatest politeness, and saluted him. He invited Daddy Sheep into
his house, and begged him to make himself at home. For the refreshment
of his guests Brother Tiger set out wine. The little Sheep drank some
and went out to play; but Daddy Sheep, who was very fond of his glass,
“How do you like my wine, neighbor?” asked Brother Tiger.
“It is most excellent!” exclaimed Daddy Sheep, with enthusiasm.
“Then have another glass,” said Brother Tiger.
“Very well,” said Daddy Sheep; “I thank you and drink to your health.”
Then he laughed loudly and said: “The weather is warm, and it is not
out of place to take a glass of wine to arouse one.”
“That is true,” said Brother Tiger, “my wine cleans the cobwebs from
the throat and clarifies the brain.”
They drank together many times, but, in spite of all, Brother Tiger was
unable to see Daddy Sheep’s teeth. He talked softly and modestly, and
minced his words in a surprising way, as you have seen a young girl
do. But Brother Tiger did not despair; he determined to accomplish his
object, and so he again called attention to the wine.
“Wake up, Daddy Sheep!” he exclaimed; “I believe you are asleep. Arouse
yourself and help me to finish this bottle.”
“Thanks, thanks!” said Daddy Sheep, “but I am not thirsty.”
“Tut, tut, neighbor,” said Brother Tiger, “that is not the way to talk.
Thirst is only for the gnomes and the sprites who seek the dew. As for
us, the kings of this country, we must drink to divert ourselves.”
Feeling himself flattered and enjoying it, Daddy Sheep extended his
glass. It was promptly filled and he emptied it. It was as promptly
filled once more, and he emptied it again.
“Here’s to your health,” said Brother Tiger.
“And to yours, my dear host,” said Daddy Sheep, and he again emptied
his glass at one gulp.
The more Daddy Sheep drank the gayer he became, and the louder he
talked. He lost his customary reserve, but he had not yet condescended
to laugh. Brother Tiger, however, continued to press wine on his guest,
and it finally came to pass that Daddy Sheep sat back in his chair, and
laughed in the foolish way common to those whose brains are befuddled
by the fumes of liquor.
Brother Tiger saw the short teeth of his guest, and, without hesitating
a moment, he leaped on Daddy Sheep and strangled him. Hearing the loud
outcry made by his father, the little Sheep ran as quickly as he could
to his mother.
“The wicked Tiger,” he exclaimed, as he ran home, “has killed my
father, and has no doubt devoured him!”
At these terrible words the Mother Sheep almost fainted with fright,
and her grief was pitiful to behold. The little Sheep joined his
mother in her wailings, and the mournful noise they made attracted the
attention of the Queen of the Birds, who came out of the forest and
perched herself on a tree near their house.
“What is the matter, good Sheep?” she asked, “and what is the cause of
“Alas, alas! Brother Tiger has devoured my poor husband!”
“Ah, the infamous villain!” exclaimed the Queen of the Birds.
“We will not dare to venture out any more,” continued the Mother Sheep.
“The vile assassin will hide around here and try to devour us also.”
Touched by the tears of the Mother Sheep and her son, the Queen of the
Birds tried to console them the best she could, and promised them that
they should be revenged, and in a moment she had flown away to the
neighboring forests. She gave utterance to her well-known cry—
and in a very short time her faithful subjects could be seen coming
from all sides, birds of high and low degree, of bright plumage and
dull—the red-breast and the white-cap, the bald eagle and the green
parrots. The Queen of the Birds uttered her musical call again—
And then all the smaller birds that had wandered off into the woods
flew to her side, and begged to know what her wishes were. Their Queen
then related to them the murder of Daddy Sheep by the hypocritical and
cruel Brother Tiger. Her story was full of emotion and good feeling,
and she concluded by saying:
“This assassin, my faithful friends, must die in his turn. Such a
monster should not be permitted to live on earth.”
All the birds applauded with their wings at these words of the Queen,
and they could not help congratulating their sovereign.
“Go, my friends and subjects,” said the Queen, “into the far countries,
and say to the birds who have not heard my call, that I am about to
give a grand ball, and that I will await them to-morrow. Meanwhile I
will go myself and invite Brother Tiger, who cannot refuse to assist at
“But how will you kill this odious monster?” inquired the great eagle.
“Have confidence, my friend. Am I not the Queen? To-morrow you will be
satisfied. While you wait, aid in preparing everything for the feast.”
Singing, whistling, and screaming, all the birds began to work. The
brambles were removed, the stones thrown away, and the grass alone,
green and tender, was left in the space they had chosen for the ball.
The next day the Queen of the Birds was arrayed in the most beautiful
dress imaginable. Escorted by her pages, she went to the house of
Brother Tiger. Flattered by the visit of the Queen of the Birds, he
vowed that he would go to the grand ball in the forest.
“I promise you a dance,” said the Queen, smiling.
“Beautiful Queen,” exclaimed Brother Tiger, “all the honor will be mine.”
He could not sleep that night—not that he suffered from remorse for
his crime, but because he was carried away by the graciousness of the
great Queen of the Birds. The next morning Brother Tiger brushed his
clothes, curled his mustache, and went to the spot where the grand ball
was to be given. As soon as it was seen that he was coming, the Queen
of the Birds exclaimed:
“Take your places for a quadrille, and let all dance with their heads
under their wings. Music, play! trumpets, sound! and you, drums, beat!
Whereupon, the orchestra began to play one of its most delightful airs
for the dance:
“Tumpy, tumpy, tum-tum!
Tumpy, tumpy, tum-tum!
Then the Queen of the Birds flew and met Brother Tiger, and made him
“My dear friend, you are late!” she exclaimed. “The festivities have
“I trust your majesty will excuse me,” said Brother Tiger, “my clock
stopped during the night.”
“That is nothing,” said the Queen; “come!”
Oh, what a delicious feast! what fine music! Brother Tiger was dazzled.
“My Queen!” he exclaimed, “I am glad you thought of me. A ball like
this at your court is a rare occurrence.”
Long rows of birds stood facing each other, and birds of all degrees
After the quadrille the orchestra struck up a waltz, and the Queen
courteously said to her guest:
“This time you shall be my partner!”
Filled with pride the Tiger took his place by the side of the beautiful
Queen of the Birds. Then the birds, all with their heads under their
wings began to dance. Brother Tiger wanted to join in the first steps
of the dance, but all of a sudden the Queen of the Birds called out to
“Brother Tiger! really you are not thinking! The etiquette of my court
is that the invited guest, in order to take part in the dance, should
appear without a head. Look around you. All here would think themselves
guilty of the most unpardonable rudeness if they dared to raise
their eyes in the presence of their sovereign. The simplest rules of
politeness require that you should follow their example. Do as they are
doing, if you desire to dance with the Queen of the Birds.”
“Your Majesty,” exclaimed Brother Tiger, blushing violently, “I had no
intention of wounding you, and I humbly beg you to pardon my ignorance.
I am merely a poor country person who is used to spending his days
and nights in quiet places, and I am unused to the ways and customs
of the court. Promise me another dance, I beg you, and I will return
“I never had any ill-will against you, Brother Tiger,” said the Queen
of the Birds. “One cannot know everything. Go! I await you!”
Brother Tiger rushed to his home, and in a very short time he arrived.
“Wife, wife!” he exclaimed, “get an axe. In order to have the honor of
dancing with the great Queen of the Birds, one must appear before her
without a head.”
“My poor husband,” said Mrs. Tiger, “I really believe you are losing
your mind or that you are making fun of me.”
“No, no!” said Brother Tiger, “it is the etiquette of the court. All
the other guests were dancing without heads. Get the axe, wife! The
Queen awaits me.”
Mrs. Tiger did not want to obey; but when she saw that her angry
husband was disposed to show his sharp claws, she took the sharp axe
and cut off his head with one blow. It is needless to say that Brother
Tiger expired instantly. The good news was carried to the Queen of the
Birds by two green paroquets, and when the announcement was made the
birds took their heads from under their wings. All the other animals
in the forest were invited to the feast, and Mother Sheep and her son
were special guests. They were still in mourning, and therefore did
not take part in the dance, but they received special attention and
consideration on all sides, and the wonderful orchestra kept up its
Now, big sheep and little children, let me whisper something in your
ears: It is better not to open your mouths at all than to be too
familiar with people you do not know well.
“JUMP IN MY SACK!”
In a barren and an unproductive country there lived, a long time ago, a
father and his twelve children. A terrible famine came on the country,
and the unfortunate father said to his sons:
“My children, I have nothing whatever to give you. Go out into the
world, knock at each door, ask for work, and perhaps you will find the
means of making your living.”
At these words the youngest of the twelve brothers, Abdallah, began to
cry, and said:
“I am crippled, and it is difficult for me to walk. How can I gain my
“Dry your tears,” said the father; “your brothers will take you along
with them. They have good hearts, and if fortune smiles on them you may
be sure that you will not be forgotten.”
Early next morning the twelve brothers started out, after having
faithfully promised their father that they would never be separated.
But the deceitful brothers did not mean what they said. After several
days of travel the eldest said to the others:
“Our little brother Abdallah is a continual burden. He delays our
journey day by day, and if he continues to do so we will never get out
of this miserable country. Let us forsake him on the way and perhaps
some charitable person will find and take pity on him.”
This advice was followed by the brothers. The little cripple was
deserted by the way-side, and the other brothers continued on their
way, begging from every one they met. In this way they went on until
they came to a settlement of poor fishermen, where it was difficult to
find a lodging-place. Fortunately for them the night was beautiful, the
moon shone brilliantly in the sky, and a soft breeze tempered the heat
that had filled the atmosphere during the day.
Overcome with fatigue the eleven brothers stretched themselves out at
the foot of a tree, and they were soon sound asleep. After a while the
dawn made its appearance, the brothers awoke, and the eldest said:
“For days and weeks we have been travelling without meeting with the
good fortune we had hoped for. Let us leave this country for good and
all. Only a strip of water lies between us and a land of plenty.”
The unfortunate brothers soon saw an empty sloop. They took possession
of it, and at once began to drift out to sea. It was an unfortunate
voyage. All the hopes of the brothers were deceptive. Their cruelty
to their crippled brother Abdallah was to be severely punished. A
frightful tempest arose, and the sea overwhelmed them; the sloop was
wrecked and the cruel brothers found their graves in the cold and
Meanwhile what had become of Abdallah, the poor cripple whom the
brothers had deserted? Overwhelmed with sorrow and fatigue, he had
fallen asleep where he had been abandoned. Fortunately for him a good
fairy, who had seen all, took pity on him, and while he lay asleep
she cured his crippled leg; and then, disguising herself as a poor
beggar, the fairy sat on a stone by the roadside. Abdallah soon opened
his eyes, his heart filled with sadness. He arose for the purpose of
continuing his painful journey, but what was his astonishment to find
that he could walk without any trouble whatever. He was no longer a
cripple. He felt of himself, and ran and jumped to convince himself
that he was not dreaming. He laughed and cried at the same time, and
was filled with happiness and joy.
All of a sudden he saw an old woman by the roadside who looked at him
“Do you know, madam,” he cried, “if a great physician has passed this
“And why, my friend?” inquired the old woman.
“It is because that, during my sleep, he has rendered me the greatest
of services. He has cured my leg that was too short, and I want to
thank him for his kindness.”
“Well, well,” said the old woman, “the physician is myself. I gathered
a few herbs that I alone know, and it was easy to perform the miracle
that makes you so happy.”
Abdallah could not restrain his transports. He fell on the old woman’s
neck and embraced her, and then, to prove his gratitude, he asked her:
“My good woman, what can I do for you? I am young, but, as for you, age
has already begun to bear heavily on you. Command, and I will obey you
in all things.”
But imagine Abdallah’s surprise when, instead of the old woman, he saw
before him the most charming young girl that it is possible to imagine.
Her long blond hair floated on her shoulders, and her rich garments
fell in gracious folds around her.
Overcome with admiration and respect Abdallah fell on his knees in the
dust; but the good fairy said to him:
“Arise! I am happy to see that you are not ungrateful. Make two wishes,
and they will be immediately granted, for I am the queen of the
The young man reflected a moment and said:
“I desire above all things a bag in which everything I want will be
found in an instant.”
“Your demand is certainly original,” said the fairy, smiling. “What can
you do with such a sack?”
“A great many things,” exclaimed the young man, enthusiastically; “will
you grant my request?”
“So be it,” said the fairy; “and what is your second wish?”
“A stick that will do my bidding.”
“Very well, then,” and the fairy disappeared, leaving at Abdallah’s
feet a sack and a stick.
Overcome and delighted by his good fortune, the young man hastened to
test the powers that had been conferred on him by these gifts. As he
was feeling very hungry Abdallah said:
“Let a dozen roasted partridges get into my sack,” and in an instant he
found a dozen well-cooked partridges in his sack.
To eat without drinking was a very unusual thing in that country, so,
presently, Abdallah cried out:
“A bottle of wine in my sack!”
Immediately his commands were obeyed. After his meal he felt as light
as a bird, and he continued on his journey in good spirits, and the
next day he reached the end of it. At the gate of the city he paused to
rest and to gaze at the people who were continually passing, when a
beggar approached him and said:
“Brother, we are poor; let us unite our misfortunes and live together.”
“How do you know that, my friend?” said Abdallah; “I do not solicit
alms in order to stay here.”
“Your ragged clothes and your bare feet, my brother, tell a very
“That is true,” thought the young man, and he immediately asked his
sack to furnish him with two magnificent suits, such as were worn by
the noblemen of that country. He gave one to the unfortunate beggar at
his side and clad himself in the other, and the two went into the city
resplendent with gold and precious stones, so that everyone thought
that two rich and powerful noblemen had come into the city.
Soon the name of Abdallah was on everybody’s tongue, and the most
brilliant people of the city considered it an honor to call themselves
In that city Abdallah found an Evil Spirit, which presented itself to
him one day and said:
“Magnanimous chief, the most respectful of your admirers is here before
“What do you desire?” inquired Abdallah.
“I want nothing,” said the Evil Spirit, “but your reputation at the
games is such that I desired to see you.”
“You flatter me a great deal,” said Abdallah; “but, really, I cannot
play. The game is entirely unknown to me. However,” he went on to say,
“I desire to make one of your party in the hope that you will teach me
something about the games.”
The Evil Spirit and Abdallah made no delay in beginning the game, and
the latter lost such large sums of money that the Evil Spirit thought
that the young man was ruined. Contented with himself and satisfied
with the results of his journey, he was making ready to depart, when
Abdallah saw the cloven foot that the Evil Spirit had not been able to
“Ah, ha!” exclaimed Abdallah to himself. “It is with the Evil One I
have been playing. So much the better! I will show him that he made a
mistake when he addressed himself to me.” Satisfied with his discovery,
the fortunate possessor of the sack and the wonderful stick was content
to wait until the next day.
Faithful to the engagement that had been made, the young man found
himself on the morrow face to face with the Evil One. The game began,
Abdallah lost many gold pieces, and still he continued to lose. This
time the Evil Spirit won so rapidly and so continuously that he
believed Abdallah was reduced to misery. Addressing himself to the
young man, he exclaimed:
“Illustrious lord, the games of these last two days must have made
a considerable hole in your fortunes. Through me, however, you can
recover a good part of it; but on one condition only.”
“What condition is that?” inquired Abdallah.
“Let us understand each other. Let us become partners, and thus we can
win all the money that the other players have.”
But Abdallah would not permit the Evil Spirit to conclude his
“Satan!” cried he, “your elegant disguise has not prevented me from
recognizing you, and your cloven foot has betrayed you. The gold you
have taken from me is nothing to that which I still possess. Had you
won all the money in the world, I would not be less rich. However, the
day has arrived when you must expiate all your vile crimes. The hour
At these unexpected words the Evil One took on a sinister aspect, and
with a frightful laugh he began to mock Abdallah. At this exhibition
“Jump into my sack!” and the Old Boy danced into the bag. “Stick! beat
on him!” cried the young man, and the stick began to beat on him in
fine style, so much so that the Evil One yelled:
“Stop, or I will be dead! Let me out!”
“What a delightful misfortune this would be!” exclaimed Abdallah. “Are
you not content with matters as they are?”
There was great rejoicing among the people who were gathered there. At
last, after the stick had been beating the Evil One for two hours,
“Enough! that is sufficient for to-day.”
“What!” said the Evil One, “is not that enough? Is the trouble not yet
finished? Am I to have my bones broken another time?”
“Another time and always,” said Abdallah. “I want you to perish, so
that you will not continue to cut up your capers.”
There was some further parley between Abdallah and the Evil One,
which resulted in returning many unfortunate young people to their
homes—young people who had been lost through their passion for gaming.
When these unfortunates were restored to their friends, Abdallah
permitted the Evil One to leave his sack.
After a little, Abdallah, who was always trying to make people happy,
had a great desire to return to his own home, so that he could see
whether his father was still unfortunate. On his way thither he met a
big boy who was crying at the top of his voice and wringing his hands.
“Well, young man,” said Abdallah, “is your profession that of making
faces? If so, what do you ask for them by the dozen?”
“I am not in a laughing humor, my good sir,” said the other.
“What are you doing, then?” exclaimed Abdallah.
“My father,” said the boy, “has fallen from a horse and broken his arm.
I ran to the village for a physician, but, knowing that we were poor no
one of them would stir themselves in my father’s behalf.”
“Is that all?” said Abdallah; but the child continued to weep. “Calm
yourself,” said Abdallah, “your father shall not lack for anything.
Tell me the name of the first physician you went after.”
“His name,” said the boy, “is Abdel-Meddin.”
“Observe well,” said Abdallah. “Dr. Abdel-Meddin, jump into my sack!”
and immediately a man appeared and fell into the wonderful sack. At the
order of its master the stick began to beat him.
“Oh,” said the boy, “what a beautiful sack you have! Will you give it
“I cannot,” said Abdallah, “but take this purse of gold; it will do you
All this time the doctor in the sack was yelling at the top of his
voice, and writhing and moaning. Abdallah stopped the stick, and then
“Mr. Physician, take advantage of this opportunity to rub your bruised
limbs, for you shall not come out of here until you are mashed into a
“Mercy,” cried the doctor, “what have I done to deserve so terrible a
“Do you dare to ask me?” cried Abdallah. “Do you not recognize this
“Have mercy! take pity on me!” cried the physician.
“You did not take pity on others,” said Abdallah, “and I shall be
inexorable toward you. Beat him, stick!”
The wicked physician howled with pain and fear, until finally Abdallah
“I implore your mercy,” cried the physician.
“Will you give me your word to take care of this poor boy’s father if I
“I will do whatever you say,” said the unfortunate doctor! “He shall
lack for nothing.”
“Then come out of the sack,” said Abdallah.
The doctor came out, and he was so badly bruised that he could scarcely
stand on his feet, but Abdallah made him walk.
Returning to the village, the doctor was so attentive to the poor sick
man that there could be no doubt of his recovery, and Abdallah went on
his way, anxious to see his father.
After several days of travelling he came to a dense forest, through
which he was compelled to pass. Looking closely, he saw a pathway,
which was scarcely discernible, and it was bordered on each side by
thorns and brambles. This path led to a castle belonging to a terrible
and cruel giant. The sun had gone down and night had set in, and
Abdallah knocked at the door of the castle.
“Who are you?” said a voice.
“A poor traveller who begs for lodging.”
“I receive no one unless it is giants who desire to have a tilt with
me. We feast at night, and in the morning I hang them to a tree in the
“Well,” said Abdallah, “I will have a tilt with you in the morning.
Open the door and let me come in.”
“Poor fool,” said the giant, “will you dare to contend with me?”
“I will do my best,” said Abdallah. “Open the door, I beg you.”
“Go away,” said the giant, “I do not wish to crush you.”
“Oh, Mr. Giant! would you be afraid to-day, and have I the power to
make you tremble?”
“Poor creature, your impudence shall have its punishment. Come in! but
to-morrow you shall be hanged.”
“While I am waiting to balance myself on a limb,” said Abdallah,
cheerfully, “have my supper prepared. My appetite is large.”
The cruel giant smiled at Abdallah’s pretensions, and as he was a
charming man himself, he took occasion to divert Abdallah. The supper
was fine, and the evening was very pleasant. The giant related his
exploits. He had fought a lion, and he had vanquished a sea-serpent
with seven heads which had attacked him. One day, when an army came to
attack him, he had the soldiers hung to the trees that surrounded his
“Great giant,” said Abdallah, smiling, “you make me tremble. It would
be easy for you to get satisfaction out of a poor unfortunate creature
“Miserable creature!” said the giant, “I warned you before you came
into my castle. But eat and drink—above all, drink, for to-morrow
shall be your last day.”
“Let us drink, Mr. Giant! let us drink, since the night still belongs
to me. Here’s to your health!”
Overcome with fatigue, Abdallah left the giant and went to sleep, for
he stood greatly in need of rest, and in the morning he was still
asleep when the giant came to awake him.
“Get up!” the giant exclaimed. “You have lived long enough. Let us
cross swords and see who will be the victor.”
“It is useless,” said Abdallah; “the combat would be too unequal. Let
me go, I pray you.”
“No,” said the giant, severely; “you must die. Come quickly, I am in a
“Well, then,” said Abdallah, “since you insist on it, we will fight,
but I regret it, I assure you, for I really do not want to kill you.”
“Enough!” exclaimed the giant; “your insolence will soon be punished.”
At this the giant raised his great hand with the intention of crushing
his opponent, when Abdallah suddenly cried out:
“Jump in my sack!”
The giant made a horrible grimace, and seemed to hesitate, but, at
last, with a loud cry, he threw himself into the marvellous sack.
“Stick, do your duty!” exclaimed Abdallah, and the magic stick, in a
livelier manner than ever began to whack the cruel giant with great
“Do have mercy!” exclaimed the giant. “Take pity on me!” Abdallah had
mercy and the stick stopped.
“What do you think of our contest?” asked Abdallah. “Have you a mind to
“You are a terrible sorcerer,” said the giant, “and I have never seen
one like you.”
“Then,” said Abdallah, “you are conquered.”
“Have it as you will,” said the giant. “What can I say to the contrary?”
“You are right,” said Abdallah. “Good-by, Mr. Giant. You should be more
hospitable another time.”
The giant was anxious to accompany Abdallah, and he persisted in going
with him until he had passed through the forest. Abdallah continued on
his journey, and it was not long before he arrived at home, where he
was gratified to embrace his old father.
“My dear father!” he exclaimed, “I am very rich. I am powerful and I
come to you.”
“My dear child,” said the old man, “you deceive yourself, or my eyes
have become very weak; for I only see a sack on your back and a stick
in your hand.”
“No, father,” the son cried, “we are rich, very rich. Hereafter we
shall enjoy everything in abundance, and since the famine still
continues, our neighbors will enjoy our good fortune.”
In a few words, Abdallah told his father how he had been abandoned by
his brothers; and he told the old man also of the wonderful virtues of
his enchanted sack.
“Your kind-heartedness, my son,” said the old man, “has had its reward,
but let us not, in our prosperity, forget those who are sad and cry
because they are hungry.”
“Do not trouble yourself, my father. For such as these our table will
always be spread, and our doors will never be closed against them.”
While the famine in that country lasted, Abdallah established a tavern,
where everybody could get a meal without money and without price. The
marvellous sack was always ready to carry out the will of its master,
and it was always ready to furnish the most savory dishes and the most
exquisite wines, and this went on as long as the famine lasted.
When the famine had subsided, Abdallah would not give any more, fearing
that he would encourage the unworthy and thus render very indifferent
service to the country.
Abdallah ought to have been happy, but he was not. He had such a good
and tender heart that he easily forgot and forgave all the injury that
had been done him, and he was sad because he did not see around him
all the wicked brothers who had forsaken him on the way.
He called their names daily and commanded them to jump in his sack.
Each time, however, he found in his sack only a pile of bones. His
brothers were surely dead, and when Abdallah came to understand this
fact, he shed bitter tears.
In his turn, Abdallah’s father died, and Abdallah himself grew very
old. When he felt that his end was approaching he drew a sigh of
relief, nevertheless he did not want to die without seeing the good
fairy who had been his benefactor.
Feeling thus, Abdallah started on a journey, trembling with emotion,
and it was not long before he reached the spot where he had met the
gracious fairy. He seated himself on a stone and waited for the good
fairy to appear; but she came not. He continued to wait, and, after a
time, Death came along the road.
“I am hunting for you,” said the grim traveller.
“Not for me, surely,” said Abdallah.
“Yes, for you,” said the other.
“I am waiting here for a friend,” said Abdallah.
“Do I seem to be an enemy?” asked Death.
“No, no,” cried Abdallah, “you are welcome, but I want an opportunity
to greet my benefactor. I cannot go with you.”
But Death fixed his eyes on Abdallah, smiled a little, and said:
“Jump in my sack!”
A rich merchant of Bagdad had a son that he loved most tenderly. The
child had been reared with the utmost care, and no pains were spared
to cultivate his mind as well as his affections. When the young man’s
education was almost completed his father determined that he should
travel in foreign parts.
“My son,” said the old man, “I have gray hairs and a white beard,
and in my long career it has been given to me to know and appreciate
the real value of men and things. You must learn, then, my son, that
among the pressing necessities of life the greatest of all is a good
friend. Riches take wings—a touch of providence, a turn of the wheel
of fortune, throws the richest into the depths of despair; but death
alone, which carries all off, can take away a friend.
“A true friend is the only thing in this world that is always faithful.
Find this rare pearl, my son, and you will have found the rarest of
gems. I want you, then, my son, to travel over the world, travel alone
gives the real experience. The more we see of men the better we know
how to live among them. The world is a great and a beautiful book, that
instructs those who know how to read it. It is a faithful mirror that
reflects all the objects we ought to see.
“Go, my son,” said the merchant of Bagdad; “take this travelling-stick,
and in your journeyings think, above all other things, of the necessity
of securing a true friend. In pursuing this object, sacrifice
everything else, even what is most rare and most precious.”
The young man embraced his father and took his departure. He went to a
foreign country and remained there some time, and then he returned to
his own country. When he arrived, his father, astonished at his quick
“I did not expect you so soon.”
“You told me to seek a friend,” said the young man. “Well, I have
returned with fifty who are all that you have described.”
“My poor child!” responded the old merchant, “do not speak so
flippantly of so sacred a name. A true friend is so rare that he cannot
be found in droves, and those who pretend to be such are only so in
name. They resemble a summer-cloud that melts beneath the first rays of
“Father!” exclaimed the young man, “your attack is unjust, and
those that I look upon as my friends—those whom I regard as my
friends—would not see me suffering or in adversity unless their hearts
went out to me.”
“I have lived seventy years,” responded the old man, “and I have been
tried by good and bad fortune. I have known a great many men, and
during these long years it has been well-nigh impossible for me to
acquire a friend. How, at your age, and in such a short time, have you
been able to find fifty friends? Learn from me, my son, to know human
The old merchant strangled a sheep, put the carcass in a sack, and
stained his son’s clothing with the blood of the animal. At night the
young man was told what he must do, and he took the carcass of the
sheep on his shoulder and went out of the city.
Soon he arrived at the house of his first friend, and knocked at the
door, which was promptly opened to him. His friend asked him what he
“It is in the midst of misfortune that friendship is put to a trial,”
responded the young man. “I have often told you of an old feud that has
existed between our family and that of a lord of the court. Not long
ago we met in a secluded spot. Hatred placed arms in our hands, and he
fell lifeless at my feet. For fear of being pursued by justice I seized
his body; it is in the sack you see on my shoulders. I beg you to hide
it in your house until this affair has blown over.”
“My house is so small,” said the friend, with an air of sorrow and
embarrassment, “that it can scarcely contain the living who dwell in
it. How could I find room for the dead?”
The young man begged his friend to have pity on him, but without avail,
and the ungrateful man shut the door in his face.
“You see, my son,” said the old merchant, “these are the kind of
friends on whom you were depending.”
“To tell you the truth, father,” said the young man, “I have always
suspected that this particular friend was a hypocrite, but all are not
so. Wait, and you shall see.”
The younger man continued to knock at the doors of his friends. Fifty
times he met with the same reception. No one wanted to do him the
kindness to hide the body.
“My son,” said the old merchant, “you must see at last how little
you can depend on man. What has become of the friends whom you were
praising to me a little while ago? In your supposed misfortune each
one has forsaken you. I will show you the difference between the one
real friend that I have and the fifty false ones whom you have tested.”
As they talked, the father and son reached the door of the house
of the one whom the old merchant had represented as the model of
perfect friendship. The merchant related to his friend the imaginary
misfortunes that had befallen his son, and begged the friend to hide
the compromising sack.
“Oh, happy day and blessed hour!” exclaimed the faithful friend. “My
house is large, and herein you may hide whatever you choose.”
“Think,” said the young man, “of the great dangers to which you expose
yourself! Who knows but you may be accused of the murder, or, at least,
of favoring the assassin.”
“Well,” said the other, smiling, “one must expose one’s self to many
perils when one desires to save the son of a friend. Go to my summer
residence, where you will be safe from the clutches of the law. I
will come to you from time to time, and keep you company, and if ever
misfortune happens to you it will likewise fall on me.”
At this the merchant of Bagdad opened his arms and pressed to his heart
the devoted friend, thanking him for his generous offers, and relating
to him the simple artifice by which he had taught his son how rare true
friendship is in this world.
A CHILD OF THE ROSES
Once upon a time there was a King who had three daughters as beautiful
as the stars that shine in the skies, and as different in their beauty.
One day the King was sitting on his gorgeous throne, and he called his
children, and said:
“I love you all better than I do my life. Now tell me in turn the
nature of the affection you feel for me. According to your answer
I shall give each of you the husband that you deserve. The eldest
approached, and said:
“I love you better than I do my golden hair and my blue eyes, and I
would do anything in the world to be agreeable to you.”
“My beloved daughter,” exclaimed the Monarch, “the King of Syra shall
become your husband.”
The second daughter spoke thus:
“I love you, my father, a thousand times better than a queen loves her
crown, a thousand times better than a dove loves her young, and to
please you I would voluntarily throw myself into a burning furnace.”
“Oh, my child! let me embrace you! The Prince Miraz, the handsomest of
men, shall be your husband.”
The youngest daughter, the favorite of the fairies, the charming Mirza,
“I love you, my father, as we love the salt in the bread, as the fish
loves water, and as the May rose loves the dews of the morning.”
At these words the King turned pale with anger, and exclaimed:
“Go away! Leave me! You are an ungrateful daughter who cares for no
one. Is it thus that you show gratitude for the pains I have taken with
you? The love you have for me goes no further than the salt in the
bread. Go away!”
The King drove his daughter from the palace, and ordered one of the
waiting-maids to follow her everywhere, and to return only to announce
her death. The waiting-maid took with her her own daughter, Calamir,
and the three women travelled at haphazard for three days and three
nights. Finally they perceived an abandoned cabin, and the Princess
“Let us stop here!” whereupon the women took up their abode there.
One day Mirza was sitting by the roadside, her head in her hands,
weeping sadly. She was thinking of the great palace where she was
born, and of her more fortunate sisters, who lacked for nothing, and
who had bracelets of gold and diamonds. She thought also of her cruel
father, whom she still loved with all her heart. Suddenly Mirza felt a
hand on her shoulder, and began to tremble with fear. It was the Queen
of the Fairies, who looked at her with a smile.
“My beautiful child, why lament?” said the Queen. “All things are
possible to me. Make three wishes and you will be satisfied at once.”
Mirza, however, did not answer. She remained silent; she could only
“Grief fills your heart,” said the Queen of the Fairies, “and you
can only weep. You are thinking of your father, your sisters, and
the palace where you were born. Calm yourself. Hereafter you will be
as rich and as fortunate as they. Weeping or smiling, walking or
standing, no person in the wide world will be as fortunate as you.”
At these words the young girl smiled, and beautiful roses fell from her
lips. She took a few steps to embrace her benefactress, and a thousand
precious stones fell under her feet. The tears that shone in her eyes,
in falling, became pearls.
“Kind fairy,” exclaimed Mirza, beholding these things, “what wishes
could I have made that would have been comparable to these gifts you
have heaped upon me? A thousand thanks!”
The young girl pressed the queen of the fairies to her heart, kissed
her hands and her lips, and gave full play to her happiness. Some days
afterward, the Princess Mirza said to her waiting-maid:
“Go into the neighboring city, inquire for the best architect to be
found and tell him to bring a hundred experienced workmen.”
The maid went into the city, secured the architect, and when three days
had passed the workmen arrived.
“Queen of women,” said the architect, “what can I do to please you?”
“I want you to build me a marvellous palace of pure gold, with ten
doors of diamonds and a thousand windows of crystal. Build me a palace
supported by a hundred columns of rubies and emeralds. I want it to be
so resplendent that the neighboring kings and princes will stand amazed
when they behold it.”
The builders went to work, and in the course of a year the masterpiece
of architecture was completed. One day the sisters of the princess
passed that way. They were going to see their parents, and a joyous
escort accompanied them, playing on a thousand instruments in order to
make the journey pleasant.
“My gentle pages,” exclaimed the eldest, perceiving the palace, “to whom
does this magnificent building belong? Is it the home of the fairies?”
“Gracious queen,” responded one of the pages, “no one knows.”
“Go, then,” said the princess, “and find out, and say that we desire to
visit this wonderful palace.”
When the messengers announced to Mirza the wishes of the princess, she
“These are my sisters—the children of my mother—who come to visit me.
Happy day! Pages, return and tell them that I await them.”
But the pages did not move. Each one seemed to be petrified with
surprise and admiration. While Mirza was speaking the most beautiful
and fragrant roses fell from her lips, and at her feet hundreds of
precious stones, pearls, rubies, amethysts, and diamonds sparkled and
glittered. Finally the messengers returned to the princesses, and when
the latter found that this beautiful palace belonged to their younger
sister, they could not refrain from shedding tears of joy. Immediately
they made their way to the palace, and soon they had the pleasure of
embracing the sister whom they had long given up for lost.
The two princesses stayed a long time at the grand palace, their eyes
dazzled at everything they saw. They were much astonished at the
magnificent gifts showered on them by their sister. They went away from
the palace with regret, and they were very sorry they could not carry
away with them, in addition to their gifts, pieces of the precious
stones with which the courtyard was paved.
The renown of Mirza soon spread throughout all the neighboring
kingdoms, and everyone praised her beauty and marvelled at her riches.
The prince of a strange country fell desperately in love with her,
and he sent an ambassador to sue for her hand. Mirza consented, and
promised to become the wife of the prince as soon as the orange-trees
blossomed. The ambassador was delighted, and hastened to announce the
joyous news to his master. Magnificent feasts were given at the court
of the prince, and soon everything was ready for the wedding.
As soon as the orange-trees bloomed, Mirza started on her journey to
the home of the prince, accompanied by the waiting-maid who had served
her in her misfortune. On the way, the princess became very hungry,
and asked for something to eat. Instead of giving her sweet cakes and
luscious fruits, the maid gave her bread that was so salty and so
bitter the princess could scarcely swallow it. Soon she was seized with
a devouring thirst.
“My good friend,” she exclaimed to her maid, “what have you for me to
“Nothing, my amiable mistress,” said the maid.
“What! not even a glass of water?” said the princess.
“No, your majesty.”
The princess withstood the thirst as long as she could, and finally
“I pray you, my good friend, go and find a stream, and bring me some
water to quench my thirst—only a few drops.”
At this, the waiting-maid said:
“Alas! we are in a very strange country. Here, water is the dearest of
“Well,” said the princess, “take a handful of diamonds and offer them
to the charitable person who will take pity on me and give me some
The waiting-maid started out, but she did not go a hundred steps when
she hid herself behind a bush. Very soon she returned with an air of
distress, and with a sad voice she spoke thus:
“Powerful princess, in this country, water is so dear that you will
have to pay for a single goblet-full with one of your eyes.”
In her despair, the young princess pulled out an eye, and gave it to
“Go,” said the princess, “run quick, or I die.”
The cruel waiting-maid returned, bringing a little water, but scarcely
did it quench her thirst for an instant. Not long afterward the
princess began lamenting again:
“I am still thirsty,” said she, “and I feel that I am perishing.”
“Give me your remaining eye,” said the servant, “and hereafter you
shall be satisfied.”