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fine clothes she gave us on our marriage, and you will answer, "before
he died he sold everything."'

The wife did as she was told, and wrapping herself in sackcloth went up
to the Sultana's own palace, and as she was known to have been one of
Subida's favourite attendants, she was taken without difficulty into the
private apartments.

'What is the matter?' inquired the Sultana, at the sight of the dismal
figure.

'My husband lies dead at home, and he has spent all our money, and sold
everything, and I have nothing left to bury him with,' sobbed the wife.

Then Subida took up a purse containing two hundred gold pieces, and
said: 'Your husband served us long and faithfully. You must see that he
has a fine funeral.'

The wife took the money, and, kissing the feet of the Sultana, she
joyfully hastened home. They spent some happy hours planning how they
should spend it, and thinking how clever they had been. 'When the Sultan
goes this evening to Subida's palace,' said Abu Nowas, 'she will be sure
to tell him that Abu Nowas is dead. "Not Abu Nowas, it is his wife," he
will reply, and they will quarrel over it, and all the time we shall be
sitting here enjoying ourselves. Oh, if they only knew, how angry they
would be!'

As Abu Nowas had foreseen, the Sultan went, in the evening after his
business was over, to pay his usual visit to the Sultana.


'Poor Abu Nowas is dead!' said Subida when he entered the room.

'It is not Abu Nowas, but his wife who is dead,' answered the Sultan.

'No; really you are quite wrong. She came to tell me herself only a
couple of hours ago,' replied Subida, 'and as he had spent all their
money, I gave her something to bury him with.'

'You must be dreaming,' exclaimed the Sultan. 'Soon after midday Abu
Nowas came into the hall, his eyes streaming with tears, and when I
asked him the reason he answered that his wife was dead, and they had
sold everything they had, and he had nothing left, not so much as would
buy her a shroud, far less for her burial.'

For a long time they talked, and neither would listen to the other, till
the Sultan sent for the door-keeper and bade him go instantly to the
house of Abu Nowas and see if it was the man or his wife who was dead.
But Abu Nowas happened to be sitting with his wife behind the latticed
window, which looked on the street, and he saw the man coming, and
sprang up at once. 'There is the Sultan's door-keeper! They have sent
him here to find out the truth. Quick! throw yourself on the bed and
pretend that you are dead.' And in a moment the wife was stretched out
stiffly, with a linen sheet spread across her, like a corpse.

She was only just in time, for the sheet was hardly drawn across her
when the door opened and the porter came in. 'Has anything happened?'
asked he.

'My poor wife is dead,' replied Abu Nowas. 'Look! she is laid out here.'
And the porter approached the bed, which was in a corner of the room,
and saw the stiff form lying underneath.

'We must all die,' said he, and went back to the Sultan.

'Well, have you found out which of them is dead?' asked the Sultan.

'Yes, noble Sultan; it is the wife,' replied the porter.

'He only says that to please you,' cried Subida in a rage; and calling
to her chamberlain, she ordered him to go at once to the dwelling of Abu
Nowas and see which of the two was dead. 'And be sure you tell the truth
about it,' added she, 'or it will be the worse for you.'

As her chamberlain drew near the house, Abu Nowas caught sight of him.
'There is the Sultana's chamberlain,' he exclaimed in a fright. 'Now it
is my turn to die. Be quick and spread the sheet over me.' And he laid
himself on the bed, and held his breath when the chamberlain came in.
'What are you weeping for?' asked the man, finding the wife in tears.

'My husband is dead,' answered she, pointing to the bed; and the
chamberlain drew back the sheet and beheld Abu Nowas lying stiff and
motionless. Then he gently replaced the sheet and returned to the
palace.

'Well, have you found out this time?' asked the Sultan.

'My lord, it is the husband who is dead.'

'But I tell you he was with me only a few hours ago,' cried the Sultan
angrily. 'I must get to the bottom of this before I sleep! Let my golden
coach be brought round at once.'

The coach was before the door in another five minutes, and the Sultan
and Sultana both got in. Abu Nowas had ceased being a dead man, and was
looking into the street when he saw the coach coming. 'Quick! quick!' he
called to his wife. 'The Sultan will be here directly, and we must both
be dead to receive him.' So they laid themselves down, and spread the
sheet over them, and held their breath. At that instant the Sultan
entered, followed by the Sultana and the chamberlain, and he went up
to the bed and found the corpses stiff and motionless. 'I would give a
thousand gold pieces to anyone who would tell me the truth about this,'
cried he, and at the words Abu Nowas sat up. 'Give them to me, then,'
said he, holding out his hand. 'You cannot give them to anyone who needs
them more.'

'Oh, Abu Nowas, you impudent dog!' exclaimed the Sultan, bursting into
a laugh, in which the Sultana joined. 'I might have known it was one of
your tricks!' But he sent Abu Nowas the gold he had promised, and let us
hope that it did not fly so fast as the last had done.

[From Tunische Mahrchen.]




Motiratika

Once upon a time, in a very hot country, a man lived with his wife in
a little hut, which was surrounded by grass and flowers. They were
perfectly happy together till, by-and-by, the woman fell ill and refused
to take any food. The husband tried to persuade her to eat all sorts
of delicious fruits that he had found in the forest, but she would
have none of them, and grew so thin he feared she would die. 'Is there
nothing you would like?' he said at last in despair.

'Yes, I think I could eat some wild honey,' answered she. The husband
was overjoyed, for he thought this sounded easy enough to get, and he
went off at once in search of it.

He came back with a wooden pan quite full, and gave it to his wife. 'I
can't eat that,' she said, turning away in disgust. 'Look! there are
some dead bees in it! I want honey that is quite pure.' And the man
threw the rejected honey on the grass, and started off to get some
fresh. When he got back he offered it to his wife, who treated it as
she had done the first bowlful. 'That honey has got ants in it: throw it
away,' she said, and when he brought her some more, she declared it was
full of earth. In his fourth journey he managed to find some that she
would eat, and then she begged him to get her some water. This took him
some time, but at length he came to a lake whose waters were sweetened
with sugar. He filled a pannikin quite full, and carried it home to his
wife, who drank it eagerly, and said that she now felt quite well. When
she was up and had dressed herself, her husband lay down in her place,
saying: 'You have given me a great deal of trouble, and now it is my
turn!'

'What is the matter with you?' asked the wife.

'I am thirsty and want some water,' answered he; and she took a large
pot and carried it to the nearest spring, which was a good way off.
'Here is the water,' she said to her husband, lifting the heavy pot from
her head; but he turned away in disgust.

'You have drawn it from the pool that is full of frogs and willows;
you must get me some more.' So the woman set out again and walked still
further to another lake.

'This water tastes of rushes,' he exclaimed, 'go and get some fresh.'
But when she brought back a third supply he declared that it seemed made
up of water-lilies, and that he must have water that was pure, and not
spoilt by willows, or frogs, or rushes. So for the fourth time she put
her jug on her head, and passing all the lakes she had hitherto tried,
she came to another, where the water was golden like honey. She stooped
down to drink, when a horrible head bobbed up on the surface.

'How dare you steal my water?' cried the head.

'It is my husband who has sent me,' she replied, trembling all over.
'But do not kill me! You shall have my baby, if you will only let me
go.'

'How am I to know which is your baby?' asked the Ogre.

'Oh, that is easily managed. I will shave both sides of his head, and
hang some white beads round his neck. And when you come to the hut you
have only to call "Motikatika!" and he will run to meet you, and you can
eat him.'

'Very well,' said the ogre, 'you can go home.' And after filling the pot
she returned, and told her husband of the dreadful danger she had been
in.

Now, though his mother did not know it, the baby was a magician and he
had heard all that his mother had promised the ogre; and he laughed to
himself as he planned how to outwit her.

The next morning she shaved his head on both sides, and hung the white
beads round his neck, and said to him: 'I am going to the fields to
work, but you must stay at home. Be sure you do not go outside, or some
wild beast may eat you.'

'Very well,' answered he.

As soon as his mother was out of sight, the baby took out some magic
bones, and placed them in a row before him. 'You are my father,' he told
one bone, 'and you are my mother. You are the biggest,' he said to
the third, 'so you shall be the ogre who wants to eat me; and you,' to
another, 'are very little, therefore you shall be me. Now, then, tell me
what I am to do.'

'Collect all the babies in the village the same size as yourself,'
answered the bones; 'shave the sides of their heads, and hang white
beads round their necks, and tell them that when anybody calls
"Motikatika," they are to answer to it. And be quick for you have no
time to lose.'

Motikatika went out directly, and brought back quite a crowd of babies,
and shaved their heads and hung white beads round their little black
necks, and just as he had finished, the ground began to shake, and the
huge ogre came striding along, crying: 'Motikatika! Motikatika!'

'Here we are! here we are!' answered the babies, all running to meet
him.

'It is Motikatika I want,' said the ogre.

'We are all Motikatika,' they replied. And the ogre sat down in
bewilderment, for he dared not eat the children of people who had done
him no wrong, or a heavy punishment would befall him. The children
waited for a little, wondering, and then they went away.

The ogre remained where he was, till the evening, when the woman
returned from the fields.

'I have not seen Motikatika,' said he.

'But why did you not call him by his name, as I told you?' she asked.

'I did, but all the babies in the village seemed to be named
Motikatika,' answered the ogre; 'you cannot think the number who came
running to me.'

The woman did not know what to make of it, so, to keep him in a good
temper, she entered the hut and prepared a bowl of maize, which she
brought him.

'I do not want maize, I want the baby,' grumbled he 'and I will have
him.'

'Have patience,' answered she; 'I will call him, and you can eat him at
once.' And she went into the hut and cried, 'Motikatika!'

'I am coming, mother,' replied he; but first he took out his bones, and,
crouching down on the ground behind the hut, asked them how he should
escape the ogre.

'Change yourself into a mouse,' said the bones; and so he did, and the
ogre grew tired of waiting, and told the woman she must invent some
other plan.

'To-morrow I will send him into the field to pick some beans for me, and
you will find him there, and can eat him.'

'Very well,' replied the ogre, 'and this time I will take care to have
him,' and he went back to his lake.

Next morning Motikatika was sent out with a basket, and told to pick
some beans for dinner. On the way to the field he took out his bones and
asked them what he was to do to escape from the ogre. 'Change yourself
into a bird and snap off the beans,' said the bones. And the ogre chased
away the bird, not knowing that it was Motikatika.

The ogre went back to the hut and told the woman that she had deceived
him again, and that he would not be put off any longer.

'Return here this evening,' answered she, 'and you will find him in bed
under this white coverlet. Then you can carry him away, and eat him at
once.'

But the boy heard, and consulted his bones, which said: 'Take the red
coverlet from your father's bed, and put yours on his,' and so he did.
And when the ogre came, he seized Motikatika's father and carried him
outside the hut and ate him. When his wife found out the mistake, she
cried bitterly; but Motikatika said: 'It is only just that he should be
eaten, and not I; for it was he, and not I, who sent you to fetch the
water.'

[Adapted from the Ba-Ronga (H. Junod).]




Niels And The Giants

On one of the great moors over in Jutland, where trees won't grow
because the soil is so sandy and the wind so strong, there once lived
a man and his wife, who had a little house and some sheep, and two sons
who helped them to herd them. The elder of the two was called Rasmus,
and the younger Niels. Rasmus was quite content to look after sheep, as
his father had done before him, but Niels had a fancy to be a hunter,
and was not happy till he got hold of a gun and learned to shoot. It was
only an old muzzle-loading flint-lock after all, but Niels thought it a
great prize, and went about shooting at everything he could see. So much
did he practice that in the long run he became a wonderful shot, and was
heard of even where he had never been seen. Some people said there was
very little in him beyond this, but that was an idea they found reason
to change in the course of time.

The parents of Rasmus and Niels were good Catholics, and when they were
getting old the mother took it into her head that she would like to go
to Rome and see the Pope. The others didn't see much use in this, but
she had her way in the end: they sold all the sheep, shut up the house,
and set out for Rome on foot. Niels took his gun with him.

'What do you want with that?' said Rasmus; 'we have plenty to carry
without it.' But Niels could not be happy without his gun, and took it
all the same.

It was in the hottest part of summer that they began their journey, so
hot that they could not travel at all in the middle of the day, and they
were afraid to do it by night lest they might lose their way or fall
into the hands of robbers. One day, a little before sunset, they came to
an inn which lay at the edge of a forest.

'We had better stay here for the night,' said Rasmus.

'What an idea!' said Niels, who was growing impatient at the slow
progress they were making. 'We can't travel by day for the heat, and we
remain where we are all night. It will be long enough before we get to
Rome if we go on at this rate.'

Rasmus was unwilling to go on, but the two old people sided with Niels,
who said, 'The nights aren't dark, and the moon will soon be up. We can
ask at the inn here, and find out which way we ought to take.'

So they held on for some time, but at last they came to a small opening
in the forest, and here they found that the road split in two. There was
no sign-post to direct them, and the people in the inn had not told them
which of the two roads to take.

'What's to be done now?' said Rasmus. 'I think we had better have stayed
at the inn.'

'There's no harm done,' said Niels. 'The night is warm, and we can wait
here till morning. One of us will keep watch till midnight, and then
waken the other.'

Rasmus chose to take the first watch, and the others lay down to sleep.
It was very quiet in the forest, and Rasmus could hear the deer and
foxes and other animals moving about among the rustling leaves. After
the moon rose he could see them occasionally, and when a big stag came
quite close to him he got hold of Niels' gun and shot it.

Niels was wakened by the report. 'What's that?' he said.

'I've just shot a stag,' said Rasmus, highly pleased with himself.

'That's nothing,' said Niels. 'I've often shot a sparrow, which is a
much more difficult thing to do.'

It was now close on midnight, so Niels began his watch, and Rasmus went
to sleep. It began to get colder, and Niels began to walk about a little
to keep himself warm. He soon found that they were not far from the edge
of the forest, and when he climbed up one of the trees there he could
see out over the open country beyond. At a little distance he saw a
fire, and beside it there sat three giants, busy with broth and beef.
They were so huge that the spoons they used were as large as spades, and
their forks as big as hay-forks: with these they lifted whole bucketfuls
of broth and great joints of meat out of an enormous pot which was set
on the ground between them. Niels was startled and rather scared at
first, but he comforted himself with the thought that the giants were
a good way off, and that if they came nearer he could easily hide among
the bushes. After watching them for a little, however, he began to get
over his alarm, and finally slid down the tree again, resolved to get
his gun and play some tricks with them.

When he had climbed back to his former position, he took good aim, and
waited till one of the giants was just in the act of putting a large
piece of meat into his mouth. Bang! went Niels' gun, and the bullet
struck the handle of the fork so hard that the point went into the
giant's chin, instead of his mouth.

'None of your tricks,' growled the giant to the one who sat next him.
'What do you mean by hitting my fork like that, and making me prick
myself?'

'I never touched your fork,' said the other. 'Don't try to get up a
quarrel with me.'

'Look at it, then,' said the first. 'Do you suppose I stuck it into my
own chin for fun?'

The two got so angry over the matter that each offered to fight the
other there and then, but the third giant acted as peace-maker, and they
again fell to their eating.

While the quarrel was going on, Niels had loaded the gun again, and
just as the second giant was about to put a nice tit-bit into his mouth,
bang! went the gun again, and the fork flew into a dozen pieces.

This giant was even more furious than the first had been, and words were
just coming to blows, when the third giant again interposed.

'Don't be fools,' he said to them; 'what's the good of beginning to
fight among ourselves, when it is so necessary for the three of us to
work together and get the upper hand over the king of this country. It
will be a hard enough task as it is, but it will be altogether hopeless
if we don't stick together. Sit down again, and let us finish our meal;
I shall sit between you, and then neither of you can blame the other.'

Niels was too far away to hear their talk, but from their gestures he
could guess what was happening, and thought it good fun.

'Thrice is lucky,' said he to himself; 'I'll have another shot yet.'

This time it was the third giant's fork that caught the bullet, and
snapped in two.

'Well,' said he, 'if I were as foolish as you two, I would also fly into
a rage, but I begin to see what time of day it is, and I'm going off
this minute to see who it is that's playing these tricks with us.'

So well had the giant made his observations, that though Niels climbed
down the tree as fast as he could, so as to hide among the bushes, he
had just got to the ground when the enemy was upon him.

'Stay where you are,' said the giant, 'or I'll put my foot on you, and
there won't be much of you left after that.'

Niels gave in, and the giant carried him back to his comrades.

'You don't deserve any mercy at our hands,' said his captor 'but as you
are such a good shot you may be of great use to us, so we shall spare
your life, if you will do us a service. Not far from here there stands a
castle, in which the king's daughter lives; we are at war with the king,
and want to get the upper hand of him by carrying off the princess, but
the castle is so well guarded that there is no getting into it. By our
skill in magic we have cast sleep on every living thing in the castle,
except a little black dog, and, as long as he is awake, we are no better
off than before; for, as soon as we begin to climb over the wall, the
little dog will hear us, and its barking will waken all the others
again. Having got you, we can place you where you will be able to shoot
the dog before it begins to bark, and then no one can hinder us from
getting the princess into our hands. If you do that, we shall not only
let you off, but reward you handsomely.'

Niels had to consent, and the giants set out for the castle at once.
It was surrounded by a very high rampart, so high that even the giants
could not touch the top of it. 'How am I to get over that?' said Niels.

'Quite easily,' said the third giant; 'I'll throw you up on it.'

'No, thanks,' said Niels. 'I might fall down on the other side, or break
my leg or neck, and then the little dog wouldn't get shot after all.'

'No fear of that,' said the giant; 'the rampart is quite wide on the
top, and covered with long grass, so that you will come down as softly
as though you fell on a feather-bed.'

Niels had to believe him, and allowed the giant to throw him up. He came
down on his feet quite unhurt, but the little black dog heard the dump,
and rushed out of its kennel at once. It was just opening its mouth to
bark, when Niels fired, and it fell dead on the spot.

'Go down on the inside now,' said the giant, 'and see if you can open
the gate to us.'

Niels made his way down into the courtyard, but on his way to the outer
gate he found himself at the entrance to the large hall of the castle.
The door was open, and the hall was brilliantly lighted, though there
was no one to be seen. Niels went in here and looked round him: on the
wall there hung a huge sword without a sheath, and beneath it was a
large drinking-horn, mounted with silver. Niels went closer to look at
these, and saw that the horn had letters engraved on the silver rim:
when he took it down and turned it round, he found that the inscription
was: -

Whoever drinks the wine I hold
Can wield the sword that hangs above;
Then let him use it for the right,
And win a royal maiden's love.

Niels took out the silver stopper of the horn, and drank some of the
wine, but when he tried to take down the sword he found himself unable
to move it. So he hung up the horn again, and went further in to the
castle. 'The giants can wait a little,' he said.

Before long he came to an apartment in which a beautiful princess lay
asleep in a bed, and on a table by her side there lay a gold-hemmed
handkerchief. Niels tore this in two, and put one half in his pocket,
leaving the other half on the table. On the floor he saw a pair of
gold-embroidered slippers, and one of these he also put in his pocket.
After that he went back to the hall, and took down the horn again.
'Perhaps I have to drink all that is in it before I can move the sword,'
he thought; so he put it to his lips again and drank till it was quite
empty. When he had done this, he could wield the sword with the greatest
of ease, and felt himself strong enough to do anything, even to fight
the giants he had left outside, who were no doubt wondering why he had
not opened the gate to them before this time. To kill the giants, he
thought, would be using the sword for the right; but as to winning
the love of the princess, that was a thing which the son of a poor
sheep-farmer need not hope for.

When Niels came to the gate of the castle, he found that there was a
large door and a small one, so he opened the latter.

'Can't you open the big door?' said the giants; 'we shall hardly be able
to get in at this one.'

'The bars are too heavy for me to draw,' said Niels; 'if you stoop a
little you can quite well come in here.' The first giant accordingly
bent down and entered in a stooping posture, but before he had time to
straighten his back again Niels made a sweep with the sword, and oft
went the giant's head. To push the body aside as it fell was quite easy
for Niels, so strong had the wine made him, and the second giant as he
entered met the same reception. The third was slower in coming, so Niels
called out to him: 'Be quick,' he said, 'you are surely the oldest of
the three, since you are so slow in your movements, but I can't wait
here long; I must get back to my own people as soon as possible.' So the
third also came in, and was served in the same way. It appears from the
story that giants were not given fair play!

By this time day was beginning to break, and Niels thought that his


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