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Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales [1913], at

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The Imp of the Well

HE incident I am going to relate happened a very long time ago. We were on a journey, and we went up hill and down dale six months without interruption, and on looking backward we found we had travelled the length of a barley-stalk. Setting off again, we wandered on until we came to the garden of the Padishah of Chinimatchin. We entered; there stood a miller grinding meal, a cat by his side. The cat--oh, its eyes! The cat--oh, its nose! The cat--oh, its mouth! The cat--oh, its forelegs! The cat oh, its hind-legs! The cat--oh, its throat! The cat--oh, its ears! The cat--oh, its whiskers! The cat--oh, its long tail!

Near by lived a wood cutter who, besides his poverty, had nothing but a most cantankerous

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wife. All the money this poor man earned, his wife took from him, so that he had never a single para for himself. When the supper was too salt--and this happened very often--if the man dared to say, "You have oversalted the food, mother!" he might be quite certain that the next day there would not be so much as a pinch of salt in it.
She got upon an ass and set off after him
Now if he dared to say, "You have forgotten the salt, mother!" on the following day it would be so salt that he would be unable to eat it. It once happened to this poor man that he kept back a piastre from his wages, intending to buy a rope. His wife found this out, and began to scold him furiously. "But, my dear," said the woodcutter gently, "I only wanted the money to buy a rope. Do not be so violent." "What I have done to you hitherto is as nothing to what I intend to do," snapped the woman, and sprang at him, whereon a great uproar ensued, and how either escaped with their life is more than I can understand.

Next morning the husband, determined to endure it no longer, saddled an ass and went into the mountains. All he said to his wife was that she must not follow him. He had not been gone long, however, before she also got upon an ass and set off after him. "Who knows," she mumbled to herself, "what he will be up to if I am not with him?" Presently the man became aware that his wife was behind him, but he pretended not to

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notice her. When he arrived in the mountains he immediately set to work woodcutting. The woman walked to and fro restlessly, examining every nook and corner; only an old well escaped her vigilant eye, and she was upon it before anyone could have stopped her. "Take care!" shouted her husband; "mind the well! Come back!" But the woman paid no heed to the warning, though she heard well enough. Another step, she last her balance, then presto! she found herself at the bottom of the well. Her husband, deciding she was not worth troubling about further, bestrode his ass and went home.

Next day he returned to his work in the mountains, and, thinking of his wife, he said to himself: "I will just see what has happened to the poor woman." Going to the top of the well he peeped down, but could see no trace of her. He now repented his unfeeling conduct of the previous day, reflecting that, though a shrew, she was after all his wife. What could have become of her? He took a rope, let it down the well, and shouted: "Take hold of the rope, mother, and I will pull you up." Presently the man perceived by the tightening of the rope that some one had grasped it, and he commenced to haul with all his might. He pulled away until he was nearly exhausted, and brought to the surface---a horrible imp! The miserable woodcutter was terribly frightened. "Fear me not, poor man," said the imp. "May the Almighty bless you for your deed. You have rescued me from great peril, and I shall always remember your kindness." Astounded, the poor man inquired the nature of the peril from which he had chanced to rescue the imp.

"For many years," answered the imp, "I had lived peacefully in this old well. Until last night nothing had ever happened to disturb the calm of my existence. Then an old woman fell down upon me. She seized me by the ears, and held on so tightly that I could not free myself from her grasp. By good fortune, when you let down the rope, I was the first to seize it--praised be the most merciful Allah! For your kindness I will reward you."

So saying, the imp brought forth three leaves, and gave them to the wood.

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cutter. "I will now creep into the Sultan's daughter," he proceeded. "She will then become very ill. They will send for physicians and hodjas, but all will be in vain. When you hear of it, go to the Padishah, and produce these three leaves. As soon as you touch her face with them I will come out of her; she will be restored to health, and you will be richly rewarded."

The woodcutter, who considered this a capital plan, now parted from the imp, and gave no further thought to his wife in the well.

No sooner had the imp left the woodcutter than he went direct to the palace of the Padishah, and crept into the Sultan's daughter. The poor Princess broke out into loud and constant cries of "My head! Oh, my head!" The monarch, being told of this sudden malady, visited his afflicted daughter, and was grieved to find her in such dreadful pain. Physicians and hodjas without number were sent for, but all their skill was of no avail; the maiden continued to shriek, " Oh, my head!" "My darling," said her father, "hearing your cries of suffering causes me pain almost as great as your own. What can be done? I will call the astrologers perhaps they can tell us." All the most famous astrologers of the land came, consulted

She seized him by the ears

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the stars, and prescribed each a different medicine; but the Princess grew worse and worse.

O return to the woodcutter. He managed quite well without his wife, and soon forgot her. He had nearly forgotten the imp and the leaves as well, when one day he heard the Padishah's proclamation. "My daughter is sick unto death," it ran. "Physicians, hodjas, and astrologers have failed to heal her. Whoever can render help, let him come and render it. If he be a Mussulman he shall receive my daughter in marriage now, and my kingdom at my death; or, if he be an unbeliever, all the treasures of my kingdom shall be his."

This reminded the woodcutter of the imp and the three leaves. He went to the palace and undertook by the aid of Allah to cure the Princess. The Padishah led him without delay into the chamber of his sick daughter, who was still crying, "Oh, my head! my head!" The woodcutter produced the three leaves, moistened them, and pressed them on the patient's forehead, when the pain instantly departed and she was as well as though she had never known illness. Then there was great rejoicing in the serai. The Sultan's daughter became the bride of the poor wood cutter, who was henceforth the Padishah's son-in-law.

Our Padishah had a good friend in the Padishah of the adjoining kingdom, whose daughter also was in the power of the Imp of the Well. She suffered from the same complaint, and the physicians and hodjas were just as helpless in her case as in the other. Now our Padishah informed his friend of his own good fortune and offered to send his son-in-law, who, by the grace of Allah, would no doubt be able to restore the daughter of his friend.

Accordingly the Padishah made known to his son-in-law what he desired. Though the latter had great misgiving, he could not well refuse; so he set forth on his journey to the court of the neighbouring country. Immediately on arrival he was taken to the sick Princess, and soon realised that he had again to do with the Imp of the Well.

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That was enough to frighten the imp
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That was enough to frighten the imp

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"Once you did me a favour," said the imp, "but now you cannot say I am your debtor. I delivered the Sultan's daughter into your hands and sought another for myself; would you take this one also from me? If you do, I will take your Princess from you."

The poor man was terribly perplexed, but resolved to try the effect of a trick. "I have not come for the maid," said he, "she is your lawful property; if you wish you may have mine also." ''Then what do you here?" demanded the imp. "The woman--the woman in the well," groaned the former woodcutter, "she was my wife; I left her in the well to be rid of her." The imp showed signs of uneasiness, and asked: "Has she got out of the well?" "yes, more's the pity!" sighed the man. "She follows me about wherever I go. Now she is there behind the door!" That was enough to frighten the imp; he lost no time in quitting the Sultan's daughter. He left the town in all haste, without waiting to learn if the woodcutter spoke the truth, and was never heard of again. Thus the Princess recovered and henceforth lived very happily.

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