Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales , at sacred-texts.com
The young man took up his father's work and felled trees for his livelihood. Being one day in the neighbourhood of the forbidden tree, he found himself wondering what could be the reason for it being spared while all
Next day he descended to find that nothing
was left of his ass but its bones. "No matter, I must go on foot," said the woodcutter, and ran after the tree. He followed it all day, but could not overtake it. On the third day he was preparing to follow it again, when suddenly he came upon a snake and an elephant fighting. He stood and watched the combat until it ended in the snake swallowing the elephant. The snake got it down, but the tusks stuck in its throat. Both beast and reptile saw the young man, and both appealed to him for assistance. The elephant promised him everything possible if only he would kill the snake. On the other hand, the snake said: "Break off his tusks; that task is easier and the reward will be greater." Thinking that was the most sensible thing to do, the youth struck off the tusks with his hatchet. The snake was extremely
grateful for the service rendered, and told the young man to come with him and receive the promised reward.
Stopping at a spring on the way, the snake said to his companion: "Remain here while I take a bath; and whatever happens, fear not."
Hardly had the snake glided into the water when a fearful hurricane arose; lightning flashed and thunder rolled, as though the end of the world had come. Soon, however, all became calm again; the snake emerged from the water in the form of a man, and they pursued their journey.
They travelled merrily along, drinking coffee, smoking their chibouques, and sowing violets, until, when they were nearly at home, the Snake-peri said to the young man: "Soon we shall arrive at the house of my mother. When she opens the door I shall address you as 'Brother,' and call you into the house. You will be offered coffee, but accept it not; food will be set before you, but do not touch it. By the gate you will find a small piece of mirror; request my mother to give it to you."
They reached the house, and as the peri knocked at the door, his mother herself opened it. "Come in, brother," he said to the young man. "Who is your brother?" inquired his mother. "One who has saved my life," replied the peri, and told his mother what had happened. They entered the house, and the woman offered coffee and a chibouque to the young man, but he did not accept them. "I am in a hurry," said he in excuse; "I cannot remain here." "At least rest awhile," suggested the woman; "we cannot allow a guest to go without taking something." "I need nothing," answered he. "But by the gate is a small piece of mirror; if you will offer me that, I will accept it." The woman was not disposed to give it, but her son was angry that she should refuse such a trifling thing to the preserver of his life; therefore she gave it--but unwillingly.
The youth's curiosity was now aroused about the piece of mirror; he took it out again and looked at it. Immediately the Arab was before him, saying: "your command, my Sultan!"
In his confusion the young man stammered out something about a palace, and behold! there rose up before him an edifice much more magnificent than the Padishah inhabited. "Take it away," said the youth, and the palace instantly disappeared. He was now very proud of his wonderful possession,
and thought of nothing but what he should wish for next. He remembered that the Padishah had a lovely daughter, and at once he looked in the mirror. "Your command, my Sultan!" exclaimed the thick-lipped Arab; and the youth ordered a magnificent palace with the Padishah's daughter her self in it. Hardly had he uttered the wish, when he found himself in the palace and the Princess sitting by his side. They embraced, and kissed each other, and were as happy as the days were long.
In the meantime the Padishah was informed of the mysterious disappearance of his daughter. He commanded search to be made for her throughout the land, but all in vain; it was impossible to find her. Then came an old woman who advised the Padishah to have a box made, lined with tin. Into this he must put the old woman and cast her into the sea. She promised to find the Princess, either on this side of the ocean or on the other.
The box was accordingly made, and well supplied with food, then the old woman was enclosed and thrown into the sea. Borne on the crest of the billows, the box at length was cast up on the shore of the city where was the palace of the young man and the Sultan' s daughter. Some fishermen who
were standing on the beach saw the box, and throwing out hooks and ropes, they dragged it ashore. As soon as they opened it, out jumped the old woman, and in answer to the inquiry whence she came, she said: "May my enemy be struck blind!--I have not deserved such treatment." As she wept, every one believed that she was a cruelly used old woman. "Where is the Bey of this city?" she asked; "perchance he will pity me and give me shelter in his house." The onlookers showed her the way to the palace and encouraged her to believe that there she would meet with aid.
Arrived at the palace she knocked at the door, and the Princess called from above asking what she wanted. The old woman recognised the voice, but as though she were a stranger she begged to be taken in as a domestic servant. "My husband will be home this evening," answered the Princess; "till then remain in the corner." When the master came he gave orders that the old woman should be taken into his service.
Though the old woman had been several weeks in the palace she had never once seen a cook or a servant of any sort, yet the richest and costliest foods were served up and the most scrupulous cleanliness prevailed everywhere. One day she ventured to ask the Princess whether she did not feel lonely, and suggested: "With your permission, I would spend some of the time in your company; that were surely better." "I will speak with my husband on the matter," answered the Princess. The youth offering no objection, the old woman now daily spent a considerable time in the Princess's private apartment. One day the former made bold to ask whence came the food and where were the servants. As the Princess was unaware of the existence of the mirror she could not say. "Ask your husband," suggested the old woman, and when he came home the Princess was so amiable with him that he showed her his treasure.
This was not sufficient, however, for two or three days later the old woman advised her mistress to ask her husband to give her the mirror, to amuse herself with during his absence. He could refuse her nothing, and so he gave it to her.
He wandered so long and so far that at length he reached the town where dwelt the Padishah, his father-in-law. He went to the palace kitchen and begged the cook to employ him; this was done out of pity for his destitute condition. After a few days he learnt from his fellow-servants that the Sultan's daughter had returned home after a mysterious absence.
One day the cook was taken ill, and the young woodcutter offered to take his place. The cook gratefully accepted the offer and explained his duties. Everything was done satisfactorily, only, when sending in the dishes, the temporary cook laid the broken food he had picked up at his ruined home on the Princess's plate. When she saw it she realised that her husband was somewhere close at hand. She sent for the cook and asked who was with him in the kitchen. At first he denied but finally admitted that a young man was assisting him. The Princess now hastened to her father and told him that in the kitchen was a young servant who made such delicious coffee that she desired to have him for her own coffeemaker. Henceforth he made the coffee and took it up
The young man visited the Princess so often and remained with her so long at a time that the old woman's suspicions were aroused. To be brief, she looked into the mirror and had him carried off to the ashes of his former palace. He found his cat still there, she having kept herself alive by catching and eating mice.
She had devoured such an army of mice, however, that the Mouse. Padishah had not enough soldiers left to defend his realm. The King of the Mice was much concerned about it, but none of them dared approach the cat on the subject.
One day he saw the young man and begged his aid to save his kingdom from ruin. "I would gladly help you," returned the youth, "but I myself am bowed down with grief." "What troubles you?" asked the Mouse-Padishah. The woodcutter's son now told him the story of the mirror that had been stolen from him by the old woman. "That matter can be rectified without difficulty," the Mouse-Padishah assured him, Calling all his mice together, he asked which of them inhabited the palace and whether they knew where the mirror was hidden. An old lame mouse limped up, bowed low, and kissing the earth before the Padishah, said he had seen the mirror, which the old woman placed under the pillow every night.
The Padishah ordered him to obtain possession of it without delay.
Click to enlarge
Two of his companions offered to accompany him, and as he was so old and infirm they carried him on their backs to the palace. It was night when they arrived, and the old woman had just eaten a good supper. "We are in nice time for a feed," said the lame mouse, as they entered the room. They ate their fill, and awaited an opportunity to accomplish their object. When the old woman had gone to bed they waited patiently until she was fast asleep. Then the lame mouse climbed upon the bed and tickled the old woman's nose with his tail until she sneezed so violently that her head nearly fell from her body. While this was happening the other mice dislodged the mirror from under the pillow; after which they took the lame mouse on their backs again and scurried away.
The youth, delighted to have recovered his cherished mirror, took up his cat, that she might not harm his friends the mice, and withdrew.
Now he took out the mirror and glanced at it. Instantly the Arab stood before him. "Your command, my Sultan?" he asked. The youth requested a suit of cloth-of-gold and a mighty army. Turning round next moment he saw the raiment ready to hand, and he put it on. A prancing steed stood before him, and when he had mounted it an immense army followed him. Thus he entered his native town in triumph. He drew up before the palace gates and his soldiers formed a cordon round the building. When the Padishah saw the invading host he trembled for his life and throne.
The youth approached the monarch and assured him that there was no cause for fear if he would give him his daughter in marriage. Overwhelmed with joyful surprise the Padishah was willing to give the young man, not only his daughter, but even his kingdom as well. The old woman was dragged off by the thick-lipped Arab; and the lovers lived happily ever after--never parting with the piece of mirror, which proved to be their help in every need.