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Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales [1913], at

p. 342

The Beautiful Helwa Maiden

HERE once lived a poor combmaker who said to his wife one day: "Give me a few paras, and I will take my stock of combs into a coffee-house. Perchance I may sell five or six of them and bring home the proceeds."

Going into the coffee-house he sat down, and while he was drinking his coffee and thinking over the problem of his precarious existence, several merchants came in and began to inquire for a combmaker. At this the combmaker got up and produced his combs for the merchants' inspection. His wares evidently gave satisfaction, for besides disposing of all he had with him he secured an order for a thousand more. Delighted with his luck the combmaker went home, and in the course of a couple of months the thousand combs were ready for delivery. He took them to the merchants, and received the price agreed upon, with a handsome present into the bargain.

The combmaker was now no longer poor indeed he was a rich man, and he proposed to his wife that they should make a pilgrimage to the Prophet's Tomb at Hedjaz. "By all means let us go," answered his wife; "but we cannot take our daughter with us." "We

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will leave her in the care of the hodja," said the combmaker; "he is a very well-disposed person." Thus the matter was settled, and they prepared for their long journey, taking only their young son with them and leaving their daughter in the good hands (as they believed) of the hodja.

It happened that the hodja, in whose house the combmaker and his wife had placed their daughter, was envious of the combmaker's success, and secretly had long wished to injure him. Now he determined to kill the girl left in his charge, but he wished her death to appear an accident. It being the custom of that land for every one to visit daily the great bath houses of the city, he thought it would be easy to get the girl to one of these baths and quietly drown her.

Going to the bathhouse, he pressed a couple of gold-pieces into the palm of the bath-woman, and induced her to persuade the girl to bathe there. Accordingly on the following day the bath-woman appeared at the hodja's house and said to the girl: "Why dost thou not go sometimes to the bath?"

"Because I have no one to accompany me," replied the girl.

"Come with me, then," rejoined the woman, "and I will assist thee." Thus they went together to the bath. The woman took her to the hot-air bath and--called in the hodja.

When the poor girl caught sight of the hodja she began to comprehend that she had fallen into a trap, but, determined not to betray any embarrassment, she greeted the hodja: "I am glad thou art come; I will help thee to wash thy head." And she soaped him to such purpose that, when she had done with him, his head could not be seen for lather. Then taking off her heavy wooden clogs and tying them together with a bath-towel, the girl thrashed the hodja so mercilessly therewith that he could not afterward stir for bruises. The girl hurriedly escaped and ran all the way back to the house of her parents.

By and by the hodja recovered consciousness, wiped the soap from his head, dressed himself, and also went home. For more than a week after

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he still felt the effects of his punishment. Then in revenge he wrote a letter to the girl's parents, in which he stated that she had run away from his care after stealing money from him.

When in due time the parents received the letter they were naturally very shocked and angry. They charged their son to return home with all speed, take the dishonoured girl to the top of a hill and kill her, bringing back her bloodstained clothes in token that he had fulfilled his mission.

The young man appeared and, seizing his sister, took her to the hilltop. However, he had not the heart to put her to death, but set her free to go whither she would; while, to save appearances, he cut his foot slightly and dyed his sister's garments with the blood that flowed from the wound. These he took back to his parents.
His head could not be seen for the lather

After her brother had left her the maiden set off in an opposite direction, wandering over mountains, across plains, and through valleys until she came to a spring. While resting she saw the Padishah of that country hunting with his Vezir; and, fearing them, she climbed a tree, hiding herself amidst the foliage.

The two huntsmen came to the spot, and the Padishah said to the other: "Vezir, I will undertake an abdest here and say many prayers. While praying

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the Padishah lifted up his head and saw the maiden in the tree; she seemed to him as beautiful as the noonday sun. His devotions finished, he turned to his Vezir and exclaimed: "I have already unearthed my quarry!" Casting his eyes up to the girl, he asked: "Art thou an in or a jin?"

"Neither in nor jin, but a child of the dust like thyself," was the answer.

The Padishah begged her to descend, which she did, and they returned to the palace together, where, with three days and nights of merrymaking, they became husband and wife.

One day she related to the Padishah the story of her life, and at the same time told him how she longed to see her parents and her brother once more. The Padishah sympathized with her, and ordered preparations to be made for her journey. He sent her in charge of his Vezir, instructing him to bring the Sultana's parents back with him if they were willing to come. On the day fixed the Sultana set out, accompanied-by the Vezir and a strong escort of soldiers.

After travelling many days they arrived at the foot of a hill, where they decided to pitch their tents for the night. At midnight the Vezir entered the Sultana's tent and said: "Thou belongest to me as well as to the Padishah, for we both found thee. Since thou hast married the Padishah rather than me, I will kill thee."

The poor Sultana begged him, before he put her to death, to allow her to retire for a few moments' prayer. He gave the required permission, but to provide against her escape fastened a rope round her waist. Bound as she was she retired into another compartment of the tent, where, favoured by Providence, she was able to release herself and flee.

Meanwhile the Vezir became tired of waiting and went to seek the woman. What was his surprise to find the rope bound round a stone, but of the Sultana no trace! He roused his soldiers from their sleep and made up for them an ingenious account of how the Sultana had endeavoured to

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murder him, and then escaped. It was resolved to strike tents and return to their own country.

The Vezir found the rope bound round a stone
The fugitive Sultana hastened on in the direction of her parents' home. Meeting a shepherd, she begged him to lend her a suit of men's clothing in exchange for her own rich attire. The shepherd raised no objections to making such a good bargain. Disguised now as a young man, the Sultana entered a shop where helwa was made and sold, and applied for the post of assistant. She was taken on, and the report soon spread that the helwa-shop had a handsome new assistant who was very clever in making that favourite sweetmeat. The Sultana's father had by this time retired from business as a comb maker and opened a coffeehouse. He was among those who came often to the helwa-shop to see the famous new assistant. The disguised helwa-maker knew her father in a moment, but it was no surprising matter that he did not recognize his daughter.

We will now return to the Padishah. Since the false Vezir had returned with his lying report the Padishah had known no peace. He was continually brooding over the loss of his wife, sighing and groaning and weeping. "I want my wife, Vezir," he said one day. "I must seek her, or I die." The Vezir protested in vain. The Padishah, taking the Vezir with him, quitted the palace and set out in search of the Sultana.

After long wandering they reached the place where she was actually

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sojourning; and being tired and hungry, inquired for an inn. They were informed there was no inn in the place, there was, how. ever, a shop where a young man sold the most excellent helwa ever eaten.

The Padishah and the Vezir resolved to try this much-praised establishment, and wended their way thither. As soon as they entered the shop the Sultana knew them both, but they failed to recognize her in the handsome young shopman. "Here, young man, let me taste thy helwa," said the Padishah, putting down several paras. "If, my lord," said the assistant, "thou wilt remain here all night, I will make helwa especially for thee, and besides will relate to thee a strange story." Drawn unaccountably to the handsome young shopman, the Padishah willingly consented to remain and listen to what the youth had to say.

A "helwa evening" had been planned to take place in the town, and the clever young helwa-maker was asked to come and prepare the cakes for the occasion. "I would gladly do so, but I have guests," was the helwa-maker's reply to the invitation. Not to be denied, the deputation returned. "Bring thy guests with thee," they said; " we shall be happy to welcome them and accord them places of honour."

Thus it was arranged, and in the evening all three repaired to the helwa feast. Places were chosen, and for the present the helwa-maker disappeared into the kitchen to prepare the cakes.

When all was ready she appeared again with plates and a mangal in her hands and went among the guests, recognizing in the gathering, besides the Padishah and the Vezir, her father, her brother, and the hodja.

While distributing the helwa she spoke as follows: "As we are here for entertainment, let each of us tell a little story out of his own life." Conversation began, and many interesting personal reminiscences were

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''Forty knives for our enemies, for ourselves forty mules,'' they answered
related. Then it came to the turn of the helwa-maker, who before beginning her narration imposed the condition that no one should leave the room during the recital. "If anyone must go," said she, "let him do so now." "Begin," said the audience; "no one shall quit his place."

Taking her seat before the closed door she commenced her story. She began with her visit to the bath--at which the hodja declared he felt rather unwell and must go out into the fresh air. "Sit down," commanded the storyteller with a flash of scorn. Then continuing, she described the atrocious conduct of the Vezir.

As the Padishah listened spellbound, his eyes filled with tears, for he as well as the Vezir, the hodja, her father and her brother, all understood the story. Concluding the narration of the great wrongs she had suffered, she exclaimed: "Know thou, O my hearers, that this Vezir and the hodja were my enemies; they are in this company tonight, as are also my father and my brother and my husband, the Padishah." At these words she ran towards her husband, who clasped her in his arms, weeping tears of joy.

Next day the Padishah summoned the Vezir and the hodja to his presence and asked whether they preferred forty mules or forty knives. They answered: "Forty knives for our enemies; for ourselves, forty

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''Sit down,'' commanded the story-teller
Click to enlarge

''Sit down,'' commanded the story-teller

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mules." Whereupon they were bound fast to forty mules, which rent them asunder, and so there was an end of them.

After a happy sojourn at her old home with her parents and brother, the Sultana and her husband returned to their palace to begin life anew after the long period of affliction and cruel separation from each other.

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