Then the woman came and said to her husband: "Those pebbles we emptied out are bright and sparkling, and have lighted up the room like moonlight." "All right," said he, "take whatever sacks, bags, carpets, and cloths you can find and cover them up till morning."
When day came and they got up, they found that the pebbles were all most beautiful and wonderful precious stones. The Thorn-cutter said: "Well, wife, these are the gift of God. Get on your things and take one of these to the bazar and sell it." So she put on her outdoor trousers, her mantle and veil, and took one of the stones to the goldsmith's shop.
"What would you buy this for?" she asked. "Well, would you let me have it for ten tumans?" asked the goldsmith. "Brother, don't make a fool of me!" said the poor woman, who never in her life had had so much as ten qrans at a time. "Well, well, say twenty?" said the man. "Don't make fun of me," said she. So it went on to thirty and forty and at last a hundred tumans. "Will you sell it for a hundred tumans?" "Brother, I have prayed you not to make a fool of me; give me what it is worth and let me go." Then the jeweller took the stone and counted out a hundred tumans to her.
As soon as she had realised that all this money was hers she went and bought food of all sorts, not forgetting everything the daughter wanted for the date-cakes, and she took it all home. Then she came back again and bought all sorts of clothes and fine things in the bazar for her husband, her daughter, and herself. And, lastly, she bought a fine house, for they were very rich.
One day, some time after this, the daughter went up on the roof and saw a castle just opposite their house, which looked so wonderful that you would faint merely at the sight. She came down and began to plague and pester her father: "Daddy, I want a castle just like the one our neighbours opposite have got." "What nonsense you are talking, child!" said he; "that castle belongs to the King's Daughter, and you are the daughter of a thorn-cutter. How could you expect to have a castle as splendid as if you were the daughter of a king?' To this the daughter obstinately answered: "The same God Who gave wealth and riches to the King's Daughter has given also to me, and I want a castle as fine as hers."
So when the poor father saw that he hadn't the strength of mind to resist her, he gave in and began to build, and presently the castle was finished all but the roof, and they put on the roof and completed it.
One day the King's Daughter came to her castle, and looked and saw that some one had built another castle opposite hers, and just as handsome. She called all her servants and retainers and farrashes, and asked: "Who is it who has built this castle opposite mine?" They brought word: "A thorn-gatherer has built it for his daughter."
Then the Princess sent for the Thorn-cutter and said: "What right had you to build a fine castle like this just in front of mine? Why did you do it?" He hung his head and said: "May I be the sacrifice for your life, your Highness! God, who gave wealth and riches to the King, gave also to me, the Thorn-cutter, and I have only this one daughter. She begged and implored me to build her this castle, and I fulfilled her wish." "Well," said the King's Daughter, "now send your daughter to me."
The Thorn-cutter's Daughter came in with great pomp and ceremony, and the Princess noticed that the charm the girl was wearing round her neck had a large carbuncle in it and her amulet was set with a beautiful pair of carbuncles.
The two girls made friends, and sat the whole day together chatting, and made a plan to meet on the morrow and go for an excursion together. Next day the Thorn-gatherer's Daughter mounted her horse and the King's Daughter hers, and they went off to spend the day in a garden of the King's.
There they ate lunch together, and as there was a small lake they both undressed to have a bathe. The King's Daughter took off her necklace and hung it for safety in the fork of a tree, and they both went and played about in the lake. They played and splashed and enjoyed themselves till the afternoon, then they put on their clothes again and went home. At the cross-roads they said: "Good-bye, God be your keeper!" and each went to her own castle.
The next day came and the next, and suddenly the Princess wanted her necklace and found it wasn't there. She sent to the Thorn-cutter's Daughter to say: "You stole my necklace." The girl vowed solemnly: "I did not steal it, I never saw it." "That sort of talk is of no use," said the King's Daughter, and she sent and they cast the Thorn-gatherer into prison, and they seized his house and his castle, his goods and everything that he had.
Now it happened one fine day that it was Friday Eve. The poor Thorn-cutter was sitting miserably in prison with his feet in the stocks, when he remembered and said to himself: "O thou forgetful and ungrateful one! See, now, the horseman said: 'Every Friday Eve tell the tale of Mushkil Gusha, and keep the fast of Mushkil Gusha, and distribute as alms the dates of Mushkil Gusha,' and I, ungrateful, I did none of these things!"
And there beside the stocks which were fastened round his ankles he saw a tiny rusty copper coin. At that moment a horseman happened to be coming along; the Thorn-cutter called out to him and said: "Father, come and take this 'coin, and go buy pease and raisins, and come back and I'll tell you the story of Mushkil Gusha, the Remover of Difficulties, and we will eat the raisins and pease together." "Get out of that, you son of an evil mother!" exclaimed the stranger; "am I to get down from my horse, forsooth, and take a rusty coin from you and go buy pease and raisins for you, and come and sit at your feet while you tell me the story of Mushkil Gusha? A pretty piece of insolence! You must be a wonderful fool!" "All right, Father," the Thorn-gatherer answered, "God break your bones and your horse's bones!" On rode the stranger, but he had only gone a few paces when his horse fell and broke its leg and he broke his arm. And now we are done with him.
They played about in the lake.
Now there was a poor old man whose only child was lying at the point of death, and he had come to the bazar to buy a shroud for the boy and take it home, so that the lad could die in peace. Just as he came past the prison the Thorn-cutter called him and said: "Come and take this rusty coin, and go for me to the bazar and buy pease and raisins, and come back and I'll tell you the tale of Mushkil Gusha and we'll eat them together." The poor father thought for a moment and said to himself: "After all, if the child is dead, he's dead, and if not, I may as well satisfy this poor fellow for an hour." So he came and took the coin, and went and fetched the pease and raisins, and returned and sat down beside the Thorn-gatherer, who told him the whole story of Mushkil Gusha, and they ate the pease and raisins together.
Then the old man stood up and said: "Now I must go home to my house and see whether my child is alive or dead." When he came to his own door he stopped to listen, and heard the sound of a child's voice. He went in and found his boy walking about alive and well, and he said to the mother: "How has this happened?" "I don't know," said she; "some little time after you had gone he began to improve, and little by little he was able to speak, and he got well and now he is running about as you see."
Now hear about the King's Daughter. One day her slave-woman went to fetch water from that garden of the King's. As she drew near the lake she saw the necklace of her mistress in the water. She put out her hand again and again, but could not reach it, though she could see it all the time. Then God, who is the God of the whole world, willed that she should sneeze. She lifted up her eyes as she sneezed, and there she saw the necklace hanging in the very fork of the tree where the Princess herself had thrown it.
She threw down her water-pots, and ran as fast as ever she could to her mistress and said: "See, Lady, in vain have you thrown the poor Thorn-cutter and his daughter into prison! Your necklace is hanging in the very fork of the tree where you must have put it yourself."
Then the King's Daughter sent her own old white-haired nurse and said: "Go to the garden and see if the slave-woman speaks true." They went and looked and saw - there was the necklace hanging in the tree! And they brought it back to their mistress.
Then she sent speedily and took the Thorn-gatherer out of prison, and gave him back his house and his castle, his goods and all that he had had.
May God who granted the Thorn-cutter's desire Grant also the desires of all mankind!
Hail, Mushkil Gusha!
And now my story has come to an end, but the sparrow never got home.