There was once a man who was forced by poverty to go and work as a common labourer. This continued for a number of years, and all the time he was toiling hard. At last he came into possession of one hundred tumans, and he put them in a bag and took the bag on his shoulder and set out to return to his home.
Night overtook him in the desert, and he halted and lay down to sleep under a tree. He put the money under his head and went to sleep. Now some one came along and carried off his money while he slept. In the morning, while he was still looking about for it, two men came up and said to him: "What's the matter?" "I had a hundred tumans," he replied. "They were under my head, and a thief has gone off with them."
"Let us cast the divining earth for the money," said one of them, "and find out where it has gone to." "Well, if I get the money back," said the Labourer, "I'll give you something out of it." So they cast the divining earth, and one of the diviners said: "Your money is in a hamban" and the second said:
"To recover your hamban, Seek the town of Hamadan And the house of Ramazan, Who dwells amidst the misgeran."
Then they proceeded together to seek the quarter of the misgeran, or coppersmiths, and the house of Ramazan. Having arrived in Hamadan, they asked a passer-by which was the house, and the man went in front of them and pointed it out to them. They went into Ramazan's house and said: "You've stolen our money."
"Uncles,"l said Ramazan, "how can you say that I have stolen your money?" - "We cast the divining earth and found that it was your doing." On this they started quarrelling, and the travellers went off to the Governor and complained to him, saying: "We had a hundred tumans and this man stole them. Order him now to return us our money."
But Ramazan denied the charge: "O Governor," said he, "in a city of this size, is it likely I should have stolen their money?" "Go away till to-morrow," said the Governor, " and I will hold a trial by wager. If you win the wager, I will recover your money and return it to you; but if you fail to answer the riddle I shall set, I will have you mutilated."
Then the Governor dismissed the parties and gave orders to his servants, and they procured a load of oranges and pears and lemons and put them in a sack. The next morning the men presented themselves again, and the Governor said: "If you can say what these things in the "Round things, round as a ball are these, But balls they are not, for God decrees That sight and taste alike they please."
1 They weren't really his uncles. That was only Ramazan's polite way of speaking. Bakhtiaris use the word "uncle" as we use "sir" or "friend." bag are, then Ramazan has stolen your money, but if you cannot tell what they are, then your claim will be dismissed." One of the men picked up the bag and said:
Then he put them down on the ground, and it was his friend's turn. He too picked them up and said:
"Round things, round as a ball are these,
Sight and taste alike they please,
Oranges, lemons, and pears from the trees."
So it was proved that Ramazan had stolen the money,1 and the Governor passed orders, and he had to pay the claimants' two hundred tumans, and the Governor himself also gave them a hundred tumans.
Then they divided the money amongst-them and went away, each to his own home, and the man who had been a labourer began to trade, and gradually he became a merchant, and he bought land and cows and sheep, and his affairs prospered greatly.
1 Query: Was Ramazan really guilty?