There was once a man who was very wealthy and had seven wives, but he had no children. He thought to himself: "Here am I with all this wealth, but no children. What good is the world to me?" So he abandoned everything and went off.
When he had gone some way he sat down at a cross-roads, and when it was nearly sunset he saw a derwish approaching along the road. The newcomer spoke to him and said: "O man, why are you sitting here on the road. Tell me what your trouble is, so that I may see what ails you." "What business is it of yours?" said the man; "you've got a road, go on along it and attend to your own affairs." "By the glory of the One-ness of God," replied the Derwish, "if you tell me, you tell me, but if you don't tell me, I'll cut off your head. Very probably I can help you to get what you want."
"All right," said the other, "I'll tell you. I am a wealthy man, I have land and property and seven wives, but I have no children. It came into my mind that without children nothing is any good to me, so as I have now no use for all my wealth and property I have abandoned it and have come away to look for a place to live in by myself." The Derwish put his hand in his pocket and took out seven apples, "Take these," said he, "and carry them away and give them to your wives to eat, and you will become possessed of children."
The man rose up rejoicing and started off for his home, and the Derwish vanished from sight. When he arrived home the man divided the apples among his wives and they ate them. Now he had given one of the apples to his youngest wife, but she ate only half of it and put the other half down, intending to eat it later, but a sheep came along and ate it up.
After some months, as it chanced, all the wives had children, each one a son. Like the rest, the youngest wife also had a son, but he had only one arm and one leg, and so they gave him the name of Taling, which means One-Leg or Half-Boy. All the other boys were fine ordinary children. One day the eldest son made his preparations for a journey and set out in charge of a caravan. The party came to a cave, and there saw seven pots full of cooked ash standing on a fireplace. They went in and sat down. Then they saw a man's beard rising out of the ground. It came up and up till there were forty yards of it and a little more, and at last the owner of it too came up to the surface. Forty-Yards-and-One-Span-Beard was his name. "Come along," said he, "and let us wrestle. If you throw me to the ground, these seven pots will be yours, but if I throw you, then I will bind your hands and you will be my property." The eldest brother agreed to this, and they started wrestling.
The Div, for he was no less, picked him up and flung him to the ground, then he tied his hands with a hair of his beard, and collected all his belongings and took them into the cave. There the eldest brother saw a beautiful lady sitting bound with chains, and they brought him in too and put him also in chains. There were many other prisoners along with them, and every day Forty-Yards-and-One-Span-Beard used to kill one of them and roast him and eat him.
At last the owner of it too came up.
One by one the five other brothers came along in the same way, and each in turn was made prisoner. Then Taling's turn came to go out into the world. "Father," said he, "I want to go and look for my brothers." "My boy," said his father, "they had arms and legs and yet were able to do nothing. You have but one arm and one leg. Take my advice and don't go." "I must go," said Taling, and he made his preparations for the road and went off after his brothers.
In due course he arrived at the Div's cave, and he saw seven pots of ash standing on the fireplace. Then he saw a white beard coming up out of the ground; there were forty yards and one span of it, and the owner of it appeared and said: "Let us wrestle. If you throw me to the ground you must cut off my head and send it rolling down hill, and wherever it may go you must follow after it. But if I throw you, then all your property will become mine, and I will bind you and tie your hands." "Very good," said Taling, "we shall wrestle."
They got up and began to wrestle. Suddenly Taling called on the name of God, and heaved the Div up and flung him to the ground. Immediately he cut off his head and sent it rolling down hill. He followed it up till he came into the cave, where he found his brothers, along with a crowd of other prisoners. "O Brothers," said he, "how ever did you get caught?" Then he set them all free, and they dragged their loads of merchandise out into the open.
But the brothers were displeased at Taling's having succeeded where they had failed, and took counsel together, saying: "We really cannot show ourselves anywhere after this disgrace. What are we to do? Suppose we let Taling down into the pit where our property is, and then when we are pulling him up, cut the rope that is tied round his waist and let him fall down and be killed. Then no one will know of our disgrace."
Taling, however, happened to be listening behind a wall while his brothers were taking counsel. "God is good," said he to himself. Then he came up to his brothers, and they said: "Go down into the pit." When he got down he passed them up the yakdans or leather-covered chests. Finally, he got into one of the chests himself and said: "Pull this one up, and when you have secured it I will come up myself last of all." They hauled up the chest in which he was hidden, and then they pulled up the last box half way, and, in the belief that Taling was in it, cut the rope and it fell down into the pit.
"Brothers," they all exclaimed, "that's a good piece of work we've done." Then they loaded up their loads and went off. After some days they arrived home and their mothers joyfully welcomed them, but Taling's mother sat alone in deep grief. Their father asked: "But where, then, is Taling?" "We haven't seen him," said they.
Then they told great stories about themselves and their adventures and what they had done, how they had killed a Div and how they had captured a city. "God knows," said they, "where Taling has gone to." Just then Taling shouted out from the inside of the chest: "May God blacken your faces! I freed you from chains and you wished to throw me into a pit, the return you made for good was evil." Then the brothers were put to shame and hung their heads, but his mother cried out with pride: "It was my son who performed this wonderful deed!"
Then they gave themselves up to pleasure and enjoyment.
The story is ended.