There waa once a poor woman who had one daughter, and this poor woman used to go out and wash linen, while her daughter remained at home at her working-table. One day she was sitting by the window as was her wont, when a little bird flew on to the sewing-table and said to the damsel: "Oh, little damsel, poor little damsel! death is thy Kismet! "1 whereupon it flew away again. From that hour the damsel's peace of mind was gone, and in the evening she told her mother what the bird had said to her. "Close the door and the window," said her mother, "and sit at thy work as usual."
So the next morning she closed the door and the window and sat her down at her work. But all at once there came a "Whirr-r-r-r!" and there was the little bird again on the work-table. "Oh, little damsel, poor little damsel! death is thy Kismet," and with that it flew away again. The damsel was more and more terrified than ever at these words, but her mother comforted her again: "To-morrow," said she, "close fast the door and the window, and get into the cupboard. There light a candle, and go on with thy work!"
Scarcely had her mother departed with the dawn than the girl closed up everything, lit a candle, and locked herself in the cupboard with her work-table. But scarcely had she stitched two stitches when the bird stood before her again, and said: "Oh, little damsel, poor little damsel! death is thy Kismet!" and whirr-r-r-r! it flew away again. The damsel was in such distress that she scarce knew where she was. She threw her work aside, and began tormenting herself as to what this saying might mean. Her mother, too, could not get to the bottom of the matter, so she remained at home the next day, that she also might see the bird, but the bird did not come again.
So their sorrow was perpetual, and all the joy of their life was gone. They never stirred from the house but watched and waited continually, if perchance the bird might come again. One day the damsels of their neighbour came to them and asked the woman to let her daughter go with them. "If she went for a little outing," said they, "she might forget her trouble." The woman did not like to let her go, but they promised to take great care of her and not to lose sight of her, so at last she let her go.
So the damsels went into the fields and danced and diverted themselves till the day was on the decline. On the way home they sat down by a well and began to drink out of it. The poor woman's daughter also went to drink of the water, when lo! a wall rose up between her and the other damsels, but such a wall as never the eye of man yet beheld. A voice could not get beyond it, it was so high, and a man could not get through it, it was so hard. Oh, how terrified was the poor woman's daughter, and what weeping and wailing and despair there was among her comrades. What would become of the poor girl, and what would become of her poor mother!
"I will not tell," said one of them, "for she will not believe us! " - "But what shall we say to her mother," cried another, "now that she has disappeared from before our eyes? " - "It is thy fault, it is thy fault!" "Twas thou that asked her!" "No, 'twas thou." So they fell to blaming each other, looking all the time at the great wall.
Meanwhile the mother was awaiting her daughter. She stood at the door of the house and watched the damsels coming. The damsels came weeping sore, and scarce dared to tell the poor woman what had befallen her daughter. The woman rushed to the great wall, her daughter was inside it and she herself was outside, and so they wept and wailed so long as either of them had a tear to flow.
The Poor Woman and the Three Damsels. - p. 190.
In the midst of this great weeping the damsel fell asleep, and when she woke up next morning she saw a great door beside the wall. "Happen to me what may, if I am to perish, let me perish, but open this door I will!" - so she opened it. Beyond the door was a beautiful palace, the like of which is not to be seen even in dreams. This palace had a vast hall, and on the wall of this hall hung forty keys. The damsel took the keys and began opening the doors of all the rooms around her, and the first set of rooms was full of silver, and the second set full of gold, and the third set full of diamonds, and the fourth set full of emeralds - in a word, each set of rooms was full of stones more precious than the precious things of the rooms before it, so that the eyes of the damsel were almost blinded by their splendour.
She entered the fortieth room, and there, extended on the floor, was a beautiful Bey, with a fan of pearls beside him, and on his breast a piece of paper with these words written on it: "Whoever fans me for forty days and prays all that time by my side will find her Kismet!" Then the damsel thought of the little bird. So it was by the side of this sleeper that she was to meet her fate! So she made her ablutions, and, taking the fan in her hand, she sat down beside the Bey. Day and night she kept on fanning him, praying continually till the fortieth day was at hand. And on the morning of the last day she peeped out of the window and beheld a negro girl in front of the palace. Then she thought she would call this girl for a moment and ask her to pray beside the Bey, while she herself made her ablutions and took a little repose. So she called the negro girl and set her beside the Bey, that she might pray beside him and fan his face. But the damsel hastened away and made her ablutions and adorned herself, so that the Bey, when he awoke, might see his life's Kismet at her best and rejoice at the sight.
Meanwhile the black girl read the piece of paper, and while the white damsel tarried the youth awoke. He looked about him, and scarcely did he see the black girl than he embraced her and called her his wife. The poor white damsel could scarce believe her own eyes when she entered the room; but the black girl, who was jealous of her, said to the Bey: "I, a Sultan's daughter, am not ashamed to go about just as I am, and this chit of a serving-maid dares to appear before me arrayed so finely!" Then she chased her out of the room, and sent her to the kitchen to finish her work and boil and fry. The Bey was surprised, but he would not say a word, for the negro girl was his bride, while the other damsel was only a kitchen-wench.
Now the Feast of Bairam fell about this time, and as is the custom at such times, the Bey would fain have given gifts to them of his household. So he went to the negress and asked her what she would like on the Feast of Bairam. And the negress asked for a garment that never a needle had sewn and never scissors had cut. Then he went down into the kitchen and asked the damsel what she would like. "The stone-of-patience has a yellow colour, and the knife-of-patience has a brown handle, bring them both to me," said the damsel. So the Bey went on his way, and got the negress her garment, but the stone-of-patience and the knife-of-patience he could find nowhere. What was he to do? - he could not return home without the gifts. So he got on board his ship.
The ship had only got half-way when suddenly it stopped short, and could neither go backwards nor forwards. The captain was terrified, and told his passengers that there was some one on board who had not kept his word, and that was why they could not get on. Then the Bey came forward, and said that he it was who had not kept his word. So they put the Bey ashore, that he might keep his promise and then return back to the ship. Then the Bey walked along the sea-shore, and from the sea-shore he came to a great valley, and he went wandering on and on till he stood beside a large spring. And he had scarce trodden on the stones around it when suddenly a huge negro stood before him and asked him what he wanted.
"The stone-of-patience is of a yellow colour and the knife-of-patience has a brown sheath, bring them both to me!" said the Bey to the negro. And the next moment both the stone and the knife were in his hand, and he came back to the ship, went on board, and returned home. He gave the garment to his wife, but the stone and the knife he put in the kitchen. But the Bey was curious to know what the damsel would do with them, so one evening he crept down into the kitchen and watched her.
When night approached she took the knife in her hand and placed the stone in front of her and began telling them her story. She told them what the little bird had thrice told her, and in what great terror both her mother and herself had fallen.
And while she was looking at the stone it suddenly began to swell, and its yellow hue hissed and bubbled as if there were life in it.
Then the damsel went on to say how she had wandered into the palace of the Bey, how she had prayed forty days beside him, and how she had entrusted the negress with the praying while she went to wash and dress herself.
And the yellow stone swelled again, and hissed and foamed as if it were about to burst.
Then the damsel told how the negress had deceived her, how instead of her the Bey had taken the negress to wife.
And all this time the yellow stone went on swelling and hissing and foaming as if there were a real living heart inside it, till suddenly it burst and turned to ashes.
Then the damsel took the little knife by the handle and said: "Oh, thou yellow patience-stone, thou wert but a stone, and yet thou couldst not endure that I, a tender little damsel, a poor little damsel, should thus be thrust out." And with that she would have buried the knife in her breast, but the Bey rushed forward and snatched away the knife.
"Thou art my real true Kismet," cried the youth, as he took her into the upper chamber in the place of the negress. But the treacherous negress they slew, and they sent for the damsel's mother and all lived together with great joy.
And the little bird came sometimes and perched in the window of the palace, and sang his joyful lay. And this is what he sang: "Oh, little damsel, happy little damsel, that hast found thy Kismet!"