Once upon a time there was a time when there was no one but God.

There was a mother who had three sons, one of whom was an idiot, but the other two were quite clever and had become merchants.

One day the mother fell ill, and her sons came and sat with her and brought her medicine, food, doctors - everything that they thought would be good for her. Some days passed, and they saw that she wasn't going to get better, and meantime their shop and establishment were being neglected, so they made the idiot lad come and sit in the house, and said: "Sit here beside our mother and drive the flies off her face, so that they may not bother her. We're just going off to have a look at the shop and we'll be back presently."

So the Idiot sat down beside his mother and fanned off the flies. But however much he drove them off he saw that they always came back again. "I hit you," cried he, "and I hit you, and yet you keep coming back. I'll burn your fathers!" He waited a few moments till all the flies had collected on his mother's face, then he picked up a stone and banged it down with all his might to kill them.

When the stone hit her, the poor mother died and her mouth fell open.

Presently the Idiot saw his brothers coming home, and ran out to meet them, saying: "See how I've burnt the flies' fathers! .And mother is laughing over it." When they came in and looked they saw that their mother was dead. They carried her off and buried her, and returned home.

No sooner had they got back than the Idiot began: "Now that mother is dead, come and let us divide the inheritance," but they protested: "It's too soon yet. Let us wait till the three weeks are up and we have kept the haftum, then it will be time enough to divide the inheritance." But the Idiot insisted: "No, I want my share at once," till at last they said: "All right. Since he comes and clamours for his share, let's divide it now."

Then they began in this wise: "The house belongs to us, but you can have the door; the furniture belongs to us, but you can have our mother's spinning-wheel; such and such a property is ours, but you can have the cow and her calf; all the chattels and implements on the property are ours, but you can have the spade and pick; such and such a flock is ours, but you can have fifteen sheep; something else or other is ours, but you can have the stone off the foot of the spinning-wheel." "Very well," said the Idiot.

When the three weeks were up they were going to hold their mother's haftum, and they said to the idiot brother: "Come, let's buy your calf, and we shall kill it and cook it with rice and green pulse, and give it to our kinsfolk to eat." So they bought the calf for seven qrans, and they cooked the pulse and the rice over the fire, and poured them out on to the large round serving-trays to cool. Then when all was ready they said to the Idiot: "Go round to our kinsmen's houses and invite them all to come and eat with us and accompany us afterwards to the graveyard." The Idiot went round to all the houses, but said everywhere: "Come and eat with us, but whoever comes will have to pay me the seven qrans for my calf!"

The brothers waited and waited, but none of the guests seemed to be coming; then the Idiot said: "I went round and told them all to come, and I said that whoever came would have to pay me my seven qrans." "Alas, why did you talk like that," said they; "of course no one will come. Sit you down here and we shall go round and invite them ourselves." They seated him there in charge of the feast and went off themselves.

As he was waiting there, a dog came in at the door and began to eat off one of the trays. "Didn't you hear me say," cried he, "that whoever came to eat was to pay me my seven qrans?" But the dog paid no heed. Then he got up and shut the door, and seized the wooden poker and dashed round after the dog. The dog got behind the door and started to bark loudly, and the Idiot hit out at him with the poker. It missed the dog, but caught the top of the door-frame. The lintel fell in, and a large pot full of golden coins fell to the floor.

The dog bolted off at a run through the broken doorway, and the Idiot, catching up the pot of money, posted after him, shouting: "Come back out of that! Don't throw your pot of money at my head; I only want my seven qrans. Give me that and take away the rest."

The brothers coming back met him as he ran, and called out: "Hullo, that pot of money is ours; where are you carrying it off to, idiot? How can a dog have money?" So they all turned back, and the elder brothers took the gold safely into the house. Then the guests began to arrive, and they ate together and went to the graveyard, and after that they separated to their homes.

Now every day when morning came the Idiot used to drive off his cow and his sheep far out into the desert to graze. One day, when afternoon had come and he was about to go home, he saw a lizard standing at the mouth of its hole. "Have you come," he asked, "to buy my cow?" The lizard nodded his head. "Are you asking what I want for it?" continued the Idiot. "I only want fifteen qrans." Again the lizard nodded his head.

"Ah, you're saying that I'm to come back after fifteen days to get my money, is that it?" And the lizard nodded his head. Then the boy grew very angry and said: "No matter what I say he nods his head," and with that he took a great stone and dashed it down with all his might, but the lizard quietly slipped into his hole.

Then the Idiot took his cow's head-rope and fastened it at the door of the hole and called out: "All right, here's the cow. I'll come back in fifteen days and fetch my money." That evening wild beasts came and tore the cow to pieces and ate it.

When the fifteen days were up, the Idiot came back for his money, and when he arrived at the place he found the lizard sitting on a stone. "I've come for the price of my cow," said he, but the lizard only nodded its head as before. "Oh ho!" he cried, "you've spent all my money, have you? And now you're making fun of me!" So again he took up a big stone and smote at the lizard, but again it escaped into its hole.