There were once three brothers, one of whom was called Nasir, one Khonkar, and the third Ahmad Girdu. They quarrelled and fought, and at last Ahmad Girdu got angry and went away to Arabistan. Now the Khan of that country had died, and a great number of people were gathered together to fly a hawk, for it was agreed that on whosoever's head the hawk alighted he should be their ruler.

As it chanced, the hawk lighted on the head of Ahmad Girdu. But the people turned him out of the assembly and hid him away, so that the hawk might not settle on the head of a stranger. He was put in a room, but the hawk flew in through the window and alighted on his head. Then they all decided in his favour, and said: "Fathers, it is this man's destiny. What harm will there be in letting him be ruler for one year till we see what sort of a man he is and what sort of virtue he is endowed with? If he brings prosperity to our flocks and herds, then let him continue to be our ruler; but if he proves evil, then we'll turn him out." So they brought him along and installed him as Governor, and they gave him a wife and built a house for him.

And so things went on, until one day Khonkar, who was the eldest brother, said: "O Nasir, let us go and look for Ahmad Girdu and find where he has gone to." They went along till they came near the village where Ahmad Girdu was, and there they saw a cowherd. They inquired from him, saying: "We have lost track of a man, Ahmad Girdu is his name. Do you know anything of him?"

"Yes, indeed," said the cowherd. "We have one Ahmad, Ahmad Khan is his name." So they went to the house of Ahmad Girdu, and finding that he wasn't in, they sat down and waited till" he came. When Ahmad returned, he said to his wife: "Look after these people till I come back." Now Nasir and Khonkar saw that there was a basket of dates in the room, and they took counsel together, saying: "Let us take it and go off with it."

Night came, and their hosts put down bedding on the floor for them, and they lay down to sleep, but at midnight they got up and went off with the basket of dates, and they hurried along the road as quickly as they could go. Now Ahmad woke up and he saw that the basket of dates was missing, so he said: "Wife, give me my thick stick. They have carried off the basket of dates."

As Khonkar and Nasir proceeded along the road, the former went on in front, and Nasir followed behind with the basket. When Ahmad saw this, he feigned in the darkness to be Khonkar, and said: "Brother Nasir, give me the basket for a change, and go you on in front as an advanced guard," and with that he took over the basket and went home with it.

When Khonkar and Nasir rejoined each other, Khonkar said: "Brother, what have you done with the basket?" "Why, I gave it to you," said Nasir. "No, by the Qur'an," said Khonkar, "it must be Ahmad Girdu who has taken it." Then they turned back again to Ahmad's house. Now in the meantime Ahmad had dug a hole in the ground and put the basket in it, and he and his wife had lain down to sleep on the top of it.

Khonkar and Nasir crept up beside them as they slept and pushed the wife off to one side and the husband to the other, and they tore up the felt cloth they were lying on and pulled out the basket. Then they put it on their shoulders and went off along the road as hard as they could go.

Not long after, Ahmad woke up and said: "Wife, they've carried off the basket again. Give me my thick stick." Then he hurried off after them, and when he came up he found that Nasir had gone off to a village to get a set of scales in order to divide up the dates. So Ahmad came up, pretending in the darkness to be Nasir, and said: "I haven't been able to get anything. Supposing you were to go and were able to get some sort of a vessel, we could then divide up the dates." So Khonkar went off to another camp, and Ahmad took up the basket and went home.

Then Khonkar brought back one pair of scales and Nasir brought back another, and they found that the basket had once more been carried off. After that they went on towards their home and did not turn back again.

Now as they went along they saw a golden slipper lying on the ground. They didn't know what it was, and left it lying there. They went on another three miles or so, and saw another golden slipper lying on the ground. "I'll go back for that first slipper," said Khonkar, "so that I may take the pair to my wife." So Khonkar turned back and Nasir went on to his home.1

When he got there Nasir said to his wife: "Pull down the tent on top of me, and start wailing and keep crying out: 'My husband is dead!' "She pulled down the tent on top of him and started wailing. Then people collected, and they tied Nasir on a bier. Meanwhile Khonkar arrived on the scene, and said: "Brother Nasir, you may have the slippers for yourself," but Nasir made no reply.

1 What follows is not very clear. Some part of the story has probably been forgotten and left out.

They carried the body to the water-side to wash it,1 and Khonkar said: "He is my brother, I will wash him." They put down the body in water cold as ice and it began to shiver. "Don't die, you rascal," said Khonkar, "you may have the slippers for yourself. They are just on the point of carrying you away and burying you." Then they washed the body and wrapped it in a shroud and carried it off to the graveyard. But Khonkar said: "I will not put my brother under the ground," and he sat by him alone till the morning.

1 Muhammadans always wash dead bodies, in running water if possible, and then wrap them up in a s shrood and bury them without any coffin.

Then he saw some thieves come up, and they had a lot of stolen money and began dividing it among them. All of a sudden Nasir sprang up and said: "Dead men seize the living!" and the thieves fled in terror while the brothers pursued them some little distance. Then the two returned to divide the money between them. One of the original thieves came back too, hoping to get a share, but Khonkar lifted his hand and knocked off his hat and said: "That's your two-farthing share!"

XXXIII The Story Of Ahmad Girdu And His Two Brothe 35

Thereupon the thieves made off, while the brothers took up the money on their shoulders and went off and enjoyed it together, and rested themselves.

The story is ended.