There was once an old woman who had a son. He was only a cowherd, but he was very wise, clever, and intelligent. One day he said: "Mother, go to the Kadkhuda and get his daughter for me to be my wife." "My child," said she, "you are merely a common cowherd and possess nothing in the world, how will he ever give you his daughter?" "Just you go," said he, "the rest is no business of yours."
So she went and came to the Kadkhuda's house and said: "Give your daughter in marriage to my son." "All right," said he, "I have no objection, but he must carry a letter to such and such a town and bring me the answer. When he has done that I will give him my daughter." The mother came back and told her son. He got up and stowed some bread in the corner of his waistcloth, and, wishing her good-bye, set out on his journey.
When some months had elapsed, he arrived at a town and chanced to pass near a cMau-maker's shop. When the smell of the savoury rice came to his nose his knees became quite weak, for it was some days since he had eaten anything. He stopped, and the c/iz/au-mzker said: "Well, young man, what are you standing looking about for?" "I got the smell of your chilau" said the young man, "and I felt faint." - "Come and be my apprentice, then, and every day I'll give you as much as you can eat." "Very good," said the Cowherd, and he became apprentice to the shopkeeper and worked very hard.
The Master Cook was greatly pleased with him and grudged him nothing. So things went on, till one day some men's heads were hung up on the top of the castle. The young man asked: "Master, what are those men's heads?" "Our King," said the Master Cook, "has a daughter, if you want to know, and she has promised that if any one can wake her up three times without talking to her or putting his hand on her she will marry him, no matter who he may be. But whoever tries and fails to do so she cuts his head off."
"Take me and introduce me to her,"'said the Cowherd, "till I see what happens." So he went and obtained an appointment with her. "I shall come to-night," said he, "and if I wake you up you will be mine, but if I don't wake you, then I am no better than the others, so you may kill me." "All right," said the Princess.
Night came, and he took a mulla with him and went to her. They sat down and the girl went to sleep, at least she pretended to be asleep, for she was really wide awake and listening. "O Akhund," said the young man, "there were once three men who were on their way to go somewhere. Night overtook them when they were in a very dangerous place. 'Robbers will attack us at night,' said they, 'and strip us, so let us keep watch in turn.' Now one of the travellers was a mulla, one a carpenter, and the third was a tailor.
"First it was the Carpenter's turn to keep watch. He soon found himself getting sleepy, so he got up and took an axe, and seeing a piece of wood, he hewed it into the. form of a man. Then he left it where it was, and woke up the Tailor saying: 'It is your turn now.'
"The Tailor got up and took his place on watch. Presently he saw a black thing appearing, and going up to it discovered that it was a piece of wood hewn so as to look like a man, and he knew that it must be the work of the Carpenter, who wanted to give a proof of his skill. Thereupon he took his scissors and cut out a suit of clothes and dressed the wooden figure in it. Then he woke up the Mulla and said: 'Mulla, get up, it's your turn now.'
"So the Mulla got up and took his seat on watch, and he noticed that some one had made a figure of a man out of wood and clothed it. 'Ah,' said he, 'they wanted to show off their skill to me.' Then he went to the water-side and, having performed his ablutions, he began to recite his prayers. Turning his face towards the House of God, he said: 'O Lord, thou thyself knowest how these companions of mine have made a parade of their skill to me. Do not let me be put to shame, but bestow life on this lifeless figure.'
"Then from the Lord of the Universe life went out into the figure. In due course the others got up, and when day broke they saw that life had entered into the wooden figure. The Carpenter at once said: 'It is mine, for in the beginning I fashioned the wood.' 'Not so,' said the Tailor, 'for I clothed it.' 'Had it not been for me,' said the Mulla, 'it would have lain there a mere lifeless log. It was I who offered up prayers that life might enter into it. Therefore it is mine.'
"Now, Akhund," said the Cowherd, "you are a learned man and should know. Say who is the rightful owner." "Undoubtedly the Mulla," replied the Akhund, "for he put life into the lifeless form." "Not so," said the young man, "it is the Tailor's, for he clothed it." Over this they started quarrelling. All of a sudden the Princess lost control of herself and broke in: "Evil befall you to talk like that! It is the Carpenter's, for had he not shaped the wood it would have remained lying there, just a log of firewood."
"Very good," said the young man, "that's number one." "I admit it," said the Princess. "Give me a token, then," said he. So she gave him a writing saying that he had won one wager. Then she lay down to sleep again.
"O Akhund," began the Cowherd again, "there were once two brothers, one of whom was bullying and tyrannical and the other pious and devout. The tyrannical brother went with his wife to visit the devout one. Night overtook them all in the middle of the mountains. The Bully required water and said to his brother: 'O holy man, I want water; come, let's go to the stream together.' 'No,' said the other, 'I don't want any.' So the Bully went off alone.
"A little later, however, the pious brother found that he had need of water too, so he went off to the water-side. Now the Bully saw him coming, and thought to himself: 'He can have remained behind for no good. He must have been up to some mischief with my property or with my wife, otherwise he would have come with me when I asked him.' Whereupon he drew his sword without more ado, and to defend himself the pious brother drew his, and each struck off the other's head.
"When the wife saw that two lives had been sacrificed for no reason whatever, she cried out: 'O God, thou thyself art witness that there was no reason why this should have happened.'
"Then she went and put the heads beside the bodies, and offered up prayers, and by God's grace both came to life again. But by mistake in the darkness she had placed the head of the Devotee on the Bully's shoulders and the head of the Bully on the neck of the Devotee, and they immediately began to quarrel about the woman. The Head kept saying: "The woman is mine,' and the Body which had the Devotee's head kept saying: 'She is mine.'
"Now, Akhund, you are a learned man," said the Cowherd. "Does the wife belong to the Head or the Body?" "She belongs to the Body," said the Akhund. "Not at all," replied the young man, "you are quite wrong, she belongs to the Head." At this the girl could contain herself no longer, and broke out: "Young man, ill befall you for what you say! She belongs to the Body, for the head is a trifling thing; it is a person's body that really counts." "All right," said he. "That's number two. Give it to me in writing."
He took the writing which she gave him, and the maiden said: "I have something in a box. If you tell me what it is I shall be your lawful property, and if you cannot tell me, you will have lost, but in any case, since you have won twice, I no longer claim the right to kill you." "Bring the box here," said he, and she brought it and put it in his hand.
"Round things they are, round as a ball, Pleasant to see and to taste are all, Oranges, lemons, and pears withal," chanted the young man, and with that he took off. the lid, and seeing that he had guessed correctly, he said: "This is number three. Give it to me in writing, and in addition to They immediately began to quarrel. 249 the writing give me your necklace as a pledge, so that you may not be able to deny it later."
He took the necklace and got up, and he and the Akhund went off to their several abodes. In the morning the report was brought to the King that his daughter had lost. "Very good," said he, and they celebrated the marriage, and so the young man who was only a Cowherd was given the King's Daughter to wife, and the couple settled down to live happily together.