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Two princes Siddiq and Yousef were like two peas in a pod but their fathers found them so contrary in temperament and approach to life. Siddiq the son of Emir of Ajmer was quiet contemplative while Yousuf the son of the Emir of Pathankot very impulsive and headstrong. Their kingdoms small and contiguous to one another the princes grew up together. Siddiq one day saw a dream and he told his playfellow. “Imagine being knocked over by the sun! It disappeared right through the ground.” The prince was so impressed and added,”Imagine all that remained was a stone tree where the sun had disappeared.” Next it was the turn of Yousef who told his dream. He said he had tied his chariot drawn by two horses but it was all gone when the sun shone brightly. As though the horses were carved of ice!”

Years went by. Siddiq was more immersed in scholarly works and Sufi teachers and thought the earth was as one pond in which the kingdoms were so many leaves flowering and fading. Slowly his interest in governing his kingdom became of less interest to him. Mercifully Yousef who was all for power descended on Ajmer and sent Siddiq into exile.
In a way Siddiq was relieved. He went with one of his trusted friend as a monk. He was intrigued by his dream that now and then recurred mostly the same images, the stone tree, the sun and it signified something to him.
One day Yousef as the first lord of the realm would authorize the union of Ajmer and Pathankote into one state.

During the coronation an earthquake split the spot where Emir Youse was seated. No more of him. Siddiq after hearing the calamity told his companion looked up and said, “Had I not relinquished the throne, I would have been the casuality.” Now that I have life left I shall sit under that strange tree and spend my life in quiet contemplation.
All that Siddiq hoped for was being enlightened as to mysteries of life. He saw in the sun as a source that made it all possible.
Benny

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CANUTE AAKRE belonged to an ancient family of the parish, where it had always been distinguished for its intelligence and care for the public good. His father through self-exertion had attained to the ministry, but had died early, and his widow being by birth a peasant, the children were brought up as farmers. Consequently, Canute’s education was only of the kind afforded by the public school; but his father’s library had early inspired him with a desire for knowledge, which was increased by association with his friend Henrik Wergeland, who often visited him or sent him books, seeds for his farm, and much good counsel. Agreeably to his advice, Canute early got up a club for practice in debating and study of the constitution, but which finally became a practical agricultural society, for this and the surrounding parishes. He also established a parish library, giving his father’s books as its first endowment, and organized in his own house a Sunday-school for persons wishing to learn penmanship, arithmetic, and history. In this way the attention of the public was fixed upon him, and he was chosen a member of the board of parish-commissioners, of which he soon became chairman. Here he continued his endeavors to advance the school interests, which he succeeded in placing in an admirable condition.

Canute Aakre was a short-built, active man, with small sharp eyes and disorderly hair. He had large lips which seemed constantly working, and a row of excellent teeth which had the same appearance, for they shone when he spoke his clear sharp words, which came out with a snap, as when the sparks are emitted from a great fire.

Among the many he had helped to an education, his neighbor Lars Hogstad stood foremost. Lars was not much younger than Canute, but had developed more slowly. Being in the habit of talking much of what he read and thought, Canute found in Lars—who bore a quiet, earnest manner—a good listener, and step by step a sensible judge. The result was, that he went reluctantly to the meetings of the board, unless first furnished with Lars Hogstad’s advice, concerning whatever matter of importance was before it, which matter was thus most likely to result in practical improvement. Canute’s influence, therefore, brought his neighbor in as a member of the board, and finally into everything with which he himself was connected. They always rode together to the meetings, where Lars never spoke, and only on the road to and from, could Canute learn his opinion. They were looked upon as inseparable.
One fine autumn day, the parish-commissioners were convened, for the purpose of considering, among other matters, a proposal made by the Foged, to sell the public grain-magazine, and with the proceeds establish a savings-bank. Canute Aakre, the chairman, would certainly have approved this, had he been guided by his better judgment; but, in the first place, the motion was made by the Foged, whom Wergeland did not like, consequently, neither did Canute; secondly, the grain-magazine had been erected by his powerful paternal grandfather, by whom it was presented to the parish. To him the proposal was not free from an appearance of personal offence; therefore, he had not spoken of it to any one, not even to Lars, who never himself introduced a subject.

As chairman, Canute read the proposal without comment, but, according to his habit, looked over to Lars, who sat as usual a little to one side, holding a straw between his teeth; this he always did when entering upon a subject, using it as he would a toothpick, letting it hang loosely in one corner of his mouth, or turning it more quickly or slowly, according to the humor he was in. Canute now saw with surprise, that the straw moved very fast. He asked quickly, “Do you think we ought to agree to this?”

Lars answered dryly, “Yes, I do.”

The whole assembly, feeling that Canute was of quite a different opinion, seemed struck, and looked at Lars, who said nothing further, nor was further questioned. Canute turned to another subject, as if nothing had happened, and did not again resume the question till toward the close of the meeting, when he asked with an air of indifference if they should send it back to the Foged for closer consideration, as it certainly was contrary to the mind of the people of the parish, by whom the grain-magazine was highly valued; also, if he should put upon the record, “Proposal deemed inexpedient.”

“Against one vote,” said Lars.

“Against two,” said another instantly.

“Against three,” said a third, and before the chairman had recovered from his surprise, a majority had declared in favor of the proposal.

He wrote; then read in a low tone, “Referred for acceptance, and the meeting adjourned.” Canute, rising and closing the “Records,” blushed deeply, but resolved to have this vote defeated in the parish meeting. In the yard he hitched his horse to the wagon, and Lars came and seated himself by his side. On the way home they spoke upon various subjects, but not upon this.

On the following day Canute’s wife started for Lars’ house, to inquire of his wife if anything had happened between their husbands; Canute had appeared so queerly when he returned home the evening previous. A little beyond the house she met Lars’ wife, who came to make the same inquiry on account of a similar peculiar behavior in her husband. Lars’ wife was a quiet, timid thing, easily frightened, not by hard words, but by silence; for Lars never spoke to her unless she had done wrong, or he feared she would do so. On the contrary, Canute Aakre’s wife spoke much with her husband, and particularly about the commissioners’ meetings, for lately they had taken his thoughts, work, and love from her and the children. She was jealous of it as of a woman, she wept at night about it, and quarrelled with her husband concerning it in the day. But now she could say nothing; for once he had returned home unhappy; she immediately became much more so than he, and for the life of her she must know what was the matter. So as Lars’ wife could tell her nothing, she had to go for information out in the parish, where she obtained it, and of course was instantly of her husband’s opinion, thinking Lars incomprehensible, not to say bad. But when she let her husband perceive this, she felt that, notwithstanding what had occurred, no friendship was broken between them; on the contrary, that he liked Lars very much.

The day for the parish meeting came. In the morning, Lars Hogstad drove over for Canute Aakre, who came out and took a seat beside him. They saluted each other as usual, spoke a little less than they were wont on the way, but not at all of the proposal. The meeting was full; some, too, had come in as spectators, which Canute did not like, for he perceived by this a little excitement in the parish. Lars had his straw, and stood by the stove, warming himself, for the autumn had begun to be cold. The chairman read the proposal in a subdued and careful manner, adding, that it came from the Foged, who was not habitually fortunate. The building was a gift, and such things it was not customary to part with, least of all when there was no necessity for it.

Lars, who never before had spoken in the meetings, to the surprise of all, took the floor. His voice trembled; whether this was caused by regard for Canute, or anxiety for the success of the bill, we cannot say; but his arguments were clear, good, and of such a comprehensive and compact character as had hardly before been heard in these meetings. In concluding, he said:

“Of what importance is it that the proposal is from the Foged?—none,—or who it was that erected the house, or in what way it became the public property?”

Canute, who blushed easily, turned very red, and moved nervously as usual when he was impatient; but notwithstanding, he answered in a low, careful tone, that there were savings banks enough in the country, he thought, quite near, and almost too near. But if one was to be instituted, there were other ways of attaining this end, than by trampling upon the gifts of the dead, and the love of the living. His voice was a little unsteady when he said this, but recovered its composure, when he began to speak of the grain magazine as such, and reason concerning its utility.

Lars answered him ably on this last, adding: “Besides, for many reasons I would be led to doubt whether the affairs of this parish are to be conducted for the best interests of the living, or for the memory of the dead; or further, whether it is the love and hate of a single family which rules, rather than the welfare of the whole.”

Canute answered quickly: “I don’t know whether the last speaker has been the one least benefited not only by the dead of this family, but also by its still living representative.”

In this remark he aimed first at the fact that his powerful grandfather had, in his day, managed the farm for Lars’ grandfather, when the latter, on his own account, was on a little visit to the penitentiary.

The straw, which had been moving quickly for a long time, was now still:

“I am not in the habit of speaking everywhere of myself and family,” said he, treating the matter with calm superiority; then he reviewed the whole matter in question, aiming throughout at a particular point. Canute was forced to acknowledge to himself, that he had never looked upon it from that standpoint, or heard such reasoning; involuntarily he had to turn his eye upon Lars. There he stood tall and portly, with clearness marked upon the strongly-built forehead and in the deep eyes. His mouth was compressed, the straw still hung playing in its corner, but great strength lay around. He kept his hands behind him, standing erect, while his low deep intonations seemed as if from the ground in which he was rooted. Canute saw him for the first time in his life, and from his inmost soul felt a dread of him; for unmistakably this man had always been his superior! He had taken all Canute himself knew or could impart, but retained only what had nourished this strong hidden growth.

He had loved and cherished Lars, but now that he had become a giant, he hated him deeply, fearfully; he could not explain to himself why he thought so, but he felt it instinctively, while gazing upon him; and in this forgetting all else, he exclaimed:

“But Lars! Lars! what in the Lord’s name ails you?”

He lost all self-control,—”you, whom I have”—”you, who have”—he could n’t get out another word, and seated himself, only to struggle against the excitement which he was unwilling to have Lars see; he drew himself up, struck the table with his fist, and his eyes snapped from below the stiff disorderly hair which always shaded them. Lars appeared as if he had not been interrupted, only turning his head to the assembly, asking if this should be considered the decisive blow in the matter, for in such a case nothing more need be said.

Canute could not endure this calmness.

“What is it that has come among us?” he cried. “Us, who to this day have never debated but in love and upright zeal? We are infuriated at each other as if incited by an evil spirit;” and he looked with fiery eyes upon Lars, who answered:

“You yourself surely bring in this spirit, Canute, for I have spoken only of the case. But you will look upon it only through your own self-will; now we shall see if your love and upright zeal will endure, when once it is decided agreeably to our wish.”

“Have I not, then, taken good care of the interests of the parish?”

No reply. This grieved Canute, and he continued:

“Really, I did not think otherwise than that I had accomplished something;—something for the good of the parish;—but may be I have deceived myself.”

He became excited again, for it was a fiery spirit within him, which was broken in many ways, and the parting with Lars grieved him, so he could hardly control himself. Lars answered:

“Yes, I know you give yourself the credit for all that is done here, and should one judge by much speaking in the meetings, then surely you have accomplished the most.

“Oh, is it this!” shouted Canute, looking sharply upon Lars: “it is you who have the honor of it!”

“Since we necessarily talk of ourselves,” replied Lars, “I will say that all matters have been carefully considered by us before they were introduced here.”

Here little Canute Aakre resumed his quick way of speaking:

“In God’s name take the honor, I am content to live without it; there are other things harder to lose!”

Involuntarily Lars turned his eye from Canute, but said, the straw moving very quickly: “If I were to speak my mind, I should say there is not much to take honor for;—of course ministers and teachers may be satisfied with what has been done; but, certainly, the common men say only that up to this time the taxes have become heavier and heavier.”

A murmur arose in the assembly, which now became restless. Lars continued:

“Finally, to-day, a proposition is made which, if carried, would recompense the parish for all it has laid out; perhaps, for this reason, it meets such opposition. It is the affair of the parish, for the benefit of all its inhabitants, and ought to be rescued from being a family matter.”

The audience exchanged glances, and spoke half audibly, when one threw out a remark as he rose to go to his dinner-pail, that these were “the truest words he had heard in the meetings for many years.” Now all arose, and the conversation became general. Canute Aakre felt as he sat there that the case was lost, fearfully lost; and tried no more to save it. He had somewhat of the character attributed to Frenchmen, in that he was good for first, second, and third attacks, but poor for self-defence—his sensibilities overpowering his thoughts.

He could not comprehend it, nor could he sit quietly any longer; so, yielding his place to the vice-chairman, he left,—and the audience smiled.

He had come to the meeting accompanied by Lars, but returned home alone, though the road was long. It was a cold autumn day; the way looked jagged and bare, the meadow gray and yellow; while frost had begun to appear here and there on the roadside. Disappointment is a dreadful companion. He felt himself so small and desolate, walking there; but Lars was everywhere before him, like a giant, his head towering, in the dusk of evening, to the sky. It was his own fault that this had been the decisive battle, and the thought grieved him sorely: he had staked too much upon a single little affair. But surprise, pain, anger, had mastered him; his heart still burned, shrieked, and moaned within him. He heard the rattling of a wagon behind; it was Lars, who came driving his superb horse past him at a brisk trot, so that the hard road gave a sound of thunder. Canute gazed after him, as he sat there so broad-shouldered in the wagon, while the horse, impatient for home, hurried on unurged by Lars, who only gave loose rein. It was a picture of his power; this man drove toward the mark! He, Canute, felt as if thrown out of his wagon to stagger along there in the autumn cold.

Canute’s wife was waiting for him at home. She knew there would be a battle; she had never in her life believed in Lars, and lately had felt a dread of him. It had been no comfort to her that they had ridden away together, nor would it have comforted her if they had returned in the same way. But darkness had fallen, and they had not yet come. She stood in the doorway, went down the road and home again; but no wagon appeared. At last she hears a rattling on the road, her heart beats as violently as the wheels revolve; she clings to the doorpost, looking out; the wagon is coming; only one sits there; she recognizes Lars, who sees and recognizes her, but is driving past without stopping. Now she is thoroughly alarmed! Her limbs fail her; she staggers in, sinking on the bench by the window. The children, alarmed, gather around, the youngest asking for papa, for the mother never spoke with them but of him. She loved him because he had such a good heart, and now this good heart was not with them; but, on the contrary, away on all kinds of business, which brought him only unhappiness; consequently, they were unhappy too.

“Oh, that no harm had come to him to-day! Canute was so excitable! Why did Lars come home alone? why did n’t he stop?”

Should she run after him, or, in the opposite direction, toward her husband? She felt faint, and the children pressed around her, asking what was the matter; but this could not be told to them, so she said they must take supper alone, and, rising, arranged it and helped them. She was constantly glancing out upon the road. He did not come. She undressed and put them to bed, and the youngest repeated the evening prayer, while she bowed over him, praying so fervently in the words which the tiny mouth first uttered, that she did not perceive the steps outside.

Canute stood in the doorway, gazing upon his little congregation at prayer. She rose; all the children shouted ” Papa!” but he seated himself, and said gently:

“Oh! let him repeat it.”

The mother turned again to the bedside, that meantime he might not see her face; otherwise, it would have been like intermeddling with his grief before he felt a necessity of revealing it. The child folded its hands,—the rest followed the example,—and it said:

“I am now a little lad,
But soon shall grow up tall,
And make papa and mamma glad,
I’ll be so good to all!
When in Thy true and holy ways,
Thou dear, dear God wilt help me keep;—
Remember now Thy name to praise
And so we’ll try to go to sleep!”

What a peace now fell! Not a minute more had passed ere the children all slept in it as in the lap of God; but the mother went quietly to work arranging supper for the father, who as yet could not eat. But after he had gone to bed, he said:

“Now, after this, I shall be at home.”

The mother lay there, trembling with joy, not daring to speak, lest she should reveal it; and she thanked God for all that had happened, for, whatever it was, it had resulted in good.

II.

In the course of a year, Lars was chosen head Justice of the Peace, chairman of the board of commissioners, president of the savings-bank, and, in short, was placed in every office of parish trust to which his election was possible. In the county legislature, during the first year, he remained silent, but afterward made himself as conspicuous as in the parish council; for here, too, stepping up to the contest with him who had always borne sway, he was victorious over the whole line, and afterward himself manager. From this he was elected to the Congress, where his fame had preceded him, and he found no lack of challenge. But here, although steady and independent, he was always retiring, never venturing beyond his depth, lest his post as leader at home should be endangered by a possible defeat abroad.

It was pleasant to him now in his own town. When he stood by the church-wall on Sundays, and the community glided past, saluting and glancing sideways at him,—now and then one stepping up for the honor of exchanging a couple of words with him,—it could almost be said that, standing there, he controlled the whole parish with a straw, which, of course, hung in the cor- ner of his mouth.

He deserved his popularity; for he had opened a new road which led to the church; all this and much more resulted from the savings-bank, which he had instituted and now managed; and the parish, in its self-management and good order, was held up as an example to all others.

Canute, of his own accord, quite withdrew,—not entirely at first, for he had promised himself not thus to yield to pride. In the first proposal he made before the parish board, he became en- tangled by Lars, who would have it represented in all its details; and, somewhat hurt, he re- plied: “When Columbus discovered America he did not have it divided into counties and towns,—this came by degrees afterward;” upon which, Lars compared Canute’s proposition (relating to stable improvements) to the discovery of America, and afterward by the commissioners he was called by no other name than “Discovery of America.” Canute thought since his influence had ceased there, so, also, had his duty to work; and afterwards declined re-election.

But be was industrious, and, in order still to do something for the public good, he enlarged his Sunday-school, and put it, by means of small contributions from the pupils, in connection with the mission cause, of which he soon became the centre and leader in his own and surrounding counties. At this, Lars remarked that, if Canute ever wished to collect money for any purpose, he must first know that its benefit was only to be realized some thousands of miles away.

There was no strife between them now. True, they associated with each other no longer, but saluted and exchanged a few words whenever they met. Canute always felt a little pain in remembering Lars, but struggled to overcome it, by saying to himself that it must have been so. Many years afterward at a large wedding-party, where both were present and a little gay, Canute stepped upon a chair and proposed a toast to the chairman of the parish council, and the county’s first congressman. He spoke until he manifested emotion, and, as usual, in an exceedingly handsome way. It was honorably done, and Lars came to him, saying, with an unsteady eye, that for much of what he knew and was, he had to thank him.

At the next election, Canute was again elected chairman.

But if Lars Hogstad had foreseen what was to follow, he would not have influenced this. It is a saying that “all events happen in their time,” and just as Canute appeared again in the council, the ablest men in the parish were threatened with bankruptcy, the result of a speculative fever which had been raging long, but now first began to react. They said that Lars Hogstad had caused this great epidemic, for it was he who had brought the spirit of speculation into the parish. This penny malady had originated in the parish board; for this body itself had acted as leading speculator. Down to the youth of twenty years, all were endeavoring by sharp bargains to make the one dollar, ten; extreme parsimony, in order to lay up in the beginning, was followed by an exceeding lavishness in the end: and as the thoughts of all were directed to money only, a disposition to selfishness, suspicion, and disunion had developed itself, which at last turned to prosecutions and hatred. It was said that the parish board had set the example in this also; for one of the first acts, performed by Lars as chairman, was a prosecution against the minister, concerning doubtful prerogatives. The venerable pastor had lost, but had also immediately resigned. At the time some had praised, others denounced, this act of Lars; but it had proved a bad example. Now came the effects of his management in the form of loss to all the leading men of the parish; and consequently, the public opinion quickly changed. The opposite party immediately found a champion; for Canute Aakre had come into the parish board,—introduced there by Lars himself.

The struggle at once began. All those youths, who, in their time, had been under Canute Aakre’s instruction, were now grown-up men, the best educated, conversant with all the business and public transactions in the parish; Lars had now to contend against these and others like them, who had disliked him from their childhood. One evening after a stormy debate, as he stood on the platform outside his door, looking over the parish, a sound of distant threatening thunder came toward him from the large farms, lying in the storm. He knew that that day their owners had become insolvent, that he himself and the savings-bank were going the same way: and his whole long work would culminate in condemnation against him.

In these days of struggle and despair, a company of surveyors came one evening to Hogstad, which was the first farm at the entrance of the parish to mark out the line of a new railroad. In the course of conversation, Lars perceived it was still a question with them whether the road should run through this valley, or another parallel one.

Like a flash of lightning it darted through his mind, that, if he could manage to get it through here, all real estate would rise in value, and not only he himself be saved, but his popularity handed down to future generations. He could not sleep that night, for his eyes were dazzled with visions; sometimes he seemed to hear the noise of an engine. The next day he accompanied the surveyors in their examination of the locality; his horses carried them, and to his farm they returned. The following day they drove through the other valley, he still with them, and again carrying them back home. The whole house was illuminated, the first men of the parish having been invited to a party made for the surveyors, which terminated in a carouse that lasted until morning. But to no avail; for the nearer they came to the decision, the clearer it was to be seen that the road could not be built through here without great extra expense. The entrance to the valley was narrow, through a rocky chasm, and the moment it swung into the parish the river made a curve in its way, so that the road would either have to make the same—crossing the river twice—or go straight forward through the old, now unused, churchyard. But it was not long since the last burials there, for the church had been but recently moved.

Did it only depend upon a strip of an old churchyard, thought Lars, whether the parish should have this great blessing or not?—then he would use his name and energy for the removal of the obstacle. So immediately he made a visit to minister and bishop, from them to county legislature and Department of the Interior; he reasoned and negotiated; for he had possessed himself of all possible information concerning the vast profits that would accrue on the one side, and the feelings of the parish on the other, and had really succeeded in gaining over all parties. It was promised him that by the reinterment of some bodies in the new churchyard, the only objection to this line might be considered as removed, and the king’s approbation guaranteed. It was told him that he need only make the motion in the county meeting.

The parish had become as excited on the question as himself. The spirit of speculation, which had been prevalent so many years, now became jubilant. No one spoke or thought of anything but Lars’ journey and its probable result. Consequently, when he returned with the most splendid promises, they made much ado about him; songs were sung to his praise,—yes, if at that time one after another of the largest farms had toppled over, not a soul would have given it any attention; the former speculation fever had been succeeded by the new one of the railroad.

The county board met; an humble petition that the old churchyard might be used for the railroad was drawn up to be presented to the king. This was unanimously voted; yes, there was even talk of voting thanks to Lars, and a gift of a coffee-pot, in the model of a locomotive. But finally, it was thought best to wait until everything was accomplished. The petition from the parish to the county board was sent back, with a requirement of a list of the names of all bodies which must necessarily be removed. The minister made out this, but instead of sending it directly to the county board, had his reasons for communicating it first to the parish. One of the members brought it to the next meeting. Here, Lars opened the envelope, and as chairman read the names.

Now it happened that the first body to be removed was that of Lars’ own grandfather. A little shudder passed through the assembly; Lars himself was taken by surprise; but continued. Secondly, came the name of Canute Aakre’s grandfather; for the two had died at nearly the same time. Canute Aakre sprang from his seat; Lars stopped; all looked up with dread; for the name of the elder Canute Aakre had been the one most beloved in the parish for generations. There was a pause of some minutes. At last Lars hemmed, and continued. But the matter became worse, for the further he proceeded, the nearer it approached their own day, and the dearer the dead became. When he ceased, Canute Aakre asked quietly if others did not think as he, that spirits were around them. It had begun to grow dusk in the room, and although they were mature men sitting in company, they almost felt themselves frightened. Lars took a bundle of matches from his pocket and lit a candle, somewhat dryly remarking that this was no more than they had known beforehand.

“No,” replied Canute, pacing the floor, “this is more than I knew beforehand. Now I begin to think that even railroads can be bought too dearly.”

This electrified the audience, and Canute continued that the whole affair must be reconsidered, and made a motion to that effect. In the excitement which had prevailed, he said it was also true that the benefit to be derived from the road had been considerably overrated; for if it did not pass through the parish, there would have to be a depot at each extremity; true, it would be a little more trouble to drive there, than to a station within; yet not so great as that for this reason they should dishonor the rest of the dead. Canute was one of those who, when his thoughts were excited, could extemporize and present most sound reasons; he had not a moment previously thought of what he now said; but the truth of it struck all. Lars, seeing the danger of his position, thought best to be careful, and so apparently acquiesced in Canute’s proposition to reconsider; for such emotions, thought he, are always strongest in the beginning; one must temporize with them.

But here he had miscalculated. In constantly increasing waves the dread of touching their dead overswept the parish; what no one had thought of as long as the matter existed only in talk became a serious question when it came to touch themselves. The women particularly were excited, and at the parish house, on the day of the next meeting, the road was black with the gathered multitude. It was a warm summer day, the windows were taken out, and as many stood without as within. All felt that that day would witness a great battle.

Lars came, driving his handsome horse, saluted by all; he looked quietly and confidently around, not seeming surprised at the throng. He seated himself, straw in mouth, near the window, and not without a smile saw Canute rise to speak, as he thought, for all the dead lying over there in the old churchyard.

But Canute Aakre did not begin with the churchyard. He made a stricter investigation into the profits likely to accrue from carrying the road through the parish, showing that in all this excitement they had been over-estimated. He had calculated the distance of each farm from the nearest station, should the road be taken through the neighboring valley, and finally asked:

“Why has such a hurrah been made about this railroad, when it would not be for the good of the parish after all?”

This he could explain; there were those who had brought about such a previous disturbance, that a greater was necessary in order that the first might be forgotten. Then, too, there were those who, while the thing was new, could sell their farms and lands to strangers, foolish enough to buy; it was a shameful speculation, which not the living only but the dead also must be made to promote!

The effect produced by his address was very considerable. But Lars had firmly resolved, come what would, to keep cool, and smilingly replied that he supposed Canute Aakre himself had been anxious for the railroad, and surely no one would accuse him of understanding speculation. (A little laugh ensued.) Canute had had no objection to the removal of bodies of common people for the sake of the railroad, but when it came to that of his own grandfather, the question became suddenly of vital importance to the whole parish. He said no more, but looked smilingly at Canute, as did also several others. Meanwhile, Canute Aakre surprised both him and them by replying:

“I confess it; I did not realize what was at stake until it touched my own dead; possibly this is a shame, but really it would have been a greater one not even then to have realized it, as is the case with Lars! Never, I think, could Lars’ raillery have been more out of place; for folks with common feelings the thing is really revolting.”

“This feeling has come up quite recently,” answered Lars, “and so we will hope for its speedy disappearance also. It may be well to think upon what minister, bishop, county officers, engineers, and Department will say, if we first unanimously set the ball in motion and then come asking to have it stopped; if we first are jubilant and sing songs, then weep and chant requiems. If they do not say that we have run mad here in the parish, at least they may say that we have grown a little queer lately.”

“Yes, God knows, they can say so,” answered Canute; “we have been acting strangely enough during the last few days,—it is time for us to retract. It has really gone far when we can dig up, each his own grandfather, to make way for a railroad; when in order that our loads may be carried more easily forward, we can violate the resting-place of the dead. For is not overhauling our churchyard the same as making it yield us food? What has been buried there in Jesus’ name, shall we take up in the name of Mammon? It is but little better than eating our progenitors’ bones.”

“That is according to the order of nature,” said Lars dryly.

“Yes, the nature of plants and animals,” replied Canute.

“Are we not then animals?” asked Lars.

“Yes, but also the children of the living God, who have buried our dead in faith upon Him; it is He who shall raise them, and not we.”

“Oh, you prate! Are not the graves dug over at certain fixed periods anyway? What evil is there in that it happens some years earlier?” asked Lars.

“I will tell you! What was born of them yet lives; what they built yet remains; what they loved, taught, and suffered for is all around us and within us; and shall we not, then, let their bodies rest in peace?”

“I see by your warmth that you are thinking of your grandfather again,” replied Lars; “and will say it is high time you ceased to bother the parish about him, for he monopolized space enough in his lifetime; it is n’t worth while to have him lie in the way now he is dead. Should his corpse prevent a blessing to the parish that would reach to a hundred generations, we surely would have reason to say, that of all born here he has done us most harm.”

Canute Aakre tossed back his disorderly hair, his eyes darted fire, his whole frame appeared like a drawn bow.

“What sort of a blessing this is that you speak of, I have already proved. It is of the same character as all the others which you have brought to the parish, namely, a doubtful one. True enough you have provided us with a new church; but, too, you have filled it with a new spirit,—and not that of love. True, you have made us new roads,—but also new roads to destruction, as is now plainly evident in the misfortunes of many. True, you have lessened our taxes to the public; but, too, you have increased those to ourselves;—prosecutions, protests, and failures are no blessing to a community. And you dare scoff at the man in his grave whom the whole parish blesses! You dare say he lies in our way,—yes, very likely he lies in your way. This is plainly to be seen; but over this grave you shall fall! The spirit which has reigned over you, and at the same time until now over us, was not born to rule, only to serve. The churchyard shall surely remain undisturbed; but to-day it numbers one more grave, namely, that of your popularity, which shall now be interred in it.”

Lars Hogstad rose, white as a sheet; he opened his mouth, but was unable to speak a word, and the straw fell. After three or four vain attempts to recover it and to find utterance, he belched forth like a volcano:

“Are these the thanks I get for all my toils and struggles? Shall such a woman-preacher be able to direct? Ah, then, the devil be your chairman if ever more I set my foot here! I have kept your petty business in order until to-day; and after me it will fall into a thousand pieces; but let it go now. Here are the ‘Records!’ (and he flung them across the table). Out on such a company of wenches and brats! (striking the table with his fist). Out on the whole parish, that it can see a man recompensed as I now am!”

He brought down his fist once more with such force, that the leaf of the great table sprang upward, and the inkstand with all its contents downward upon the floor, marking for coming generations the spot where Lars Hogstad, in spite of all his prudence, lost his patience and his rule.

He sprang for the door, and soon after was away from the house. The whole audience stood fixed,—for the power of his voice and his wrath had frightened them,—until Canute Aakre, remembering the taunt he had received at the time of his fall, with beaming countenance, and assuming Lars’ voice, exclaimed:

“Is this the decisive blow in the matter?”

The assembly burst into uproarious merriment. The grave meeting closed amid laughter, talk, and high glee; only few left the place, those remaining called for drink, and made a night of thunder succeed a day of lightning. They felt happy and independent as in old days, before the time in which the commanding spirit of Lars had cowed their souls into silent obedience. They drank toasts to their liberty, they sang, yes, finally they danced, Canute Aakre with the vice-chairman taking lead, and all the members of the council following, and boys and girls too, while the young ones outside shouted, “hurrah!” for such a spectacle they had never before witnessed.

III.

Lars moved around in the large rooms at Hogstad without uttering a word. His wife who loved him, but always with fear and trembling, dared not so much as show herself in his presence. The management of the farm and house had to go on as it would, while a multitude of letters were passing to and fro between Hogstad and the parish, Hogstad and the capital; for he had charges against the county board which were not acknowledged, and a prosecution ensued; against the savings-bank, which were also unacknowledged, and so came another prosecution. He took offence at articles in the Christiania Correspondence, and prosecuted again, first the chairman of the county board, and then the directors of the savings-bank. At the same time there were bitter articles in the papers, which according to report were by him, and were the cause of great strife in the parish, setting neighbor against neighbor. Sometimes he was absent whole weeks at once, nobody knowing where, and after returning lived secluded as before. At church he was not seen after the grand scene in the representatives’ meeting.

Then, one Saturday night, the mail brought news that the railroad was to go through the parish after all, and through the old churchyard. It struck like lightning into every home. The unanimous veto of the county board had been in vain; Lars Hogstad’s influence had proved stronger. This was what his absence meant, this was his work! It was involuntary on the part of the people that admiration of the man and his dogged persistency should lessen dissatisfaction at their own defeat; and the more they talked of the matter the more reconciled they seemed to become: for whatever has once been settled beyond all change develops in itself, little by little, reasons why it is so, which we are accordingly brought to acknowledge.

In going to church next day, as they encountered each other they could not help laughing; and before the service, just as nearly all were convened outside,—young and old, men and women, yes, even children,—talking about Lars Hogstad, his talents, his strong will, and his great influence, he himself with his household came driving up in four carriages. Two years had passed since he was last there. He alighted and walked through the crowd, when involuntarily all lifted their hats to him like one man; but he looked neither to the right nor the left, nor returned a single salutation. His little wife, pale as death, walked behind him. In the house, the surprise became so great that, one after another, noticing him, stopped singing and stared. Canute Aakre, who sat in his pew in front of Lars’, perceiving the unusual appearance and no cause for it in front, turned around and saw Lars sitting bowed over his hymn-book, looking for the place.

He had not seen him until now since the day of the representatives’ meeting, and such a change in a man he never could have imagined. This was no victor. His head was becoming bald, his face was lean and contracted, his eyes hollow and bloodshot, and the giant neck presented wrinkles and cords. At a glance he perceived what this man had endured, and was as suddenly seized with a feeling of strong pity, yes, even with a touch of the old love. In his heart he prayed for him, and promised himself surely to seek him after service; but, ere he had opportunity, Lars had gone. Canute resolved he would call upon him at his home that night, but his wife kept him back.

“Lars is one of the kind,” said she, “who cannot endure a debt of gratitude: keep away from him until possibly he can in some way do you a favor, and then perhaps he will come to you.”

However, he did not come. He appeared now and then at church, but nowhere else, and associated with no one. On the contrary, he devoted himself to his farm and other business with an earnestness which showed a determination to make up in one year for the neglect of many; and, too, there were those who said it was necessary.

Railroad operations in the valley began very soon. As the line was to go directly past his house, Lars remodelled the side facing the road, connecting with it an elegant verandah, for of course his residence must attract attention. They were just engaged in this work when the rails were laid for the conveyance of gravel and timber, and a small locomotive was brought up. It was a fine autumn evening when the first gravel train was to come down. Lars stood on the platform of his house to hear the first signal, and see the first column of smoke; all the hands on the farm were gathered around him. He looked out over the parish, lying in the setting sun, and felt that he was to be remembered so long as a train should roar through the fruitful valley. A feeling of forgiveness crept into his soul. He looked toward the churchyard, of which a part remained, with crosses bowing toward the earth, but a part had become railroad. He was just trying to define his feelings, when, whistle went the first signal, and a while after the train came slowly along, puffing out smoke mingled with sparks, for wood was used instead of coal; the wind blew toward the house, and standing there they soon found themselves enveloped in a dense smoke; but by and by, as it cleared away, Lars saw the train working through the valley like a strong will.

He was satisfied, and entered the house as after a long day’s work. The image of his grandfather stood before him at this moment. This grandfather had raised the family from poverty to forehanded circumstances; true, a part of his citizen-honor had been lost, but forward he had pushed, nevertheless. His faults were those of his time; they were to be found on the uncertain borders of the moral conceptions of that period, and are of no consideration now. Honor to him in his grave, for he suffered and worked; peace to his ashes. It is good to rest at last. But he could get no rest because of his grandson’s great ambition. He was thrown up with stone and gravel. Pshaw! very likely he would only smile that his grandson’s work passed above his head.

With such thoughts he had undressed and gone to bed. Again his grandfather’s image glided forth. What did he wish. Surely he ought to be satisfied now, with the family’s honor sounding forth above his grave; who else had such a monument? But yet, what mean these two great eyes of fire? This hissing, roaring, is no longer the locomotive, for see! it comes from the churchyard directly toward the house: an immense procession! The eyes of fire are his grandfather’s, and the train behind are all the dead. It advances continually toward the house, roaring, crackling, flashing. The windows burn in the reflection of dead men’s eyes . . . he made a mighty effort to collect himself, “For it was a dream, of course, only a dream; but let me waken! . . . See: now I am awake; come, ghosts!”

And behold: they really come from the churchyard, overthrowing road, rails, locomotive and train with such violence that they sink in the ground; and then all is still there, covered with sod and crosses as before. But like giants the spirits advanced, and the hymn, “Let the dead have rest!” goes before them. He knows it; for daily in all these years it has sounded through his soul, and now it becomes his own requiem; for this was death and its visions. The perspiration started out over his whole body, for nearer and nearer,—and see there, on the window-pane! there, there they are now; and he heard his name. Overpowered with dread he struggled to shout, for he was strangling; a dead, cold hand already clenched his throat, when he regained his voice in a shrieking “Help me!” and awoke. At that moment the window was burst in with such force that the pieces flew on to his bed. He sprang up; a man stood in the opening, around him smoke and tongues of fire.

“The house is burning, Lars, we’ll help you out!”

It was Canute Aakre.

When again he recovered consciousness, he was lying out in a piercing wind that chilled his limbs. No one was by him; on the left he saw his burning house; around him grazed, bellowed, bleated, and neighed his stock; the sheep huddled together in a terrified flock; the furniture recklessly scattered: but, on looking around more carefully, he discovered somebody sitting on a knoll near him, weeping. It was his wife. He called her name. She started.

“The Lord Jesus be thanked that you live,” she exclaimed, coming forward and seating herself, or rather falling down before him: “O God! O God! now we have enough of that railroad!”

“The railroad?” he asked: but ere he spoke, it had flashed through his mind how it was; for, of course, the cause of the fire was the falling of sparks from the locomotive among the shavings by the new side-wall. He remained sitting, silent and thoughtful; his wife dared say no more, but was trying to find clothes for him: the things with which she had covered him, as he lay unconscious, having fallen off. He received her attentions in silence, but as she crouched down to cover his feet, he laid a hand upon her head. She hid her face in his lap, and wept aloud. At last he had noticed her. Lars understood, and said:

“You are the only friend I have.”

Although to hear these words had cost the house, no matter, they made her happy; she gathered courage and said, rising and looking submissively at him:

“That is because no one else understands you.”

Now again they talked of all that had transpired, or rather he remained silent, while she told about it. Canute Aakre had been first to perceive the fire, had awakened his people, sent the girls out through the parish, while he himself hastened with men and horses to the spot where all were sleeping. He had taken charge of extinguishing the fire and saving the property; Lars himself he had dragged from the burning room and brought him here on the left, to the windward,—here, out on the churchyard.

While they were talking of all this, some one came driving rapidly up the road and turned off toward them; soon he alighted. It was Canute, who had been home after his church-wagon; the one in which so many times they had ridden together to and from the parish meetings. Now Lars must get in and ride home with him. They took each other by the hand, one sitting, the other standing.

“You must come with me now,” said Canute Without reply Lars rose: they walked side by side to the wagon. Lars was helped in: Canute seated himself by his side. What they talked about as they rode, or afterward in the little chamber at Aakre, in which they remained until morning, has never been known; but from that day they were again inseparable.

As soon as disaster befalls a man, all seem to understand his worth. So the parish took upon themselves to rebuild Lars Hogstad’s houses, larger and handsomer than any others in the valley. Again he became chairman, but with Canute Aakre at his side, and from that day all went well. (translated by Carl Larsen)


The Railroad and the Churchyard was featured as The Short Story of the Day on Sun, Jan 01, 2012

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One fine day in harvest—it was indeed Lady-day in harvest, that everybody knows to be one of the greatest holidays in the year—Tom Fitzpatrick was taking a ramble through the ground, and went along the sunny side of a hedge; when all of a sudden he heard a clacking sort of noise a little before him in the hedge. “Dear me,” said Tom, “but isn’t it surprising to hear the stonechatters singing so late in the season?” So Tom stole on, going on the tops of his toes to try if he could get a sight of what was making the noise, to see if he was right in his guess. The noise stopped; but as Tom looked sharply through the bushes, what should he see in a nook of the hedge but a brown pitcher, that might hold about a gallon and a half of liquor; and by-and-by a little wee teeny tiny bit of an old man, with a little motty of a cocked hat stuck upon the top of his head, a deeshy daushy leather apron hanging before him, pulled out a little wooden stool, and stood up upon it, and dipped a little piggin into the pitcher, and took out the full of it, and put it beside the stool, and then sat down under the pitcher, and began to work at putting a heel-piece on a bit of a brogue just fit for himself. “Well, by the powers,” said Tom to himself, “I often heard tell of the Lepracauns, and, to tell God’s truth, I never rightly believed in them—but here’s one of them in real earnest. If I go knowingly to work, I’m a made man. They say a body must never take their eyes off them, or they’ll escape.”

Tom now stole on a little further, with his eye fixed on the little man just as a cat does with a mouse. So when he got up quite close to him, “God bless your work, neighbour,” said Tom.

The little man raised up his head, and “Thank you kindly,” said he.

“I wonder you’d be working on the holiday!” said Tom.

“That’s my own business, not yours,” was the reply.

“Well, may be you’d be civil enough to tell us what you’ve got in the pitcher there?” said Tom.

“That I will, with pleasure,” said he; “it’s good beer.”

“Beer!” said Tom. “Thunder and fire! where did you get it?”

“Where did I get it, is it? Why, I made it. And what do you think I made it of?”

“Devil a one of me knows,” said Tom; “but of malt, I suppose, what else?”

“There you’re out. I made it of heath.”

“Of heath!” said Tom, bursting out laughing; “sure you don’t think me to be such a fool as to believe that?”

“Do as you please,” said he, “but what I tell you is the truth. Did you never hear tell of the Danes?”

“Well, what about them?” said Tom.

“Why, all the about them there is, is that when they were here they taught us to make beer out of the heath, and the secret’s in my family ever since.”

“Will you give a body a taste of your beer?” said Tom.

“I’ll tell you what it is, young man, it would be fitter for you to be looking after your father’s property than to be bothering decent quiet people with your foolish questions. There now, while you’re idling away your time here, there’s the cows have broke into the oats, and are knocking the corn all about.”

Tom was taken so by surprise with this that he was just on the very point of turning round when he recollected himself; so, afraid that the like might happen again, he made a grab at the Lepracaun, and caught him up in his hand; but in his hurry he overset the pitcher, and spilt all the beer, so that he could not get a taste of it to tell what sort it was. He then swore that he would kill him if he did not show him where his money was. Tom looked so wicked and so bloody-minded that the little man was quite frightened; so says he, “Come along with me a couple of fields off, and I’ll show you a crock of gold.”

So they went, and Tom held the Lepracaun fast in his hand, and never took his eyes from off him, though they had to cross hedges and ditches, and a crooked bit of bog, till at last they came to a great field all full of boliauns, and the Lepracaun pointed to a big boliaun, and says he, “Dig under that boliaun, and you’ll get the great crock all full of guineas.”

Tom in his hurry had never thought of bringing a spade with him, so he made up his mind to run home and fetch one; and that he might know the place again he took off one of his red garters, and tied it round the boliaun.

Then he said to the Lepracaun, “Swear ye’ll not take that garter away from that boliaun.” And the Lepracaun swore right away not to touch it.

“I suppose,” said the Lepracaun, very civilly, “you have no further occasion for me?”

“No,” says Tom; “you may go away now, if you please, and God speed you, and may good luck attend you wherever you go.”

“Well, good-bye to you, Tom Fitzpatrick,” said the Lepracaun; “and much good may it do you when you get it.”

So Tom ran for dear life, till he came home and got a spade, and then away with him, as hard as he could go, back to the field of boliauns; but when he got there, lo and behold! not a boliaun in the field but had a red garter, the very model of his own, tied about it; and as to digging up the whole field, that was all nonsense, for there were more than forty good Irish acres in it. So Tom came home again with his spade on his shoulder, a little cooler than he went, and many’s the hearty curse he gave the Lepracaun every time he thought of the neat turn he had served him.

Ack: Celtic Folktale

Author: Joseph Jacobs
Published: 1892
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, London

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Before the law sits a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper comes a man from the country who asks to gain entry into the law. But the gatekeeper says that he cannot grant him entry at the moment. The man thinks about it and then asks if he will be allowed to come in sometime later on. “It is possible,” says the gatekeeper, “but not now.” The gate to the law stands open, as always, and the gatekeeper walks to the side, so the man bends over in order to see through the gate into the inside. When the gatekeeper notices that, he laughs and says: “If it tempts you so much, try going inside in spite of my prohibition. But take note. I am powerful. And I am only the lowliest gatekeeper. But from room to room stand gatekeepers, each more powerful than the last. I cannot endure even one glimpse of the third.” The man from the country has not expected such difficulties: the law should always be accessible for everyone, he thinks, but as he now looks more closely at the gatekeeper in his fur coat, at his large pointed nose and his long, thin, black Tartar’s beard, he decides that it would be better to wait until he gets permission to go inside. The gatekeeper gives him a stool and allows him to sit down at the side in front of the gate. There he sits for days and years. He makes many attempts to be let in, and he wears the gatekeeper out with his requests. The gatekeeper often interrogates him briefly, questioning him about his homeland and many other things, but they are indifferent questions, the kind great men put, and at the end he always tells him once more that he cannot let him inside yet. The man, who has equipped himself with many things for his journey, spends everything, no matter how valuable, to win over the gatekeeper. The latter takes it all but, as he does so, says, “I am taking this only so that you do not think you have failed to do anything.” During the many years the man observes the gatekeeper almost continuously. He forgets the other gatekeepers, and this first one seems to him the only obstacle for entry into the law. He curses the unlucky circumstance, in the first years thoughtlessly and out loud; later, as he grows old, he only mumbles to himself. He becomes childish and, since in the long years studying the gatekeeper he has also come to know the fleas in his fur collar, he even asks the fleas to help him persuade the gatekeeper. Finally his eyesight grows weak, and he does not know whether things are really darker around him or whether his eyes are merely deceiving him. But he recognizes now in the darkness an illumination which breaks inextinguishably out of the gateway to the law. Now he no longer has much time to live. Before his death he gathers up in his head all his experiences of the entire time into one question which he has not yet put to the gatekeeper. He waves to him, since he can no longer lift up his stiffening body. The gatekeeper has to bend way down to him, for the difference between them has changed considerably to the disadvantage of the man. “What do you want to know now?” asks the gatekeeper. “You are insatiable.” “Everyone strives after the law,” says the man, “so how is it that in these many years no one except me has requested entry?” The gatekeeper sees that the man is already dying and, in order to reach his diminishing sense of hearing, he shouts at him, “Here no one else can gain entry, since this entrance was assigned only to you. I’m going now to close it.”

 

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Once upon a time Kee′ma, the monkey, and Pa′pa, the shark, became great friends.

The monkey lived in an immense mkooyoo tree which grew by the margin of the sea—half of its branches being over the water and half over the land.

Every morning, when the monkey was breakfasting on the kooyoo nuts, the shark would put in an appearance under the tree and call out, “Throw me some food, my friend;” with which request the monkey complied most willingly.

This continued for many months, until one day Papa said, “Keema, you have done me many kindnesses: I would like you to go with me to my home, that I may repay you.”

“How can I go?” said the monkey; “we land beasts can not go about in the water.”

“Don’t trouble yourself about that,” replied the shark; “I will carry you. Not a drop of water shall get to you.”

“Oh, all right, then,” said Mr. Keema; “let’s go.”

When they had gone about half-way the shark stopped, and said: “You are my friend. I will tell you the truth.”

“Why, what is there to tell?” asked the monkey, with surprise.

“Well, you see, the fact is that our sultan is very sick, and we have been told that the only medicine that will do him any good is a monkey’s heart.”

“Well,” exclaimed Keema, “you were very foolish not to tell me that before we started!”

“How so?” asked Papa.

But the monkey was busy thinking up some means of saving himself, and made no reply.

“Well?” said the shark, anxiously; “why don’t you speak?”

“Oh, I’ve nothing to say now. It’s too late. But if you had told me this before we started, I might have brought my heart with me.”

“What? haven’t you your heart here?”

“Huh!” ejaculated Keema; “don’t you know about us? When we go out we leave our hearts in the trees, and go about with only our bodies. But I see you don’t believe me. You think I’m scared. Come on; let’s go to your home, where you can kill me and search for my heart in vain.”

The shark did believe him, though, and exclaimed, “Oh, no; let’s go back and get your heart.”

“Indeed, no,” protested Keema; “let us go on to your home.”

But the shark insisted that they should go back, get the heart, and start afresh.

At last, with great apparent reluctance, the monkey consented, grumbling sulkily at the unnecessary trouble he was being put to.

When they got back to the tree, he climbed up in a great hurry, calling out, “Wait there, Papa, my friend, while I get my heart, and we’ll start off properly next time.”

When he had got well up among the branches, he sat down and kept quite still.

After waiting what he considered a reasonable length of time, the shark called, “Come along, Keema!” But Keema just kept still and said nothing.

In a little while he called again: “Oh, Keema! let’s be going.”

At this the monkey poked his head out from among the upper branches and asked, in great surprise, “Going? Where?”

“To my home, of course.”

“Are you mad?” queried Keema.

“Mad? Why, what do you mean?” cried Papa.

“What’s the matter with you?” said the monkey. “Do you take me for a washerman’s donkey?”

“What peculiarity is there about a washerman’s donkey?”

“It is a creature that has neither heart nor ears.”

The shark, his curiosity overcoming his haste, thereupon begged to be told the story of the washerman’s donkey, which the monkey related as follows:

“A washerman owned a donkey, of which he was very fond. One day, however, it ran away, and took up its abode in the forest, where it led a lazy life, and consequently grew very fat.

“At length Soongoo′ra, the hare, by chance passed that way, and saw Poon′da, the donkey.

“Now, the hare is the most cunning of all beasts—if you look at his mouth you will see that he is always talking to himself about everything.

“So when Soongoora saw Poonda he said to himself, ‘My, this donkey is fat!’ Then he went and told Sim′ba, the lion.

“As Simba was just recovering from a severe illness, he was still so weak that he could not go hunting. He was consequently pretty hungry.

“Said Mr. Soongoora, ‘I’ll bring enough meat to-morrow for both of us to have a great feast, but you’ll have to do the killing.’

“‘All right, good friend,’ exclaimed Simba, joyfully; ‘you’re very kind.’

“So the hare scampered off to the forest, found the donkey, and said to her, in his most courtly manner, ‘Miss Poonda, I am sent to ask your hand in marriage.’

“‘By whom?’ simpered the donkey.

“‘By Simba, the lion.’

“The donkey was greatly elated at this, and exclaimed: ‘Let’s go at once. This is a first-class offer.’

“They soon arrived at the lion’s home, were cordially invited in, and sat down. Soongoora gave Simba a signal with his eyebrow, to the effect that this was the promised feast, and that he would wait outside. Then he said to Poonda: ‘I must leave you for a while to attend to some private business. You stay here and converse with your husband that is to be.’

“As soon as Soongoora got outside, the lion sprang at Poonda, and they had a great fight. Simba was kicked very hard, and he struck with his claws as well as his weak health would permit him. At last the donkey threw the lion down, and ran away to her home in the forest.

“Shortly after, the hare came back, and called, ‘Haya! Simba! have you got it?’

“‘I have not got it,’ growled the lion; ‘she kicked me and ran away; but I warrant you I made her feel pretty sore, though I’m not strong.’

“‘Oh, well,’ remarked Soongoora; ‘don’t put yourself out of the way about it.’

“Then Soongoora waited many days, until the lion and the donkey were both well and strong, when he said: ‘What do you think now, Simba? Shall I bring you your meat?’

“‘Ay,’ growled the lion, fiercely; ‘bring it to me. I’ll tear it in two pieces!’

“So the hare went off to the forest, where the donkey welcomed him and asked the news.

“‘You are invited to call again and see your lover,’ said Soongoora.

“‘Oh, dear!’ cried Poonda; ‘that day you took me to him he scratched me awfully. I’m afraid to go near him now.’

“‘Ah, pshaw!’ said Soongoora; ‘that’s nothing. That’s only Simba’s way of caressing.’

“‘Oh, well,’ said the donkey, ‘let’s go.’

“So off they started again; but as soon as the lion caught sight of Poonda he sprang upon her and tore her in two pieces.

“When the hare came up, Simba said to him: ‘Take this meat and roast it. As for myself, all I want is the heart and ears.’

“‘Thanks,’ said Soongoora. Then he went away and roasted the meat in a place where the lion could not see him, and he took the heart and ears and hid them. Then he ate all the meat he needed, and put the rest away.

“Presently the lion came to him and said, ‘Bring me the heart and ears.’

“‘Where are they?’ said the hare.

“‘What does this mean?’ growled Simba.

“‘Why, didn’t you know this was a washerman’s donkey?’

“‘Well, what’s that to do with there being no heart or ears?’

“‘For goodness’ sake, Simba, aren’t you old enough to know that if this beast had possessed a heart and ears it wouldn’t have come back the second time?’

“Of course the lion had to admit that what Soongoora, the hare, said was true.

“And now,” said Keema to the shark, “you want to make a washerman’s donkey of me. Get out of there, and go home by yourself. You are not going to get me again, and our friendship is ended. Good-bye, Papa.”

 

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Author unknown: this Persian tale can be found in the

Bodleian Library. Tr: Rueben Levy, M.A.,

of MS. Ouseley 231, Bodleian Library/OUP.

 

IT is related that in the city of Basrah there was a man, Abu’l Fawaris,

who was the chief of the sailors of the town, for in the great ocean

there was no port at which he had not landed. One day, as he sat on

the seashore, with his sailors round him, an old man arrived in a ship,

landed where Abu’l Fawaris was sitting, and said: “Friend, J. desire you

to give me your ship for six months, and I will pay you whatever you

desire.” “I demand a thousand gold dinars,” said the sailor, and at once

received the gold from the old man, who, before departing, said that he

would come again on the next day, and warned Abu’l Fawaris that

there was to be no holding back.

The sailor took home his gold, made his ship ready, and then, taking

leave of his wife and sons, he went down to the shore, where he found

the old man waiting for him with a slave and twenty ass-loads of empty

sacks. Abu’l Fawaris greeted him, and together they loaded the ship

and set sail. Taking a particular star for their mark, they sailed for three

months, when an island appeared to one side of them. For this the old

man steered, and they soon landed upon it. Having loaded his slave with

some sacks, the old man with his companions set out towards a mountain

which they could see in the distance. This they reached after some hours

of travel, and climbed to the summit, upon which they found a broad

plain where more than two hundred pits had been dug. The old man

then explained to the sailor that he was a merchant, and that he had,

on that spot, found a mine of jewels. “Now that I have given you my

Confidence,” he continued, “I expect faithfulness from you too. I desire

you to go down into this pit and send up sufficient pearls to fill these

sacks. Half I will give to you, and we shall be able to spend the rest

of our lives in luxury,” The sailor thereupon asked how the pearls had

found their way into these pits, to which the old man replied that there

was a passage connecting the pits with the sea. Along this passage oysters

swam, and settled in the pits, where by chance he had come upon them.

He explained further that he had only brought, the sailor because he

needed help; but he desired not to disclose the matter to any one else.

 

With great eagerness then the sailor descended into the pit, and there

found oysters in great numbers. The old man let down a basket to him,

which he filled again and again, until at last the merchant cried out that

the oysters were useless, for they contained no pearls. Abu’l Fawaris

therefore left that pit, and descended into another, where he found

pearls in great number. By the time night fell he was utterly wearied,

and called out to the old man to help him out of the pit. In reply the

merchant shouted down that he intended to leave him in the pit, for he

feared that Abu’l Fawaris might kill him for the sake of the jewels.

With great vehemence the sailor protested that he was innocent of any

such intention, but the old man was deaf to his entreaties, and, making

his way back to the ship, sailed away.

 

For three days Abu’l Fawaris remained, hungry and thirsty. As he

struggled to find a way out he came upon many human bones, and

understood that the accursed old man had betrayed many others in the

same fashion. In desperation he dug about, and at last he saw a small

opening, which he enlarged with his hands. Soon it was big enough for

him to crawl through, and he found himself in the darkness, standing

upon mud. Along this he walked carefully, and then felt himself sud-

denly plunged to his neck in water, which was salt to the taste; and he

knew that he was in the passage that led to the sea. He, swam along in

this for some way, till, in front of him, there appeared a faint light.

Greatly heartened by the sight of it, he swam vigorously until he reached

the mouth of the passage. On emerging, he found himself facing the sea,

and threw himself on his face to give thanks for his delivery. Then he

arose, and a little distance from him he found the cloak which he had

left behind when he set out for the mountain; but of the old merchant

there was no sign, and the ship had disappeared.

 

Full of trouble and despondency, he sat down at the water’s brink,

wondering what he was to do. As he gazed at the sea there came into

view a ship, and he saw that it was filled with men. At sight of it the

sailor leaped from his place; snatching his turban from his head, he

waved it with all his might in the air, and shouted at the top of his

voice. But as they approached he decided not to tell his rescuers the truth

ef his presence there; therefore when they landed and asked how he

came to be on the island he told them that his ship, had been wrecked at

sea, that he had clung to a plank and been washed to the shore.

They praised his good fortune at his escape, and in reply to his ques-

tions with regard to the place of their origin, told him that they had

sailed from Abyssinia, and were then on their way to Hindustan. At

this, Abu’l Fawaris hesitated, saying that he had no business in Hin-

dustan. They assured him, however, that they would meet ships going

to Basrah, and would hand him over to one of them. He agreed then to

go with them, and for forty days they sailed without seeing any inhabited

spot. At last he asked them whether they had not mistaken their way,

and they admitted that for five days they had been sailing without know-

ing whither they were going or what direction to follow. All together

therefore set themselves to praying, and remained in prayer for some

time.

 

Soon afterwards, as they sailed, something in appearance like a minaret

emerged from the sea, and they seemed to behold the flash of a Chinese

mirror. Also they perceived that their ship, without their rowing, and

without any greater force of wind, began to move at great speed over

the water. In great amazement the sailors ran to Abu’l Fawaris and asked

him what had come to the ship that it moved so fast. He raised his eyes,

and groaned deeply as in the distance he saw a mountain that rose out

of the sea. In terror he clapped his hand to his eyes and should out:

“We shall all perish! My father continually warned me that if ever

I lost my way upon the sea I must steer to the East; for if I went to

the West I would certainly fall into the Lion’s Mouth. When I asked

him what the Lion’s Mouth was, he told me that the Almighty had

created a great hole in the midst of the ocean, at the foot of a mountain.

That is the Lion’s Mouth. Over a hundred leagues of water it will attract

a ship, and no vessel which encounters the mountain ever rises again. I

believe that this is the place and that we are caught.”

 

In great terror the sailors saw their ship being carried like the wind

against the mountain. Soon it was caught in the whirlpool, where the

wrecks of ten thousand ancient ships were being carried around in the

swirling current. The sailors and merchants in the ship crowded to Abu’l

Fawaris, begging him to tell them what they could do. He cried out to

them to prepare all the ropes which they had in the ship; he would then

swim out of the whirlpool and on to the shore at the foot of the moun-

tain, where he would make fast to some stout tree. Then they were to

cast their ropes to him and so he would rescue them from their peril.

By great good fortune the current cast him out upon the shore, and he

made the rope of his ship fast to a stout tree.

 

Then, as soon as was possible, the sailor climbed to the top of the

mountain in search of food, for neither he nor his shipmates had eaten

for some days. When he reached the summit he found a pleasant plain

stretching away in front of him, and in the midst of it he saw a lofty

arch, made of green stone. As he -approached it and entered, he observed

a tall pillar made of steel, from which there hung by a chain a great

drum of Damascus bronze covered with a lion’s skin. From the arch

also hung a great tablet of bronze, upon which was engraved the fol-

lowing inscription: “O thou that dost reach this place, know that when

Alexander voyaged round the world and reached the Lion’s Mouth, he

had been made aware of this place of calamity. He was therefore accom-

panied by four thousand wise men, whom he summoned and whom he

commanded to provide a means of escape from this calamitous spot.

For long the philosophers pondered on the matter, until at last Plato

caused this drum to be made, whose quality is that if any one, being

caught in the whirlpool, can come forth and strike the drum three

times, he will bring out his ship to the surface.”

 

When the sailor had read the inscription, he quickly made his way to

the shore and told his fellows of it. After much debate he agreed to

risk his life by staying on the island and striking the drum, on condition

that they would return to Basrah on their escape, and give to his wife

and sons one-half of what treasure they had in the ship. He bound them

with an oath to do this, and then returned to the arch. Taking up a

club he struck the drum three times, and as the mighty roar of it echoed

from the hills, the ship, like an arrow shot from a bow, was flung out

of the whirlpool. Then, with a cry of farewell to Abu’l Fawaris from

the crew, they sailed to Basrah, where they gave one-half the treasure

which they had to the sailor’s family.

 

With great mourning the wife and family of Abu’l Fawaris cele-

brated his loss; but he, after sleeping soundly in the archway and giving

thanks to his Maker for preserving him alive, made his way again to the

summit of the mountain. As he advanced across the plain he saw black

smoke arising from it, and also in the plain were rivers, of which he

passed nine. He was like to die of hunger and weariness, when suddenly

he perceived on one side a meadow, in which flocks of sheep were graz-

ing. In great joy he thought that he was at last reaching human habi-

tation, and as he came towards the sheep, he saw with them a youth,

tall in stature as a mountain, and covered with a tattered cloak of red

felt, though his head and body were clad in mail. The sailor greeted

him, and received greeting in reply, and also the question “Whence come

you?” Abu’l Fawaris answered that he was a man upon whom catas-

trophe had fallen, and so related his adventures to the shepherd. He

heard it with a laugh, and said: “Count yourself fortunate to have

escaped from that abyss. Do not fear now, I will bring you to a vil-

lage.” Saying this he set bread and milk before him and bade him eat.

When he had eaten he said: “You cannot remain here all day, I will

take you to my house, where you may rest for a time.”

 

Together they descended to the foot of the mountain, where stood a

gateway. Against it leaned a mighty stone, which a hundred men could

not have lifted, but the shepherd, putting his hand into a hole in die

stone, lifted it away from .the gateway and admitted Abu’l Fawaris.

Then he restored the stone to its place, and continued on his way.

 

When the sailor had passed through the gateway he saw before him

a beautiful garden in which were trees laden with fruit. In the mjdst

of them was a kiosk, and this, the sailor thought, must be the shepherd’s

house. He entered and looked about from the roof, but though he saw

many houses there was no person in sight. He descended therefore, and

walked to the nearest house, which he entered. Upon crossing the

threshold he beheld ten men, all naked and all so fat that their eyes

were almost closed. With their heads down upon their knees, all were

weeping bitterly. But at the sound of his footsteps they raised their heads

and called out “Who are you?” He told them that the shepherd had

brought him and offered him hospitality. A great cry arose from them

as they heard this. “Here,” they said, “is another unfortunate who has

fallen, like ourselves, into the clutch of this monster. He is a vile crea-

ture, who in the guise of a shepherd goes about and seizes men and

devours them. We are all merchants whom adverse winds have brought

here. That div has seized us and keeps us in this fashion.”

 

With a groan the sailor thought that now at last he was undone.

At that moment he saw the shepherd coming, saw him let the sheep into

the garden, and then close the gateway with the stone before entering

the kiosk. He was carrying a bag full of almonds, dates, and pistachio

nuts, with which he approached, and, giving it to the sailor, Hie told him

to share it with the others. Abu’l Fawaris could say nothing, but sat

down and ate the food with his companions. When they had finished

their meal, the shepherd returned to them, took one of them by the

hand, and then in sight of them all, slew, roasted, and devoured him.

When he was sated, he brought out a skin of wine and drank until he

fell into a drunken sleep.

 

Then the sailor turned to his companions and said: “Since I am to

die, let me first destroy him; if you will give me your help, I will do

so.” They replied that they had no strength left; but he, seeing the two

long spits on which the ogre had roasted his meat, put them into the

fire until they were red hot, and then plunged them into the monster’s

eyes. ‘

 

With a great cry the shepherd leaped up and tried to seize his tormentor,

who sprang away and eluded him. Running to the stone, the

shepherd moved it aside and began to let out the sheep one by one, in

tile hope that when the garden was emptier he could the more easily

capture the sailor. Abu’l Fawaris understood his intention: without delay,

he slew a sheep, put on the skin and tried to pass through. But the shep-

herd knew as soon as he felt him that this was not a sheep, and leaped

after him in pursuit. Abu’l Fawaris flung off the pelt, and ran like the

wind; Soon lie came to the sea, and into this he plunged, while th

, shepherd after a few steps returned to the shore, for lie could not swim.

Full of terror the sailor swam till he reached the other side of the

mountain. There he met an old man who greeted him, and, after hear-

ing his adventure, fed him and took him to his house. But soon, ‘to his

horror, Abu’l Fawaris found that this old man also was an ogre. With

great cunning he told the ogre’s wife that he could make many useful

implements for her house, and she persuaded her husband to save him.

After many days in the house, he was sent away to the care of a shep-

herd, and put to guard sheep. Day by day he planned to escape, but there

was only one way across the mountain and that was guarded.

One day, as he wandered in a wood, he found in the hollow trunk

of a tree a store of honey, of which he told the shepherd’s wife when

he went home. The next day, therefore, the woman sent her husband

with Abu’l Fawaris, telling him to bring home some of the honey; but,

on the way, the sailor leaped upon him and bound him to a tree. Then,

taking the shepherd’s ring, he returned and told the woman that her

husband had given him leave to go, and that he sent his ring in token

of this. But the woman was cunning and asked: “Why did not my

husband come himself to tell me this?” Seizing him by the cloak, she

told him that she would go with him and find out the truth. The sailor,

however, tore himself free, and again fled to the sea, where he thought

that he might escape death. In haste and terror he swam for many

hours, until at last he espied a ship full of men, who steered towards

him and tobk him on board. Full of wonder they asked how he came

there, and he related to them all his adventures.

 

It happened by great good fortune that the ship’s captain had business

at one place only on the coast, and that from there he was sailing to

Basrah. In the space of a month, therefore, Abu’l Fawaris was restored

to his family, to the joy of them all.

 

The many dangers and sufferings of the sailor had turned his hair

white. For many days he rested, and then, one day, as he walked by the

seashore, that same old man who had before hired his ship again ap-

peared. Without recognizing him, he asked if he would lend his ship on

hire for six months. Abu’l Fawaris agreed to do so for a thousand dinars

of gold, which the old man at once paid to him, saying that he would

come in a boat on the morrow, ready to depart.

 

When the ancient departed, the sailor took home the money to his

wife, who bade him beware not to cast himself again into danger. He

replied that he must be avenged not only for himself, but also for the

thousand Muslims whom the villainous old man had slain.

 

The next day, therefore, the sailor took on board the old man and a

black slave, and for three months they sailed, until they once more

reached the island of pearls. There they made fast the ship on the shore,

and taking sacks, they ascended to the top of the mountain. Once arrived

there, the old man made the same request to Abu’l Fawaris as before,

namely, that he should go down into die pits and send up pearls. The

sailor replied that he was unacquainted with the place, and preferred

that the old man should go down first, in order to prove that there was

no danger. He answered that there was surely no danger; he had never

in his life harmed even an ant, and he would of a certainty never send

Abu’l Fawaris down into the pits if he knew any peril lay there. But

die sailor was obstinate, saying that until he knew how to carry it out,

he could not undertake the task.

 

Very reluctantly, therefore, the old man allowed himself to be lowered

into the first pit by a basket and a rope. He filled the basket with oysters

and sent it up, crying out: “You see, there is nothing to do harm in this

pit. Draw me up now, for I am an old man and have no more strength

left.” The sailor replied, “Now that you are there, it were better if you

remained there to complete your task. To-morrow I myself will go into

another pit and will send up so many pearls as to fill the ship.’

For a long time the old man worked, sending up pearls, and at last he cried

out again, “O my brother, I am utterly wearied, draw me out now.”

Then the sailor turned upon him with fury, and cried out: “How is it

that thou dost see ever thine own trouble and never that of others? Thou

misbegotten dog, art thou blind that thou dost not know me? I am Abu’l

Fawaris, the sailor, whom long ago you left in one of these pits. By the

favor of Allah I was delivered, and now it is your turn. Open your eyes

to the truth and remember what you have done to so many men.” The

old man cried aloud for mercy, but it availed him nothing, for Abu’l

Fawaris brought a great stone and covered up the mouth of the pit. The

slave too he overwhelmed with threats, and then together they carried

down the pearls to the ship, in which they set sail. In three months they

arrived at Basrah. There Abu’l Fawaris related his adventures, to the

amazement of all. Thenceforward he abandoned the sea and adopted a

life of ease. Finally he died, and this story remains in memory of him.

And Allah knoweth best.

On reading this tale one can only conclude that Story of Odysseus found its way into Persia. If one picks out a thread, say the episode of the Cyclopes one may as well assume many other strands do stretch to great many other lands and climes as well.

 

 

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“You mean that mountain isn’t real?” asked young Googool amazed at the monk’s words.

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