ghost car

Speeding Ticket (Humor)


A man was driving home late one afternoon, and he was driving above the speed limit. He notices a police car with its red lights on in his rear view mirror.

He thinks “I can outrun this guy,” so he floors it and the race is on. The cars are racing down the highway — 60, 70, 80, 90 miles an hour.

Finally, as his speedometer passes 100, the guy figures he can’t outrun the cop and gives up. He pulls over to the curb.

The police officer gets out of his cruiser and approaches the car. He leans down and says “Listen mister, I’ve had a really lousy day, and I just want to go home. Give me a good excuse and I’ll let you go.”

The man thought for a moment and said,

“Three weeks ago, my wife ran off with a police officer. When I saw your cruiser in my rear view mirror, I thought you were that officer and you were trying to give her back to me!

dog bride

Mrs Fox’s Wedding (Grimm’s Fairy Tales – 38)


Once upon a time there was an old fox with nine tails. He did not believe that his wife was faithful to him and wanted to put her to the test. He stretched himself out beneath the bench, did not move a limb, and pretended to be stone dead.

Mrs. Fox locked herself in her room, and her maid, Miss Cat, sat on the hearth and cooked.

As soon as it became known that the old fox had died, suitors began to appear. The maid heard someone knocking at the front door. She opened it, and there stood a young fox, who said:

What are you doing, Miss Cat?
Are you asleep, or are you awake?

She answered:

I’m not asleep; I am awake.
Do you want to know what I am doing?
I am cooking warm beer with butter in it.
Would you like to be my guest?

“No thank you, Miss,” said the fox. “What is Mrs. Fox doing?”

The maid answered:

She is sitting in her room
Mourning and grieving.
She has cried her eyes red,
Because old Mr. Fox is dead.

“Miss, tell her that a young fox is here who would like to court her.”

“I’ll do that, young man.”

The cat went upstairs and knocked on the door.

“Mrs. Fox, are you there?”

“Yes, my dear, yes.”

“A suitor is outside.”

“What does he look like? Does he have nine bushy tails like the late Mr. Fox?”

“No,” answered the cat. “He has but one.”

“Then I’ll not have him.”

Miss Cat went downstairs and sent the suitor away.

Soon afterward there was another knock at the door. Another fox was there who wanted to court Mrs. Fox. He had two tails, but he did not fare any better than the first one. Then others came, each with one additional tail, but all were turned away until finally one came who had nine tails, just like old Mr. Fox. When the widow heard that, she spoke joyfully to the cat:

Open up the door
And throw old Mr. Fox out.

They were just about to celebrate the wedding when beneath the bench old Mr. Fox began to stir. He attacked the entire party with blows and drove them all out of the house, including Mrs. Fox.

shrekdonkey

Profit (Humor)


A city boy, Kenny, moved to the country and bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100.00. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day.

The next day the farmer drove up and said, “Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died.”

Kenny replied, “Well then, just give me my money back.”

The farmer said, “Can’t do that. I went and spent it already.”

Kenny said, “OK then, just unload he donkey.”

The farmer asked, “What ya gonna do with him?”

Kenny said, “I’m going to raffle him off.”

Farmer, “You can’t raffle off a dead donkey!”

Kenny, “Sure I can. Watch me. I just won’t tell anybody he is dead.”

A month later the farmer met up with Kenny and asked, “What happened with that dead donkey?”

Kenny, “I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $998.00.”

Farmer, “Didn’t anyone complain?”

Kenny, ” Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.”

3 fishes

Scuba trap (Humor)


The day after a man lost his wife in a scuba diving accident, he was greeted by two grim-faced policemen at his door.

“We’re sorry to call on you at this hour, Mr. Wilkens, but we have some information about your wife.”

“Well, tell me!” the man said.

The policeman said, “We have some bad news, some good news and some really great news. Which do you want to hear first?”

Fearing the worse, Mr. Wilkens said, “Give me the bad news first.”

So the policeman said, “I’m sorry to tell you sir, but this morning we found your wife’s body in San Francisco Bay.”

“Oh my god!,” said Mr. Wilkens, overcome by emotion. Then, remembering what the policeman had said, he asked, “What’s the good news?”

“Well,” said the policeman, “When we pulled her up she had two five-pound lobsters and a dozen good size Dungeoness crabs on her.”

“If that’s the good news than what’s the great news?!”, Mr. Wilkens demanded.

The policeman said, “We’re going to pull her up again tomorrow morning.”

monkeys paw

The Monkey’s Paw (Horror)


I

Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnam Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly. Father and son were at chess, the former, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical changes, putting his king into such sharp and unnecessary perils that it even provoked comment from the white-haired old lady knitting placidly by the fire.

“Hark at the wind,” said Mr. White, who, having seen a fatal mistake after it was too late, was amiably desirous of preventing his son from seeing it.

“I’m listening,” said the latter, grimly surveying the board as he stretched out his hand. “Check.”

“I should hardly think that he’d come to-night,” said his father, with his hand poised over the board.

“Mate,” replied the son.

“That’s the worst of living so far out,” bawled Mr. White, with sudden and unlooked-for violence; “of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live in, this is the worst. Pathway’s a bog, and the road’s a torrent. I don’t know what people are thinking about. I suppose because only two houses in the road are let, they think it doesn’t matter.”

“Never mind, dear,” said his wife, soothingly; “perhaps you’ll win the next one.”

Mr. White looked up sharply, just in time to intercept a knowing glance between mother and son. The words died away on his lips, and he hid a guilty grin in his thin grey beard.

“There he is,” said Herbert White, as the gate banged to loudly and heavy footsteps came toward the door.

The old man rose with hospitable haste, and opening the door, was heard condoling with the new arrival. The new arrival also condoled with himself, so that Mrs. White said, “Tut, tut!” and coughed gently as her husband entered the room, followed by a tall, burly man, beady of eye and rubicund of visage.

“Sergeant-Major Morris,” he said, introducing him.

The sergeant-major shook hands, and taking the proffered seat by the fire, watched contentedly while his host got out whiskey and tumblers and stood a small copper kettle on the fire.

At the third glass his eyes got brighter, and he began to talk, the little family circle regarding with eager interest this visitor from distant parts, as he squared his broad shoulders in the chair and spoke of wild scenes and doughty deeds; of wars and plagues and strange peoples.

“Twenty-one years of it,” said Mr. White, nodding at his wife and son. “When he went away he was a slip of a youth in the warehouse. Now look at him.”

“He don’t look to have taken much harm,” said Mrs. White, politely.

“I’d like to go to India myself,” said the old man, “just to look round a bit, you know.”

“Better where you are,” said the sergeant-major, shaking his head. He put down the empty glass, and sighing softly, shook it again.

“I should like to see those old temples and fakirs and jugglers,” said the old man. “What was that you started telling me the other day about a monkey’s paw or something, Morris?”

“Nothing,” said the soldier, hastily. “Leastways nothing worth hearing.”

“Monkey’s paw?” said Mrs. White, curiously.

“Well, it’s just a bit of what you might call magic, perhaps,” said the sergeant-major, offhandedly.

His three listeners leaned forward eagerly. The visitor absent-mindedly put his empty glass to his lips and then set it down again. His host filled it for him.

“To look at,” said the sergeant-major, fumbling in his pocket, “it’s just an ordinary little paw, dried to a mummy.”

He took something out of his pocket and proffered it. Mrs. White drew back with a grimace, but her son, taking it, examined it curiously.

“And what is there special about it?” inquired Mr. White as he took it from his son, and having examined it, placed it upon the table.

“It had a spell put on it by an old fakir,” said the sergeant-major, “a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow. He put a spell on it so that three separate men could each have three wishes from it.”

His manner was so impressive that his hearers were conscious that their light laughter jarred somewhat.

“Well, why don’t you have three, sir?” said Herbert White, cleverly.

The soldier regarded him in the way that middle age is wont to regard presumptuous youth. “I have,” he said, quietly, and his blotchy face whitened.

“And did you really have the three wishes granted?” asked Mrs. White.

“I did,” said the sergeant-major, and his glass tapped against his strong teeth.

“And has anybody else wished?” persisted the old lady.

“The first man had his three wishes. Yes,” was the reply; “I don’t know what the first two were, but the third was for death. That’s how I got the paw.”

His tones were so grave that a hush fell upon the group.

“If you’ve had your three wishes, it’s no good to you now, then, Morris,” said the old man at last. “What do you keep it for?”

The soldier shook his head. “Fancy, I suppose,” he said, slowly. “I did have some idea of selling it, but I don’t think I will. It has caused enough mischief already. Besides, people won’t buy. They think it’s a fairy tale; some of them, and those who do think anything of it want to try it first and pay me afterward.”

“If you could have another three wishes,” said the old man, eyeing him keenly, “would you have them?”

“I don’t know,” said the other. “I don’t know.”

He took the paw, and dangling it between his forefinger and thumb, suddenly threw it upon the fire. White, with a slight cry, stooped down and snatched it off.

“Better let it burn,” said the soldier, solemnly.

“If you don’t want it, Morris,” said the other, “give it to me.”

“I won’t,” said his friend, doggedly. “I threw it on the fire. If you keep it, don’t blame me for what happens. Pitch it on the fire again like a sensible man.”

The other shook his head and examined his new possession closely. “How do you do it?” he inquired.

“Hold it up in your right hand and wish aloud,” said the sergeant-major, “but I warn you of the consequences.”

“Sounds like the Arabian Nights,” said Mrs. White, as she rose and began to set the supper. “Don’t you think you might wish for four pairs of hands for me?”

Her husband drew the talisman from pocket, and then all three burst into laughter as the sergeant-major, with a look of alarm on his face, caught him by the arm.

“If you must wish,” he said, gruffly, “wish for something sensible.”

Mr. White dropped it back in his pocket, and placing chairs, motioned his friend to the table. In the business of supper the talisman was partly forgotten, and afterward the three sat listening in an enthralled fashion to a second instalment of the soldier’s adventures in India.

“If the tale about the monkey’s paw is not more truthful than those he has been telling us,” said Herbert, as the door closed behind their guest, just in time for him to catch the last train, “we sha’nt make much out of it.”

“Did you give him anything for it, father?” inquired Mrs. White, regarding her husband closely.

“A trifle,” said he, colouring slightly. “He didn’t want it, but I made him take it. And he pressed me again to throw it away.”

“Likely,” said Herbert, with pretended horror. “Why, we’re going to be rich, and famous and happy. Wish to be an emperor, father, to begin with; then you can’t be henpecked.”

He darted round the table, pursued by the maligned Mrs. White armed with an antimacassar.

Mr. White took the paw from his pocket and eyed it dubiously. “I don’t know what to wish for, and that’s a fact,” he said, slowly. “It seems to me I’ve got all I want.”

“If you only cleared the house, you’d be quite happy, wouldn’t you?” said Herbert, with his hand on his shoulder. “Well, wish for two hundred pounds, then; that ‘ll just do it.”

His father, smiling shamefacedly at his own credulity, held up the talisman, as his son, with a solemn face, somewhat marred by a wink at his mother, sat down at the piano and struck a few impressive chords.

“I wish for two hundred pounds,” said the old man distinctly.

A fine crash from the piano greeted the words, interrupted by a shuddering cry from the old man. His wife and son ran toward him.

“It moved,” he cried, with a glance of disgust at the object as it lay on the floor.

“As I wished, it twisted in my hand like a snake.”

“Well, I don’t see the money,” said his son as he picked it up and placed it on the table, “and I bet I never shall.”

“It must have been your fancy, father,” said his wife, regarding him anxiously.

He shook his head. “Never mind, though; there’s no harm done, but it gave me a shock all the same.”

They sat down by the fire again while the two men finished their pipes. Outside, the wind was higher than ever, and the old man started nervously at the sound of a door banging upstairs. A silence unusual and depressing settled upon all three, which lasted until the old couple rose to retire for the night.

“I expect you’ll find the cash tied up in a big bag in the middle of your bed,” said Herbert, as he bade them good-night, “and something horrible squatting up on top of the wardrobe watching you as you pocket your ill-gotten gains.”

He sat alone in the darkness, gazing at the dying fire, and seeing faces in it. The last face was so horrible and so simian that he gazed at it in amazement.’ It got so vivid that, with a little uneasy laugh, he felt on the table for a glass containing a little water to throw over it. His hand grasped the monkey’s paw, and with a little shiver he wiped his hand on his coat and went up to bed.

II

In the brightness of the wintry sun next morning as it streamed over the breakfast table he laughed at his fears. There was an air of prosaic wholesomeness about the room which it had lacked on the previous night, and the dirty, shrivelled little paw was pitched on the sideboard with a carelessness which betokened no great belief in its virtues.

“I suppose all old soldiers are the same,” said Mrs. White. “The idea of our listening to such nonsense! How could wishes be granted in these days? And if they could, how could two hundred pounds hurt you, father?”

“Might drop on his head from the sky,” said the frivolous Herbert.

“Morris said the things happened so naturally,” said’ his father, “that you might if you so wished attribute it to coincidence.”

“Well, don’t break into the money before I come back,” said Herbert as he rose from the table. “I’m afraid it’ll turn you into a mean, avaricious man, and we shall have to disown you.”

His mother laughed, and following him to the door, watched him down the road; and returning to the breakfast table, was very happy at the expense of her husband’s credulity. All of which did not prevent her from scurrying to the door at the postman’s knock, nor prevent her from referring somewhat shortly to retired sergeant-majors of bibulous habits when she found that the post brought a tailor’s bill.

“Herbert will have some more of his funny remarks, I expect, when he comes home,” she said, as they sat at dinner.

“I dare say,” said Mr. White, pouring himself out some beer; “but for all that, the thing moved in my hand; that I’ll swear to.”

“You thought it did,” said the old lady soothingly.

“I say it did,” replied the other. “There was no thought about it; I had just?- What’s the matter?”

His wife made no reply. She was watching the mysterious movements of a man outside, who, peering in an undecided fashion at the house, appeared to be trying to make up his mind to enter. In mental connection with the two hundred pounds, she noticed that the stranger was well dressed, and wore a silk hat of glossy newness. Three times he paused at the gate, and then walked on again. The fourth time he stood with his hand upon it, and then with sudden resolution flung it open and walked up the path. Mrs. White at the same moment placed her hands behind her, and hurriedly unfastening the strings of her apron, put that useful article of apparel beneath the cushion of her chair.

She brought the stranger, who seemed ill at ease, into the room. He gazed at her furtively, and listened in a preoccupied fashion as the old lady apologized for the appearance of the room, and her husband’s coat, a garment which he usually reserved for the garden. She then waited as patiently as her sex would permit, for him to broach his business, but he was at first strangely silent.

“I?was asked to call,” he said at last, and stooped and picked a piece of cotton from his trousers. “I come from ‘Maw and Meggins.’”

The old lady started. “Is anything the matter?” she asked, breathlessly. “Has anything happened to Herbert? What is it? What is it?”

Her husband interposed. “There, there, mother,” he said, hastily. “Sit down, and don’t jump to conclusions. You’ve not brought bad news, I’m sure, sir;” and he eyed the other wistfully.

“I’m sorry?” began the visitor.

“Is he hurt?” demanded the mother, wildly.

The visitor bowed in assent. “Badly hurt,” he said, quietly, “but he is not in any pain.”

“Oh, thank God!” said the old woman, clasping her hands. “Thank God for that! Thank?”

She broke off suddenly as the sinister meaning of the assurance dawned upon her and she saw the awful confirmation of her fears in the other’s perverted face. She caught her breath, and turning to her slower-witted husband, laid her trembling old hand upon his. There was a long silence.

“He was caught in the machinery,” said the visitor at length in a low voice.

“Caught in the machinery,” repeated Mr. White, in a dazed fashion, “yes.”

He sat staring blankly out at the window, and taking his wife’s hand between his own, pressed it as he had been wont to do in their old courting-days nearly forty years before.

“He was the only one left to us,” he said, turning gently to the visitor. “It is hard.”

The other coughed, and rising, walked slowly to the window. “The firm wished me to convey their sincere sympathy with you in your great loss,” he said, without looking round. “I beg that you will understand I am only their servant and merely obeying orders.”

There was no reply; the old woman’s face was white, her eyes staring, and her breath inaudible; on the husband’s face was a look such as his friend the sergeant might have carried into his first action.

“I was to say that Maw and Meggins disclaim all responsibility,” continued the other. “They admit no liability at all, but in consideration of your son’s services, they wish to present you with a certain sum as compensation.”

Mr. White dropped his wife’s hand, and rising to his feet, gazed with a look of horror at his visitor. His dry lips shaped the words, “How much?”

“Two hundred pounds,” was the answer.

Unconscious of his wife’s shriek, the old man smiled faintly, put out his hands like a sightless man, and dropped, a senseless heap, to the floor.

III

In the huge new cemetery, some two miles distant, the old people buried their dead, and came back to a house steeped in shadow and silence. It was all over so quickly that at first they could hardly realize it, and remained in a state of expectation as though of something else to happen ?something else which was to lighten this load, too heavy for old hearts to bear.

But the days passed, and expectation gave place to resignation?the hopeless resignation of the old, sometimes miscalled, apathy. Sometimes they hardly exchanged a word, for now they had nothing to talk about, and their days were long to weariness.

It was about a week after that the old man, waking suddenly in the night, stretched out his hand and found himself alone. The room was in darkness, and the sound of subdued weeping came from the window. He raised himself in bed and listened.

“Come back,” he said, tenderly. “You will be cold.”

“It is colder for my son,” said the old woman, and wept afresh.

The sound of her sobs died away on his ears. The bed was warm, and his eyes heavy with sleep. He dozed fitfully, and then slept until a sudden wild cry from his wife awoke him with a start.

“The paw!” she cried wildly. “The monkey’s paw!”

He started up in alarm. “Where? Where is it? What’s the matter?”

She came stumbling across the room toward him. “I want it,” she said, quietly. “You’ve not destroyed it?”

“It’s in the parlour, on the bracket,” he replied, marvelling. “Why?”

She cried and laughed together, and bending over, kissed his cheek.

“I only just thought of it,” she said, hysterically. “Why didn’t I think of it before? Why didn’t you think of it?”

“Think of what?” he questioned.

“The other two wishes,” she replied, rapidly.

“We’ve only had one.”

“Was not that enough?” he demanded, fiercely.

“No,” she cried, triumphantly; “we’ll have one more. Go down and get it quickly, and wish our boy alive again.”

The man sat up in bed and flung the bedclothes from his quaking limbs. “Good God, you are mad!” he cried, aghast.

“Get it,” she panted; “get it quickly, and wish?Oh, my boy, my boy!”

Her husband struck a match and lit the candle. “Get back to bed,” he said, unsteadily. “You don’t know what you are saying.”

“We had the first wish granted,” said the old woman, feverishly; “why not the second?”

“A coincidence,” stammered the old man.

“Go and get it and wish,” cried his wife, quivering with excitement.

The old man turned and regarded her, and his voice shook. “He has been dead ten days, and besides he?I would not tell you else, but?I could only recognize him by his clothing. If he was too terrible for you to see then, how now?”

“Bring him back,” cried the old woman, and dragged him toward the door. “Do you think I fear the child I have nursed?”

He went down in the darkness, and felt his way to the parlour, and then to the mantelpiece. The talisman was in its place, and a horrible fear that the unspoken wish might bring his mutilated son before him ere he could escape from the room seized upon him, and he caught his breath as he found that he had lost the direction of the door. His brow cold with sweat, he felt his way round the table, and groped along the wall until he found himself in the small passage with the unwholesome thing in his hand.

Even his wife’s face seemed changed as he entered the room. It was white and expectant, and to his fears seemed to have an unnatural look upon it. He was afraid of her.

“Wish!” she cried, in a strong voice.

“It is foolish and wicked,” he faltered.

“Wish!” repeated his wife.

He raised his hand. “I wish my son alive again.”

The talisman fell to the floor, and he regarded it fearfully. Then he sank trembling into a chair as the old woman, with burning eyes, walked to the window and raised the blind.

He sat until he was chilled with the cold, glancing occasionally at the figure of the old woman peering through the window. The candle-end, which had burned below the rim of the china candlestick, was throwing pulsating shadows on the ceiling and walls, until, with a flicker larger than the rest, it expired. The old man, with an unspeakable sense of relief at the failure of the talisman, crept back to his bed, and a minute or two afterward the old woman came silently and apathetically beside him.

Neither spoke, but lay silently listening to the ticking of the clock. A stair creaked, and a squeaky mouse scurried noisily through the wall. The darkness was oppressive, and after lying for some time screwing up his courage, he took the box of matches, and striking one, went downstairs for a candle.

At the foot of the stairs the match went out, and he paused to strike another; and at the same moment a knock, so quiet and stealthy as to be scarcely audible, sounded on the front door.

The matches fell from his hand and spilled in the passage. He stood motionless, his breath suspended until the knock was repeated. Then he turned and fled swiftly back to his room, and closed the door behind him. A third knock sounded through the house.

“What’s that?” cried the old woman, starting up.

“A rat,” said the old man in shaking tones?”a rat. It passed me on the stairs.”

His wife sat up in bed listening. A loud knock resounded through the house.

“It’s Herbert!” she screamed. “It’s Herbert!”

She ran to the door, but her husband was before her, and catching her by the arm, held her tightly.

“What are you going to do?” he whispered hoarsely.

“It’s my boy; it’s Herbert!” she cried, struggling mechanically. “I forgot it was two miles away. What are you holding me for? Let go. I must open the door.

“For God’s sake don’t let it in,” cried the old man, trembling.

“You’re afraid of your own son,” she cried, struggling. “Let me go. I’m coming, Herbert; I’m coming.”

There was another knock, and another. The old woman with a sudden wrench broke free and ran from the room. Her husband followed to the landing, and called after her appealingly as she hurried downstairs. He heard the chain rattle back and the bottom bolt drawn slowly and stiffly from the socket. Then the old woman’s voice, strained and panting.

“The bolt,” she cried, loudly. “Come down. I can’t reach it.”

But her husband was on his hands and knees groping wildly on the floor in search of the paw. If he could only find it before the thing outside got in. A perfect fusillade of knocks reverberated through the house, and he heard the scraping of a chair as his wife put it down in the passage against the door. He heard the creaking of the bolt as it came slowly back, and at the same moment he found the monkey’s paw, and frantically breathed his third and last wish.

The knocking ceased suddenly, although the echoes of it were still in the house. He heard the chair drawn back, and the door opened. A cold wind rushed up the staircase, and a long loud wail of disappointment and misery from his wife gave him courage to run down to her side, and then to the gate beyond. The street lamp flickering opposite shone on a quiet and deserted road.

Author: W.W.Jacobs (1902)

sailing ship

Sindbad’s First Voyage (Arabian Nights – Part – 15)


I had inherited considerable wealth from my parents, and being young and foolish I at first squandered it recklessly upon every kind of pleasure, but presently, finding that riches speedily take to themselves wings if managed as badly as I was managing mine, and remembering also that to be old and poor is misery indeed, I began to bethink me of how I could make the best of what still remained to me. I sold all my household goods by public auction, and joined a company of merchants who traded by sea, embarking with them at Balsora in a ship which we had fitted out between us.

We set sail and took our course towards the East Indies by the Persian Gulf, having the coast of Persia upon our left hand and upon our right the shores of Arabia Felix. I was at first much troubled by the uneasy motion of the vessel, but speedily recovered my health, and since that hour have been no more plagued by sea-sickness.

From time to time we landed at various islands, where we sold or exchanged our merchandise, and one day, when the wind dropped suddenly, we found ourselves becalmed close to a small island like a green meadow, which only rose slightly above the surface of the water. Our sails were furled, and the captain gave permission to all who wished to land for a while and amuse themselves. I was among the number, but when after strolling about for some time we lighted a fire and sat down to enjoy the repast which we had brought with us, we were startled by a sudden and violent trembling of the island, while at the same moment those left upon the ship set up an outcry bidding us come on board for our lives, since what we had taken for an island was nothing but the back of a sleeping whale. Those who were nearest to the boat threw themselves into it, others sprang into the sea, but before I could save myself the whale plunged suddenly into the depths of the ocean, leaving me clinging to a piece of the wood which we had brought to make our fire. Meanwhile a breeze had sprung up, and in the confusion that ensued on board our vessel in hoisting the sails and taking up those who were in the boat and clinging to its sides, no one missed me and I was left at the mercy of the waves. All that day I floated up and down, now beaten this way, now that, and when night fell I despaired for my life; but, weary and spent as I was, I clung to my frail support, and great was my joy when the morning light showed me that I had drifted against an island.

The cliffs were high and steep, but luckily for me some tree-roots protruded in places, and by their aid I climbed up at last, and stretched myself upon the turf at the top, where I lay, more dead than alive, till the sun was high in the heavens. By that time I was very hungry, but after some searching I came upon some eatable herbs, and a spring of clear water, and much refreshed I set out to explore the island. Presently I reached a great plain where a grazing horse was tethered, and as I stood looking at it I heard voices talking apparently underground, and in a moment a man appeared who asked me how I came upon the island. I told him my adventures, and heard in return that he was one of the grooms of Mihrage, the king of the island, and that each year they came to feed their master’s horses in this plain. He took me to a cave where his companions were assembled, and when I had eaten of the food they set before me, they bade me think myself fortunate to have come upon them when I did, since they were going back to their master on the morrow, and without their aid I could certainly never have found my way to the inhabited part of the island.

Early the next morning we accordingly set out, and when we reached the capital I was graciously received by the king, to whom I related my adventures, upon which he ordered that I should be well cared for and provided with such things as I needed. Being a merchant I sought out men of my own profession, and particularly those who came from foreign countries, as I hoped in this way to hear news from Bagdad, and find out some means of returning thither, for the capital was situated upon the sea-shore, and visited by vessels from all parts of the world. In the meantime I heard many curious things, and answered many questions concerning my own country, for I talked willingly with all who came to me. Also to while away the time of waiting I explored a little island named Cassel, which belonged to King Mihrage, and which was supposed to be inhabited by a spirit named Deggial. Indeed, the sailors assured me that often at night the playing of timbals could be heard upon it. However, I saw nothing strange upon my voyage, saving some fish that were full two hundred cubits long, but were fortunately more in dread of us than even we were of them, and fled from us if we did but strike upon a board to frighten them. Other fishes there were only a cubit long which had heads like owls.

One day after my return, as I went down to the quay, I saw a ship which had just cast anchor, and was discharging her cargo, while the merchants to whom it belonged were busily directing the removal of it to their warehouses. Drawing nearer I presently noticed that my own name was marked upon some of the packages, and after having carefully examined them, I felt sure that they were indeed those which I had put on board our ship at Balsora. I then recognised the captain of the vessel, but as I was certain that he believed me to be dead, I went up to him and asked who owned the packages that I was looking at.

“There was on board my ship,” he replied, “a merchant of Bagdad named Sindbad. One day he and several of my other passengers landed upon what we supposed to be an island, but which was really an enormous whale floating asleep upon the waves. No sooner did it feel upon its back the heat of the fire which had been kindled, than it plunged into the depths of the sea. Several of the people who were upon it perished in the waters, and among others this unlucky Sindbad. This merchandise is his, but I have resolved to dispose of it for the benefit of his family if I should ever chance to meet with them.”

“Captain,” said I, “I am that Sindbad whom you believe to be dead, and these are my possessions!”

When the captain heard these words he cried out in amazement, “Lackaday! and what is the world coming to? In these days there is not an honest man to be met with. Did I not with my own eyes see Sindbad drown, and now you have the audacity to tell me that you are he! I should have taken you to be a just man, and yet for the sake of obtaining that which does not belong to you, you are ready to invent this horrible falsehood.”

“Have patience, and do me the favour to hear my story,” said I.

“Speak then,” replied the captain, “I’m all attention.”

So I told him of my escape and of my fortunate meeting with the king’s grooms, and how kindly I had been received at the palace. Very soon I began to see that I had made some impression upon him, and after the arrival of some of the other merchants, who showed great joy at once more seeing me alive, he declared that he also recognised me.

Throwing himself upon my neck he exclaimed, “Heaven be praised that you have escaped from so great a danger. As to your goods, I pray you take them, and dispose of them as you please.” I thanked him, and praised his honesty, begging him to accept several bales of merchandise in token of my gratitude, but he would take nothing. Of the choicest of my goods I prepared a present for King Mihrage, who was at first amazed, having known that I had lost my all. However, when I had explained to him how my bales had been miraculously restored to me, he graciously accepted my gifts, and in return gave me many valuable things. I then took leave of him, and exchanging my merchandise for sandal and aloes wood, camphor, nutmegs, cloves, pepper, and ginger, I embarked upon the same vessel and traded so successfully upon our homeward voyage that I arrived in Balsora with about one hundred thousand sequins. My family received me with as much joy as I felt upon seeing them once more. I bought land and slaves, and built a great house in which I resolved to live happily, and in the enjoyment of all the pleasures of life to forget my past sufferings.

Here Sindbad paused, and commanded the musicians to play again, while the feasting continued until evening. When the time came for the porter to depart, Sindbad gave him a purse containing one hundred sequins, saying, “Take this, Hindbad, and go home, but to-morrow come again and you shall hear more of my adventures.”

The porter retired quite overcome by so much generosity, and you may imagine that he was well received at home, where his wife and children thanked their lucky stars that he had found such a benefactor.

The next day Hindbad, dressed in his best, returned to the voyager’s house, and was received with open arms. As soon as all the guests had arrived the banquet began as before, and when they had feasted long and merrily, Sindbad addressed them thus:

“My friends, I beg that you will give me your attention while I relate the adventures of my second voyage, which you will find even more astonishing than the first.”

(To Be Continued….)

Translated by Andrew Lang

2 roads

The Road Not Taken (Poem)


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Author: Robert Frost

tiger

The Old Tiger and the Greedy Traveler (Folk Tales from India – 5)


Once upon a time, there lived a Tiger in a forest. With the passing years, he became too old to hunt. One day, the Tiger was walking by the side of a lake and suddenly, a gold bangle came across his sight. Quickly he picked up the bangle and thought that he could use it as an allure to catch someone. As he was under the thought process, a traveler happened to pass through the opposite side of the lake.

The Tiger instantly thought to himself, “What a delicious meal he would make?” He planned a scheme to attract the traveler. He held the bangle in his paw making it visible to the traveler and said, “Would you like to take this gold bangle. I don’t require it”. At once, the traveler wanted to take the bangle, but he hesitated to go near the Tiger. He knew that it was risky, yet he sought the Gold Bangle. He planned to be cautious, so he asked the Tiger, “How can I believe you? I know you are a beast and would kill me”.

The Clever Tiger innocently said, “Listen Traveler, in my youth, I was wicked unquestionably, but now I have changed myself. With the advice of a Sanyasi, I have left all evil. Now I am all alone in this world and have engaged myself in kind deeds. Moreover, I have grown old. I have no teeth and my claws are blunt. So, there is no need to fear from me”. The traveler’s was taken in by this smart talk and his love for gold soon overcame his fear of the Tiger. He jumped into the lake to wade across the Tiger.

But as per the plan of the Tiger, he got trapped in the marsh. On seeing this, the Tiger consoled him and said, “Oh! You need not worry. I’ll help you”. Gradually he came towards the traveler and seized him. As the traveler was being dragged out, onto the bank, he thought to himself, “Oh! This beast’s talk of saintliness took me in totally. A beast is always a beast. If only I had not let my greed overcome my reason, I could be alive”. However, it was too late; the Tiger killed the traveler and ate him up. Like this, the traveler became victim of greed and Tiger was successful in his evil plan.

Moral: Greed never goes unpunished.

Source: Stories from Hitopadesha

Torah

The Melody of Torah (Jewish)


The ta’am (melody) that the Torah is chanted in is a very old and special melody. It has been handed down from generation to generation. Its’ roots are very deep. They are found in the mystical teachings of our religion. Some times people want to be innovative, to create a new melody. The following story is just that.

Once there was a secularist who was very good friends with the Rav of the city. Even though this secularist differed in opinion from his traditionally observant friends, he still visited his old friend, the city Rav, on a regular weekly basis. On one visit, the secularist, began to complain to the Rav about the unchanging ways of the Traditional Jewry.

“…And why can’t they update the tune to which the Torah is chanted?” the secularist objected. “how many years can you continue with the same old tune? Especially today when so many new and beautiful musical tunes and melodies are being brought into the world by inventive and creative composers. Answer me that!” he demanded of the Rav.

“I’ll have to think about it. Maybe you have a point. Perhaps next week I’ll be able to answer you, but for now could you do me a big favor? I’m short of money and if you could loan me 50 rubles, I’ll pay you back next week.”

“Of course,” the secularist said, honored that the Rav would ask him for a loan. He reached into his purse, “here, take this!” He handed over the money that the Rav requested.

Thanking him warmly, the Rav escorted him to the door and bid him farewell.

The next week the secularist came at his customary tea time and sat with the Rav, chatting amicably in the parlor. As the time pressed on, the secularist felt uncomfortable because the Rav had not offered to return him the money that he had lent to him so willingly and with out a note. Finally as the secularist began to leave, he turned to the Rav and said: “Pardon me for bringing this up, but did the Rav not promise to return today the 50 rubles that he borrowed from me last week?

“I borrowed 50 rubles from you?” was the Rav’s surprised reply.

“Yes, don’t you remember? Last week when I was here. Before I left!” the secularist exclaimed.

“I borrowed 50 Rubles from YOU?” the Rav responded with indignation.

“But, but the Rav promised to return the money to me today, and now you are denying that you even borrowed the money!” the secularist cried out in pain at the Rav’s breach of faith and denial of the loan.

“I BORROWED 50 Rubles from YOU?” the Rav raised his voice is dismay.

“Yes! How can you deny the good deed I did, loaning you the money. Don’t you remember we were chatting about the same old tune that has been used for the Torah reading for so many years? You said perhaps you would give me an answer this week and then you asked to borrow 50 rubles. And now you deny it!

“Who me? The Rav asked as he broke into a gentle grin, “I’m not denying anything, I said “I borrowed 50 Rubles from you” I just changed the tune of my statement!

“Don’t let anyone fool you, it’s the tune which gives the meaning to the words!”

Author: Eliezer Cohen. Source

rose

A Rose from Homer’s Grave (Hans Christian Andersen)


All the songs of the east speak of the love of the nightingale for the rose in the silent starlight night. The winged songster serenades the fragrant flowers.

Not far from Smyrna, where the merchant drives his loaded camels, proudly arching their long necks as they journey beneath the lofty pines over holy ground, I saw a hedge of roses. The turtle-dove flew among the branches of the tall trees, and as the sunbeams fell upon her wings, they glistened as if they were mother-of-pearl. On the rose-bush grew a flower, more beautiful than them all, and to her the nightingale sung of his woes; but the rose remained silent, not even a dewdrop lay like a tear of sympathy on her leaves. At last she bowed her head over a heap of stones, and said, “Here rests the greatest singer in the world; over his tomb will I spread my fragrance, and on it I will let my leaves fall when the storm scatters them. He who sung of Troy became earth, and from that earth I have sprung. I, a rose from the grave of Homer, am too lofty to bloom for a nightingale.” Then the nightingale sung himself to death. A camel-driver came by, with his loaded camels and his black slaves; his little son found the dead bird, and buried the lovely songster in the grave of the great Homer, while the rose trembled in the wind.

The evening came, and the rose wrapped her leaves more closely round her, and dreamed: and this was her dream.

It was a fair sunshiny day; a crowd of strangers drew near who had undertaken a pilgrimage to the grave of Homer. Among the strangers was a minstrel from the north, the home of the clouds and the brilliant lights of the aurora borealis. He plucked the rose and placed it in a book, and carried it away into a distant part of the world, his fatherland. The rose faded with grief, and lay between the leaves of the book, which he opened in his own home, saying, “Here is a rose from the grave of Homer.”

Then the flower awoke from her dream, and trembled in the wind. A drop of dew fell from the leaves upon the singer’s grave. The sun rose, and the flower bloomed more beautiful than ever. The day was hot, and she was still in her own warm Asia. Then footsteps approached, strangers, such as the rose had seen in her dream, came by, and among them was a poet from the north; he plucked the rose, pressed a kiss upon her fresh mouth, and carried her away to the home of the clouds and the northern lights. Like a mummy, the flower now rests in his “Iliad,” and, as in her dream, she hears him say, as he opens the book, “Here is a rose from the grave of Homer.”

USA penny

In God We Trust (Christian)


A woman of modest means and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband’s employer’s home. The boss was very wealthy, with an estate home and several cars costing more than the average house.

The woman delighted to experience first hand the life of the extremely wealthy. The boss indulged his guests both at home on his estate as well as out as exclusive dining establishments.

On one occasion as they were about to enter an exclusive restaurant, the boss was walking slightly ahead of them. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment.

An awkward silence folllowed. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, a few cigarette butts and assorted litter. Quietly, the rich man reached down and picked up the penny.

He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have of a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the penny bothered her. Finally, she causally mentioned that her son once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been rare.

A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see.

“Look at it.” He said. “Read what it says.” She read the words “United States of America.”

“No, not that; read further.”

“One cent?” “No, keep reading.”

“In God we Trust?” “Yes!” “And?”

“And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it!

God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by?

When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!”

war

History through the students’ eyes (Humor)


The inhabitants of ancient Egypt were called mummies. They lived in the Sarah Dessert and traveled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere, so certain areas of the dessert are cultivated by irritation. The Egyptians built the Pyramids in the shape of a huge triangular cube. The Pyramids are a range of mountains between France and Spain.

The Bible is full of interesting caricatures. In the first book of the Bible, Guinesses, Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. On of their children, Cain, once asked, “Am I my brother’s son?” God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Montezuma. Jacob, son of Isaac, stole his brother’s birth mark. Jacob was a patriarch who brought up his twelve sons to be patriarchs, but they did not take it. One of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, gave refuse to the Israelites.

Pharaoh forced the Hebrew slaves to make bread without straw. Moses led them to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Philatelists, a race of people who lived in the Biblical times. Soloman, one of David’s sons, had 500 wives and 500 porcupines.

Without the Greeks we wouldn’t have history. The Greeks invented three kinds of columns – Corinthian, Doric, and Ironic. They also had myths. A myth is a female moth. One myth says that the mother of Achilles dipped him in the River Stynx until he became intollerable. Achilles appears in The Iliad, by Homer. Homer also wrote The Oddity, in which Penelope was the last hardship that Ulysses endured on his journey. Actually, Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name.

Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock.

In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled the biscuits, the threw the java. The reward to the victor was a coral wreath. The government of Athens was democratic because people took the law into their own hands. There were no wars in Greece, as the mountains were so high that they couldn’t climb over to see what their neighbors were doing. When they fought with the Persians, the Greeks were outnumbered because the Persians had more men.

Eventually, the Ramons conquered the Greeks. History calls people Romans because they never stayed in one place for very long. At Roman banquets, the guests wore garlic in their hair. Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Nero was a cruel tyranny who would turture his poor subjects by playing the fiddle to them.

Then came the Middle Ages. King Alfred conquered the Dames. King Arthur lived in the Age of Shivery, King Harold mustarded his troops before the Battle of Hastings, Joan of Arc was canonized by Bernard Shaw, and victims of the Black Death grew boobs on their necks. Finally, Magna Carta provided that no free man should be hanged twice for the same offense.

In medevil time most of the people were alliterate. The greatest writer of the time was Chaucer, who wrote many poems and versus and also wrote literature. Another tale tells of William Tell, who shot an arrow through an apple while standing on his son’s head.

The Renaissance was an age in which more individuals felt the value of their human being. Martin Luther was nailed to the church door at Wittenberg for selling papal indulgences. He died a horrible death, being excommunicated by a bull. It was the painter Donatello’s interes in the female nude that made him the father of the Renaissance. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented the Bible. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100 foot clipper.

The government of England was a limited mockery. Henry-VIII found walking difficult because he had an abbess on his knee. Queen Elizabeth was the “Virgin Queen.” As a queen she was a success. When Elizabeth exposed herself before her troops, they all shouted, “hurrah.” Then her navy went out and defeated the Spanish Armadillo.

The greatest write of the Renaissance was William Shakespear. Shakespear never made much money and is only famous because of his plays. He lived at Windsor with his merry wives, writing tragedies, comedies and errors. In one of Shakespear’s famous plays, Hamlet rations out his situation by relieving himself in a long soliloquy. In another, Lady Macbeth tried to convince Macbeth to kill the Kind by attack his manhood. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couplet. Writing at the same time as Shakespear was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained.

During the Renaissance America began. Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America while cursing about the Atlantic. His ships were called the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Fe. Later, the Pilgrims crossed the Ocean, and this was known as Pilgrims Progress. When they landed at Plymouth Rock, they were greeted by the Indians, who came down the hill rolling their war hoops before them. The Indian squabs carried porpoises on their back. Many of the Indian heroes were killed, along with their cabooses, which proved very fatal for them. The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers. Many people died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.

ogre

The Sufi and the Ogre (Sufi)


A Sufi master traveling alone through a desolate mountain region was suddenly faced by an ogre–a giant ghoul, who told him that he was going to destroy him. The master said, “Very well, try if you like, but I can overcome you, for I am immensely powerful in more ways than you think.”

“Nonsense,” said the ghoul “You are a Sufi master, interested in spiritual things. You cannot overcome me, because I rely upon brute force, and I am thirty times larger than you.”

“If you want a trial of strength,” said the Sufi, “take this stone and squeeze liquid out of it.” He picked up a small piece of rock and handed it to the apparition. Try as he might, the ghoul could not. “It is impossible; there is no water in this stone. You show me if there is.”

In the half-darkness, the master took the stone, took an egg out of his pocket, and squeezed the two together, holding his hand over that of the ghoul. The ghoul was impressed; for people are often impressed by things that they do not understand, and value such things highly, more highly than they should in their own interests.

“I must think this over,” he said. “Come to my cave, and I shall give you hospitality for the night.” The Sufi accompanied him to an immense cave, strewn with the belongings of thousands of murdered travelers, a veritable Aladdin’s cavern. “Lie here beside me and sleep,” said the ghoul, “and we will try conclusions in the morning.” He lay down and immediately fell asleep.

The master, instinctively warned of treachery, suddenly felt a prompting to get up and conceal himself at some distance from the ghoul. This he did, after arranging the bed to give the impression that he was still in it.

No sooner was he sat a safe distance than the ghoul awoke. He picked up a tree-trunk with one hand, and dealt the dummy in the bed seven mighty blows. Then he lay down again and went to sleep. The master returned to his bed, lay down, and called to the ghoul:

“O ghoul! This cavern of yours is comfortable, but I have been bitten seven times by a mosquito. You really should do something about it.”

This shocked the ghoul so much that he dared not attempt a further attack. After all, if a man had been hit seven times by a ghoul wielding a tree trunk with all the force he had… ?

In the morning the ghoul threw the Sufi a whole ox-skin and said: “Bring some water for breakfast, so that we can make tea.” Instead of picking up the skin (which he could hardly have lifted in any case) the master walked to the near-by stream and started to dig a small channel towards the cave.

The ghoul was getting thirsty: “Why don’t you bring the water?” “Patience, my friend. I am making a permanent channel to bring the spring-water right to the mouth of the cavern, so that you will never have to carry a water-skin.”

But the ghoul was too thirsty to wait. PIcking up the skin, he strode to the river and filled it himself. When the tea was made he drank several gallons, and his reasoning faculties began to work a little better. “If you are so strong — and you have given me proof of it — why can’t you dig that channel faster, instead of inch by inch?”

“Because,” said the master, “nothing which is truly worth doing can be properly done without the expenditure of a minimum amount of effort. Everything has its own quantity of effort; and I am applying the minimum effort necessary to the digging of the canal.

Besides, I knew that you are such a creature of habit that you will always use the ox-skin.”

Source

gold donkey grimm

Table-Be-Set, Gold-Donkey, and Cudgel-out-of-the-Sack (Grimm’s Fairy Tales – 37)


There was once upon a time a tailor who had three sons, and only one goat. But as the goat supported all of them with her milk, she was obliged to have good food, and to be taken every day to pasture. The sons did this, in turn.

Once the eldest took her to the churchyard, where the finest herbs were to be found, and let her eat and run about there. At night when it was time to go home he asked, “Goat, have you had enough?”

The goat answered,

I have eaten so much,
Not a leaf more I’ll touch;
Meh, meh!

“Come home, then,” said the youth, and took hold of the cord around her neck, led her into the stable, and tied her up securely.

“Well,” said the old tailor, “has the goat had as much food as she ought?”

“Oh,” answered the son, “she has eaten so much, not a leaf more she’ll touch.”

But the father wished to satisfy himself, and went down to the stable, stroked the dear animal, and asked, “Goat, are you satisfied?”

The goat answered,

How should I be satisfied?
Among the ditches I leapt about,
Found no leaf, so went without;
Meh, meh!

“What do I hear?” cried the tailor, and ran upstairs and said to the youth, “Hey, you liar, you said the goat had had enough, and have let her hunger.” And in his anger he took the yardstick from the wall, and drove him out with blows.

Next day it was the turn of the second son, who sought a place next to the garden hedge where nothing but good herbs grew, and the goat gobbled them all up. At night when he wanted to go home, he asked, “Goat, are you satisfied?”

I have eaten so much,
Not a leaf more I’ll touch;
Meh, meh!
“Come home then,” said the youth, and led her home, and tied her up in the stable.

“Well,” said the old tailor, “has the goat had as much food as she ought?”

“Oh,” answered the son, “she has eaten so much, not a leaf more she’ll touch.”

The tailor would not rely on this, but went down to the stable and said, “Goat, have you had enough?”

The goat answered,

How should I be satisfied?
Among the ditches I leapt about,
Found no leaf, so went without;
Meh, meh!

“The godless wretch!” cried the tailor, to let such a good animal hunger, and he ran up and drove the youth out of doors with the yardstick.

Now came the turn of the third son, who wanted to do his duty well, and sought out some bushes with the finest leaves, and let the goat devour them. In the evening when he wanted to go home, he asked, “Goat, have you had enough?”

The goat answered,

I have eaten so much,
Not a leaf more I’ll touch;
Meh, meh!

“Come home then,” said the youth, and led her into the stable, and tied her up.

“Well,” said the old tailor, “has the goat had her full share of food?”

“She has eaten so much, not a leaf more she’ll touch.”

The tailor was distrustful, went down, and asked, “Goat, have you had enough?”

The wicked beast answered,

How should I be satisfied?
Among the ditches I leapt about,
Found no leaf, so went without;
Meh, meh!

“Oh, the brood of liars!” cried the tailor, “Each as wicked and forgetful of his duty as the other. You shall no longer make a fool of me!” And quite beside himself with anger, he ran upstairs and tanned the poor young fellow’s back so vigorously with the yardstick that he leaped out of the house.

The old tailor was now alone with his goat. Next morning he went down into the stable, stroked the goat and said, “Come, my dear little animal, I myself will take you to feed.” He took her by the rope and led her to green hedges, and amongst yarrow and whatever else goats like to eat. “Here you may for once eat to your heart’s content,” he said to her, and let her browse till evening. Then he asked, “Goat, are you satisfied?”

She answered,

I have eaten so much,
Not a leaf more I’ll touch;
Meh, meh!

“Come home then,” said the tailor, and led her into the stable, and tied her fast. When he was going away, he turned around again and said, “Well, are you satisfied for once?”

But the goat behaved no better for him, and cried,

How should I be satisfied?
Among the ditches I leapt about,
Found no leaf, so went without;
Meh, meh!

When the tailor heard that, he was shocked, and saw clearly that he had driven away his three sons without cause. “Wait, you ungrateful creature,” he cried, “it is not enough to drive you away, I will brand you so that you will no more dare to show yourself amongst honest tailors.” He quickly ran upstairs, fetched his razor, lathered the goat’s head, and shaved her as clean as the palm of his hand. And as the yardstick would have been too honorable for her, he grabbed a whip, and gave her such blows with it that she bounded away with tremendous leaps.

When the tailor was thus left quite alone in his house he fell into great grief, and would gladly have had his sons back again, but no one knew where they were gone.

The eldest had apprenticed himself to a joiner, and learned industriously and tirelessly, and when the time came for him to be on his way, his master presented him with a little table which was not particularly beautiful, and was made of common wood, but which had one good property. If anyone set it out, and said, “table be set,” the good little table was at once covered with a clean little cloth, and a plate was there, and a knife and fork beside it, and dishes with boiled meats and roasted meats, as many as there was room for, and a great glass of red wine shone, so that it made the heart glad.

The young journeyman thought, “With this you have enough for your whole life,” and went joyously about the world and never troubled himself at all whether an inn was good or bad, or if anything was to be found in it or not. When it suited him, he did not enter an inn at all, but either on the plain, in a wood, a meadow, or wherever he fancied, he took his little table off his back, set it down before him, and said, “table be set,” and then everything appeared that his heart desired.

At length he took it into his head to go back to his father, whose anger would now be appeased, and who would now willingly receive him with his magic table. It came to pass that on his way home, he came one evening to an inn which was filled with guests. They bade him welcome, and invited him to sit and eat with them, for otherwise he would have difficulty in getting anything.

“No,” answered the joiner, “I will not take the few morsels out of your mouths. Rather than that, you shall be my guests.”

They laughed, and thought he was jesting with them. He but placed his wooden table in the middle of the room, and said, “Table be set.” Instantly it was covered with food, so good that the host could never have procured it, and the smell of it ascended pleasantly to the nostrils of the guests.

“Fall to, dear friends,” said the joiner, and the guests when they saw that he meant it, did not need to be asked twice, but drew near, pulled out their knives and attacked it valiantly. And what surprised them the most was that when a dish became empty, a full one instantly took its place of its own accord.

The innkeeper stood in one corner and watched the affair. He did not at all know what to say, but thought, “You could easily find a use for such a cook as that in your household.”

The joiner and his comrades made merry until late into the night. At length they lay down to sleep, and the young journeyman also went to bed, and set his magic table against the wall. The host’s thoughts, however, let him have no rest. It occurred to him that there was a little old table in his backroom which looked just like the journeyman’s and he brought it out, and carefully exchanged it for the wishing table. Next morning the joiner paid for his bed, took up his table, never thinking that he had got a false one, and went his way.

At midday he reached his father, who received him with great joy. “Well, my dear son, what have you learned?” he said to him.

“Father, I have become a joiner.”

“A good trade,” replied the old man. “But what have you brought back with you from your apprenticeship?”

“Father, the best thing which I have brought back with me is this little table.”

The tailor inspected it on all sides and said, “You did not make a masterpiece when you made this. It is a bad old table.”

“But it is a table-be-set,” replied the son. “When I set it out, and tell it to set itself, the most beautiful dishes immediately appear on it, and wine also, which gladdens the heart. Just invite all our relatives and friends. They shall refresh and enjoy themselves for once, for the table will fill them all.”

When the company was assembled, he put his table in the middle of the room and said, “Table be set,” but the little table did not move, and remained just as bare as any other table which does not understand language. Then the poor journeyman became aware that his table had been changed, and was ashamed at having to stand there like a liar. The relatives, however, mocked him, and were forced to go home without having eaten or drunk.

The father brought out his scraps again, and went on tailoring, but the son found work with a master joiner.

The second son had gone to a miller and had apprenticed himself to him. When his years were over, the master said, “As you have conducted yourself so well, I give you a donkey of a peculiar kind, which neither draws a cart nor carries a sack.”

“What good is he then?” asked the young journeyman.

“He spews forth gold,” answered the miller. “If you set him on a cloth and say ‘Bricklebrit,’ the good animal will spew forth gold pieces for you from back and front.”

“That is a fine thing,” said the journeyman, and thanked the master, and went out into the world. When he had need of gold, he had only to say “Bricklebrit” to his donkey, and it rained gold pieces, and he had nothing to do but pick them off the ground. Wherever he went, the best of everything was good enough for him, and the more expensive the better, for he had always a full purse. When he had looked about the world for some time, he thought, “You must seek out your father. If you go to him with the gold-donkey he will forget his anger, and receive you well.”

It came to pass that he came to the same inn in which his brother’s table had been exchanged. He led his donkey by the bridle, and the host was about to take the animal from him and tie him up, but the young journeyman said, “Don’t trouble yourself, I will take my nag into the stable, and tie him up myself too, for I must know where he is.”

This struck the host as odd, and he thought that a man who was forced to look after his donkey himself, could not have much to spend. But when the stranger put his hand in his pocket and brought out two gold pieces, and said he was to provide something good for him, the host opened his eyes wide, and ran and sought out the best he could muster. After dinner the guest asked what he owed. The innkeeper did not see why he should not double the bill, and said the journeyman must give two more gold pieces. He felt in his pocket, but his gold was just at an end.

“Wait an instant, sir,” said he, “I will go and fetch some money.” But he took the tablecloth with him. The innkeeper could not imagine what this meant, and being curious, stole after him, and as the guest bolted the stable door, he peeped through a hole left by a knot in the wood.

The stranger spread out the cloth under the animal and cried, “Bricklebrit,” and immediately the beast began to let gold pieces fall from back and front, so that it fairly rained down money onto the ground.

“Eh, my word,” said the innkeeper. “Ducats are quickly coined there. A purse like that is not bad.” The guest paid his bill and went to bed, but in the night the innkeeper stole down into the stable, led away the master of the mint, and tied up another donkey in his place.

Early next morning the journeyman traveled away with his donkey, and thought that he had his gold-donkey. At midday he reached his father, who rejoiced to see him again, and gladly took him in.

“What have you made of yourself, my son?” asked the old man.

“A miller, dear father,” he answered.

“What have you brought back with you from your travels.”

“Nothing else but a donkey.”

“There are donkeys enough here,” said the father, “I would rather have had a good goat.”

“Yes,” replied the son, “but it is no common donkey, but a gold-donkey. When I say ‘Bricklebrit’ the good beast spews forth a whole sheetful of gold pieces. Just summon all our relatives here, and I will make them rich folks.”

“That suits me well,” said the tailor, “for then I shall have no need to torment myself any longer with the needle,” and he himself ran out and called the relatives together. As soon as they were assembled, the miller bade them make way, spread out his cloth, and brought the donkey into the room.

“Now watch,” said he, and cried, “Bricklebrit,” but what fell were not gold pieces, and it was clear that the animal knew nothing of the art, for not every donkey attains such perfection. Then the poor miller made a long face, saw that he had been betrayed, and begged pardon of the relatives, who went home as poor as they came. There was no help for it, the old man had to take up his needle once more, and the youth hired himself to a miller.

The third brother had apprenticed himself to a turner, and as that is skilled labor, he was the longest in learning. His brothers, however, told him in a letter how badly things had gone with them, and how the innkeeper had cheated them of their beautiful wishing gifts on the last evening before they reached home. When the turner had served his time, and was about to set forth, as he had conducted himself so well, his master presented him with a sack saying, “There is a cudgel in it.”

“I can take the sack with me,” said he, “and it may serve me well, but why should the cudgel be in it. It only makes it heavy.”

“I will tell you why,” replied the master. “If anyone has done anything to injure you, do but say, ‘Cudgel out of the sack,’ and the cudgel will leap forth among the people, and play such a dance on their backs that they will not be able to stir or move for a week. And it will not quit until you say, ‘Cudgel into the sack.'”

The journeyman thanked him, and put the sack on his back, and when anyone came too near him and wished to attack him, he said, “Cudgel out of the sack,” and instantly the cudgel sprang out and beat the dust out of their coats and jackets, right on their backs, not waiting until they had taken them off, and it was done so quickly, that before anyone was aware, it was already his own turn.

In the evening the young turner reached the inn where his brothers had been cheated. He laid his sack on the table before him, and began to talk of all the wonderful things which he had seen in the world. “Yes,” said he, “table-be-sets, gold-donkeys, and things of that kind — extremely good things which I by no means despise — but these are nothing in comparison with the treasure which I have obtained and am carrying about with me here in my sack.”

The innkeeper pricked up his ears. “What in the world can that be?” he thought. “The sack must be filled with nothing but jewels. I ought to get them cheap too, for all good things come in threes.”

When it was time for sleep, the guest stretched himself out on the bench, laying his sack beneath him for a pillow. When the innkeeper thought his guest was lying in a sound sleep, he went to him and pushed and pulled quite gently and carefully at the sack to see if he could possibly take it away and lay another in its place.

The turner, however, had been waiting for this for a long time, and now just as the innkeeper was about to give a hearty tug, he cried, “Cudgel out of the sack!”

Instantly the little cudgel came forth, and falling on the innkeeper gave him a sound thrashing. The innkeeper cried for mercy, but the louder he cried, the harder the cudgel beat the time on his back, until at length he fell to the ground exhausted.

Then the turner said, “If you do not give back the table-be-set and the gold-donkey, the dance shall start again from the beginning.”

“Oh, no!” cried the innkeeper, quite humbly, “I will gladly give everything back, only make the accursed kobold creep back into the sack.”

Then the journeyman said, “I will let mercy take the place of justice, but beware of getting into mischief again” Then he cried, “Cudgel into the sack,” and let him rest.

Next morning the turner went home to his father with the table-be-set, and the gold-donkey. The tailor rejoiced when he saw him once more, and asked him likewise what he had learned in foreign parts. “Dear father,” said he, “I have become a turner.”

“A skilled trade,” said the father. “What have you brought back with you from your travels?”

“A precious thing, dear father,” replied the son, “a cudgel in the sack.”

“What!” cried the father, “A cudgel! That’s worth your trouble! From every tree you can cut yourself one.”

“But not one like this, dear father. If I say, ‘Cudgel out of the sack,’ the cudgel springs out and leads anyone ill-disposed toward me a weary dance, and never stops until he lies on the ground and prays for fair weather. Look you, with this cudgel have I rescued the table-be-set and the gold-donkey which the thievish innkeeper took away from my brothers. Now let them both be sent for, and invite all our relatives. I will give them to eat and to drink, and will fill their pockets with gold as well.”

The old tailor had not much confidence. Nevertheless he summoned the relatives together. Then the turner spread a cloth in the room and led in the gold-donkey, and said to his brother, “Now, dear brother, speak to him.”

The miller said, “Bricklebrit,” and instantly the gold pieces rained down on the cloth like a cloudburst, and the donkey did not stop until every one of them had so much that he could carry no more. (I can see by your face that you would have liked to be there as well.)

Then the turner brought out the little table and said, “Now, dear brother, speak to it.” And scarcely had the joiner said, “Table be set,” than it was spread and amply covered with the most exquisite dishes. Then such a meal took place as the good tailor had never yet known in his house, and the whole party of relatives stayed together until after nightfall, and were all merry and glad. The tailor locked his needle and thread and yardstick and pressing iron into a chest, and lived with his three sons in joy and splendor.

What, however, happened to the goat who was to blame for the tailor driving out his three sons? That I will tell you.

She was ashamed that she had a bald head, and ran to a fox’s hole and crept into it. When the fox came home, he was met by two great eyes shining out of the darkness, and was terrified and ran away. A bear met him, and as the fox looked quite disturbed, he said, “What is the matter with you, Brother Fox, why do you look like that?”

“Ah,” answered Redskin, “a fierce beast is in my cave and stared at me with its fiery eyes.”

“We will soon drive him out,” said the bear, and went with him to the cave and looked in, but when he saw the fiery eyes, fear seized on him likewise. He would have nothing to do with the furious beast, and took to his heels.

The bee met him, and as she saw that he was ill at ease, she said, “Bear, you are really pulling a very pitiful face. What has become of all your cheerfulness?”

“It is all very well for you to talk,” replied the bear. “A furious beast with staring eyes is in Redskin’s house, and we can’t drive him out.”

The bee said, “Bear, I pity you. I am a poor weak creature whom you would not turn aside to look at, but still, I believe I can help you.” She flew into the fox’s cave, lit on the goat’s smoothly shorn head, and stung her so violently, that she sprang up, crying “meh, meh,” and ran forth into the world as if mad, and to this hour no one knows where she has gone.

golden swan

The Golden Swan (Jataka Tales – 31)


Once, the Buddha was born as a virtuous house-holder in Varanasi. He worked hard to maintain his small family of a wife and three daughters. After his death he was reborn as a golden swan with the consciousness of his former existence.

One day, being overwhelmed with the memory of the family of his previous birth, he visited them in his old house in Varanasi. There, he introduced himself and informed them of his previous life’s relationship. Later, before saying good-bye, he offered them one golden feather and advised them to sell it in the market to overcome their poverty.

Since then he was a regular visitor to his old family; and upon every visit he offered them one golden feather. With the proceeds of the feathers, soon the family overcame its poverty.

The mother of the daughters was, however, greedy and cruel. She wanted to be much richer in much less time. So, one day, she advised her daughters to pluck out all the feathers of the bird upon his next visit and become rich in no time. The daughters strongly opposed her malicious intention and warned her to refrain from any cruel act, which could pain their benefactor.

Next time, when the bird visited the family, the wife coaxed him to come near her. When he hopped on her lap, she seized him violently and plucked out his feathers. But to her surprise and disappointment what she could pluck was just the ordinary feathers. This was because the bird’s feathers were to change into ordinary ones when plucked against his wish.

The poor bird in his great agony tried hard to fly but could not. The woman then threw him away into an abandoned barrel. When his daughters saw him groaning in severe pain they gave him necessary first aid and took care of him until his fresh wings once again grew. He then flew again. But this time when he flew he never came back again.

Suvanna hamsa jataka

meditation

Zen and Fear of Death (Zen)


A young physician in Tokyo named Kusuda met a college friend who had been studying Zen. The young doctor asked him what Zen was.

“I cannot tell you what it is,” the friend replied, “but one thing is certain. If you understand Zen, you will not be afraid to die.”

“That’s fine,” said Kusuda. “I will try it. Where can I find a teacher?”

“Go to the master Nan-in,” the friend told him.

So Kusuda went to call on Nan-in. He carried a dagger nine and a half inches long to determine whether or not the teacher was afraid to die.

When Nan-in saw Kusuda he exclaimed: “Hello, friend. How are you? We haven’t seen each other for a long time!”

This perplexed Kusuda, who replied: “We have never met before.”

“That’s right,” answered Nan-in. “I mistook you for another physician who is receiving instruction here.”

With such a beginning, Kusuda lost his chance to test the master, so reluctantly he asked if he might receive Zen instruction.

Nan-in said: “Zen is not a difficult task. If you are a physician, treat you patients with kindness. That is Zen.”

Kusuda visited Nan-in three times. Each time Nan-in told him the same thing. “A physician should not waste time around here. Go home and take care of you patients.”

It was not yet clear to Kusuda how such teaching could remove the fear of death. So on his fourth visit he complained: “My friend told me when one learns Zen one loses the fear of death. Each time I come here all you tell me is to take care of my patients. I know that much. If that is your so-called Zen, I am not going to visit you any more.”

Nan-in smiled and patted the doctor. “I have been too strict with you. Let me give you a koan.” He presented Kusuda with Joshu’s Mu to work over, which is the first mind enlightening problem in the book called The Gateless Gate.

Kusuda pondered this problem of Mu (No-Thing) for two years. At length he thought he had reached certainty of mind. But his teacher commented: “You are not in yet.”

Kusuda continued in concentration for another year and a half. His mind became placid. Problems dissolved. No-Thing became the truth. He served his patients well and, without even knowing it, he was free from concern over life and death.

Then when he visited Nan-in, his old teacher just smiled.

grimms17

The Three Advices (Irish Folktales – 3)


There once came, what of late has happened so often in Ireland, a hard year. When the crops failed, there was beggary and misfortune from one end of the island to the other. At that time many poor people had to quit the country from want of employment, and through the high price of provisions. Among others, John Carson was under the necessity of going over to England, to try if he could get work; and of leaving his wife and family behind him, begging for a bite and a sup up and down, and trusting to the charity of good Christians.

John was a smart young fellow, handy at any work, from the hay field to the stable, and willing to earn the bread he ate; and he was soon engaged by a gentleman. The English are mighty strict upon Irish servants; he was to have twelve guineas a year wages, but the money was not to be paid until the end of the year, and he was to forfeit the entire twelve guineas in the lump, if he misconducted himself in any way within the twelve months. John Carson was to be sure upon his best behavior, and conducted himself in every particular so well for the whole time, there was no faulting him late or early, and the wages were fairly his.

The term of his agreement being expired, he determined on returning home, notwithstanding his master, who had a great regard for him, pressed him to remain, and asked him if he had any reason to be dissatisfied with his treatment.

“No reason in life, sir,” said John; “you’ve been a good master and a kind master to me; the Lord spare you over your family; but I left a wife and two small children of my own at home, after me in Ireland, and your honor would never wish to keep me from them entirely, the wife and the children.”

“Well, John,” said the gentleman, “you have earned your twelve guineas, and you have been, in every respect, so good a servant, that, if you are agreeable, I intend giving you what is worth the twelve guineas ten times over, in place of your wages. But you shall have your choice. Will you take what I offer, on my word”?

John saw no reason to think that his master was jesting with him, or was insincere in making the offer; and, therefore, after a slight consideration, told him that he agreed to take for his wages whatever he would advise, whether it was the twelve guineas or not.

“Then listen attentively to my words,” said the gentleman. “First, I would teach you this: Never to take a by-road when you have the highway. Secondly: Take heed not to lodge in the house where an old man is married to a young woman. And thirdly: Remember that honesty the best policy. These are the three advices I would pay you with; and they are in value far beyond any gold; however, here is a guinea for your traveling charges, and two cakes, one of which you must give to your wife, and the other you must not eat yourself until you have done so, and I charge you to be careful of them.”

It was not without some reluctance on the part of John Carson that he was made to accept mere words for wages, or could be persuaded that they were more precious than golden guineas. His faith in his master was, however, so strong, that he at length became satisfied.

John set out for Ireland the next morning early; but he had not proceeded far, before he overtook two pedlars who were traveling the same way. He entered into conversation with them, and found them a pair of merry fellows, who proved excellent company on the road. Now it happened, towards the end of their day’s journey, when they were all tired with walking, that they came to a wood, through which there was a path that shortened the distance to the town they were going towards, by two miles. The pedlars advised John to go with them through the wood; but he refused to leave the highway, telling them, at the same time, he would meet them again at a certain house in the town where travelers put up.

John was willing to try the worth of the advice which his master had given him, and he arrived in safety, and took up his quarters at the appointed place. While he was eating his supper, an old man came hobbling into the kitchen, and gave orders about different matters there, and then went out again. John would have taken no particular notice of this, but immediately after, a young woman, young enough to be the old man’s daughter, came in, and gave orders exactly the contrary of what the old man had given, calling him, at the same time, such as old fool, and old dotard, and so on.

When she was gone, John inquired who the old man was.

“He is the landlord,” said the servant; “and, heaven help him! A dog’s life has he led since he married his last wife.”

“What,” said John, with surprise, “is that young woman the landlord’s wife? I see I must not remain in this house tonight;” and, tired as he was, he got up to leave it, but went no further than the door before he met the two pedlars, all cut and bleeding, coming in, for they had been robbed and almost murdered in the wood. John was very sorry to see them in that condition, and advised them not to lodge in the house, telling them, with a significant nod that all was not right there; but the poor pedlars were so weary and so bruised, that they would stop where they were, and disregarded the advice.

Rather than remain in the house, John retired to the stable, and laid himself down upon a bundle of straw, where he slept soundly for some time. About the middle of the night, he heard two persons come into the stable, and on listening to their conversation, discovered that it was the landlady and a man, laying a plan how to murder her husband. In the morning John renewed his journey; but at the next town he came to, he was told that the landlord in the town he had left had been murdered and that two pedlars, whose clothes were found all covered with blood, had been taken up for the crime, and were going to be hanged. John, without mentioning what he had overheard to any person, determined to save the pedlars if possible, and so returned, in order to intend their trial.

On going into the court, he saw the two men at bar, and the young woman and the man whose voice he had heard in the stable, swearing their innocent lives away. But the judge allowed him to give his evidence, and he told every particular of what had occurred. The man and the young woman instantly confessed their guilt; the poor pedlars were at once acquitted; and the judge ordered a large reward to be paid to John Carson, as through his means the real murderers were brought to justice.

John proceeded towards home, fully convinced of the value of two of the advices which his master had given him. On arriving at his cabin he found his wife and children rejoicing over a purse full of gold, which the eldest boy had picked up on the road that morning. Whilst he was away they had endured all the miseries which the wretched families of those who go over to seek work in England are exposed to. With precarious food, without a bed to lie down on, or a roof to shelter them, they had wandered through the country, seeking food from door to door of a starving population; and when a single potato was bestowed, showering down blessings and thanks on the giver, not in the set phrases of the mendicant, but in the burst of eloquence too fervid not to gush direct from the heart. Those only who have seen a family of such beggars as I describe, can fancy the joy with which the poor woman welcomed her husband back, and informed him of the purse full of gold.

“And where did Mick my boy, find it,” inquired John Carson.

“It was the young squire, for certain, who dropped it,” said his wife, “for he rode down the road this morning, and was leaping his horse in the very gap where Micky picked it up; but sure, John, he has money enough, besides, and never the halfpenny have I to buy my poor childer a bit to eat this blessed night.”

“Never mind that,” said John. “Do as I bid you, and take up the purse at once to the big house, and ask for the young squire. I have two cakes which I brought every step of the way with me from England, and they will do for the children’s supper. I ought surely to remember, as good right I have, what my master told me for my twelvemonths’ wages, seeing I never, as yet, found what he said to be wrong!”

“And what did he say,” inquired the wife.

“That honesty is the best policy,” answered John.

“‘Tis very well; and ’tis mighty easy for them to say so that have never been sore tempted by distress and famine to say otherwise, but your bidding is enough for me, John.”

Straightways she went to the big house, and inquired for the young squire; but she was denied the liberty to speak to him.

“You must tell me your business, honest woman,” said the servant, with a head all powdered and frizzled like a cauliflower, and who had on a coat covered with gold and silver lace and buttons, and everything in the world.

“If you knew but all,” said she, “I am an honest woman, for I’ve brought a purse full of gold to the young master; for surely it is his; as nobody else could have so much money.”

“Let me see it,” said the servant. “Ay, it’s all right. I’ll take care of it. You need not trouble yourself any more about the matter;” and so saying, he slapped the door in her face.

When she returned, her husband produced the two cakes which his master gave him on parting; and breaking one to divide between his children, how was he astonished to find six guineas, in it; and when he took the other and broke it, he found as many more. He then remembered the words of his generous master, who desired him to give one of the cakes to his wife, and not to eat the other himself until that time; and this was the way his master took to conceal his wages, lest he should have been robbed, or have lost the money on the road.

The following day, as John was standing near his cabin door and turning over in his own mind what he should do with his money, the young squire came riding down the road. John pulled off his hat, for he had not forgotten his manners through the means of traveling to foreign parts, and then made so bold as to inquire if his honor had got the purse he lost.

“Why, it is true enough, my good fellow,” said the squire, “I did lose my purse yesterday, and I hope you were lucky enough to find it; for if that is your cabin, you seem to be very poor, and shall keep it as a reward for your honesty.”

“Then the servant at the big house never gave it to you last night, after taking it from Nance — she’s my wife, your honor — and telling her it was all right?”

“Oh, I must look into this business,” said the squire.

“Did you say your wife, my poor man, gave my purse to a servant — to what servant?”

“I can’t tell his name rightly,” said John, “because I don’t know it; but never trust Nance’s eye again if she can’t point him out to your honor, if so your honor is desirous of knowing.”

“Then do you and Nance, as you call her, come up to the hall this evening, and I’ll inquire into the matter, I promise you.” So saying, the squire rode off.

John and his wife went up accordingly in the evening, and he gave a small rap with the big knocker at the great door. The door was opened by a grand servant, who, without hearing what the poor people had to say, exclaimed, “Oh, go! — go! what business can you have here?” and shut the door.

John’s wife burst out a crying. “There,” said she, so sobbing as if her heart would break. “I knew that would be the end of it.”

But John had not been in old England merely to get his twelve guineas packed in two cakes. “No,” said he, firmly; “right is right, and I’ll see the end of it.”

So he sat himself down on the steps of the door, determined not to go until he had seen the young squire, and as it happened, it was not long before he came out.

“I have been expecting you for some time, John,” said he; “come in and bring your wife in;” and he made them go before him into the house. Immediately he directed all the servants to come up stairs; and such an army of them as there was! It was a real sight to see them.

“Which of you,” said the young squire, without making further words, “which of you all did this honest woman give my purse to?” but there was no answer. “Well I suppose she must be mistaken, unless she can tell herself.”

John’s wife at once pointed her finger towards the head footman; “there he is,” said she, “if all the world were in the fore — clergyman, magistrate, judge, jury and all. There he is, and I am ready to take my bible-oath to him. There he is who told me it was all right when he took the purse, and slammed the door in my face, without as much as thank ye for it.”

The conscious footman turned pale.

“What is this I hear?” said his master. “If this woman gave you my purse, William, why did you not give it to me?”

The servant stammered out a denial; but his master insisted on his being searched, and the purse was found in his pocket.

“John,” said the gentleman, turning round, “you shall be no loser by this affair. Here are ten guineas for you; go home now, but I will not forget your wife’s honesty.”

Within a month John Carson was settled in a nice new-slated house, which the squire had furnished and made ready for him. What with his wages, and the reward he got from the judge, and the ten guineas for returning the purse, he was well to do in the world, and was soon able to stock a little farm, where he lived respected all his days. On his deathbed, he gave his children the very three advices which his master had given him on parting:

Never to take a by-road when they could follow the highway.

Never to lodge in a house where an old man was married to a young woman.

And, above all, to remember that honesty is the best policy.

Compiled by D.L.Ashliman

Ra

The Story of Ra (Egyptian Mythology)


In the beginning, before there was any land of Egypt, all was darkness, and there was nothing but a great waste of water called Nun. The power of Nun was such that there arose out of the darkness a great shining egg, and this was Ra.

Now Ra was all-powerful, and he could take many forms. His power and the secret of it lay in his hidden name; but if he spoke other names, that which he named came into being.

“I am Khepera at the dawn, and Ra at noon, and Atum in the evening,” he said. And the sun rose and passed across the sky and set for the first time.

Then he named Shu, and the first winds blew; he named Tefnut the spitter, and the first rain fell. Next he named Geb, and the earth came into being; he named the goddess Nut, and she was the sky arched over the earth with her feet on one horizon and her hands on the other; he named Hapi, and the great River Nile flowed through Egypt and made it fruitful.

After this Ra named all things that are upon the earth, and they grew. Last of all he named mankind, and there were men and women in the land of Egypt.

Then Ra took on the shape of a man and became the first Pharaoh, ruling over the whole country for thousands and thousands of years, and giving such harvests that for ever afterwards the Egyptians spoke of the good things “which happened in the time of Ra”.

But, being in the form of a man, Ra grew old. In time men no longer feared him or obeyed his laws. They laughed at him, saying: “Look at Ra! His bones are like silver, his flesh like gold, his hair is the colour of lapis lazuli!”

Ra was angry when he heard this, and he was more angry still at the evil deeds which men were doing in disobedience to his laws. So he called together the gods whom he had made – Shu and Tefnut and Geb and Nut – and he also summoned Nun. Soon the gods gathered about Ra in his Secret Place, and the goddesses also. But mankind knew nothing of what was happening, and continued to jeer at Ra and to break his commandments. Then Ra spoke to Nun before the assembled gods: “Eldest of the gods, you who made me; and you gods whom I have made: look upon mankind who came into being at a glance of my Eye. See how men plot against me; hear what they say of me; tell me what I should do to them. For I will not destroy mankind until I have heard what you advise.”

Then Nun said: “My son Ra, the god greater than he who made him and mightier than those whom he has created, turn your mighty Eye upon them and send destruction upon them in the form of your daughter, the goddess Sekhmet.”
Ra answered: “Even now fear is falling upon them and they are fleeing into the desert and hiding themselves in the mountains in terror at the sound of my voice.”

“Send against them the glance of your Eye in the form Sekhmet!” cried all the other gods and goddesses, bowing before Ra until their foreheads touched the ground.

So at the terrible glance from the Eye of Ra his daughter came into being, the fiercest of all goddesses. Like a lion she rushed upon her prey, and her chief delight was in slaughter, and her pleasure was in blood. At the bidding of Ra she came into Upper and Lower Egypt to slay those who had scorned and disobeyed him: she killed them among the mountains which lie on either side of the Nile, and down beside the river, and in the burning deserts. All whom she saw she slew, rejoicing in slaughter and the taste of blood.

Presently Ra looked out over the land and saw what Sekhmet had done. Then he called to her, saying: “Come, my daughter, and tell me how you have obeyed my commands.”

Sekhmet answered with the terrible voice of a lioness as she tears her prey: “By the life which you have given me, I have indeed done vengeance on mankind, and my heart rejoices.”

Now for many nights the Nile ran red with blood, and Sekhmet’s feet were red as she went hither and thither through all the land of Egypt slaying and slaying.

Presently Ra looked out over the earth once more, and now his heart was stirred with pity for men, even though they had rebelled against him. But none could stop the cruel goddess Sekhmet, not even Re himself: she must cease from slaying of her own accord -and Ra saw that this could only come about through cunning.

So he gave his command: “Bring before me swift messengers who will run upon the earth as silently as shadows and with the speed of the storm winds.” When these were brought he said to them: “Go as fast as you can up the Nile to where it flows fiercely over the rocks and among the islands of the First Cataract; go to the isle that is called Elephantine and bring from it a great store of the red ochre which is to be found there.”

The messengers sped on their way and returned with the blood-red ochre to Heliopolis, the city of Ra where stand the stone obelisks with points of gold that are like fingers pointing to the sun. It was night when they came to the city, but all day the women of Heliopolis had been brewing beer as Ra bade them.

Ra came to where the beer stood waiting in seven thousand jars, and the gods came with him to see how by his wisdom he would save mankind.

“Mingle the red ochre of Elephantine with the barley-beer,” said Ra, and it was done, so that the beer gleamed red in the moonlight like the blood of men.

“Now take it to the place where Sekhmet proposes to slay men when the sun rises,” said Ra. And while it was still night the seven thousand jars of beer were taken and poured out over the fields so that the ground was covered to the depth of nine inches — three times the measure of the palm of a man’s hand-with the strong beer, whose other name is “sleep-maker”.

When day came Sekhmet the terrible came also, licking her lips at the thought of the men whom she would slay. She found the place flooded and no living creature in sight; but she saw the beer which was the colour of blood, and she thought it was blood indeed — the blood of those whom she had slain.

Then she laughed with joy, and her laughter was like the roar of a lioness hungry for the kill. Thinking that it was indeed blood, she stooped and drank. Again and yet again she drank, laughing with delight; and the strength of the beer mounted to her brain, so that she could no longer slay.

At last she came reeling back to where Ra was waiting; that day she had not killed even a single man.

Then Ra said: “You come in peace, sweet one.” And her name was changed to Hathor, and her nature was changed also to the sweetness of love and the strength of desire. And henceforth Hathor laid low men and women only with the great power of love. But for ever after her priestesses drank in her honor of the beer of Heliopolis colored with the red ochre of Elephantine when they celebrated her festival each New Year.

So mankind was saved, and Ra continued to rule old though he was. But the time was drawing near when he must leave the earth to reign for ever in the heavens, letting the younger gods rule in his place. For dwelling in the form of a man, of a Pharaoh of Egypt, Ra was losing his wisdom; yet he continued to reign, and no one could take his power from him, since that power dwelt in his secret name which none knew but himself. If only anyone could discover his Name of Power, Ra would reign no longer on earth; but only by magic arts was this possible.

Geb and Nut had children: these were the younger gods whose day had come to rule, and their names were Osiris and Isis, Nephthys and Set. Of these Isis was the wisest: she was cleverer than a million men, her knowledge was greater than that of a million of the noble dead. She knew all things in heaven and earth, except only for the Secret Name of Ra, and that she now set herself to learn by guile.
Now Ra was growing older every day. As he passed across the land of Egypt his head shook from side to side with age, his jaw trembled, and he dribbled at the mouth as do the very old among men. As his spittle fell upon the ground it made mud, and this Isis took in her hands and kneaded together as if it had been dough. Then she formed it into the shape of a serpent, making the first cobra — the uraeus, which ever after was the symbol of royalty worn by Pharaoh and his queen.

Isis placed the first cobra in the dust of the road by which Ra passed each day as he went through his two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. As Ra passed by the cobra bit him and then vanished into the grass. But the venom of its bite coursed through his veins, and for a while Ra was speechless, save for one great cry of pain which rang across the earth from the eastern to the western horizon. The gods who followed him crowded round, asking: “What is it? What ails you?” But he could find no words; his lips trembled and he shuddered in all his limbs, while the poison spread over his body as the Nile spreads over Egypt at the inundation. When at last he could speak, Ra said: “Help me, you whom I have made. Something has hurt me, and I do not know what it is. I created all things, yet this thing I did not make. It is a pain such as I have never known before, and no other pain is equal to it. Yet who can hurt me?-for none knows my Secret Name which is hidden in my heart, giving me all power and guarding me against the magic of both wizard and witch. Nevertheless as I passed through the world which I have created, through the two lands that are my special care, something stung me. It is like fire, yet is not fire; it is like water and not water. I burn and I shiver, while all my limbs tremble. So call before me all the gods who have skill in healing and knowledge of magic, and wisdom that reaches to the heavens.”

Then all the gods came to Ra, weeping and lamenting at the terrible thing which had befallen him. With them came Isis, the healer, the queen of magic, who breathes the breath of life and knows words to revive those who are dying. And she said:
“What is it, divine father? Has a snake bitten you. Has a creature of your own creating lifted up its head against you? I will drive it out by the magic that is mine, and make it tremble and fall down before your glory.”

“I went by the usual way through my two lands of Egypt,” answered Ra, “for I wished to look upon all that I had made. And as I went I was bitten by a snake which I did not see — a snake that, I had not created. Now I burn as if with fire and shiver as if my veins were filled with water, and the sweat runs down my face it runs down the faces of men on the hottest days of summer.”

“Tell me your Secret Name.” said Isis in a sweet, soothing voice. “Tell it me, divine father; for only by speaking your name in my spells can I cure you.”

Then Ra spoke the many names that were his: “I am Maker Heaven and Earth.” he said. “I am Builder of the Mountains. I am Source of the Waters throughout all the world. I am Light and Darkness. I am Creator of the Great River of Egypt. I am the Kindler of the Fire that burns in the sky; yes, I am Khepera in the, morning, Ra at the noontide, and Tum in the evening.”

But Isis said never a word, and the poison had its way in the veins of Ra. For she knew that he had told her only the names which all men knew, and that his Secret Name, the Name of Power, still lay hidden in his heart.

At last she said: “You know well that the name which I need to learn is not among those which you have spoken. Come, tell me the Secret Name; for if you do the poison will come forth and you will have an end of pain.”

The poison burned with a great burning, more powerful than any flame of fire, and Ra cried out at last: “Let the Name of Power pass from my heart into the heart of Isis! But before it does, swear to me that you will tell it to no other save only the son whom you will have, whose name shall be Horus. And bind him first with such an oath that the name will remain with him and be passed on to no other gods or men.”

Isis the great magician swore the oath, and the knowledge of the Name of Power passed from the heart of Ra into hers.
Then she said: “By the name which I know, let the poison go from Ra for ever!”

So it passed from him and he had peace. But he reigned upon earth no longer. Instead he took his place in the high heavens, traveling each day across the sky in the likeness of the sun itself, and by night crossing the underworld of Amenti in the Boat of Ra and passing through the twelve divisions of Duat where many dangers lurk. Yet Ra passes safely, and with him he takes those souls of the dead who know all the charms and prayers and words that must be said. And so that a man might not go unprepared for his voyage in the Boat of Ra, the Egyptians painted all the scenes of that journey on the walls of the tombs of the Pharaohs, with all the knowledge that was written in The Book of the Dead, of which a copy was buried in the grave of lesser men so that they too might read and come safely to the land beyond the west where the dead dwell.

Text and images courtesy: egyptianmyths.net