Turkish: The Crow-Peri

To see all the illustrations for this story, you can read the online edition of the book at Internet Archive: The Crow-Peri.

You will see a fairy-tale incident of ivory hunting in this story. For the very real, and very sad, history of hunting elephants for their ivory tusks, see Wikipedia. Ivory also plays a role in the Seventh Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Turkish Fairy Tales unit. Story source: Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales by Ignacz Kunos, with illustrations by Willy Pogany (1913).

The Crow-Peri

THERE was once a man who had a son. The man spent the whole day in the wood, catching birds which he sold. One day the father died and the boy was left alone in the world.

He did not know what his father's occupation had been until one day among some things his parent had left, he came across a bird trap. Taking it up, he went to the forest and set it in a tree. Soon a crow flew by, alighted on the tree, and was caught. The boy climbed up and was about to seize the bird when it begged him to set it free in exchange for a much more beautiful and more valuable bird. It pleaded so earnestly that at length the boy liberated it.

He set the trap again and sat down at the foot of the tree to wait. Very soon another bird flew to the tree and was caught in the trap. The boy was astonished at its beauty; never in his life had he seen such a lovely bird. Regarding it from all sides, he caressed it and was about to carry it home when the crow flew near him and said: "Take this bird to the Padishah; he will buy it."

So the boy put the bird in a cage and transported it to the palace. On seeing the beautiful little creature, the Padishah was so pleased that he gave the boy more gold than he knew what to do with. The bird was placed in a golden cage and the Padishah amused himself with it day and night.

The Padishah had a lala who was envious of the boy's fortune and racked his brains to think of a plan for depriving him of it. One day he went to the Padishah and said: "How beautiful this bird would look in an ivory kiosk!"

"But, lala," answered the Padishah, "where could I get sufficient ivory?"

"He who brought you the bird can also procure you the ivory," said the crafty lala.

The Padishah sent for the bird catcher and commanded him to procure enough ivory to build a kiosk for the bird.

"But, Padishah," protested the youth, "where ever can I get so much ivory?"

"That is your affair," answered the King. "I will give you forty days in which to collect it: if it is not here by that time, I will have your head off."

In deep trouble the youth left the monarch's presence. While he was absorbed in thought, the crow appeared and asked the cause of his grief.

The bird-catcher told the crow what misfortune the little bird had caused him.

"Sorrow not," returned the crow, "but go to the Padishah and ask him for forty wagons of wine."

The youth went to the palace and obtained the wine. As he was coming away with it, the crow flew up and said: "Near the forest are forty drinking-troughs. All the elephants come there to drink; go and pour the wine into the troughs, and then, when all the elephants are lying stupefied on the ground, cut off their tusks and take them to the King."

The youth acted according to the crow's instructions and took the forty wagons loaded with ivory back to the palace. The King was so delighted with the quantity of tusks that he rewarded the bird-catcher lavishly. The kiosk was soon built and the bird put in.

The beautiful creature hopped about joyously in its new home, but it did not sing.

"If its master were here," suggested the wily lala," it would have the desire to sing."

"Who knows who was its owner and where he can be found?" answered the King sadly.

"He who brought you the ivory can surely discover the owner of the bird," said the lala.

So the Padishah called the youth and ordered him to find out the former owner of the bird.

"How should I know who was its owner?" said the bird-catcher, "I caught it in the wood."

"That is your affair," returned the King. "If you do not find him, you shall be put to death. I will give you forty days to seek him."

(700 words)

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