Turkish: Fear (cont.)

This part of the story refers to a "Shah," which is a Persian word for "king." You can find out more at Wikipedia. "Sultana," meanwhile, a word which you will also see in this story, is an Arabic word; it means "queen."

You may be surprised to find out what it finally takes to startle and frighten our hero! For a similar sort of story from the European tradition, compare the Brothers Grimm: The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was.

[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).

Fear (cont.)

HARDLY had the speaker finished when the youth himself appeared and said: "I am that youth."

All three maidens hastened to embrace him, and he proceeded: "At the Cadi's I have a bracelet that fell from the arm of one of you. A Jew would have deprived me of it, but I refused to give it up. I am now seeking its fellow."

The maidens took him to a cave where a number of stately halls that opened before him overwhelmed him with astonishment. Each was filled with gold and costly objects. The maidens here gave him the second bracelet, with which he went directly to the Cadi and received the first, returning without loss of time to the cave.

"You part from us no more," said the maidens.

"That would be very nice," replied the youth, "but until I have found fear, I can have no rest." Saying this, he tore himself away, though they begged him earnestly to remain.

Presently he arrived at a spot where there was an immense crowd of people. "What is the matter?" the youth inquired, and was informed that the Shah of the country was no more. A pigeon was to be set free, and he on whose head the bird should alight would be declared heir to the throne.

The youth stood among the curious sightseers. The pigeon was loosed, wheeled about in the air, and eventually descended on the youth's head. He was at once hailed as Shah, but as he was unwilling to accept the dignity, a second pigeon was sent up. This also rested on the youth's head. The same thing happened a third time.

"Thou art our Shah!" shouted the people.

"But I am seeking fear; I will not be your Shah," replied he, resisting the efforts of the crowd to carry him off to the palace.

His words were repeated to the widow of the late ruler, who said: "Let him accept the dignity for tonight at least; tomorrow I will show him fear."

The youth consented, though he received the not very comforting intelligence that whoever was Shah one day was on the following morning a corpse.

Passing through the palace, he came to a room in which he observed that his coffin was being made and water heated. Nevertheless, he lay down calmly to sleep in this chamber; but when the slaves departed, he arose, took up the coffin, set it against the wall, lit a fire round it, and reduced it to ashes. This done, he lay down again and slept soundly.

When morning broke, slaves entered to carry away the new Shah's corpse, but they rejoiced at beholding him in perfect health and hurried to the Sultana with the glad tidings. She thereupon called the cook and commanded: "When you lay the supper tonight, put a live sparrow in the soup-dish."

Evening came. The young Shah and the Sultana sat down to supper, and as the dish was brought in, the Sultana said: "Lift the lid of the dish."

"No," answered the youth; "I do not wish for soup."

"But please lift it," repeated the Sultana persuasively. Now as the youth stretched out his hand and lifted the lid, a bird flew out.

The incident was so unexpected that it gave him a momentary shock of fear. "Seest thou! " cried the Sultana. "That is fear."

"Is it so?" asked the youth.

"Thou wast indeed afraid," replied the Sultana.

Then the marriage feast was ordered, and it lasted forty days and forty nights. The young Shah had his mother brought to his palace and they lived happily ever after.

(600 words)

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