Turkish: Fear

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

The "helwa" referred to in the text here is a Middle Eastern sweet, from the Arabic "halwah," meaning "sweet." You can read more about the different kinds of halva at Wikipedia.

One of the characters in this story is Jewish; you can find out more about the long history of Jewish communities in Turkey at Wikipedia.

You will also see a reference to a "Cadi," which is a judge. This term is also Arabic in origin (qadi); you can read more about the role of the qadi in Islamic tradition at Wikipedia.

[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).


ONCE, a very long time ago, there was a woman who had a son. Sitting both together one evening, the mother said to her son: "Go, my child, and shut the door, for I have fear."

"What is fear?" the boy asked his mother.

"When one is afraid," was the answer.

"What then can this thing fear be?" pondered the son: "I will go and find it." So he set out and came to a mountain where he saw forty robbers who lighted a fire and then seated them selves around it.

The youth went up and greeted them, whereon one of the robbers addressed him: "No bird dares to fly here, no caravan passes this place: how then dost thou dare to venture?"

"I am seeking fear; show it to me."

"Fear is here, where we are," said the robber.

"Where?" inquired the youth.

Then the robber commanded: "Take this kettle, this flour, fat, and sugar; go into that cemetery yonder and make helwa therewith."

"It is well," replied the youth, and went.

In the cemetery he lit a fire and began to make the helwa. As he was doing so, a hand reached out of the grave, and a voice said: "Do I get nothing?"

Striking the hand with the spoon, he answered mockingly: "Naturally I should feed the dead before the living."

The hand vanished, and, having finished cooking the helwa, the youth went back to the robbers.

"Hast found it?" they asked him.

"No," replied he. "All I saw was a hand which appeared and demanded helwa, but I struck it with the spoon and saw no more of it."

The robbers were astonished. Then another of them remarked: "Not far from here is a lonely building; there you can, no doubt, find fear."

He went to the house, and entering, saw on a raised platform a swing in which was a child weeping; in the room a girl was running hither and thither.

The maiden approached him and said: "Let me get upon your shoulders; the child is crying and I must quieten it." He consented, and the girl mounted. While thus occupied with the child, she began gradually to press the youth's neck with her feet until he was in danger of strangulation. Presently, with a jerk that threw him down, the girl jumped from his shoulders and disappeared. As she went a bracelet fell from her arm to the floor.

Picking it up, the youth left the house. As he passed along the road, a Jew, seeing the bracelet, accosted him. "That is mine," he said.

"No, it is mine," was the rejoinder.

"Oh, no, it is my property," retorted the Jew.

"Then let us go to the Cadi," said the youth. "If he awards it to thee, it shall be thine; if, however, he awards it to me, it remains in my possession."

So accordingly, they went, and the Cadi said: "The bracelet shall be his who proves his case." Neither, however, was able to do this, and finally the judge ordered that the bracelet should be impounded till one of the claimants should produce its fellow, when it would be given up to him. The Jew and the youth then parted.

On reaching the coast, the boy saw a ship tossing to and fro out at sea and heard fearful cries proceeding from it. He called out from the shore: "Have you found fear?" and was answered with the cry, "Oh, woe, we are sinking!"

Quickly divesting him self of his clothes, he sprang into the water and swam toward the vessel. Those on board said: "Someone is casting our ship to and fro; we are afraid."

The youth, binding a rope round his body, dived to the bottom of the sea. There he discovered that the Daughter of the Sea (Deniz Kyzy) was shaking the vessel. He fell upon her, flogged her soundly, and drove her away. Then, appearing at the surface, he asked: "Is this fear?"

Without awaiting an answer he swam back to the shore, dressed himself, and went his way.

Now as he walked along, he saw a garden, in front of which was a fountain. He resolved to enter the garden and rest a little. Three pigeons disported themselves around the fountain. They dived down into the water, and as they came up again and shook themselves, each was transformed into a maiden. They then laid a table, with drinking glasses.

When the first carried a glass to her lips, the others inquired: "To whose health drinkest thou?" She answered: "To that of the youth who, in making helwa, was not dismayed when a hand was stretched out to him from a grave."

As the second maiden drank, the others again asked: "To whose health drinkest thou?" And the answer was: "To the youth on whose shoulders I stood, and who showed no fear though I nearly strangled him."

Hereupon the third took up her glass. "Of whom art thou thinking?" questioned the others. "In the sea, as I tossed a ship to and fro," the maiden replied, "a youth came and flogged me so soundly that I nearly died. I drink his health."

(900 words)

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