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Sun, 19 Dec 2010
A Tale from Arabia. Yunus and the Well of Sweetness.

Yunus and the Well of Sweetness

YunusAn Arabian Tale

Once upon a time there lived a man called Yunus, who wanted to get married. He had often seen a pretty girl at the window of his neighbour's house, and wondered if she were of marriageable age.

He went to his neighbour, and said: "Brother, have you any objection to me as a son-in-law? I think you have a daughter who would suit me."

The neighbour answered: "Yes, indeed I have one girl left who really should be married now. But there is one snag."

"And what is that?" asked Yunus.

"Well, you see, she has got such a very bad temper that I hate to inflict her upon anyone, least of all such a good friend as yourself," said the other. "The only thing which must be done before she marries is almost impossible, I'm afraid. No one would go to all that trouble for my little Fatima, I'm sure."

"Tell me about it, please," said Yunus, "and if it is in my power, I will do it."

"I have been told," said the girl's father, "that three drops of water from the Well of Sweetness will be enough to cure any woman's bad temper."

"Let me go, then," said Yunus. "Where is the Well to be found ?"

"The old woman who begs on the steps of the mosque knows," said the neighbour. "It has to be brought back in a tiny bottle, which just holds three drops. But my dear Yunus, do not put yourself to so much trouble!"

"Think nothing of it," replied Yunus cheerfully, "I shall set off today." He bought a small bottle in the market, and went off to the old woman who was seated on the mosque steps with a begging bowl in her hands.

"Where is the Well of Sweetness?" asked Yunus, dropping a coin into the bowl.

"Seven days to the West, and seven days to the East, there you will find the river. Cross that, and you will come to the country where a Giant lives. Ask him, he will tell you what you want to know," she said.

Yunus traveled on and at last arrived at the river. The ferryman rowed him across, and Yunus asked him, "Where does the Giant live?"

"In that direction," theThe Giant ferryman told him. "He has a cave in those mountains. But be polite when you speak to him, or he will hit you with his great club."

It was a long, weary walk, and when he arrived at the foot of the mountains, Yunus lay down and went to sleep. When he woke, he felt very warm and comfortable, and thought at first he must be in his own bed at home. But when he opened his eyes, he saw that he was lying in the palm of a gigantic hand.

"Hah-hah, little mortal, so you have come to visit me, have you?" said the Giant. "Who are you, and what do you want?"

"Most noble Giant," said Yunus, politely, "peace be upon you! I have come to ask you where I may find the Well of Sweetness. I only want three drops to take back to the girl I wish to marry, because she has a very bad temper."

"If you had not replied so courteously," said the Giant, "I would have crushed you like a fly! However, since I do not get many visitors who address me respectfully, I will tell you.

"Here, inside my cave, is a secret passage guarded by a three-headed dragon. Go along the passage, and when you see the dragon, say ŒBy leave of Suliman, Son of David (upon whom be peace!), let me pass!' and the dragon will let you through to the Well."

The Giant then put Yunus down on the ground, and he entered the cave with beating heart. Sure enough, as he proceeded down the passage which the Giant showed him, there was a three-headed dragon, breathing fire and lashing a long green tail. "By leave of Suliman, Son of David (upon whom be peace!), let me pass!" said Yunus, and the dragon let him continue without doing him any harm. Fairy
Well of Sweetness

After a long time there was a shaft of light ahead, and Yunus saw a beautiful fairy pulling up a bucket of water from a deep well.

"Peace be upon you!" said he, and the enchanted creature replied in a sweet voice, "Peace to you, mortal; come, I will fill your bottle for you." She did so, and handed it back to Yunus. He was so delighted, he kissed the fairy's hand in gratitude, but as he did, she disappeared.

Now he had to go back the way he had come, and it seemed twice as difficult as it had been before. The sharp stones cut his feet, and his hands were bruised as he felt his way in the gloomy rock-hewn passage.

At last he reached the fire-breathing dragon, but as soon as its six blazing eyes looked in his direction he said the magical sentence, and it allowed him to go past. dragon

He got to the Giant's cave once more, and showed him the tiny bottle of water.

"Hah-hah, little mortal," said the Giant, "you have got what you wanted. Now you must work for me for a year and a day, and then you may go home."

So Yunus served the Giant for a year and a day, cutting grass for his goats, which were milked every day, and cooking the Giant's evening meal in a big pot. He washed the dishes, hung the huge shirts out on the bushes to dry, and kept the fire alight. When a year and a day had gone, the Giant was so pleased with him that he gave him a bag of gold, and allowed him to go home with the best of goodwill.

Yunus's neighbour came out of his house and said, "Oh, my dear friend, I am so pleased to see you. Why have you been so long away? Did you get the water from the Well of Sweetness? We were afraid that something had happened to you."

So Yunus told him all that had occurred, and handed over the bottle containing the three drops of magic water.

Then he went home to his mother's house, and dressed himself in his best clothes, ready for the wedding. The Kadi came to perform the ceremony, and they went together to the neighbour's house.

After the contract had been signed, the bride appeared, veiled and jeweled, and Yunus felt himself to be the happiest man in the world. The bride's father gave the signal for the feast to begin, and everyone ate and drank to their heart's content.

That night Yunus took off his wife's veil, and found her to be as beautiful as anyone could wish. Her voice, when she spoke, was as sweet and soft as the cooing of a dove.

"Ah, dear wife," said Yunus, "what wonders there are in the world, Allah be praised! If I had not gone to get that water from the Well of Sweetness, I doubt if I would be as happy as I am to hear your voice tonight."

"Whatever do you mean, husband?" she asked. "My voice has always been like this."

"But your father told me that you were so bad tempered that only three drops of water from the Well of Sweetness would cure you," said he.

At that the girl threw back her head and laughed. Yunus demanded to know why she was making such fun of him, and shook her until she stopped. happy

"It was not I who had the bad temper," she said, "but my dear mother! My father was tormented by her spiteful tongue, and her rages. He was told by a wise man that a complete change would come over her if only she could have three drops of the magical water on her tongue. So, he decided that anyone who asked for me in marriage should go for the water so that my mother would be cured and my father saved from an early grave!"

Then Yunus laughed too, and was grateful that at least he would now have a good-tempered mother-in-law. His new wife and he were so happy together that they never had a cross word the whole of their lives.

Posted 11:18

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