|SELIGOR'S CASTLE INVITES YOU TO
AN ARABIAN WEDDING.|
Yunus and the
Well of Sweetness
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
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
answered: "Yes, indeed I have one
girl left who really should be married now. But
there is one snag."
"And what is that?"
"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
"Think nothing of it,"
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
"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,"
the 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.
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
"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
"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.
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.
He got to the Giant's
cave once more, and showed him
the tiny bottle of water.
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
So Yunus told him all
that had occurred, and handed
over the bottle containing the three drops of
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
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
"Whatever do you mean,
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,"
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
"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