Before we start, an explanation of some of the unfamiliar Turkish words used in this tale:

Abdest –           Religious ablution

Dervish –         Mendicant monk

Kismet –           Fate

Padishah –       Sultan

Peri –               Fairy

 

OK. Now we’re ready to go…………….

 

THERE was once a Padishah who had the misfortune to have all his children stolen as soon as they reached their seventh year. Grief at this terrible affliction caused him almost to lose his reason, “Forty children have been born to me,” said he, “each seeming more beautiful than the one which preceded it, so that I never tired of regarding them. O that one at least had been spared to me! Better that I should have had none than that each should have caused me so much grief.” He brooded continually over the loss of his children, and at length, unable to endure it longer, he left his palace at night and wandered no one knew whither. When morning broke he was already a good distance from his capital. Presently he reached a spring, and was about to take an abdest to say the prayer namaz, when he observed what appeared like a black cloud in the sky, moving towards him.

 

When it came quite near he saw that it was a flight of forty birds, which, twittering and cooing, alighted at the spring.

 

The Padishah and the Dragon from Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales

Alarmed, the Padishah hid himself. As they drank at the spring one of the birds said: “Mother’s-milk was never our kismet. We must perforce drink mountain water. Neither father nor mother care for us.” Then said another: “Even if they think about us, they cannot know where we are.” At these words they flew away. The Padishah murmured to himself: “Poor things! Even such small creatures, it seems, grieve over the absence of their parents.”

 

When he had taken his abdest and said his prayers the day had fully dawned and the nightingales filled the air with their delightful songs Having travelled all night, he could not keep his eyes open longer from fatigue, and he fell into a slumber while his mind was still occupied with thoughts of his lost children. In a dream he saw a dervish approaching him. The Padishah offered him a place at his side and made the newcomer the confidant of his sorrow.

 

"The Padishah Offered him a place" from Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales

Now the dervish knew what had befallen the Padishah’s children, and said: “My Shah, grieve not; though thou seest not thy children, thy children see thee. The birds that came to the spring while thou wast praying were thy children. They were stolen by the peris, and their abode is at a year’s distance from here. They can, if they will, fly not only here but even into thy palace, but

they fear the peris. When thou departest from here, drink like the doves from the spring, and Allah will restore to thee thy children.”

 

The Padishah woke up from his sleep and, reflecting a little, he remembered the words of the dervish in his dream, and he decided to bend his steps towards the spring. What a sight his eyes beheld there! Blood was flowing from the spring. Alarmed, he wondered whether he were sleeping or waking. Presently the sun appeared above the horizon and he was convinced it was no dream. Closing his eyes and repressing his aversion, he drank from the bloody spring as though it were pure water; then, turning to the right, he hastened on his way.

 

All at once he saw in the distance what seemed like a great army drawn up in battle array. Not knowing whether they were enemies or friends, he hesitated about proceeding, but at length resolved to go forward and take his chance. On approaching the army he was surprised to find it was composed of dragons of all sizes, the smallest, however, being as large as a camel. “Woe is me!” he groaned; “who knows but what I thought a dream was sorcery! What shall I do now? If I go forward I shall certainly be cut to pieces, and I cannot go back without being seen.” He prayed to Allah for deliverance from this danger which threatened him.

 

It happened, however, that these were only newly-born dragons, the oldest being but a few days old. None of them had their eyes open, Thus they were wandering about blindly, unable to find their home, though keeping together by instinct.

 

This discovery was very reassuring for the Padishah, who gave the dragons a wide berth and so continued his way without molestation.

 

NIGHT came on, and as he wended his way among the mountains the sound of a terrible howling smote his ears. It was the dragon-mother calling her lost children. The Padishah was seized with fear as the dragon, seeing him, exclaimed: “At last I have thee; my young ones have fared ill at thy hands; thou shalt not escape–thou who hast slain a thousand of my offspring.”

 

The Padishah answered tremblingly that he had indeed seen the young dragons, but had done them no harm; not being a hunter, he had no thought of harming anyone. “If thou speakest the truth,” returned the dragon-mother, “tell me in what direction my children have gone.” The Padishah accordingly explained where he had seen them, whereupon the old dragon changed him into a tobacco-box, which she stuck in her girdle. Thus she carried him with her on her search for the missing young ones, and after a while she found them quite safe and sound.

The Baby Dragons from Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales

The Dragon-mother drove her children home before her, the Padishah still as a tobacco-box in her girdle. By and by they came across the four walls of a fortress standing in the midst of the desert. Taking a whip from her girdle the dragon struck the walls a mighty blow, on which they fell down and a larger dragon came forth from the ruins. The walls now destroyed had enclosed a fine serai, which they entered. The female Dragon, having changed the Padishah again to his original form, took him into one of the apartments of the palace and thus addressed him: “Child of men, why camest thou hither? I see thou hadst no evil intention.”

 

When the Padishah had related his story, the Dragon observed: “The matter can easily be rectified. All thy children are in the Hyacinth Kiosk. The place is a good distance away, and if thou goest alone thou wilt hardly succeed in reaching it. After crossing the mountain thou wilt come to a desert where my brother lives; his children are bigger than mine and know the place well. Go to him, present my compliments, and ask him to escort thee to the Hyacinth Kiosk.” The dragon now took leave of the Padishah, who set off on his journey.

 

It was a long time ere he had crossed the mountain and come in sight of the desert. After traversing the latter for some time he saw a serai much larger than the one he had left. At the gate stood a dragon twice as large as the other, at a thousand paces distant its eyes seemed to be closed, but from the narrow opening between the upper and lower lids came a ray of flame sufficient to scorch any human being that might come within reach of it. When the Padishah saw this he thought to himself: “My last hour is surely come.” At the top of his voice he shouted to the dragon his sister’s greeting. Hearing the words the great beast opened his eyes and as he did so, it seemed as though the whole region was enveloped in flames. The Padishah, unable to endure the sight, ran back. To the dragon he seemed no larger than a flea, and consequently not worth troubling about.

 

 

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From FORTY-FOUR TURKISH FAIRY TALES compiled and translated by Dr. Ignácz Kúnos

Illustrated by Willy Pogany

ISBN: 978-1-907256-37-0

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_fftfp.html

Click on the URL for more info, a table of contents and to order in USD or GBP.

 

A colour, hardback collector’s edition is also available at http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_fftfh.html

 

Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales

 

 

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