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There is a dreadful place in Persia called the “Valley of the Angel of Death.” That terrific minister of God’s wrath, according to tradition, has resting-places upon the earth and his favourite abodes. He is surrounded by ghools, horrid beings who, when he takes away life, feast upon the carcasses.

The natural shape of these monsters is terrible; but they can assume those of animals, such as cows or camels, or whatever they choose, often appearing to men as their relations or friends, and then they do not only transform their shapes, but their voices also are altered. The frightful screams and yells which are often heard amid these dreaded ravines are changed for the softest and most melodious notes. Unwary travellers, deluded by the appearance of friends, or captivated by the forms and charmed by the music of these demons, are allured from their path, and after feasting for a few hours on every luxury, are consigned to destruction.

The number of these ghools has greatly decreased since the birth of the Prophet, and they have no power to hurt those who pronounce his name in sincerity of faith. These creatures are the very lowest of the supernatural world, and, besides being timid, are extremely stupid, and consequently often imposed upon by artful men.

The natives of Isfahan, though not brave, are the most crafty and acute people upon earth, and often supply the want of courage by their address. An inhabitant of that city was once compelled to travel alone at night through this dreadful valley. He was a man of ready wit, and fond of adventures, and, though no lion, had great confidence in his cunning, which had brought him through a hundred scrapes and perils that would have embarrassed or destroyed your simple man of valour.

This man, whose name was Ameen Beg, had heard many stories of the ghools of the “Valley of the Angel of Death,” and thought it likely he might meet one. He prepared accordingly, by putting an egg and a lump of salt in his pocket. He had not gone far amidst the rocks, when he heard a voice crying, “Holloa, Ameen Beg Isfahânee! you are going the wrong road, you will lose yourself; come this way. I am your friend Kerreem Beg; I know your father, old Kerbela Beg, and the street in which you were born.” Ameen knew well the power the ghools had of assuming the shape of any person they choose; and he also knew their skill as genealogists, and their knowledge of towns as well as families; he had therefore little doubt this was one of those creatures alluring him to destruction. He, however, determined to encounter him, and trust to his art for his escape.

“Stop, my friend, till I come near you,” was his reply. When Ameen came close to the ghool, he said, “You are not my friend Kerreem; you are a lying demon, but you are just the being I desired to meet. I have tried my strength against all the men and all the beasts which exist in the natural world, and I can find nothing that is a match for me. I came therefore to this valley in the hope of encountering a ghool, that I might prove my prowess upon him.”

The ghool, astonished at being addressed in this manner, looked keenly at him, and said, “Son of Adam, you do not appear so strong.” “Appearances are deceitful,” replied Ameen, “but I will give you a proof of my strength. There,” said he, picking up a stone from a rivulet, “this contains a fluid; try if you can so squeeze it that it will flow out.” The ghool took the stone, but, after a short attempt, returned it, saying, “The thing is impossible.” “Quite easy,” said the Isfahânee, taking the stone and placing it in the hand in which he had before put the egg. “Look there!” And the astonished ghool, while he heard what he took for the breaking of the stone, saw the liquid run from between Ameen’s fingers, and this apparently without any effort.

Ameen, aided by the darkness, placed the stone upon the ground while he picked up another of a darker hue. “This,” said he, “I can see contains salt, as you will find if you can crumble it between your fingers; “but the ghool, looking at it, confessed he had neither knowledge to discover its qualities nor strength to break it. “Give it me,” said his companion impatiently; and, having put it into the same hand with the piece of salt, he instantly gave the latter all crushed to the ghool, who, seeing it reduced to powder, tasted it, and remained in stupid astonishment at the skill and strength of this wonderful man. Neither was he without alarm lest his strength should be exerted against himself, and he saw no safety in resorting to the shape of a beast, for Ameen had warned him that if he commenced any such unfair dealing, he would instantly slay him; for ghools, though long-lived, are not immortal.

Under such circumstances he thought his best plan was to conciliate the friendship of his new companion till he found an opportunity of destroying him.

“Most wonderful man,” he said, “will you honour my abode with your presence? it is quite at hand there you will find every refreshment; and after a comfortable night’s rest you can resume your journey.”

“I have no objection, friend ghool, to accept your offer; but, mark me, I am, in the first place, very passionate, and must not be provoked by any expressions which are in the least disrespectful; and, in the second, I am full of penetration, and can see through your designs as clearly as I saw into that hard stone in which I discovered salt. So take care you entertain none that are wicked, or you shall suffer.”

The ghool declared that the ear of his guest should be pained by no expression to which it did not befit his dignity to listen; and he swore by the head of his liege lord, the Angel of Death, that he would faithfully respect the rights of hospitality and friendship.

Thus satisfied, Ameen followed the ghool through a number of crooked paths, rugged cliffs, and deep ravines, till they came to a large cave, which was dimly lighted. “Here,” said the ghool, “I dwell, and here my friend will find all he can want for refreshment and repose.” So saying, he led him to various apartments, in which were hoarded every species of grain, and all kinds of merchandise, plundered from travellers who had been deluded to this den, and of whose fate Ameen was too well informed by the bones over which he now and then stumbled, and by the putrid smell produced by some half-consumed carcasses. “This will be sufficient for your supper, I hope,” said the ghool, taking up a large bag of rice; “a man of your prowess must have a tolerable appetite.” “True,” said Ameen, “but I ate a sheep and as much rice as you have there before I proceeded on my journey. I am, consequently, not hungry, but will take a little lest I offend your hospitality.” “I must boil it for you,” said the demon; “you do not eat grain and meat raw, as we do. Here is a kettle,” said he, taking up one lying amongst the plundered property. “I will go and get wood for a fire, while you fetch water with that,” pointing to a bag made of the hides of six oxen.

Ameen waited till he saw his host leave the cave for the wood, and then with great difficulty he dragged the enormous bag to the bank of a dark stream, which issued from the rocks at the other end of the cavern, and, after being visible for a few yards, disappeared underground.

“How shall I,” thought Ameen, “prevent my weakness being discovered? This bag I could hardly manage when empty; when full, it would require twenty strong men to carry it; what shall I do? I shall certainly be eaten up by this cannibal ghool, who is now only kept in order by the impression of my great strength.” After some minutes’ reflection the Isfahânee thought of a scheme, and began digging a small channel from the stream towards the place where his supper was preparing.

“What are you doing?” vociferated the ghool, as he advanced towards him; “I sent you for water to boil a little rice, and you have been an hour about it. Cannot you fill the bag and bring it away?” “Certainly I can,” said Ameen; “if I were content, after all your kindness, to show my gratitude merely by feats of brute strength, I could lift your stream if you had a bag large enough to hold it. But here,” said he, pointing to the channel he had begun,” here is the commencement of a work in which the mind of a man is employed to lessen the labour of his body. This canal, small as it may appear, will carry a stream to the other end of the cave, in which I will construct a dam that you can open and shut at pleasure, and thereby save yourself infinite trouble in fetching water. But pray let me alone till it is finished,” and he began to dig. “Nonsense!” said the ghool, seizing the bag and filling it; “I will carry the water myself, and I advise you to leave off your canal, as you call it, and follow me, that you may eat your supper and go to sleep; you may finish this fine work, if you like it, tomorrow morning.”

Ameen congratulated himself on this escape, and was not slow in taking the advice of his host. After having ate heartily of the supper that was prepared, he went to repose on a bed made of the richest coverlets and pillows, which were taken from one of the store-rooms of plundered goods. The ghool, whose bed was also in the cave, had no sooner laid down than he fell into a sound sleep. The anxiety of Ameen’s mind prevented him from following his example; he rose gently, and having stuffed a long pillow into the middle of his bed, to make it appear as if he was still there, he retired to a concealed place in the cavern to watch the proceedings of the ghool. The latter awoke a short time before daylight, and rising, went, without making any noise, towards Ameen’s bed, where, not observing the least stir, he was satisfied that his guest was in a deep sleep; so he took up one of his walking-sticks, which was in size like the trunk of a tree, and struck a terrible blow at what he supposed to be Ameen’s head. He smiled not to hear a groan, thinking he had deprived him of life; but to make sure of his work, he repeated the blow seven times. He then returned to rest, but had hardly settled himself to sleep, when Ameen, who had crept into the bed, raised his head above the clothes and exclaimed, “Friend ghool, what insect could it be that has disturbed me by its tapping? I counted the flap of its little wings seven times on the coverlet. These vermin are very annoying, for, though they cannot hurt a man, they disturb his rest!”

The ghool’s dismay on hearing Ameen speak at all was great, but that was increased to perfect fright when he heard him describe seven blows, any one of which would have felled an elephant, as seven flaps of an insect’s wing. There was no safety, he thought, near so wonderful a man, and he soon afterwards arose and fled from the cave, leaving the Isfahânee its sole master.

When Ameen found his host gone, he was at no loss to conjecture the cause, and immediately began to survey the treasures with which he was surrounded, and to contrive means for removing them to his home.

After examining the contents of the cave, and arming himself with a matchlock, which had belonged to some victim of the ghool, he proceeded to survey the road. He had, however, only gone a short distance when he saw the ghool returning with a large club in his hand, and accompanied by a fox.

Ameen’s knowledge of the cunning animal instantly led him to suspect that it had undeceived his enemy, but his presence of mind did not forsake him.

“Take that,” said he to the fox, aiming a ball at him from his matchlock, and shooting him through the head,—”Take that for your not performing my orders. That brute,” said he, “promised to bring me seven ghools, that I might chain them, and carry them to Isfahan, and here he has only brought you, who are already my slave.” So saying, he advanced towards the ghool; but the latter had already taken to flight, and by the aid of his club bounded so rapidly over rocks and precipices that he was soon out of sight.

Ameen having well marked the path from the cavern to the road, went to the nearest town and hired camels and mules to remove the property he had acquired. After making restitution to all who remained alive to prove their goods, he became, from what was unclaimed, a man of wealth, all of which was owing to that wit and art which ever overcome brute strength and courage.

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From Oriental Folklore and Legends – Tales from Along the Silk Route.

ISBN: 978-1-907256-10-3

Paperback: http://abelapublishing.com/oriental-folklore-and-legends_p23332648.htm

eBook: http://abelapublishing.com/oriental-folklore-and-legends-ebook_p24838063.htm

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There was an old man with a multitude of children. He had an underground cave in the forest. He said, ‘Make me a honey-cake, for I will go and earn something.’ He went into the forest, and found a well. By the well was a table. He laid the cake on the table. The crows came and ate it. He slept by the well. He arose and saw the flies eating the crumbs. He struck a blow and killed a hundred flies. He wrote that he had killed a hundred souls with one blow. And he lay down and slept.

 

A dragon came with a buffalo’s skin to draw water. He saw what was written on the table, that he had killed a hundred souls. When he saw the old man, he feared. The old man awoke, and he too feared.

 

The dragon said, ‘Let’s become brothers.’

 

And they swore that they would be Brothers of the Cross. The dragon drew water. ‘Come with me, brother, to my palace.’

 

They went along a footpath, the old man first. When the dragon panted, he drove the old man forward; when he drew in his breath, he pulled him back. The dragon said, ‘Brother, why do you sometimes run forward and sometimes come back?’

 

‘I am thinking whether to kill you.’

 

‘Stay, brother, I will go first and you behind; maybe you will change your mind.’

 

They came to a cherry-tree. ‘Here, brother, have some cherries.’

 

The dragon climbed up, and the old man was eating below. The dragon said, ‘Come up, they’re better here.’

The deluded dragon from “Gypsy Folk Tales Book One – Illustrated Edition”

The old man said, ‘No, they aren’t, for the birds have defiled them.’

 

‘Catch hold of this bough.’

 

The old man did so. The dragon let go of it, and jerked the old man up, and he fell on a hare and caught it.

 

The dragon said, ‘What’s the matter, brother? Was the bough too strong for you?’

 

‘I sprang of my own accord, and caught this hare. I hadn’t time to run round, so up I sprang.’

 

The dragon came down and went home. The old man said, ‘Would you like a present, sister-in-law?’ [seemingly offering the hare to the dragon’s wife].

 

‘Thanks, brother-in-law.’

 

The dragon said to her aside, ‘Don’t say a word to him, else he’ll kill us, for he has killed a hundred souls with one blow.’ He sent him to fetch water: ‘Go for water, brother.’

 

He took the spade and the buffalo’s hide, dragged it after him, and went to the well, and was digging all round the well.

 

The dragon went to him. ‘What are you doing, brother?’

 

‘I am digging the whole well to carry it home.’

 

‘Don’t destroy the spring; I’ll draw the water myself.’

 

The dragon drew the water, and took the old man by the hand, and led him home. He sent him to the forest to fetch a tree. He stripped off bark, and made himself a rope, and bound the trees.

 

The dragon came. ‘What are you doing, brother?’

 

‘I am going to take the whole forest and carry it home.’

 

‘Don’t destroy my forest, brother. I’ll carry it myself.’ The dragon took a tree on his shoulders, and went home.

 

He said to his wife, ‘What shall we do, wife, for he will kill us if we anger him?’

 

She said, ‘Take uncle’s big club, and hit him on the head.’

 

The old man heard. He slept of a night on a bench. And he took the beetle, put it on the bench, dressed it up in his coat, and put his cap on the top of it. And he lay down under the bench. The dragon took the club, and felt the cap, and struck with the club. The old man arose, removed the beetle, put it under the bench, and lay down on the bench. He scratched his head. ‘God will punish you, brother, and your household, for a flea has bitten me on the head.’

 

‘There! do you hear, wife? I hit him on the head with the club, and he says a mere flea has bitten him. What shall we do with him, wife?’

 

Give him a sackful of money to go away.’

 

‘What will you take to go, brother? I’ll give you a sackful of money.’

 

‘Give it me.’

 

He gave it. ‘Take it, brother, and be gone.’

 

‘I brought my present myself; do you carry yours yourself.’

 

The dragon took it on his shoulders and carried it. They drew near to the underground cavern. The old man said, ‘Stay here, brother, whilst I go home and tie up the dogs, else they’ll wholly devour you.’ The old man went home to his children, and made them wooden knives, and told them to say when they saw the dragon, ‘Mother, father’s bringing a dragon; we’ll eat his flesh.’

 

The dragon heard them, and flung down the sack, and fled. And he met a fox.

 

‘Where are you flying to, dragon?’

 

‘The old man will kill me.’

 

‘Fear not; come along with me. I’ll kill him, he’s so weak.’

 

The children came outside and cried, ‘Mother, the fox is bringing us the dragon skin he owes us, to cover the cave with.’

 

The dragon took to flight, and caught the fox, and dashed him to the earth; and the fox died. The old man went to the town, and got a cart, and put the money in it. Then he went to the town, and built himself houses, and bought himself oxen and cows.

 

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From: GYPSY FOLK TALES BOOK ONE – Illustrated Edition

ISBN: 978-1-907256-XX-X

http://www.abelapublishing.com/gypsytales1-ill.html

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to THE RELIEF FUND for ROMANIA

 

Gypsy Folk Tales Book One - Illustrated Edition

 

 

A Dog and a Cock, who were the best of friends, wished very much to see something of the world. So they decided to leave the farmyard and to set out into the world along the road that led to the woods. The two comrades travelled along in the very best of spirits and without meeting any adventure to speak of.

The Dog, the cock and the fox from Aesop for children

At nightfall the Cock, looking for a place to roost, as was his custom, spied nearby a hollow tree that he thought would do very nicely for a night’s lodging. The Dog could creep inside and the Cock would fly up on one of the branches. So said, so done, and both slept very comfortably.

 

With the first glimmer of dawn the Cock awoke. For the moment he forgot just where he was. He thought he was still in the farmyard where it had been his duty to arouse the household at daybreak. So standing on tip-toes he flapped his wings and crowed lustily. But instead of awakening the farmer, he awakened a Fox not far off in the wood. The Fox immediately had rosy visions of a very delicious breakfast. Hurrying to the tree where the Cock was roosting, he said very politely:

 

“A hearty welcome to our woods, honoured sir. I cannot tell you how glad I am to see you here. I am quite sure we shall become the closest of friends.”

 

“I feel highly flattered, kind sir,” replied the Cock slyly. “If you will please go around to the door of my house at the foot of the tree, my porter will let you in.”

 

The hungry but unsuspecting Fox, went around the tree as he was told, and in a twinkling the Dog had seized him.

Moral: Those who try to deceive may expect to be paid in their own coin

 

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From: ÆSOP FOR CHILDREN

 

Available as a PDF eBook at:  http://store.payloadz.com/details/1011742-ebooks-children%27s-ebooks-aesop-for-children-1919-.html

 

The Dog, the cock and the fox from Aesop for children

33% of the profit from the sale of this book will be donated to CECILY’S FUND, a charity educating and supporting Zambian children orphaned by aids.

There was once a little Kid whose growing horns made him think he was a grown-up Billy Goat and able to take care of himself. So one evening when the flock started home from the pasture and his mother called, the Kid paid no heed and kept right on nibbling the tender grass. A little later when he lifted his head, the flock was gone.

 

He was all alone. The sun was sinking. Long shadows came creeping over the ground. A chilly little wind came creeping with them making scary noises in the grass. The Kid shivered as he thought of the terrible Wolf. Then he started wildly over the field, bleating for his mother. But not half-way, near a clump of trees, there was the Wolf!

The wolf and the kid from Aesop's fables for Children

The Kid knew there was little hope for him.

 

“Please, Mr. Wolf,” he said trembling, “I know you are going to eat me. But first please pipe me a tune, for I want to dance and be merry as long as I can.”

 

The Wolf liked the idea of a little music before eating, so he struck up a merry tune and the Kid leaped and frisked gaily.

 

Meanwhile, the flock was moving slowly homeward. In the still evening air the Wolf’s piping carried far. The Shepherd Dogs pricked up their ears. They recognized the song the Wolf sings before a feast, and in a moment they were racing back to the pasture. The Wolf’s song ended suddenly, and as he ran, with the Dogs at his heels, he called himself a fool for turning piper to please a Kid, when he should have stuck to his butcher’s trade.

 

MORAL: Do not let anything turn you from your purpose

 

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From ÆSOP FOR CHILDREN

To be published as a paperback and ebook during the summer of 2012

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to Cecily’s Fund – educating Zambian children orphaned by Aids.

 

 

 

 

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