The Relations of Ssidi Kur – 9. The Stealing of the Heart (Arabic Folk Tale)

When the Son of the Chan was, as formerly, carrying Ssidi away in the sack, Ssidi inquired of him as before; but the Son of the Chan shook his head without speaking a word, so Ssidi proceeded as follows:

“Many, many years ago, there ruled over a certain kingdom a Chan named Guguluktschi. Upon the death of this Chan, his son, who was of great reputation and worth, was elected Chan in his place.

“One berren (a measure of distance) from the residence of the Chan dwelt a man, who had a daughter of wonderful abilities and extraordinary beauty. The son of the Chan was enamored of this maiden, and visited her daily; until, at length, he fell sick of a grievous malady, and died, without the maiden being made aware of it.

“One night, just as the moon was rising, the maiden heard a knocking at the door, and the face of the maiden was gladdened when she beheld the son of the Chan; and the maiden arose and went to meet him, and she led him in and placed alcohol and cakes before him. “Wife,” said the son of the Chan, “come with me!”

“The maiden followed, and they kept going further and further, until they arrived at the dwelling of the Chan, from which proceeded the sound of cymbals and kettledrums.

“Chan, what is this?” she asked. The son of the Chan replied to these inquiries of the maiden, “Do you not know that they are now celebrating the feast of my funeral?” Thus spake he; and the maiden replied, “The feast of thy funeral! Has anything then befallen the Chan”s son?”

And the son of the Chan replied, “He is departed. Thou wilt, however, bear a son unto him. And when the season is come, go into the stable of the elephant, and let him be born there. In the palace there will arise a contention between my mother and her attendants, because of the wonderful stone of the kingdom. The wonderful stone lies under the table of sacrifice. After it has been discovered, do you and my mother reign over this kingdom until such time as my son comes of age.”

“Thus spake he, and vanished into air. But his beloved fell, from very anguish, into a swoon. “Chan! Chan!” exclaimed she sorrowfully, when she came to herself again. And because she felt that the time was come, she betook herself to the stable of the elephants, and there gave birth to a son.

“On the following morning, when the keeper of the elephants entered the stable, he exclaimed, “What! has a woman given birth to a son in the stable of the elephants? This never happened before. This may be an injury to the elephants.”

“At these words the maiden said, “Go unto the mother of the Chan, and say unto her, “Arise! something wonderful has taken place.”

“When these words were told unto the mother of the Chan, then she arose and went unto the stable, and the maiden related unto her all that had happened, “Wonderful!” said the mother of the Chan. “Otherwise the Chan had left no successors. Let us go together into the house.”

“Thus speaking, she took the maiden with her into the house, and nursed her, and tended her carefully. And because her account of the wonderful stone was found correct, all the rest of her story was believed. So the mother of the Chan and his wife ruled over the kingdom.

“Henceforth, too, it happened that every month, on the night of the full moon, the deceased Chan appeared to his wife, remained with her until morning dawned, and then vanished into air. And the wife recounted this to his mother, but his mother believed her not, and said, “This is a mere invention. If it were true my son would, of a surety, show himself likewise unto me. If I am to believe your words, you must take care that mother and son meet one another.”

“When the son of the Chan came on the night of the full moon, his wife said unto him, “It is well that thou come to me on the night of every full moon, but it were yet better if thou came every night.” And as she spake thus, with tears in her eyes, the son of the Chan replied, “If thou hadst sufficient spirit to dare its accomplishment, thou mightest do what would bring me every night; but thou art young and cannot do it.” “Then,” said she, “if thou wilt but come every night, I will do all that is required of me, although I should thereby lose both flesh and bone.”

“Thereupon the son of the Chan spake as follows: “Then betake thyself on the night of the full moon a berren from this place to the iron old man, and give unto him alchool. A little further you will come unto two rams, to them you must offer batschimak cakes. A little further on you will perceive a host of men in coats of mail and other armor, and there you must share out meat and cakes. From thence you must proceed to a large black building, stained with blood; the skin of a man floats over it instead of a flag. Two aerliks (fiends) stand at the entrance. Present unto them both offerings of blood. Within the mansion thou wilt discover nine fearful exorcists, and nine hearts upon a throne. “Take me! take me!” will the eight old hearts exclaim; and the ninth heart will cry out, “Do not take me!” But leave the old hearts and take the fresh one, and run home with it without looking round.”

“Much as the maiden was alarmed at the task which she had been enjoined to perform, she set forth on the night of the next full moon, divided the offerings, and entered the house. “Take me not!” exclaimed the fresh heart; but the maiden seized the fresh heart and fled with it. The exorcists fled after her, and cried out to those who were watching, “Stop the thief of the heart!” And the two aerlic (fiends) cried, “We have received offerings of blood!” Then each of the armed men cried out, “Stop the thief!” But the rams said, “We have received batschimak cakes.” Then they called out to the iron old man, “Stop the thief with the heart!” But the old man said, “I have received alcohol from her, and shall not stop her.”

“Thereupon the maiden journeyed on without fear until she reached home; and she found upon entering the house the Chan”s son, attired in festive garments. And the Chan”s son drew nigh, and threw his arms about the neck of the maiden.”

“The maiden behaved well indeed!” exclaimed the Son of the Chan.

“Ruler of Destiny, thou hast spoken words! Ssarwala missdood jakzang.” Thus spake Ssidi, and burst from the sack through the air.

Thus SsidI's ninth relation treats of the Stealing of the Heart.

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