The Shepherd’s Bride Price
Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 05.06.2006:
A folk story from Artas
Long ago there was a rich and stingy man who owned sheep and needed a shepherd. God sent an orphan to him. The orphan said: “Do you need a shepherd?”
“And the terms?”
“The terms are that the one that you lift over the sheepfold wall at the end of the year, she shall be yours.”
“Very well, master, done with you.”
The orphan became his shepherd. Now the stingy master only fed him on onions and buttermilk – nothing else. The shepherd saw that he was becoming weak and thin. He went to a wise man and said: “o my father, advise me. My agreement is that the one that I can lift over the sheepfold wall at the end of the year, she shall be mine. I have eaten only onion and buttermilk; how can I lift a ewe over the wall? There is no strength left in my body.”
“My son,” said the wise man, “the ewes are in your hand. Milk them and make cheese and make sweet milk cheese and exchange some milk for oil for yourself and throw the onions and buttermilk over the tree.”
The shepherd went, took the advise of the wise man, drank milk and oil and ate cheese, and threw the onions and buttermilk on the tree. The tree died – the guilt of that is on the wise man’s head – but the shepherd’s health was first rate.
The year was ended and the company came to the ewes in the sheepfold. And waiting there were the owner of the sheep, his wife, and his daughter, a sweet pretty girl.
“Choose, o shepherd,” said his master. “The agreement was that the one you lift over the sheepfold wall, she shall be yours. Please choose, my son.”
The shepherd took the pretty girl and lifted her over the wall. She became his. That was quite right. God gave the orphan a bride.
Arab Folk Stories from Artas
Mrs. G.M Crowfoot, Miss Louise Baldensperger
Introduced and edited by Abdullatif M. Barghouthi
Birzeit University 1987