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The Wise Bedouin

Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 17.03.2006:

Once there was a Badawy Sheikh who was very generous, and he slew of his flocks for his guests until he became poor. So he went to take up service with the Sultan. They gave him the care of the horses. One day a falcon was brought to the Sultan. The Sultan asked the Badawy: “What do you think of this falcon?” The Badawy said: “Why does it look down at the ground? A Falcon should look up.” The Sultan said: “He who sold it to me has cheated me. From whence is this falcon?” The one who brought it said: “I found a falcon’s egg and I put it under a hen and when the bird came forth and was grown I brought it to you, O Sultan.” The Sultan said: “Give two dishes of food to this Badawy.” But the Badawy marvelled at such stinginess.

Afterwards one brought a noble horse (useel) to the Sultan. He said to the Badawy: “What do you think of the horse? Is it not of noble race?” The Badawy said: “Why do its ears hang down? That is not the way of a noble horse – his ears stand up.” The Sultan said: “Bring the one who cheated me.” The man came and told him: “The mother of the horse died, and he drank the milk of a donkey.” The Sultan ordered: “Give another dish of food to this Badawi.” The Badawi marvelled that he gave him not gold but food. A dish of food is no gift for a Badawy.

Another day, to test him, the Sultan said to the Badawy: “I have two wives, can you tell which is of noble descent?” The Sultan ordered his nargeelah and one wife brought it to him and went out again. “How shall I dare to speak?” said the Badawy, “She came tumbling in and she danced out. That is not right. She is not of high origin.” The Sultan confessed: “She is the daughter of a gypsy.” Then he ordered the other wife to bring him a handkerchief. She came in and went out calmly. “That is a noble steed (‘useelah),” said the Badawy. “Her walk is fine.” And indeed she was a prince’s daughter. More dishes of food were sent to the Badawy.

Another day the Sultan sent for the Badawy and said: “Now tell me of myself. What is my race?” “I dare not,” said the Badawy. But the Sultan compelled him, on pain of death. The Badawy told him: “Your father must have been a cook because for rewards you heap plates of food upon me.” Then the Sultan went into a fury to his mother and said: “If you do not tell me the truth I will throw you in a vessel of boiling water.” His mother confessed: “Your father was old and ill, and we had to have a son to secure his inheritance. You are the son of the cook.”

Source: Arab Folk Stories from Artas.

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