Folk-Lore/Volume 1/Zanzibar Parallel to Jacques de Vitry
ZANZIBAR PARALLEL TO JACQUES DE VITRY.
To the Editor of Folk-Lore.
Sir,—In the Exempla of Jacques de Vitry, p. 158, is the following story: “A nun, with whom a prince fell violently in love, asked the cause of his passion. She was told that it was inspired by her beautiful eyes, whereupon she tore them out, and said: ‘Behold the eyes which he desires; bear them to him, that he may leave me in peace, and not cause me to lose my soul!’ ”
The following version has been written out for me by a friend to whom it was told by Miss Mary Allen, of University Mission, Zanzibar. It was told to Miss Allen by Sheikh Hamis, in Swaheli. She told him Bible stories; he was greatly absorbed. She said, “In return you must tell me of your nation’s stories,” when he related the following:
“A great chief saw a lovely slave-girl in the market, and gave a very large sum for her her—eyes were so very beautiful. He took her home and stood looking at her; she was so lovely. At last the tears came into his eyes. The slave said, ‘Master, wherefore do you weep?’ He answered, ‘It is your eyes that cause me to weep; they are so lovely that I think of them always; they even come between me and my Lord when I am at my prayers.’ Saying this, he gazed once more and left her, and went to the mosque to say his prayers. When he returned he went to look at the lovely slave when—lo! she had torn her eyes out. He cried, ‘Why, what have you done?’ ‘Master,’ she said, ‘I have torn out my eyes. I could not bear that my eyes should come between you and your Lord.’ ‘Why, girl,’ he exclaimed, ‘do you know what you have done? I gave more than much (naming the sum) for you, and now you are worth nothing,’ and he went away very, very angry. In the night an angel said to him, ‘You were angry with your slave because she put her eyes out; God has bought her of you, you will find the money under your pillow.’ When he awoke, behold! the money was all there, and when he went to the slave-girl’s cabin, she lay dead.”