Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/220

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King Midas and his Ass's Ears.

listening and dancing to the music. When the Sultan heard the words he burst into tears, and, calling the youth, told him that it was only for his sister's sake that he spared his life. The Jew had the reed in the well cut down, but it sprang up again and repeated the same words. Again he cut it down, and smeared pitch on the stump, but to no purpose. Then the time came for the Sultan to have his hair cut, and he yielded to his wife's advice to employ her brother again. At her suggestion he took the opportunity of cutting the throat of the Sultan, slew the Jew Vizier, and seized the kingdom.[1]

In the second version from the same region, told among the Chelhas, a Berber tribe, the barber relieves himself of the fatal secret in the same way. A singer passing by cuts a reed growing in the well, trims it, makes a pipe, and breathes into it, when it says,—"The king has horns." He takes the pipe and goes his way. Here the tale diverges into another, but similar, type. The singer comes to a tree on which hangs a skin. He says,—"Providence has given me a drum." So he mends his old drum with the skin. Now this was the skin of one of the king's sons. Some time before this the king had said to his two sons,—"Whichever of you brings me a gazelle with her fawn running behind her, he shall be my heir." One of the brothers succeeds in the quest, and his jealous brother kills him, flays his corpse, and hangs the skin on a tree. This was the skin with which the singer had chanced to mend his drum. He appears before the king and lays his flute on the ground, on which it says thrice,—"The king has horns"; and, when the drum is placed beside it, it says,—"My brother slew me for the sake of the gazelle and her fawn." The king puts the singer under examination, rewards him, and sending for the barber and the prince puts both to death. [2]

  1. Stumme, Märchen der Schluh von Tázerwalt, 138.
  2. Journal Asiatique, February-March, 1889, pp. 208 et seq. For this