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Title: Our Little Persian Cousin
Author: Shedd, E. Cutler
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Our Little Persian Cousin" ***

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[Transcriber's Note: Bold text is surrounded by =equal signs= and italic
text is surrounded by _underscores_.]



Our Little Persian Cousin



THE

Little Cousin Series

(TRADE MARK)

    Each volume illustrated with six or more full-page plates in
    tint. Cloth, 12mo, with decorative cover,
    per volume, 60 cents


LIST OF TITLES

BY MARY HAZELTON WADE

(unless otherwise indicated)


    =Our Little African Cousin=

    =Our Little Alaskan Cousin=
        By Mary F. Nixon-Roulet

    =Our Little Arabian Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little Armenian Cousin=

    =Our Little Australian Cousin=
        By Mary F. Nixon-Roulet

    =Our Little Brazilian Cousin=
        By Mary F. Nixon-Roulet

    =Our Little Brown Cousin=

    =Our Little Canadian Cousin=
        By Elizabeth R. MacDonald

    =Our Little Chinese Cousin=
        By Isaac Taylor Headland

    =Our Little Cuban Cousin=

    =Our Little Dutch Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little Egyptian Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little English Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little Eskimo Cousin=

    =Our Little French Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little German Cousin=

    =Our Little Greek Cousin=
        By Mary F. Nixon-Roulet

    =Our Little Hawaiian Cousin=

    =Our Little Hindu Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little Hungarian Cousin=
        By Mary F. Nixon-Roulet

    =Our Little Indian Cousin=

    =Our Little Irish Cousin=

    =Our Little Italian Cousin=

    =Our Little Japanese Cousin=

    =Our Little Jewish Cousin=

    =Our Little Korean Cousin=
        By H. Lee M. Pike

    =Our Little Mexican Cousin=
        By Edward C. Butler

    =Our Little Norwegian Cousin=

    =Our Little Panama Cousin=
        By H. Lee M. Pike

    =Our Little Persian Cousin=
        By E. C. Shedd

    =Our Little Philippine Cousin=

    =Our Little Porto Rican Cousin=

    =Our Little Russian Cousin=

    =Our Little Scotch Cousin=
        By Blanche McManus

    =Our Little Siamese Cousin=

    =Our Little Spanish Cousin=
        By Mary F. Nixon-Roulet

    =Our Little Swedish Cousin=
        By Claire M. Coburn

    =Our Little Swiss Cousin=

    =Our Little Turkish Cousin=

    L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
    New England Building,    Boston, Mass.

[Illustration: "HE CARRIED IT HOME ON HIS SHOULDER." (_See page 92._)]



Our Little Persian Cousin

    By
    E. Cutler Shedd

    _Illustrated by_
    Diantha W. Horne

[Illustration]

    Boston
    L. C. Page & Company
    _MDCCCCIX_



    _Copyright, 1909_
    BY L. C. PAGE & COMPANY

    (INCORPORATED)

    _Entered at Stationers' Hall, London_

    _All rights reserved_

    _First Impression, July, 1909_

    _Electrotyped and Printed at
    THE COLONIAL PRESS:
    C. H. Simonds & Co., Boston, U. S. A._



Preface


PERSIA is mostly a tableland, from which rise many high mountains. In
the winter come storms of snow and rain; in the spring the ground is
green with grass and bright with many flowers; but in the late summer
and fall it is dry and hot. Over the mountains wander the Kurds, who
live in tents, and drive with them the great flocks of goats and
sheep whose milk gives them food and from whose wool they weave their
clothing and rugs. In many of the valleys are villages. Here live the
busy Persian peasants, who have brought the water in long channels
from its bed in the valleys to water their fields and orchards. Where
plenty of water is found there are towns and cities.

Over two thousand years ago the kings of the Persians were the most
powerful in the world, and ruled all the country from India to Europe.
Some of them helped the Jews, as is told in the books of Ezra and
Nehemiah in the Old Testament. Two of them tried to conquer Greece,
but the brave Greeks defeated their armies in the famous battles of
Marathon and Salamis. Many years later the Greeks themselves under
Alexander the Great invaded Persia and won its empire. But the Persians
afterwards regained the power, and for five centuries held their own
against the armies of the Roman emperors.

Suddenly great armies of Arabs poured out from the wide desert land
of Arabia, eager to conquer the world, and to bring others to accept
the new religion taught by their prophet, Muhammad. Thousands of
them entered Persia. They induced the Persians to forsake their own
religion, called fire worship, and to become Muhammadans.

Six hundred years passed, when new and more terrible invaders spread
over the land. These were armies of horsemen armed with bows, who came
in thousands from the wide plains of Siberia. They were the ancestors
of the Turks. They destroyed a great many villages and cities, and
killed tens of thousands of the Persians. Even yet, after more than
five hundred years, one may see in Persia ruins made by them. A great
many Turks still live in northern Persia.

The Persians are now a weak and ignorant nation; but the most
progressive of them are trying to secure good schools and to improve
their country in other ways.



Contents


    CHAPTER                              PAGE
        I. KARIM ARRIVES                    1
       II. KARIM'S RELATIVES AND HOME       9
      III. KARIM GOES EXPLORING            18
       IV. THE EVIL EYE STRIKES KARIM      25
        V. KARIM AT WORK AND PLAY          35
       VI. A TRIP TO THE CITY              49
      VII. KARIM'S RELIGION                60
     VIII. KARIM'S GOOD FORTUNE            70
       IX. KARIM LEAVES HOME               81
        X. KARIM GOES TO MARKET            86
       XI. KARIM AT THE PALACE             93
      XII. SOHRAB AND RUSTEM              102
     XIII. NEW OPPORTUNITIES              113
      XIV. TWO IMPORTANT EVENTS           121
       XV. AMONG THE KURDS                130
      XVI. RUMOURS OF WAR                 137
     XVII. SHEIKH TAHAR                   144
    XVIII. A BATTLE AND WHAT CAME OF IT   155
      XIX. FAREWELL TO KARIM              162



List of Illustrations


                                                                 PAGE
  "HE CARRIED IT HOME ON HIS SHOULDER" (_See page 92_)  _Frontispiece_
  "HE WAS SO FAT THAT HER BACK OFTEN ACHED"                        18
  "HERE KARIM SAT ALL DAY"                                         37
  "DADA AND KARIM STARTED VERY EARLY"                              49
  "THE SUN ROSE WHEN THEY WERE HALF WAY OVER"                      50
  THE GOVERNOR'S PALACE                                            81
  "PUTTING THE PAPER ON HIS KNEE AS HE SAT ON THE FLOOR"          118
  A KURDISH SHEPHERD                                              130
  SHEIKH TAHAR AND HIS HORSEMEN                                   150
  KARIM AND HIS BRIDE                                             164



Our Little Persian Cousin



CHAPTER I

KARIM ARRIVES


EVERY one in the house of Abdullah was smiling on the day when a boy
was born. Even Ashak the donkey, as he was bringing big bundles of
wheat from the field, did not get half as many pokes as usual from the
nail pointed stick that took the place of a whip, and was actually let
alone for a whole afternoon to eat the dead grass and crisp thistles by
the roadside.

Old Bajee, who was caring for the baby, ran as fast as she could to be
the first to tell the news to Abdullah, calling out all the way, "Good
news! a boy! a boy!"

"Praise be to God!" exclaimed Abdullah, and gave her a piece of silver
money worth half a dollar. Laughing from joy she clutched this tight in
her fist, and almost touched the ground with her forehead as she bowed
to him. She had never owned half a dollar at one time except twice
before in her life.

Abdullah hurried to the little shop around the corner and bought a loaf
of sugar and some tea, and the tea urn, or samovar, was soon steaming.
His neighbours--all men--came to congratulate him. Some brought raisins
as a present, some melons. One brought another small loaf of sugar.

"May his foot be blessed!" they said. (They meant the baby's foot.)
"This is light to your eyes!" "May you be the father of eight boys and
no girls!"

Said Abdullah, "Praise be to God!" and gave them all small tumblers of
tea that was nearly boiling and as sweet as sugar could make it.

Meantime the women were coming to see the baby. Old Bajee had rubbed
him all over with salt; then she had tied a dark handkerchief over
his eyes and wrapped him up in strips of cotton cloth and a little
quilt. He was now lying by his mother. She was thinking about the
Evil Eye,--an evil spirit or fairy who was always trying to do bad
things,--and looked anxiously at the baby's arm.

"Where is the charm, Bajee?" she asked.

"Yes," said a neighbour, "he needs a charm at once, for he is so very
pretty."

"Oh, don't say that," exclaimed the mother; "the Evil Eye will hurt him
if you do. Bring the charm."

Bajee brought a piece of paper on which the mullah (or preacher) had
written a prayer asking the angels to keep the Evil Eye away, and
putting this in a tiny bag she tied it to the baby's right arm. "That
prayer will frighten the Evil Eye," she said.

All this seemed very interesting to Almas. How delightful it was to
have a baby brother. She wondered why her uncle Mashaddi had not seemed
greatly pleased when a baby girl had come to his house two weeks
before. No one had even called to congratulate him. But now her father
was getting up a dinner party, and they were roasting a whole lamb for
it, and cooking, oh! so many other delicious things. She could smell
the onions even from the street, so she asked her grandmother for
something good.

Grandmother laughed and said, "The front door cried for three days when
you were born. But God gave you to us, and we are not sorry."

Then she gave Almas a big piece of bread with rice and meat heaped upon
it, and some omelet mixed with molasses.

Meantime mother was sleeping with baby by her side. Her last words
had been, "Bajee, be sure to keep the light burning, so that the evil
spirits will be afraid and not get the baby."

When baby was just a week old, the preacher, whom they called the
mullah, came to give him a name. He brought the holy book which was
their Bible, and which they called the Koran. No one in that village
believed in Jesus Christ in the way in which Christians do, but were in
religion what we call Muhammadans. The mullah stood over the baby and
read out of this Koran in a loud, sing-song voice.

Baby was frightened, and cried.

The mullah did not stop, but next made a long prayer in words which no
one else could understand, because he was speaking in Arabic, the holy
language which Muhammad, the prophet who had composed the Koran, had
spoken. Then he called out, "Your name is Karim!"

Almas thought it was quite a funny sight to see his long red beard
wagging back and forth while he made such strange sounds, and so she
broke into a laugh, at which her father turned and struck her. She
went out crying softly. She did not like the mullah. Why had he come
to frighten baby? He had not named her little cousin. Old Bajee had
shouted in her ear, "Your name is Fatima!" and that was all.

After this Karim was laid in a very narrow cradle without any sides,
and long strips of cloth were wrapped around and around him and under
the bottom of the cradle. His arms were tied down, and a calico curtain
kept the light out. He lay in this dark little place nearly all the
time for the first six months, generally asleep.

Although Abdullah was very proud of him, he hardly noticed him for over
a month, because the evil spirits would wonder what he was looking at
and come to see.

Once a day baby's mother would build the fire for cooking, and the room
would fill with smoke, because there was no chimney, but only a hole in
the middle of the ceiling. At first he cried every time, for the smoke
made his eyes smart with pain. His mother put some medicine upon them
when she saw how red they had become, and asked Bajee what the matter
was.

"How can I tell?" said Bajee. "Babies always have sore eyes."

When the curtain was loose and it was not too dark the flies came to
visit him. There seemed to be hundreds of them, and they walked all
over his face and even into his mouth, but were especially fond of his
red eyes and gathered in black rows around them. He winked and winked,
but they did not care. Then he would begin to cry.

After a while mother would come to fix the curtain and rock the cradle,
or perhaps--and this was the best of all--she would undo the wrappings
and take him in her arms for a few minutes, singing, "My dear baby! my
sweet baby! You are my father! and the father of my father!" She meant
that she thought as much of him as of her grandfather, and every one
always talked as if people cared more for a grandfather than for any
one else.



CHAPTER II

KARIM'S RELATIVES AND HOME


ONE day Karim's mother, whom he was now learning to call "Nana," said
to father Abdullah, "Master, your boy--may his eyes have light!--is now
five months old, and ought to come out of his cradle. Buy some calico,
and I will make another shirt for him. Do not buy red or any bright
colour, so that the Evil Eye may not think him too pretty and so become
jealous and strike him."

She made the shirt so short that his fat brown legs were bare to the
knee.

When he could crawl around in the house sister Almas watched him. It
was too dark for him to see much, for all the light came from the
door, when that was open, and from the hole, about a foot square, in
the middle of the ceiling, where the smoke at last went out. The door
was so low that Nana had to stoop every time she went through it. The
walls were black from the smoke, which Karim now found poured out each
morning from a hole in the floor about as big as a large barrel. Nana
did the cooking with the fire which she kept burning in this hole.

One afternoon Karim looked down, and found that its bottom was all
bright with light which came from glowing red lumps. It was the
prettiest thing he had ever seen, and he grasped the edge and leaned
away over to see still better. Just then Almas screamed and jerked him
back by his foot so suddenly that the skin of his hands was scratched
by the rough edge. Of course he cried.

Nana came running in, and snatching him up exclaimed between her sobs,
"Awý! my precious! he might have fallen in!" Then she struck Almas, so
that she, too, cried.

After this Karim had to be satisfied with the bright light shining in
through the hole above his head, and with the two round trays which,
leaning against the wall, shone like polished silver until at last the
smoke darkened them. They remained so until the next year, when a man
came from the city and polished them over again.

In the daytime there were large piles of bedclothes tightly rolled
up near the cradle. A few rugs lay folded beside them. There were no
tables or chairs or bedsteads, and the floor was simply the hard earth.
In the corner were a few green bowls, and some wooden spoons and
copper plates. These were the dishes for the meals. Just across from
the door stood a wooden chest, half as high as the room. This was where
all the flour was put in the autumn, when Abdullah had packed it down
carefully by stamping upon it with his bare feet. Near it was a door
opening into darkness, through which Karim was afraid to crawl.

When he tired of these things, he looked at the chickens,--an old
rooster dressed in red and black, but without any tail (he had never
had any), and two or three clucking old biddies in sober gray, besides
a half dozen others, hungry looking, half grown, with long legs. Like
the flies, they came into the house whenever the door was open. If Nana
left any food standing even for a minute she had to cover it. They came
at meal time as regularly as if they had been invited, and fought with
each other for the scraps of bread or bits of gristle that Abdullah
threw away. Several times the rooster snatched the piece of bread which
Karim was eating right out of his hand; but when he laid the bread down
to crow for the biddies, one of the half grown chickens caught it up
and ran around the room with it, chased by all of his hungry brothers.

The family got up every morning when it was just beginning to become
light. All but Karim were busy nearly the whole of the day. When the
sun was two or three hours high--no one had a clock--Abdullah came in
for breakfast.

At meal time Nana brought the large tray that took the place of a
table, and Abdullah set it upon the floor and laid upon it two or three
sheets of bread which looked a good deal like brown paper, and was as
thick as heavy pasteboard. It was made of whole wheat flour and tasted
very good. Nana poured the soup out of a small kettle into one of the
green bowls. Sometimes the soup was mixed with pieces of meat and
onions, and was red with pepper; sometimes it was made of curded milk
and greens. There were also onions and salted cheese and red peppers
for side dishes, with cucumbers and melons and other fruits in summer.

Abdullah sat down on the floor upon his heels and ate alone, until
Karim was old enough, when he always ate with "Dada," as he called his
father, while Nana and Almas waited upon them. They never dreamed of
eating with Dada, for that would have been very impolite, but when he
had finished they sat down and ate what was left.

There were no knives and forks--what were fingers made for?--and no
plates or tumblers, for all ate out of the same bowl and drank from
the same water jug.

Between meals Nana was very busy. First came the milking of the cow;
then the bedclothes must be rolled up and the stable cleaned out, and
there was sweeping and churning to be done. The water must be brought
upon her back in a heavy jar from the spring. In winter the cotton and
wool was spun into yarn and knit into bright coloured socks, and in
summer she helped Abdullah gather the cotton or the tobacco, and worked
in the orchard or wheat-field. In the fall she swept up the leaves
which fell from the trees growing on the edges of the streams and
carried them home on her back to be stored for kindling.

While Nana was working she usually went barefoot. She had large black
eyes, and she made them bright by putting a powder into them. She
painted a black streak across her eyebrows to make them darker. Her
black hair, hanging in long braids down her back, was banged in front,
and was covered by a large handkerchief which she wore all the time.
Very carefully, once a month, she dyed her hair and coloured with red
the tips of her finger and toe nails.

Because she was careful about all these things and was somewhat fleshy
and had red cheeks, her neighbours thought her beautiful; that is, the
women thought so. The men hardly ever saw her face, because she always
drew something over it whenever any man except Dada came near.

The men never asked him, "How is your wife and little girl?" which
would have insulted him, but always said, "How is your boy?" and
sometimes, perhaps, "How is the mother of your boy?"

Still Dada was really proud of her, but of course he was careful not
to let her see it, "for," he said, "she is a woman, and must be kept
under." He seldom called her by any sweet name, but when he wanted to
praise her called her simply "the mother of Karim," and thought that,
alone, was enough.



CHAPTER III

KARIM GOES EXPLORING


IN pleasant weather Nana tied Karim upon Almas' back and sent her out
of doors to carry him around. He was so fat that her back often ached,
yet when a woman asked her if she was not tired she exclaimed, "Why, of
course not! He is my brother." However, they were all so anxious to see
him walking that he soon became bow-legged.

[Illustration: "HE WAS SO FAT THAT HER BACK OFTEN ACHED."]

He now found what was to be seen out of doors. The yard was small, and
there was no grass in it, nothing but the bare earth. When it rained
the cattle tramped it into a deep black mud, which made a splendid
place to sit in and play. Across the yard was the door of the
stable, where the donkey and the cow and two buffalos lived with a few
goats. In front was a wall six feet high.

Just before the front door of the house was a small porch, where the
big dog and the chickens spent the most of their time. The calves came
there, too, and the dog, but he never dared to come into the house.
Nana explained that he was "unclean," and the mullah said that it was a
wicked thing to allow "unclean" animals to come into the living rooms.
Karim liked to hit the dog, who always let him do just what he wanted.

One day when Nana was away, suddenly a fierce barking and snarling was
heard, mixed with shouts. Almas ran out to find that a stranger had
stepped into the yard, and that the dog had caught him by the ankle and
would not let go, although the man was hitting hard with his heavy
walking stick. Almas was then only eight years old, but she put her
foot on the dog's neck and raised her fist. The dog growled angrily
before he obeyed her and slunk away. Some neighbours now came running
in.

"Did you not know better than to enter a yard when no one was in
sight?" said they to the stranger.

Then Mashaddi had Almas cut off some hairs from the shaggy neck of the
dog. He took these hairs into the house and burned them, and brought
the ashes to the stranger, who seemed very grateful.

"Thanks to you, if God will, the wound will heal very fast," he said,
as he sprinkled the ashes on it and wrapped it around with an old piece
of cloth. "Not even a doctor could give me better medicine than this."

The cat was allowed to come into the house, and was often there at
dinner time with the chickens. Sometimes Almas petted her a little, and
Nana threw her some food once in a while, but even they tried to hit
her if she got in their way. She spent the most of the day hiding under
the piles of fuel and in the dark stable in the hay. The dogs were
anxious to chase her, and the boys were making bets as to who could hit
her oftenest. Abbas was bragging because he had done it twice, for she
was hard to hit, because she had practised dodging all of her life.

The door which opened into the dark from the family living room led
to the store room. Karim often followed his mother when she went in,
holding a lighted wax dip. There were no old trunks with newspapers and
letters, because no one of the family had even seen a newspaper and no
one but Dada had ever learned to read. Instead, there were big wooden
shovels, plows, sickles and a pickax. In the autumn grapes hung in long
clusters from the ceiling.

The baskets and jars were carefully covered, but Nana used to open
them for Karim if he cried hard enough, and let him feel and taste
what was in them. Most of the baskets were full of raisins. Two held
red peppers. Some jars held salted cheese, and some were filled with
butter, which felt very cool and soft. The pickled cucumbers tasted
good, and best of all was the molasses.

One day Nana had just taken the heavy cover off from the molasses jar,
when she found that she had forgotten a dish. She went out to get it,
and Karim was left alone. He pulled the molasses ladle out of the jar
and tried to get its bowl to his lips, all dripping as it was. It was
half as long as he, and somehow hit him fairly in the eyes, filling
them with molasses instead of his mouth. He screamed and ran through
the door, dropping the ladle as he went.

Nana ran quickly to Karim. "My darling," she cried, "light of my eyes!
Did the molasses hurt my darling? We shall beat the jug. See!" and she
took the broom and started for the store room.

Just then Almas appeared in the door.

"Why did you not watch Karim?" Nana cried angrily. "We shall whip you,
too! See"--she added to Karim--"shall we whip this naughty girl because
she let the molasses hurt you?"

"No," said Karim, picking up a stick, "it was the jug. We shall whip
it."

"Wonderful!" exclaimed Nana, "how kind he is to his sister."

Karim felt very much grown up as he thrashed the jug, while Nana
laughed proudly because he showed so much spirit, and Almas looked on
with smiles because it was the jug that was being whipped, and not
herself. The jug was the only one that did not care.



CHAPTER IV

THE EVIL EYE STRIKES KARIM


KARIM at this time happened to have only the shirt that he was wearing.
He had never had more than two at one time, and one had dropped to
pieces from age the week before. Nana had not found time as yet to
finish a new one. The shirt was a dirty brown, although if one could
have examined the seams he would have found that it had once been a
dark red with black stripes. Now, with the molasses streaks, it looked
fairly black.

Nana decided that it must be washed at once, for Dada might not like
to see his son looking so very dirty, so she took him with her to
the pool when she went for water that morning. She washed the shirt
thoroughly, while he stood beside her shivering in the cool breeze.
When at last it looked somewhat cleaner she wrung the water from it as
well as she could, and put it back upon him to dry. Karim fairly howled
with cold as he trotted along by her side, and when they reached home,
to comfort him, she gave him two cucumbers and some of the raisins that
he liked so well.

That afternoon he began to cough severely, and his head was very hot.
Nana pulled at her hair in her anxiety.

"The Evil Eye has struck him!" she exclaimed. "The charm fell off from
his neck when I washed his shirt, and I did not notice it for some
time. The Evil Eye must have struck him then. Why did I not keep him
dressed in Fatima's clothes, so that the Evil Eye would think him a
girl, and not notice him? or rub his face with ashes, so that he would
look ugly? Awý! What can I do?"

"Get up," said Grandmother, "run to the mullah, and have him write
another charm; perhaps it will frighten the Evil Eye away."

Nana did so.

Said the mullah, as he gave her the roll of paper, "If there are twenty
evil spirits in your son, they will all run away when you tie this
prayer around his neck. It is worth fifty cents."

Nana began to cry. "What can I do, O holy man?" she said, "I have only
twenty-seven cents, and my son will die."

"Take comfort, my daughter," replied the mullah, "I am God's servant,
and He is merciful. The twenty-seven cents are enough."

But that night Karim nearly choked in his coughing. Dada looked very
anxious. "Women are donkeys," he said, "and so are mullahs. I will go
for the barber."

The barber looked grave. "See the black blood. I will take it out, and
he will get well." He cut a vein with his razor, and caught the blood
in a bowl, but Karim became worse. The next morning Dada hurried to the
best doctor in the village. He looked at the boy a long time.

"Bring me this afternoon," he said, "fifty cents, and that hen with a
white tail"--he pointed to the largest of the old biddies--"and with
its blood and a mouse's eye I will make a medicine which will cure
him. If it does not, take back your money."

When he had gone Bajee and some other women came to see Nana.

"My uncle once was sick like this," said Bajee, "and an old woman told
grandmother to take a rooster and cut it in two, and tie the warm,
bleeding pieces upon his breast. That made him well."

"My brother," said an old woman, "was cured of a cough by lying in the
oven for the whole of one morning."

So Karim spent the afternoon lying upon the warm ashes in the hole
where the cooking was done, with the bleeding body of the old rooster
pressed tightly against his chest, while the charms were still about
his neck and the doctor's medicine at hand. That evening he was much
better.

Nana insisted that he was cured because of the mullah's charm;
Grandmother believed in the dead rooster, while Dada went to thank the
doctor and give him a lamb for a present.

It was some days before Karim was himself again, and as he was fretful
his grandmother amused him with stories.

Here is one of them. The others were very similar to this.


THE FOX AND THE WOLF

A fox started to travel to the city of Mashad, because he knew that
he was a wicked fox, and such a good man was buried in that city that
simply visiting his grave was enough to make one good. On the way he
met a wolf, who asked him where he was going.

He replied, "I am a wicked fox and am going to Mashad to be made good."

The wolf said, "I am very bad, too, and ought to go there. Let me go
with you."

They went on together, and after a while met a bear.

"Where are you going?" he asked, and when they had told him he wished
to go with them.

As they made their journey they came to a country where there was
nothing to eat. They all became very hungry; so hungry that the fox
and the bear dropped behind, as the three were walking, and, suddenly
jumping upon the wolf when he did not expect it, caught him with their
teeth in the neck and killed him. Then they each took a part of the
body and began to eat. The bear ate until nothing but bones was left,
but the fox took some of his meat while the bear was not looking and
hid it in a dark corner of a cave near by.

After a while they both began to feel hungry again, for the wolf had
been so lean that there was not much of a meal to be made off of him.
The fox went into the corner of the cave where he had hidden the meat,
and soon the bear heard him smacking his lips very loudly.

He was very much surprised, and asked, "What can you have found to eat?"

"O bear," said the fox, "I was so hungry that I have pulled out my left
eye, and am eating it, and you cannot think how good it tastes."

"That is quite an idea!" said the bear, and he pulled out his own left
eye, and ate it.

But he was soon very hungry again. Then he heard the fox in the corner
once more smacking his lips very loudly, and he exclaimed, "What on
earth can you be eating now?"

"O bear," said the fox, "I was so hungry that I pulled out my other eye
and am eating it."

"How smart the fox is to think of such things!" thought the bear, and
he pulled out his own right eye and ate it.

Then the fox got a long pole, and taking hold of one end he told the
bear that if he would take hold of the other end he would lead him
(since he was blind) to a place where he would find plenty to eat. But
he led him to the edge of a very high rock.

"O bear," he said, "there is a large, fat sheep right in front of you.
Now jump!"

The bear jumped, and fell so hard upon the stones below that it killed
him. Then the fox ate the body of the bear, and it made him strong
enough to go on and reach Mashad, where he visited the grave of the
holy man and so was made good.



CHAPTER V

KARIM AT WORK AND PLAY


THE village where Karim lived lay at the mouth of a little valley. Down
this valley ran a stream of sparkling water that came out of the ground
about a quarter of a mile above the village. This was not a spring, but
a "kareez," for beyond it could be seen a long line of pits, joined
at the bottom by an underground channel, through which the water ran.
The road lay by their side, and in two places the path divided, a part
passing on each side of a pit.

Once while Karim lay flat on the ground looking over the smooth sides
at the water trickling across the bottom of the pit, he asked,
"Doesn't any one ever fall in?"

[Illustration: "HERE KARIM SAT ALL DAY."]

"Why should he?" replied Dada. "Can't you see the hole plainly enough?"

"But suppose it was dark?"

"At night honest men are in bed, and robbers know the roads. But if God
wills that a man shall fall in, why, he will fall in, and cannot help
himself. It is Fate."

The stream ran down the valley past an orchard of apricot and cherry
trees. By its side were willow trees, with short, thick trunks, and a
row of poplars, that seemed to Karim the tallest trees he could think
of. Then it ran into the village pond. Twice a week all the water was
let out of this pond, to be used in watering the fields, but it soon
filled up again.

When Karim was seven years old Dada began to send him here with his
cousin, Ali, to wash the two big black Indian buffalos which he and
Mashaddi used for plowing. It was hard to say who enjoyed it the most,
the buffalos, who dearly loved the water, or the boys, who rode upon
their broad backs, and splashed and swam about during the warm summer
evenings as long as they pleased.

Dada soon gave Karim other work as well. He took him to the field and
lifted him up upon the yoke between the buffalos. Here Karim sat all
day, to keep the yoke by his weight from pressing against the throats
of the buffalos as they slowly drew the plow back and forth across the
field.

Next Dada sent him to watch the cows as they grazed in the open meadow
in the lowland, or among the dried grasses on the hillside. Here he
spent whole days with the other boys, going swimming and playing
"marbles." For marbles they used the bones from the joints of sheep's
legs.

The next year, in early summer, Dada told him to keep the birds away
from the cherries and apricots in the little orchard, by shouting and
clapping two boards together. At first this was great fun, but he
became very tired of it in a few days, and his voice grew hoarse and
rough. Then came harvest time, and he went out to the hot field and
carried water to the reapers, and rode upon the straw cutter or swept
up the grain upon the smooth threshing floor until he was so tired that
he could hardly stand.

About this time he fell sick again. His head ached and he was hot with
fever. The doctor wrote a prayer with the blood of a lamb, and Nana
burned the paper and poured the ashes into a cup of water which she
made Karim drink, but it did no good. He lay on the floor on a thin
mattress dressed in his every-day, dirty clothes, and the flies kept
settling on his eyes and mouth.

Nana and Grandmother were as kind as they knew how to be. They took
great pains to get the tongue of a starling, for a woman said that this
would cure him, but, instead, he became worse. At last he broke out
with the smallpox.

"All have the smallpox," said Grandmother, when she saw this; "what can
we do?"

Some of the neighbours brought their young children to see him. "They
must all have this sickness," was their reason, "and it is best that
they have it now, when they are young." In this way Fatima caught the
disease, and died.

Hers was a dreary little funeral. The house was filled with the noise
of the sobs and wailing of her mother, who was nearly frantic with
grief, and with the cries of a few of her friends. No one thought of
flowers, and there was no music. As the funeral was that of a girl,
only three men walked behind the body when Mashaddi carried it to the
grave. Of course no women went with him, for that was not the custom.

Soon after Karim got over the smallpox he began to go to school for a
part of the year. He was proud of this, because a great many of the
boys were too poor to go to school. As for the girls, of course people
never sent them. What would be the use? "Teach a girl! You might as
well try to teach a cat," they thought.

The teacher was the mullah. On the first day of school he and his
eight pupils came to Karim's home to welcome him. All were dressed
better than usual. Karim looked very gay in a brand new coat of bright
blue. Dada met the teacher with a present of three chickens. Then the
boys marched to the school in a straggling line, the teacher at the
head, the older boys chanting in a loud voice a song they had been
taught, and the three youngest carrying the chickens dangling by the
legs.

The school house was the mosque, or Muhammadan church. The room was
large and bare. Straw mats covered the floor. There were no blackboards
or maps or desks; indeed, most of the boys had never even seen a lead
pencil. The mullah sat upon his heels on a rug by the window with a
long stick in his hand. The boys sat upon the mats, facing him.

"You must come to school before breakfast," said the mullah. "If any
one eats any food before coming to his lessons I shall pull out his
ears."

If a boy was at all tardy he exclaimed, "You silly animal, hah! Have
you been eating, and so are late?"

"Oh no, indeed I did not eat anything!"

"Put out your tongue!"

Once Karim's breath smelled of onions, and the mullah gave him so sharp
a tap that he felt it for an hour.

They studied a little arithmetic, but spent most of the time learning
to write the Persian language, and to read from the Koran. As the
Koran was printed in the Arabic language, which none of the boys knew,
at first they did not understand what it meant, although the mullah
explained a great many things to them. It was very important to learn
to recite a good many chapters from this holy book, even if one could
not understand what he recited. No one could pray to God in a way that
was pleasing, the mullah said, unless he repeated in his prayer parts
of these chapters, which the holy prophet Muhammad long ago had brought
down from heaven.

Studying the Persian language was more interesting work. In a short
time Karim was given stories to read which told of the wonderful deeds
of King Solomon, who talked with the birds and made the spirits of the
air obey him. He also read other interesting stories, very much like
those to be found in the "Arabian Nights' Tales."

While they were studying the boys all swayed their bodies forwards
and back and read from their books in a loud sing-song tone. If a boy
became tired he did not dare to stop. Karim did so once, but a stroke
from the mullah's stick and his question, "Son of a dog, why are you
not studying?" made him yell out with the loudest.

He soon learned not to ask questions. Once when there had been a slight
earthquake shock he asked what it was that had made the earth shake.

"The ox," said the mullah, "which holds up the earth upon his
twenty-one horns has become angry, and is shaking his horns."

"What is he angry at?" asked Karim.

"God knows, and He has not told us," said the mullah.

"I wonder what the ox stands upon," added Karim, after a minute.

"If it were right for us to know God would have told us," was the
answer. "Such questions are irreverent, and fools ask them. Pray to
God to forgive you, and then begin your study again."

When Karim was eleven years old Almas was married. The friends of the
bridegroom came to the house, and were given a good dinner. Almas was
so bundled up that no one could recognize her. Then they put her on a
horse, and in a noisy procession led her off to her new home. She now
lived in a village ten miles away, and Karim saw her only two or three
times a year. He missed his sister for a long time, because she had
always waited upon him so carefully.

As the wedding occurred a little before the great festival of "Norooz,"
that helped him forget his loss. "Norooz," or the festival for the new
year, came in the early spring, when everyone was glad that winter
had gone. Mashaddi said that the world came to life then. A few days
before the festival Karim's head was shaved, and the nails of his
fingers and toes were coloured red. He was given a new suit of clothes
exactly like Dada's in cut, and when dressed in them looked like a
little old man. "But then," said Nana, "he is almost grown up now, and
ought to look so."

She arranged plates full of nuts, raisins, dried apricots, quinces,
figs, dates and candy (there must be seven kinds of food, and their
names must each begin with an S) and Karim took these as presents to
the mullah and to a few other friends. Dada bought some sugar, tea,
tobacco and candy, and all was ready.

The festival lasted for a week. On the first day Dada and Karim (now
that he was old enough) sat upon their heels in the room to receive
callers. Each caller, as he entered, bowed low and said, "Peace be to
you! May the festival be a happy one."

"May you be fortunate," replied Dada.

"How is your health?" asked the caller.

"Praise be to God, we are well."

Then, sitting down, they talked together, and took turns smoking from
the water-pipe. After the third cup of tea had been served the caller
rose and said good-bye.

The greatest fun was on Tuesday evening, when the roofs of the village
were alight with blazing pin wheels, Roman candles, small volcanoes and
rockets.

Children's Day was also a lively time. Several of the young men of the
village dressed up as clowns. They had some musicians with cymbals with
them, and went about saying and doing absurd things. Karim and his
school mates dressed themselves up like robbers, with beards made of
cotton, and canes for spears, and went to the mullah's house.

[Illustration: "DADA AND KARIM STARTED VERY EARLY."]

"Give us some money, or we will rob you!" they shouted.

He laughed, and gave them enough to buy a plenty of candy.



CHAPTER VI

A TRIP TO THE CITY


ONE evening Dada said, "Shahbaz has just come from the city, and says
that they are paying twenty-five shahis a batman for wheat. If God is
willing, I and Karim will get Hussain's donkeys, and take in our wheat
to sell to-morrow."

Early next morning each donkey was loaded with two of the black sacks
of wheat, excepting one donkey, which was saddled and carried two
empty jars, for Dada intended to buy some molasses in the city. To the
saddle was fastened a jug of water and a red handkerchief filled with
bread and cheese. None of the animals had on a bridle. Dada and Karim
started very early, going as fast as one could walk, and taking turns
at riding the saddled donkey.

[Illustration: "THE SUN ROSE WHEN THEY WERE HALF WAY OVER."]

The road lay over a dry and sandy plain six miles wide, which it took
nearly three hours to cross. The sun rose when they were half way over,
and soon there was only the deep blue sky and blazing sun above, and
the hot, parched ground, with bare, rugged mountains in the distance.
The only green place in sight was that made by the trees around their
own village, now looking like a dark band against the yellow hills.

Karim looked back later, and was astonished to see what appeared like
a large lake, bordered by many trees, instead of the village and the
plain. He called to Dada, who hardly looked around, but said, "The evil
spirits do this to deceive you."

Then, for an hour more, they climbed a slope up the mountain-side.
It was tiresome work, and Dada had to grunt "uh! uh!" at the donkeys
harder than ever, and prod them with the nail pointed stick. A few
stunted bushes were growing among the bare rocks and thirsty gullies.
One small tree was passed, half covered by tattered bits of cloth tied
to its branches.

Dada carefully tore off a faded strip from his ragged coat, and
fastened it to a twig. "There is no water," he said, "and yet this
tree is always green. It is a spirit who does this. Let us give him an
offering of respect." Karim felt afraid, and did the same.

At last they went down a steep slope into a valley. Here was a spring
of cold water. Around it were willow trees, and near by melon and
cucumber patches, and an orchard of mulberries and apricots. They
unloaded the donkeys and for a shahi bought a melon from the man who
was in charge. They then untied the handkerchief and sat down on the
ground to eat. After the meal they stretched themselves at full length
under the trees, and were lulled to sleep by the deep "boom, boom" of
the bells that swung from the necks of some camels who had just passed
with their heavy loads.

In an hour Dada waked Karim and they started again. Soon the road grew
wider. All of the streams were now spanned by bridges, while on every
side were vineyards and orchards. They met many people, and many droves
of donkeys, and at last entered a long avenue bordered by willow trees.
At its end was the gate of the city.

In front of the gate the road crossed a ditch forty feet wide and in
some places half full of water covered with a thick green scum, where
the frogs were singing cheerily. Behind this was a wall, half in ruins,
with broken down towers here and there. Inside the city gate the street
was about fifteen feet wide, and one could not see anything on either
side except high walls of dried earth, with here and there a gate or a
narrow alley. There was a narrow sidewalk, but people did not seem to
care much whether they used it or walked in the middle of the street.

In a few minutes they had passed more donkeys than there were in the
whole of their village. Some carried baskets of grapes, some looked
like moving piles of yellow straw, and a few were loaded with dripping
lumps of ice carried in black bags. Some were dragging poles whose ends
were for ever getting under one's feet. One had a dead sheep strapped
to its back. These were small, mouse coloured, half starved donkeys,
like the one on which Karim had been riding, without any ambition or
pride, but jogging along because their drivers would prod them if
they stopped. They passed a few larger donkeys as well, with handsome
saddles, ridden by well dressed men in long brown robes and white
turbans, who were mullahs, or by women who were so bundled up that one
could not see even their eyes.

In a corner was a group of beggars sitting in the dirt, dressed in
rags. Some of them were holding up the stumps of their arms, or
pointing to their blinded eyes.

"Give me money for food!" was their cry. "May God bless your sons! For
the Prophet's sake, give me a shahi!"

It was a pitiful sight, yet very few paid any attention to them.

At a turn of the crooked street Karim and Dada came upon three shops.
The goods of one were spread upon a platform next to the sidewalk, and
the shopkeeper sat upon his heels behind within reach of everything.
Dead sheep were hung up by their legs before another shop, and a dead
ox was lying upon the sidewalk upon its own hide, spread flat on the
ground. At the third a blacksmith was shoeing a horse, and everyone had
to dodge by with an eye upon the horse's heels.

Fifteen or twenty people were gathered around a man with long, uncombed
hair and fierce, wild eyes who carried a small ax in his hand, and was
waving it about and talking loudly in a singsong tone, while a boy was
going around with a carved cocoanut shell, asking for shahis. Dada
said that he was a "darvish" or holy man who was telling stories about
the saints.

Suddenly two horsemen appeared, shouting, "Khabardar! Khabardar!"

The blacksmith dropped the shoe and gave the horse a blow that sent him
against the wall, and the holy man with his audience spread in a row
along the side of the street. Dada in a great hurry crowded the donkeys
down one of the alleys. They were none too soon, for almost at once a
large crowd of blue coated horsemen armed with guns turned the corner.
Their horses pranced and snorted, while the men cursed some of the
people because they could not squeeze themselves flatter against the
wall. One of them struck a man, who did not even say a word in return.

And now there came something more wonderful than even Karim's
grandfather had "seen in a dream," as he told Nana later. It was drawn
by two spirited horses, which no one was riding, but a man held them
back by long straps, and they went wherever he guided them. The thing
itself was a great box of polished black colour, with a door, and with
soft cushioned seats inside, upon which were sitting two splendidly
dressed men. This box was carried on wheels that seemed much too light
to support it, and which made no noise at all as they went around. The
only wheels Karim had ever seen before had no spokes, and were each
almost as heavy as a man, and creaked so that they could be heard a
quarter of a mile away. He was so astonished that he did not notice
that every one bowed low until he felt a sharp blow from behind, and a
"Bow low, you fool!"

Then he bobbed so quickly that his hat rolled off into the road. No
one moved to get it, and in silent misery he watched one of the horses
crush it. It was a new hat, and Dada bought him only one new hat each
year.

When the horsemen had all passed he picked the hat up. There was a
hole in the soft crown, and it was stained with mud. As he was wiping
it off Dada came up, so angry that he struck him with his stick. Some
boys who saw this laughed at him. Dada did not comfort him at all,
but exclaimed, "I have a fool for a son! Why do you stand gaping like
a donkey at the wagon of the governor? If that man had not made you
bow to the governor, and to the prince riding with him, some of the
horsemen might have noticed it. Then we both would have been seized,
and probably beaten. All my wheat would have been taken from me, and
perhaps I would have had to pay some money to keep from being put into
prison."



CHAPTER VII

KARIM'S RELIGION


SOMETIMES Karim went to the mosque with Dada in the early morning on
Friday.

The mullah had told him, "The prophet Muhammad has advised that every
one should bathe on Friday and then come on foot to the mosque to
prayers, and be reverent during the service. God will give a great
reward to the person who does this."

The mosque was a plain building, with one large room and a porch in
front. The room was bare, except for a few mats and a small pulpit.
When any one entered he took off his shoes as a mark of respect, but
kept on his hat.

During the service those present repeated aloud with the mullah prayers
and chapters from the Koran. Then the mullah preached a short sermon.

The mullah got up early every morning in the week and went upon the
roof of the mosque. Here, as the day was breaking, in a very loud and
musical voice he chanted the "Call to Prayer." This was in the Arabic
language, so that Karim for a long time did not know what it meant,
although he had heard it so often that he could repeat most of it by
heart.

But at school he learned that it meant, "God is most great! God is most
great! I declare that there is no God but God, and that Muhammad is
the messenger of God. Come to prayer! Come to the refuge! God is most
great! Prayer is better than sleep. God is most great!"

In school Karim had also been taught the Creed, "I testify that there
is no God but God. I testify that Muhammad is the prophet of God, and
that Ali is the ruler appointed by God."

Although he had been taught these things, the mullah said that he
was still a boy, and that boys were not expected to do all that God
commanded. But when Karim was thirteen years old the mullah said, "You
have reached the age when the Recording Angel begins to write down in
his book whatever you do, whether it is good or bad, so you must begin
carefully to perform good deeds, that they may help to save you from
the evil deeds you will do, and thus permit you to enter heaven. I have
taught you the prayers that you ought to say each day, and the way in
which you must wash yourself before saying them."

Karim felt quite proud to be thought so old, and began to copy
Abdullah, who was more careful about his prayers than many of his
neighbours. Abdullah bought for his son a little rug and a bit of dried
clay that came from the holy city Mecca, where the prophet Muhammad
had lived. Each morning, at the time of the Call, Karim repeated his
prayers, standing, and kneeling just as Dada did, and touching his
forehead to the bit of clay when he bowed.

Somewhat later came the month of Ramadan. During this month it was
against the law for him to eat or drink anything, or even to smoke
a pipe, from dawn until late in the evening. Of course it was very
hard to obey this rule, but it was thought wicked to disobey it. What
made it harder was that Karim had to work during the morning. In the
afternoon he slept some, and longed for the sun to set. As soon as he
heard the crack of the gun that announced the time when it was right to
take food he hurried into the house. Here was a good meal, all steaming
hot, prepared by Nana. How they all did eat!

Dada always sent some of the food to Bajee, the poor widowed woman who
lived down the street. Whenever a beggar appeared, he fed him, too.

"We must give alms," he said, "if we wish to enter heaven, for our holy
prophet has so commanded."

At the close of the month came the great Week of Mourning, or Muharrem.
When Karim was still a little boy Nana had taken him with her to the
mosque each day during this week. They had sat outside in the street
and listened to the mullah as he told the sacred story of the death of
the holy Husain.

He explained how the rightful ruler had been Ali, after the death
of the prophet Muhammad, long ago, because Ali was the prophet's
son-in-law, having married his daughter Fatima. But wicked men had made
Umar the ruler instead of Ali, and even yet the people of Turkey, and
the Turkmans, and many who lived in India and Africa believed that Umar
was a holy man. When Ali died his sons Hassan and Husain should have
become rulers. Hassan soon died; the men of the city Kufa then promised
to honour Husain if he should come to them. Husain believed them,
and came from the city Mecca with his family, guarded only by a few
warriors. But when he came near Kufa no one came to help him. Instead,
the wicked governors of that city actually dared to come out with a
great many soldiers and attack him, although he was the grandson of
the prophet Muhammad. The men with Husain were too few to conquer, yet
he did not surrender, because he was the grandson of the prophet and
the rightful ruler, and none of his warriors ran away, but together
they died fighting bravely against their wicked enemies.

As the mullah told in his sermons how Husain was killed, first some
women began to moan, and later all burst into loud sobs, while the
tears streamed down their faces. The most devout caught these tears in
little long necked bottles, to keep them for medicine.

"God is pleased with us because we weep for Husain," Nana explained,
"and because of our tears for Husain He gives us all the good things
that come to us during the year. And the mullah says that if we weep
for our lord Husain the martyr God will take away all our sins."

"In the cities," added Dada, "they have processions in memory of our
lord Husain."

"I saw the processions in the city last year," broke in Mashaddi.
"They were wonderful. First came men bearing the two black banners of
the mosque. Then followed others playing funeral music on drums and
fifes. After them walked the mullahs and holy men. Then came a long
line of men and boys, marching two by two. They were beating their
breasts in time with the music, and chanting a dirge that was so
strangely stirring and yet so full of tears that I can never forget
it. Indeed, I found myself running out to join the marchers, while my
eyes were blinded with weeping. There were two little girls and a woman
on horseback, with straw on their heads and collars of wood on their
necks. They represented, you know, the wife and children of Husain,
who were captured by his enemies when he had been killed. Boys walked
alongside, throwing straw into the air. The woman's collar represented
iron fetters, and the straw was a sign of grief.

"In some of the other processions there were men beating their breasts
with chains, and crying out as they marched, 'Awý! Hassán! Awý!
Husaín!' After them came some men with white cloths spread over their
shoulders. They carried swords in their hands, and as they marched they
cut their faces so that the blood ran down."

"Why did they cut themselves?" asked Karim.

"Because it is a very holy thing to do," replied Dada, "almost as holy
as to visit the grave of our lord Husain at the city Kerbella."

"I saw a boy on horseback," continued Mashaddi, "with a dagger in his
hand, and his face was bloody from the cuts he was giving himself. How
they can do it I cannot see. God gives them the power to forget their
pain. Sometimes friends walk alongside with sticks in their hands to
dull the blows, and so keep them from injuring themselves too much. But
they say that if a man dies from his cuts God takes him straight to
heaven."



CHAPTER VIII

KARIM'S GOOD FORTUNE


ONE evening Dada asked Karim, "How would you like to travel, as
Mashaddi did, who was once a soldier of the Shah, and was blessed by a
visit to the sacred shrine of the holy Imam Reza when the Shah sent his
regiment to Mashad to frighten the Turkmans. Wouldn't you like to be
called 'Mashaddi,' too?"

"It would be splendid," replied Karim. "Only yesterday Mashaddi was
telling me about this shrine. The room inside is just covered with gold
and silver and bright stones, and splendid rugs. The blessings the
Imam gives to those who visit it cannot be counted.

"But the mullah says that the tomb of the Imam's sister, Fatima, in
the city Kum is almost as holy, and it is much nearer. The dome of
its roof is covered with flashing gold, and inside is a silver gate,
with tiles of such beautiful colours that he can't describe them. And
Mashaddi has seen the palace of the Shah at Teheran, too. He says that
he saw a throne covered over with carved gold, and everywhere in this
gold are set flashing emeralds and rubies and other precious stones.
Mashaddi called it the 'Peacock Throne,' and said that the great Nadir
Shah brought it from India when he went to that country with an army to
fight the Great Mogul!

"But I cannot travel,--the Shah isn't asking for soldiers now."

"That is so," said Dada. "But the mullah has taught you how to behave
before khans (noblemen). Our agha (master) is coming here in a few
weeks, and I am going to take you to call upon him."

"Our agha is a kind master," broke in Nana. "It happened the last time
he came that he passed Abbas' field when he was tying up the sheaves.
Of course Abbas hurried to put a sheaf in the road before him as a
present. The agha threw two silver coins into the sheaf for Abbas! That
is a good deal better than the copper shahis one usually gets."

"He is a just man," added Dada. "He doesn't eat up all that the poor
have, like the master of Hissar. The people there can never pay all
that man wants, especially since the poor harvest seven years ago.
That man had his servants put some wheat in each house. Of course the
people cooked and ate it--poor things, they were hungry. Then he told
them that because they had eaten up his wheat they owed him money for
it. The interest they pay each year is one fifth of what they owe. But
he cannot get it from most of them, although his ferashes (officers)
have thrashed the men so that they went limping about for two weeks.
Our agha takes only what is due, one tenth of the crop, and his
servants don't take very much, either. Ahmad was the only man he had
bastinadoed last year, and Ahmad was trying to cheat him. He said that
he had no money, when really he did have some buried in a bowl in a
corner of his house."

"They say that our agha may even become the governor," added Shahbaz,
who had just come in. "I heard in the city last week that the Shah had
given him the title 'The Good Fortune of the State.'"

"May God so will!" said Dada. "He will be as good a governor as Rashid
Khan, the 'Glory of the King's Court.' When he was governor a woman
could walk safely from here to the city with a purse full of gold in
her hand. I remember that once I saw the heads of two thieves stuck on
the tops of poles before his house. He cut off the hands of a lot of
rascals, too. But it isn't so now. Only last week some Kurds stole five
cows from the herd of Hissar. The foolish boys had taken the animals up
into the hills, where no men were near."

"Karim has learned to read our language, and to behave properly," said
Grandmother. "Perhaps he will find grace in the eyes of the agha, so
that he may want him as a servant."

"O Dada, do you think that could be?" cried Karim.

"I shall beg this of the agha," said Dada, "and the mullah has promised
to help me. If God will, we shall find favour, and all our faces will
be made white with joy."

On the next day a horseman arrived, to announce that the agha himself
would come within a week. When the horseman reached the door of
Abdullah's house, Abdullah met him with low bows, and said, "This is no
longer my house, but yours. I am your servant."

The rider got off his horse and went into the house. Here Nana had
ready as tasty a supper as she could cook.

The next day the "white beards" (old men who manage village affairs)
came to call. They brought two large trays piled high with apples,
grapes and pears, with a coat of blue broadcloth, and one toman
in money. Now for three days everyone was busy. The agha's house
was swept, carpets were put down, and plenty of food made ready for
cooking. Most important of all, the money tax was collected. This must
be paid to the agha because he was the master of the village. Abdullah
was the "kedkhoda" or village head.

Sometimes the taxes made him and the white beards very anxious, for all
the money must be collected. But this year the harvest had been a good
one, and only three men told Abdullah that they could not pay what was
expected. The white beards were much displeased.

They said, "You will make our faces black before our agha. We shall
have to tell him, 'These three men only did not pay.' What he will do
God knows. Our agha has many ferashes."

The three men cried, and their wives screamed and tore their hair. They
offered to pay one half, or three quarters, but the white beards only
replied,

"We must leave it to the agha."

Finally, on the day before the agha arrived, the last shahi due was
paid to Abdullah.

The master looked very much pleased the next afternoon, when Abdullah
and the white beards, with many bows, offered him the taxes in full,
with a present of ten tomans and three large baskets of grapes besides.

"You have made my face white," he said. "And you, kedkhoda; in all of
my villages I have no one better than you. You have made my eyes to
shine; speak, then, that I may make your face white. What wish have
you?"

"O agha!" replied Abdullah, "what we have done is nothing, it is dirt,
and we are as the dirt under your feet. And yet, since you have stooped
to notice me, and have filled my mouth with sugar by your words, I have
indeed a request, that I shall make, since you so command.

"I have a son. He is a worthless boy, indeed, and yet he has studied
long with our mullah, and has read the holy Koran, and the books of the
poets. If he could live with you, if only to sweep the straw for your
horse's stall, why, then, indeed you would lift my head to the clouds
and fill my mouth with laughing."

"Is he with you?" asked the agha. "Let him enter."

The man at the door called Karim, who was waiting outside, dressed in
a new blue broadcloth coat. As he entered he bowed low, and then stood
at the end of the room, politely covering his hands in his coat-sleeves.

"What is your name?" asked the agha.

"Thanks to God, your servant's name is Karim."

"Which of our poets have you read?"

"A few of the pearls of wisdom of Sheikh Sa'adi have lodged in my
skull, thanks to the thumpings of our mullah."

"Indeed," added Abdullah, proudly, "he is not stupid. If it please you,
he can recite well."

"It is well," said the agha. "Let me hear you, my lad."

So Karim recited a poem, in a sing-song voice, as he had been trained
by the mullah.

As he closed the agha rubbed his hands with pleasure. "This is
wonderful! Who would have expected such knowledge in a village
peasant? You say that the mullah taught you. He shall have a reward for
such faithful service. And you," he added, turning to Abdullah, "your
request is granted. Nasr'ullah, my groom, will find a place for your
son with him."

[Illustration: THE GOVERNOR'S PALACE.]



CHAPTER IX

KARIM LEAVES HOME


WHEN the agha went back to the city to become its governor Karim bade
good-bye to his parents and went with him. He was one of the stable
boys for Nasr'ullah the groom.

He now lived on the grounds of the governor's palace. One entered these
grounds through large gates of wood. The gateway was faced with bright
red brick arranged in pretty patterns.

Then came a large court yard, paved with stone, and surrounded with
rooms for Nasr'ullah and those who helped him. In one of these Karim
slept. A large doorway near by led to a long line of stalls, where
twenty riding horses were kept, with their saddles, saddle cloths and
bridles hanging ready for use at a half hour's notice.

From this court yard a small gate way opened into another and larger
yard. Here were broad walks paved with flat stones and bordered with
little plots of green grass, rose bushes and small beds of bright
yellow and red flowers. A few mulberry trees gave a pleasant shade.
There were two great stone rimmed tanks full of water.

Around this court yard were many rooms. The reception room was large,
with white walls and windows of stained glass. Its floor was covered
with richly coloured carpets. The tea room had soft divans along the
walls, with wide windows to catch the breeze. There were also rooms for
the governor's son, Ardashir Khan, and for the mirza (secretary) who
taught him, and for the servants. Beyond were the kitchens, where the
men in charge always kept tea and food ready, because no one could tell
just when a visitor might come with his attendants.

In all about fifty men had work to do about the palace. All of them
were given their meals, and many slept there.

Behind the great court yard was another yard, almost as large, into
which Karim never entered, as it was reserved for the ladies of the
governor's family, and for the women and girls who served them.

The court yard was shaded by tall chenars (a kind of sycamore), and had
in it streams of water, plots of grass, rose bushes, flower beds, and a
grape arbour.

In the branches of the chenars, thirty feet above the ground, were two
nests of the "Hajji Legleg," or stork. This bird was called "hajji,"
or "pilgrim," because storks fly away each fall and always return to
their nests in the spring. They were never disturbed, because they were
said to bring good luck. They reminded Karim of his own village, where
two pairs of storks had made their nests for years. He had heard of one
village where there were twenty or thirty nests, on the trees, walls,
and even on the roofs of the houses.

He had often watched the parent storks, one at a time, brooding over
the blue eggs or feeding their young. Father Stork used to feed the
mother while she was sitting, dropping from his bill into hers such
tidbits as live frogs or snakes captured from the little swamps near
the river, and around the ponds. As soon as the three or four young
storks had hatched the father and mother took turns in their work. One
stayed at home and guarded the children, while the other hunted for
food. When the hunter came in sight of the nest he made a great noise
clapping with his bill, for storks have no call, and his mate answered
him. The young storks made a low sound something like a kitten's mews
as they sat with their long bills wide open, waiting for breakfast to
drop in; they spent much time, too, leaping up and down in their nests
like Jacks-in-the-box, exercising their wings.



CHAPTER X

KARIM GOES TO MARKET


KARIM'S first work was to help take care of the horses. It was not
always easy, for they were splendid animals, high spirited and vicious,
and ready to break away, if possible, in order to get into a fierce
fight with each other. After Karim learned to ride, he asked Nasr'ullah
if he could not be one of the attendants of Ardashir Khan, the agha's
son, on his horseback rides.

"I can let you have a horse," said Nasr'ullah, "but I have no good
saddle to spare. The khan is very particular."

"May I go if I get a new saddle?" asked Karim, eagerly.

"If God will, I am willing," said Nasr'ullah.

So Karim got his money and started to the shops or "bazaars." He went
down the narrow street and past the graveyard, with its rude slabs of
untrimmed stone, and on to the bazaars. Here the street was roofed
over by a row of little domes, with round openings above for light and
air. It was crowded with people. There were women wrapped in shapeless
masses of blue cloth, with faces carefully covered; long robed "sayids"
with green turbans on to show that they were descendants of the prophet
Muhammad; peasants passed in old and ragged coats; city men in blue
broadcloth and tall black hats, and Kurds from the mountains, wearing
bright coloured coats, baggy trousers, and wide red belts, in which
were thrust big daggers.

Here, in a corner, sat a man roasting "kabobs," bits of meat which he
deftly wrapped in flaps of bread and sold. The purchasers took them
in their fingers and ate them at once. Here were shops where a dozen
men were making a great noise hammering out brass vases, bowls and tea
urns. Just beyond were the shops of the saddle makers. There Karim
saw just the saddle he wanted. He stepped to the edge of the shop and
looked at it. The shop keeper looked up from the strap he was cutting.

"Peace be to you," said Karim.

"Peace be to you," replied the shop keeper, eyeing Karim's good coat
and new hat. "With God's blessing have you come. I can see by your
looks that you are a good rider and know good saddles. Let me show you
this one. It is fit for King Solomon himself."

"I am looking for a saddle," replied Karim, feeling pleased, "and it
must be a good one, suited to an attendant of Ardashir Khan, the son
of the governor. But I am not as rich as King Solomon, and cannot buy
saddles fitted for him."

"Indeed, may I be your sacrifice!" cried the shop keeper. "This saddle
is a very poor gift, but take it, for you are a servant of our good
governor, whom I hope God will bless. It is a present. My eyes for it,
just command me, and it's yours."

"O no," said Karim, "of course I could not rob you so. I shall buy it,
and pay you good money. What's your price?"

"No!" insisted the shop keeper, "take it. It is yours, with God's
blessing."

"I cannot," said Karim. "I will buy it. What is your price?"

The shop keeper looked disappointed. "If you won't take the saddle as a
present," he said, "you must name your own price. I can _sell_ nothing
to the servant of our governor, whom I hope God will bless. Name a
price, my soul; anything, and it is yours."

"Since you say I must name a price," said Karim, feeling rather at sea,
"I will give one toman."

"What!" screamed the shop keeper, "only one toman for a saddle fit for
the hero Rustem! What pack horse's saddle would cost so little? Ten
tomans could not buy it."

"Fit for Rustem, indeed!" said Karim, scornfully. "My master's mule
driver would be ashamed to ride on it. See how the leather is worn,
here, and here, and here. One toman is too much, but my master is
generous, and so I must be. Take eleven krans, and thank God."

"This is the way you servants of the khans laugh at my beard, and
grind the faces of us who are poor. The leather alone of this saddle
cost more than eleven krans. If I sold it for seven tomans, I would be
giving it away."

"Your beard indeed saves you," said Karim, "for it is long, and I must
treat you with respect. For the sake of your beard I'll offer fifteen
krans."

"It is plain you are a country bumpkin, and do not know what saddles
are worth," said the shop keeper. "Ask any one of these merchants here,
and he will tell you that if I sell the saddle for six tomans I shall
lose money. But our governor, your master, is a good man. For his sake
take it for five and a half."

In reply Karim offered two tomans.

The shop keeper came down to five.

They kept on disputing in this way until at last Karim bought the
saddle for three tomans. He carried it home on his shoulder, and began
to brag to the other servants about his bargain.

But the groom laughed at him.

"The shop keeper was right," he said, "you are a bumpkin. Why did you
tell him you were a servant of the governor? They sell saddles like
this in the bazaars every day for two tomans."



CHAPTER XI

KARIM AT THE PALACE


NASR'ULLAH was true to his promise, for he saw that Karim was large for
his age, and had already learned how to manage horses.

Ardashir Khan, the agha's son, was very fond of riding, and was often
in the saddle. Sometimes there was simply a ride across country to
the hills, made gay by feats of horsemanship. The young khan and
his friends, with their servants, rode madly at full speed in small
circles, or pretended to get into a fight and fired their guns when at
full run. At other times there was a party to hunt quail or partridge
with the aid of falcons and dogs.

But one of the pleasantest excursions was to a garden-house,
surrounded by tall trees and grassy lawns. Here the young khans, in
a cool porch beside a pool of clear water, drank the tea prepared by
their servants, and smoked the pipe, while they enjoyed each other's
jokes and stories.

One story of which no one seemed to tire, if it was well told, was
about the disappointments of the lovers Leila and Majnoun.


THE STORY OF LEILA AND MAJNOUN

Leila was the beautiful daughter of a chieftain who camped with his
followers in tents, and wandered over the country, going wherever he
could find water and grass for his flocks of sheep. Once he stopped
near a village where dwelt a noble young man, Majnoun. Leila lived a
freer life than the women and girls who were in the villages, and was
allowed to wander over the hillsides with uncovered face; in this way
she happened to meet Majnoun. They fell deeply in love with each other,
and often met among the lonely hillside rocks. Leila's father did not
know of this, or he would have been displeased, for Majnoun was not a
chieftain, like himself.

One day Majnoun was astounded to find the place empty where the chief's
tent had been. It seemed hopeless to find him, for no one knew in
which direction he had gone, but Majnoun did not give up. He left
his father's house and wandered through all the neighbouring region,
searching for the encampment. Although his search was in vain, he loved
Leila so that he could not give up, but wandered in all directions
searching eagerly for her.

The weeks lengthened to months, and the months to years, but still he
could not find her.

Meantime Leila was as much distressed as was Majnoun. But it was
impossible for her to search, for she was a woman, and must remain at
home. All she could do was to weep in secret and sing songs or compose
little verses that told of her grief.

After a time the chief of another tribe, who had heard of Leila's
beauty, came with many horsemen and splendid presents to ask her father
if he might marry her. Her father was much pleased, but poor Leila
was heart broken. When her father heard that she was unwilling to be
married he became angry.

"My daughter is of age," he said, "and her suitor is wealthy and of
high rank. What more can she want? She must be married to the chief."

So the wedding was celebrated with a great deal of expense, and every
one was very happy except the bride.

There was now no hope for Leila, but she could not forget her lover.
Long years passed, and she heard nothing of Majnoun. Yet she did not
forget him. She used to wander alone over the mountain side near her
husband's tents, singing of her disappointment.

One day she heard her song answered by a well remembered voice,
singing, like her, of a long lost love. And so at last they had found
each other. But it was a very sad meeting. Leila was too honourable to
disgrace her husband and herself by running off with Majnoun, and he
was too noble to wish her to do so. They could only express their grief
in song, and then bid farewell to each other for ever.

After Karim had become well acquainted with the governor's servants he
persuaded Musa, who had charge of such matters, to allow him to be one
of the men who waited upon the agha when he had callers. Karim stood
at the door with hands covered until it was time to bring in the tea
or "kalian," or water pipe, in which the smoke was drawn first through
water and then through a long tube to cool it. Karim brought it in and
silently placed it before a guest, who took a few whiffs, and then
passed it to the man next him. This man did the same, and in this way
the pipe was passed along the whole line of guests, sitting against the
walls on either side of the governor.

The tea was served in little tumblers. It was made with plenty of
sugar, and was so hot that the guest made a noise when drinking it,
drawing in air to keep from scalding his mouth.

The governor usually treated his guests very politely, although he did
not rise as they entered, because he was of higher rank than they.

When he wished to show very great honour to a caller he beckoned to
him to come and sit by his side. He kissed him on both cheeks, and
asked him quickly, "Is your health good? Is your appetite good? Are
you healthy, and fat? Your coming is delightful. Your arrival is most
pleasant. You have come on my eyes."

But he was not always so gracious. Once a very rich khan called,
bringing a letter which he wished to present. It happened that he was
very near-sighted, and usually wore glasses. But to wear glasses when
calling on the governor would have been impolite, so he took them
off before entering. It was an amusing sight to see his eyes rolling
as he walked up the carpet trying to pick out the governor from among
the callers who were seated by him. To have given the letter to the
wrong man would have been a great insult. Luckily, he made no mistake,
and, bowing low, handed the governor the letter. The governor opened
and read it, then tore it up and threw it out of the window, and began
to converse again with the other callers. Meantime the khan stood
patiently waiting, for to speak without being first spoken to was
impolite, and to leave without permission an insult.

At last he said to the governor, "With your permission, may I be
excused?"

"You were excused before you came," replied the governor.

So the khan managed to get away, backing all the way to the door (to
turn around would be improper), and bowing again and again.



CHAPTER XII

SOHRAB AND RUSTEM


THE governor's mirza (or secretary) was very friendly with Karim, and
allowed him to read his books. He had a fine copy of the "Shah Nameh"
or "Book of Kings," by the great poet Firdousi. It was very large, and
full of stirring poetry describing the wonderful deeds of kings and
heroes who lived long ago. The greatest of them was Rustem. At eight
years of age he was as strong as any hero of that time. This is one of
the famous stories that Karim most enjoyed.


THE STORY OF SOHRAB AND RUSTEM

Rustem once went on a hunting trip that led him to the boundaries
of Persia. Becoming tired after a long day's chase, he lay down to
sleep, leaving his splendid horse Rakush to graze near by. Some Tartar
robbers, creeping up, led away the horse. Rustem, when he awoke,
followed the hoofprints until he arrived at the kingdom of Samengan.
Its king came to meet the hero, and promised to give back his horse
if he became his guest. While here Rustem met the king's daughter,
the princess Tamineh. They fell in love and were married with great
splendour.

It was not possible for Rustem to live long with his bride, because he
was needed by his lord, the king of Persia. He was compelled to leave
Tamineh before he could even see the baby that was born. But he sent
them a splendid present.

The baby was a boy, and Tamineh said to herself, "If Rustem hears
that his child is a boy he will send for him, and leave me desolate."
So she told the messenger who brought the present that the child was a
girl. Tamineh named her son Sohrab. As he grew up he became very strong
and brave. When he was ten years old she told him that his father was
Rustem, but added, "If you let this be known Rustem's enemies will try
to kill you, for he is hated by many warriors here, because he has
beaten them in battle."

When Sohrab was fourteen years old he was as strong as the greatest
warrior. He now declared that he intended to conquer Kaoos, the king of
Persia, and to make Rustem king in his stead. King Afraysiab, who was a
great enemy of the Persians, heard of this plan. He thought to himself,
"Sohrab is the only hero strong enough to meet Rustem. If I can keep
him from recognizing Rustem perhaps he will kill him as a foe." So
he sent word to Sohrab that he would join with him in the war. But
secretly he told his generals, Human and Bahman, that they should not
permit Sohrab to recognize Rustem, and that if they could they should
bring the two together in battle.

When the armies met, these generals arranged with King Kaoos that two
champions, one for each side, should meet in single combat. The king
selected his greatest hero, Rustem, as the champion for the Persians.
Sohrab, of course, was chosen by Afraysiab's generals to fight against
him.

Sohrab suspected that his foe was Rustem, and when they met begged him
to tell his name, but Rustem refused. Twice they fought, and twice
Sohrab conquered. But he was moved by a strange love for his foe, and,
though victor, spared his life.

And now the third and last day of the struggle arrived.

As Sohrab was putting on his armour he looked at the Persian hero, and
said to Human, "See how strong and brave my foe appears! just such a
man as my mother said that Rustem is. He surely is Rustem."

"Not at all," replied Human, "I know Rustem's appearance well. That
horse, it is true, looks like Rakush, but is less strong and beautiful."

The champions now approached each other.

Sohrab, again in doubt, spoke, "Let us sit here as friends, for my
heart is drawn to you. Be as generous as I am, and tell me who you
are! Say, are you Rustem, whom I long to know?"

"Away with your excuses!" cried Rustem. "We meet to fight. I claim the
struggle."

"Old man," said Sohrab, "you refuse to listen to me. Then take care for
yourself!"

Each now tied his horse, tightened his belt, and rubbed his arms and
wrists in angry excitement, for the struggle was to be by wrestling.
And now the heroes meet and clasp; in the terrible strain they seem
like raging elephants. The ground grows black with the blood and sweat
that drops from their straining bodies. Sohrab threw himself forward
with a sudden spring and seized his enemy around the belt. Rustem,
feeling his strength give way, fell heavily to the ground. Sohrab
leaned over to kill him, but Rustem cried out, "Hold! Do you not know
the law? It gives the beaten man a second chance."

This was a crafty lie. Sohrab believed it. He left his foe, and went
proudly back to the cheering ranks of his friends. Careless he waited,
and made no preparation for the next fight. But Rustem went to a
stream, and bathed his limbs, and prayed for the strength that once had
been his.

The two then met again. Sohrab scornfully exclaimed, "You dare to meet
me, do you? Are you looking for a death with honour, because you have
been beaten so often? But you care not, old man, for the truth, and
perhaps you have another trick to try. Twice already have I spared you
just because you are old."

"You are young and haughty," replied Rustem, "but perhaps my aged arm
will yet subdue your pride."

Then they rushed to the fight, tugging and bending, and twisting their
great limbs, until Rustem with a mighty effort grasped Sohrab. Bending
his back, he hurled him to the ground. But he knew that he was not
strong enough to keep him there, so he quickly drew his dagger and
stabbed him.

Sohrab writhed in pain as he said, "Do not now boast in your pride; I
have brought this upon myself. Fate ordered that you should kill me. O,
if only I could have seen my father! My mother told me how to recognize
him, and I sought for him. My only wish is to see him, and here I die
alone! But do not hope to escape him! Wherever you flee, Rustem in
sorrow and anger will pursue you."

Rustem shook with horror at these words. His brain reeled; at last with
a groan he cried, "Prove you are mine! For I am Rustem!"

Sohrab stared wildly at him, and said, "If you are Rustem, you have
indeed a cruel heart, else you would have known me long ago. Take from
my arm its coat of mail, and see there the golden bracelet you left
with my mother."

Rustem tore off the mail; at the sight of the gleaming bracelet he fell
to the ground, crying, "By my own hand my son, my son is killed!"

Lying in the dust, with groans, in his despair he tore his hair and
clothing.

Meantime the sun had set, and Rakush, forgotten by his master, started
for the camp and entered the ranks of the waiting Persians. They saw
the empty saddle, and in fear galloped to the battle ground.

The dying Sohrab heard the tramp of their horses, and said, "Let peace
come from my death. Beseech King Kaoos to spare the Tartar army, for
they are not to blame. I am to blame. I sought to find you. And how
often did I look for my father Rustem, and how sure I felt that you
were he. But you denied it, and yet I could not kill you. Now Fate has
disappointed all my hopes, and stained your hands with my life blood."

The soldiers approached, and horror came upon them as they saw the
agony of Rustem.

"Here ends the war," he said to them; then, looking at his dying son,
he groaned, "Oh what a curse has come upon a parent's head!"

In his despair he drew his weapon, to kill himself, but the Persian
captains seized his arm.

Then, arousing, he exclaimed to the chief Gudurz, "Hasten! hasten to
King Kaoos, and beg of him the medicine he has that yet will save my
son! Remind him of my deeds for him, and entreat that he send it for my
sake." Gudurz galloped to the king, but the cruel king replied, "Can I
forgive that shameless boy, who scorned me with my army, and sought my
throne? Only a fool would save the life of such a foe."

Gudurz returned with this bitter message. Rustem then left his dying
son, and hastened himself to the king. But while he was yet on the way
a messenger brought word that Sohrab was dead.



CHAPTER XIII

NEW OPPORTUNITIES


OFTEN the governor had dinner parties for his friends. These were
always a delight to Karim, who helped to make the room ready. First
the servants spread upon the richly woven carpet a coloured cloth that
covered the entire centre of the long room. Along the edges of this
cloth a man next spread the large flaps of thin whole wheat bread. Then
the centre was filled with all kinds of good things to eat. There were
large plates heaped high with pilav, well buttered and mixed with bits
of orange and spices, and topped with pieces of well cooked chicken.
Near by in other dishes were bits of mutton in spiced gravies. The
yellow curry, in saucers, was placed near the rice, all ready to be
mixed with it. Other dishes held cold rice, cooked in milk and sugar
until it was almost solid. Often there were large dishes of cucumbers,
tomatoes, or apples, with their centres cut out and filled with spiced
meats and thoroughly cooked. There were side dishes of sweet preserves,
and of red peppers.

The guests left their shoes at the door, and sat down on the floor
next to the table cloth. Each rested on his heels, flattening out the
instep. He was careful not to move his legs at all during the meal,
no matter how tired they became, because that would suggest that he
was not enjoying the entertainment. Each guest was also careful to sit
further from the governor than other guests of higher rank. If he did
not, the guest whose place he had taken would probably have disgraced
him by making him get up and change his seat.

When the eating began every one was busy. Each tore off little pieces
of bread, and with their help took the meat or rice from the dishes.
There were no separate plates, or knives or forks. Once in a while the
governor with his own hand poked a piece of food into the mouth of the
guest who sat next to him. This was a great compliment. The servants
went softly about in stocking feet, seeing that the dishes were kept
full.

When all had eaten enough, the table cloth was cleared, and sherbet,
or sweetened water, was brought in, with plates of candy and small
sweet cakes. Karim carried around a pitcher of water, while another
servant went with him, carrying a basin and towel. Each guest washed
his hands. By this time many in the room were laughing and chatting.
Sometimes the conversation was kept up for several hours, until tea and
the kalian had been passed around.

Meantime the servants, in another room, were having a splendid feast
with the food left by the guests. So much was cooked that there was
always plenty to spare. When they finished eating, the dishes were
passed out to the hostlers; lastly, the hostlers passed on the scraps
to the beggars waiting at the gate, so that nothing was lost.

One day, when Karim was sitting alone in the mirza's room, a stranger
entered.

"Peace be to you," said Karim.

"May you have peace. Is not the mirza in?"

"He has been called by the agha--whose life God will lengthen!--and is
very busy."

"Has he no time, then, to write a letter for me? Do you know of any one
who can compose a good letter?"

"Indeed," replied Karim, who wanted to show what he knew, "the mirza,
when I help him, says that my writing is second only to his. If my
letter does not please you, come again when the mirza is not busy. What
is your need?"

"Yesterday," said the man, "a merchant sent me some splendid
pomegranates. He has made my face to shine, and I wish to thank him. I
wish also to beg him to send me some more."

Karim opened the pen case, and took out a reed pen, which he sharpened
and smoothed. Then he took a roll of paper, trimmed it with the
scissors, and rubbed its edges with saffron. Putting the paper on his
knee as he sat on the floor he began to write, pushing the pen across
the paper from right to left.

[Illustration: "PUTTING THE PAPER ON HIS KNEE AS HE SAT ON THE FLOOR."]

When he was through he read the letter to the man.

"That is just the kind of letter I want," he said.

"Very well," said Karim, "I shall seal it. Where is your seal?"

He took the man's seal, engraved on a bit of agate, and after wetting
it with the thick ink, pressed it on the paper. Then he folded the
letter and handed it to the man, who thanked him many times, and
offered him ten shahis in payment.

When Karim told the mirza what he had written the latter said, "You
have learned quickly from me how to compose well. Let me keep on
teaching you, and you will become almost as skilful as I."

This is a translation of the letter that Karim composed:

    "My kind, honourable and respected master, whose honour
    I hope may last:

    "Just when my weak mind was planning to ask you about
    the state of your health, which is so important to us,
    the noble, famous and wise Sayid Ibrahim (I hope that
    his life may be lengthened!) unexpectedly gave me your
    kind letter. When I opened the letter it seemed to me
    that I was uncorking a bottle of rose-water. When its
    perfume of love reached the nose of my soul, because it
    brought me the news of your good health, I was as full
    of joy as I could be. And by showing me your favour,
    that is, by sending me the pomegranates, you have made
    me very glad. I hope that you will always gladden my
    heart with this kind of favour, each year sending me
    the happy news of your own good health. My longing eye
    is all the time looking up the street.

    "I wish this letter to carry some sign of my love, so
    I am sending you with it a pair of gloves. Wear them,
    please, for the sake of remembering me.

                                           "RASHID."



CHAPTER XIV

TWO IMPORTANT EVENTS


KARIM used to go back several times a year to spend a week or two with
Abdullah and Nana. They were always delighted to see him and to hear of
his new life, and much pleased with the presents he brought.

On one of these visits Nana asked him whether he did not wish to become
betrothed. Karim at once felt very bashful, but at last told his mother
whom he was thinking of, and she promised to speak to Abdullah about
it. She did so that very afternoon.

"Master," she said, "you know that your son is now fifteen years old,
and ought to be betrothed. He told me this morning that he wishes us
to ask Shahbaz if he will not let him marry his daughter Kadija."

"K'choo!" sneezed Dada, and then blinked at the sun, for good luck.
Both waited quietly for a minute, and then Nana exclaimed,

"Awý! What bad luck! God has shown us that we should not ask for
Kadija."

"There are other girls," said Dada, and after a long talk that evening
with Karim they decided to ask Suleiman for his daughter.

Next morning Dada started out to ask Mashaddi to tell his mother to see
Suleiman about this. On the way he greeted Husain.

"Peace be to you."

"May you have peace," replied Husain. "Where are you going?"

"What luck!" muttered Dada, and went back home again.

"Why have you come back so soon?" asked Grandmother in surprise.

"That fool Husain asked me a question that brings bad luck," said Dada,
"so of course I came back to start out over again. A person cannot be
too careful at a time like this."

"We seem to be having bad luck about it all," replied Grandmother. "I
had hoped that Kadija was the right girl, but of course, since you
sneezed only once, she--"

"K'chee! K'choo!" broke in Nana.

"Praise be to God!" exclaimed Grandmother. "We were talking of Kadija,
and Nana sneezed twice. You know that means the best of luck. Let us
ask for her."

Shahbaz was much pleased when Mashaddi's mother told him what Abdullah
was hoping for. When Abdullah learned this he sent rice and meat and
butter to Shahbaz' house, and later came himself with Mashaddi and a
few other friends, carrying as presents, among other things, a ring
and a pair of shoes, and a large tray covered with candy, with a red
handkerchief spread over the top.

"Peace be to you, my brothers," said Shahbaz.

"May you have peace," replied Abdullah. "I have come to ask whether you
are willing to marry the light of your eyes, your daughter Kadija, to
my son Karim."

"You show me so much more honour than I can possibly deserve in asking
this," said Shahbaz, politely, "that I am too much overcome to trust
myself to answer you. I must ask my mother and my brother about it."

He went in to ask them, and came back in fifteen minutes, all smiles.

"My daughter is like a pair of shoes to your son," he said.

"Praise be to God!" exclaimed Abdullah, and sent the ring in to Kadija,
who of course was keeping out of sight of the men.

Her grandmother put it upon the girl's finger, thus showing that she
was now betrothed to Karim. Then the men all sat down to a dinner
cooked from the food Abdullah had sent.

After this Abdullah was careful to send a present to Shahbaz once in
a while--a chicken, or a lamb, or a toman or two. It would have been
more improper than ever for Karim to visit Kadija, now that they were
betrothed. As she did not know how to read he could not send her notes,
but had to trust that Nana or Grandmother would tell Kadija what he
wished her to know. This was very hard to bear whenever he was at home
on a visit, but there was no help for it.

One day the mirza said, "Karim, you know about that dog of a Kurd,
Sheikh Tahar, who captured the governor's soldiers among the mountains,
coming on them while they were asleep, and who robbed the village of
Dizza. Now he has sent a letter to the governor in which he asks that
some one be sent to talk with him and make peace. The governor is going
to send Abbas Khan. He wants a mirza to go with him. I have taught you
to compose and write well. I am old; why should I trot about among the
mountains to please that dog of a Kurd? The work will be an honour to
you. Let me recommend you."

So it came about that a few days later Karim was riding over the plain
towards the mountain pass with Abbas Khan and his forty horsemen. Each
man carried a breech-loading gun, with a pistol at the pommel and a
dagger in his belt.

The road passed over the flat plain, by a river, now running quietly
below high banks in its wide and stony bed, for it was late in the
summer. In the spring, after the rains, the bed was filled from bank
to bank with an angry torrent of muddy water. Crossing a bridge, with
arches of red brick, and small towers at either end, built by a rich
man as a good deed, to help him enter heaven when he died, they entered
the village where they were to stop for the night.

The kedkhoda and village white beards met them with many bows.

Almost every house had one or more guests that night. Karim and the
major who commanded the forty horsemen were together in a room that
had a rude framework of poles along one side. From its top stretched
downwards a long line of woollen threads of different colours. On the
little stools in front, the women of the house sat while hour after
hour for days at a time they patiently wove in and out the coloured
wool thread that slowly built up a beautiful Persian carpet. None of
these women had ever read a book telling how to weave, or had ever
seen a pattern of the bright figures they wove into the rug. They had
learned the patterns by practice under the direction of their mothers.
Their mothers had learned them in the same way. And now the girls were
sitting before the loom and learning by practice to weave the same
patterns.

A small boy told them some interesting news.

"People say," he said, "that the king of the fleas lives in this
village with half the fleas of the plain. We don't mind them, but many
travellers can't sleep."

Karim laughed at this. He had never bothered himself much about such
little things, but before morning he was quite ready to believe the
boy.



CHAPTER XV

AMONG THE KURDS


[Illustration: A KURDISH SHEPHERD.]

THEY started early the next morning. The road first led through a
plain, between rice fields flooded with water from a large ditch. Next
it wound past vineyards with bunches of white and purple grapes, and
fields of glistening wheat stubble. Then, passing up a long valley,
they crossed uplands covered with thick rich grass, quite different
from the bare hills so often seen. In the distance grazed large flocks
of sheep, guarded by Kurdish shepherds, stern, wild-looking men, with
baggy trousers and jackets of many colours, and large peaked felt hats.
Each had several daggers in his belt. They were followed by dogs as
large and almost as fierce as wolves.

Beyond, on entering a little valley, they suddenly came upon the tents
of an encampment of Kurds. The tents were of thick black felt, long
and irregular in shape, and held up by a great many poles. The flaps
were partly open for the air. There was not much to be seen inside;
rugs here and there lay on the ground, and bedding was rolled in large
bundles. A few dishes and kettles were near the hearth, and here and
there hung large sheep skins sewed into a rounded shape and filled with
milk ready to be churned.

On the poles hung guns and daggers, and bridles for the horses, with
the saddles and saddle-cloths beneath. The horses themselves were
grazing near by, each tethered by his leg with a rope to a stake. When
the Persians appeared the women and children rushed into the tents,
from which they looked out on the party, the dogs barked fiercely, and
the few men who were lounging around with their guns handy scowled
darkly when they replied to the major's "Peace be with you."

They stopped for the night in a village at the foot of a small cliff,
on whose crest were the ruined walls of a castle. Karim walked up to
see it.

The wall, of cobble stone, had once been about twelve feet high and
went around that part of the crest not protected by the cliff. Within
were the tumbled walls of houses, and three large cracked cisterns,
meant to catch rain water. On the farther side was the arched opening
to an underground passage, whose round top here and there had been
uncovered by the rains, so that he traced it stretching down the brown
hillside to a spot below covered with green grass. Near him, in the
wall, was a gateway, protected by a tower of cut stone. Near this tower
was a strange recess that seemed cut into the rock.

The village boys with Karim said that this was a holy place, because
the prophet Ali had been there. He had been flying through the air when
going home from a visit to a holy shrine, and had stopped to rest. As
he leaned back against the rock he pushed it in and so made the recess.
He was able to do such a wonderful thing because he was a very holy man.

That evening Karim heard the story of the destruction of the castle.
Here it is:

About fifty years before, the castle was the home of a Kurdish chief,
or sheikh, who gave a great deal of trouble to the governor in the
city. He robbed the villages and the caravans, and never paid taxes or
gave any presents to the governor. The governor did not have enough
soldiers to punish the sheikh, so at last the ruler of the province
came with an army and besieged the castle. He placed guards on all
sides, so that no one could go in or come out. He put a cannon on a
large white stone on the hillside opposite, and fired at the castle.
This troubled the sheikh very much, but still he did not surrender. So
the Persians called the peasants who lived in the villages near by and
asked them how the sheikh was able to get water to drink. Some peasants
told about the secret passage down to water, but as it was carefully
covered no one knew just where to find it. So the Persian ruler took a
mule, and ordered that for several days it be given plenty of food,
but no water to drink. In this way the mule became very thirsty. Then
the ruler ordered his men to lead it slowly around the castle. When the
mule had been led almost all the way around it suddenly stopped and
began pawing the ground, because it smelled water. Here the Persians
dug into the earth, and found the secret passage way.

Then the sheikh in the castle called his men together, with their wives
and children, who were with them. He told them that there was no more
hope, for they had no water, but that they must not fall alive into
the hands of the cruel Persians. Still, he said, he would not ask them
to kill their own wives and children. He would let these surrender if
they wished to, but not a man must surrender. The women cried out that
they would rather die than be taken prisoners. And so they rushed with
their children to the cliff and threw themselves over it to death--all
except one, whose clothes broke the fall. The men opened the castle
gate, and, rushing out, fought fiercely until all had been killed by
their foes.



CHAPTER XVI

RUMOURS OF WAR


THE next day for three hours they climbed up a rocky valley, and then
crossed a high ridge, from whose summit they saw a plain at the foot of
snow capped mountains.

"Those mountains," said Abbas Khan, "are Sheikh Tahar's fort. Whenever
we beat him in a fight he hides among their rocks. What can we do?"
Going down the steep slopes in zigzags, they crossed some low hills,
and entered the plain. A village lay on its edge, at the foot of some
hills. The top of one of these hills was surrounded by a high adobe
wall. The people of this village looked very wretched; they were
wearing clothes that were in rags and tatters. The houses were without
window or door frames, and as one peered through the gaping doors he
saw nothing but the bare floors. No cattle or sheep could be seen. This
was the village that Sheikh Tahar had robbed.

Next morning the kedkhoda told the story to Abbas Khan. Karim, as
mirza, wrote down what was said.

"The Kurds," said the kedkhoda, "had told some of us that they were
going to rob us. At first we did not believe it. But three days before
the great attack forty of them suddenly came down upon our shepherds,
who were pasturing our two thousand sheep on the hills. The ten
shepherds came running for help to the village. We hurried out, thirty
of us, but it was too late. The next day some men told us that the
Kurds were planning to attack us within two days. The white beards
talked it over, and we decided to carry everything that we could into
the walled fort on the hill. We were busy doing this all the next day,
until the ground inside was covered with boxes, bundles, plows, yokes,
piles of wheat, jars, and everything else we had. We drove in the few
cattle and sheep we had left, with our geese and chickens and donkeys.
That evening our watchmen saw many Kurds on a hill near by. The next
morning there seemed to be hundreds of them. They got on that hilltop
yonder, which, as you see, is higher than the fort, and fired at us.
We all crowded up beneath the wall nearest to them, where they could
not hit us with their bullets. Then the Kurds came up to the wall,
yelling like devils, and threw stones over its top. They came tumbling
so thick that we could hardly stay next to the wall at all--but to
move away meant to be shot. We had guns, but what use were they? If we
had killed any of the Kurds they would have killed us later. We had no
water, and what help could come to us? So one of our old men crept to
the gate to try and talk with them; they shot him dead. Another climbed
a ladder against the wall near the place where some men from a near by
village were throwing stones at us--he knew them well--to beg them to
speak for us to the Kurds; he fell over with a bullet in his head. So
we just opened the gate and let them in. They rushed through it like
a lot of wolves, with yells of joy, and began at once to snatch at
everything they could. They took everything, boxes of clothing, the
wedding outfits of our brides, the head-dresses of our women, with the
strings of money on them, the cows and sheep and wheat. If they could
not unlock a box they smashed it open. They made us take off our shoes
and coats and give them up. At last, when there was not anything else
left, they formed in two long lines outside the gate, and made us all
pass one by one between. If anyone saw something one of us had that
he wanted he snatched it. And so we got away, and ran to our houses,
weeping, and some of us bleeding from wounds. There we found everything
stripped bare, as you see. Now we have nothing left but these houses,
and they are all empty."

All the men of the village in the room now burst out crying, and the
women outside sobbed and wailed and pulled at their hair.

"Do not weep," said Abbas Khan. "The governor will command the people
in the other villages to give you food and clothes, and will send you
wheat to plant in your fields. He will surely punish the Kurds, because
they have laughed at his beard, and he is a lion among men."

The next day they rode across the plain to a large village. The roofs
of the houses here were little above the surface of the ground. In the
house where Karim spent the night the animals lived in the same room
with the men, and so helped to keep it warm. He found it hard to sleep.
Two lambs shut under a large basket bleated pitifully for a long time.
Next some animal startled him from a doze by beginning to lick his
hand. Very early in the morning the rooster in the room began to crow,
and kept it up at intervals until dawn. Worst of all, he could only
grumble to himself and not wring the rooster's neck, even though he was
the servant of the governor. He did not dare to make trouble, because
the villagers here, unlike those near the city, were not much afraid of
the governor, and not at all afraid of a fight.



CHAPTER XVII

SHEIKH TAHAR


THAT afternoon ten Kurds rode into the village. Their three leaders
were gaily dressed in baggy red trousers and blue and crimson jackets.
They wore broad crimson sashes, and red silk streamers floated from
their turbans. All were armed with rifles and several daggers apiece,
while three carried long lances as well. Abbas Khan met them at the
door of the house where he was staying, and the leaders followed him
inside, where they sat together on the cushions at one end, while a row
of well armed Persians sat around the walls.

Outside, in the yard, four Kurds stood by the horses. The Persian
soldiers gathered around them, and as one Kurd could speak the Persian
language a lively conversation soon began.

"Our agha is very angry," said one, "and will never rest until your
chief has eaten dirt before him."

"Wallah!" said the Kurd, "if he wants him to eat dirt, let him catch
him."

"But your chief knows well that he cannot fight with the Persians," was
the reply. "Because he has trapped a few sons of dogs when they were
asleep does he think he can face the cannon and horsemen our agha will
send against him? Wah! if he is wise he will eat a mouthful of dirt
now, instead of many handfuls later. Is he stronger than was Ismail
Agha?"

"We all know of Ismail Agha," replied the Kurd. "My cousin's wife's
uncle was there when he was killed. Your general came with his
horsemen to the foot of the hill where the Agha's castle was built. He
sent up two khans to ask him to come down. The khans swore by all that
was holy that no harm would come to him, and said that they themselves
would stay at the castle gate as hostages if he went. He was an honest
man and believed them. He rode down the hill with only ten horsemen
with him. After a while the Kurds at the castle gate heard the sound
of guns. The two Persian khans--sons of liars--with faces full of joy
exclaimed, 'Peace has been made. They are shooting off their guns for
joy. Let us ride down and join in the celebration.' We Kurds are honest
fellows; we did not shoot them, but turned to mount our horses--and
they galloped off and left us. The Kurds pursued, but only to meet
the agha's ten horsemen coming at breakneck speed with the news that
Ismail Agha was dead. The general had received him very politely, but
as he turned to mount his horse after the talk was over a Persian shot
him from behind. But Sheikh Tahar will not be caught in that way."

The major now interrupted, saying, "But our agha does not fight in that
way. He does not use tricks. He has cannon, and horsemen, and he fights
in the open."

"I know you have cannon," said the Kurd, "yet still we do not fear. By
tricks you win. But they will not succeed against Sheikh Tahar. Do you
know the story of the Kurdish fox and the Persian fox?

"Once these two foxes met. The Kurdish fox said to the Persian fox,

"'How many tricks do you know?'

"The Persian fox replied, 'I know twenty-six. How many do you know?'

"'I know only one,' said the Kurdish fox, 'but it is all I need.'

"They walked on together until the Persian fox saw a piece of meat and
snapped at it. He found himself caught in a trap.

"'My brother!' he cried in distress, 'what can I do? Come and help me!'

"'Why do you want help?' said the Kurdish fox, 'use your twenty-six
tricks.'

"'Really, my brother,' said the Persian fox, 'not a single one of them
is of any use against this trap.'

"'Well, then,' said the Kurdish fox, 'I will tell you the one trick
that I know. To-morrow the owner of the trap will come. You must
pretend to be dead. I shall lie down near at hand, and also pretend to
be dead. He'll take your foot out of the trap. You must still pretend
to be dead. He'll see me; then he'll drop you and come to get me. Then
you jump up and run, and I'll run, too. So we'll both be free.'

"So the one trick of the Kurdish fox was better than the twenty-six
tricks of the Persian fox."

The next day Abbas Khan ordered all to be ready to ride out to meet
Sheikh Tahar, who had promised to come down for a talk. Everyone was
busy, seeing that the rifles were ready for use, the pistols loaded,
and the saddle girths strong; the horses were given a good breakfast;
in short, everything was put in order, for no one knew just what they
might have to do,--talk, fight, or run away.

About noon all was ready, and they started. The cavalrymen amused
themselves and kept up their courage by galloping in great circles.

[Illustration: SHEIKH TAHAR AND HIS HORSEMEN.]

As they approached the mountain, the Kurdish horsemen came in sight
from behind a hill; they, too, were galloping in all directions and
brandishing their spears. As they drew nearer both sides gathered into
close groups, and rode on in silence.

There were about seventy-five men with Sheikh Tahar. Most of these were
on horseback, dressed in baggy red trousers, wide red sashes, with
scarlet and blue jackets, and wide turbans of red silk. Each man was
a sort of walking arsenal, with long lines of cartridges, a Martini
Henry rifle, and silver hilted daggers or swords. But some of the
footmen were dressed in very ragged clothes and two of them carried old
flintlock guns.

When the parties were a few hundred feet apart both stopped. After
a few minutes Abbas Khan with five Persians rode forward. On the
other side Sheikh Tahar with five of the gayest clothed Kurds also
rode forward. The sheikh was a young man, with a heavy moustache
and piercing, cruel eyes. When they met all twelve dismounted. Some
Persian grooms and Kurdish footmen ran forward and led the horses off
a little distance. One man spread a carpet on the ground. On this the
two leaders sat down. They seemed very glad to see each other, for they
kissed one another on the cheeks several times. After some conversation
the servants brought tea, which they drank together. Karim noticed that
two tea urns and two sets of tumblers were used, and that each leader
was careful to have his tea made and poured into his own glass by his
own man. Then they stood up, kissed each other again, bowed low, and
each edged carefully away to his own company, while every man in sight
kept his rifle cocked.

On the way back Karim asked the major what the sheikh had said.

He replied, "Sheikh Tahar said that he knew how just a man our agha
was, and how full of mercy, and how brave. He loved him so much that
when he found out from the prisoners he had captured that they were the
agha's soldiers he could not keep the tears from his eyes. He had not
fought the Persian soldiers because he hated them, but because they had
attacked him. Why did the Persians believe the lies that Sheikh Rakhim
had told? Sheikh Rakhim was his enemy, and had killed ten of his men.
He had revenged himself by killing fifteen men in return. Sheikh Rakhim
for this reason had told lies to the Persians and had persuaded them
to send soldiers against him.

"Then Abbas Khan asked him why he had attacked and robbed the village.
He said that the people of that village had killed two of his men the
year before. Besides, they had helped Sheikh Rakhim's men, who were
really the enemies of the Persians, although they pretended to be their
friends. Abbas Khan said that he was delighted to hear this from Sheikh
Tahar's own lips. He said that our agha had sent soldiers against him
because the ruler of the province had believed the lies told by Sheikh
Rakhim. But the ruler now had learned what a mistake he had made.
Our agha was anxious to see Sheikh Tahar and give him the honour he
deserved. Would he not come down to the plain, near the city, and meet
the agha, and be honoured by him?

"Sheikh Tahar replied that he did not deserve such honour, but if his
good friend the governor commanded, it was his part to obey, and he
would be pleased to come if he could. But his brothers were very angry
because the Persians had killed some of their men. He was afraid that
he could not persuade them to let him come down. He would come if he
could, for he loved the agha."

"Do you think he will come?" asked Karim.

"God knows," said the major. "I only know that Abbas Khan is a big
liar, but that Sheikh Tahar is a bigger one."



CHAPTER XVIII

A BATTLE AND WHAT CAME OF IT


THE next day Abbas Khan with his company started again for the city,
which they reached after a quiet journey. The mirza read Karim's
reports, and changed them where necessary, so that they would be in
proper form. Then he read them to the governor.

"The agha was very angry," he told Karim afterwards, "when I read how
the village was robbed, and he had me write a letter to Sheikh Tahar
saying that if he did not come to the city within a week he would send
up an army against him."

Eight days later all was astir about the palace, for the agha had
ordered four thousand men with four cannon to the mountains. Karim
did not go with them. However, the major told him afterwards about the
fight.

"When we reached the plain at the foot of the mountains," he said,
"Sheikh Rakhim came to our general. He had four hundred men with him,
and declared that every one of the four hundred had taken an oath to
capture Sheikh Tahar either dead or alive. He also said that he knew
where the sheikh was hiding. Our general gave him a fine horse for a
present.

"Two days later we advanced from the village toward a mountain. We saw
Sheikh Rakhim's Kurds galloping around at the foot of the mountain,
and heard their guns. Between us and them was a large building. Our
general told us to attack it, because Sheikh Tahar was inside it. So
we spread out in a long irregular line, and went slowly ahead, shooting
at the building all the while. They brought up one of the cannon,
too, and boomed away, but somehow the gunners did not seem able to
hit the building. It took us an hour to get close to it, and we kept
shooting at it until its walls were full of bullet marks, and some of
the soldiers had no ammunition left. But not a shot, or any sound or
movement, came in reply. Finally, when we were quite near, the general
ordered us to charge. My heart was in my throat, but I just shut my
eyes and ran forward to the wall, thinking every step would be my last.
But I heard nothing, and so, rushing to the door, I kicked it open, and
looked in. I saw no one inside. Others came up, and we rushed in, and
looked into all the corners, but the house was empty. Not a sign of a
Kurd, not even an empty cartridge shell, could we find. That was all
there was of the battle.

"We waited up there a week longer, but no one could tell us where
Sheikh Tahar was. So we have come home again."

A few months after this Karim bade good-bye to his friends at the
palace, and went back to his home to prepare for his wedding. The agha
sent him a fine piece of Persian shawl, and a handsome present of
money, and the mirza and Nasr'ulla gave him a farewell dinner. He had
an equally pleasant welcome when he reached his father's house the next
evening, for everyone was delighted to see him.

Here soon all were active in preparing for the wedding. Kadija busied
herself with embroidering nearly twenty small caps, and knitting over a
dozen pairs of red and yellow socks, which were to be given to Karim's
friends. Abdullah and Nana made a trip to the city with the parents and
uncle of Kadija to buy her wedding dresses. Since Karim paid for them
Kadija's parents spent just as much money as Abdullah allowed, and of
course he did not like to object at such a time. They bought a skirt
of bright green silk, another of yellow satin, and three of bright
coloured calico, with one jacket made of Persian shawl, and another of
Damascus silk.

Karim accompanied his parents to the city, and went to the palace to
call upon the mirza. He was surprised to find the court yard full of
Kurds. The mirza was very glad to see him, but could not entertain him
long.

"Come again another day," he said, "and I will invite our friends in
to have some tea with you. Just now we are busy entertaining your old
friend Sheikh Tahar."

"How is that?" asked Karim in astonishment. "I thought that the
governor had sworn that he would never rest until the sheikh was
brought to him in chains."

"So he has," replied the mirza, "and you remember how he sent up an
army to capture him, and how the sheikh escaped only by making himself
so small that no one could see him. But what can the agha do? This
Kurdish fox, when he ran away from the agha's cannon, went down to
the city of Kerbella, and there he made so many prayers at the grave
of the holy martyr Husain that the chief mullah of Kerbella gave him
a letter which explained how holy a man he had become, and how wrong
it would be for anyone to injure him. He came back with this letter,
and what can one do? All the mullahs and people would be angry if the
governor did not respect it. The ruler of the province has telegraphed
that the sheikh is pardoned for what he did, and now the agha is
giving him a great dinner, and I must be off to write an order making
him the governor of six villages, including the one he robbed. And a
gold star is being sent to him by the Shah, and a title, 'The Sword of
the Kingdom.' Our agha hopes that this will keep him from giving more
trouble. Gold stars to pin on one's breast are cheaper than fighting.
The ammunition the soldiers wasted on that empty house cost the price
of fifty stars and twenty dinners."



CHAPTER XIX

FAREWELL TO KARIM


AS the time for Karim's wedding approached, the man who studied the
skies was asked by Abdullah to find out what day would be the best for
the wedding.

"The stars show me," he said, "that it must not occur upon the first
day or upon the middle day of the month, or for three days after the
full moon. These days will be sure to bring bad luck."

The mullah then went to the house of Shahbaz. Kadija stood behind a
curtain, so that he could not see her--for that was the custom. He read
some verses from the Koran, and then made a prayer. After this he asked,

"Kadija, daughter of Shahbaz, are you willing to marry Karim, the son
of Abdullah?"

"Yes," she whispered from behind the curtain.

"Very well," said the mullah, "since you yourself say that you are
willing, no one can now object." And he thrust a paper, stating this,
under the curtain.

The wedding celebration lasted three days, and was held in Abdullah's
house. There was plenty to eat, and plenty of music, made by a fife
and drum for the boys and young men to dance by in the yard; the girls
and women danced inside the house. Everybody in the village came to
congratulate Abdullah, and to take dinner. From all the villages near
by the beggars swarmed outside in the dust of the street; they, too,
were given something to eat.

On the last day Karim's friends came on horseback to Shahbaz' house to
take away the bride to the house of Abdullah. Each carried a chicken as
a present. Her mother threw a thick red veil over Kadija, so that no
one could see her, and they led her out and placed her upon a horse.
Then the procession started, a man walking on either side of Kadija to
keep her from falling, while another led the horse. The crowd began to
shout and yell, and to fire off guns and pistols.

[Illustration: KARIM AND HIS BRIDE.]

The noisy procession first went to the house of the mullah, who
scattered raisins for good luck over Kadija's head. Then they passed
on to the house of a khan, the agha's tax collector, who happened to
be in the village. He threw copper shahis into the street, and laughed
heartily at the boys when they fell over each other trying to pick them
up.

And so at last they reached Abdullah's house, where Karim, standing
upon the roof, tried to hit his bride with three red apples, which he
threw while the crowd cheered.

Lastly the men took Kadija from the horse and she was led into the
house. This completed the ceremony. Here, for the first time since they
had become engaged to be married, Karim spoke to his bride.


    THE END.



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Translated from the French by MARY J. SAFFORD.

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Jack is a fine example of the all-around American high school boy.


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    Illustrated      $1.50

Full of just, the kind of fun, sports and adventure to excite the
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Squat-By-The-Fire is a very old and wise Indian who lives alone with
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Hudson's Ambition," etc.

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=LITTLE WHITE INDIANS.= By FANNIE E. OSTRANDER.

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=MARCHING WITH MORGAN.= HOW DONALD LOVELL BECAME A SOLDIER OF THE
REVOLUTION. By JOHN L. VEASY.

    Cloth decorative, illustrated      $1.50

This is a splendid boy's story of the expedition of Montgomery and
Arnold against Quebec.



COSY CORNER SERIES


  It is the intention of the publishers that this
    series shall contain only the very highest and purest
    literature,--stories that shall not only appeal to the
    children themselves, but be appreciated by all those
    who feel with them in their joys and sorrows.

  The numerous illustrations in each book are by
    well-known artists, and each volume has a separate
    attractive cover design.

    Each 1 vol., 16mo, cloth      $0.50



_By ANNIE FELLOWS JOHNSTON_


=THE LITTLE COLONEL= (Trade Mark.)

The scene of this story is laid in Kentucky. Its heroine is a small
girl, who is known as the Little Colonel, on account of her fancied
resemblance to an old-school Southern gentleman, whose fine estate and
old family are famous in the region.


=THE GIANT SCISSORS=

This is the story of Joyce and of her adventures in France. Joyce is a
great friend of the Little Colonel, and in later volumes shares with
her the delightful experiences of the "House Party" and the "Holidays."


=TWO LITTLE KNIGHTS OF KENTUCKY=

WHO WERE THE LITTLE COLONEL'S NEIGHBORS.

In this volume the Little Colonel returns to us like an old friend, but
with added grace and charm. She is not, however, the central figure of
the story, that place being taken by the "two little knights."


=MILDRED'S INHERITANCE=

A delightful little story of a lonely English girl who comes to America
and is befriended by a sympathetic American family who are attracted by
her beautiful speaking voice. By means of this one gift she is enabled
to help a school-girl who has temporarily lost the use of her eyes, and
thus finally her life becomes a busy, happy one.


=CICELY AND OTHER STORIES FOR GIRLS=

The readers of Mrs. Johnston's charming juveniles will be glad to learn
of the issue of this volume for young people.


=AUNT 'LIZA'S HERO AND OTHER STORIES=

A collection of six bright little stories, which will appeal to all
boys and most girls.


=BIG BROTHER=

A story of two boys. The devotion and care of Stephen, himself a small
boy, for his baby brother, is the theme of the simple tale.


=OLE MAMMY'S TORMENT=

"Ole Mammy's Torment" has been fitly called "a classic of Southern
life." It relates the haps and mishaps of a small negro lad, and tells
how he was led by love and kindness to a knowledge of the right.


=THE STORY OF DAGO=

In this story Mrs. Johnston relates the story of Dago, a pet monkey,
owned jointly by two brothers. Dago tells his own story, and the
account of his haps and mishaps is both interesting and amusing.


=THE QUILT THAT JACK BUILT=

A pleasant little story of a boy's labor of love, and how it changed
the course of his life many years after it was accomplished.


=FLIP'S ISLANDS OF PROVIDENCE=

A story of a boy's life battle, his early defeat, and his final
triumph, well worth the reading.



_By EDITH ROBINSON_


=A LITTLE PURITAN'S FIRST CHRISTMAS=

A story of Colonial times in Boston, telling how Christmas was invented
by Betty Sewall, a typical child of the Puritans, aided by her brother
Sam.


=A LITTLE DAUGHTER OF LIBERTY=

The author introduces this story as follows:

"One ride is memorable in the early history of the American Revolution,
the well-known ride of Paul Revere. Equally deserving of commendation
is another ride,--the ride of Anthony Severn,--which was no less
historic in its action or memorable in its consequences."


=A LOYAL LITTLE MAID=

A delightful and interesting story of Revolutionary days, in which the
child heroine, Betsey Schuyler, renders important services to George
Washington.


=A LITTLE PURITAN REBEL=

This is an historical tale of a real girl, during the time when the
gallant Sir Harry Vane was governor of Massachusetts.


=A LITTLE PURITAN PIONEER=

The scene of this story is laid in the Puritan settlement at
Charlestown.


=A LITTLE PURITAN BOUND GIRL=

A story of Boston in Puritan days, which is of great interest to
youthful readers.


=A LITTLE PURITAN CAVALIER=

The story of a "Little Puritan Cavalier" who tried with all his boyish
enthusiasm to emulate the spirit and ideals of the dead Crusaders.


=A PURITAN KNIGHT ERRANT=

The story tells of a young lad in Colonial times who endeavored to
carry out the high ideals of the knights of olden days.



_By OUIDA_ (_Louise de la Ramee_)


=A DOG OF FLANDERS=

A CHRISTMAS STORY

Too well and favorably known to require description.


=THE NURNBERG STOVE=

This beautiful story has never before been published at a popular price.



_By FRANCES MARGARET FOX_


=THE LITTLE GIANT'S NEIGHBOURS=

A charming nature story of a "little giant" whose neighbors were the
creatures of the field and garden.


=FARMER BROWN AND THE BIRDS=

A little story which teaches children that the birds are man's best
friends.


=BETTY OF OLD MACKINAW=

A charming story of child life.


=BROTHER BILLY=

The story of Betty's brother, and some further adventures of Betty
herself.


=MOTHER NATURE'S LITTLE ONES=

Curious little sketches describing the early lifetime, or "childhood,"
of the little creatures out-of-doors.


=HOW CHRISTMAS CAME TO THE MULVANEYS=

A bright, lifelike little story of a family of poor children with an
unlimited capacity for fun and mischief.


=THE COUNTRY CHRISTMAS=

Miss Fox has vividly described the happy surprises that made the
occasion so memorable to the Mulvaneys, and the funny things the
children did in their new environment.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

Punctuation errors repaired. Inconsistencies in spelling retained
except where noted.

Page 93, "pleasantes" changed to "pleasantest" (of the pleasantest
excursions)





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Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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