Abdullah The Wise One

In an Arab country, there lived à scholar named Abdullah. He had a poorly-paid job as a letter writer in the palace of Sudam the Sultan and could hardly feed himself and his family. One day a great feast was arranged in honour of the Sultan’s birthday, and when Abdullah breathed in the delicious smells of cooking, he was sure that he and his family would be invited.

Abdullah, however, was sadly disappointed. There were no invitations for him and his family. “Nobody thinks anything of me,” he sighed as he went home hungry.

Very sad, he went to bed, but in the middle of the night, he woke up his wife. “I have an idea that will make me rich and famous,” he told his wife. “I shall become a wise man who knows everything.”

He got up and went secretly to Sultan’s stable and took away Sudam’s favourite white horse, which he led into a thick forest and tied to a tree.

“Now, my dear wife,” he said, “you must go to the palace and spread the news that I am Abdullah, the wise one.”

The wife obeyed. The next day she was in the palace and saw the Sultan looking worried. “What is wrong?” she asked.

“My finest horse vanished in the night,” Sultan Sudam replied. Nobody can tell me where it is.”

“Abdullah, my husband, is a wise man who sees and knows everything,” said the wife. “Alas, today he is in bed, weak through lack of food.”

“Perhaps the poor man will be well enough to talk,” said the. Sultan eagerly, and he hurried straight to Abdullah’s house. The scholar seemed faint and weak but found the strength to whisper that the Sultan would find his horse deep in the thick forest, tied to a tree.

When this was true, the Sultan was overjoyed, and for the next few days, Abdullah and his family had all the money and food they wanted. But the news got around that a wonderfully wise man had appeared, and even the King of the Arab countries got to know about it.

The King summoned. Abdullah to .him. “Wise man,” he said, “a thief has stolen the crown jewels, and only you can find them for me. By tomorrow morning, you must give me the answer, or I shall severely punish you as a fake.”

Poor Abdullah! His teeth were chattering with fright as they took him to a room in a high tower and shut him in. “How can I know the answer?” he wailed.

The jewel thief was a serving- woman in the court named Giva. She heard about the wise man, tiptoed to the tower room, and listened outside the door.

Abdullah was on his knees, not knowing anybody was listening, lamenting about his fate. “It is all the fault of my tongue,” he sobbed. “Yes, that is the truth,” he said louder. “The fault is that of give.” Being a clever scholar, Abdullah used the very ancient Arab word “give” for tongue”, and when the woman heard it, she naturally thought that Abdullah was speaking her name.

She rushed in and went down on her knees before him. “It is true,” she cried. “I, Giva, stole the jewels. I beg you to spare my life, O wise one. The jewels are hidden at the garden’s foot of a pomegranate tree.”

“You deserve to be punished,” said Abdullah. “I will give you a chance, however, if you leave the country.”

This the woman was only too eager to do, and the next day when Abdullah was brought before the King, he boldly declared that the stolen jewels would be found beneath the pomegranate tree. “Send a trusted servant to dig there,” he said. 66 As for the blame, the thief will never be caught.”

When all this was found to be accurate, the King was amazed. But one of the courtiers wanted even more proof of the creative powers of Abdullah. “Your Majesty,” he whispered, “this man might be in league with the thief. We must test him again.”

The King agreed, and while Abdullah was sent to another room, he ordered that a frog be placed inside a golden dish with a lid.

Then Abdullah was brought in. “Tell me, wise one, what is hidden inside this dish,” commanded the King.

Abdullah trembled with fear. “Now I am lost, a poor little frog that I am,” he thought, using a nickname that his father had given him. Then, half-aloud, he went on, “Poor little frog indeed! Now you are trapped, and who can help you escape?”

All who heard him were astonished. “Now do you believe?” thundered the King to his courtiers. “This man is the wisest in all the land.”

Loaded with presents and money that would last him the rest of his life, Abdullah hurried back home, wise in the knowledge that he had also been the lucky one.

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