Story From Arabian Nights - Strange Are The Ways Of Dogs And Crows

Strange Are The Ways Of Dogs And Crows

Once upon a time, there was a rich man who had a son. The man had earned his wealth through hard labour. He was kind and dutiful to all. His son, however, was not as prudent as he. The young man was in bad company. The rich man felt that the boy's companions would never stop exploiting him. The boy was too weak to safeguard his wealth from their covetous designs on it. But what could he do? He was not keeping well. When he knew that it was time for him to die, he told his son privately, "My boy, do not squander away my hard earned money. Do not fall into the trap of flatterers. I am leaving enough property for you to live comfortably if you live cautiously." After a sigh, the old man said again, "I'm dying. If ever a time comes when you find yourself utterly miserable, then open the room at the farthest east of this house. You will find the solution to your problem." The rich man died soon thereafter. At once a host of flatterers began crowding around the young man. Their words were so pleasing that the young man did whatever they wanted him to do. There were feasts, excursions and dances and drinking bouts. The young man's false friends were not satisfied with that much. They began stealing from his house.

In two years the young man found himself reduced to a pauper! His friends left him as promptly as they had gathered around him. One day he opened the eastern room. He hoped to find a treasure. But what he found shocked him. A rope hung from the beam. A scrap of paper was tied to its end. It read: "If you are utterly miserable and do not have the strength to make a fresh attempt at living, then you may hang yourself. But before that pull the rope and see if it is strong enough." "I must try to live," he decided. He went out to the market and sold his turban. He bought some milk and a lump of a loaf and retired to a lonely place. He placed the milk and the loaf on a stone and went near a well for water. A stray dog ran away with the loaf. A crow flew down and thrust its beak into the milk. The poor young man burst into tears. He was dying with hunger. However, he managed to reach a friend and told him what had happened. "Don't you spin yarns! Don't tell me that a dog and a crow were waiting to deprive you of your food! You have spent your money foolishly and are now lying to me!" thundered the friend. The young man met another friend and yet another. Their response was not different. The young man returned home. "There is no more hope for me," he thought. He then entered the eastern room again, determined to hang himself. In order to try the rope as advised in the note, he gave it a hard pull. At once a bag hidden under the plaster on the beam fell down. Surprised, the young man opened it. 

It contained much gold and a note: "You were ready to die. Take your old life as finished. Now you can begin a new life, getting over your old habits." The young man now wept with joy and gratefulness. He buried the gold and spent only a bit of it to buy himself food and new clothes. He invested some money in business. Soon he prospered through hard work. His friends began showing themselves up again. They smiled affably and flattered him. One day he told those three friends whom he had approached for help: "Something rather unusual happened. Would you believe it? We had a door made of stone. Our dog ate it up. We had a steel sword. A crow carried it away." "Who would not believe it when it happened to you? Indeed, dogs and crows are not to be trusted anymore! Strange are their ways," commented the friends. The young man smiled. "No my friends, the ways of dogs and crows are not strange. Strange are the ways of men. When I was a pauper, a dog eating up a loaf and a crow defiling milk were considered lies. Now that I am rich, a dog eating up a stone and a crow stealing away a sword are facts!" he said. The three false friends hung their heads. They never showed up again. The young man was happy to get rid of them. 

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