This authentic Persian story was published in Persian Tales
, written down for the first time in the original Kermani and Bakhtiari and translated by D.L.R. Lorimer and E.O. Lorimer, with illustrations by Hilda Roberts. Macmillan & Co., Ltd., St. Martin's Street, London © 1919.
The Story of the Fortune-Teller
Traditional Kermani opening: "Once upon a time there was a time when there was no one but God..."
Poor man and his wife lived together in a hovel.
The Wife went to the public baths to enjoy herself.
She was immediately ordered out by a rich woman who wanted to bathe privately.
The Wife was furious and vowed revenge.
She found out that the rich woman was the wife of the King's Fortune-Teller in Chief.
The Wife went home and ordered her Husband to become the King's Fortune-Teller.
Husband said he couldn’t tell fortunes, couldn’t divine, and didn’t even know the King.
Wife said do it or else; she threatened divorce.
The dejected Husband sat in the street, divining board on his lap, not knowing what to do.
The King's daughter went to the public baths; she gave her ring to a servant to keep safe.
The Servant hid the ring in a hole in the wall with a tiny hair coming out of it.
Later, she couldn’t remember where it was when King's daughter demanded it back.
The King's daughter threatened to beat her, or worse.
The Servant found the "Fortune-Teller" Husband sitting forlornly in the street.
She asked him to divine the ring's whereabouts.
In a daze, the Husband threw his dice and stared at them.
He looked up at the servant and saw a little hole in her face with a hair coming out of it.
He mumbled: "I see a little hole and in the hole is a little hair."
Suddenly, the servant remembered where she had hid the ring and retrieved it.
Word got around.
The King brought the Husband to the palace and made him Fortune-Teller in Chief.
The King bestowed rich rewards on the Husband.
But soon after that, the King's treasury was robbed.
The King ordered the Fortune-Teller to find the thieves on pain of death.
Fortune-Teller was given 40 days to do the job.
He returned home and scolded his wife for endangering him and bringing about his death.
The Husband put 40 dates in jar.
He ordered his wife to bring him one each night until his death.
The thieves had heard about the Fortune-Teller's task to find them for the King.
They decided to spy on him.
The first night one thief hid on the Fortune-Teller's roof.
He heard: "The first of 40, my dear!" as the Wife brought her Husband the first date.
The terrified thief feared discovery; he fled back to the thieves' den and told all.
The second night two thieves hid on the roof.
They heard: "Two of the 40, my dear!"
Fearing discovery, they too fled back to the hideout.
So on for 39 nights.
On the last night, the leader of the thieves hid on roof.
He heard: "It's the last and biggest of the lot."
Fearing for his life, he entered the house and begged for mercy.
He promised to give back all the treasure if the Fortune-Teller would not reveal any names.
The Fortune-Teller agreed and returned all money, treasures, and jewels to the King.
He received huge rewards and was now one of the favorites of the King.
But then the King and the Fortune-Teller went hunting.
The King caught a locust in his hand.
Laughing, he demanded the Fortune-Teller reveal what was there.
Terrified, the Fortune-Teller felt doomed.
He cast his dice with shaking hands and muttered to himself:
"You hopped off safely once, little locust.
You hopped off safely twice, little locust.
The third time you are caught in a man's hand."
The King overheard and was amazed. He rewarded the Fortune-Teller with a vast fortune.
The Fortune-Teller now feared for his future because he didn't know how to tell fortunes.
He tried to get out of the situation by acting crazy.
Naked, he ran into the King's chamber, embraced him and carried the King out of castle.
Just then, the roof of the King's chamber collapsed.
So the Fortune-Teller claimed he had had a vision in the bathtub and had foreseen all.
The grateful King gave the Fortune-Teller more and more rewards.
Now he was the King's favorite of all.
And now, the Fortune-Teller was stuck forever.
But his Wife went to the public baths once again to enjoy herself.
She spied the wife of the former Fortune-Teller in Chief.
The Wife immediately ordered the other woman out of baths and thus got her revenge.
Traditional Kermani closing: "And now my story has come to an end but the sparrow never got home."
Many more where this one came from! All public domain...
Jackie Baldwin, Story Lovers World
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