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Persian LegendsA Book of One Hundred and One Stories
By Mehry M. Reid
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Mehry M. Reid
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe King of the Woods
Once upon a time there was a lion that lived in the wooded area of Nowshahr. This lion had a large head, a heavy mane, and a dreadful roar. He moved around freely with his head up, enjoying the freedom of being the only lion in the neighborhood. A large number of other animals lived in the woods, such as gazelles, deer, rabbits, elk, raccoons, foxes, and hares. No doubt the roar of the lion terrorized these other animals, causing them to fear for their lives all the time.
The lion usually slept most of the day in his den or in some hidden spot, and then in the evening and during the night, he would prowl around in the woods. He killed small victims with a single blow, breaking their necks or tearing open their throats. He brought down larger animals by leaping onto their backs, tearing into them with his powerful teeth and jaws. He would kill and devour a deer before the eyes of its fawn or strike the young in front of the mother.
After a long time of enduring such painful tragedies, the threatened animals had suffered enough. They talked together and arranged to have a meeting, hoping that they might find a solution. One bright morning, they had their meeting. After a long discussion, they agreed that a couple of them would go to lion when he was resting after his meal and tell him their suggestion. They would suggest that instead of the lion having to go to the trouble of hunting, they would bring his meal to him every day. So two of the bravest among them, with a lot of fear in their hearts, went to see the lion. While they bowed their heads before the mighty lion king, they told him their proposal.
"Your Majesty, we know that you have to eat and that you are going to a lot of trouble to get your food. Our offer is, if you agree, that we bring you a meal every day, and then you will not need to hunt for your meal. All the rest of the animals in the woods will not live in fear all the time. Your Honor, when you eat the nursing mothers, their children die from hunger. Their population will shrink, and soon there will not be many of us left for you to eat. If we bring you your meal, it will be neither a nursing mother nor a baby."
The lion, after some thinking, accepted their offer. The animals kept their part of the agreement until there were no more volunteers for sacrifice. Now was the time for the animals to have another meeting for more decisions. At this meeting, they all agreed that they had done enough, and now they would have to think of a way to get rid of the lion. The cleverest one of them came up with a way to kill the beast.
He said, "We all know that the lion is stronger than all of us, but if we trick him, it might work. There is a well in the meadow where the woods end, and if we push him in the well, he cannot get out and will drown."
After more conversation, they agreed on a resolution. The two brave ones went immediately to see His Majesty. "Your Honor, we are afraid to tell you that there is a short supply of food for you, and the reason is that there is now another lion in these woods. Every morning while you are asleep, he comes out, catches a few of us, and eats us. He is very careful that you do not see him. Then at night when you are awake, he hides in the well on the border of the woods in the meadow. If you do not do anything about it, pretty soon there will not be many of us left, and you will not have anything to eat."
The lion was very angry and asked them to show him the well. They walked with the lion to the well, all the time telling him how strong he was and how the other lion looked exactly like him. When they got to the well, the lion looked in and saw his reflection in the water.
"He sure looks like me, but he is a coward to hide in a well and think he is safe from me."
With that, he jumped into the well and drowned. All the other animals lived happily ever after.
Chapter TwoThe Red Diamond
There was once a beautiful red-cockaded woodpecker who lived in the cavity of a tree, where he had made his nest in the spring of the year. The tree was quite near the mansion home of Azie and her husband. Azie loved the woodpecker, which she named Beauty. Every day as she and her dog went for a walk, she paused at the tree and talked with the woodpecker. It was amazing that Beauty was never afraid of Azie or her dog. The bird had black and white feathers with red markings on his head and a sleek, stiff tail. Azie found it interesting the way the woodpecker would cling to the sides of the tree, climbing up and down with swift motions, and also the way he used his sticky tongue to catch insects. Beauty often demonstrated the reason for the name woodpecker as he used his strong bill to peck holes in the tree trunk. Azie learned much about the woodpecker's life and habits. She prayed that nothing bad would ever happen to the beautiful creature.
Unfortunately, Azie and her dog were not the only ones who watched the woodpecker. Not very far from the mansion, a fox had established its home, and like other foxes this one was clever and cunning. It was not a very large animal, but it appeared larger than it really was due to its long hair, bushy tail, and furry ears. The fox was an amazing hunter, always able to find something to eat. It caught and ate any small animal or bird on which it could get its paws. It was also tricky, for if Azie's dog came close and the fox thought it was in danger, it would pretend to be dead, only to run away as soon as the dog turned away.
One day as Beauty perched on the tree trunk not far from the ground, the fox approached and announced to Beauty that it was a close neighbor who often watched Beauty and wanted to tell the bird how handsome he was. No wonder they had named him Beauty. The sly fox went on to say how it loved the red markings on the woodpecker's head, and how it wished it could do something for the bird to win his friendship. Beauty jumped a few steps higher on the tree trunk and answered that they could not be friends, because the fox caught and ate birds.
The fox said, "Oh no, not you, no one would ever harm a beauty like you. I want to be your friend, and some day I will bring you a gift to earn your confidence."
A few days later when Azie and her dog were not around, the fox went near Beauty and said, "I bought you a beautiful red diamond that matches your red head. I did not bring it today, but next time I see you, I will give it to you."
Beauty still did not trust the fox, but the idea of placing a red diamond on his head was tempting. The tricky fox, however, had more on its mind than presenting a diamond to Beauty. From a distance it kept watch, looking for an opportunity when Azie and her dog were not to be seen.
When finally one afternoon Beauty sat on a bush and Azie and the dog were away, the fox took the red diamond to Beauty, put it on the ground, and told Beauty that there lay the diamond he had bought for the beautiful bird, and he should come down and take it. Beauty looked down and saw a gorgeous, red, large diamond that looked like a bright light. Reflecting the sunlight, the gem lay on the ground, waiting to be claimed. Beauty considered how handsome it was and thought about how the girls would love him if he had that diamond on his head. He still did not trust the fox, but how could he forget about such a gem?
At that time, the mansion door opened, and Azie and her dog walked out.
Within a few seconds, the dog had gotten close enough to the fox to cause it to run away with the dog close behind it. Beauty quickly flew down to the ground, picked up the diamond, carried it high into a tree, and hid it in a crack. Beauty flew back down to the ground to grab a vine to wrap around the tree as a marker, but the fox came back and chased him away.
Unfortunately, the woodpecker never remembered in which tree he had hidden the red diamond. As a consequence, the precious stone was never found. Since that time, woodpeckers all over the world have been pecking on trees in search of the red diamond.
Chapter ThreeNightingale and Blue Rose
Once upon a time in the country of Persia there was a most beautiful garden of roses that belonged to the royal family: the king, the queen, and their daughter, Princess Mina. The king and queen were devoted to their daughter. They often said that Mina was the apple of their eye and they loved her more than their own lives. Mina was one of the reasons the king loved the rose garden. It was not only because the garden was very beautiful, but more so, because it had been established to commemorate the birth of his daughter. The king had hired the best gardener in the land to care for the roses.
Princess Mina loved the garden and its roses. She spent hours there, playing and all the while admiring the beauty of the flowers. The delight of breathing the sweet scents of pink, white, yellow, and blue roses captivated the princess. Princess Mina wondered why there were no red roses in their garden or anywhere else. Every afternoon when she returned from school, she first conversed with her parents as she ate her snack, and then she ran off to the garden to play amid the flowers. Before returning to the palace, she picked a blue rose to take to her room. She placed the flower on her pillow so that she could enjoy the sweet scent before going to sleep.
Excerpted from Persian Legends by Mehry M. Reid Copyright © 2011 by Mehry M. Reid. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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