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story of wali dad the simple hearted.
Start of Story
'Well,' said the king, 'you cannot refuse them; so the best thing you
can do is to send this unknown friend at once a present so magnificent
that he is not likely to be able to send you anything better, and so
will be ashamed to send anything at all!' Then he ordered that, in
place of each of the ten horses, two mules laden with silver should be
returned by her.
Thus, in a few hours, the merchant found himself in charge of a splendid
caravan; and he had to hire a number of armed men to defend it on the
road against the robbers, and he was glad indeed to find himself back
again in Wali Dad's hut.
'Well, now,' cried Wali Dad, as he viewed all the wealth laid at his
door, 'I can well repay that kind prince for his magnificent present of
horses; but to be sure you have been put to great expenses! Still,
if you will accept six mules and their loads, and will take the rest
straight to Nekabad, I shall thank you heartily.'
The merchant felt handsomely repaid for his trouble, and wondered
greatly how the matter would turn out. So he made no difficulty about
it; and as soon as he could get things ready, he set out for Nekabad
with this new and princely gift.
This time the prince, too, was embarrassed, and questioned the merchant
closely. The merchant felt that his credit was at stake, and whilst
inwardly determining that he would not carry the joke any further, could
not help describing Wali Dad in such glowing terms that the old man
would never have known himself had he heard them. The prince, like the
king of Khaistan, determined that he would send in return a gift that
would be truly royal, and which would perhaps prevent the unknown giver
sending him anything more. So he made up a caravan on twenty splendid
horses caparisoned in gold embroidered cloths, with fine morocco saddles
and silver bridles and stirrups, also twenty camels of the best breed,
which had the speed of race-horses, and could swing along at a trot
all day without getting tired; and, lastly, twenty elephants, with
magnificent silver howdahs and coverings of silk embroidered with
pearls. To take care of these animals the merchant hired a little army
of men; and the troop made a great show as they travelled along.
When Wali Dad from a distance saw the cloud of dust which the caravan
made, and the glitter of its appointments, he said to himself: 'By
Allah! here's a grand crowd coming! Elephants, too! Grass will be
selling well to-day!' And with that he hurried off to the jungle and cut
grass as fast as he could. As soon as he got back he found the caravan
had stopped at his door, and the merchant was waiting, a little
anxiously, to tell him the news and to congratulate him upon his riches.
'Riches!' cried Wali Dad, 'what has an old man like me with one foot in
the grave to do with riches? That beautiful young princess, now! She'd
be the one to enjoy all these fine things! Do you take for yourself two
horses, two camels, and two elephants, with all their trappings, and
present the rest to her.'
The merchant at first objected to these remarks, and pointed out to Wali
Dad that he was beginning to feel these embassies a little awkward. Of
course he was himself richly repaid, so far as expenses went; but still
he did not like going so often, and he was getting nervous. At length,
however he consented to go once more, but he promised himself never to
embark on another such enterprise.
So, after a few days' rest, the caravan started off once more for
The moment the king of Khaistan saw the gorgeous train of men and beasts
entering his palace courtyard, he was so amazed that he hurried down
in person to inquire about it, and became dumb when he heard that
these also were a present from the princely Wali Dad, and were for the
princess, his daughter. He went hastily off to her apartments, and said
to her: 'I tell you what it is, my dear, this man wants to marry you;
that is the meaning of all these presents! There is nothing for it but
that we go and pay him a visit in person. He must be a man of immense
wealth, and as he is so devoted to you, perhaps you might do worse than
The princess agreed with all that her father said, and orders were
issued for vast numbers of elephants and camels, and gorgeous tents
and flags, and litters for the ladies, and horses for the men, to be
prepared without delay, as the king and princess were going to pay a
visit to the great and munificent prince Wali Dad. The merchant, the
king declared, was to guide the party.
The feelings of the poor merchant in this sore dilemma can hardly be
imagined. Willingly would he have run away; but he was treated with so
much hospitality as Wali Dad's representative, that he hardly got an
instant's real peace, and never any opportunity of slipping away. In
fact, after a few days, despair possessed him to such a degree that he
made up his mind that all that happened was fate, and that escape was
impossible; but he hoped devoutly some turn of fortune would reveal
to him a way out of the difficulties which he had, with the best
intentions, drawn upon himself.
On the seventh day they all started, amidst thunderous salutes from
the ramparts of the city, and much dust, and cheering, and blaring of
Day after day they moved on, and every day the poor merchant felt more
ill and miserable. He wondered what kind of death the king would invent
for him, and went through almost as much torture, as he lay awake nearly
the whole of every night thinking over the situation, as he would have
suffered if the king's executioners were already setting to work upon
At last they were only one day's march from Wali Dad's little mud home.
Here a great encampment was made, and the merchant was sent on to tell
Wali Dad that the King and Princess of Khaistan had arrived and were
seeking an interview. When the merchant arrived he found the poor old
man eating his evening meal of onions and dry bread, and when he told
him of all that had happened he had not the heart to proceed to load
him with the reproaches which rose to his tongue. For Wali Dad was
overwhelmed with grief and shame for himself, for his friend, and for
the name and honour of the princess; and he wept and plucked at his
beard, and groaned most piteously. With tears he begged the merchant to
detain them for one day by any kind of excuse he could think of, and to
come in the morning to discuss what they should do.