A father and mother once lived whose son was a dreamer. One morning the lad arose and said to his mother:
“Mother, I dreamed a dream last night, but I will not tell it.”
“Why will you not tell it?” asked the mother.
“I will not,” answered the lad.
“The mother beat the lad, who ran to his father, saying:
“Father, I dreamed a dream last night; I did not tell it to mother, and I will not tell it to you.”
The father also beat the lad, who was angered and ran away from the house. After a day’s journey he met a traveler.
“Good-day!” said the lad.
“Good-day!” replied the traveler.
“I dreamed a dream,” said the lad; “I did not tell it to my mother, I did not tell it to my father, and I will not tell it to you.”
The lad went on until he came to the Prince’s palace. The Prince was sitting at the door. The lad said:
“Prince, I dreamed a dream; I did not tell it to my mother, I did not tell it to my father, I did not tell it to the traveler, and I will not tell it to you.”
The Prince was angry, and cast the lad into a prison in the cellar of his palace. The lad dug through the wall of his prison with his dagger and opened a hole into the adjacent room which happened to be the dining-room of the Prince’s daughter. The lad finding the maiden’s food in the cupboard, ate it all and withdrew to his prison. Soon the maiden came in, and lo! the food was eaten. This was repeated on several days. The maiden was very anxious to know who it was who ate her food, and one day hiding herself in her wardrobe she began to watch. Soon she saw the lad, who lifting a great stone opened a hole in the wall, crept into her room, took the food from the cupboard and began to help himself. She jumped out, and taking hold of the lad, said:
“Who are you, young man?”
“I dreamed a dream,” said the lad, “I did not tell it to my mother, I did not tell it to my father, I did not tell it to the traveler, I did not tell it to the Prince; the Prince cast me into prison, and I dug a hole with my dagger and came here. I am at your mercy.”
The maiden fell in love with the lad, and thereafter cherished him not only with her food but with her love, and they accepted one another as husband and wife.
One day the King of the East sent messengers to the Prince bearing a stick which had both ends equal, saying:
“Now, tell me which is the bottom and which is the top of this stick. If you solve this, well and good; if not, you must give your daughter in marriage to my son.”
The Prince called all his wise men into council, but no one could solve the riddle. The princess told it to the lad. The lad said:
“Go and tell your father to tell them to cast the stick into the pond; the bottom end will sink the deeper in the water.”
They did so, and the riddle was solved. On the following day the King of the East sent three horses, all being exactly the same size and having the same appearance, saying:
“Which is the one year old colt, which is the two year old colt, and which is the mother? If you solve this, well and good; if not, you must give your daughter in marriage to my son.”
All the learned men of the Prince could not solve this riddle. The princess, in the evening, said to the lad:
“No one could solve the riddle, and they will take me away to-morrow.”
“Tell your father,” said the lad, “to let them keep the horses in the stable over night. In the morning let them take a bundle of hay, wet and salt it and cast it before the horses outside the stable door. The mother will come out first, the two year old colt after her, and the one year old colt last.”
They did as the lad advised, and the riddle was solved. On the following day the King of the East sent to the Prince a steel shield and a steel spear, saying:
“If you can pierce this shield with this spear with one stroke, I will give my daughter to your son in marriage; if you cannot pierce it, you must give your daughter to my son in marriage.”
The Prince and all his men tried, and could not pierce the shield. The Prince then said to his daughter:
“Go, send your man; let us see if he can pierce it.”
The lad came, and at one stroke pierced the steel shield with the steel spear. Now, the Prince had no son; he therefore adopted the lad, who was already his son-in-law, and made him heir apparent to his throne. Thereupon the lad set out to go and bring the daughter of the King of the East. After a long journey he met a man who was kneeling down with his ear close to the ground.
“What man are you?” asked the lad.
“I lay my ear to the ground,” answered the man, “and listen to whatever men say all over the world.”
“Aha! what a man!” exclaimed the lad, “he can hear what is said all over the world.”
“Man?” said the listener. “A man is he who pierced the steel shield with the steel spear.”
“It was I,” said the lad.
“Then I am your brother,” said the listener, and followed the lad. After another long journey they met a man who was standing with one of his feet upon Mount Ararat and the other upon Mount Taurus.
“Aha! what a man!” exclaimed the lad. “He strides over the world.”
“Man?” exclaimed the colossal strider. “A man is he who pierced the steel shield with the steel spear.”
“It was I,” said the lad.
“Then I am your brother,” said the colossus, and followed the lad.
After a long journey they met a man who was eating all the loaves baked in seven ovens, and still crying, “I am hungry! I am famishing! For heaven’s sake, give me something to eat!”
“Aha!” said the lad. “What a man! whom seven ovens continually baking cannot satisfy.”
“Man?” exclaimed the glutton. “A man is he who pierced the steel shield with the steel spear.”
“I am the man,” said the lad.
“Then I am your brother,” said the glutton, and followed the lad.
Soon they met a man who was carrying the earth upon his shoulders.
“What a man!” exclaimed the lad.
“Man?” replied the carrier of the earth. “A man is he who has pierced the steel shield with the steel spear.”
“I am the man,” said the lad.
“Then I am your brother,” said the carrier of the earth, and he also followed the lad.
They soon met a man who was lying flat on the bank of the Euphrates, and drinking the river dry, but still crying, “I am thirsty! I am dry; more water, for heaven’s sake!”
“Aha! what a man,” exclaimed the lad, “the river Euphrates does not satisfy his thirst.”
“Man?” exclaimed the river-drinker, “a man is he who pierced the steel shield.”
“I am he,” said the lad.
“Then I am your brother,” said the river-drinker, and followed the lad.
They soon met a shepherd who was blowing his horn, and lo! hills and valleys, plains and forests, men and beasts were dancing.
“Aha! what a man!” exclaimed the lad, “all the world is dancing to his music.”
“Man!” returned the shepherd, “a man is he who pierced the steel shield.”
“I am he,” said the lad.
“Then I am your brother,” said the shepherd, and he followed the lad. Now they were seven.
“Brother Steel-shield-steel-spear,” said the six adopted brothers to the lad, “where shall we go now?”
“We shall go and bring the daughter of the King of the East,” answered the lad.
“You are worthy of her,” said his six companions.
Soon they arrived at the city of the King of the East, who seeing them said to his servants secretly:
“These seven fellows have come to take away my daughter. Heaven forbid! They are bashful lads and will hardly eat a bowlful of soup. Now go and bake twenty-one ovens full of bread and make twenty-one cauldrons full of soup and put it all before them. If they can eat all at one sitting, I will give them my daughter; if not, I will not.”
The lad and his crew were entertained in an apartment some distance from the King’s apartment, where he was giving these instructions to his men. The ground-listener, hearing the King’s orders, said to the lad:
“Brother Steel-shield-steel-spear, did you hear what the King said to his men?”
“No, blockhead!” said the lad, “how can I hear him while he is in another apartment far from us?”
The ground-listener said: “They are going to serve us twenty-one horse-loads of bread and twenty-one cauldrons full of soup, and in case we fail to eat all at one meal they will refuse to give us the princess.”
“Be of good cheer.” said the ravenous eater; “I take the responsibility upon myself.”
On the following day all the bread and soup was served to one man, and there was not enough to gratify him. He was still crying, “I am hungry! I am famishing! Give me something to eat!”
“A plague upon these fellows!” said the King to his peers; “we could not satisfy one; what if all the seven should eat! Now I tell you what to do; entertain them in another house; bring quantities of wood and rushes at night and pile them round about the building, and in the middle of the night when they are asleep set fire to the piles. Thus they will perish and we shall get rid of them.”
The ground-listener hearing everything, told it to the lad.
“Never mind,” said the river-drinker, “I can keep in my stomach water enough to extinguish their fire.”
He went and drank the neighboring river dry and came back, and all went to bed. At midnight they saw that the house was on fire. The river-drinker blew upon the flames, and lo! a stream of water began to flow from his mouth. It not only extinguished the flames, but drowned all those who were making the fire. That caused the King to be still more angry, and he said to his peers:
“Let come what may, I will not give up my daughter.”
“Now it is my turn,” said the earth-carrier, “if he does not give us his daughter I will carry away his whole kingdom.”
He had hardly finished his words when he put his shoulder under the ground of the King of the East, and lo! he took on his back the whole realm. Then the shepherd began to blow his horn and the mountains and valleys, plains and forests, and all living creatures in them began to dance; the strider-of-the-world walked before them opening the way; and so the procession went on with great merriment. Thereupon the King began to weep and to beg them, saying:
“For heaven’s sake, leave me my kingdom! take my daughter and go.”
Then the earth-carrier set the kingdom down in its place again; the shepherd ceased blowing his horn, and the universe stopped dancing. The lad thanked his six brothers for their valuable services and sent them to their homes, and he himself took the maiden and came to the Prince’s city, where a wedding festival was celebrated for forty days, and he married this maiden also. He sat down with the baby born during his absence, in his arms, and his two wives one on each side, and calling his father and mother to him, said:
“Now shall I tell you what my dream was?”
“Yes, what was it?” said his parents.
“I dreamed in my dream,” said the lad, “that there was one sun upon my right side, another sun upon my left side, and a bright star was twinkling upon my heart.”
“Was that your dream?” said they.
“Yes, that was my dream,” said he.
This tale was a dream. The Sender of dreams has sent three apples from above; one for him who told the story, one for him who asked that the story be told, and one for him who listened to the story.