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Some Of The Doings Of Shekh Farid
by [?]

Once there was a Rájá called Hámánsá Rájá. He had a son, named Gursan Rájá, who married Kheláparí Rání, the daughter of Gulábsá Rájá. After the wedding Gursan Rájá brought her home to his father’s house.

One day Gursan Rájá came home from hunting, very very tired and thirsty. It was about twelve or one o’clock in the day. He asked Kheláparí Rání to fetch him some water, and while she went for it he fell asleep. When she came back she found him still sleeping, and because he was so tired he slept all the afternoon and all night, and never woke till the next morning. His wife stood by him all the time holding the water in a brass cup. When he woke and found she had stood there all the afternoon and all night he was very sorry, and asked God to forgive him, and to give his wife whatever she wished for, no matter what it might be. So Kheláparí wished that whatever happened in any country, she might know of it at once of herself without any one telling her, no matter how far away the country might be.

One day Kheláparí Rání went to draw water from the tank, and by the tank sat an old man, the fakír Shekh Faríd. He said to the Rání, “Give me a little water to drink.” “I will,” she said, “only drink it quickly, for my father’s house is on fire, and I am going to put it out.” “How far off is your father’s country?” asked Shekh Faríd. “About twenty miles,” answered Kheláparí. “Then how can you know his house is on fire!” said Shekh Faríd; “I have been a fakír for twelve years, and for twelve years neither ate nor drank, and yet I do not know what happens twenty miles away.” “But I know,” she answered. “Leave your water-jar here,” he said, “and go and see if the house really is on fire, and I will not drink till you return to me.”

So off went Kheláparí Rání to her father’s country, and when she got there his house was burning, and she stayed till the fire was put out, and then returned to the tank where she left the fakír. “Is it true,” he asked, “that your father’s house was on fire?” “Quite true,” she answered. The fakír wondered. “How could she know it when the fire was twenty miles off?” he said to himself, and he determined to go to Gulábsá Rájá’s country to see if the Rání had told him the truth.

He went by a roundabout road, as he did not know the way, so it took him three or four days to get there. When he did, he asked some villagers if there had been a fire at their Rájá’s house. “Yes, a few days ago there was,” they answered. So the fakír, still more astonished, decided he would go back to Hámánsá Rájá’s palace and ask Kheláparí Rání how it came to pass that she was wiser than Shekh Faríd.

As he was returning, he met a bullock-cart laden with bags of sugar, and he asked the driver what the bags contained. The driver was put out because his bullocks would not go on quickly, and he was tired with beating and goading them, so he said crossly, “It’s ashes.” “Good,” said Shekh Faríd, “let it be ashes.” When the cartman got to the bazar, and went to make over the sugar to the merchant who had sent him for it, he found all his bags full of ashes, nothing but ashes. He was in a great state of mind, for a good deal of money had been paid for the sugar, and he was a poor man. So he went back to Shekh Faríd and fell down at his feet, saying, “I am a poor, poor man. My sugar is turned to ashes. Do make the ashes sugar again.” “Good,” said the fakír; “go home, and you will find sugar, and next time you are asked what you have in your cart, tell the truth and not lies.” The cartman went home, and when he saw his sugar was sugar once more, and no longer ashes, he was very, very glad.