Words: Mikal Hrafspa (Mikal the Ram)
Notes from Mikal:
This bawdy tale is an Arabic invention of such quality that it only takes a bit of creativity to imagine it in any time period. I found it in a book in the juvenile section of my local library. Kids books must be a lot more fun than I remember.
This version is taken from a much older work, and has gone through several rewrites. The punch line is mine for the most part. The original ended in a witty, but very dated poetic verse.
This is the most requested of my stories.
KNOW OH NOBLES THAT at one time there were two most perfect geese. And all day long these two geese would wander about a certain house and cry to Allah, "Thanks to you, oh Allah, for making us the two most perfect geese."
In that house there dwelt a certain merchant who was both blessed and cursed. He was blessed by living to a ripe old age, but cursed by having a young wife.
This was not always a curse. For the first year she was contented to be his wife. The second year the money that he had was enough of a pleasure for her to stay with him. But by the third year she began to yearn for the pleasures that a younger man could bring.
That year she began to take to her a young lover. He was poor but comely, and she was greatly pleased with him.
In the morning, the old merchant would kiss his young wife goodbye, and go to the haman, or public bath house, and she would welcome her lover from the bushes where he hid. In the evening She would kiss her young lover goodbye, and bid him hide while she kissed her husband welcome home from his day of work. And so her days were spent, with the heat of youth in the heat of the day, and the cool of age in the cool of the night.
One day she said to her lover, "I am so pleased with you, I would give you anything you wanted." The young man thought about this and replied, "I would like to have one of those geese that wander about this house. I would love to have a good goose dinner!"
"You shall have it," she replied,. "In fact I shall cook both geese and you shall have them all, and my husband will not have even one drop of the gravy!" That evening she kissed her young lover goodbye, and soon after welcomed her husband home. She laid out the dinner cloth, and then sat weeping into her veil most piteously. "Why are you crying?" asked her husband. "You must think I am the ugliest woman alive. I must be vile in your sight. For you have never brought guests into our home." She sobbed harder than before.
Her husband tried to calm her. "It is not true. I will bring three guests home tomorrow."
But this made her cry all the more. "You must think I am the worst cook in all the world! My food must be as poison to you! You have never brought anyone home to eat with us!"
The husband got an idea. "I will bring three guests to dinner tomorrow, and in the morning I will buy you the finest meats to cook!"
"Oh," the wife cried, "do not waste the money. We have the two most perfect geese wandering about the house. Kill them and give them to me to cook." So the next morning the merchant caught the geese and wrung their necks and gave them to his wife. Then she kissed him goodbye and he went to the haman.
She took the geese and cleaned them. Then she stuffed them most cunningly with sweet breads and figs and nuts, and wrapped them in grape leaves. Just as she put them into the oven, her young lover came, and she told him, "The geese must roast a while. Perhaps there is something we could do as we wait?" So as the two geese baked below, the two lovers baked above.
When the geese were cooked, she gave them both to him, kissed him goodbye, and bid him good eating. Then she laid out the dinner cloth and waited.
The old merchant came in with the first guest, and told her, "I must go and meet the other two guests at the end of the street. Please make this one at home and I will return shortly.
But as soon as he left, she began to weep into her veil again. The guest, trying to be polite, asked her what troubled her. "It is not for me I cry," she said, "But for you. My husband does not trust me and fears I have a lover. He wishes to get a eunuch to guard me, but he is a tight-fisted miser, and will not buy one. So he has lured you to this house, and as soon as he returns with his friends, they will take from you those gifts that you inherited from your father!"
The guest was horrified. "What can I do?"
"I cannot see this happen to you," the young wife said, "I have an idea! I will go to the kitchen, where there are rags, and make up a bundle of them for you. When you have them, run out into the alley and put them on. My husband will search for you, but find only a ragged beggar." So she took up the dinner cloth and made a great show of wrapping it about the rags.
When she was near done, and handed the bundle to the guest, her husband came in the door with two more guests. "Run!" she whispered to the first guest. "Run to keep your manhood!"
As soon as the guest heard this he leaped through the window clutching the bundle to his chest. At that moment the wife ran to her husband shouting, "Thief! Thief! That guest you brought home has stolen both the geese, and we shall have nothing for dinner!"
At this the husband and both the other guests dove out the window as well and began to chase the first guest. When he saw they chased him he cried out and ran even harder. "Stop," they shouted at him. "Never!" he cried.
At last the husband became weary of running, and he called after him, "All right, we can deal! We don"t need to take both of them, you can keep one!"
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