Stories of Hope and Spirit: Folktales from Eastern Europe
. August House Publishers . Little Rock AR
PZ8.1.K199St 2004 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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Two of the twelve spirited stories in this book seem to me to fit into the category of fables. "How the Rich Man Learned a Lesson" (65) from Chechnia is new to me. A rich miser covets the wife of poor Hamid. She and Hamid are happy together. One day after the harvesting season Hamid finds two huge melons in the forest. He brings one home, eager to eat it. His wife wisely suggests that he sell it in the village. Of course the miser treasures food second only to money. He buys the melon and makes a deal with Hamid. If Hamid will bring him the second melon, Hamid can have whatever he touches first in the rich man's house. If he does not bring it, the rich man can have whatever in Hamid's house he touches first. Hamid returns to his wife, rejoicing that he can bring the second melon and touch the rich man's purse. As they talk, he reveals the location of the second melon to two of the rich man's henchmen, who have been eavesdropping to hear where the second melon is. Hamid comes home distraught from his empty return trip but has met a wise old man with a plan. Hamid puts his wife in the attic and perches a rickety old ladder at the attic opening. When the miser comes to collect the wife, he grabs the ladder, gets half way up, and -- feeling unsafe -- comes back down. The old ladder, not the wife, is his! "Nail Soup" (69) from Croatia is a pleasant rendition of the traditional "Stone Soup," with good embellishments. For example, the nails never do go into the soup!