Once in the royal city of Isfahan, there was an old woodcutter
who lived alone with his young daughter. Every day, the woodcutter went out to
the desert to gather camel-thorn bushes, then sold them in the marketplace as
firewood. In this way, he earned barely enough for the two of them.
the woodcutter's daughter said, Father, we always have enough to eat. But just
once, it would be nice to have something special. Do you think you could buy us
some date cakes?
I think I could do that, my dear, said the woodcutter.
I'll just gather some extra wood today.
So the woodcutter walked farther
that day to gather more thorn bushes. But he took longer than he meant to.
the time he got back with the wood, darkness had fallen. It was too late to go
to the marketplace. What's more, when he reached his house, he found that his
daughter had already bolted the front door and gone to bed.
Knock as he
would, there was no answer. So he had to sleep outside on the doorstep.
morning, the woodcutter awoke while it was still dark. He told himself, I might
as well go out right now and get another big load of wood. Then I can sell twice
as much and buy even more date cakes.
So he left his load and went back
to the desert to gather more bushes. But again he took longer than he meant to,
and when he got back, it was dark and the door was bolted. So again he had to
sleep on the doorstep.
He awoke once more before dawn. There's no sense
wasting a day, he said. I'll go back out for one more big load. How many date
cakes we'll have then!
But yet again he took too long, and yet again the
door was bolted when he got back.
The woodcutter sank to the doorstep and
What's wrong, old man?
He looked up to see a dervish in a long
green robe and a tall green cap.
Holy sir, for three days I have gone out
to gather thorn bushes, and for three days I have come home too late to get into
my house. And in all that time, I've had nothing to eat.
What night is this,
The woodcutter said, Why, Friday eve, of course.
It's the eve of our holy day. And that's the time of Mushkil Gusha.
Gusha? said the woodcutter.
That's right, old man -- the 'Remover of Difficulties.'
holy man took some roasted chickpeas and raisins from his pouch and handed them
to the woodcutter. Here, share this with me.
Thank you, sir!
not know it, the dervish went on, but Mushkil Gusha is already helping you. If
you want your good fortune to continue, here's what you must do: Every Friday
eve, find someone in need. Then share what you have, and tell a tale of Mushkil
Gusha. That way, you both will be helped.
And with that, the holy man vanished.
the woodcutter stared at the empty spot, the door to his house swung open.
where have you been? Oh, please come inside! I was so worried!
A few days
passed, while the woodcutter and his daughter enjoyed the many date cakes he bought
after selling his wood. Then one morning, when the woodcutter had gone to the
desert and his daughter had finished her housework, she decided to go walking
in a public park.
She was strolling down a broad path when a carriage stopped
What a pretty little girl! said a royal young lady. I am the
daughter of the king. Would you like to be my handmaiden?
Yes, Your Highness,
the girl said, blushing.
So the woodcutter's daughter became a handmaiden
of the princess. With the gifts the princess gave her, she and her father became
quite rich. He bought a nice house, and he didn't have to gather thorn bushes
But somehow he forgot what the dervish told him.
went by. One day, the princess went on a picnic to one of her father's private
gardens, and she brought along the woodcutter's daughter. There was a small lake
there, so they decided to go for a swim.
The princess took off her necklace
and hung it on a branch overlooking the water. But when she came out, she forgot
all about it.
A few days later at the palace, the princess looked for the
necklace but couldn't find it. She turned angrily to the woodcutter's daughter.
stole my necklace! You must have taken it when we went for our swim!
Your Highness, I wouldn't do that!
You're a thief and a liar too! I'll show
you what happens to people of your kind! Get out of my sight!
daughter ran home in tears. But an hour later, soldiers came to the door. They
arrested the woodcutter and carried him off to a public square in front of the
prison. Then they locked his feet in the stocks and left him there.
woodcutter had to suffer the taunts and jeers of the passersby. Some people were
kinder, though, and even threw him scraps of food.
Now, that evening was
Friday eve. As the sun set, the woodcutter cast his thoughts over all that had
happened to him in the past weeks. All at once, he cried out.
Oh, what a
foolish, ungrateful wretch I am! Didn't the dervish say to share what I have each
Friday eve and tell of Mushkil Gusha? Yet I haven't done it once!
a packet of chickpeas and raisins landed by the woodcutter. When he looked up,
he didn't see who had thrown it. But he did see a beggar boy coming by.
friend! called the woodcutter. Please share this with me while I tell you a story.
boy sat down and gratefully took what was offered. As he ate, the woodcutter related
everything that had happened, from when his daughter asked for date cakes, to
when he was put in the stocks.
Thank you, sir, said the boy. I needed the
food, and the story was good too. I hope it has a happy ending.
boy went on his way. But he'd only gone a block when a rich merchant stopped him.
one and only son! Ever since you were stolen at birth, I've looked for that birthmark
on your left cheek. Now at last I've found you!
But they leave our story
The next day, the princess had another picnic in her father's private
garden, and again she went down to the lake for a swim. She was about to step
into the water when she saw the reflection of her necklace. She looked up into
the tree -- and there was the necklace itself, right where she had left it.
woodcutter's daughter didn't take it at all!
By the end of the day, the
woodcutter was free from the stocks, and his daughter was back in the palace.
every Friday eve after that, the woodcutter always remembered to find someone
in need, share what he had, and tell his tale of Mushkil Gusha.
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