Once upon a time there was a king. He liked gathering wise and experienced people in his palace. He liked asking them questions and listening to their answers. The king was very inquisitive.
One day the king was walking in the garden and saw two sparrows fighting with each other. At first the sparrows fought on a thick branch of a big plane tree, then they fell down on the ground and continued their fight.
The king stopped near them and stamped his feet. He wanted to frighten them, but the sparrows did not fly away. They kept fighting! They continued fighting and were squawking something at the same time!
The king returned to his palace and asked the wise and experienced people the question, "Why were the sparrows fighting and what were they crying to each other?"
The wise and experienced people could not answer these questions. They asked the king to give them three days to find an answer and went home.
On the road from the king's palace there was the blacksmith's house. Every day his daughter Adolyathon saw the wise and experienced people walking to the palace and returning. She saw them this time too. They walked with their heads hung — sad and lost in thought. The girl asked the oldest white-bearded wise man, "What's happened, grandfather? Before this day you walked from the king's palace merry and happy, and today you are so sad!"
The old man breathed a sigh and said to the girl, "Today the king asked a question to which we have no answer. He asked us why two sparrows were fighting and what they were telling each other. How can we know this? We have not seen those sparrows, and do not know why they were fighting! The king gave us three days to find an answer. If we do not have the answer, we will be put to death."
" Don't be sad, grandfather! If you don't find an answer, I will tell you why the sparrows were fighting, and what they were crying to each other."
The wise man got angry, "How can you, oaf, dare make fun of us? How can you know what even we, wise and experienced people, do not know?"
Three days and three nights the wise and experienced people were thinking, but they did not find an answer to the king's question. There was nothing left but to send that old wise man to the blacksmith's daughter.
The wise man came to the blacksmith's house and asked Adolyathon to give the answer to the king's question.
" Go to the palace and ask the king whether the son or someone else inherits the father's property. Let the king write down the answer on a sheet of paper."
The wise man immediately took the King's answer to Adolyathon.
The king had written down, "The son inherits the father's property".
The blacksmith's daughter read the paper, hid it, and said, "Those two sparrows were fighting because of a nest. One sparrow inherited the nest from its father. The second sparrow was a stranger and wanted to take the nest away from the legitimate owner by force. The first sparrow cried to the second that the nest belonged to it; the second cried in reply that the nest belonged to the stronger one."
The wise and experienced people went to the palace again. They passed the girl's answer to the king. But they did not tell the ruler that the blacksmith's daughter provided the answer
" You have not found this answer yourselves," the king said to them. "If you had found the answer yourselves, you would have given it to me this morning. Tell me now: who gave you the answer?"
There was nothing to do, so the wise and experienced people confessed that -the blacksmith's daughter Adolyathon gave them the answer.
The king ordered Adolyathon be brought to the palace. The servants fulfilled his order at once and brought the blacksmith's daughter into the palace.
" You are a clever girl," the king said to her. "Tell me, how did you know why the sparrows were fighting and what they were crying to each other during the fight?"
" I will answer," the girl replied. "You saw two sparrows fighting with each other because of the nest. One sparrow cried that it inherited the nest from its father; the second sparrow shouted that it was stronger and would get it! And there is no need to be very smart to understand this."
The king did not say anything. He gathered his viziers and told them, "This girl covered all of us with shame! What shall we do with her?"
The right-hand vizier replied, "You will marry her. When she is your wife, she will become your slave, and you will be able to do with her anything you wish!"
" Then you will marry Queen Malika and will make the blacksmith's daughter her maid!" added the left-hand vizier.
Queen Malika was very clever and beautiful. Her glory reached numerous kings and rulers of the world. Many men wanted to marry her. But she announced that she would marry the man who would answer all her questions and would fulfill all her tasks. Any man who did not answer her questions and did not fulfill her tasks would become her slave. Mari^ temusome ^outig men from ^arious states and countries turned into Queen MaYika^s slaves.
The king obeyed the advice of the right-hand vizier and sent matchmakers to the blacksmith's house. Adolyathon did not want to marry the king, but the latter ordered the supreme mullah to perform a wedding ritual. There was nothing the blacksmith's daughter could do but move to the king's palace.
The king told her there, "Though you are clever and beautiful, I don't like you. You won't be my wife. Queen Malika will be my wife, and you will be her maid!"
" That's not possible! You are building castles in the air!" said Adolyathon. "It will not be easy to marry Malika! Thousands like you became the queen's slaves."
The king got very angry but could not find words to answer Adolyathon.
The king gathered together all the wise and experienced people of the state and left with them for Queen's Malika's country. They arrived at the beauty's palace.
Malika asked the king her questions. The king sought the advice of his wise men that arrived with him, but they could not answer Queen Malika's questions. The king became the queen's slave. He was put in a yoke and sent to the oil-mill. The king wrote a letter to his viziers, and in it he asked them to get him released.
The king's wise men returned to their home country, came to the king's palace, and gave the letter to the viziers. The viziers showed the letter to Adolyathon.
Adolyathon read the king's message, dressed herself in men's clothes, colored leather boots, and put a telpak — a hat with fur on the top — on her head. She took a sword into her hands, mounted a horse, and departed for Queen Malika's country.
She rode for many days and finally reached the beauty's country. She came to the palace and asked the guard to let her in. They looked at the handsome, slender young man with clever eyes and felt sorry for him.
" Oh, stranger!" they said to Adolyathon. "What's the need for you to go to our queen? No one has answered her questions yet. Do you want to wear a slave's yoke? You'd better go your own way!"
" Take me to Queen Malika!" said Adolyathon firmly.
The guard took her to the queen's chamber.
Queen Malika made Adolyathon sit down in front of her and began to ask her questions.
" What makes a man live?" asked the queen.
" Hope," answered Adolyathon.
" What is a sign of old age?"
" Which intention is good and which is bad?"
"If it is the people's intention, it is good. If it is the intention of one person, which may harm people, it is bad."
" How can one know whether another person's intention is good or bad?"
" By his eyes, words, and behavior," answered the blacksmith's daughter.
Queen Malika asked Adolyathon several similar questions, and the blacksmith's daughter answered all of them.
" You are a wise young man," said Malika. "You answered all my questions. Now listen to my task. My father had a magic ring. With this ring he could bend three sisters-witches to his will. After my father's death, the witches stole the ring. You must find the ring. If you find it, the witches will obey me. This is my task."
Adolyathon asked Malika to give her forty days to find the ring, and left the palace.
She passed many mountains, passes, steppes, and valleys but did not meet a single witch. The fortieth day came and Adolyathon had to go back to Queen Malika's palace.
" It would be better for me to die here among the cliffs and stones, but be free, than go back to Malika's palace to live in slavery!" thought Adolyathon. She thought this, dismounted the horse, took the saddle off, put it under her head, and fell asleep under the shadow of a lonely plane tree. Some time later the girl woke up and saw a letter and a saber in front of her. The letter said, "Oh, daughter of the blacksmith! Your intentions are good; that is why this old blade will help you to overcome difficulties. Take it and go beyond the Black Mountain."
Adolyathon kissed the saber, put it to her eyes, and then stuck it in her belt next to her short sword. She mounted the horse and went beyond the Black Mountain. Beyond the Black Mountain she saw a large white tent, and there was a White witch inside.
" Good afternoon," said the girl to the witch.
" Good afternoon, my tasty morsel! I am not hungry now. I will eat you later!" the witch burst into laughter.
Adolyathon took out the saber and showed it to the witch. "Do you recognize it?" she asked.
" This is the saber of old men — people's protectors," answered the White witch.
" Do you know that it has been raining buckets in Samarkand for several days and all the drains in people's houses are ruined? The old men-protectors decided to help the people and sent me to cut strips from your backto let people make gutters on their roofs."
" Oh, oh! I have such pains in my back!" the witch began to shiver. "Have mercy on me! Have mercy on me!"
" I will have mercy on you if you show me the place where the ring of Queen Malika's father is hidden."
" If you go up the mountain there will be a red tent," said the witch. "There lives my second sister. She knows the place where the ring of Queen Malika's father is hidden."
Adolyathon went up the mountain and saw a red tent. A Red witch sat inside and was combing her hair.
" Good afternoon," said the girl.
" Good afternoon, my tasty morsel, my share for today! I am unwell now, but I will eat you later!" replied the Red witch. Adolyathon showed the saber to the witch and asked, "Do you recognize it?"
" Yes, this is the saber of old men-protectors!" answered the witch.
" Tell me where the ring of Queen Malika's father is hidden! Otherwise I will cut strips off the skin of your back!" said Adolyathon.
" I don't know where the ring is hidden," replied the Red witch. "My elder sister knows. She lives up the mountain in a black tent."
The girl went up to find the black tent. Soon she saw it. A Black witch sat inside and was cooking food for herself. Her kitchen range smoked, and everything inside was hidden in the thick black smoke.
" Good afternoon," said the girl.
" Good afternoon, my tasty morsel! It's very good that my food for today came to me by itself!" replied the Black witch to her.
" Yes, I came by myself. And I came for your soul! If you don't give me the ring of Queen Malika's father I will stab you with this saber!" said Adolyathon to the witch.
Having seen the saber, the Black witch began to shiver and said, "Oh, the owner of the old men-protectors' saber! You have given me a difficult task. I hid the ring very deep in the ground so that no one could find it and make us, three sisters-witches, his slaves! But there is nothing left for me. I will give the ring to you."
The Black witch said this, went out of the black tent, and called her sons in a loud voice.
Forty Black giants descended from four directions, from mountains and hillocks, and stood in a line in front of their mother.
" My sons," said the Black witch to them, "find the ring of Queen Malika's father and bring it to me!"
The forty Black giants started digging the ground with their sharp claws. Soon they found the ring of Queen Malika's father and gave it to their mother.
The Black witch put the ring on Adolyathon's finger and said, "We were free and now we are slaves again! What will you order!"
" Take me to Queen Malika's palace!" ordered the girl.
The Black witch seized Adolyathon and her horse and delivered her to Queen Malika's palace in the twinkle of an eye.
Adolyathon gave the father's ring to the queen.
Queen Malika became very glad. On this occasion she fed all the hungry, dressed all those without clothes, and announced to her courtiers that she would marry the young man who had answered all her questions and had fulfilled her task.
Then Adolyathon, the blacksmith's daughter, said, "Oh, Queen Malika! Before I become your husband I want to see your palace."
- Queen Malika led Adolyathon around her palace and showed her all her wealth.
When they finished, Adolyathon suddenly heard the noise of the oil-mill. The noise came from underground. Adolyathon wished to see the oil-mill. They descended into the oil-mill and saw the former king with a yoke on his neck walking around the oil press while Queen Malika's servant was cracking a whip upon him.
Then Adolyathon said to Malika, pointing at the king, "Let's make this slave our groom."
Malika agreed, and the former king was sent to the stable.
It was then that Adolyathon said to Malika," Give the order to mount horses. We are leaving for my country. Order the groom to go with us. He will look after our horses along the way."
The three of them departed. They rode and rode and reached a lonely spring. They dismounted, watered the horses, and sat down to have a rest.
Then Adolyathon took the groom-king aside and said to him, "I give you Queen Malika. Take her and go to your palace. I will go my own way!"The king was surprised and agreed with joy.
Adolyathon whipped her horse and galloped to the king's palace by a shorter way.
She returned to the palace, put on her dress, and sat down awaiting the king and Queen Malika. She sent the viziers and other courtiers to meet their king.
Soon the king and Queen Malika arrived. The viziers and all the courtiers followed them.
When the king saw Adolyathon, he said to her, "You see, I took Queen Malika for my wife. Now you are not my wife. I announce talak — Т divorce you' — three times to you. Now you are Queen Malika's maid. Go and prepare a room for her."
Adolyathon left. She put on the man's clothes, colored leather boots, and a telpak on her head. She put on the golden belt and stuck her sword and the saber given to her by the old men-protectors in it. Then she went out to the king.
The king was astonished to see the young man, Queen Malika's fiance, in his palace. Queen Malika was very happy to see him. The young man was clever and handsome, and the king was silly and ugly. She did not want to marry the king at all.Adolyathon looked at the king and said, "Oh! you silly, ungrateful king! Look at me well. Don't you recognize the one who released you from slavery, the one who gave you Queen Malika to marry? I am the blacksmith's daughter."Queen Malika got angry.
" Let a curse befall on the head of such a king," she said. "Let such a man, who does not appreciate such a clever and beautiful wife, vanish! I am going back to my country, to my palace!"
Queen Malika said this, took the magic ring off her finger, and gave it to Adolyathon.
" Take this ring, my sister Adolyathon," she said. "You go it by your cleverness and bravery. It belongs by right to you!"
Then Queen Malika mounted her horse and rode back to her country and her palace.
The blacksmith's daughter, clever and beautiful Adolyathon, returned to her father-blacksmith's house. And the silly and ugly king remained in his palace.
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