STRONGER THAN FATE 305
the baby to her hut, and next day she took a spade to the cave and dug a grave where she buried the poor mother.
Years passed by, and the baby grew up into a fine handsome lad, as daring as he was beautiful, and as industrious as he was brave. One day, wrhen the boy, whom the old woman had named Nur Mahomed, was about seventeen years old, he was coming from his day's work in the fields, when he saw a strange donkey eating the cabbages in the garden which surrounded their little cottage. Seizing a big stick, he began to beat the intruder and to drive him out of his garden. A neighbour passing by called out to himó' Hi! I say ! why are you beating the pedlar's donkey like that ? '
' The pedlar should keep him from eating my cabbages,' said Nur Mahomed ; ' if he comes this evening here again I'll cut off his tail for him !'
Whereupon he went off indoors, whistling cheerfully. It happened that this neighbour was one of those people who make mischief by talking too much; so, meeting the pedlar in the ' serai,' or inn, that evening, he told him what had occurred, and added : ' Yes ; and the young spit≠fire said that if beating the donkey would not do, he would beat you also, and cut your nose off for a thief !'
A few days later, the pedlar having moved on, two men appeared in the village inquiring who it was who had threatened to ill-treat and to murder an innocent pedlar. They declared that the pedlar, in fear of his life, had complained to the king ; and that they had been sent to bring the lawless person who had said these things before the king himself. Of course they soon found out about the donkey eating Nur Mahomed's cabbages, and about the young man's hot words ; but although the lad assured them that he had never said anything about murdering anyone, they replied they were ordered to arrest him, and bring him to take his trial before the king. So, in spite of his protests, and the wails of his mother, he was carried off, and in due time brought before the king. Of