182 MOHAMMED WITH THE MAGIC FINGER
Soon after, she said again, ' Dear brother, go and watch our goats.'
' But why? I like tending sheep better!'
' Oh, it is much nicer to be a goatherd,' she said; so he took the goats out.
When he was gone, she said to her husband, 'You must kill my brother, for I cannot have him living here with me.'
' But, my dear, why should I? He has done me no harm.'
'1 wish you to kill him,' she answered, ' or if not I will leave.'
' Oh, all right, then,' said he ; ' to-morrow I will change myself into a serpent, and hide myself in the date barrel; and when he comes to fetch dates I will sting him in the hand.'
' That will do very well,' said she.
When the sun was up next day, she called to her brother, ' Go and mind the goats.'
' Yes, of course,' he replied; but the little boy called out: ' Uncle, I want to come with you.'
' Delighted,' said the uncle, aud they started together.
After they had got out of sight of the house the boy said to him, ' Dear uncle, my father is going to kill you. He has changed himself into a serpent, and has hidden himself in the date barrel. My mother has told him to do it.'
' And what am I to do?' asked the uncle.
'1 will tell you. When we bring the goats back to the house, and my mother says to you, '1 am sure you must be hungry: get a few dates out of the cask," just say to me, '1 am not feeling very well, Mohammed, you go and get them for me." '
So when they reached the house the sister came out to meet them, saying, ' Dear brother, you must certainly be hungry: go and get a few dates.'