188 MOHAMMED WITH THE MAGIC FINGER
Mohammed set out on his journey, and in two days he arrived at the place where his uncle was standing with the old woman on his back, trying to catch the birds as they flew past. And Mohammed touched him on the arm, and spoke : ' Dear uncle, did I not warn you never to take service under any blue-eyed red-haired man?'
'But what could I do?'asked the uncle. 'I was hungry, and he passed, and we signed a contract.'
' Give the contract to me !' said the young man.
' Here it is,' replied the uncle, holding it out.
' Now,' continued Mohammed, ' let the old woman get down from your back.'
' Oh no, I must n't do that!' cried he.
But the nephew paid no attention, and went on talking : ' Do not worry yourself about the future. I see my way out of it all. And, first, you must take my stick and my mantle and leave this place. After two days' journey, straight before you, you will come to some tents which are inhabited by shepherds. Go in there, and wait.'
' All right! ' answered the uncle.
Then Mohammed with the Magic Finger picked up a stick and struck the old woman with it, saying, ' Get down, and look after the sheep; I want to go to sleep.'*
' Oh, certainly! ' replied she.
So Mohammed lay down comfortably under a tree and slept till evening. Towards sunset lie woke up and said to the old woman: ' Where are the singing birds which you have got to catch?'
' You never told me anything about that,' replied she.
' Oh, did n't I ? ' he answered. ' Well, it is part of youv business, and if you don't do it, I shall just kill you.'
' Of course I will catch them! ' cried she in a hurry, and ran about the bushes after the birds, till thorns pierced her foot, and she shrieked from pain and exclaimed, ' Oh dear, how unlucky I am! and how