190 MOHAMMED WITH THE MAGIC FINGER
' Come and eat with me!' and she came. But instead of letting her eat quietly, he took a large lump of the meat and rammed it down her throat with his crook, so that she died. And when he saw she was dead, he said: ' That is what you have got for tormenting my uncle !' and left her lying where she was, whiile he went after the singing birds. It took him a long time to catch them; but at length he had the whole seven hidden in the pockets of his tunic, and then he threw the old woman's body into some bushes, and drove the sheep before him, back to their fold. And when they drew near the house the seven boys came to meet him, and he gave a bird to each.
' Why are you weeping? ' asked the boys, as they took their birds.
' Because your grandmother is dead!' And they ran and told their father. Then the man came up and said to Mohammed: 'What was the matter? How did she die?'
And Mohammed answered : ' I was tending the sheep when she said to me, "Kill me that ram; I am hungry !" So I killed it, and gave her the meat. But she had no teeth, and it choked her.'
'But why did you kill the ram, instead of one of the sheep? ' asked the man.
'What was I to do?' said Mohammed. 'I had to obey orders!'
' Well, I must see to her burial!' said the man; and the next morning Mohammed drove out the sheep as usual, thinking to himself, 'Thank goodness I've got rid of the old woman ! Now for the boys!'
All day long he looked after the sheep, and towards evening he began to dig some little holes in the ground, out of which he took six scorpions. These he put in his pockets, together with one bird which he caught. After this he drove his flock home.
When he approached the house the boys came out to meet him as before, saying: ' Give me my bird !' and he