192 MOHAMMED WITH THE MAGIC FINGER
' So far that you are not likely ever to see them again,' replied Mohammed. ' This is the fourth day since the robbers came down. How should you be able to overtake them ? '
' Then go and herd the cows!' said the man.
'All right!7 replied Mohammed, and for two days he went. But on the third day he drove the cows to his uncle, first cutting off their tails. Only one cow he left behind him.
'Take these cows, dear uncle,' said he. 'I am going to teach that man a lesson.'
' Well, I suppose you know your own business best,' said the uncle. ' And certainly he almost worried me to death.'
So Mohammed returned to his master, carrying the cows' tails tied up in a bundle on his back. When he came to the sea-shore, he stuck all the tails in the sand, and went and buried the one cow, whose tail he had not cut off, up to her neck, leaving the tail projecting. After he had got everything ready, he began to shriek and scream as before, till his master and all the other servants came running to see what was the matter.
' What in the world has happened? ' they cried.
' The sea has swallowed up the cows,' said Mohammed, ' and nothing remains but their tails. But if you are quick and pull hard, perhaps you may get them out again! '
The master ordered each man instantly to take hold 'of a tail, but at the first pull they nearly tumbled backwards, and the tails were left in their hands.
' Stop,' cried Mohammed, ' you are doing it all wrong. You have just pulled off their tails, and the cows have sunk to the bottom of the sea.'
'See if you can do it any better,' said they; and Mohammed ran to the cow which he had buried in the rough grass, and took hold of her tail and dragged the animal out at once.