Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Battle of the Enchanters

There was once a poor boy who was very ambitious to learn, and with
the consent of his parents he bound himself to an enchanter who was
a very wise man. The boy remained with him for a very long time,
until at last his master sent him home, saying that he could teach
him nothing more. The boy went home, but there he found nothing in
the way of adventure, so he proposed to his father that he should
become a horse, which his father could sell for twenty pesos to his
late teacher. He cautioned his father that, as soon as he received
the money for the horse, he should drop the halter as if by accident.

The young man then became a horse, and his father took him to the
enchanter, who gave him twenty pesos. As soon as the money was in the
father's hand, he dropped the halter, and the horse at once became
a bird which flew away. The enchanter metamorphosed himself into a
hawk and followed. The bird was so hard pressed by the hawk that it
dived into the sea and became a fish. The hawk followed and became a
shark. The fish, being in danger from the shark, leaped out on to the
dry ground and took the shape of a crab, which hid in a spring where
a princess was bathing. The shark followed in the shape of a cat,
which began to search under the stones for the crab, but the crab
escaped by changing itself into a ring on the finger of the princess.

Now it chanced that the father of the princess was very sick, and
the enchanter went to the palace and offered to cure him for the
ring on the finger of the princess. To this the king agreed, but the
ring begged the princess not to give him directly to the enchanter,
but to let him fall on the floor. The princess did this, and as the
ring touched the floor it broke into a shower of rice. The enchanter
immediately took the form of a cock and industriously pecked at the
grains on the floor. But as he pecked, one of the grains changed to
a cat which jumped on him and killed him.

The young man then resumed his own form, having proven himself a
greater man than his master.

Fletcher Gardner.

Bloomington, Ind.

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