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The Brothers Grimm
Old Sultan
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OLD SULTAN

A shepherd had a faithful dog, called Sultan, who was grown very old,
and had lost all his teeth. And one day when the shepherd and his wife
were standing together before the house the shepherd said, 'I will
shoot old Sultan tomorrow morning, for he is of no use now.' But his
wife said, 'Pray let the poor faithful creature live; he has served us
well a great many years, and we ought to give him a livelihood for the
rest of his days.' 'But what can we do with him?' said the shepherd,
'he has not a tooth in his head, and the thieves don't care for him at
all; to be sure he has served us, but then he did it to earn his
livelihood; tomorrow shall be his last day, depend upon it.'

Poor Sultan, who was lying close by them, heard all that the shepherd
and his wife said to one another, and was very much frightened to
think tomorrow would be his last day; so in the evening he went to his
good friend the wolf, who lived in the wood, and told him all his
sorrows, and how his master meant to kill him in the morning. 'Make
yourself easy,' said the wolf, 'I will give you some good advice. Your
master, you know, goes out every morning very early with his wife into
the field; and they take their little child with them, and lay it down
behind the hedge in the shade while they are at work. Now do you lie
down close by the child, and pretend to be watching it, and I will
come out of the wood and run away with it; you must run after me as
fast as you can, and I will let it drop; then you may carry it back,
and they will think you have saved their child, and will be so
thankful to you that they will take care of you as long as you live.'
The dog liked this plan very well; and accordingly so it was managed.
The wolf ran with the child a little way; the shepherd and his wife
screamed out; but Sultan soon overtook him, and carried the poor
little thing back to his master and mistress. Then the shepherd patted
him on the head, and said, 'Old Sultan has saved our child from the
wolf, and therefore he shall live and be well taken care of, and have
plenty to eat. Wife, go home, and give him a good dinner, and let him
have my old cushion to sleep on as long as he lives.' So from this
time forward Sultan had all that he could wish for.

Soon afterwards the wolf came and wished him joy, and said, 'Now, my
good fellow, you must tell no tales, but turn your head the other way
when I want to taste one of the old shepherd's fine fat sheep.' 'No,'
said the Sultan; 'I will be true to my master.' However, the wolf
thought he was in joke, and came one night to get a dainty morsel. But
Sultan had told his master what the wolf meant to do; so he laid wait
for him behind the barn door, and when the wolf was busy looking out
for a good fat sheep, he had a stout cudgel laid about his back, that
combed his locks for him finely.

Then the wolf was very angry, and called Sultan 'an old rogue,' and
swore he would have his revenge. So the next morning the wolf sent the
boar to challenge Sultan to come into the wood to fight the matter.
Now Sultan had nobody he could ask to be his second but the shepherd's
old three-legged cat; so he took her with him, and as the poor thing
limped along with some trouble, she stuck up her tail straight in the
air.

The wolf and the wild boar were first on the ground; and when they
espied their enemies coming, and saw the cat's long tail standing
straight in the air, they thought she was carrying a sword for Sultan
to fight with; and every time she limped, they thought she was picking
up a stone to throw at them; so they said they should not like this
way of fighting, and the boar lay down behind a bush, and the wolf
jumped up into a tree. Sultan and the cat soon came up, and looked
about and wondered that no one was there. The boar, however, had not
quite hidden himself, for his ears stuck out of the bush; and when he
shook one of them a little, the cat, seeing something move, and
thinking it was a mouse, sprang upon it, and bit and scratched it, so
that the boar jumped up and grunted, and ran away, roaring out, 'Look
up in the tree, there sits the one who is to blame.' So they looked
up, and espied the wolf sitting amongst the branches; and they called
him a cowardly rascal, and would not suffer him to come down till he
was heartily ashamed of himself, and had promised to be good friends
again with old Sultan.


------------------------------------------------------------------------
Translated from the Grimms' "Kinder und Hausmarchen"
("Fairy Tales") by Edgar Taylor and Marian Edwardes.
 

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