The Foolish Weaver

: The Orange Fairy Book

Once a weaver, who was in want of work, took service with a certain

farmer as a shepherd.

The farmer, knowing that the man was very slow-witted, gave him most

careful instructions as to everything that he was to do.

Finally he said: 'If a wolf or any wild animal attempts to hurt the

flock you should pick up a big stone like this' (suiting the action to

the word) 'and throw a few such at
im, and he will be afraid and go

away.' The weaver said that he understood, and started with the flocks

to the hillsides where they grazed all day.

By chance in the afternoon a leopard appeared, and the weaver instantly

ran home as fast as he could to get the stones which the farmer had

shown him, to throw at the creature. When he came back all the flock

were scattered or killed, and when the farmer heard the tale he beat

him soundly. 'Were there no stones on the hillside that you should run

back to get them, you senseless one?' he cried; 'you are not fit to

herd sheep. To-day you shall stay at home and mind my old mother who

is sick, perhaps you will be able to drive flies off her face, if you

can't drive beasts away from sheep!'

So, the next day, the weaver was left at home to take care of the

farmer's old sick mother. Now as she lay outside on a bed, it turned

out that the flies became very troublesome, and the weaver looked round

for something to drive them away with; and as he had been told to pick

up the nearest stone to drive the beasts away from the flock, he

thought he would this time show how cleverly he could obey orders.

Accordingly he seized the nearest stone, which was a big, heavy one,

and dashed it at the flies; but, unhappily, he slew the poor old woman

also; and then, being afraid of the wrath of the farmer, he fled and

was not seen again in that neighbourhood.

All that day and all the next night he walked, and at length he came to

a village where a great many weavers lived together.

'You are welcome,' said they. 'Eat and sleep, for to-morrow six of us

start in search of fresh wool to weave, and we pray you to give us your


'Willingly,' answered the weaver. So the next morning the seven

weavers set out to go to the village where they could buy what they

wanted. On the way they had to cross a ravine which lately had been

full of water, but now was quite dry. The weavers, however, were

accustomed to swim over this ravine; therefore, regardless of the fact

that this time it was dry, they stripped, and, tying their clothes on

their heads, they proceeded to swim across the dry sand and rocks that

formed the bed of the ravine. Thus they got to the other side without

further damage than bruised knees and elbows, and as soon as they were

over, one of them began to count the party to make sure that all were

safe there. He counted all except himself, and then cried out that

somebody was missing! This set each of them counting; but each made

the same mistake of counting all except himself, so that they became

certain that one of their party was missing! They ran up and down the

bank of the ravine wringing their hands in great distress and looking

for signs of their lost comrade. There a farmer found them and asked

what was the matter. 'Alas!' said one, 'seven of us started from the

other bank and one must have been drowned on the crossing, as we can

only find six remaining!' The farmer eyed them a minute, and then,

picking up his stick, he dealt each a sounding blow, counting, as he

did so, 'One! two! three!' and so on up to the seven. When the weavers

found that there were seven of them they were overcome with gratitude

to one whom they took for a magician as he could thus make seven out of

an obvious six.

[From the Pushto.]