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Main > Tanzanian folktales > Fairy tale "The Magician and the Sultan’s Son"

The Magician and the Sultan’s Son

There was once a sultan who had three little sons, and no one seemed to be able to teach them anything; which greatly grieved both the sultan and his wife.

One day a magician came to the sultan and said, “If I take your three boys and teach them to read and write, and make great scholars of them, what will you give me?”

And the sultan said, “I will give you half of my property.”

“No,” said the magician; “that won’t do.”

“I’ll give you half of the towns I own.”

“No; that will not satisfy me.”

“What do you want, then?”

“When I have made them scholars and bring them back to you, choose two of them for yourself and give me the third; for I want to have a companion of my own.”

“Agreed,” said the sultan.

So the magician took them away, and in a remarkably short time taught them to read, and to make letters, and made them quite good scholars. Then he took them back to the sultan and said: “Here are the children. They are all equally good scholars. Choose.”

So the sultan took the two he preferred, and the magician went away with the third, whose name was Keejaa′naa, to his own house, which was a very large one.

When they arrived, Mchaa′wee, the magician, gave the youth all the keys, saying, “Open whatever you wish to.” Then he told him that he was his father, and that he was going away for a month.

When he was gone, Keejaanaa took the keys and went to examine the house. He opened one door, and saw a room full of liquid gold. He put his finger in, and the gold stuck to it, and, wipe and rub as he would, the gold would not come off; so he wrapped a piece of rag around it, and when his supposed father came home and saw the rag, and asked him what he had been doing to his finger, he was afraid to tell him the truth, so he said that he had cut it.

Not very long after, Mchaawee went away again, and the youth took the keys and continued his investigations.

The first room he opened was filled with the bones of goats, the next with sheep’s bones, the next with the bones of oxen, the fourth with the bones of donkeys, the fifth with those of horses, the sixth contained men’s skulls, and in the seventh was a live horse.

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