Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 164
Publication Date: 1919
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This is a book of traditional Jewish fairy tales, based on stories from the Talmud and the Midrash. Chapters include, The Palace Of The Eagles, The Giant Of The Flood, The Fairy Princess Of Ergetz, The Higgledy-Piggledy Palace, The Red Slipper, From Shepherd-Boy To King, Sinbad Of The Talmud, The Paradise In The Sea, The Princess Of The Tower, King Alexander's Adventures, and The Sleep Of One Hundred Years.
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East of the Land of the Rising Sun there dwelled a king who spent all his days and half his nights in pleasure. His kingdom was on the edge of the world, according to the knowledge of those times, and almost entirely surrounded by the sea. Nobody seemed to care what lay beyond the barrier of rocks that shut off the land from the rest of the world. For the matter of that, nobody appeared to trouble much about anything in that kingdom.
Most of the people followed the example of the king and led idle, careless lives, giving no thought to the future. The king regarded the task of governing his subjects as a big nuisance; he did not care to be worried with proposals concerning the welfare of the masses, and documents brought to him by his advisors for signature were never read. For aught he knew they may have referred to the school regulations of the moon, instead of the laws of trading and such like public matters.
"Don't bother me," was his usual remark. "You are my advisors and officers of state. Deal with affairs as you think best."
And off he would go to his beloved hunting which was his favorite pastime.
The land was fertile, and nobody had ever entertained an idea that bad weather might some year affect the crops and cause a scarcity of grain. They took no precautions to lay in stocks of wheat, and so when one summer there was a great lack of rain and the fields were parched, the winter that followed was marked by suffering. The kingdom was faced by famine, and the people did not like it. They did not know what to do, and when they appealed to the king, he could not help them. Indeed, he could not understand the difficulty. He passed it off very lightly.
"I am a mighty hunter," he said. "I can always kill enough beasts to provide a sufficiency of food."
But the drought had withered away the grass and the trees, and the shortage of such food had greatly reduced the number of animals. The king found the forests empty of deer and birds. Still he failed to realize the gravity of the situation and what he considered an exceedingly bright idea struck him.
"I will explore the unknown territory beyond the barrier of rocky hills," he said. "Surely there will I find a land of plenty. And, at least" he added, "it will be a pleasant adventure with good hunting."
A great expedition was therefore arranged, and the king and his hunting companions set forth to find a path over the rocks. This was not at all difficult, and on the third day, a pass was discovered among the crags and peaks that formed the summit of the barrier, and the king saw the region beyond.
It seemed a vast and beautiful land, stretching away as far as the eye could see in a forest of huge trees. Carefully, the hunters descended the other side of the rock barrier and entered the unknown land.
It seemed uninhabited. Nor was there any sign of beast or bird of any kind. No sound disturbed the stillness of the forest, no tracks were visible. As well as the hunters could make out, no foot had ever trodden the region before. Even nature seemed at rest. The trees were all old, their trunks gnarled into fantastic shapes, their leaves yellow and sere as if growth had stopped ages ago.
Altogether the march through the forest was rather eerie, and the hunters proceeded in single file, which added to the impressiveness of the strange experience. The novelty, however, made it pleasant to the king, and he kept on his way for four days.
Then the forest ended abruptly, and the explorers came to a vast open plain, a desert, through which a wide river flowed. Far beyond rose a mountain capped by rocks of regular shape. At any rate, they appeared to be rocks, but the distance was too great to enable anyone to speak with certainty.
"Water," said the vizier, "is a sign of life."
So the king decided to continue as far as the mountain. A ford was discovered in the river, and once on the other side it was possible to make out the rocks crowning the mountain. They looked too regular to be mere rocks, and on approaching nearer the king was sure that a huge building must be at the top of the mountain. When they arrived quite close, there was no doubt, about it. Either a town, or a palace, stood on the summit, and it was decided to make the ascent next day.
During the night no sound was heard, but to everybody's surprise a distinct path up the mountain was noticed in the morning. It was so over-grown with weeds and moss and straggling creepers that it was obvious it had not been used for a long time. The ascent was accordingly difficult, but half way up the first sign of life, noticed since the expedition began, made itself visible.