The Lilac Fairy Book HTML version
Once upon a time there was a youth called Moti, who was very big and strong, but the
clumsiest creature you can imagine. So clumsy was he that he was always putting his
great feet into the bowls of sweet milk or curds which his mother set out on the floor to
cool, always smashing, upsetting, breaking, until at last his father said to him:
'Here, Moti, are fifty silver pieces which are the savings of years; take them and go and
make your living or your fortune if you can.'
Then Moti started off one early spring morning with his thick staff over his shoulder,
singing gaily to himself as he walked along.
In one way and another he got along very well until a hot evening when he came to a
certain city where he entered the travellers' 'serai' or inn to pass the night. Now a serai,
you must know, is generally just a large square enclosed by a high wall with an open
colonnade along the inside all round to accommodate both men and beasts, and with
perhaps a few rooms in towers at the corners for those who are too rich or too proud to
care about sleeping by their own camels and horses. Moti, of course, was a country lad
and had lived with cattle all his life, and he wasn't rich and he wasn't proud, so he just
borrowed a bed from the innkeeper, set it down beside an old buffalo who reminded him
of home, and in five minutes was fast asleep.
In the middle of the night he woke, feeling that he had been disturbed, and putting his
hand under his pillow found to his horror that his bag of money had been stolen. He
jumped up quietly and began to prowl around to see whether anyone seemed to be awake,
but, though he managed to arouse a few men and beasts by falling over them, he walked
in the shadow of the archways round the whole serai without coming across a likely thief.
He was just about to give it up when he overheard two men whispering, and one laughed
softly, and peering behind a pillar, he saw two Afghan horsedealers counting out his bag
of money! Then Moti went back to bed!
In the morning Moti followed the two Afghans outside the city to the horsemarket in
which they horses were offered for sale. Choosing the best-looking horse amongst them
he went up to it and said:
'Is this horse for sale? may I try it?' and, the merchants assenting, he scrambled up on its
back, dug in his heels, and off they flew. Now Moti had never been on a horse in his life,
and had so much ado to hold on with both hands as well as with both legs that the animal
went just where it liked, and very soon broke into a break-neck gallop and made straight
back to the serai where it had spent the last few nights.
'This will do very well,' thought Moti as they whirled in at the entrance. As soon as the
horse had arrived at its table it stopped of its own accord and Moti immediately rolled
off; but he jumped up at once, tied the beast up, and called for some breakfast. Presently
the Afghans appeared, out of breath and furious, and claimed the horse.