A WISE WEAVER
These tales were originally translated to the English language by A. G. Seklemian and Z. C. Boyajian
A King was once sitting upon his throne when an ambassador from a distant country approached, drew a line around the throne, and sat down without speaking a word. The King did not understand this mystery. He called his ministers. They also did not understand it. It was a disgrace to the King that he did not have a man wise enough to understand the symbolical message of a neighboring sovereign. The King was very angry, and ordered his ministers to solve the riddle themselves, or to find some one in the city to solve it immediately; otherwise he would put them all to death. Thereupon the ministers began to search through the realm for a wise man. After a long quest they came to a certain house, which they entered. There was no one in the first room but a baby sleeping in a cradle. And strange to say, the cradle was rocking without any visible cause. They entered the adjacent room, and lo! there also was a baby sleeping in a cradle, which was rocking, though no one was in the room. They walked out into the back yard, where they saw wheat washed and spread to dry; there was a cane moving to and fro, driving away the sparrows, in order that they might not eat the wheat. The ministers of the King were surprised, and going down into the cellar they found a weaver weaving cloth. As his wife had died soon, after giving birth to twins, he had both to weave for his living and do a housewife’s work and nurse his children. He therefore had connected the two cradles and the sparrow driver to his loom and shuttle with cords; and so, in this manner, by virtue of his cleverness he was performing all his duties without much trouble. The ministers thought that this man might solve the King’s riddle, and so they told him what had happened. The weaver thought a while and then taking a couple of marbles and a chicken, went with the ministers. Entering the presence of the King, he looked the foreign ambassador in the face, and threw before him the marbles. The ambassador took from his pocket a handful of grain and spread it on the floor. The weaver put down the chicken, which in a few minutes ate all the grain. Thereupon the ambassador put on his sandals and ran away speedily.
“What was all this?” asked the King.
“By drawing the line around the throne,” answered the weaver, “the ambassador wished to say that their King was coming to besiege us, if we did not humiliate ourselves and pay tribute. To this I answered by dropping marbles, which meant that they were children compared to ourselves and that they would better go and play marbles, rather than to undertake a war which would result in their utter ruin. By spreading the handful of grain he meant that their forces were innumerable. By the chicken which ate all the grain, I meant that a company of ours was enough to destroy a legion of theirs.”
The King was pleased with the weaver, and gave him costly presents, but the weaver took only a little to enable him to bring up his beloved twins. The King wanted to make him his prime minister, but the weaver declined, saying:
“Let me continue to be a weaver; only I beg you to remember, that wisdom and understanding are not distributed according to rank and that the common tradesmen are entitled to be treated as humanely as your peers and noblemen.”