A Story From: Syria
Read Time: 10 mins.
For Ages: 8 to 10yrs.
THERE DWELT in Damascus a man whose name was Faraz al-Zayn. Over his lifetime he succeeded in saving a large sum of money, but as he had for a very long time known the heavy burden of poverty, and fearing he might lost his fortune to the fickle winds of Chance, one night he carried his money out of the city and buried it under a tree.
After some time had passed he began to miss the presence of his treasure and betook himself to the tree, so that he might refresh his eyes with the sight of it. But when he dug the ground at the foot of the tree he discovered that his priceless deposit was gone! Suddenly the happiness of the morning plunged into an evening of bitterness and disappointment. Ashamed, he didn’t know what friend in whom to confide his loss, and the emptiness in his heart and his future only deepened.
One day he went on some business to a learned and wise man of the city who said to him, “I have for several days noticed a sad change in your health, my friend, the cause of which I do not know, nor do I know what thorn of misfortune has pierced your heart.”
Faraz al-Zayn wept tears of sadness and replied, “O it is the treachery of Fortune! Indeed I carry a heavy heart and a great sorrow. Yet if I revealed it to you it would probably be of no use, and might even plunge you into grief as well.”
The learned man said, “Since the hearts of intimate friends are like looking-glasses, giving and taking mutual secrets, it is at all times necessary that they should tell each other any difficulties they may fall into, so that together they can take whatever steps are needed.”
Faraz al-Zayn sighed. “Dear friend, I had some gold, it was my life savings, and fearing that it should be stolen, I carried it to a certain place and buried it under a tree, and when I next visited it, it was gone!
The learned man was alarmed. “Truly I am sorry! Indeed this is a serious dilemma.” He paused. “And I’m afraid it may be difficult to get on the track of your gold. Tell me, my friend, could it be that you were seen by some person when you buried your treasure?”
“I am quite sure,” Faraz al-Zayn forlornly shook his head, “that no one saw me.”
“Or perhaps,” posited the wise man, “in the days after you buried your treasure, someone walking by may have noticed something different about the earth and wondered what could have been freshly planted there?”
“But I was so careful!” moaned the unhappy man. “I covered the hole with the same earth so well that no one would know but me that anything had ever been disturbed.”
“Was there anything left behind, perhaps a scrap of cloth or something giving you a clue of whom it may have been?”
“Not a thing!” Faraz al-Zayn choked back his grief.
The friend said softly, “I can’t imagine you have any enemies or anyone who seeks to do you harm.” .
“Nor can I!” cried Faraz al-Zayn in despair. “And besides, no one even knew that I had it.”
“Well then, friend,” said the learned man, “give me ten days to meditate on the situation and it may be that something new and important will occur to me.”
The knowing man sat down for ten days to meditate on the situation. But after turning over every possibility he could possibly imagine, he could devise no plan. On the tenth day they met in the street and he said with sorrow to Faraz al-Zayn, “Although I have plunged and searched the depths of my mind diligently for ten days, I have been unable to take hold of the precious pearl of a wise plan. Alas, I can only hope that someday, somehow you will be be compensated for your treasure!”
They were talking this way when a madman met them on the street and asked, “Well, my boys, what is all your secret-mongering about?”
The learned man turned to Faraz al-Zayn. “Come, let us relate our case to this crazy fellow and see whether some flower will bloom in his mind.”
Faraz al-Zayn said, “Dear friend, when you, with all your knowledge and wisdom could not devise a plan after ten days’ meditation, how can we expect any help from this unfortunate, who doesn’t even know if it’s day or night?”
Said the learned man, “There is no telling what he might say to us; but you are aware that the most foolish as well as the wisest have ideas, and a remark, uttered perhaps at random, often furnishes a clue by which the desired end can be attained.”
Meanwhile, a little boy had noticed the crazy fellow. Stopping to observe his antics, the boy approached the group.
The madman and the boy will come up with a plan to find the missing treasure.
Think– What can it be?
The two friends explained their case to the madman. After being immersed in thought for some time, he remarked, “He who took the root of that tree for a medicine also took the gold,” and then turning his back to them went his way.
They consulted with each other as to the meaning of the crazy man’s observation, when the little boy asked what kind of a tree it was. Faraz al-Zayn replied that it was a jujube-tree. Then said the boy: “This is a simple enough matter. Ask all the doctors in the city what patient they prescribed as medicine the roots of the jujube tree.”
The learned man was impressed with the boy’s sharp mind and also the crazy man’s lucky thought. Being very well acquainted with all the physicians of the city, he made inquiries till he was told by one of them that about twenty days before, he had prescribed a remedy for a merchant named Khoja Samander, who suffered from asthma, a medicine that could only be derived from the root of the jujube-tree.
The learned man discovered where the merchant lived, went to his house and thus addressed him: “Ah, Khoja, thank goodness you have recovered your health, and you ought to restore what you found at the foot of the jujube-tree, because the owner of it is a worthy man, and it was his only possession.”
The honest merchant replied, “It is true, I have found it, and it is with me. If you will tell me the amount of the gold I will deliver it into your hands.” And thus Faraz al-Zayn’s lost treasure was restored.
Retold by Elaine L. Lindy from the story, "The Hidden Treasure," in the book, A Group of Eastern Romances and Stories from the Persian, Tamil, and Urdu by William Alexander Clouston, published 1889, London, pp. 442-446.
Copyright Elaine L. Lindy. ©2006. All rights reserved.