The Three Tests

Once there was a young boy called Sadaka. He was brave and wise and ambitious. But, he was the youngest of seven brothers. Their father could only afford to send one son away each year. So, year after year Sadaka watched as his brothers sailed away to make their fortunes.

Sadaka’s eldest brother set sail and came across an island filled with fruit trees. Feeling hungry he tried some of the fruit.

“Mmm, yummy.” The fruit was sweet and delicious, but… “Eurgh! Yuck! Seeds.” It was filled with bitter seeds. Sadaka’s eldest brother spat the seeds onto the ground.

“Golly!” Exclaimed Sadaka’s eldest brother. Because the moment the seeds had touched the ground a fruit tree had sprung up in front of him. Now, Sadaka’s eldest brother wasn’t the smartest apple in the crop, but even he could see the fruit could make him his fortune.

Sadaka’s eldest brother loaded his boat with the fruit and sailed to a nearby kingdom, where it was said a great Sultan would reward anyone that could amaze him. The eldest brother took his fruit to the Sultan.

“Sultan, prepare to be amazed,” he said and ate a piece of fruit, spitting the seeds onto the lovely, clean, palace floor. But no tree grew.

The Sultan was not impressed at all. “If I wanted to watch someone spit all over my palace, I would bring in the camels,” he said. “Throw him in jail,” he ordered his guards. And so, Sadaka’s eldest brother, instead of making a fortune, made himself a prisoner.

A year after the first brother set sail, Sadaka’s second brother was given a boat and off he sailed. He soon came to the very same island. He found the same magical fruit and had the same idea.

“Sultan, prepare to be amazed,” he declared when he met the great Sultan.

The Sultan was not amazed. Why would he be? Every day he saw his daughter eat fruit at breakfast. And she was polite enough not to spit the seeds all over the floor. “Throw him in the jail, with the others,” the Sultan ordered his guards. So the second brother joined the first.

And it went on like this, each year another brother would set sail, find the fruit, spit all over the Sultan’s floor and end up in jail.

Eventually, it was Sadaka’s turn. In six years there had been no news of his brothers. Sadaka knew if they had made their fortunes they would have returned to gloat. It struck him that his brothers had not done well at all. Sadaka decided to do things differently. When he was given his boat he spent all his savings filling it up with rice, millet and cattle meat. He set sail and sailed for three nights before he came to an island. As soon as he set foot on the island, he knew something was not right. The island was full of sick, starving birds.

“Please help us,” squawked the King of the Birds. “We have no grains and are too weak to fly. If we don’t eat soon, we will all die.”

Sadaka’s heart was bigger than his ambition. Knowing he would get nothing in return, Sadaka gave the birds his millet. It gladdened him to see them eat and regain their strength, even if it did mean he had less.

Before the birds flew away, the King of the birds gave Sadaka a piece of incense.

“If you ever need our help,for anything at all, burn this incense and we will come,” he said.

Sadaka thanked the King of the birds. Although, he couldn’t imagine ever needing their help.

Sadaka set sail and sailed for three days and three nights. Then he came to second island. As soon as he set foot on the island, Sadaka knew something was wrong. The island was filled with starving flies.

“Please help us,” the King of the Flies buzzed. “We have no meat to feed us and are too weak to fly away. If we don’t eat soon, we will all die.”

Sadaka’s heart went out to the flies. He could not let them starve. He gave the flies the cattle meat. It pleased Sadaka to see the flies regain their strength, even if it did mean he had less. Before they flew away, the King of the Flies gave Sadaka a piece of incense.

“If you ever need our help, for anything at all, please burn this incense and we shall come,” he said.

Sadaka thanked the King of the Flies, although he couldn’t imagine ever needing their help.

Sadaka set sail. He sailed for three nights and three days, then came to a third island. When he neared the island, Sadaka knew something was up. The island was filled with magical Jinns / genies but they were starving too.  

“Please, help us,” the King of the Jinns/ Genies whispered. “We have no rice to feed us and we are too weak to do magic. If we do not get food soon, we will die.”

Sadaka thought about his stores of rice. It was all he had left. But Sadaka was kinder than he was greedy. Sadaka gave the Jinns/ Genies the rice even though he would have nothing for himself. The King of the Jinns / Genies gave Sadaka a piece of incense. “If you ever need our help, for anything at all,” the King of the Jinns/ Genies said, “Burn this incense and we will come to your aid.”

Sadaka thanked the King of the Jinns/ Genies, wondering if he would ever need their help. But the King of the Jinns/ Genies was not quite finished. “If you travel to the next island,” the King of the Jinns/ Genies told him. “You will find a magical fruit. When you spit the seeds of this fruit onto the ground, a tree will sprout.”

Wow, thought Sadaka, a  magical fruit like that could make him his fortune.

“But be warned,” the King of the Jinns/ Genies continued. “The magic is in the soil. If you try to take the fruit away from the island, it will no longer work.”

Oh, Sadaka was disappointed to hear it. Perhaps the fruit would not make him his fortune, after all.

Sadaka thanked the King of the Jinns / Genies and set sail. As he was not sure what else to do, he decided to sail to the island with the magical fruit, just to see it for himself.

After three days and three nights of sailing, Sadaka arrived at the fourth island. Immediately, he saw the magic fruit trees. Sadaka tasted the fruit. It was delicious. He spat out the seeds and watched, impressed as fruit trees sprung from the ground where the seeds had landed. Sadaka was delighted, “This is how I will make my fortune,” he said to himself. Because he had had a fabulous idea. There was a Sultan on a nearby island who would reward anyone that could amaze him. Trees springing up from seeds was truly amazing. Sadaka filled half his boat with the fruit, then he filled the other half with the magic soil and set sail for the island where the Sultan lived.

When Sadaka arrived at the palace of the Sultan he said, “Prepare to be amazed.”

The Sultan yawned. “It’s not more fruit spitting, is it?” he asked. “Because if it is, you’ll be going to jail, like all the rest.”

Sadaka smiled up at the Sultan. “You won’t believe your eyes, I promise.”

That’s what they all say, thought the Sultan.

Sadaka shook out some soil onto the floor.

The Sultan eyed the dirt being thrown all over his nice, clean floor. Sadaka was right, he couldn’t believe his eyes. “How rude!” he said. “If you fail to amaze me, I won’t throw you in jail, I’ll cut your head off!”

Sadaka began to eat the fruit. The Sultan got ready to call his guards. Then Sadaka spat the seeds into the soil and instantly fruit trees sprang from the soil.

The Sultan sat upright. He rubbed his eyes. “I am amazed!” he said.

Sadaka grinned. “I told you, you would be.”

“Again,” the Sultan said. “Show me again!”

So, Sadaka plucked a piece of fruit from the tree that had grown in front of him, spat out the seeds and just-like-that fruit trees sprung up in front of him.

“Amazing!” the Sultan cried. “I want a go.”

He jumped down from his throne and grabbed a piece of fruit. He chomped and spat and a tree sprung up in front of him.

“I love it!” the Sultan declared. Then he considered Sadaka. “You know, many young men have tried to amaze me but you’re the first to succeed. I will reward you beyond your wildest dreams...”

Sadaka was delighted to hear it.

“If…” the Sultan continued. “You can complete three tests.”

Why was there always a catch? Sadaka bowed to the King. “What do you want me to do?” he asked.

The Sultan took Sadaka to a room filled with mixed grains.

“If you can separate all these different grains in one night, you will have completed the first task.”

Sadaka looked at the mountain of mixed grains. It reached right up to the ceiling. It was an impossible task but Sadaka was not easily put off.

“Consider it done,” he said to the Sultan.

As soon as the Sultan was gone, Sadaka took out the piece of incense given to him by the King of the Birds and burned it.

Within the hour the King of the Birds and all his bird subjects came to Sadaka’s aid.

“Leave this to us,” the King of the Birds said.

The birds began to peck and cheep and sort the grains for Sadaka. It took them all night, but in the morning when the Sultan came back to the room, the grains were sorted.

The Sultan could not believe his eyes. “Amazing!”

The second task was to cut through the trunk of the baobab tree in one stroke. Sadaka looked at the baobab tree. It was huge, as thick and round as an elephant’s bottom. The trunk could never be cut through in one stroke.

The Sultan left Sadaka to sharpen his sword. Sadaka took out the piece of incense given to him by the King of the Jinns/ Genies and burned it. The King of the Jinns/ Genies arrived within seconds. He looked at the baobab tree.

“I know just the thing,” the King of the Jinns/ Genies said and he called an army of white ants. One behind the other, the ants marched around the baobab tree. They gnawed through the trunk with army precision, leaving only the outer shell of bark. When the Sultan returned,  Sadaka lifted his sword. With one smooth stroke, he cut through the baobab tree like it was paper.

“Unbelievable!” the Sultan said. Was there nothing this Sadaka could not do?

The third task was the hardest of all. “Tomorrow I will present to you all the maidens in the kingdom,” the Sultan said. “If you can pick my daughter, the princess, out of the line up, I will reward you beyond your craziest dreams.”

This was a tricky task indeed. But Sadaka had a cunning plan. He burned the third piece of incense and the King of the Flies appeared. When he explained the task to the King of the flies, the fly king buzzed.

“Easy, I know just what to do.”

The next day Sadaka went to the palace gardens, where all the young ladies of the kingdom were waiting. Sadaka was introduced to each one in turn. They all looked lovely to him. Any one of them could be the princess. Luckily, Sadaka was not alone. The King of the Flies was buzzing along above the girls’ heads. As each girl was introduced, the King of the Flies flapped his wings and flew to the next. When Sadaka was introduced to one very kind looking girl. The King of the Flies buzzed, he flapped his wings and landed on her nose.

“Oh my a fly!” cried the girl, in a very princessy sounding voice.

Sadaka knew this must be the princess. He bowed to her. The Sultan came to Sadaka’s side.

“Incredible!” he exclaimed, slapping Sadaka on the back. “You are truly the cleverest, strongest, most resourceful-est man I have ever met. You shall be rewarded beyond your most ludicrous dreams.”

Sadaka was excited to hear it. He wondered what he would get. He hoped it was enough to make his fortune...

“I will reward you with… my kingdom!” the Sultan proclaimed and he took his crown off and dropped it onto Sadaka’s head. “It’s about time I retired,” he said, “I’d like to go on a cruise.”

Sadaka was flabbergasted. “What… what about your daughter, the princess?” Sadaka asked.

The Sultan shook his head. “She’s not interested in being Sultan. She wants to devote her life to saving children…” the Sultan rolled his eyes.

The princess smiled. “I am a doctor,” she said. “It’s the best way I can help people and make a difference.”

Sadaka had never thought about making a difference. He wondered if he should have become a doctor too. Then he looked around the Kingdom and thought about all the people relying on him to rule. No, he decided, he would make a great Sultan. He could make a difference that way… it was just an added bonus that he got to live in a huge palace and live a life of luxury.

The first thing Sadaka did as Sultan, was free his brothers from jail. His brothers were very grateful to their youngest brother, they decided to stay and help Sadaka run the kingdom. He may be the most resourceful and wisest of them all, but everyone needs a little help sometimes.

The old Sultan went off on his cruise. The princess saved many lives as a doctor and Sadaka became a fair, just and generous Sultan, who made all his decisions based on the kindness in his heart and not the gold in his coffers.

The End