The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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King Who Wants to Glimpse Paradise

I always found it difficult to believe what I could not see. One day, in the prime of my youth, I was out hunting when I came upon a fakeer reading the Koran. He was sitting on a little bedstead in front of a cave in a lonely place on the mountain. He had an old patched coat thrown over his shoulders.

I asked him what he was reading, and he said he was reading about Paradise. “Can you show me a glimpse of Paradise?” I asked.

“That is a very difficult, and perhaps, a dangerous thing,” he said. I promised to provide him with food for the rest of his life if he would pray to Allah to grant my request.

The fakeer spent many years on that mountain. I kept my promise to feed him, but any time I asked him about Paradise, he said, “Not yet! Not yet!” At last he became very ill, and I went to see him. He told me to come to his funeral. “After I have been buried and everyone else has left,” he said, “lay your hand upon my grave. But do not do it, I beg you!” I ignored his warnings. I had waited long enough for my glimpse of Paradise.

When I put my hand upon the grave, the earth opened, and a flight of rough steps led me down. At the bottom, I found the fakeer sitting where he always sat, on his rickety bedstead. He stood and led me along a passage. Then he stopped and drew aside a heavy curtain. I looked into the light of Paradise!

Can I tell you what I saw? No! Because by the time I had gone back up the steps, I had forgotten everything. The sun was rising, and I was standing in a different time. Seven hundred years had passed!

King Who Wants to Glimpse Paradise in The King Who Would See Paradise, Orange Fairy Book. Illustration by H.J. Ford.

King Who Wants to Glimpse Paradise