14. How the Priest Knew That it Would Snow

A Turk travelling in Asia Minor came to a Christian village. He journeyed on horseback, was accompanied by a black slave, and seeming to be a man of importance, the priest of the village offered him hospitality for the night. The first thing to be done was to conduct the traveller to the stable, so that he could see his horse attended to and comfortably stalled for the night. In the stable was a magnificent Arab horse, belonging to the priest, and the Turk gazed upon it with envious eyes, but nevertheless, in order that no ill should befall the beautiful creature and to counteract the influence of the evil eye with certainty, he spat at the animal. After they had dined, the priest took his guest for a walk in the garden, and in the course of a very pleasant conversation he informed the Turk that the next day there would be snow on the ground.

“Never! Impossible!” said the Turk.

“Well, tomorrow you will see that I am right,” said the priest.

“I am willing to stake my horse against yours, that you are wrong,” answered the Turk, who was delighted at this opportunity which gave him a chance of securing the horse. After some persuasion the priest accepted his wager, and they separated for the night.

Later on that night, the Turk said to his slave, “Go, Sali, go and see what the weather says, for truly I want our good host’s horse.”

Sali went out to make an observation, and on returning said to his master, “Master, the heavens are like unto your face,—without a frown and many kindly sparkling eyes, and the earth is like that of your black slave.”

“‘It is well, Sali, ‘it is well. What a beautiful animal that is!”

Later on, before retiring to rest, he sent his slave on another inspection, and was gratified to receive the same answer. Early in the morning he awoke, and calling his slave, who had slept at his door, to see if any change had taken place.

“Oh master!” reported Sali, in trembling tones, “Nature has reversed herself, for the heavens are now like the scowling face of your slave, and the earth is like yours, white, entirely white.”

“What a terrible thing. Then I have lost not only that beautiful animal but my own horse as well. Oh pity! Oh pity!”

He gave up his horse, but before parting he begged the priest to tell him how he knew it would snow.

“My pig told me as we were walking in the garden yesterday. I saw it put its nose in the heap of manure you see in that corner, and I knew that to be a sure sign that it would snow the next day,” replied the priest.

Deeply mystified, the Turk and his slave proceeded on foot. Reaching a Turkish village before nightfall, he sought and obtained shelter for the night from the Imam, the Muslim priest of the village. While having the evening meal he asked the Imam when the feast of the Bairam would be.

“Truly, I do not know! When the cannons fire, I will know it is Bairam,” said his host.

“What!” said the traveller, becoming angry, “you an Imam,—a learned man,—and don’t know when it will be Bairam, and the pig of the Greek priest knew when it would snow? Shame! Shame!”

And becoming much angered, he declined the hospitality of the Imam and went elsewhere.