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Kamal Scinkote was the oldest man in the village. He had been born in the reign of Morkhum Bey, a time of great prosperity for the Turkish Empire. Because of this, Kamal was highly respected in the small Anatolian community. Nothing much to look at, he had been born with one leg shorter than the other. He also had a cast in his left eye, giving him the look of a Djin; an evil being. The women of the village believed, that his malignant looks soured the milk. Paradoxically his affliction made him very popular with the younger, more health-conscious females, who found the slightly fermented milk went incredibly well with Swiss Muesli; which was gaining in popularity with the Young Turks. By the age of seven young Kamal was unanimously elected village goatherd, and packed off to the steep Anatolian hillsides which dwarfed the village of Sybaris. Ccomplit the Cheese Merchant was reconciled to being left with his large ugly daughter. Who would marry her? Incredibly, on a cold October morning in his sixty-sixth year, Kamal Scinkote appeared at the cheese-maker’s door. He had finally settled on his choice of bride; it was Feta Ccomplit. Feta brought order to the old goat-herder’s life. He now spent part of each week in his cozy home in Sybaris.
0n his way back to the mountains he dreamed of Feta. She was the beloved companion of his old age, and he was determined to mark his gratitude with a gift of great value. But what could he, a poor goat herd, afford? As the road climbed out of the village, it passed the large villas of the rich. Behind snow-white walls sat small suburban palaces. Listening closely, you could hear the musical tinkle of water as it spouted from marble fountains, and cascaded into curved basins. Kamal dreamed on, drowsy from the heat. It was a long way to the high pastures, and Kamal was reluctant to leave the comfort of his matrimonial home. The last house in the village was the largest and most luxurious. It belonged to the rich Tobacco merchant, Mustapha Fhag. It was rumoured he kept ten beautiful concubines and was the friend of the Caliph of Koftake Bab; the Sultan’s representative in the Region. His fruit orchard stretched along the other side of the wall. Kamal could see the trees above the high walls; they were weighed down with ripe fruit. Apples, figs and persimmon; and a dozen varieties beyond the ken of the old goat-herd.
Kamal was brought back to the present by the sight of something nestling in the sparse dry grass at the side of the road. It was an apple, round waxy and yellow. It had fallen from the tree that Kamal could see directly above him, The apple was golden-yellow, and Kamal stooped and scooped it into the roughened palm of his hand. It was hard and heavy and shone with a dull light. It wasn’t golden-yellow; it was gold and yellow. Solid, unmistakable gold. The old man’s mouth went dry He was instantly robbed of saliva, sense, and speech. He sank to his knees, vigorously rubbing the apple against his insubstantial chest. With a great effort, Kamal got to his feet. He looked both ways before sliding the golden orb into the voluminous folds of his tunic.
That night, huddled over his meagre fire, Kamal contemplated this miracle. Although the tree belonged to Mustapha Fhag, the apple was very definitely lying in the public road. Kamal had found it, it was his. Satisfied with this moral decision, he went to sleep. Within half an hour, he was wide awake; caught on the horns of a great dilemma. He must inform someone. Mustapha Fhag deserved to know that his apple tree was producing solid gold fruit. Within minutes Kamal had gathered his goats and was striding down the hill. On arrival, Kamal called on the village elder, Orgun Grinda. Orgun listened patiently to the goatherd, despite the early hour. He congratulated Kamal on his honesty, then took him to Mustapha Fhag’s house to discuss the discovery and settle the question of ownership. With a clear icy logic, Fhag claimed ownership of the apple tree and therefore of the fruits. Orgun agreed Fhag’s case had merit, but stated that the law was that which fell outside the property of the owner of the tree, was not the owner’s but the finder’s. Hours of debate left the case in dispute, and Orgun suggested they visit Tunstan Drilbet, the Caliph, who would rule on the matter.
The Caliph of Koftake Bab was a wise and honest advocate. He had trained at the Sultan’s palace of Topkapi at Istanbul.
“The answer is plain,” he said. “At the point at which the apple left the tree, it belonged to Mustapha Fhag. When it crossed the boundary it was anybody’s. And at the point it was found by the old goat-herd, it became his;.”
The Caliph valued the golden apple at one hundred gold pieces. He levied a tax of forty gold pieces on the goatherd, taking ten gold pieces for his arbitration. He took the apple for the Sultan. He produced a leather purse and handed Kamal fifty gold pieces.
On the way back to Sybaris, Orgun persuaded Mustapha Fhag, that he should cut the golden apple tree into a number of saplings and sell them at five gold pieces each. Kamal skipped home to his beloved Feta. When he reached the Village square he stopped. It hit him with the weight of the apple itself. With his fifty gold pieces he would buy as many of Mustapha Fhag’s apple saplings as he could; and grow his own golden apples. Kamal ran all the way to Mustapha’s house. Fhag had cut his apple tree into ten saplings, and was happy to sell them all for fifty gold pieces.
The villagers of Sybaris call the event “Kamal’s windfall”. Ten years later the villagers still remember it. On his death, Tunstan Drilbet left his foolish son a large fortune.. Mustapha Fhag built a paradise in the style of the Sultan’s paradise in Istanbul. It was said that the final cost was around fifty gold crowns.
And what of the rich fruit merchant, Kamal Scinkote? After ten years he still doesn’t have a golden apple.
Jim. Very funny and very clever-- loved the names 😀 😀 😀
Kamal may not have a golden apple, but he has hope.
Enjoyable and witty writing.
Fun read and they say money doesn't grow on trees!
I love these kind of stories, always amusing.
J E Skinner
Thanks for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Enjoyed the read. Loved the silly names. I was also born with one leg shorter than the other... marginal condition, although I used to make my old drill instructor seasick when I marched. Just a small comment... would it be the Turkish or the Ottoman empire? Good humorous story telling.
Gizza kiss and I'll tell yer a silly story.