An Isreali Tale told by Crimean Jews. Rewritten by Yoel Perez ©2001. Adapted by Laura Simms.
“Among the Peul people of Africa it is said that there is a little peace and a big peace, but there is no little quarrel. Even a matchstick can burn down a village.”
Two men, neighbors and friends, named Nabek and Dagar, lived near a great desert. Nabek had an incomparable horse. It was beautiful and as graceful as a deer. Dagar dreamed of having his friend’s horse. Day and night, he could not stop thinking about the horse. Finally, he went to Nabek and asked him to sell it to him. Nabek said, “I would not sell this animal for all the gold and diamonds in the world.”
Unable to control his desire, Dagar decided to trick his friend in order to gain the horse. He disguised himself as a beggar, covering his face, and sat by the side of a road where Nabek passed each day. When Nabak approached, Dagar moaned and called out for help, pretending to be thirsty and hungry. Nabek took pity on the beggar who he thought could no longer walk. He put him on the horse’s back in order to carry him to the marketplace.
The moment Dagar was on the horse, he sat up straight and took control of the reins. He kicked the horse and galloped away, shouting back at his neighbor, “I am Dagar. You will never get your horse back!”
Nabek did not chase after Dagar. But, he called after him, “Dagar, stop for a moment. I want to ask you something.” Recognizing that his friend could not catch him by foot, Dagar stopped. Nabek called out, “By Allah’s will you are now the owner of my wonderful horse. But, please never tell anyone how you got the horse.”
“Why not?” inquired Dagar.
“If people should hear how you tricked me they might never stop to help another beggar at the side of the road. They will be afraid. Perhaps they will leave some poor soul to die. If this story should be told, it could cause great evil in the world.”
Dagar listened and said nothing for a long time. Then, he climbed down off of the horse and gave it back to his neighbor. Together they returned to the tent of Nabek and made an agreement of peace and swore to be friends forever.