The Book of Noodles - Stories of Simpletons, Fools and their Follies ebook

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The Book of Noodles - Stories of Simpletons, Fools and their Follies ebook

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The Book of Noodles - Stories of Simpletons, Fools and their Follies ebook

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The Book of Noodles - Stories of Simpletons, Fools and their Follies

This book is filled with Noodle-tales from around the world. But what is a Noodle? After a fashion, the typical noodle of popular tales "point a moral". Poor fellow! he follows his instructions only too literally, and with a firm conviction that he is thus doing a very clever thing.

But the consequence is almost always ridiculous. He practically shows the fallacy of the old saw that "fools learn by experience," for his next folly is sure to be greater than the last, in spite of every caution to the contrary. He is generally very honest, and does everything "with the best intentions."

His mind is incapable of entertaining more than one idea at a time; but to that he holds fast, with the tenacity of the lobster's claw: he cannot be diverted from it until, by some accident, a fresh idea displaces it; and so on he goes from one blunder to another. His blunders, however, which in the case of an ordinary man would infallibly result in disaster to himself or to others, sometimes lead him to unexpected good fortune.

It is, in fact, to whom the great Persian poet Sádí alludes when he says, "The alchemist died of grief and distress, while the blockhead found a treasure under a ruin." Men of intelligence toil painfully to acquire a mere "livelihood" but the noodle stumbles upon great wealth in the midst of his wildest vagaries. In brief, he is--in stories, at least--a standing illustration of the "vanity of human life"!

So enjoy this collection of Noodle-tales brought together by W A Clouston, from widely scattered sources. While this book may bring you enjoyment and occasional bouts of mirth, its purchase will also benefit an individual somewhere, for 33% of the publishers profit is donated to charity.

Excerpt from The Book Of Noodles

Once Upon A Time there was a Brahman named Anantya; All the world calls me Betel Anantya, and I will tell you how my nickname arose. My wife, having been long detained at her father's house, on account of her youth, had cohabited with me but about a month when, going to bed one evening, I happened to say (carelessly, I believe), that all women were babblers. She retorted, that she knew men who were not less babblers than women. I perceived at once that she alluded to myself; and being somewhat piqued at the sharpness of her retort, I said, "Now let us see which of us shall speak first." "Agreed," quoth she; "but what shall be the forfeit?" "A leaf of betel," said I. Our wager being thus made, we both addressed ourselves to sleep, without speaking another word.

Next morning, as we did not appear at our usual hour, after some interval, they called us, but got no answer. They again called, and then roared stoutly at the door, but with no success. The alarm began to spread in the house. They began to fear that we had died suddenly. The carpenter was called with his tools. The door of our room was forced open, and when they got in they were not a little surprised to find both of us wide awake, in good health, and at our ease, though without the faculty of speech. My mother was greatly alarmed, and gave loud vent to her grief. All the Bráhmans in the village, of both sexes, assembled, to the number of one hundred; and after close examination, every one drew his own conclusion on the accident which was supposed to have befallen us. The greater number were of opinion that it could have arisen only from the malevolence of some enemy who had availed himself of magical incantations to injure us. For this reason, a famous magician was called, to counteract the effects of the witchcraft, and to remove it. As soon as he came, after steadfastly contemplating us for some time, he began to try our pulses, by putting his finger on our wrists, on our temples, on the heart, and on various other parts of the body; and after a great variety of grimaces, the remembrance of which excites my laughter, as often as I think of him, he decided that our malady arose wholly from the effect of malevolence. He even gave the name of the particular devil that possessed my wife and me and rendered us dumb. He added that the devil was very stubborn and difficult to allay, and that it would cost three or four pagodas for the offerings necessary for compelling him to fly.

My relations, who were not very opulent, were astonished at the grievous imposition which the magician had laid on them. Yet, rather than we should continue dumb, they consented to give him whatsoever should be necessary for the expense of his sacrifice; and they farther promised that they would reward him for his trouble as soon as the demon by whom we were possessed should be expelled. He was on the point of commencing his magical operations, when a Bráhman, one of our friends, who was present, maintained, in opposition to the opinion of the magician and his assistants, that our malady was not at all the effect of witchcraft, but arose from some simple and ordinary cause, of which he had seen several instances, and he undertook to cure us without any expense.

He took a chafing-dish filled with burning charcoal, and heated a small bar of gold very hot. This he took up with pincers, and applied to the soles of my feet, then to my elbows, and the crown of my head. I endured these cruel operations without showing the least symptom of pain, or making any complaint; being determined to bear anything, and to die, if necessary, rather than lose the wager I had laid.

"Let us try the effect on the woman," said the doctor, astonished at my resolution and apparent insensibility. And immediately taking the bit of gold, well heated, he applied it to the sole of her foot. She was not able to endure the pain for a moment, but instantly screamed out, "Enough!" and turning to me, "I have lost my wager," she said; "there is your leaf of betel." "Did I not tell you," said I, taking the leaf, "that you would be the first to speak out, and that you would prove by your own conduct that I was right in saying yesterday, when we went to bed, that women are babblers?"

Everyone was surprised at the proceeding; nor could any of them comprehend the meaning of what was passing between my wife and me; until I explained the kind of wager we had made overnight, before going to sleep. "What!" they exclaimed, "was it for a leaf of betel that you have spread this alarm through your own house and the whole village?--for a leaf of betel that you showed such constancy, and suffered burning from the feet to the head upwards? Never in the world was there seen such folly!" And so, from that time, I have been constantly known by the name of Betel Anantya.

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