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  • Writer's pictureFolkloristan

Hassan & the Crow Fairy

Updated: Feb 18

Once upon a time, there lived a young man named Hassan. He was very poor and often went to bed hungry. One day, he ventured into the forest just outside the city, and set up a snare, hoping to catch a rabbit. To his disappointment, instead of prey he could cook and eat, a big black crow got caught in his trap. Just as he was about to kill it, the bird began speaking to him, pleading for mercy and promising to change his fortune. Astonished but intrigued, Hassan spared the crow anyway, even though he only half-believed the bird’s promises.

The crow told Hassan to pluck three feathers from its wings before releasing it, promising that if he ever found himself in trouble, he only had to blow one of these feathers into the air and call for help. Though Hassan laughed, he did as the crow had asked. The next day, he returned to his snare in the forest and discovered a magnificent, brightly-coloured bird trapped there, with silver feathers. Hassan realized this bird was too precious to be eaten, and he decided to present it to the King, believing that such a gift would surely earn him a handsome reward. His amazement grew as he realised that the crow's words had proven true.

It was challenging for Hassan to gain an audience with the monarch. However, he succeeded in presenting the bird to the King. Marvelled by the bird, he asked Hassan about where he had found the bird. Hassan told the King all about the crow. Convinced that the bird was enchanted, the King decided to keep it.

Pleased with Hassan's gift, he rewarded him generously, with luxurious robes, a luxury house near the palace, slaves, and a handsome allowance. Hassan was intelligent, charming and skilful. He soon became the King's favourite. At court, this did not settle well with everyone – particularly with the King's former favourite, who plotted to ruin Hassan and regain the King's favour for himself.

Crafting a deceitful plan, feigning concern for the bird and the King, he suggested that Hassan build a palace, for the bird to stay, in and for the King to watch the bird. The King asked Hassan to build him a palace of ivory, and threatened him with death should he fail.

Hassan retreated from the royal presence in despair. He returned home, resigned to his fate. As he grappled with hopelessness, he remembered the three feathers he had plucked from the crow's wing, which he had kept tucked away with his old rags. He blew one into the air, calling upon the crow for help.

The crow appeared and Hassan recounted the King's unreasonable request. Reassuring Hassan, the crow asked him to request the king for forty cartloads of wine, along with bullocks and slaves. Hassan took everything and ventured deep into the forest, guided by the crow. They arrived at a pond, which was frequented by elephants, but the water had nearly dried up due to a drought. The crow told Hassan to fill the pool with wine. After that, they hid themselves, waiting for the elephants to come by.

As evening descended, an elephant herd found its way to the pond. Overjoyed to find the pool brimming, the elephants drank and drank till they fell unconscious. Hassan signalled his forty slaves, who quickly removed the elephants' tusks and loaded them onto the carts. Leaving the forest before the elephants woke up, they returned to the city. The King was shocked to see Hassan with forty truckloads of ivory, for he very well knew, there was not enough ivory in his entire kingdom. However, Hassan evaded his questions and smiled.

Hassan's enemy seethed with jealousy but concealed it well. He cunningly praised Hassan's abilities to the King. He also sowed the seeds of doubt in the King’s heart, saying that the bird's silence was due to longing for its previous owner, and Hassan should find him, and bring him to the palace to make the bird sing once more. The King set Hassan to task once again, despite Hassan insisting that he had no knowledge of the bird's origins, and had caught it in the forest.

Filled with despair, Hassan once again summoned the crow by blowing one of the remaining two feathers into the air. The crow offered a solution again and asked Hassan to request the King for a lavishly equipped ship, with silk sails, a golden figurehead, an opulent interior, a dining hall draped in velvet, golden dishes, a marble bath, and several damsels wearing jewellery encrusted with precious stones. Once the vessel was ready, the crow promised to guide Hassan.

Once the magnificent ship was ready, Hassan and the crow set sail. After wandering the ocean for seven days and nights, an enchanted island appeared on the horizon. The island was like paradise, lush green, with lots of fruit trees, and exquisite palaces with glistening domes. The crow told Hassan that this was the realm of the Fairy Queen. The crow strictly instructed Hassan to not speak to any messenger, and only answer when the Queen came on board. The Queen of Pari’s owned the Wonder Bird, and it would only sing for her.

The crow flew away, and Hassan commanded the ship's captain to anchor close to the island's shore, where they could be seen. Soon, messengers from the Queen arrived in boats, asking about the vessel's origin and owner. Hassan maintained his silence and signalled that he would only speak to the Queen. Soon, the Queen herself arrived in a boat and expressed her intent to board the vessel with her handmaidens. Hassan allowed only the Queen to visit the ship.

The Queen was impressed by the ship as Hassan showed her around. She told him that she wished to try the marble bath. Hassan obliged her request, and whilst she was bathing, they set sail for Hassan’s city. When the Queen finished her bath and returned to the ship's deck, she was shocked to find herself far from her island, with no way to return. She kept asking Hassan to take her back, but he explained that he had taken her to save his own life and that she must stay to prove that the Wonder Bird belonged to her. Eventually, she agreed to help him. He told her tales of the King, trying to awaken her curiosity.

Hassan arrived with the Fairy Queen at the palace The King treated her with utmost hospitality. They then visited the Ivory Palace to meet the Wonder Bird, who greeted the Queen with a birdsong so beautiful that it left everyone spellbound. The King lost his heart to the Queen of Pari’s, beautiful as she was. She, in turn, was impressed by him, and they engaged in many pleasant conversations. She no longer spoke of returning to her island, and they eventually wed. Hassan was then in the King’s favour more than ever and was rewarded with wealth beyond anything he could have possibly dreamt of.

After just over a year of marriage, the Queen fell seriously ill, and none of the kingdom's doctors could help her recover. Desperate to save her, Hassan's enemy approached the King with a suggestion: send Hassan to the Queen's homeland to fetch a remedy. The King considered the idea wise and summoned Hassan, instructing him to set off, unaware of the dangers it posed. Hassan agreed to the King's request without revealing his suspicions. He summoned the crow with the third feather and explained the situation, learning from the crow that a life-saving remedy existed in the Queen's palace but that fierce lions guarded the palace gate. The crow assured Hassan it would help.

Hassan did as the crow told him: he plucked a single silver feather from the Wonder Bird’s right wing and carried it with him. He journeyed to the island once more. As he approached the palace, two menacing lions charged at him, ready to attack. With great courage, he touched them with the silver feather. The lions became docile and let him pass. The onlookers were surprised. Hassan explained his mission and the dire condition of the Queen to the palace inhabitants, showing them the silver feather as proof.

The palace staff quickly provided him with a life-saving drug that the Queen had used in similar circumstances. Grateful for their help, Hassan returned to the seashore, where he was treated with great respect. Although some wanted to accompany him back to the King's kingdom, he had to decline. After another seven-day journey, Hassan finally reached the King's palace, where despair had taken hold in his absence. Upon hearing of Hassan's return, the King dispatched swift messengers to bring him to the palace.

Hassan was swiftly ushered into a room where the Queen lay lifeless on a couch, surrounded by the King, the court physician, and her attendants. Anxious, the King asked if Hassan had brought the medicine with him. Hassan quickly brought out the vial he had brought along from the Queen's island and handed it to the Queen's physician. Amidst the clamour, Hassan didn’t notice that the crow had followed him into the room.

The physician carefully administered a few drops of the herbal mixture to the Queen, and a miraculous transformation followed. The Queen's cheeks turned rosy once more, vitality returned to her body, and she sat up. Her gaze immediately went to the crow. She first scolded the bird for its carelessness and the consequences its actions had brought. The crow expressed its misery and hoped for an end to its suffering, to which the Queen responded with a promise. As the crow hopped closer to the Queen's couch, she reached for some water and whispered some incantations as she sprinkled it onto the crow. The King and Hassan watched in amazement as the crow instantly underwent a miraculous transformation, morphing into a tall, graceful maiden, whose beauty rivalled even that of the Queen herself.

Turning to the King with a gentle smile, the Queen revealed the maiden's true identity. She explained that this young woman had once been her cherished favourite among the Paris, but her pride and haughtiness had led her to defy the Queen. In retribution, the Queen had transformed her into a crow, casting her out into the world, scorned and shunned. However, the fairy’s role in the Queen and the King finding love, and one another had not gone unnoticed, so the Queen forgave the fairy’s past misdeeds.

Overwhelmed with remorse, the fairy knelt before her mistress, kissing her hand as tears streamed down her cheeks. She pledged her unwavering loyalty, promising to be a faithful and obedient servant from now on. The Fairy Queen welcomed her and hugged her like an old friend. The room was filled with an aura of joy and magic.

The Crow Fairy and Hassan too, fell in love. Blessed by the King and the Fairy Queen, they too, were wedded and lived happily ever after. As for the former favourite, consumed by envy and misery over Hassan's newfound happiness, he made a hasty departure, selling his possessions and sailing away to unknown lands, never to be missed again.

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