Adiberga and her Brothers
Tef is a cereal that grows in Ethiopia
One day, Adiberga's fourth brother said to her, "Dear Adiberga, I want to go to the toilet. Please carry me outside."
So Adiberga picked up her brother and carried him out to the fields.
She stopped beside a field of tef.
"Don't stop here," her brother said. "I can't use this place. The tef will become dirty."
So Adiberga carried him on. They came to a field of sorghum.
"Not here," said her brother. "The sorghum is for our food. I don't want to make it dirty."
Adiberga carried him far away, to a place full of trees.
"Put me down here," her brother said, "and sit beside me. Listen. I don't need to go to the toilet. I brought you here because I want to talk to you. Our mother and brothers have a plan for you. Tomorrow, they are going to give you to our oldest brother. They want you to marry him."
Adiberga was very unhappy.
"What?" she cried. "My brother wants to marry me? But I can't marry my own brother! It's a wicked thing to do."
"I agree," her youngest brother said. "But they will try to force you. My dear sister, you must run away. Go now."
"But where can I go?" Adiberga said. There were tears in her eyes now. "Who will help me?"
"God will help you," her brother said. "Be strong. Go."
So Adiberga ran away. She ran and ran, over the fields, up the mountains and down into the valleys. At last, she came to a big river.
"I can't cross this river," she thought. "It's too deep. I must stay here."
There was a big tree near the river.
"I'll climb the tree," Adiberga thought. "I will be safe there from the wild animals."
So Adiberga began to live in the tree. She collected fruits and leaves for her food, and she drank the water of the river.
Now a rich man lived not far away. Every day, his servant girl came down to the river to fetch water. One day, the girl walked under Adiberga's tree to the edge of the river. She put her pot down, and began to fill it.
Adiberga was sitting in the tree above the girl's head. When the girl filled her pot, she looked down at the water, and she saw Adiberga's face.
"That's my face," the girl thought. "Oh, how beautiful I am!"
She looked at the face in the water again and again.
"That is not the face of a servant girl," she thought. "It's the face of a princess. I'm not going to be a servant any more. I'm going to find a rich man to marry me!"
She dropped her pot on the ground, and it broke.
"It doesn't matter," the girl said. "It was just an old water pot. I don't need it now. I'm beautiful! I'm going to be a princess!"
She ran back to the rich man's house. But before she reached it, she began to think.
"I broke my master's pot," she thought, "and he is waiting for his bath. He will be angry with me. I must take another pot and go to the river again."
So the servant girl fetched another pot, and went back to the river. But again she saw Adiberga's face in the water.
"It's true!" she cried. "I am the most beautiful girl in the world!"
She dropped the second pot, and it broke too.
Then Adiberga spat on the girl from the tree. The girl looked up and saw her.
"Oh," she said. "I am not beautiful at all. The face in the water was not mine. It belongs to the girl in the tree. I will tell my master. I have broken two of his pots, but when he sees this girl, he will not be angry with me."
So the servant girl ran home to her master.
"Master!" she said. "I saw a girl in a tree beside the river today. She was as beautiful as St Mary. She is the most beautiful girl in the world. I was very surprised and I - I broke your water pots."
"Don't worry about the water pots," the rich man said. "Where is this girl? I want to see her."
"Come to the river with me," the girl said. "I will show you."
So the rich man followed the girl to the river. He stood under the tree, and looked up. He saw Adiberga.
"My servant was right," he thought. "This is the most beautiful girl in the world, and I want to marry her."
"Beautiful girl," he said. "Why are you hiding in the tree? Have you done something wicked? Does your family want to punish you?"
Adiberga didn't answer. She said nothing.
The rich man turned to his servant.
"Go back to my house," he said. "Bring me my spear, and two carpets."
The girl ran home. She came back again quickly with the carpets and the spear. The rich man stood the spear in the ground. The sharp point of it was below Adiberga. He put one carpet on one side of the spear, and the other carpet on the other side. Then he spoke to Adiberga.
"Jump down from the tree," he said. "Perhaps you are a bad girl. Perhaps you did something wrong, and your family is angry with you. Is that why you ran away? Is that why you are hiding up there in the tree? If that is the reason, you will fall on the spear. But perhaps you are a good girl. Perhaps someone tried to hurt you, and you ran away to save your life. Is that why you are hiding in the tree? If that is the reason, you will fall on the carpet."
So Adiberga jumped down from the tree. She fell on the carpet, and the rich man picked her up.
"Marry me," he said.
So Adiberga married him.