The Magic Stick
Before you read the story
- Do you believe in miracles?
- If you could perform a miracle, what would you do?
Now read the story
A poor man was married to a beautiful woman. The man and his wife never quarrelled. The husband loved his wife. The wife loved her husband. They were very happy.
But this happy couple had a rich, handsome neighbour. He saw the poor man's beautiful wife and he fell in love with her.
I want to marry her myself, he thought.
Every day, when the woman's husband was working in the fields, the rich man went to the poor man's house.
"You’re a beautiful woman," he said to the poor man's wife, "but your clothes are old. Why doesn't your husband buy new, pretty clothes for you? I'm sure he doesn't love you. If he loved you, he would buy wonderful clothes for you. Divorce him, and marry me. I will buy you beautiful new clothes, the best in the land. Then you will be the most beautiful woman in Ethiopia."
At first the woman didn't listen to the rich man. But he came to her house every day, and every day he said the same things.
At last, she began to think, “Perhaps my neighbour is right. Why doesn't my husband buy beautiful new clothes for me? Perhaps he doesn't love me! “
That night, she said to her husband, "Look at me, husband! My clothes are old and ugly. I want new ones. Buy me some new clothes!"
Her husband smiled at her.
"You don't need new clothes," he said. "You are the most beautiful woman in the world to me."
She was angry.
"Don't you love me?" she said. "If you love me, buy me a new dress!"
Her husband loved his wife and he wanted to please her.
"I have only a little money," he thought, "and I need a new plough. But I want my dear wife to be happy."
So the next day, he went to the market and he bought a new dress for his wife.
He took it home to her and she put it on.
"Thank you, my dear husband," she cried. "Now I know that you love me!"
When the rich man came to see her again, she was wearing her new dress.
"You see?" she said to him. "My husband loves me very much. He bought me this beautiful new dress."
The rich man shook his head.
"But a good husband doesn't only give his wife new clothes," he said. "He gives her gold. Where’s your gold necklace? Where are your gold rings? Why doesn't your husband give you those?"
He opened a box and showed her some beautiful gold jewellery.
"Look at these," he said. "Divorce your husband and marry me, and I will give all these to you."
The woman did not listen to him.
"Go away," she said. "I love my husband and he loves me, and we are happy together."
But the rich man came again, every day, and every day he showed her the box of jewellery.
At last, she began to think, “Perhaps the rich man is right. Why doesn't my husband buy gold for me? Doesn't he love me?”
That day, she didn't make a fire. She didn't cook a meal. Her husband came home late, after a long day in the fields. He was tired and hungry.
"There's no dinner for you tonight," his wife said. "You don't love me!"
"What?" her husband cried. "But my darling, I love you more than anything. You are the most wonderful person in the world!"
"Then why don't you buy me some gold jewellery?" she said. "When a man loves his wife, he gives her a gold necklace, and rings for her fingers."
Her husband looked worried.
“I spent money on her new clothes,” he thought. “How can I find more for gold? I’ll go and see my brother. Perhaps he will lend me the money. I must buy gold for my dear wife. I want her to be happy.”
The next day he went to visit his brother.
"Lend me some money, brother," he said, "and I will work for you in your field."
"All right," his brother said, "but you must work hard. There are many stones in my field and you must move them all away."
Her husband agreed, and took the money. He went to the market and bought some gold jewellery. Then he took it home to his wife.
His wife was very happy. She put the necklace round her neck, and put the rings on her fingers.
"Look at me!" she said. "Am I not beautiful?"
"You’re very beautiful," her husband said. "If you are happy, I am happy."
She put her arms round his neck.
"Thank you, thank you, my dear husband," she said. "Now I know that you love me."
The next day, her husband went out very early, before the sun rose in the sky.
He ran to his brother's field. It was covered with stones.
I must work very hard now, he thought. I must start early, and stop late. I must pay my debt to my brother.
His wife was working happily at home.
“I’ll make a wonderful dinner for my husband tonight,” she thought. “He gives me wonderful presents. He works hard for me. I know that he loves me.”
"Hello?" a voice called out. "Are you there?"
The woman went outside. Her rich neighbour was there.
"Ah, it's you," the woman said. "Listen, neighbour. You were wrong about my husband. Yesterday, he bought me this beautiful jewellery. He loves me very much, and I love him. I will not divorce him. I will not marry you."
The rich man was worried.
“Her husband loves her too much,” he thought. “If I want her, I must be clever.”
"At last he said, "Your husband gave you clothes and jewellery, but I can give you more than that."
"What? What do you mean?" the woman cried.
"Can your husband make miracles?" the rich man asked.
"Miracles? No, of course he can't make miracles," the woman answered. "Only God can make miracles. Men cannot make them."
"But I can," the man said, "because I love you. Love can make miracles. If your husband loves you, he can make miracles for you. If you love me, I will make miracles for you."
"Make a miracle for me now," the woman said.
"I can't," the rich man answered. "You must promise to love me first. You must leave your husband and come to me. Then I will make wonderful, wonderful miracles for you."
The woman said nothing, and the rich man went away.
That night, the poor man came home late. He was very tired and hungry. His wife brought water for him, and he washed himself. She brought delicious food for him, and he ate it.
“My poor husband,” she thought. “He works so hard for me, and he is so tired and hungry. The rich man is foolish. How can my husband make miracles? It's impossible.”
But the next day, and the day after, and the day after that, the rich man came to her house again.
"Did your husband make a miracle for you yesterday?" he asked the woman. "Leave him, and love me, and I will make many, many miracles for you every day."
At last, the women began to listen to him. One day, when her husband came home, she was sad.
"Wife, dear wife, what is wrong with you?" cried her husband. "Are you sick?"
"No," she said. "I'm sad because you do not love me."
"What?" cried her husband. "But you know that I love you! I bought you new clothes. I bought you gold jewellery! You’re the most precious thing in the world to me!"
"But you don't make miracles for me," his wife said.
Her poor husband was very surprised.
"Miracles? Of course I can't make miracles," he said. "Why do you want a miracle? Who gave you the idea?"
"Our neighbour came to see me today," the woman said. 'Love makes miracles,' he said. 'If a man loves a woman, he will make miracles for her.'"
Her husband was very worried.
“That wicked man wants to take my wife,” he thought. “All this trouble comes from him. When he first came here, she wanted new clothes. Then she wanted gold jewellery. And now she wants a miracle! What can I do? If I don't make a miracle, perhaps my wife will leave me and marry him!”
The next day, he went slowly to work in his brother's field.
“I must pray,” he thought. “Only God can help me now.”
He looked up to heaven.
"Oh Lord God," he prayed. "Please help me to make a miracle. I love my wife and I want to keep her. Don't let this rich man take her from me."
He worked all morning. He was moving stones from his brother's field. In the middle of the day, he sat down under a tree to rest. A man was sitting there already.
"Who are you?" the poor man asked.
"I am a wizard," answered the man "And I have a gift for you. Look, here are two sticks. They make miracles."
"Miracles?" the poor man said. He was happy now. "What kind of miracles?"
"If you touch a person with the first stick," the wizard said, "he will become a donkey."
The poor man thought of the rich man, and he smiled.
"A donkey?" he said. "That's very good. And if I touch him with the second stick, what will happen?"
"He will become a man again," said the wizard.
The poor man took the sticks and jumped up.
"Oh, thank you, my friend!" he said. "I prayed to God and he sent you to me. Now I can keep my wife and punish my enemy."
He ran home.
"Wife!" he called out. "Come here! I'm going to make a miracle."
His wife came out of the house.
"A miracle?" she said. "What miracle?"
"Look," said her husband.
He touched her with the first stick. At once she became a donkey.
She lifted her head and tried to speak, but she could not.
"Hee-haw! Hee-haw!" was all she could say.
Her husband touched her with the other stick. At once she became a woman again.
"Husband, that's wonderful!" she said. "It's a real miracle! How did you do it?"
"I prayed to God," her husband said, “and he helped me. And now, wife, I am going to punish my enemy."
"Your enemy?" said his wife. "Who is that?"
"You know my enemy," her husband said. He was looking at her. He wasn't smiling now. "It's the rich man, our neighbour. He comes to our house when I am working in the fields. He gives you bad ideas. 'Ask your husband for new clothes,' he says. 'Ask him for gold jewellery. Ask him for a miracle.' Am I right? Did our rich neighbour give you all these ideas?"
His wife said nothing.
"And did you listen to him?" her husband went on.
His wife did not look at him. She was ashamed.
"I'm sorry," she said. "It's true, he said all those things. He wanted me to divorce you and marry him. And I listened to him."
"And do you want to divorce me and marry him?" her husband asked.
She looked at him. Her eyes were full of tears.
"No! Dear husband, I want to stay with you for ever, and I will never listen to him again."
"Then take this stick," her husband said, "And touch the rich man with it."
He gave his wife the first stick, but he hid the second one in the roof.
The next day, he went to work. Soon, the rich man arrived at the woman's house.
"Well?" he asked her. "And can your husband make miracles yet?"
"Yes," she said, and she touched him with the first stick.
At once, the rich man changed into a donkey.
"Now," said the woman. "You can go to work and help my dear husband."
She took the donkey out to the fields. Her husband was working there. He was moving stones from his brother's field.
"Ah," he said. "A donkey! Now I can finish the job quickly."
From that day, the poor man gave the donkey many heavy loads to carry. The donkey carried stones away from the fields, it took sacks of tef to the market, and it brought flour and coffee home again.
For many years, the donkey worked for the poor man. The poor man was not so poor now. The donkey was helping him. He was becoming richer.
One day, the poor man looked at the donkey. It was tired and old. It stood still. Its head was bent down. The poor man was sorry for it. He went into his house and brought out the second stick. Then he touched the donkey with it.
At once, the rich man stood there. But he was not a handsome young man now. He was old. His back was bent. He was very, very tired.
"You tried to take my wife away from me," the poor man said. "That was wrong. Go home now. Don't look at other men's wives again."
The rich man went away, and he never came back again. But the poor man and his wife lived happily together for many more years.
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