(a tale of the Arabian Nights)
Once upon a time, there lived a very rich man named Farid in Baghdad. For a long time, Farid enjoyed his wealth, but one day he lost all his money. After this, he earned a living by working in the fields. One night, exhausted from his long labors, Farid lay down in bed and began to imagine ways he might find his way back to wealth.
That night in his dream, a voice told Farid he must go to Cairo. “There you will find wealth,” the voice in his dream said.
And so the next morning, Farid set out for Cairo hundreds of miles away. He walked the whole way, and the journey took him many months. At long last he reached the great city. There he took shelter in a mosque.
That night as he was sleeping, a group of thieves walked into the mosque. They wanted to break in to the house next door to the mosque, which was connected by a door.
When the people in the house heard the noise at their back door, they called the police. And when the police reached the mosque, they found only Farid, fast asleep.
“Wake up!” they cried, and though Farid had no idea what was happening, the police insisted he was guilty of attempted robbery. They arrested him, tossed him in the wagon and carried him to prison.
A few days later, Farid was brought before the judge.
“I’m innocent,” Farid told the judge.
“And why have you come to Cairo?” the judge asked.
“I had a dream,” Farid answered. “In my dream, a voice told me if I came to Cairo, I would find my fortune. Alas, my fortune has been arrest and days in prison.”
The judge stared in wonder at Farid. “You say it was only a dream that led you here?” he said.
“That is true,” Farid said. “I trust my dreams.”
The judge laughed. “Perhaps this experience will teach you to know better,” he said. “I have had such dreams myself.”
“You have?” Farid asked. “What were your dreams?”
“Three times I’ve dreamed of finding a fortune,” he said. “One of my dreams told me to go to Baghdad, as a matter of fact.”
“That is where I live,” Farid said. “Where were you to find your fortune in Baghdad?”
The judge smiled, remembering. “My dream told me to find a sand-colored house with a long front stoop painted red and three palm trees in the front yard. There I would find a great deal of money buried beneath one of the trees.”
Farid nodded, thinking this over. “Which tree?” he asked.
Again the judge laughed. “You are a strange man, indeed. It was the middle tree. And the voice of my dream told me if I traveled to Baghdad and found this house and dug beneath this tree, I would never again have to work.”
“But you didn’t go?” Farid asked.
“I am a wise man,” the judge answered, “and I understood that a dream is an illusion, a sleep-filled fantasy, a magical creation of the overheated mind. I know enough to know that imagination is not reality. So, of course, I didn’t waste my time.”
Farid looked down at the floor. “Perhaps you are right,” he said softly.
The judge shook his head. He felt sorry for this poor man who had already suffered. Clearly he was no thief. He was only a fool. “Dear fellow,” he said, “if you believe the voices of our dreams are real, you have been punished enough by this long, fruitless journey.”
The judge ordered the guards to set Farid free and to give him enough money to return home to Baghdad by caravan.
And so Farid rode the many miles back to Baghdad. Throughout the journey, he dreamed of the judge’s story. That sand-colored house with three palm trees precisely fit the description of Farid’s own house.
When he reached home, he quickly gathered his shovels and spades, and he dug beneath the middle palm tree in his yard.
There he found a box full of gold, enough to live the rest of his days in comfort. Overjoyed by his good fortune, Farid was generous to his friends and neighbors, and he taught others to pay close, careful attention to their dreams.