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The First Banquet (retold by Nasruddin)

One day, it happened that someone said something to someone, who said something to someone else, who somehow formed the impression I was an important person. The result of this chain of folly was that I was invited to be the guest of honor at a banquet.

I was puzzled but honored to be given such an invitation. At the appointed day I presented myself at the door of the banquet hall. I had walked all day in my usual simple garb to get to the city in which the banquet was being held, and I suppose I could have used some freshening up. At any rate, the guards at the door took one look at me and barred the door.

"But I'm Nasruddin, the guest of honor!"

"Of course you are!" the guards laughed. One bent toward me and said, "And I am the caliph himself!" At which they both roared with laughter. Still chuckling, they said, "Go away, old man, and don't let us see you here again!"

I obliged them with the first part of their request. The banquet hall was located on the city square, and I recognized a friend's house on the opposite side. I walked there and knocked. My friend answered.

"Nasruddin!" he embraced me and we gave each other warm greetings and gratitude to Allah, glorious and merciful is He, for this meeting. I came right to the point.

"Do you remember that red brocade coat you wanted to give me last year?" I asked.

"Certainly! It still hangs in my closet, waiting for you. Are you ready to receive it?"

"With gratitude," I replied. "Do you have other plans for it?"

"What do you mean, Nasruddin?" he asked.

"I just wondered if you would like the coat back after I have borrowed it?"

"Oh, no, Nasruddin! It is yours to keep and do with what you wish!"

"Just so, my friend. Thank you." I visited for a brief while, then received the coat and put it on. I made my apologies and departed back across the square, adorned with a dazzling brocade coat with gold brade and colored stones lining the epaulets. The buttons were ivory, the fastenings were jet black. All in all, I was a wonderful sight.

The guards bowed low at my approach, and ushered me into the banquet hall. The table was richly laid, and all the guests were there. Someone showed me to a seat at the head of the table, and announced "The august, the wise, the true Nasruddin!" I sat, and everyone else sat at the same moment.

They all watched expectantly, waiting to see what the guest of honor would do. The first course was soup. When it was served, all eyes were on me. I picked up my bowl of soup and stood, holding it high. Then I poured the soup down the front of my coat.

The guests were astounded. A gasp arose so that the air was almost sucked from the room. Then they broke into remonstrations and shouts. "What are you doing! What are you thinking!"

When it was quiet enough so I could speak, I addressed my coat. "O coat, I hope you have enjoyed that delicious soup. It is clear that it is you who are welcome here, not I!"

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