The tales of Pensé contain the following tales: Nerso, Tale of Love, The Golden Jar, The Princess of the Waters, The Good of Others, The Hat That Makes Invisible, The Tale of the Rich Man, The King and the barber, The man and the devil, The shirt adorned with diamonds, Aslanzate and Zanpolate, The girl in the chest, Brother lamb, Fear, The domestic lare, He who laughs last laughs best, Talou Orlan, Topal, The kite revealing, The hunter Ahmad, The dervish and the girls, The daughter of the king of China, Pomegranate




There were three brothers: the big brother, the middle brother and the little brother. The little brother was called Nercès, we called him Nerso. The father died, leaving them a lot of goods and goods as an inheritance.

The big brother and the middle brother agreed to deprive Nerso of his share of the inheritance:

The big brother says:

What do you mean, isn't that a sin? said the middle brother.

Listen to me, no objection! said the big brother.

As you wish, said the middle brother.

They call Nerso:

Nerso, you are the smallest of us, right? the little ones should listen to the big ones, right?

It's just, Nerso said.

You are the smallest of us, you have not worked with the sweat of your brow, you are not entitled to the inheritance.

And why ? Am I not our father's son?

Yes you are, intervened the middle brother, but our big brother told you, you did not work with the sweat of your brow, why would you inherit?

And yet…said Nerso

And yet, say the two brothers, will earn your living!

It's as if they had stuck a knife in Nerso's heart, as if they had slit his throat, thrown him in a corner. He reflects, he reflects, he has to earn a living, he spits on his brothers and sets off.

He walks, he walks, he arrives in the city of the Sultan of Turkey, by the sea. He wanders here and there, he finds a khan, he settles in a corner. In this underground khan lived many porters, originating from Mouch, Van, Sivas, Erzeroum; driven from a thousand places by misery. They had come to work, to collect some money, to save money so that they could go home.

Among these porters, there was a man from Mouch, who was called Boghos. He looked wise and experienced. He saw Nerso, called him near him and asked him:

Where do you come from ?

From the countryside, around Mouch, Nerso replied.

From which village?

From Pil.

Ah! Pil? I know, I know, I have been there several times. We were going to harvest the fields. It is a nice village.

Since you've been there, do you know people?

No, nobody, that's in the past.

Nerso sighs deeply.

Well ! recount ! who did you leave in the village? Father, mother, brothers, sisters?

My father and my mother are dead, I have no sister, I have two brothers, they did not keep me, they deprived me of my share of the inheritance, they said to me: “go , go live as you wish ”. I left them, I went.

Oh oh ! the old man is astonished, this is not in accordance with the customs of the inhabitants of Mouch. They acted towards you like you were dead.

Nerso heaves a deep sigh again.

Do not be upset, my child. God closes a door and opens a thousand. I will be your father and you will be my son.

Nerso is heartbroken. He is crying.

Don't cry, my little one. The peasants do not cry easily. God who created us will make you live. It is said that fortune is blind, but every now and then it opens its eyes. A day will come when your brothers will throw themselves at your feet. You will climb mountains, you will cross rivers, your share of the inheritance will always be yours, your brothers will beg you.

Do not say anything. I will die; you, you will remain valid, you will see!

Nerso becomes a porter. Every morning, early in the morning, he goes to the market to offer his services; he works. In the evening, he comes home, he sees his friend the old man who has arrived before him, who has baked bread for him, who has baked beans for him.

Welcome ! sit down, my child. How tired you are!

I have walked all over town, Nerso said.

Cursed be the city! don't you regret your campaign?

  • you haven't dined?
  • Oh ! do I want to eat on my own?

The more time passes, the more the old man and Nerso become attached to each other, they walk together, they make sure not to disturb each other, they work together, they come home in the evening, they eat what God gave them.

One or two years go by. Nerso is getting more and more familiar with the city, he knows all the streets, and he has so much work that he even refuses to do so at times. One evening, at sunset, a lady approached him and said:

  • Carry my luggage, young man!
  • I'm sorry, I'm exhausted, I'll go home.

This lady was a Turkish Levantine, Greek or Jewish, who knows? When she revealed her face, Nerso took his breath away: a luminous forehead, large black eyes like Halvarentz grapes, a small partridge mouth, so young and so cute that Nerso lost his mind.

  • So, don't you want to wear them?
  • Oh yes ! I wear them, Madame, I wear them, and I don't want any money!

The lady gave him a lovely smile.

She in front, him behind, they walk, they walk. They arrive in a street, they enter a large house with a gate, the lady takes off her veil, she looks tenderly at Nerso.

  • Young man, she says, I haven't seen a pretty boy like you all over town. My husband died a few months ago, I was left a widow, won't you marry me?
  • I, a peasant, porter, and you, a great lady of the city, said Nerso, is this conceivable?
  • My God, said the lady, why would a boy like you be the porter? Me, I have great wealth, a lot of goods of which you will be the master, let us be husband and wife!

Nerso's heart leaps, but he doesn't show it. He says :

Madam, I promise you nothing; I am going to go to the khan where my father is waiting for me. If he agrees, I will also fully agree.

- Go, said the lady.

While the woman sits and cries, Nerso runs at full speed to the khan.

  • My child, where did you get lost? asks the old man.

Nerso tells the whole story.

No, said the old man, a hen can't marry a gander, a rich lady can't be your wife. His world is not the same as yours.

Good, said Nerso, If I don't listen to you, who would I listen to?

The night is ending. In the morning, they get up to go to work, they hear the town crier:

 " It's the war ! it's the war ! The king of Greeks has thrown himself at us, he wants a battle. The Sultan ordered all those who know how to use a weapon to gather in front of his palace to go and fight. It's the war ! it's the war !

  • What are the Greeks? Nerso asks
  • It is a people, said the old man.
  • They are Turks or Christians?
  • They are Christians, their cross is like ours, but a little twisted.

What to do ? Order of the Sultan! Nerso goes to the palace, we give him a sword, we put it with the others, we put him in a boat, we lead him near the land of the Greeks, he enters the battle.

What a battle! It looks like two mountains colliding; the cannon thunders, the sabers stir, the blood flows, the corpses are removed.

Nerso is lucky. After the battle, with many others, he was taken prisoner, the Greeks saw that he was a Armenian, a Christian, they do not torture him, they do not kill him; they tell him:Why are you fighting against us? Take your sword, kill the unfaithful Turk!

 "I will fight, I will fight well, if I have the opportunity" Nerso said.

Nerso launches into battle, he accomplishes feats.

When the war ends, he is taken to the king of the Greeks. The king hangs a few medals on his chest, takes him to his palace, he appoints him head of the guards.

Nerso is not happy. He thinks only of his old porter. Is he still alive, or is he dead? He had to go back to the village, has he left? did he stay? where is he ?

The land of the Greeks is far, beyond the seas, far from the great Turkish city and the village of Mouch. What are his brothers doing? Do they not regret having deprived him of his property? Who knows ?

Nerso was thinking, thinking, and couldn't sleep.

Finally, one morning, Nerso opens his eyes; he learns that the king is dead, that the high dignitaries are gathered to choose a new king.

Who to elect? Who not to elect?

Finally, they decide that the first to enter the palace will be named king.

Luckily, it's Nerso who enters.

Immediately, the dignitaries get up:

Well ! Nerso, you are our king! they say.

Nerso becomes king. They put a crown on her head, they sit her on a throne.

Immediately, the dignitaries enter, leave, come back. They say sweet words to him, they flatter him, they raise him to the sky, everyone would like to extract something from him, land, money, medals… Doesn't the king have access to all these things ?

All this did not put Nerso in a good mood, him who already had his own pain and grief. A king, a king, he says to him, should he also rule his country?

He thinks for a long time. Suddenly he claps his hands. Immediately, a few men enter.

 " My children, said Nerso, go quickly to the region of Mouch, to the village of Til. I have an adoptive father there by the name of Boghos. Tell him that the king of your country, Nerso, would like to know how to rule him. Go on !

These men ride horses, they trot, they trot, they go, they go, they arrive in the countryside around Mouch, they stop at the village of Til and ask:

 " Take us to Boghos, the adoptive father of our king ”.

The peasants lead them to the old man who had just returned from his city of misery.

 " Uncle Boghos, the king of our country, Nerso, wants to ask you how to rule it.

The old man mumbles, he takes them to the plain, he kicks the weeds, makes heads fly, egrets fly here and there (I say ten heads, you say ten thousand) turns to the king's men and says:

 " Tell the king what you saw! " 

The horsemen return to the Greek city, they enter the palace, they kneel before the king, they relate what they have seen.

Nerso said to himself: " If you want to govern the country well and be quiet, make the heads of your enemies fly like weeds ”.

This is what Nerso will do.

Time passes, and Nerso does not see his pain easing. Day and night, he thinks of his old man and his brothers. He sits sadly in front of the window, he thinks, he thinks, so long as he loses sleep.

 " I am king, I am king, he says to him, but as long as I don't go to my village to see my old man and my brothers, it won't work. I want to know how they are, then I will come back. Death reigns in this world. " 

He rides on his horse, takes two bags of gold, a few riders accompany him. Til, where are you? I am coming ! He gallops at full speed, he arrives, he arrives, he arrives; finally here is Til! He stops in front of his door, he sees his big brother and his average brother, the emaciated face, the gloomy gaze, seated one opposite the other.

The brothers see a young man, in king's dress, like Saint Sarkis (Serge), standing in front of them. His horse is playing with the clouds. The brothers do not recognize Nerso. He says "hello" to them. They also say "hello". Nerso asks them:

  • Are you not the sons of A-Tel?
  • Yes, they say
  • Where is your father?
  • Our father is long dead.
  • Don't you have a little brother?
  • Yes, we have a little brother.
  • What's his name ?
  • Nerso
  • Call him !
  • What to call him, friend, he left us a long time ago, we don't know if he's dead or alive.

Nerso turns to his riders:

 "Go get my old friend Boghos! " 

He turns to his brothers:

  •  Let's see, what's your situation? " 
  • What a situation ? After the death of our father, said the middle brother, we have both lived together, we have not found a wife, we have quarreled, we have separated, we have become poor, we are in misery.
  •  "Your brother is not helping you? " 
  • What brother?
  •  "Your little brother".
  • What little brother? The devil entered us, we deprived him of his share of the inheritance, he left God knows where, we do not know if he is still alive, or where he is, we never should have done such a thing !

Nerso turns away; he wipes his eyes.

The horsemen arrive with the old man.

 Hello, little father! how are you ? " 

 " Hello young man ! you see, I live. " 

While speaking, the old man puts his hand in a visor. He looks, he looks, suddenly he recognizes Nerso.

  • Ah! Nerso! I dream ! it's you ?
  • It's me, dear little father.
  • I am amazed at your appearance, my child, have you not become king?
  • But yes, I have become king!

Nerso dismounts, he hugs his old friend, the old man says:

 " When I told you that God closes a door and opens a thousand, you did not believe me. You see ? now you have become king. What happiness! Come, let's go to my place together, my brave wife will make you keuftés to lick your fingers. " 

  • Yes, yes, we will go, but wait a minute, I have a little work to do.

Nerso gives the order to bring down the two bags of gold, he turns to the old man: My very dear little father, I would like you to share in front of me these two bags of gold between you and my brothers. They contain a hundred pieces of gold, you will take ninety for yourself, you will give five to my older brother and five to my average brother. It is an order from the king. " 

The old man shares the gold as the king ordered, then takes it to his home.

The big brother and the middle brother look at each other, they can't find a word to say.

Everyone returns home with their heads bowed. They wonder why they played such a nasty trick on their little brother.

They finally understand that when a man dies, his name remains. When the ox dies, its skin remains.