วันอังคารที่ 13 พฤษภาคม พ.ศ. 2551

[11] "อาหรับราตรี" ... 3

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp

There once lived a poor tailor, who had a son called Aladdin, a careless, idle boy who would do nothing but
play all day long in the streets with little idle boys like himself. This so grieved the father that he died; yet, in
spite of his mother's tears and prayers, Aladdin did not mend his ways. One day, when he was playing in the

streets as usual, a stranger asked him his age, and if he were not the son of Mustapha the tailor.

"I am, sir," replied Aladdin; "but he died a long while ago."

On this the stranger, who was a famous African magician, fell on his neck and kissed him, saying: "I am your
uncle, and knew you from your likeness to my brother. Go to your mother and tell her I am coming."

Aladdin ran home, and told his mother of his newly found uncle.

"Indeed, child," she said, "your father had a brother, but I always thought he was dead."

However, she prepared supper, and bade Aladdin seek his uncle, who came laden with wine and fruit. He
presently fell down and kissed the place where Mustapha used to sit, bidding Aladdin's mother not to be
surprised at not having seen him before, as he had been forty years out of the country. He then turned to
Aladdin, and asked him his trade, at which the boy hung his head, while his mother burst into tears. On
learning that Aladdin was idle and would learn no trade, he offered to take a shop for him and stock it with
merchandise. Next day he bought Aladdin a fine suit of clothes, and took him all over the city, showing him
the sights, and brought him home at nightfall to his mother, who was overjoyed to see her son so fine.

Next day the magician led Aladdin into some beautiful gardens a long way outside the city gates. They sat
down by a fountain, and the magician pulled a cake from his girdle, which he divided between them. They
then journeyed onwards till they almost reached the mountains. Aladdin was so tired that he begged to go
back, but the magician beguiled him with pleasant stories, and led him on in spite of himself.

At last they came to two mountains divided by a narrow valley.

"We will go no farther," said the false uncle. "I will show you something wonderful; only do you gather up
sticks while I kindle a fire."

When it was lit the magician threw on it a powder he had about him, at the same time saying some magical
words. The earth trembled a little and opened in front of them, disclosing a square flat stone with a brass ring
in the middle to raise it by. Aladdin tried to run away, but the magician caught him and gave him a blow that
knocked him down.

"What have I done, uncle?" he said piteously; whereupon the magician said more kindly: "Fear nothing, but
obey me. Beneath this stone lies a treasure which is to be yours, and no one else may touch it, so you must do
exactly as I tell you."

At the word treasure, Aladdin forgot his fears, and grasped the ring as he was told, saying the names of his
father and grandfather. The stone came up quite easily and some steps appeared.

"Go down," said the magician; "at the foot of those steps you will find an open door leading into three large
halls. Tuck up your gown and go through them without touching anything, or you will die instantly. These
halls lead into a garden of fine fruit trees. Walk on till you come to a niche in a terrace where stands a lighted
lamp. Pour out the oil it contains and bring it to me."

He drew a ring from his finger and gave it to Aladdin, bidding him prosper.

Aladdin found everything as the magician had said, gathered some fruit off the trees, and, having got the
lamp, arrived at the mouth of the cave. The magician cried out in a great hurry:

"Make haste and give me the lamp." This Aladdin refused to do until he was out of the cave. The magician

flew into a terrible passion, and throwing some more powder on the fire, he said something, and the stone
rolled back into its place.

The magician left Persia for ever, which plainly showed that he was no uncle of Aladdin's, but a cunning
magician who had read in his magic books of a wonderful lamp, which would make him the most powerful
man in the world. Though he alone knew where to find it, he could only receive it from the hand of another.
He had picked out the foolish Aladdin for this purpose, intending to get the lamp and kill him afterwards.

For two days Aladdin remained in the dark, crying and lamenting. At last he clasped his hands in prayer, and
in so doing rubbed the ring, which the magician had forgotten to take from him. Immediately an enormous
and frightful genie rose out of the earth, saying:

"What wouldst thou with me? I am the Slave of the Ring, and will obey thee in all things."

Aladdin fearlessly replied: "Deliver me from this place!" whereupon the earth opened, and he found himself
outside. As soon as his eyes could bear the light he went home, but fainted on the threshold. When he came to
himself he told his mother what had passed, and showed her the lamp and the fruits he had gathered in the
garden, which were in reality precious stones. He then asked for some food.

"Alas! child," she said, "I have nothing in the house, but I have spun a little cotton and will go and sell it."

Aladdin bade her keep her cotton, for he would sell the lamp instead. As it was very dirty she began to rub it,
that it might fetch a higher price. Instantly a hideous genie appeared, and asked what she would have. She
fainted away, but Aladdin, snatching the lamp, said boldly:

"Fetch me something to eat!"

The genie returned with a silver bowl, twelve silver plates containing rich meats, two silver cups, and two
bottles of wine. Aladdin's mother, when she came to herself, said:

"Whence comes this splendid feast?"

"Ask not, but eat," replied Aladdin.

So they sat at breakfast till it was dinner-time, and Aladdin told his mother about the lamp. She begged him to
sell it, and have nothing to do with devils.

"No," said Aladdin, "since chance has made us aware of its virtues, we will use it and the ring likewise, which
I shall always wear on my finger." When they had eaten all the genie had brought, Aladdin sold one of the
silver plates, and so on till none were left. He then had recourse to the genie, who gave him another set of
plates, and thus they lived for many years.

One day Aladdin heard an order from the Sultan proclaimed that everyone was to stay at home and close his
shutters while the princess, his daughter, went to and from the bath. Aladdin was seized by a desire to see her
face, which was very difficult, as she always went veiled. He hid himself behind the door of the bath, and
peeped through a chink. The princess lifted her veil as she went in, and looked so beautiful that Aladdin fell in
love with her at first sight. He went home so changed that his mother was frightened. He told her he loved the
princess so deeply that he could not live without her, and meant to ask her in marriage of her father. His
mother, on hearing this, burst out laughing, but Aladdin at last prevailed upon her to go before the Sultan and
carry his request. She fetched a napkin and laid in it the magic fruits from the enchanted garden, which
sparkled and shone like the most beautiful jewels. She took these with her to please the Sultan, and set out,
trusting in the lamp. The grand-vizir and the lords of council had just gone in as she entered the hall and


placed herself in front of the Sultan. He, however, took no notice of her. She went every day for a week, and
stood in the same place.

When the council broke up on the sixth day the Sultan said to his vizir: "I see a certain woman in the
audience-chamber every day carrying something in a napkin. Call her next time, that I may find out what she

Next day, at a sign from the vizir, she went up to the foot of the throne, and remained kneeling till the Sultan
said to her: "Rise, good woman, and tell me what you want."

She hesitated, so the Sultan sent away all but the vizir, and bade her speak freely, promising to forgive her
beforehand for anything she might say. She then told him of her son's violent love for the princess.

"I prayed him to forget her," she said, "but in vain; he threatened to do some desperate deed if I refused to go
and ask your Majesty for the hand of the princess. Now I pray you to forgive not me alone, but my son

The Sultan asked her kindly what she had in the napkin, whereupon she unfolded the jewels and presented

He was thunderstruck, and turning to the vizir said: "What sayest thou? Ought I not to bestow the princess on
one who values her at such a price?"

The vizir, who wanted her for his own son, begged the Sultan to withhold her for three months, in the course
of which he hoped his son would contrive to make him a richer present. The Sultan granted this, and told
Aladdin's mother that, though he consented to the marriage, she must not appear before him again for three

Aladdin waited patiently for nearly three months, but after two had elapsed his mother, going into the city to
buy oil, found everyone rejoicing, and asked what was going on.

"Do you not know," was the answer, "that the son of the grand-vizir is to marry the Sultan's daughter

Breathless, she ran and told Aladdin, who was overwhelmed at first, but presently bethought him of the lamp.
He rubbed it, and the genie appeared, saying: "What is thy will?"

Aladdin replied: "The Sultan, as thou knowest, has broken his promise to me, and the vizir's son is to have the
princess. My command is that to-night you bring hither the bride and bridegroom."

"Master, I obey," said the genie.

Aladdin then went to his chamber, where, sure enough at midnight the genie transported the bed containing
the vizir's son and the princess.

"Take this new-married man," he said, "and put him outside in the cold, and return at daybreak."

Whereupon the genie took the vizir's son out of bed, leaving Aladdin with the princess.

"Fear nothing," Aladdin said to her; "you are my wife, promised to me by your unjust father, and no harm
shall come to you."


The princess was too frightened to speak, and passed the most miserable night of her life, while Aladdin lay
down beside her and slept soundly. At the appointed hour the genie fetched in the shivering bridegroom, laid
him in his place, and transported the bed back to the palace.

Presently the Sultan came to wish his daughter good-morning. The unhappy vizir's son jumped up and hid
himself, while the princess would not say a word, and was very sorrowful.

The Sultan sent her mother to her, who said: "How comes it, child, that you will not speak to your father?
What has happened?"

The princess sighed deeply, and at last told her mother how, during the night, the bed had been carried into
some strange house, and what had passed there. Her mother did not believe her in the least, but bade her rise
and consider it an idle dream.

The following night exactly the same thing happened, and next morning, on the princess's refusing to speak,
the Sultan threatened to cut off her head. She then confessed all, bidding him ask the vizir's son if it were not
so. The Sultan told the vizir to ask his son, who owned the truth, adding that, dearly as he loved the princess,
he had rather die than go through another such fearful night, and wished to be separated from her. His wish
was granted, and there was an end of feasting and rejoicing.

When the three months were over, Aladdin sent his mother to remind the Sultan of his promise. She stood in
the same place as before, and the Sultan, who had forgotten Aladdin, at once remembered him, and sent for
her. On seeing her poverty the Sultan felt less inclined than ever to keep his word, and asked the vizir's advice,
who counselled him to set so high a value on the princess that no man living could come up to it.

The Sultan then turned to Aladdin's mother, saying: "Good woman, a Sultan must remember his promises, and
I will remember mine, but your son must first send me forty basins of gold brimful of jewels, carried by forty
black slaves, led by as many white ones, splendidly dressed. Tell him that I await his answer." The mother of
Aladdin bowed low and went home, thinking all was lost.

She gave Aladdin the message, adding: "He may wait long enough for your answer!"

"Not so long, mother, as you think," her son replied "I would do a great deal more than that for the princess."

He summoned the genie, and in a few moments the eighty slaves arrived, and filled up the small house and

Aladdin made them set out to the palace, two and two, followed by his mother. They were so richly dressed,
with such splendid jewels in their girdles, that everyone crowded to see them and the basins of gold they
carried on their heads.

They entered the palace, and, after kneeling before the Sultan, stood in a half-circle round the throne with
their arms crossed, while Aladdin's mother presented them to the Sultan.

He hesitated no longer, but said: "Good woman, return and tell your son that I wait for him with open arms."

She lost no time in telling Aladdin, bidding him make haste. But Aladdin first called the genie.

"I want a scented bath," he said, "a richly embroidered habit, a horse surpassing the Sultan's, and twenty
slaves to attend me. Besides this, six slaves, beautifully dressed, to wait on my mother; and lastly, ten
thousand pieces of gold in ten purses."


No sooner said than done. Aladdin mounted his horse and passed through the streets, the slaves strewing gold
as they went. Those who had played with him in his childhood knew him not, he had grown so handsome.

When the Sultan saw him he came down from his throne, embraced him, and led him into a hall where a feast
was spread, intending to marry him to the princess that very day.

But Aladdin refused, saying, "I must build a palace fit for her," and took his leave.

Once home he said to the genie: "Build me a palace of the finest marble, set with jasper, agate, and other
precious stones. In the middle you shall build me a large hall with a dome, its four walls of massy gold and
silver, each side having six windows, whose lattices, all except one, which is to be left unfinished, must be set
with diamonds and rubies. There must be stables and horses and grooms and slaves; go and see about it!"

The palace was finished by next day, and the genie carried him there and showed him all his orders faithfully
carried out, even to the laying of a velvet carpet from Aladdin's palace to the Sultan's. Aladdin's mother then
dressed herself carefully, and walked to the palace with her slaves, while he followed her on horseback. The
Sultan sent musicians with trumpets and cymbals to meet them, so that the air resounded with music and
cheers. She was taken to the princess, who saluted her and treated her with great honour. At night the princess
said good-bye to her father, and set out on the carpet for Aladdin's palace, with his mother at her side, and
followed by the hundred slaves. She was charmed at the sight of Aladdin, who ran to receive her.

"Princess," he said, "blame your beauty for my boldness if I have displeased you."

She told him that, having seen him, she willingly obeyed her father in this matter. After the wedding had
taken place Aladdin led her into the hall, where a feast was spread, and she supped with him, after which they
danced till midnight.

Next day Aladdin invited the Sultan to see the palace. On entering the hall with the four-and-twenty windows,
with their rubies, diamonds, and emeralds, he cried:

"It is a world's wonder! There is only one thing that surprises me. Was it by accident that one window was left

"No, sir, by design," returned Aladdin. "I wished your Majesty to have the glory of finishing this palace."

The Sultan was pleased, and sent for the best jewelers in the city. He showed them the unfinished window,
and bade them fit it up like the others.

"Sir," replied their spokesman, "we cannot find jewels enough."

The Sultan had his own fetched, which they soon used, but to no purpose, for in a month's time the work was
not half done. Aladdin, knowing that their task was vain, bade them undo their work and carry the jewels
back, and the genie finished the window at his command. The Sultan was surprised to receive his jewels again
and visited Aladdin, who showed him the window finished. The Sultan embraced him, the envious vizir
meanwhile hinting that it was the work of enchantment.

Aladdin had won the hearts of the people by his gentle bearing. He was made captain of the Sultan's armies,
and won several battles for him, but remained modest and courteous as before, and lived thus in peace and
content for several years.

But far away in Africa the magician remembered Aladdin, and by his magic arts discovered that Aladdin,
instead of perishing miserably in the cave, had escaped, and had married a princess, with whom he was living


in great honour and wealth. He knew that the poor tailor's son could only have accomplished this by means of
the lamp, and travelled night and day till he reached the capital of China, bent on Aladdin's ruin. As he passed
through the town he heard people talking everywhere about a marvellous palace.

"Forgive my ignorance," he asked, "what is this palace you speak of?"

"Have you not heard of Prince Aladdin's palace," was the reply, "the greatest wonder of the world? I will
direct you if you have a mind to see it."

The magician thanked him who spoke, and having seen the palace knew that it had been raised by the genie of
the lamp, and became half mad with rage. He determined to get hold of the lamp, and again plunge Aladdin
into the deepest poverty.

Unluckily, Aladdin had gone a-hunting for eight days, which gave the magician plenty of time. He bought a
dozen copper lamps, put them into a basket, and went to the palace, crying: "New lamps for old!" followed by
a jeering crowd.

The princess, sitting in the hall of four-and-twenty windows, sent a slave to find out what the noise was about,
who came back laughing, so that the princess scolded her.

"Madam," replied the slave, "who can help laughing to see an old fool offering to exchange fine new lamps
for old ones?"

Another slave, hearing this, said: "There is an old one on the cornice there which he can have."

Now this was the magic lamp, which Aladdin had left there, as he could not take it out hunting with him. The
princess, not knowing its value, laughingly bade the slave take it and make the exchange.

She went and said to the magician: "Give me a new lamp for this."

He snatched it and bade the slave take her choice, amid the jeers of the crowd. Little he cared, but left off
crying his lamps, and went out of the city gates to a lonely place, where he remained till nightfall, when he
pulled out the lamp and rubbed it. The genie appeared, and at the magician's command carried him, together
with the palace and the princess in it, to a lonely place in Africa.

Next morning the Sultan looked out of the window towards Aladdin's palace and rubbed his eyes, for it was
gone. He sent for the vizir, and asked what had become of the palace. The vizir looked out too, and was lost in
astonishment. He again put it down to enchantment, and this time the Sultan believed him, and sent thirty men
on horseback to fetch Aladdin in chains. They met him riding home, bound him, and forced him to go with
them on foot. The people, however, who loved him, followed, armed, to see that he came to no harm. He was
carried before the Sultan, who ordered the executioner to cut off his head. The executioner made Aladdin
kneel down, bandaged his eyes, and raised his scimitar to strike.

At that instant the vizir, who saw that the crowd had forced their way into the courtyard and were scaling the
walls to rescue Aladdin, called to the executioner to stay his hand. The people, indeed, looked so threatening
that the Sultan gave way and ordered Aladdin to be unbound, and pardoned him in the sight of the crowd.

Aladdin now begged to know what he had done.

"False wretch!" said the Sultan, "come hither," and showed him from the window the place where his palace
had stood.

Aladdin was so amazed that he could not say a word.

"Where is my palace and my daughter?" demanded the Sultan. "For the first I am not so deeply concerned, but
my daughter I must have, and you must find her or lose your head."

Aladdin begged for forty days in which to find her, promising if he failed to return and suffer death at the
Sultan's pleasure. His prayer was granted, and he went forth sadly from the Sultan's presence. For three days
he wandered about like a madman, asking everyone what had become of his palace, but they only laughed and
pitied him. He came to the banks of a river, and knelt down to say his prayers before throwing himself in. In
so doing he rubbed the magic ring he still wore.

The genie he had seen in the cave appeared, and asked his will.

"Save my life, genie," said Aladdin, "and bring my palace back."

"That is not in my power," said the genie; "I am only the slave of the ring; you must ask the slave of the

"Even so," said Aladdin "but thou canst take me to the palace, and set me down under my dear wife's
window." He at once found himself in Africa, under the window of the princess, and fell asleep out of sheer

He was awakened by the singing of the birds, and his heart was lighter. He saw plainly that all his misfortunes
were owing to the loss of the lamp, and vainly wondered who had robbed him of it.

That morning the princess rose earlier than she had done since she had been carried into Africa by the
magician, whose company she was forced to endure once a day. She, however, treated him so harshly that he
dared not live there altogether. As she was dressing, one of her women looked out and saw Aladdin. The
princess ran and opened the window, and at the noise she made Aladdin looked up. She called to him to come
to her, and great was the joy of these lovers at seeing each other again.

After he had kissed her Aladdin said: "I beg of you, Princess, in God's name, before we speak of anything
else, for your own sake and mine, tell me what has become of an old lamp I left on the cornice in the hall of
four-and-twenty windows, when I went a-hunting."

"Alas!" she said "I am the innocent cause of our sorrows," and told him of the exchange of the lamp.

"Now I know," cried Aladdin, "that we have to thank the African magician for this! Where is the lamp?"

"He carries it about with him," said the princess, "I know, for he pulled it out of his breast to show me. He
wishes me to break my faith with you and marry him, saying that you were beheaded by my father's
command. He is forever speaking ill of you, but I only reply by my tears. If I persist, I doubt not that he will
use violence."

Aladdin comforted her, and left her for a while. He changed clothes with the first person he met in the town,
and having bought a certain powder returned to the princess, who let him in by a little side door.

"Put on your most beautiful dress," he said to her, "and receive the magician with smiles, leading him to
believe that you have forgotten me. Invite him to sup with you, and say you wish to taste the wine of his
country. He will go for some, and while he is gone I will tell you what to do."

She listened carefully to Aladdin, and when he left her arrayed herself gaily for the first time since she left


China. She put on a girdle and head-dress of diamonds, and seeing in a glass that she looked more beautiful
than ever, received the magician, saying to his great amazement: "I have made up my mind that Aladdin is
dead, and that all my tears will not bring him back to me, so I am resolved to mourn no more, and have
therefore invited you to sup with me; but I am tired of the wines of China, and would fain taste those of

The magician flew to his cellar, and the princess put the powder Aladdin had given her in her cup. When he
returned she asked him to drink her health in the wine of Africa, handing him her cup in exchange for his as a
sign she was reconciled to him.

Before drinking the magician made her a speech in praise of her beauty, but the princess cut him short saying:

"Let me drink first, and you shall say what you will afterwards." She set her cup to her lips and kept it there,
while the magician drained his to the dregs and fell back lifeless.

The princess then opened the door to Aladdin, and flung her arms round his neck, but Aladdin put her away,
bidding her to leave him, as he had more to do. He then went to the dead magician, took the lamp out of his
vest, and bade the genie carry the palace and all in it back to China. This was done, and the princess in her
chamber only felt two little shocks, and little thought she was at home again.

The Sultan, who was sitting in his closet, mourning for his lost daughter, happened to look up, and rubbed his
eyes, for there stood the palace as before! He hastened thither, and Aladdin received him in the hall of the
four-and-twenty windows, with the princess at his side. Aladdin told him what had happened, and showed him
the dead body of the magician, that he might believe. A ten days' feast was proclaimed, and it seemed as if
Aladdin might now live the rest of his life in peace; but it was not to be.

The African magician had a younger brother, who was, if possible, more wicked and more cunning than
himself. He travelled to China to avenge his brother's death, and went to visit a pious woman called Fatima,
thinking she might be of use to him. He entered her cell and clapped a dagger to her breast, telling her to rise
and do his bidding on pain of death. He changed clothes with her, coloured his face like hers, put on her veil
and murdered her, that she might tell no tales. Then he went towards the palace of Aladdin, and all the people
thinking he was the holy woman, gathered round him, kissing his hands and begging his blessing. When he
got to the palace there was such a noise going on round him that the princess bade her slave look out of the
window and ask what was the matter. The slave said it was the holy woman, curing people by her touch of
their ailments, whereupon the princess, who had long desired to see Fatima, sent for her. On coming to the
princess the magician offered up a prayer for her health and prosperity. When he had done the princess made
him sit by her, and begged him to stay with her always. The false Fatima, who wished for nothing better,
consented, but kept his veil down for fear of discovery. The princess showed him the hall, and asked him what
he thought of it.

"It is truly beautiful," said the false Fatima. "In my mind it wants but one thing."

"And what is that?" said the princess.

"If only a roc's egg," replied he, "were hung up from the middle of this dome, it would be the wonder of the

After this the princess could think of nothing but a roc's egg, and when Aladdin returned from hunting he
found her in a very ill humour. He begged to know what was amiss, and she told him that all her pleasure in
the hall was spoilt for the want of a roc's egg hanging from the dome.

"It that is all," replied Aladdin, "you shall soon be happy."

He left her and rubbed the lamp, and when the genie appeared commanded him to bring a roc's egg. The genie
gave such a loud and terrible shriek that the hall shook.

"Wretch!" he cried, "is it not enough that I have done everything for you, but you must command me to bring
my master and hang him up in the midst of this dome? You and your wife and your palace deserve to be burnt
to ashes; but this request does not come from you, but from the brother of the African magician whom you
destroyed. He is now in your palace disguised as the holy woman--whom he murdered. He it was who put that
wish into your wife's head. Take care of yourself, for he means to kill you." So saying the genie disappeared.

Aladdin went back to the princess, saying his head ached, and requesting that the holy Fatima should be
fetched to lay her hands on it. But when the magician came near, Aladdin, seizing his dagger, pierced him to
the heart.

"What have you done?" cried the princess. "You have killed the holy woman!"

"Not so," replied Aladdin, "but a wicked magician," and told her of how she had been deceived.

After this Aladdin and his wife lived in peace. He succeeded the Sultan when he died, and reigned for many
years, leaving behind him a long line of kings.

The Adventures of Haroun-al-Raschid, Caliph of Bagdad

The Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid sat in his palace, wondering if there was anything left in the world that could
possibly give him a few hours' amusement, when Giafar the grand-vizir, his old and tried friend, suddenly
appeared before him. Bowing low, he waited, as was his duty, till his master spoke, but Haroun-al-Raschid
merely turned his head and looked at him, and sank back into his former weary posture.

Now Giafar had something of importance to say to the Caliph, and had no intention of being put off by mere
silence, so with another low bow in front of the throne, he began to speak.

"Commander of the Faithful," said he, "I have taken on myself to remind your Highness that you have
undertaken secretly to observe for yourself the manner in which justice is done and order is kept throughout
the city. This is the day you have set apart to devote to this object, and perhaps in fulfilling this duty you may
find some distraction from the melancholy to which, as I see to my sorrow, you are a prey."

"You are right," returned the Caliph, "I had forgotten all about it. Go and change your coat, and I will change

A few moments later they both re-entered the hall, disguised as foreign merchants, and passed through a
secret door, out into the open country. Here they turned towards the Euphrates, and crossing the river in a
small boat, walked through that part of the town which lay along the further bank, without seeing anything to
call for their interference. Much pleased with the peace and good order of the city, the Caliph and his vizir
made their way to a bridge, which led straight back to the palace, and had already crossed it, when they were
stopped by an old and blind man, who begged for alms.

The Caliph gave him a piece of money, and was passing on, but the blind man seized his hand, and held him

"Charitable person," he said, "whoever you may be grant me yet another prayer. Strike me, I beg of you, one
blow. I have deserved it richly, and even a more severe penalty."

The Caliph, much surprised at this request, replied gently: "My good man, that which you ask is impossible.
Of what use would my alms be if I treated you so ill?" And as he spoke he tried to loosen the grasp of the
blind beggar.

"My lord," answered the man, "pardon my boldness and my persistence. Take back your money, or give me
the blow which I crave. I have sworn a solemn oath that I will receive nothing without receiving chastisement,
and if you knew all, you would feel that the punishment is not a tenth part of what I deserve."

Moved by these words, and perhaps still more by the fact that he had other business to attend to, the Caliph
yielded, and struck him lightly on the shoulder. Then he continued his road, followed by the blessing of the
blind man. When they were out of earshot, he said to the vizir, "There must be something very odd to make
that man act so--I should like to find out what is the reason. Go back to him; tell him who I am, and order him
to come without fail to the palace to-morrow, after the hour of evening prayer."

So the grand-vizir went back to the bridge; gave the blind beggar first a piece of money and then a blow,
delivered the Caliph's message, and rejoined his master.

They passed on towards the palace, but walking through a square, they came upon a crowd watching a young
and well-dressed man who was urging a horse at full speed round the open space, using at the same time his
spurs and whip so unmercifully that the animal was all covered with foam and blood. The Caliph, astonished
at this proceeding, inquired of a passer-by what it all meant, but no one could tell him anything, except that
every day at the same hour the same thing took place.

Still wondering, he passed on, and for the moment had to content himself with telling the vizir to command
the horseman also to appear before him at the same time as the blind man.

The next day, after evening prayer, the Caliph entered the hall, and was followed by the vizir bringing with
him the two men of whom we have spoken, and a third, with whom we have nothing to do. They all bowed
themselves low before the throne and then the Caliph bade them rise, and ask the blind man his name.

"Baba-Abdalla, your Highness," said he.

"Baba-Abdalla," returned the Caliph, "your way of asking alms yesterday seemed to me so strange, that I
almost commanded you then and there to cease from causing such a public scandal. But I have sent for you to
inquire what was your motive in making such a curious vow. When I know the reason I shall be able to judge
whether you can be permitted to continue to practise it, for I cannot help thinking that it sets a very bad
example to others. Tell me therefore the whole truth, and conceal nothing."

These words troubled the heart of Baba-Abdalla, who prostrated himself at the feet of the Caliph. Then rising,
he answered: "Commander of the Faithful, I crave your pardon humbly, for my persistence in beseeching your
Highness to do an action which appears on the face of it to be without any meaning. No doubt, in the eyes of
men, it has none; but I look on it as a slight expiation for a fearful sin of which I have been guilty, and if your
Highness will deign to listen to my tale, you will see that no punishment could atone for the crime."

Story of the Blind Baba-Abdalla

I was born, Commander of the Faithful, in Bagdad, and was left an orphan while I was yet a very young man,
for my parents died within a few days of each other. I had inherited from them a small fortune, which I
worked hard night and day to increase, till at last I found myself the owner of eighty camels. These I hired out
to travelling merchants, whom I frequently accompanied on their various journeys, and always returned with
large profits.

One day I was coming back from Balsora, whither I had taken a supply of goods, intended for India, and
halted at noon in a lonely place, which promised rich pasture for my camels. I was resting in the shade under a
tree, when a dervish, going on foot towards Balsora, sat down by my side, and I inquired whence he had come
and to what place he was going. We soon made friends, and after we had asked each other the usual questions,
we produced the food we had with us, and satisfied our hunger.

While we were eating, the dervish happened to mention that in a spot only a little way off from where we
were sitting, there was hidden a treasure so great that if my eighty camels were loaded till they could carry no
more, the hiding place would seem as full as if it had never been touched.

At this news I became almost beside myself with joy and greed, and I flung my arms round the neck of the
dervish, exclaiming: "Good dervish, I see plainly that the riches of this world are nothing to you, therefore of
what use is the knowledge of this treasure to you? Alone and on foot, you could carry away a mere handful.
But tell me where it is, and I will load my eighty camels with it, and give you one of them as a token of my

Certainly my offer does not sound very magnificent, but it was great to me, for at his words a wave of
covetousness had swept over my heart, and I almost felt as if the seventy-nine camels that were left were
nothing in comparison.

The dervish saw quite well what was passing in my mind, but he did not show what he thought of my

"My brother," he answered quietly, "you know as well as I do, that you are behaving unjustly. It was open to
me to keep my secret, and to reserve the treasure for myself. But the fact that I have told you of its existence
shows that I had confidence in you, and that I hoped to earn your gratitude for ever, by making your fortune as
well as mine. But before I reveal to you the secret of the treasure, you must swear that, after we have loaded
the camels with as much as they can carry, you will give half to me, and let us go our own ways. I think you
will see that this is fair, for if you present me with forty camels, I on my side will give you the means of
buying a thousand more."

I could not of course deny that what the dervish said was perfectly reasonable, but, in spite of that, the thought
that the dervish would be as rich as I was unbearable to me. Still there was no use in discussing the matter,
and I had to accept his conditions or bewail to the end of my life the loss of immense wealth. So I collected
my camels and we set out together under the guidance of the dervish. After walking some time, we reached
what looked like a valley, but with such a narrow entrance that my camels could only pass one by one. The
little valley, or open space, was shut up by two mountains, whose sides were formed of straight cliffs, which
no human being could climb.

When we were exactly between these mountains the dervish stopped.

"Make your camels lie down in this open space," he said, "so that we can easily load them; then we will go to
the treasure."

I did what I was bid, and rejoined the dervish, whom I found trying to kindle a fire out of some dry wood. As
soon as it was alight, he threw on it a handful of perfumes, and pronounced a few words that I did not
understand, and immediately a thick column of smoke rose high into the air. He separated the smoke into two
columns, and then I saw a rock, which stood like a pillar between the two mountains, slowly open, and a
splendid palace appear within.

But, Commander of the Faithful, the love of gold had taken such possession of my heart, that I could not even
stop to examine the riches, but fell upon the first pile of gold within my reach and began to heap it into a sack

that I had brought with me.

The dervish likewise set to work, but I soon noticed that he confined himself to collecting precious stones, and
I felt I should be wise to follow his example. At length the camels were loaded with as much as they could
carry, and nothing remained but to seal up the treasure, and go our ways.

Before, however, this was done, the dervish went up to a great golden vase, beautifully chased, and took from
it a small wooden box, which he hid in the bosom of his dress, merely saying that it contained a special kind
of ointment. Then he once more kindled the fire, threw on the perfume, and murmured the unknown spell, and
the rock closed, and stood whole as before.

The next thing was to divide the camels, and to charge them with the treasure, after which we each took
command of our own and marched out of the valley, till we reached the place in the high road where the
routes diverge, and then we parted, the dervish going towards Balsora, and I to Bagdad. We embraced each
other tenderly, and I poured out my gratitude for the honour he had done me, in singling me out for this great
wealth, and having said a hearty farewell we turned our backs, and hastened after our camels.

I had hardly come up with mine when the demon of envy filled my soul. "What does a dervish want with
riches like that?" I said to myself. "He alone has the secret of the treasure, and can always get as much as he
wants," and I halted my camels by the roadside, and ran back after him.

I was a quick runner, and it did not take me very long to come up with him. "My brother," I exclaimed, as
soon as I could speak, "almost at the moment of our leave-taking, a reflection occurred to me, which is
perhaps new to you. You are a dervish by profession, and live a very quiet life, only caring to do good, and
careless of the things of this world. You do not realise the burden that you lay upon yourself, when you gather
into your hands such great wealth, besides the fact that no one, who is not accustomed to camels from his
birth, can ever manage the stubborn beasts. If you are wise, you will not encumber yourself with more than
thirty, and you will find those trouble enough."

"You are right," replied the dervish, who understood me quite well, but did not wish to fight the matter. "I
confess I had not thought about it. Choose any ten you like, and drive them before you."

I selected ten of the best camels, and we proceeded along the road, to rejoin those I had left behind. I had got
what I wanted, but I had found the dervish so easy to deal with, that I rather regretted I had not asked for ten
more. I looked back. He had only gone a few paces, and I called after him.

"My brother," I said, "I am unwilling to part from you without pointing out what I think you scarcely grasp,
that large experience of camel-driving is necessary to anybody who intends to keep together a troop of thirty.
In your own interest, I feel sure you would be much happier if you entrusted ten more of them to me, for with
my practice it is all one to me if I take two or a hundred."

As before, the dervish made no difficulties, and I drove off my ten camels in triumph, only leaving him with
twenty for his share. I had now sixty, and anyone might have imagined that I should be content.

But, Commander of the Faithful, there is a proverb that says, "the more one has, the more one wants." So it
was with me. I could not rest as long as one solitary camel remained to the dervish; and returning to him I
redoubled my prayers and embraces, and promises of eternal gratitude, till the last twenty were in my hands.

"Make a good use of them, my brother," said the holy man. "Remember riches sometimes have wings if we
keep them for ourselves, and the poor are at our gates expressly that we may help them."

My eyes were so blinded by gold, that I paid no heed to his wise counsel, and only looked about for


something else to grasp. Suddenly I remembered the little box of ointment that the dervish had hidden, and
which most likely contained a treasure more precious than all the rest. Giving him one last embrace, I
observed accidentally, "What are you going to do with that little box of ointment? It seems hardly worth
taking with you; you might as well let me have it. And really, a dervish who has given up the world has no
need of ointment!"

Oh, if he had only refused my request! But then, supposing he had, I should have got possession of it by force,
so great was the madness that had laid hold upon me. However, far from refusing it, the dervish at once held it
out, saying gracefully, "Take it, my friend, and if there is anything else I can do to make you happy you must
let me know."

Directly the box was in my hands I wrenched off the cover. "As you are so kind," I said, "tell me, I pray you,
what are the virtues of this ointment?"

"They are most curious and interesting," replied the dervish. "If you apply a little of it to your left eye you will
behold in an instant all the treasures hidden in the bowels of the earth. But beware lest you touch your right
eye with it, or your sight will be destroyed for ever."

His words excited my curiosity to the highest pitch. "Make trial on me, I implore you," I cried, holding out the
box to the dervish. "You will know how to do it better than I! I am burning with impatience to test its

The dervish took the box I had extended to him, and, bidding me shut my left eye, touched it gently with the
ointment. When I opened it again I saw spread out, as it were before me, treasures of every kind and without
number. But as all this time I had been obliged to keep my right eye closed, which was very fatiguing, I
begged the dervish to apply the ointment to that eye also.

"If you insist upon it I will do it," answered the dervish, "but you must remember what I told you just
now--that if it touches your right eye you will become blind on the spot."

Unluckily, in spite of my having proved the truth of the dervish's words in so many instances, I was firmly
convinced that he was now keeping concealed from me some hidden and precious virtue of the ointment. So I
turned a deaf ear to all he said.

"My brother," I replied smiling, "I see you are joking. It is not natural that the same ointment should have two
such exactly opposite effects."

"It is true all the same," answered the dervish, "and it would be well for you if you believed my word."

But I would not believe, and, dazzled by the greed of avarice, I thought that if one eye could show me riches,
the other might teach me how to get possession of them. And I continued to press the dervish to anoint my
right eye, but this he resolutely declined to do.

"After having conferred such benefits on you," said he, "I am loth indeed to work you such evil. Think what it
is to be blind, and do not force me to do what you will repent as long as you live."

It was of no use. "My brother," I said firmly, "pray say no more, but do what I ask. You have most generously
responded to my wishes up to this time, do not spoil my recollection of you for a thing of such little
consequence. Let what will happen I take it on my own head, and will never reproach you."

"Since you are determined upon it," he answered with a sigh, "there is no use talking," and taking the ointment
he laid some on my right eye, which was tight shut. When I tried to open it heavy clouds of darkness floated

before me. I was as blind as you see me now!

"Miserable dervish!" I shrieked, "so it is true after all! Into what a bottomless pit has my lust after gold
plunged me. Ah, now that my eyes are closed they are really opened. I know that all my sufferings are caused
by myself alone! But, good brother, you, who are so kind and charitable, and know the secrets of such vast
learning, have you nothing that will give me back my sight?"

"Unhappy man," replied the dervish, "it is not my fault that this has befallen you, but it is a just chastisement.
The blindness of your heart has wrought the blindness of your body. Yes, I have secrets; that you have seen in
the short time that we have known each other. But I have none that will give you back your sight. You have
proved yourself unworthy of the riches that were given you. Now they have passed into my hands, whence
they will flow into the hands of others less greedy and ungrateful than you."

The dervish said no more and left me, speechless with shame and confusion, and so wretched that I stood
rooted to the spot, while he collected the eighty camels and proceeded on his way to Balsora. It was in vain
that I entreated him not to leave me, but at least to take me within reach of the first passing caravan. He was
deaf to my prayers and cries, and I should soon have been dead of hunger and misery if some merchants had
not come along the track the following day and kindly brought me back to Bagdad.

From a rich man I had in one moment become a beggar; and up to this time I have lived solely on the alms
that have been bestowed on me. But, in order to expiate the sin of avarice, which was my undoing, I oblige
each passer-by to give me a blow.

This, Commander of the Faithful, is my story.

When the blind man had ended the Caliph addressed him: "Baba-Abdalla, truly your sin is great, but you have
suffered enough. Henceforth repent in private, for I will see that enough money is given you day by day for all
your wants."

At these words Baba-Abdalla flung himself at the Caliph's feet, and prayed that honour and happiness might
be his portion for ever.

The Story of Sidi-Nouman

The Caliph, Haroun-al-Raschid, was much pleased with the tale of the blind man and the dervish, and when it
was finished he turned to the young man who had ill-treated his horse, and inquired his name also. The young
man replied that he was called Sidi-Nouman.

"Sidi-Nouman," observed the Caliph, "I have seen horses broken all my life long, and have even broken them
myself, but I have never seen any horse broken in such a barbarous manner as by you yesterday. Every one
who looked on was indignant, and blamed you loudly. As for myself, I was so angry that I was very nearly
disclosing who I was, and putting a stop to it at once. Still, you have not the air of a cruel man, and I would
gladly believe that you did not act in this way without some reason. As I am told that it was not the first time,
and indeed that every day you are to be seen flogging and spurring your horse, I wish to come to the bottom of
the matter. But tell me the whole truth, and conceal nothing."

Sidi-Nouman changed colour as he heard these words, and his manner grew confused; but he saw plainly that
there was no help for it. So he prostrated himself before the throne of the Caliph and tried to obey, but the
words stuck in his throat, and he remained silent.

The Caliph, accustomed though he was to instant obedience, guessed something of what was passing in the
young man's mind, and sought to put him at his ease. "Sidi-Nouman," he said, "do not think of me as the


Caliph, but merely as a friend who would like to hear your story. If there is anything in it that you are afraid
may offend me, take courage, for I pardon you beforehand. Speak then openly and without fear, as to one who
knows and loves you."

Reassured by the kindness of the Caliph, Sidi-Nouman at length began his tale.

"Commander of the Faithful," said he, "dazzled though I am by the lustre of your Highness' presence, I will do
my best to satisfy your wishes. I am by no means perfect, but I am not naturally cruel, neither do I take
pleasure in breaking the law. I admit that the treatment of my horse is calculated to give your Highness a bad
opinion of me, and to set an evil example to others; yet I have not chastised it without reason, and I have
hopes that I shall be judged more worthy of pity than punishment."

Commander of the Faithful, I will not trouble to describe my birth; it is not of sufficient distinction to deserve
your Highness' attention. My ancestors were careful people, and I inherited enough money to enable me to
live comfortably, though without show.

Having therefore a modest fortune, the only thing wanting to my happiness was a wife who could return my
affection, but this blessing I was not destined to get; for on the very day after my marriage, my bride began to
try my patience in every way that was most hard to bear.

Now, seeing that the customs of our land oblige us to marry without ever beholding the person with whom we
are to pass our lives, a man has of course no right to complain as long as his wife is not absolutely repulsive,
or is not positively deformed. And whatever defects her body may have, pleasant ways and good behaviour
will go far to remedy them.

The first time I saw my wife unveiled, when she had been brought to my house with the usual ceremonies, I
was enchanted to find that I had not been deceived in regard to the account that had been given me of her
beauty. I began my married life in high spirits, and the best hopes of happiness.

The following day a grand dinner was served to us but as my wife did not appear, I ordered a servant to call
her. Still she did not come, and I waited impatiently for some time. At last she entered the room, and she took
our places at the table, and plates of rice were set before us.

I ate mine, as was natural, with a spoon, but great was my surprise to notice that my wife, instead of doing the
same, drew from her pocket a little case, from which she selected a long pin, and by the help of this pin
conveyed her rice grain by grain to her mouth.

"Amina," I exclaimed in astonishment, "is that the way you eat rice at home? And did you do it because your
appetite was so small, or did you wish to count the grains so that you might never eat more than a certain
number? If it was from economy, and you are anxious to teach me not to be wasteful, you have no cause for
alarm. We shall never ruin ourselves in that way! Our fortune is large enough for all our needs, therefore, dear
Amina, do not seek to check yourself, but eat as much as you desire, as I do!"

In reply to my affectionate words, I expected a cheerful answer; yet Amina said nothing at all, but continued
to pick her rice as before, only at longer and longer intervals. And, instead of trying the other dishes, all she
did was to put every now and then a crumb, of bread into her mouth, that would not have made a meal for a

I felt provoked by her obstinacy, but to excuse her to myself as far as I could, I suggested that perhaps she had
never been used to eat in the company of men, and that her family might have taught her that she ought to
behave prudently and discreetly in the presence of her husband. Likewise that she might either have dined
already or intend to do so in her own apartments. So I took no further notice, and when I had finished left the

room, secretly much vexed at her strange conduct.

The same thing occurred at supper, and all through the next day, whenever we ate together. It was quite clear
that no woman could live upon two or three bread-crumbs and a few grains of rice, and I determined to find
out how and when she got food. I pretended not to pay attention to anything she did, in the hope that little by
little she would get accustomed to me, and become more friendly; but I soon saw that my expectations were
quite vain.

One night I was lying with my eyes closed, and to, all appearance sound asleep, when Amina arose softly, and
dressed herself without making the slightest sound. I could not imagine what she was going to do, and as my
curiosity was great I made up my mind to follow her. When she was fully dressed, she stole quietly from the

The instant she had let the curtain fall behind her, I flung a garment on my shoulders and a pair of slippers on
my feet. Looking from a lattice which opened into the court, I saw her in the act of passing through the street
door, which she carefully left open.

It was bright moonlight, so I easily managed to keep her in sight, till she entered a cemetery not far from the
house. There I hid myself under the shadow of the wall, and crouched down cautiously; and hardly was I
concealed, when I saw my wife approaching in company with a ghoul--one of those demons which, as your
Highness is aware, wander about the country making their lairs in deserted buildings and springing out upon
unwary travellers whose flesh they eat. If no live being goes their way, they then betake themselves to the
cemeteries, and feed upon the dead bodies.

I was nearly struck dumb with horror on seeing my wife with this hideous female ghoul. They passed by me
without noticing me, began to dig up a corpse which had been buried that day, and then sat down on the edge
of the grave, to enjoy their frightful repast, talking quietly and cheerfully all the while, though I was too far
off to hear what they said. When they had finished, they threw back the body into the grave, and heaped back
the earth upon it. I made no effort to disturb them, and returned quickly to the house, when I took care to leave
the door open, as I had previously found it. Then I got back into bed, and pretended to sleep soundly.

A short time after Amina entered as quietly as she had gone out. She undressed and stole into bed,
congratulating herself apparently on the cleverness with which she had managed her expedition.

As may be guessed, after such a scene it was long before I could close my eyes, and at the first sound which
called the faithful to prayer, I put on my clothes and went to the mosque. But even prayer did not restore
peace to my troubled spirit, and I could not face my wife until I had made up my mind what future course I
should pursue in regard to her. I therefore spent the morning roaming about from one garden to another,
turning over various plans for compelling my wife to give up her horrible ways; I thought of using violence to
make her submit, but felt reluctant to be unkind to her. Besides, I had an instinct that gentle means had the
best chance of success; so, a little soothed, I turned towards home, which I reached about the hour of dinner.

As soon as I appeared, Amina ordered dinner to be served, and we sat down together. As usual, she persisted
in only picking a few grains of rice, and I resolved to speak to her at once of what lay so heavily on my heart.

"Amina," I said, as quietly as possible, "you must have guessed the surprise I felt, when the day after our
marriage you declined to eat anything but a few morsels of rice, and altogether behaved in such a manner that
most husbands would have been deeply wounded. However I had patience with you, and only tried to tempt
your appetite by the choicest dishes I could invent, but all to no purpose. Still, Amina, it seems to me that
there be some among them as sweet to the taste as the flesh of a corpse?"

I had no sooner uttered these words than Amina, who instantly understood that I had followed her to the

grave-yard, was seized with a passion beyond any that I have ever witnessed. Her face became purple, her
eyes looked as if they would start from her head, and she positively foamed with rage.

I watched her with terror, wondering what would happen next, but little thinking what would be the end of her
fury. She seized a vessel of water that stood at hand, and plunging her hand in it, murmured some words I
failed to catch. Then, sprinkling it on my face, she cried madly:

"Wretch, receive the reward of your prying, and become a dog."

The words were not out of her mouth when, without feeling conscious that any change was passing over me, I
suddenly knew that I had ceased to be a man. In the greatness of the shock and surprise--for I had no idea that
Amina was a magician--I never dreamed of running away, and stood rooted to the spot, while Amina grasped
a stick and began to beat me. Indeed her blows were so heavy, that I only wonder they did not kill me at once.
However they succeeded in rousing me from my stupor, and I dashed into the court-yard, followed closely by
Amina, who made frantic dives at me, which I was not quick enough to dodge. At last she got tired of
pursuing me, or else a new trick entered into her head, which would give me speedy and painful death; she
opened the gate leading into the street, intending to crush me as I passed through. Dog though I was, I saw
through her design, and stung into presence of mind by the greatness of the danger, I timed my movements so
well that I contrived to rush through, and only the tip of my tail received a squeeze as she banged the gate.

I was safe, but my tail hurt me horribly, and I yelped and howled so loud all along the streets, that the other
dogs came and attacked me, which made matters no better. In order to avoid them, I took refuge in a
cookshop, where tongues and sheep's heads were sold.

At first the owner showed me great kindness, and drove away the other dogs that were still at my heels, while
I crept into the darkest corner. But though I was safe for the moment, I was not destined to remain long under
his protection, for he was one of those who hold all dogs to be unclean, and that all the washing in the world
will hardly purify you from their contact. So after my enemies had gone to seek other prey, he tried to lure me
from my corner in order to force me into the street. But I refused to come out of my hole, and spent the night
in sleep, which I sorely needed, after the pain inflicted on me by Amina.

I have no wish to weary your Highness by dwelling on the sad thoughts which accompanied my change of
shape, but it may interest you to hear that the next morning my host went out early to do his marketing, and
returned laden with the sheep's heads, and tongues and trotters that formed his stock in trade for the day. The
smell of meat attracted various hungry dogs in the neighbourhood, and they gathered round the door begging
for some bits. I stole out of my corner, and stood with them.

In spite of his objection to dogs, as unclean animals, my protector was a kind-hearted man, and knowing I had
eaten nothing since yesterday, he threw me bigger and better bits than those which fell to the share of the
other dogs. When I had finished, I tried to go back into the shop, but this he would not allow, and stood so
firmly at the entrance with a stout stick, that I was forced to give it up, and seek some other home.

A few paces further on was a baker's shop, which seemed to have a gay and merry man for a master. At that
moment he was having his breakfast, and though I gave no signs of hunger, he at once threw me a piece of
bread. Before gobbling it up, as most dogs are in the habit of doing, I bowed my head and wagged my tail, in
token of thanks, and he understood, and smiled pleasantly. I really did not want the bread at all, but felt it
would be ungracious to refuse, so I ate it slowly, in order that he might see that I only did it out of politeness.
He understood this also, and seemed quite willing to let me stay in his shop, so I sat down, with my face to the
door, to show that I only asked his protection. This he gave me, and indeed encouraged me to come into the
house itself, giving me a corner where I might sleep, without being in anybody's way.

The kindness heaped on me by this excellent man was far greater than I could ever have expected. He was


always affectionate in his manner of treating me, and I shared his breakfast, dinner and supper, while, on my
side, I gave him all the gratitude and attachment to which he had a right.

I sat with my eyes fixed on him, and he never left the house without having me at his heels; and if it ever
happened that when he was preparing to go out I was asleep, and did not notice, he would call "Rufus, Rufus,"
for that was the name he gave me.

Some weeks passed in this way, when one day a woman came in to buy bread. In paying for it, she laid down
several pieces of money, one of which was bad. The baker perceived this, and declined to take it, demanding
another in its place. The woman, for her part, refused to take it back, declaring it was perfectly good, but the
baker would have nothing to do with it. "It is really such a bad imitation," he exclaimed at last, "that even my
dog would not be taken in. Here Rufus! Rufus!" and hearing his voice, I jumped on to the counter. The baker
threw down the money before me, and said, "Find out if there is a bad coin." I looked at each in turn, and then
laid my paw on the false one, glancing at the same time at my master, so as to point it out.

The baker, who had of course been only in joke, was exceedingly surprised at my cleverness, and the woman,
who was at last convinced that the man spoke the truth, produced another piece of money in its place. When
she had gone, my master was so pleased that he told all the neighbours what I had done, and made a great deal
more of it than there really was.

The neighbours, very naturally, declined to believe his story, and tried me several times with all the bad
money they could collect together, but I never failed to stand the test triumphantly.

Soon, the shop was filled from morning till night, with people who on the pretence of buying bread came to
see if I was as clever as I was reported to be. The baker drove a roaring trade, and admitted that I was worth
my weight in gold to him.

Of course there were plenty who envied him his large custom, and many was the pitfall set for me, so that he
never dared to let me out of his sight. One day a woman, who had not been in the shop before, came to ask for
bread, like the rest. As usual, I was lying on the counter, and she threw down six coins before me, one of
which was false. I detected it at once, and put my paw on it, looking as I did so at the woman. "Yes," she said,
nodding her head. "You are quite right, that is the one." She stood gazing at me attentively for some time, then
paid for the bread, and left the shop, making a sign for me to follow her secretly.

Now my thoughts were always running on some means of shaking off the spell laid on me, and noticing the
way in which this woman had looked at me, the idea entered my head that perhaps she might have guessed
what had happened, and in this I was not deceived. However I let her go on a little way, and merely stood at
the door watching her. She turned, and seeing that I was quite still, she again beckoned to me.

The baker all this while was busy with his oven, and had forgotten all about me, so I stole out softly, and ran
after the woman.

When we came to her house, which was some distance off, she opened the door and then said to me, "Come
in, come in; you will never be sorry that you followed me." When I had entered she fastened the door, and
took me into a large room, where a beautiful girl was working at a piece of embroidery. "My daughter,"
exclaimed my guide, "I have brought you the famous dog belonging to the baker which can tell good money
from bad. You know that when I first heard of him, I told you I was sure he must be really a man, changed
into a dog by magic. To-day I went to the baker's, to prove for myself the truth of the story, and persuaded the
dog to follow me here. Now what do you say?"

"You are right, mother," replied the girl, and rising she dipped her hand into a vessel of water. Then sprinkling
it over me she said, "If you were born dog, remain dog; but if you were born man, by virtue of this water

resume your proper form." In one moment the spell was broken. The dog's shape vanished as if it had never
been, and it was a man who stood before her.

Overcome with gratitude at my deliverance, I flung myself at her feet, and kissed the hem of her garment.
"How can I thank you for your goodness towards a stranger, and for what you have done? Henceforth I am
your slave. Deal with me as you will!"

Then, in order to explain how I came to be changed into a dog, I told her my whole story, and finished with
rendering the mother the thanks due to her for the happiness she had brought me.

"Sidi-Nouman," returned the daughter, "say no more about the obligation you are under to us. The knowledge
that we have been of service to you is ample payment. Let us speak of Amina, your wife, with whom I was
acquainted before her marriage. I was aware that she was a magician, and she knew too that I had studied the
same art, under the same mistress. We met often going to the same baths, but we did not like each other, and
never sought to become friends. As to what concerns you, it is not enough to have broken your spell, she must
be punished for her wickedness. Remain for a moment with my mother, I beg," she added hastily, "I will
return shortly."

Left alone with the mother, I again expressed the gratitude I felt, to her as well as to her daughter.

"My daughter," she answered, "is, as you see, as accomplished a magician as Amina herself, but you would be
astonished at the amount of good she does by her knowledge. That is why I have never interfered, otherwise I
should have put a stop to it long ago." As she spoke, her daughter entered with a small bottle in her hand.

"Sidi-Nouman," she said, "the books I have just consulted tell me that Amina is not home at present, but she
should return at any moment. I have likewise found out by their means, that she pretends before the servants
great uneasiness as to your absence. She has circulated a story that, while at dinner with her, you remembered
some important business that had to be done at once, and left the house without shutting the door. By this
means a dog had strayed in, which she was forced to get rid of by a stick. Go home then without delay, and
await Amina's return in your room. When she comes in, go down to meet her, and in her surprise, she will try
to run away. Then have this bottle ready, and dash the water it contains over her, saying boldly, "Receive the
reward of your crimes." That is all I have to tell you."

Everything happened exactly as the young magician had foretold. I had not been in my house many minutes
before Amina returned, and as she approached I stepped in front of her, with the water in my hand. She gave
one loud cry, and turned to the door, but she was too late. I had already dashed the water in her face and
spoken the magic words. Amina disappeared, and in her place stood the horse you saw me beating yesterday.

This, Commander of the Faithful, is my story, and may I venture to hope that, now you have heard the reason
of my conduct, your Highness will not think this wicked woman too harshly treated?

"Sidi-Nouman," replied the Caliph, "your story is indeed a strange one, and there is no excuse to be offered
for your wife. But, without condemning your treatment of her, I wish you to reflect how much she must suffer
from being changed into an animal, and I hope you will let that punishment be enough. I do not order you to
insist upon the young magician finding the means to restore your wife to her human shape, because I know
that when once women such as she begin to work evil they never leave off, and I should only bring down on
your head a vengeance far worse than the one you have undergone already."

Story of Ali Colia, Merchant of Bagdad

In the reign of Haroun-al-Raschid, there lived in Bagdad a merchant named Ali Cogia, who, having neither
wife nor child, contented himself with the modest profits produced by his trade. He had spent some years


quite happily in the house his father had left him, when three nights running he dreamed that an old man had
appeared to him, and reproached him for having neglected the duty of a good Mussulman, in delaying so long
his pilgrimage to Mecca.

Ali Cogia was much troubled by this dream, as he was unwilling to give up his shop, and lose all his
customers. He had shut his eyes for some time to the necessity of performing this pilgrimage, and tried to
atone to his conscience by an extra number of good works, but the dream seemed to him a direct warning, and
he resolved to put the journey off no longer.

The first thing he did was to sell his furniture and the wares he had in his shop, only reserving to himself such
goods as he might trade with on the road. The shop itself he sold also, and easily found a tenant for his private
house. The only matter he could not settle satisfactorily was the safe custody of a thousand pieces of gold
which he wished to leave behind him.

After some thought, Ali Cogia hit upon a plan which seemed a safe one. He took a large vase, and placing the
money in the bottom of it, filled up the rest with olives. After corking the vase tightly down, he carried it to
one of his friends, a merchant like himself, and said to him:

"My brother, you have probably heard that I am staffing with a caravan in a few days for Mecca. I have come
to ask whether you would do me the favour to keep this vase of olives for me till I come back?"

The merchant replied readily, "Look, this is the key of my shop: take it, and put the vase wherever you like. I
promise that you shall find it in the same place on your return."

A few days later, Ali Cogia mounted the camel that he had laden with merchandise, joined the caravan, and
arrived in due time at Mecca. Like the other pilgrims he visited the sacred Mosque, and after all his religious
duties were performed, he set out his goods to the best advantage, hoping to gain some customers among the

Very soon two merchants stopped before the pile, and when they had turned it over, one said to the other:

"If this man was wise he would take these things to Cairo, where he would get a much better price than he is
likely to do here."

Ali Cogia heard the words, and lost no time in following the advice. He packed up his wares, and instead of
returning to Bagdad, joined a caravan that was going to Cairo. The results of the journey gladdened his heart.
He sold off everything almost directly, and bought a stock of Egyptian curiosities, which he intended selling
at Damascus; but as the caravan with which he would have to travel would not be starting for another six
weeks, he took advantage of the delay to visit the Pyramids, and some of the cities along the banks of the Nile.

Now the attractions of Damascus so fascinated the worthy Ali, that he could hardly tear himself away, but at
length he remembered that he had a home in Bagdad, meaning to return by way of Aleppo, and after he had
crossed the Euphrates, to follow the course of the Tigris.

But when he reached Mossoul, Ali had made such friends with some Persian merchants, that they persuaded
him to accompany them to their native land, and even as far as India, and so it came to pass that seven years
had slipped by since he had left Bagdad, and during all that time the friend with whom he had left the vase of
olives had never once thought of him or of it. In fact, it was only a month before Ali Cogia's actual return that
the affair came into his head at all, owing to his wife's remarking one day, that it was a long time since she
had eaten any olives, and would like some.

"That reminds me," said the husband, "that before Ali Cogia went to Mecca seven years ago, he left a vase of


olives in my care. But really by this time he must be dead, and there is no reason we should not eat the olives
if we like. Give me a light, and I will fetch them and see how they taste."

"My husband," answered the wife, "beware, I pray, of your doing anything so base! Supposing seven years
have passed without news of Ali Cogia, he need not be dead for all that, and may come back any day. How
shameful it would be to have to confess that you had betrayed your trust and broken the seal of the vase! Pay
no attention to my idle words, I really have no desire for olives now. And probably after all this while they are
no longer good. I have a presentiment that Ali Cogia will return, and what will he think of you? Give it up, I

The merchant, however, refused to listen to her advice, sensible though it was. He took a light and a dish and
went into his shop.

"If you will be so obstinate," said his wife, "I cannot help it; but do not blame me if it turns out ill."

When the merchant opened the vase he found the topmost olives were rotten, and in order to see if the under
ones were in better condition he shook some ont into the dish. As they fell out a few of the gold pieces fell out

The sight of the money roused all the merchant's greed. He looked into the vase, and saw that all the bottom
was filled with gold. He then replaced the olives and returned to his wife.

"My wife," he said, as he entered the room, "you were quite right; the olives are rotten, and I have recorked
the vase so well that Ali Cogia will never know it has been touched."

"You would have done better to believe me," replied the wife. "I trust that no harm will come of it."

These words made no more impression on the merchant than the others had done; and he spent the whole
night in wondering how he could manage to keep the gold if Ali Cogia should come back and claim his vase.
Very early next morning he went out and bought fresh new olives; he then threw away the old ones, took out
the gold and hid it, and filled up the vase with the olives he had bought. This done he recorked the vase and
put it in the same place where it had been left by Ali Cogia.

A month later Ali Cogia re-entered Bagdad, and as his house was still let he went to an inn; and the following
day set out to see his friend the merchant, who received him with open arms and many expressions of
surprise. After a few moments given to inquiries Ali Cogia begged the merchant to hand him over the vase
that he had taken care of for so long.

"Oh certainly," said he, "I am only glad I could be of use to you in the matter. Here is the key of my shop; you
will find the vase in the place where you put it."

Ali Cogia fetched his vase and carried it to his room at the inn, where he opened it. He thrust down his hand
but could feel no money, but still was persuaded it must be there. So he got some plates and vessels from his
travelling kit and emptied ont the olives. To no purpose. The gold was not there. The poor man was dumb
with horror, then, lifting up his hands, he exclaimed, "Can my old friend really have committed such a

In great haste he went back to the house of the merchant. "My friend," he cried, "you will be astonished to see
me again, but I can find nowhere in this vase a thousand pieces of gold that I placed in the bottom under the
olives. Perhaps you may have taken a loan of them for your business purposes; if that is so you are most
welcome. I will only ask you to give me a receipt, and you can pay the money at your leisure."


The merchant, who had expected something of the sort, had his reply all ready. "Ali Cogia," he said, "when
you brought me the vase of olives did I ever touch it?"

"I gave you the key of my shop and you put it yourself where you liked, and did you not find it in exactly the
same spot and in the same state? If you placed any gold in it, it must be there still. I know nothing about that;
you only told me there were olives. You can believe me or not, but I have not laid a finger on the vase."

Ali Cogia still tried every means to persuade the merchant to admit the truth. "I love peace," he said, "and
shall deeply regret having to resort to harsh measures. Once more, think of your reputation. I shall be in
despair if you oblige me to call in the aid of the law."

"Ali Cogia," answered the merchant, "you allow that it was a vase of olives you placed in my charge. You
fetched it and removed it yourself, and now you tell me it contained a thousand pieces of gold, and that I must
restore them to you! Did you ever say anything about them before? Why, I did not even know that the vase
had olives in it! Yon never showed them to me. I wonder you have not demanded pearls or diamonds. Retire, I
pray you, lest a crowd should gather in front of my shop."

By this time not only the casual passers-by, but also the neighbouring merchants, were standing round,
listening to the dispute, and trying every now and then to smooth matters between them. But at the merchant's
last words Ali Cogia resolved to lay the cause of the quarrel before them, and told them the whole story. They
heard him to the end, and inquired of the merchant what he had to say.

The accused man admitted that he had kept Ali Cogia's vase in his shop; but he denied having touched it, and
swore that as to what it contained he only knew what Ali Cogia had told him, and called them all to witness
the insult that had been put upon him.

"You have brought it on yourself," said Ali Cogia, taking him by the arm, "and as you appeal to the law, the
law you shall have! Let us see if you will dare to repeat your story before the Cadi."

Now as a good Mussulman the merchant was forbidden to refuse this choice of a judge, so he accepted the
test, and said to Ali Cogia, "Very well; I should like nothing better. We shall soon see which of us is in the

So the two men presented themselves before the Cadi, and Ali Cogia again repeated his tale. The Cadi asked
what witnesses he had. Ali Cogia replied that he had not taken this precaution, as he had considered the man
his friend, and up to that time had always found him honest.

The merchant, on his side, stuck to his story, and offered to swear solemnly that not only had he never stolen
the thousand gold pieces, but that he did not even know they were there. The Cadi allowed him to take the
oath, and pronounced him innocent.

Ali Cogia, furious at having to suffer such a loss, protested against the verdict, declaring that he would appeal
to the Caliph, Haroun-al-Raschid, himself. But the Cadi paid no attention to his threats, and was quite satisfied
that he had done what was right.

Judgment being given the merchant returned home triumphant, and Ali Cogia went back to his inn to draw up
a petition to the Caliph. The next morning he placed himself on the road along which the Caliph must pass
after mid-day prayer, and stretched out his petition to the officer who walked before the Caliph, whose duty it
was to collect such things, and on entering the palace to hand them to his master. There Haroun-al-Raschid
studied them carefully.

Knowing this custom, Ali Cogia followed the Caliph into the public hall of the palace, and waited the result.


After some time the officer appeared, and told him that the Caliph had read his petition, and had appointed an
hour the next morning to give him audience. He then inquired the merchant's address, so that he might be
summoned to attend also.

That very evening, the Caliph, with his grand-vizir Giafar, and Mesrour, chief of the eunuchs, all three
disguised, as was their habit, went out to take a stroll through the town.

Going down one street, the Caliph's attention was attracted by a noise, and looking through a door which
opened into a court he perceived ten or twelve children playing in the moonlight. He hid himself in a dark
corner, and watched them.

"Let us play at being the Cadi," said the brightest and quickest of them all; "I will be the Cadi. Bring before
me Ali Cogia, and the merchant who robbed him of the thousand pieces of gold."

The boy's words recalled to the Caliph the petition he had read that morning, and he waited with interest to see
what the children would do.

The proposal was hailed with joy by the other children, who had heard a great deal of talk about the matter,
and they quickly settled the part each one was to play. The Cadi took his seat gravely, and an officer
introduced first Ali Cogia, the plaintiff, and then the merchant who was the defendant.

Ali Cogia made a low bow, and pleaded his cause point by point; concluding by imploring the Cadi not to
inflict on him such a heavy loss.

The Cadi having heard his case, turned to the merchant, and inquired why he had not repaid Ali Cogia the sum
in question.

The false merchant repeated the reasons that the real merchant had given to the Cadi of Bagdad, and also
offered to swear that he had told the truth.

"Stop a moment!" said the little Cadi, "before we come to oaths, I should like to examine the vase with the
olives. Ali Cogia," he added, "have you got the vase with you?" and finding he had not, the Cadi continued,
"Go and get it, and bring it to me."

So Ali Cogia disappeared for an instant, and then pretended to lay a vase at the feet of the Cadi, declaring it
was his vase, which he had given to the accused for safe custody; and in order to be quite correct, the Cadi
asked the merchant if he recognised it as the same vase. By his silence the merchant admitted the fact, and the
Cadi then commanded to have the vase opened. Ali Cogia made a movement as if he was taking off the lid,
and the little Cadi on his part made a pretence of peering into a vase.

"What beautiful olives!" he said, "I should like to taste one," and pretending to put one in his mouth, he added,
"they are really excellent!

"But," he went on, "it seems to me odd that olives seven years old should be as good as that! Send for some
dealers in olives, and let us hear what they say!"

Two children were presented to him as olive merchants, and the Cadi addressed them. "Tell me," he said,
"how long can olives be kept so as to be pleasant eating?"

"My lord," replied the merchants, "however much care is taken to preserve them, they never last beyond the
third year. They lose both taste and colour, and are only fit to be thrown away."


"If that is so," answered the little Cadi, "examine this vase, and tell me how long the olives have been in it."

The olive merchants pretended to examine the olives and taste them; then reported to the Cadi that they were
fresh and good.

"You are mistaken," said he, "Ali Cogia declares he put them in that vase seven years ago."

"My lord," returned the olive merchants, "we can assure you that the olives are those of the present year. And
if you consult all the merchants in Bagdad you will not find one to give a contrary opinion."

The accused merchant opened his mouth as if to protest, but the Cadi gave him no time. "Be silent," he said,
"you are a thief. Take him away and hang him." So the game ended, the children clapping their hands in
applause, and leading the criminal away to be hanged.

Haroun-al-Raschid was lost in astonishment at the wisdom of the child, who had given so wise a verdict on
the case which he himself was to hear on the morrow. "Is there any other verdict possible?" he asked the
grand-vizir, who was as much impressed as himself. "I can imagine no better judgment."

"If the circumstances are really such as we have heard," replied the grand-vizir, "it seems to me your Highness
could only follow the example of this boy, in the method of reasoning, and also in your conclusions."

"Then take careful note of this house," said the Caliph, "and bring me the boy to-morrow, so that the affair
may be tried by him in my presence. Summon also the Cadi, to learn his duty from the mouth of a child. Bid
Ali Cogia bring his vase of olives, and see that two dealers in olives are present." So saying the Caliph
returned to the palace.

The next morning early, the grand-vizir went back to the house where they had seen the children playing, and
asked for the mistress and her children. Three boys appeared, and the grand-vizir inquired which had
represented the Cadi in their game of the previous evening. The eldest and tallest, changing colour, confessed
that it was he, and to his mother's great alarm, the grand-vizir said that he had strict orders to bring him into
the presence of the Caliph.

"Does he want to take my son from me?" cried the poor woman; but the grand-vizir hastened to calm her, by
assuring her that she should have the boy again in an hour, and she would be quite satisfied when she knew
the reason of the summons. So she dressed the boy in his best clothes, and the two left the house.

When the grand-vizir presented the child to the Caliph, he was a little awed and confused, and the Caliph
proceeded to explain why he had sent for him. "Approach, my son," he said kindly. "I think it was you who
judged the case of Ali Cogia and the merchant last night? I overheard you by chance, and was very pleased
with the way you conducted it. To-day you will see the real Ali Cogia and the real merchant. Seat yourself at
once next to me."

The Caliph being seated on his throne with the boy next him, the parties to the suit were ushered in. One by
one they prostrated themselves, and touched the carpet at the foot of the throne with their foreheads. When
they rose up, the Caliph said: "Now speak. This child will give you justice, and if more should be wanted I
will see to it myself."

Ali Cogia and the merchant pleaded one after the other, but when the merchant offered to swear the same oath
that he had taken before the Cadi, he was stopped by the child, who said that before this was done he must
first see the vase of olives.

At these words, Ali Cogia presented the vase to the Caliph, and uncovered it. The Caliph took one of the

olives, tasted it, and ordered the expert merchants to do the same. They pronounced the olives good, and fresh
that year. The boy informed them that Ali Cogia declared it was seven years since he had placed them in the
vase; to which they returned the same answer as the children had done.

The accused merchant saw by this time that his condemnation was certain, and tried to allege something in his
defence. The boy had too much sense to order him to be hanged, and looked at the Caliph, saying,
"Commander of the Faithful, this is not a game now; it is for your Highness to condemn him to death and not
for me."

Then the Caliph, convinced that the man was a thief, bade them take him away and hang him, which was
done, but not before he had confessed his guilt and the place in which he had hidden Ali Cogia's money. The
Caliph ordered the Cadi to learn how to deal out justice from the mouth of a child, and sent the boy home,
with a purse containing a hundred pieces of gold as a mark of his favour.

The Enchanted Horse

It was the Feast of the New Year, the oldest and most splendid of all the feasts in the Kingdom of Persia, and
the day had been spent by the king in the city of Schiraz, taking part in the magnificent spectacles prepared by
his subjects to do honour to the festival. The sun was setting, and the monarch was about to give his court the
signal to retire, when suddenly an Indian appeared before his throne, leading a horse richly harnessed, and
looking in every respect exactly like a real one.

"Sire," said he, prostrating himself as he spoke, "although I make my appearance so late before your
Highness, I can confidently assure you that none of the wonders you have seen during the day can be
compared to this horse, if you will deign to cast your eyes upon him."

"I see nothing in it," replied the king, "except a clever imitation of a real one; and any skilled workman might
do as much."

"Sire," returned the Indian, "it is not of his outward form that I would speak, but of the use that I can make of
him. I have only to mount him, and to wish myself in some special place, and no matter how distant it may be,
in a very few moments I shall find myself there. It is this, Sire, that makes the horse so marvellous, and if your
Highness will allow me, you can prove it for yourself."

The King of Persia, who was interested in every thing out of the common, and had never before come across a
horse with such qualities, bade the Indian mount the animal, and show what he could do. In an instant the man
had vaulted on his back, and inquired where the monarch wished to send him.

"Do you see that mountain?" asked the king, pointing to a huge mass that towered into the sky about three
leagues from Schiraz; "go and bring me the leaf of a palm that grows at the foot."

The words were hardly out of the king's mouth when the Indian turned a screw placed in the horse's neck,
close to the saddle, and the animal bounded like lightning up into the air, and was soon beyond the sight even
of the sharpest eyes. In a quarter of an hour the Indian was seen returning, bearing in his hand the palm, and,
guiding his horse to the foot of the throne, he dismounted, and laid the leaf before the king.

Now the monarch had no sooner proved the astonishing speed of which the horse was capable than he longed
to possess it himself, and indeed, so sure was he that the Indian would be quite ready to sell it, that he looked
upon it as his own already.

"I never guessed from his mere outside how valuable an animal he was," he remarked to the Indian, "and I am
grateful to you for having shown me my error," said he. "If you will sell it, name your own price."

"Sire," replied the Indian, "I never doubted that a sovereign so wise and accomplished as your Highness
would do justice to my horse, when he once knew its power; and I even went so far as to think it probable that
you might wish to possess it. Greatly as I prize it, I will yield it up to your Highness on one condition. The
horse was not constructed by me, but it was given me by the inventor, in exchange for my only daughter, who
made me take a solemn oath that I would never part with it, except for some object of equal value."

"Name anything you like," cried the monarch, interrupting him. "My kingdom is large, and filled with fair
cities. You have only to choose which you would prefer, to become its ruler to the end of your life."

"Sire," answered the Indian, to whom the proposal did not seem nearly so generous as it appeared to the king,
"I am most grateful to your Highness for your princely offer, and beseech you not to be offended with me if I
say that I can only deliver up my horse in exchange for the hand of the princess your daughter."

A shout of laughter burst from the courtiers as they heard these words, and Prince Firouz Schah, the heir
apparent, was filled with anger at the Indian's presumption. The king, however, thought that it would not cost
him much to part from the princess in order to gain such a delightful toy, and while he was hesitating as to his
answer the prince broke in.

"Sire," he said, "it is not possible that you can doubt for an instant what reply you should give to such an
insolent bargain. Consider what you owe to yourself, and to the blood of your ancestors."

"My son," replied the king, "you speak nobly, but you do not realise either the value of the horse, or the fact
that if I reject the proposal of the Indian, he will only make the same to some other monarch, and I should be
filled with despair at the thought that anyone but myself should own this Seventh Wonder of the World. Of
course I do not say that I shall accept his conditions, and perhaps he may be brought to reason, but meanwhile
I should like you to examine the horse, and, with the owner's permission, to make trial of its powers."

The Indian, who had overheard the king's speech, thought that he saw in it signs of yielding to his proposal, so
he joyfully agreed to the monarch's wishes, and came forward to help the prince to mount the horse, and show
him how to guide it: but, before he had finished, the young man turned the screw, and was soon out of sight.

They waited some time, expecting that every moment he might be seen returning in the distance, but at length
the Indian grew frightened, and prostrating himself before the throne, he said to the king, "Sire, your Highness
must have noticed that the prince, in his impatience, did not allow me to tell him what it was necessary to do
in order to return to the place from which he started. I implore you not to punish me for what was not my
fault, and not to visit on me any misfortune that may occur."

"But why," cried the king in a burst of fear and anger, "why did you not call him back when you saw him

"Sire," replied the Indian, "the rapidity of his movements took me so by surprise that he was out of hearing
before I recovered my speech. But we must hope that he will perceive and turn a second screw, which will
have the effect of bringing the horse back to earth."

"But supposing he does!" answered the king, "what is to hinder the horse from descending straight into the
sea, or dashing him to pieces on the rocks?"

"Have no fears, your Highness," said the Indian; "the horse has the gift of passing over seas, and of carrying
his rider wherever he wishes to go."

"Well, your head shall answer for it," returned the monarch, "and if in three months he is not safe back with
me, or at any rate does not send me news of his safety, your life shall pay the penalty." So saying, he ordered

his guards to seize the Indian and throw him into prison.

Meanwhile, Prince Firouz Schah had gone gaily up into the air, and for the space of an hour continued to
ascend higher and higher, till the very mountains were not distinguishable from the plains. Then he began to
think it was time to come down, and took for granted that, in order to do this, it was only needful to turn the
screw the reverse way; but, to his surprise and horror, he found that, turn as he might, he did not make the
smallest impression. He then remembered that he had never waited to ask how he was to get back to earth
again, and understood the danger in which he stood. Luckily, he did not lose his head, and set about
examining the horse's neck with great care, till at last, to his intense joy, he discovered a tiny little peg, much
smaller than the other, close to the right ear. This he turned, and found him-self dropping to the earth, though
more slowly than he had left it.

It was now dark, and as the prince could see nothing, he was obliged, not without some feeling of disquiet, to
allow the horse to direct his own course, and midnight was already passed before Prince Firouz Schah again
touched the ground, faint and weary from his long ride, and from the fact that he had eaten nothing since early

The first thing he did on dismounting was to try to find out where he was, and, as far as he could discover in
the thick darkness, he found himself on the terraced roof of a huge palace, with a balustrade of marble running
round. In one corner of the terrace stood a small door, opening on to a staircase which led down into the

Some people might have hesitated before exploring further, but not so the prince. "I am doing no harm," he
said, "and whoever the owner may be, he will not touch me when he sees I am unarmed," and in dread of
making a false step, he went cautiously down the staircase. On a landing, he noticed an open door, beyond
which was a faintly lighted hall.

Before entering, the prince paused and listened, but he heard nothing except the sound of men snoring. By the
light of a lantern suspended from the roof, he perceived a row of black guards sleeping, each with a naked
sword lying by him, and he understood that the hall must form the ante-room to the chamber of some queen or

Standing quite still, Prince Firouz Schah looked about him, till his eyes grew accustomed to the gloom, and he
noticed a bright light shining through a curtain in one corner. He then made his way softly towards it, and,
drawing aside its folds, passed into a magnificent chamber full of sleeping women, all lying on low couches,
except one, who was on a sofa; and this one, he knew, must be the princess.

Gently stealing up to the side of her bed he looked at her, and saw that she was more beautiful than any
woman he had ever beheld. But, fascinated though he was, he was well aware of the danger of his position, as
one cry of surprise would awake the guards, and cause his certain death.

So sinking quietly on his knees, he took hold of the sleeve of the princess and drew her arm lightly towards
him. The princess opened her eyes, and seeing before her a handsome well-dressed man, she remained
speechless with astonishment.

This favourable moment was seized by the prince, who bowing low while he knelt, thus addressed her:

"You behold, madame, a prince in distress, son to the King of Persia, who, owing to an adventure so strange
that you will scarcely believe it, finds himself here, a suppliant for your protection. But yesterday, I was in my
father's court, engaged in the celebration of our most solemn festival; to-day, I am in an unknown land, in
danger of my life."


Now the princess whose mercy Prince Firouz Schah implored was the eldest daughter of the King of Bengal,
who was enjoying rest and change in the palace her father had built her, at a little distance from the capital.
She listened kindly to what he had to say, and then answered:

"Prince, be not uneasy; hospitality and humanity are practised as widely in Bengal as they are in Persia. The
protection you ask will be given you by all. You have my word for it." And as the prince was about to thank
her for her goodness, she added quickly, "However great may be my curiosity to learn by what means you
have travelled here so speedily, I know that you must be faint for want of food, so I shall give orders to my
women to take you to one of my chambers, where you will be provided with supper, and left to repose."

By this time the princess's attendants were all awake, and listening to the conversation. At a sign from their
mistress they rose, dressed themselves hastily, and snatching up some of the tapers which lighted the room,
conducted the prince to a large and lofty room, where two of the number prepared his bed, and the rest went
down to the kitchen, from which they soon returned with all sorts of dishes. Then, showing him cupboards
filled with dresses and linen, they quitted the room.

During their absence the Princess of Bengal, who had been greatly struck by the beauty of the prince, tried in
vain to go to sleep again. It was of no use: she felt broad awake, and when her women entered the room, she
inquired eagerly if the prince had all he wanted, and what they thought of him.

"Madame," they replied, "it is of course impossible for us to tell what impression this young man has made on
you. For ourselves, we think you would be fortunate if the king your father should allow you to marry anyone
so amiable. Certainly there is no one in the Court of Bengal who can be compared with him."

These flattering observations were by no means displeasing to the princess, but as she did not wish to betray
her own feelings she merely said, "You are all a set of chatterboxes; go back to bed, and let me sleep."

When she dressed the following morning, her maids noticed that, contrary to her usual habit, the princess was
very particular about her toilette, and insisted on her hair being dressed two or three times over. "For," she
said to herself, "if my appearance was not displeasing to the prince when he saw me in the condition I was,
how much more will he be struck with me when he beholds me with all my charms."

Then she placed in her hair the largest and most brilliant diamonds she could find, with a necklace, bracelets
and girdle, all of precious stones. And over her shoulders her ladies put a robe of the richest stuff in all the
Indies, that no one was allowed to wear except members of the royal family. When she was fully dressed
according to her wishes, she sent to know if the Prince of Persia was awake and ready to receive her, as she
desired to present herself before him.

When the princess's messenger entered his room, Prince Firouz Schah was in the act of leaving it, to inquire if
he might be allowed to pay his homage to her mistress: but on hearing the princess's wishes, he at once gave
way. "Her will is my law," he said, "I am only here to obey her orders."

In a few moments the princess herself appeared, and after the usual compliments had passed between them,
the princess sat down on a sofa, and began to explain to the prince her reasons for not giving him an audience
in her own apartments. "Had I done so," she said, "we might have been interrupted at any hour by the chief of
the eunuchs, who has the right to enter whenever it pleases him, whereas this is forbidden ground. I am all
impatience to learn the wonderful accident which has procured the pleasure of your arrival, and that is why I
have come to you here, where no one can intrude upon us. Begin then, I entreat you, without delay."

So the prince began at the beginning, and told all the story of the festival of Nedrouz held yearly in Persia, and
of the splendid spectacles celebrated in its honour. But when he came to the enchanted horse, the princess
declared that she could never have imagined anything half so surprising. "Well then," continued the prince,


"you can easily understand how the King my father, who has a passion for all curious things, was seized with
a violent desire to possess this horse, and asked the Indian what sum he would take for it.

"The man's answer was absolutely absurd, as you will agree, when I tell you that it was nothing less than the
hand of the princess my sister; but though all the bystanders laughed and mocked, and I was beside myself
with rage, I saw to my despair that my father could not make up his mind to treat the insolent proposal as it
deserved. I tried to argue with him, but in vain. He only begged me to examine the horse with a view (as I
quite understood) of making me more sensible of its value."

"To please my father, I mounted the horse, and, without waiting for any instructions from the Indian, turned
the peg as I had seen him do. In an instant I was soaring upwards, much quicker than an arrow could fly, and I
felt as if I must be getting so near the sky that I should soon hit my head against it! I could see nothing
beneath me, and for some time was so confused that I did not even know in what direction I was travelling. At
last, when it was growing dark, I found another screw, and on turning it, the horse began slowly to sink
towards the earth. I was forced to trust to chance, and to see what fate had in store, and it was already past
midnight when I found myself on the roof of this palace. I crept down the little staircase, and made directly for
a light which I perceived through an open door--I peeped cautiously in, and saw, as you will guess, the
eunuchs lying asleep on the floor. I knew the risks I ran, but my need was so great that I paid no attention to
them, and stole safely past your guards, to the curtain which concealed your doorway.

"The rest, Princess, you know; and it only remains for me to thank you for the kindness you have shown me,
and to assure you of my gratitude. By the law of nations, I am already your slave, and I have only my heart,
that is my own, to offer you. But what am I saying? My own? Alas, madame, it was yours from the first
moment I beheld you!"

The air with which he said these words could have left no doubt on the mind of the princess as to the effect of
her charms, and the blush which mounted to her face only increased her beauty.

"Prince," returned she as soon as her confusion permitted her to speak, "you have given me the greatest
pleasure, and I have followed you closely in all your adventures, and though you are positively sitting before
me, I even trembled at your danger in the upper regions of the air! Let me say what a debt I owe to the chance
that has led you to my house; you could have entered none which would have given you a warmer welcome.
As to your being a slave, of course that is merely a joke, and my reception must itself have assured you that
you are as free here as at your father's court. As to your heart," continued she in tones of encouragement, "I
am quite sure that must have been disposed of long ago, to some princess who is well worthy of it, and I could
not think of being the cause of your unfaithfulness to her."

Prince Firouz Schah was about to protest that there was no lady with any prior claims, but he was stopped by
the entrance of one of the princess's attendants, who announced that dinner was served, and, after all, neither
was sorry for the interruption.

Dinner was laid in a magnificent apartment, and the table was covered with delicious fruits; while during the
repast richly dressed girls sang softly and sweetly to stringed instruments. After the prince and princess had
finished, they passed into a small room hung with blue and gold, looking out into a garden stocked with
flowers and arbutus trees, quite different from any that were to be found in Persia.

"Princess," observed the young man, "till now I had always believed that Persia could boast finer palaces and
more lovely gardens than any kingdom upon earth. But my eyes have been opened, and I begin to perceive
that, wherever there is a great king he will surround himself with buildings worthy of him."

"Prince," replied the Princess of Bengal, "I have no idea what a Persian palace is like, so I am unable to make
comparisons. I do not wish to depreciate my own palace, but I can assure you that it is very poor beside that of


the King my father, as you will agree when you have been there to greet him, as I hope you will shortly do."

Now the princess hoped that, by bringing about a meeting between the prince and her father, the King would
be so struck with the young man's distinguished air and fine manners, that he would offer him his daughter to
wife. But the reply of the Prince of Persia to her suggestion was not quite what she wished.

"Madame," he said, "by taking advantage of your proposal to visit the palace of the King of Bengal, I should
satisfy not merely my curiosity, but also the sentiments of respect with which I regard him. But, Princess, I am
persuaded that you will feel with me, that I cannot possibly present myself before so great a sovereign without
the attendants suitable to my rank. He would think me an adventurer."

"If that is all," she answered, "you can get as many attendants here as you please. There are plenty of Persian
merchants, and as for money, my treasury is always open to you. Take what you please."

Prince Firouz Schah guessed what prompted so much kindness on the part of the princess, and was much
touched by it. Still his passion, which increased every moment, did not make him forget his duty. So he
replied without hesitation:

"I do not know, Princess, how to express my gratitude for your obliging offer, which I would accept at once if
it were not for the recollection of all the uneasiness the King my father must be suffering on my account. I
should be unworthy indeed of all the love he showers upon me, if I did not return to him at the first possible
moment. For, while I am enjoying the society of the most amiable of all princesses, he is, I am quite
convinced, plunged in the deepest grief, having lost all hope of seeing me again. I am sure you will understand
my position, and will feel that to remain away one instant longer than is necessary would not only be
ungrateful on my part, but perhaps even a crime, for how do I know if my absence may not break his heart?

"But," continued the prince, "having obeyed the voice of my conscience, I shall count the moments when,
with your gracious permission, I may present myself before the King of Bengal, not as a wanderer, but as a
prince, to implore the favour of your hand. My father has always informed me that in my marriage I shall be
left quite free, but I am persuaded that I have only to describe your generosity, for my wishes to become his

The Princess of Bengal was too reasonable not to accept the explanation offered by Prince Firouz Schah, but
she was much disturbed at his intention of departing at once, for she feared that, no sooner had he left her,
than the impression she had made on him would fade away. So she made one more effort to keep him, and
after assuring him that she entirely approved of his anxiety to see his father, begged him to give her a day or
two more of his company.

In common politeness the prince could hardly refuse this request, and the princess set about inventing every
kind of amusement for him, and succeeded so well that two months slipped by almost unnoticed, in balls,
spectacles and in hunting, of which, when unattended by danger, the princess was passionately fond. But at
last, one day, he declared seriously that he could neglect his duty no longer, and entreated her to put no further
obstacles in his way, promising at the same time to return, as soon as he could, with all the magnificence due
both to her and to himself.

"Princess," he added, "it may be that in your heart you class me with those false lovers whose devotion cannot
stand the test of absence. If you do, you wrong me; and were it not for fear of offending you, I would beseech
you to come with me, for my life can only be happy when passed with you. As for your reception at the
Persian Court, it will be as warm as your merits deserve; and as for what concerns the King of Bengal, he
must be much more indifferent to your welfare than you have led me to believe if he does not give his consent
to our marriage."


The princess could not find words in which to reply to the arguments of the Prince of Persia, but her silence
and her downcast eyes spoke for her, and declared that she had no objection to accompanying him on his

The only difficulty that occurred to her was that Prince Firouz Schah did not know how to manage the horse,
and she dreaded lest they might find themselves in the same plight as before. But the prince soothed her fears
so successfully, that she soon had no other thought than to arrange for their flight so secretly, that no one in
the palace should suspect it.

This was done, and early the following morning, when the whole palace was wrapped in sleep, she stole up on
to the roof, where the prince was already awaiting her, with his horse's head towards Persia. He mounted first
and helped the princess up behind; then, when she was firmly seated, with her hands holding tightly to his
belt, he touched the screw, and the horse began to leave the earth quickly behind him.

He travelled with his accustomed speed, and Prince Firouz Schah guided him so well that in two hours and a
half from the time of starting, he saw the capital of Persia lying beneath him. He determined to alight neither
in the great square from which he had started, nor in the Sultan's palace, but in a country house at a little
distance from the town. Here he showed the princess a beautiful suite of rooms, and begged her to rest, while
he informed his father of their arrival, and prepared a public reception worthy of her rank. Then he ordered a
horse to be saddled, and set out.

All the way through the streets he was welcomed with shouts of joy by the people, who had long lost all hope
of seeing him again. On reaching the palace, he found the Sultan surrounded by his ministers, all clad in the
deepest mourning, and his father almost went out of his mind with surprise and delight at the mere sound of
his son's voice. When he had calmed down a little, he begged the prince to relate his adventures.

The prince at once seized the opening thus given him, and told the whole story of his treatment by the
Princess of Bengal, not even concealing the fact that she had fallen in love with him. "And, Sire," ended the
prince, "having given my royal word that you would not refuse your consent to our marriage, I persuaded her
to return with me on the Indian's horse. I have left her in one of your Highness's country houses, where she is
waiting anxiously to be assured that I have not promised in vain."

As he said this the prince was about to throw himself at the feet of the Sultan, but his father prevented him,
and embracing him again, said eagerly:

"My son, not only do I gladly consent to your marriage with the Princess of Bengal, but I will hasten to pay
my respects to her, and to thank her in my own person for the benefits she has conferred on you. I will then
bring her back with me, and make all arrangements for the wedding to be celebrated to-day."

So the Sultan gave orders that the habits of mourning worn by the people should be thrown off and that there
should be a concert of drums, trumpets and cymbals. Also that the Indian should be taken from prison, and
brought before him.

His commands were obeyed, and the Indian was led into his presence, surrounded by guards. "I have kept you
locked up," said the Sultan, "so that in case my son was lost, your life should pay the penalty. He has now
returned; so take your horse, and begone for ever."

The Indian hastily quitted the presence of the Sultan, and when he was outside, he inquired of the man who
had taken him out of prison where the prince had really been all this time, and what he had been doing. They
told him the whole story, and how the Princess of Bengal was even then awaiting in the country palace the
consent of the Sultan, which at once put into the Indian's head a plan of revenge for the treatment he had
experienced. Going straight to the country house, he informed the doorkeeper who was left in charge that he


had been sent by the Sultan and by the Prince of Persia to fetch the princess on the enchanted horse, and to
bring her to the palace.

The doorkeeper knew the Indian by sight, and was of course aware that nearly three months before he had
been thrown into prison by the Sultan; and seeing him at liberty, the man took for granted that he was
speaking the truth, and made no difficulty about leading him before the Princess of Bengal; while on her side,
hearing that he had come from the prince, the lady gladly consented to do what he wished.

The Indian, delighted with the success of his scheme, mounted the horse, assisted the princess to mount
behind him, and turned the peg at the very moment that the prince was leaving the palace in Schiraz for the
country house, followed closely by the Sultan and all the court. Knowing this, the Indian deliberately steered
the horse right above the city, in order that his revenge for his unjust imprisonment might be all the quicker
and sweeter.

When the Sultan of Persia saw the horse and its riders, he stopped short with astonishment and horror, and
broke out into oaths and curses, which the Indian heard quite unmoved, knowing that he was perfectly safe
from pursuit. But mortified and furious as the Sultan was, his feelings were nothing to those of Prince Firouz
Schah, when he saw the object of his passionate devotion being borne rapidly away. And while he was struck
speechless with grief and remorse at not having guarded her better, she vanished swiftly out of his sight. What
was he to do? Should he follow his father into the palace, and there give reins to his despair? Both his love
and his courage alike forbade it; and he continued his way to the palace.

The sight of the prince showed the doorkeeper of what folly he had been guilty, and flinging himself at his
master's feet, implored his pardon. "Rise," said the prince, "I am the cause of this misfortune, and not you. Go
and find me the dress of a dervish, but beware of saying it is for me."

At a short distance from the country house, a convent of dervishes was situated, and the superior, or scheih,
was the doorkeeper's friend. So by means of a false story made up on the spur of the moment, it was easy
enough to get hold of a dervish's dress, which the prince at once put on, instead of his own. Disguised like this
and concealing about him a box of pearls and diamonds he had intended as a present to the princess, he left
the house at nightfall, uncertain where he should go, but firmly resolved not to return without her.

Meanwhile the Indian had turned the horse in such a direction that, before many hours had passed, it had
entered a wood close to the capital of the kingdom of Cashmere. Feeling very hungry, and supposing that the
princess also might be in want of food, he brought his steed down to the earth, and left the princess in a shady
place, on the banks of a clear stream.

At first, when the princess had found herself alone, the idea had occurred to her of trying to escape and hide
herself. But as she had eaten scarcely anything since she had left Bengal, she felt she was too weak to venture
far, and was obliged to abandon her design. On the return of the Indian with meats of various kinds, she began
to eat voraciously, and soon had regained sufficient courage to reply with spirit to his insolent remarks.
Goaded by his threats she sprang to her feet, calling loudly for help, and luckily her cries were heard by a
troop of horsemen, who rode up to inquire what was the matter.

Now the leader of these horsemen was the Sultan of Cashmere, returning from the chase, and he instantly
turned to the Indian to inquire who he was, and whom he had with him. The Indian rudely answered that it
was his wife, and there was no occasion for anyone else to interfere between them.

The princess, who, of course, was ignorant of the rank of her deliverer, denied altogether the Indian's story.
"My lord," she cried, "whoever you may be, put no faith in this impostor. He is an abominable magician, who
has this day torn me from the Prince of Persia, my destined husband, and has brought me here on this
enchanted horse." She would have continued, but her tears choked her, and the Sultan of Cashmere, convinced

by her beauty and her distinguished air of the truth of her tale, ordered his followers to cut off the Indian's
head, which was done immediately.

But rescued though she was from one peril, it seemed as if she had only fallen into another. The Sultan
commanded a horse to be given her, and conducted her to his own palace, where he led her to a beautiful
apartment, and selected female slaves to wait on her, and eunuchs to be her guard. Then, without allowing her
time to thank him for all he had done, he bade her repose, saying she should tell him her adventures on the
following day.

The princess fell asleep, flattering herself that she had only to relate her story for the Sultan to be touched by
compassion, and to restore her to the prince without delay. But a few hours were to undeceive her.

When the King of Cashmere had quitted her presence the evening before, he had resolved that the sun should
not set again without the princess becoming his wife, and at daybreak proclamation of his intention was made
throughout the town, by the sound of drums, trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments calculated to fill the
heart with joy. The Princess of Bengal was early awakened by the noise, but she did not for one moment
imagine that it had anything to do with her, till the Sultan, arriving as soon as she was dressed to inquire after
her health, informed her that the trumpet blasts she heard were part of the solemn marriage ceremonies, for
which he begged her to prepare. This unexpected announcement caused the princess such terror that she sank
down in a dead faint.

The slaves that were in waiting ran to her aid, and the Sultan himself did his best to bring her back to
consciousness, but for a long while it was all to no purpose. At length her senses began slowly to come back
to her, and then, rather than break faith with the Prince of Persia by consenting to such a marriage, she
determined to feign madness. So she began by saying all sorts of absurdities, and using all kinds of strange
gestures, while the Sultan stood watching her with sorrow and surprise. But as this sudden seizure showed no
sign of abating, he left her to her women, ordering them to take the greatest care of her. Still, as the day went
on, the malady seemed to become worse, and by night it was almost violent.

Days passed in this manner, till at last the Sultan of Cashmere decided to summon all the doctors of his court
to consult together over her sad state. Their answer was that madness is of so many different kinds that it was
impossible to give an opinion on the case without seeing the princess, so the Sultan gave orders that they were
to be introduced into her chamber, one by one, every man according to his rank.

This decision had been foreseen by the princess, who knew quite well that if once she allowed the physicians
to feel her pulse, the most ignorant of them would discover that she was in perfectly good health, and that her
madness was feigned, so as each man approached, she broke out into such violent paroxysms, that not one
dared to lay a finger on her. A few, who pretended to be cleverer than the rest, declared that they could
diagnose sick people only from sight, ordered her certain potions, which she made no difficulty about taking,
as she was persuaded they were all harmless.

When the Sultan of Cashmere saw that the court doctors could do nothing towards curing the princess, he
called in those of the city, who fared no better. Then he had recourse to the most celebrated physicians in the
other large towns, but finding that the task was beyond their science, he finally sent messengers into the other
neighbouring states, with a memorandum containing full particulars of the princess's madness, offering at the
same time to pay the expenses of any physician who would come and see for himself, and a handsome reward
to the one who should cure her. In answer to this proclamation many foreign professors flocked into
Cashmere, but they naturally were not more successful than the rest had been, as the cure depended neither on
them nor their skill, but only on the princess herself.

It was during this time that Prince Firouz Schah, wandering sadly and hopelessly from place to place, arrived
in a large city of India, where he heard a great deal of talk about the Princess of Bengal who had gone out of

her senses, on the very day that she was to have been married to the Sultan of Cashmere. This was quite
enough to induce him to take the road to Cashmere, and to inquire at the first inn at which he lodged in the
capital the full particulars of the story. When he knew that he had at last found the princess whom he had so
long lost, he set about devising a plan for her rescue.

The first thing he did was to procure a doctor's robe, so that his dress, added to the long beard he had allowed
to grow on his travels, might unmistakably proclaim his profession. He then lost no time in going to the
palace, where he obtained an audience of the chief usher, and while apologising for his boldness in presuming
to think that he could cure the princess, where so many others had failed, declared that he had the secret of
certain remedies, which had hitherto never failed of their effect.

The chief usher assured him that he was heartily welcome, and that the Sultan would receive him with
pleasure; and in case of success, he would gain a magnificent reward.

When the Prince of Persia, in the disguise of a physician, was brought before him, the Sultan wasted no time
in talking, beyond remarking that the mere sight of a doctor threw the princess into transports of rage. He then
led the prince up to a room under the roof, which had an opening through which he might observe the
princess, without himself being seen.

The prince looked, and beheld the princess reclining on a sofa with tears in her eyes, singing softly to herself a
song bewailing her sad destiny, which had deprived her, perhaps for ever, of a being she so tenderly loved.
The young man's heart beat fast as he listened, for he needed no further proof that her madness was feigned,
and that it was love of him which had caused her to resort to this species of trick. He softly left his
hiding-place, and returned to the Sultan, to whom he reported that he was sure from certain signs that the
princess's malady was not incurable, but that he must see her and speak with her alone.

The Sultan made no difficulty in consenting to this, and commanded that he should be ushered in to the
princess's apartment. The moment she caught sight of his physician's robe, she sprang from her seat in a fury,
and heaped insults upon him. The prince took no notice of her behaviour, and approaching quite close, so that
his words might be heard by her alone, he said in a low whisper, "Look at me, princess, and you will see that I
am no doctor, but the Prince of Persia, who has come to set you free."

At the sound of his voice, the Princess of Bengal suddenly grew calm, and an expression of joy overspread her
face, such as only comes when what we wish for most and expect the least suddenly happens to us. For some
time she was too enchanted to speak, and Prince Firouz Schah took advantage of her silence to explain to her
all that had occurred, his despair at watching her disappear before his very eyes, the oath he had sworn to
follow her over the world, and his rapture at finally discovering her in the palace at Cashmere. When he had
finished, he begged in his turn that the princess would tell him how she had come there, so that he might the
better devise some means of rescuing her from the tyranny of the Sultan.

It needed but a few words from the princess to make him acquainted with the whole situation, and how she
had been forced to play the part of a mad woman in order to escape from a marriage with the Sultan, who had
not had sufficient politeness even to ask her consent. If necessary, she added, she had resolved to die sooner
than permit herself to be forced into such a union, and break faith with a prince whom she loved.

The prince then inquired if she knew what had become of the enchanted horse since the Indian's death, but the
princess could only reply that she had heard nothing about it. Still she did not suppose that the horse could
have been forgotten by the Sultan, after all she had told him of its value.

To this the prince agreed, and they consulted together over a plan by which she might be able to make her
escape and return with him into Persia. And as the first step, she was to dress herself with care, and receive the
Sultan with civility when he visited her next morning.

The Sultan was transported with delight on learning the result of the interview, and his opinion of the doctor's
skill was raised still higher when, on the following day, the princess behaved towards him in such a way as to
persuade him that her complete cure would not be long delayed. However he contented himself with assuring
her how happy he was to see her health so much improved, and exhorted her to make every use of so clever a
physician, and to repose entire confidence in him. Then he retired, without awaiting any reply from the

The Prince of Persia left the room at the same time, and asked if he might be allowed humbly to inquire by
what means the Princess of Bengal had reached Cashmere, which was so far distant from her father's
kingdom, and how she came to be there alone. The Sultan thought the question very natural, and told him the
same story that the Princess of Bengal had done, adding that he had ordered the enchanted horse to be taken to
his treasury as a curiosity, though he was quite ignorant how it could be used.

"Sire," replied the physician, "your Highness's tale has supplied me with the clue I needed to complete the
recovery of the princess. During her voyage hither on an enchanted horse, a portion of its enchantment has by
some means been communicated to her person, and it can only be dissipated by certain perfumes of which I
possess the secret. If your Highness will deign to consent, and to give the court and the people one of the most
astonishing spectacles they have ever witnessed, command the horse to be brought into the big square outside
the palace, and leave the rest to me. I promise that in a very few moments, in presence of all the assembled
multitude, you shall see the princess as healthy both in mind and body as ever she was in her life. And in order
to make the spectacle as impressive as possible, I would suggest that she should be richly dressed and covered
with the noblest jewels of the crown."

The Sultan readily agreed to all that the prince proposed, and the following morning he desired that the
enchanted horse should be taken from the treasury, and brought into the great square of the palace. Soon the
rumour began to spread through the town, that something extraordinary was about to happen, and such a
crowd began to collect that the guards had to be called out to keep order, and to make a way for the enchanted

When all was ready, the Sultan appeared, and took his place on a platform, surrounded by the chief nobles and
officers of his court. When they were seated, the Princess of Bengal was seen leaving the palace, accompanied
by the ladies who had been assigned to her by the Sultan. She slowly approached the enchanted horse, and
with the help of her ladies, she mounted on its back. Directly she was in the saddle, with her feet in the
stirrups and the bridle in her hand, the physician placed around the horse some large braziers full of burning
coals, into each of which he threw a perfume composed of all sorts of delicious scents. Then he crossed his
hands over his breast, and with lowered eyes walked three times round the horse, muttering the while certain
words. Soon there arose from the burning braziers a thick smoke which almost concealed both the horse and
princess, and this was the moment for which he had been waiting. Springing lightly up behind the lady, he
leaned forward and turned the peg, and as the horse darted up into the air, he cried aloud so that his words
were heard by all present, "Sultan of Cashmere, when you wish to marry princesses who have sought your
protection, learn first to gain their consent."

It was in this way that the Prince of Persia rescued the Princess of Bengal, and returned with her to Persia,
where they descended this time before the palace of the King himself. The marriage was only delayed just
long enough to make the ceremony as brilliant as possible, and, as soon as the rejoicings were over, an
ambassador was sent to the King of Bengal, to inform him of what had passed, and to ask his approbation of
the alliance between the two countries, which he heartily gave.

The Story of Two Sisters Who Were Jealous of Their Younger Sister

Once upon a time there reigned over Persia a Sultan named Kosrouschah, who from his boyhood had been
fond of putting on a disguise and seeking adventures in all parts of the city, accompanied by one of his


officers, disguised like himself. And no sooner was his father buried and the ceremonies over that marked his
accession to the throne, than the young man hastened to throw off his robes of state, and calling to his vizir to
make ready likewise, stole out in the simple dress of a private citizen into the less known streets of the capital.

Passing down a lonely street, the Sultan heard women's voices in loud discussion; and peeping through a
crack in the door, he saw three sisters, sitting on a sofa in a large hall, talking in a very lively and earnest
manner. Judging from the few words that reached his ear, they were each explaining what sort of men they
wished to marry.

"I ask nothing better," cried the eldest, "than to have the Sultan's baker for a husband. Think of being able to
eat as much as one wanted, of that delicious bread that is baked for his Highness alone! Let us see if your wish
is as good as mine."

"I," replied the second sister, "should be quite content with the Sultan's head cook. What delicate stews I
should feast upon! And, as I am persuaded that the Sultan's bread is used all through the palace, I should have
that into the bargain. You see, my dear sister, my taste is as good as yours."

It was now the turn of the youngest sister, who was by far the most beautiful of the three, and had, besides,
more sense than the other two. "As for me," she said, "I should take a higher flight; and if we are to wish for
husbands, nothing less than the Sultan himself will do for me."

The Sultan was so much amused by the conversation he had overheard, that he made up his mind to gratify
their wishes, and turning to the grand-vizir, he bade him note the house, and on the following morning to
bring the ladies into his presence.

The grand-vizir fulfilled his commission, and hardly giving them time to change their dresses, desired the
three sisters to follow him to the palace. Here they were presented one by one, and when they had bowed
before the Sultan, the sovereign abruptly put the question to them:

"Tell me, do you remember what you wished for last night, when you were making merry? Fear nothing, but
answer me the truth."

These words, which were so unexpected, threw the sisters into great confusion, their eyes fell, and the blushes
of the youngest did not fail to make an impression on the heart of the Sultan. All three remained silent, and he
hastened to continue: "Do not be afraid, I have not the slightest intention of giving you pain, and let me tell
you at once, that I know the wishes formed by each one. You," he said, turning to the youngest, "who desired
to have me for an husband, shall be satisfied this very day. And you," he added, addressing himself to the
other two, "shall be married at the same moment to my baker and to my chief cook."

When the Sultan had finished speaking the three sisters flung themselves at his feet, and the youngest faltered
out, "Oh, sire, since you know my foolish words, believe, I pray you, that they were only said in joke. I am
unworthy of the honour you propose to do me, and I can only ask pardon for my boldness."

The other sisters also tried to excuse themselves, but the Sultan would hear nothing.

"No, no," he said, "my mind is made up. Your wishes shall be accomplished."

So the three weddings were celebrated that same day, but with a great difference. That of the youngest was
marked by all the magnificence that was customary at the marriage of the Shah of Persia, while the festivities
attending the nuptials of the Sultan's baker and his chief cook were only such as were suitable to their

This, though quite natural, was highly displeasing to the elder sisters, who fell into a passion of jealousy,
which in the end caused a great deal of trouble and pain to several people. And the first time that they had the
opportunity of speaking to each other, which was not till several days later at a public bath, they did not
attempt to disguise their feelings.

"Can you possibly understand what the Sultan saw in that little cat," said one to the other, "for him to be so
fascinated by her?"

"He must be quite blind," returned the wife of the chief cook. "As for her looking a little younger than we do,
what does that matter? You would have made a far better Sultana than she."

"Oh, I say nothing of myself," replied the elder, "and if the Sultan had chosen you it would have been all very
well; but it really grieves me that he should have selected a wretched little creature like that. However, I will
be revenged on her somehow, and I beg you will give me your help in the matter, and to tell me anything that
you can think of that is likely to mortify her."

In order to carry out their wicked scheme the two sisters met constantly to talk over their ideas, though all the
while they pretended to be as friendly as ever towards the Sultana, who, on her part, invariably treated them
with kindness. For a long time no plan occurred to the two plotters that seemed in the least likely to meet with
success, but at length the expected birth of an heir gave them the chance for which they had been hoping.

They obtained permission of the Sultan to take up their abode in the palace for some weeks, and never left
their sister night or day. When at last a little boy, beautiful as the sun, was born, they laid him in his cradle
and carried it down to a canal which passed through the grounds of the palace. Then, leaving it to its fate, they
informed the Sultan that instead of the son he had so fondly desired the Sultana had given birth to a puppy. At
this dreadful news the Sultan was so overcome with rage and grief that it was with great difficulty that the
grand-vizir managed to save the Sultana from his wrath.

Meanwhile the cradle continued to float peacefully along the canal till, on the outskirts of the royal gardens, it
was suddenly perceived by the intendant, one of the highest and most respected officials in the kingdom.

"Go," he said to a gardener who was working near, "and get that cradle out for me."

The gardener did as he was bid, and soon placed the cradle in the hands of the intendant.

The official was much astonished to see that the cradle, which he had supposed to be empty, contained a baby,
which, young though it was, already gave promise of great beauty. Having no children himself, although he
had been married some years, it at once occurred to him that here was a child which he could take and bring
up as his own. And, bidding the man pick up the cradle and follow him, he turned towards home.

"My wife," he exclaimed as he entered the room, "heaven has denied us any children, but here is one that has
been sent in their place. Send for a nurse, and I will do what is needful publicly to recognise it as my son."

The wife accepted the baby with joy, and though the intendant saw quite well that it must have come from the
royal palace, he did not think it was his business to inquire further into the mystery.

The following year another prince was born and sent adrift, but happily for the baby, the intendant of the
gardens again was walking by the canal, and carried it home as before.

The Sultan, naturally enough, was still more furious the second time than the first, but when the same curious
accident was repeated in the third year he could control himself no longer, and, to the great joy of the jealous
sisters, commanded that the Sultana should be executed. But the poor lady was so much beloved at Court that

not even the dread of sharing her fate could prevent the grand-vizir and the courtiers from throwing
themselves at the Sultan's feet and imploring him not to inflict so cruel a punishment for what, after all, was
not her fault.

"Let her live," entreated the grand-vizir, "and banish her from your presence for the rest of her days. That in
itself will be punishment enough."

His first passion spent, the Sultan had regained his self-command. "Let her live then," he said, "since you have
it so much at heart. But if I grant her life it shall only be on one condition, which shall make her daily pray for
death. Let a box be built for her at the door of the principal mosque, and let the window of the box be always
open. There she shall sit, in the coarsest clothes, and every Mussulman who enters the mosque shall spit in her
face in passing. Anyone that refuses to obey shall be exposed to the same punishment himself. You, vizir, will
see that my orders are carried out."

The grand-vizir saw that it was useless to say more, and, full of triumph, the sisters watched the building of
the box, and then listened to the jeers of the people at the helpless Sultana sitting inside. But the poor lady
bore herself with so much dignity and meekness that it was not long before she had won the sympathy of
those that were best among the crowd.

But it is now time to return to the fate of the third baby, this time a princess. Like its brothers, it was found by
the intendant of the gardens, and adopted by him and his wife, and all three were brought up with the greatest
care and tenderness.

As the children grew older their beauty and air of distinction became more and more marked, and their
manners had all the grace and ease that is proper to people of high birth. The princes had been named by their
foster-father Bahman and Perviz, after two of the ancient kings of Persia, while the princess was called
Parizade, or the child of the genii.

The intendant was careful to bring them up as befitted their real rank, and soon appointed a tutor to teach the
young princes how to read and write. And the princess, determined not to be left behind, showed herself so
anxious to learn with her brothers, that the intendant consented to her joining in their lessons, and it was not
long before she knew as much as they did.

From that time all their studies were done in common. They had the best masters for the fine arts, geography,
poetry, history and science, and even for sciences which are learned by few, and every branch seemed so easy
to them, that their teachers were astonished at the progress they made. The princess had a passion for music,
and could sing and play upon all sorts of instruments she could also ride and drive as well as her brothers,
shoot with a bow and arrow, and throw a javelin with the same skill as they, and sometimes even better.

In order to set off these accomplishments, the intendant resolved that his foster children should not be pent up
any longer in the narrow borders of the palace gardens, where he had always lived, so he bought a splendid
country house a few miles from the capital, surrounded by an immense park. This park he filled with wild
beasts of various sorts, so that the princes and princess might hunt as much as they pleased.

When everything was ready, the intendant threw himself at the Sultan's feet, and after referring to his age and
his long services, begged his Highness's permission to resign his post. This was granted by the Sultan in a few
gracious words, and he then inquired what reward he could give to his faithful servant. But the intendant
declared that he wished for nothing except the continuance of his Highness's favour, and prostrating himself
once more, he retired from the Sultan's presence.

Five or six months passed away in the pleasures of the country, when death attacked the intendant so suddenly
that he had no time to reveal the secret of their birth to his adopted children, and as his wife had long been


dead also, it seemed as if the princes and the princess would never know that they had been born to a higher
station than the one they filled. Their sorrow for their father was very deep, and they lived quietly on in their
new home, without feeling any desire to leave it for court gaieties or intrigues.

One day the princes as usual went out to hunt, but their sister remained alone in her apartments. While they
were gone an old Mussulman devotee appeared at the door, and asked leave to enter, as it was the hour of
prayer. The princess sent orders at once that the old woman was to be taken to the private oratory in the
grounds, and when she had finished her prayers was to be shown the house and gardens, and then to be
brought before her.

Although the old woman was very pious, she was not at all indifferent to the magnificence of all around her,
which she seemed to understand as well as to admire, and when she had seen it all she was led by the servants
before the princess, who was seated in a room which surpassed in splendour all the rest.

"My good woman," said the princess pointing to a sofa, "come and sit beside me. I am delighted at the
opportunity of speaking for a few moments with so holy a person." The old woman made some objections to
so much honour being done her, but the princess refused to listen, and insisted that her guest should take the
best seat, and as she thought she must be tired ordered refreshments.

While the old woman was eating, the princess put several questions to her as to her mode of life, and the pious
exercises she practiced, and then inquired what she thought of the house now that she had seen it.

"Madam," replied the pilgrim, "one must be hard indeed to please to find any fault. It is beautiful, comfortable
and well ordered, and it is impossible to imagine anything more lovely than the garden. But since you ask me,
I must confess that it lacks three things to make it absolutely perfect."

"And what can they be?" cried the princess. "Only tell me, and I will lose no time in getting them."

"The three things, madam," replied the old woman, "are, first, the Talking Bird, whose voice draws all other
singing birds to it, to join in chorus. And second, the Singing Tree, where every leaf is a song that is never
silent. And lastly the Golden Water, of which it is only needful to pour a single drop into a basin for it to shoot
up into a fountain, which will never be exhausted, nor will the basin ever overflow."

"Oh, how can I thank you," cried the princess, "for telling me of such treasures! But add, I pray you, to your
goodness by further informing me where I can find them."

"Madam," replied the pilgrim, "I should ill repay the hospitality you have shown me if I refused to answer
your question. The three things of which I have spoken are all to be found in one place, on the borders of this
kingdom, towards India. Your messenger has only to follow the road that passes by your house, for twenty
days, and at the end of that time, he is to ask the first person he meets for the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree,
and the Golden Water." She then rose, and bidding farewell to the princess, went her way.

The old woman had taken her departure so abruptly that the Princess Parizade did not perceive till she was
really gone that the directions were hardly clear enough to enable the search to be successful. And she was
still thinking of the subject, and how delightful it would be to possess such rarities, when the princes, her
brothers, returned from the chase.

"What is the matter, my sister?" asked Prince Bahman; "why are you so grave? Are you ill? Or has anything

Princess Parizade did not answer directly, but at length she raised her eyes, and replied that there was nothing


"But there must be something," persisted Prince Bahman, "for you to have changed so much during the short
time we have been absent. Hide nothing from us, I beseech you, unless you wish us to believe that the
confidence we have always had in one another is now to cease."

"When I said that it was nothing," said the princess, moved by his words, "I meant that it was nothing that
affected you, although I admit that it is certainly of some importance to me. Like myself, you have always
thought this house that our father built for us was perfect in every respect, but only to-day I have learned that
three things are still lacking to complete it. These are the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree, and the Golden
Water." After explaining the peculiar qualities of each, the princess continued: "It was a Mussulman devotee
who told me all this, and where they might all be found. Perhaps you will think that the house is beautiful
enough as it is, and that we can do quite well without them; but in this I cannot agree with you, and I shall
never be content until I have got them. So counsel me, I pray, whom to send on the undertaking."

"My dear sister," replied Prince Bahman, "that you should care about the matter is quite enough, even if we
took no interest in it ourselves. But we both feel with you, and I claim, as the elder, the right to make the first
attempt, if you will tell me where I am to go, and what steps I am to take."

Prince Perviz at first objected that, being the head of the family, his brother ought not to be allowed to expose
himself to danger; but Prince Bahman would hear nothing, and retired to make the needful preparations for his

The next morning Prince Bahman got up very early, and after bidding farewell to his brother and sister,
mounted his horse. But just as he was about to touch it with his whip, he was stopped by a cry from the

"Oh, perhaps after all you may never come back; one never can tell what accidents may happen. Give it up, I
implore you, for I would a thousand times rather lose the Talking Bird, and the Singing Tree and the Golden
Water, than that you should run into danger."

"My dear sister," answered the prince, "accidents only happen to unlucky people, and I hope that I am not one
of them. But as everything is uncertain, I promise you to be very careful. Take this knife," he continued,
handing her one that hung sheathed from his belt, "and every now and then draw it out and look at it. As long
as it keeps bright and clean as it is to-day, you will know that I am living; but if the blade is spotted with
blood, it will be a sign that I am dead, and you shall weep for me."

So saying, Prince Bahman bade them farewell once more, and started on the high road, well mounted and
fully armed. For twenty days he rode straight on, turning neither to the right hand nor to the left, till he found
himself drawing near the frontiers of Persia. Seated under a tree by the wayside he noticed a hideous old man,
with a long white moustache, and beard that almost fell to his feet. His nails had grown to an enormous
length, and on his head he wore a huge hat, which served him for an umbrella.

Prince Bahman, who, remembering the directions of the old woman, had been since sunrise on the look-out
for some one, recognised the old man at once to be a dervish. He dismounted from his horse, and bowed low
before the holy man, saying by way of greeting, "My father, may your days be long in the land, and may all
your wishes be fulfilled!"

The dervish did his best to reply, but his moustache was so thick that his words were hardly intelligible, and
the prince, perceiving what was the matter, took a pair of scissors from his saddle pockets, and requested
permission to cut off some of the moustache, as he had a question of great importance to ask the dervish. The
dervish made a sign that he might do as he liked, and when a few inches of his hair and beard had been pruned
all round the prince assured the holy man that he would hardly believe how much younger he looked. The
dervish smiled at his compliments, and thanked him for what he had done.


"Let me," he said, "show you my gratitude for making me more comfortable by telling me what I can do for

"Gentle dervish," replied Prince Bahman, "I come from far, and I seek the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree, and
the Golden Water. I know that they are to be found somewhere in these parts, but I am ignorant of the exact
spot. Tell me, I pray you, if you can, so that I may not have travelled on a useless quest." While he was
speaking, the prince observed a change in the countenance of the dervish, who waited for some time before he
made reply.

"My lord," he said at last, "I do know the road for which you ask, but your kindness and the friendship I have
conceived for you make me loth to point it out."

"But why not?" inquired the prince. "What danger can there be?"

"The very greatest danger," answered the dervish. "Other men, as brave as you, have ridden down this road,
and have put me that question. I did my best to turn them also from their purpose, but it was of no use. Not
one of them would listen to my words, and not one of them came back. Be warned in time, and seek to go no

"I am grateful to you for your interest in me," said Prince Bahman, "and for the advice you have given, though
I cannot follow it. But what dangers can there be in the adventure which courage and a good sword cannot

"And suppose," answered the dervish, "that your enemies are invisible, how then?"

"Nothing will make me give it up," replied the prince, "and for the last time I ask you to tell me where I am to

When the dervish saw that the prince's mind was made up, he drew a ball from a bag that lay near him, and
held it out. "If it must be so," he said, with a sigh, "take this, and when you have mounted your horse throw
the ball in front of you. It will roll on till it reaches the foot of a mountain, and when it stops you will stop
also. You will then throw the bridle on your horse's neck without any fear of his straying, and will dismount.
On each side you will see vast heaps of big black stones, and will hear a multitude of insulting voices, but pay
no heed to them, and, above all, beware of ever turning your head. If you do, you will instantly become a
black stone like the rest. For those stones are in reality men like yourself, who have been on the same quest,
and have failed, as I fear that you may fail also. If you manage to avoid this pitfall, and to reach the top of the
mountain, you will find there the Talking Bird in a splendid cage, and you can ask of him where you are to
seek the Singing Tree and the Golden Water. That is all I have to say. You know what you have to do, and
what to avoid, but if you are wise you will think of it no more, but return whence you have come."

The prince smilingly shook his head, and thanking the dervish once more, he sprang on his horse and threw
the ball before him.

The ball rolled along the road so fast that Prince Bahman had much difficulty in keeping up with it, and it
never relaxed its speed till the foot of the mountain was reached. Then it came to a sudden halt, and the prince
at once got down and flung the bridle on his horse's neck. He paused for a moment and looked round him at
the masses of black stones with which the sides of the mountain were covered, and then began resolutely to
ascend. He had hardly gone four steps when he heard the sound of voices around him, although not another
creature was in sight.

"Who is this imbecile?" cried some, "stop him at once." "Kill him," shrieked others, "Help! robbers!
murderers! help! help!" "Oh, let him alone," sneered another, and this was the most trying of all, "he is such a

beautiful young man; I am sure the bird and the cage must have been kept for him."

At first the prince took no heed to all this clamour, but continued to press forward on his way. Unfortunately
this conduct, instead of silencing the voices, only seemed to irritate them the more, and they arose with
redoubled fury, in front as well as behind. After some time he grew bewildered, his knees began to tremble,
and finding himself in the act of falling, he forgot altogether the advice of the dervish. He turned to fly down
the mountain, and in one moment became a black stone.

As may be imagined, Prince Perviz and his sister were all this time in the greatest anxiety, and consulted the
magic knife, not once but many times a day. Hitherto the blade had remained bright and spotless, but on the
fatal hour on which Prince Bahman and his horse were changed into black stones, large drops of blood
appeared on the surface. "Ah! my beloved brother," cried the princess in horror, throwing the knife from her,
"I shall never see you again, and it is I who have killed you. Fool that I was to listen to the voice of that
temptress, who probably was not speaking the truth. What are the Talking Bird and the Singing Tree to me in
comparison with you, passionately though I long for them!"

Prince Perviz's grief at his brother's loss was not less than that of Princess Parizade, but he did not waste his
time on useless lamentations.

"My sister," he said, "why should you think the old woman was deceiving you about these treasures, and what
would have been her object in doing so! No, no, our brother must have met his death by some accident, or
want of precaution, and to-morrow I will start on the same quest."

Terrified at the thought that she might lose her only remaining brother, the princess entreated him to give up
his project, but he remained firm. Before setting out, however, he gave her a chaplet of a hundred pearls, and
said, "When I am absent, tell this over daily for me. But if you should find that the beads stick, so that they
will not slip one after the other, you will know that my brother's fate has befallen me. Still, we must hope for
better luck."

Then he departed, and on the twentieth day of his journey fell in with the dervish on the same spot as Prince
Bahman had met him, and began to question him as to the place where the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree and
the Golden Water were to be found. As in the case of his brother, the dervish tried to make him give up his
project, and even told him that only a few weeks since a young man, bearing a strong resemblance to himself,
had passed that way, but had never come back again.

"That, holy dervish," replied Prince Perviz, "was my elder brother, who is now dead, though how he died I
cannot say."

"He is changed into a black stone," answered the dervish, "like all the rest who have gone on the same errand,
and you will become one likewise if you are not more careful in following my directions." Then he charged
the prince, as he valued his life, to take no heed of the clamour of voices that would pursue him up the
mountain, and handing him a ball from the bag, which still seemed to be half full, he sent him on his way.

When Prince Perviz reached the foot of the mountain he jumped from his horse, and paused for a moment to
recall the instructions the dervish had given him. Then he strode boldly on, but had scarcely gone five or six
paces when he was startled by a man's voice that seemed close to his ear, exclaiming: "Stop, rash fellow, and
let me punish your audacity." This outrage entirely put the dervish's advice out of the prince's head. He drew
his sword, and turned to avenge himself, but almost before he had realised that there was nobody there, he and
his horse were two black stones.

Not a morning had passed since Prince Perviz had ridden away without Princess Parizade telling her beads,
and at night she even hung them round her neck, so that if she woke she could assure herself at once of her


brother's safety. She was in the very act of moving them through her fingers at the moment that the prince fell
a victim to his impatience, and her heart sank when the first pearl remained fixed in its place. However she
had long made up her mind what she would do in such a case, and the following morning the princess,
disguised as a man, set out for the mountain.

As she had been accustomed to riding from her childhood, she managed to travel as many miles daily as her
brothers had done, and it was, as before, on the twentieth day that she arrived at the place where the dervish
was sitting. "Good dervish," she said politely, "will you allow me to rest by you for a few moments, and
perhaps you will be so kind as to tell me if you have ever heard of a Talking Bird, a Singing Tree, and some
Golden Water that are to be found somewhere near this?"

"Madam," replied the dervish, "for in spite of your manly dress your voice betrays you, I shall be proud to
serve you in any way I can. But may I ask the purpose of your question?"

"Good dervish," answered the princess, "I have heard such glowing descriptions of these three things, that I
cannot rest till I possess them."

"Madam," said the dervish, "they are far more beautiful than any description, but you seem ignorant of all the
difficulties that stand in your way, or you would hardly have undertaken such an adventure. Give it up, I pray
you, and return home, and do not ask me to help you to a cruel death."

"Holy father," answered the princess, "I come from far, and I should be in despair if I turned back without
having attained my object. You have spoken of difficulties; tell me, I entreat you, what they are, so that I may
know if I can overcome them, or see if they are beyond my strength."

So the dervish repeated his tale, and dwelt more firmly than before on the clamour of the voices, the horrors of
the black stones, which were once living men, and the difficulties of climbing the mountain; and pointed out
that the chief means of success was never to look behind till you had the cage in your grasp.

"As far as I can see," said the princess, "the first thing is not to mind the tumult of the voices that follow you
till you reach the cage, and then never to look behind. As to this, I think I have enough self-control to look
straight before me; but as it is quite possible that I might be frightened by the voices, as even the boldest men
have been, I will stop up my ears with cotton, so that, let them make as much noise as they like, I shall hear

"Madam," cried the dervish, "out of all the number who have asked me the way to the mountain, you are the
first who has ever suggested such a means of escaping the danger! It is possible that you may succeed, but all
the same, the risk is great."

"Good dervish," answered the princess, "I feel in my heart that I shall succeed, and it only remains for me to
ask you the way I am to go."

Then the dervish said that it was useless to say more, and he gave her the ball, which she flung before her.

The first thing the princess did on arriving at the mountain was to stop her ears with cotton, and then, making
up her mind which was the best way to go, she began her ascent. In spite of the cotton, some echoes of the
voices reached her ears, but not so as to trouble her. Indeed, though they grew louder and more insulting the
higher she climbed, the princess only laughed, and said to herself that she certainly would not let a few rough
words stand between her and the goal. At last she perceived in the distance the cage and the bird, whose voice
joined itself in tones of thunder to those of the rest: "Return, return! never dare to come near me."

At the sight of the bird, the princess hastened her steps, and without vexing herself at the noise which by this


time had grown deafening, she walked straight up to the cage, and seizing it, she said: "Now, my bird, I have
got you, and I shall take good care that you do not escape." As she spoke she took the cotton from her ears, for
it was needed no longer.

"Brave lady," answered the bird, "do not blame me for having joined my voice to those who did their best to
preserve my freedom. Although confined in a cage, I was content with my lot, but if I must become a slave, I
could not wish for a nobler mistress than one who has shown so much constancy, and from this moment I
swear to serve you faithfully. Some day you will put me to the proof, for I know who you are better than you
do yourself. Meanwhile, tell me what I can do, and I will obey you."

"Bird," replied the princess, who was filled with a joy that seemed strange to herself when she thought that the
bird had cost her the lives of both her brothers. "bird, let me first thank you for your good will, and then let me
ask you where the Golden Water is to be found."

The bird described the place, which was not far distant, and the princess filled a small silver flask that she had
brought with her for the purpose. She then returned to the cage, and said: "Bird, there is still something else,
where shall I find the Singing Tree?"

"Behind you, in that wood," replied the bird, and the princess wandered through the wood, till a sound of the
sweetest voices told her she had found what she sought. But the tree was tall and strong, and it was hopeless
to think of uprooting it.

"You need not do that," said the bird, when she had returned to ask counsel. "Break off a twig, and plant it in
your garden, and it will take root, and grow into a magnificent tree."

When the Princess Parizade held in her hands the three wonders promised her by the old woman, she said to
the bird: "All that is not enough. It was owing to you that my brothers became black stones. I cannot tell them
from the mass of others, but you must know, and point them out to me, I beg you, for I wish to carry them

For some reason that the princess could not guess these words seemed to displease the bird, and he did not
answer. The princess waited a moment, and then continued in severe tones, "Have you forgotten that you
yourself said that you are my slave to do my bidding, and also that your life is in my power?"

"No, I have not forgotten," replied the bird, "but what you ask is very difficult. However, I will do my best. If
you look round," he went on, "you will see a pitcher standing near. Take it, and, as you go down the
mountain, scatter a little of the water it contains over every black stone and you will soon find your two

Princess Parizade took the pitcher, and, carrying with her besides the cage the twig and the flask, returned
down the mountain side. At every black stone she stopped and sprinkled it with water, and as the water
touched it the stone instantly became a man. When she suddenly saw her brothers before her her delight was
mixed with astonishment.

"Why, what are you doing here?" she cried.

"We have been asleep," they said.

"Yes," returned the princess, "but without me your sleep would probably have lasted till the day of judgment.
Have you forgotten that you came here in search of the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree, and the Golden Water,
and the black stones that were heaped up along the road? Look round and see if there is one left. These
gentlemen, and yourselves, and all your horses were changed into these stones, and I have delivered you by


sprinkling you with the water from this pitcher. As I could not return home without you, even though I had
gained the prizes on which I had set my heart, I forced the Talking Bird to tell me how to break the spell."

On hearing these words Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz understood all they owed their sister, and the
knights who stood by declared themselves her slaves and ready to carry out her wishes. But the princess,
while thanking them for their politeness, explained that she wished for no company but that of her brothers,
and that the rest were free to go where they would.

So saying the princess mounted her horse, and, declining to allow even Prince Bahman to carry the cage with
the Talking Bird, she entrusted him with the branch of the Singing Tree, while Prince Perviz took care of the
flask containing the Golden Water.

Then they rode away, followed by the knights and gentlemen, who begged to be permitted to escort them.

It had been the intention of the party to stop and tell their adventures to the dervish, but they found to their
sorrow that he was dead, whether from old age, or whether from the feeling that his task was done, they never

As they continued their road their numbers grew daily smaller, for the knights turned off one by one to their
own homes, and only the brothers and sister finally drew up at the gate of the palace.

The princess carried the cage straight into the garden, and, as soon as the bird began to sing, nightingales,
larks, thrushes, finches, and all sorts of other birds mingled their voices in chorus. The branch she planted in a
corner near the house, and in a few days it had grown into a great tree. As for the Golden Water it was poured
into a great marble basin specially prepared for it, and it swelled and bubbled and then shot up into the air in a
fountain twenty feet high.

The fame of these wonders soon spread abroad, and people came from far and near to see and admire.

After a few days Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz fell back into their ordinary way of life, and passed most
of their time hunting. One day it happened that the Sultan of Persia was also hunting in the same direction,
and, not wishing to interfere with his sport, the young men, on hearing the noise of the hunt approaching,
prepared to retire, but, as luck would have it, they turned into the very path down which the Sultan was
coming. They threw themselves from their horses and prostrated themselves to the earth, but the Sultan was
curious to see their faces, and commanded them to rise.

The princes stood up respectfully, but quite at their ease, and the Sultan looked at them for a few moments
without speaking, then he asked who they were and where they lived.

"Sire," replied Prince Bahman, "we are sons of your Highness's late intendant of the gardens, and we live in a
house that he built a short time before his death, waiting till an occasion should offer itself to serve your

"You seem fond of hunting," answered the Sultan.

"Sire," replied Prince Bahman, "it is our usual exercise, and one that should be neglected by no man who
expects to comply with the ancient customs of the kingdom and bear arms."

The Sultan was delighted with this remark, and said at once, "In that case I shall take great pleasure in
watching you. Come, choose what sort of beasts you would like to hunt."

The princes jumped on their horses and followed the Sultan at a little distance. They had not gone very far


before they saw a number of wild animals appear at once, and Prince Bahman started to give chase to a lion
and Prince Perviz to a bear. Both used their javelins with such skill that, directly they arrived within striking
range, the lion and the bear fell, pierced through and through. Then Prince Perviz pursued a lion and Prince
Bahman a bear, and in a very few minutes they, too, lay dead. As they were making ready for a third assault
the Sultan interfered, and, sending one of his officials to summon them, he said smiling, "If I let you go on,
there will soon be no beasts left to hunt. Besides, your courage and manners have so won my heart that I will
not have you expose yourselves to further danger. I am convinced that some day or other I shall find you
useful as well as agreeable."

He then gave them a warm invitation to stay with him altogether, but with many thanks for the honour done
them, they begged to be excused, and to be suffered to remain at home.

The Sultan who was not accustomed to see his offers rejected inquired their reasons, and Prince Bahman
explained that they did not wish to leave their sister, and were accustomed to do nothing without consulting
all three together.

"Ask her advice, then," replied the Sultan, "and to-morrow come and hunt with me, and give me your

The two princes returned home, but their adventure made so little impression on them that they quite forgot to
speak to their sister on the subject. The next morning when they went to hunt they met the Sultan in the same
place, and he inquired what advice their sister had given. The young men looked at each other and blushed. At
last Prince Bahman said, "Sire, we must throw ourselves on your Highness's mercy. Neither my brother nor
myself remembered anything about it."

"Then be sure you do not forget to-day," answered the Sultan, "and bring me back your reply to-morrow."

When, however, the same thing happened a second time, they feared that the Sultan might be angry with them
for their carelessness. But he took it in good part, and, drawing three little golden balls from his purse, he held
them out to Prince Bahman, saying, "Put these in your bosom and you will not forget a third time, for when
you remove your girdle to-night the noise they will make in falling will remind you of my wishes."

It all happened as the Sultan had foreseen, and the two brothers appeared in their sister's apartments just as she
was in the act of stepping into bed, and told their tale.

The Princess Parizade was much disturbed at the news, and did not conceal her feelings. "Your meeting with
the Sultan is very honourable to you," she said, "and will, I dare say, be of service to you, but it places me in a
very awkward position. It is on my account, I know, that you have resisted the Sultan's wishes, and I am very
grateful to you for it. But kings do not like to have their offers refused, and in time he would bear a grudge
against you, which would render me very unhappy. Consult the Talking Bird, who is wise and far-seeing, and
let me hear what he says."

So the bird was sent for and the case laid before him.

"The princes must on no account refuse the Sultan's proposal," said he, "and they must even invite him to
come and see your house."

"But, bird," objected the princess, "you know how dearly we love each other; will not all this spoil our

"Not at all," replied the bird, "it will make it all the closer."

"Then the Sultan will have to see me," said the princess.

The bird answered that it was necessary that he should see her, and everything would turn out for the best.

The following morning, when the Sultan inquired if they had spoken to their sister and what advice she had
given them, Prince Bahman replied that they were ready to agree to his Highness's wishes, and that their sister
had reproved them for their hesitation about the matter. The Sultan received their excuses with great kindness,
and told them that he was sure they would be equally faithful to him, and kept them by his side for the rest of
the day, to the vexation of the grand-vizir and the rest of the court.

When the procession entered in this order the gates of the capital, the eyes of the people who crowded the
streets were fixed on the two young men, strangers to every one.

"Oh, if only the Sultan had had sons like that!" they murmured, "they look so distinguished and are about the
same age that his sons would have been!"

The Sultan commanded that splendid apartments should be prepared for the two brothers, and even insisted
that they should sit at table with him. During dinner he led the conversation to various scientific subjects, and
also to history, of which he was especially fond, but whatever topic they might be discussing he found that the
views of the young men were always worth listening to. "If they were my own sons," he said to himself, "they
could not be better educated!" and aloud he complimented them on their learning and taste for knowledge.

At the end of the evening the princes once more prostrated themselves before the throne and asked leave to
return home; and then, encouraged by the gracious words of farewell uttered by the Sultan, Prince Bahman
said: "Sire, may we dare to take the liberty of asking whether you would do us and our sister the honour of
resting for a few minutes at our house the first time the hunt passes that way?"

"With the utmost pleasure," replied the Sultan; "and as I am all impatience to see the sister of such
accomplished young men you may expect me the day after to-morrow."

The princess was of course most anxious to entertain the Sultan in a fitting way, but as she had no experience
in court customs she ran to the Talking Bird, and begged he would advise her as to what dishes should be

"My dear mistress," replied the bird, "your cooks are very good and you can safely leave all to them, except
that you must be careful to have a dish of cucumbers, stuffed with pearl sauce, served with the first course."

"Cucumbers stuffed with pearls!" exclaimed the princess. "Why, bird, who ever heard of such a dish? The
Sultan will expect a dinner he can eat, and not one he can only admire! Besides, if I were to use all the pearls I
possess, they would not be half enough."

"Mistress," replied the bird, "do what I tell you and nothing but good will come of it. And as to the pearls, if
you go at dawn to-morrow and dig at the foot of the first tree in the park, on the right hand, you will find as
many as you want."

The princess had faith in the bird, who generally proved to be right, and taking the gardener with her early
next morning followed out his directions carefully. After digging for some time they came upon a golden box
fastened with little clasps.

These were easily undone, and the box was found to be full of pearls, not very large ones, but well-shaped and
of a good colour. So leaving the gardener to fill up the hole he had made under the tree, the princess took up
the box and returned to the house.

The two princes had seen her go out, and had wondered what could have made her rise so early. Full of
curiosity they got up and dressed, and met their sister as she was returning with the box under her arm.

"What have you been doing?" they asked, "and did the gardener come to tell you he had found a treasure?"

"On the contrary," replied the princess, "it is I who have found one," and opening the box she showed her
astonished brothers the pearls inside. Then, on the way back to the palace, she told them of her consultation
with the bird, and the advice it had given her. All three tried to guess the meaning of the singular counsel, but
they were forced at last to admit the explanation was beyond them, and they must be content blindly to obey.

The first thing the princess did on entering the palace was to send for the head cook and to order the repast for
the Sultan When she had finished she suddenly added, "Besides the dishes I have mentioned there is one that
you must prepare expressly for the Sultan, and that no one must touch but yourself. It consists of a stuffed
cucumber, and the stuffing is to be made of these pearls."

The head cook, who had never in all his experience heard of such a dish, stepped back in amazement.

"You think I am mad," answered the princess, who perceived what was in his mind. "But I know quite well
what I am doing. Go, and do your best, and take the pearls with you."

The next morning the princes started for the forest, and were soon joined by the Sultan. The hunt began and
continued till mid-day, when the heat became so great that they were obliged to leave off. Then, as arranged,
they turned their horses' heads towards the palace, and while Prince Bahman remained by the side of the
Sultan, Prince Perviz rode on to warn his sister of their approach.

The moment his Highness entered the courtyard, the princess flung herself at his feet, but he bent and raised
her, and gazed at her for some time, struck with her grace and beauty, and also with the indefinable air of
courts that seemed to hang round this country girl. "They are all worthy one of the other," he said to himself,
"and I am not surprised that they think so much of her opinions. I must know more of them."

By this time the princess had recovered from the first embarrassment of meeting, and proceeded to make her
speech of welcome.

"This is only a simple country house, sire," she said, "suitable to people like ourselves, who live a quiet life. It
cannot compare with the great city mansions, much less, of course, with the smallest of the Sultan's palaces."

"I cannot quite agree with you," he replied; "even the little that I have seen I admire greatly, and I will reserve
my judgment until you have shown me the whole."

The princess then led the way from room to room, and the Sultan examined everything carefully. "Do you call
this a simple country house?" he said at last. "Why, if every country house was like this, the towns would
soon be deserted. I am no longer astonished that you do not wish to leave it. Let us go into the gardens, which
I am sure are no less beautiful than the rooms."

A small door opened straight into the garden, and the first object that met the Sultan's eyes was the Golden

"What lovely coloured water!" he exclaimed; "where is the spring, and how do you make the fountain rise so
high? I do not believe there is anything like it in the world." He went forward to examine it, and when he had
satisfied his curiosity, the princess conducted him towards the Singing Tree.

As they drew near, the Sultan was startled by the sound of strange voices, but could see nothing. "Where have

you hidden your musicians?" he asked the princess; "are they up in the air, or under the earth? Surely the
owners of such charming voices ought not to conceal themselves!"

"Sire," answered the princess, "the voices all come from the tree which is straight in front of us; and if you
will deign to advance a few steps, you will see that they become clearer."

The Sultan did as he was told, and was so wrapt in delight at what he heard that he stood some time in silence.

"Tell me, madam, I pray you," he said at last, "how this marvellous tree came into your garden? It must have
been brought from a great distance, or else, fond as I am of all curiosities, I could not have missed hearing of
it! What is its name?"

"The only name it has, sire," replied she, "is the Singing Tree, and it is not a native of this country. Its history
is mixed up with those of the Golden Water and the Talking Bird, which you have not yet seen. If your
Highness wishes I will tell you the whole story, when you have recovered from your fatigue."

"Indeed, madam," returned he, "you show me so many wonders that it is impossible to feel any fatigue. Let us
go once more and look at the Golden Water; and I am dying to see the Talking Bird."

The Sultan could hardly tear himself away from the Golden Water, which puzzled him more and more. "You
say," he observed to the princess, "that this water does not come from any spring, neither is brought by pipes.
All I understand is, that neither it nor the Singing Tree is a native of this country."

"It is as you say, sire," answered the princess, "and if you examine the basin, you will see that it is all in one
piece, and therefore the water could not have been brought through it. What is more astonishing is, that I only
emptied a small flaskful into the basin, and it increased to the quantity you now see."

"Well, I will look at it no more to-day," said the Sultan. "Take me to the Talking Bird."

On approaching the house, the Sultan noticed a vast quantity of birds, whose voices filled the air, and he
inquired why they were so much more numerous here than in any other part of the garden.

"Sire," answered the princess, "do you see that cage hanging in one of the windows of the saloon? that is the
Talking Bird, whose voice you can hear above them all, even above that of the nightingale. And the birds
crowd to this spot, to add their songs to his."

The Sultan stepped through the window, but the bird took no notice, continuing his song as before.

"My slave," said the princess, "this is the Sultan; make him a pretty speech."

The bird stopped singing at once, and all the other birds stopped too.

"The Sultan is welcome," he said. "I wish him long life and all prosperity."

"I thank you, good bird," answered the Sultan, seating himself before the repast, which was spread at a table
near the window, "and I am enchanted to see in you the Sultan and King of the Birds."

The Sultan, noticing that his favourite dish of cucumber was placed before him, proceeded to help himself to
it, and was amazed to and that the stuffing was of pearls. "A novelty, indeed!" cried he, "but I do not
understand the reason of it; one cannot eat pearls!"

"Sire," replied the bird, before either the princes or the princess could speak, "surely your Highness cannot be

so surprised at beholding a cucumber stuffed with pearls, when you believed without any difficulty that the
Sultana had presented you, instead of children, with a dog, a cat, and a log of wood."

"I believed it," answered the Sultan, "because the women attending on her told me so."

"The women, sire," said the bird, "were the sisters of the Sultana, who were devoured with jealousy at the
honour you had done her, and in order to revenge themselves invented this story. Have them examined, and
they will confess their crime. These are your children, who were saved from death by the intendant of your
gardens, and brought up by him as if they were his own."

Like a flash the truth came to the mind of the Sultan. "Bird," he cried, "my heart tells me that what you say is
true. My children," he added, "let me embrace you, and embrace each other, not only as brothers and sister,
but as having in you the blood royal of Persia which could flow in no nobler veins."

When the first moments of emotion were over, the Sultan hastened to finish his repast, and then turning to his
children he exclaimed: "To-day you have made acquaintance with your father. To-morrow I will bring you the
Sultana your mother. Be ready to receive her."

The Sultan then mounted his horse and rode quickly back to the capital. Without an instant's delay he sent for
the grand-vizir, and ordered him to seize and question the Sultana's sisters that very day. This was done. They
were confronted with each other and proved guilty, and were executed in less than an hour.

But the Sultan did not wait to hear that his orders had been carried out before going on foot, followed by his
whole court to the door of the great mosque, and drawing the Sultana with his own hand out of the narrow
prison where she had spent so many years, "Madam," he cried, embracing her with tears in his eyes, "I have
come to ask your pardon for the injustice I have done you, and to repair it as far as I may. I have already
begun by punishing the authors of this abominable crime, and I hope you will forgive me when I introduce
you to our children, who are the most charming and accomplished creatures in the whole world. Come with
me, and take back your position and all the honour that is due to you."

This speech was delivered in the presence of a vast multitude of people, who had gathered from all parts on
the first hint of what was happening, and the news was passed from mouth to mouth in a few seconds.

Early next day the Sultan and Sultana, dressed in robes of state and followed by all the court, set out for the
country house of their children. Here the Sultan presented them to the Sultana one by one, and for some time
there was nothing but embraces and tears and tender words. Then they ate of the magnificent dinner which
had been prepared for them, and after they were all refreshed they went into the garden, where the Sultan
pointed out to his wife the Golden Water and the Singing Tree. As to the Talking Bird, she had already made
acquaintance with him.

In the evening they rode together back to the capital, the princes on each side of their father, and the princess
with her mother. Long before they reached the gates the way was lined with people, and the air filled with
shouts of welcome, with which were mingled the songs of the Talking Bird, sitting in its cage on the lap of the
princess, and of the birds who followed it.

And in this manner they came back to their father's palace.

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