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From The blue fairy book by Andrew lang
Start of Story
The Fairy Paribanou, who had her eyes fixed upon the pretended sick
woman all the time that the Prince was talking to her, ordered two of
her women who followed her to take her from the two men that held her,
and carry her into an apartment of the palace, and take as much care of
her as she would herself.
While the two women executed the Fairy's commands, she went up to Prince
Ahmed, and, whispering in his ear, said: "Prince, this woman is not so
sick as she pretends to be; and I am very much mistaken if she is not an
impostor, who will be the cause of a great trouble to you. But don't
be concerned, let what will be devised against you; be persuaded that
I will deliver you out of all the snares that shall be laid for you. Go
and pursue your journey."
This discourse of the Fairy's did not in the least frighten Prince
Ahmed. "My Princess," said he, "as I do not remember I ever did or
designed anybody an injury, I cannot believe anybody can have a thought
of doing me one, but if they have I shall not, nevertheless, forbear
doing good whenever I have an opportunity." Then he went back to his
In the meantime the two women carried the magician into a very fine
apartment, richly furnished. First they sat her down upon a sofa, with
her back supported with a cushion of gold brocade, while they made a bed
on the same sofa before her, the quilt of which was finely embroidered
with silk, the sheets of the finest linen, and the coverlet
cloth-of-gold. When they had put her into bed (for the old sorceress
pretended that her fever was so violent she could not help herself in
the least) one of the women went out, and returned soon again with a
china dish in her hand, full of a certain liquor, which she presented to
the magician, while the other helped her to sit up. "Drink this liquor,"
said she; "it is the Water of the Fountain of Lions, and a sovereign
remedy against all fevers whatsoever. You will find the effect of it in
less than an hour's time."
The magician, to dissemble the better, took it after a great deal of
entreaty; but at last she took the china dish, and, holding back her
head, swallowed down the liquor. When she was laid down again the two
women covered her up. "Lie quiet," said she who brought her the china
cup, "and get a little sleep if you can. We'll leave you, and hope to
find you perfectly cured when we come again an hour hence."
The two women came again at the time they said they should, and found
the magician up and dressed, and sitting upon the sofa. "Oh, admirable
potion!" she said: "it has wrought its cure much sooner than you told me
it would, and I shall be able to prosecute my journey."
The two women, who were fairies as well as their mistress, after they
had told the magician how glad they were that she was cured so soon,
walked before her, and conducted her through several apartments, all
more noble than that wherein she lay, into a large hall, the most richly
and magnificently furnished of all the palace.
Fairy Paribanou sat in this hall on a throne of massive gold, enriched
with diamonds, rubies, and pearls of an extraordinary size, and attended
on each hand by a great number of beautiful fairies, all richly clothed.
At the sight of so much majesty, the magician was not only dazzled, but
was so amazed that, after she had prostrated herself before the throne,
she could not open her lips to thank the Fairy as she proposed. However,
Paribanou saved her the trouble, and said to her: "Good woman, I am glad
I had an opportunity to oblige you, and to see you are able to pursue
your journey. I won't detain you, but perhaps you may not be displeased
to see my palace; follow my women, and they will show it you."
Then the magician went back and related to the Sultan of the Indies all
that had happened, and how very rich Prince Ahmed was since his marriage
with the Fairy, richer than all the kings in the world, and how there
was danger that he should come and take the throne from his father.
Though the Sultan of the Indies was very well persuaded that Prince
Ahmed's natural disposition was good, yet he could not help being
concerned at the discourse of the old sorceress, to whom, when she was
taking her leave, he said: "I thank thee for the pains thou hast taken,
and thy wholesome advice. I am so sensible of the great importance it is
to me that I shall deliberate upon it in council."
Now the favorites advised that the Prince should be killed, but the
magician advised differently: "Make him give you all kinds of wonderful
things, by the Fairy's help, till she tires of him and sends him away.
As, for example, every time your Majesty goes into the field, you are
obliged to be at a great expense, not only in pavilions and tents for
your army, but likewise in mules and camels to carry their baggage. Now,
might not you engage him to use his interest with the Fairy to procure
you a tent which might be carried in a man's hand, and which should be
so large as to shelter your whole army against bad weather?"
When the magician had finished her speech, the Sultan asked his
favorites if they had anything better to propose; and, finding them
all silent, determined to follow the magician's advice, as the most
reasonable and most agreeable to his mild government.
Next day the Sultan did as the magician had advised him, and asked for
Prince Ahmed never expected that the Sultan his father would have
asked such a thing, which at first appeared so difficult, not to say
impossible. Though he knew not absolutely how great the power of genies
and fairies was, he doubted whether it extended so far as to compass
such a tent as his father desired. At last he replied: "Though it is
with the greatest reluctance imaginable, I will not fail to ask the
favor of my wife your Majesty desires, but will not promise you to
obtain it; and if I should not have the honor to come again to pay you
my respects that shall be the sign that I have not had success. But
beforehand, I desire you to forgive me, and consider that you yourself
have reduced me to this extremity."
Son," replied the Sultan of the Indies, "I should be very sorry if what
I ask of you should cause me the displeasure of never seeing you more. I
find you don't know the power a husband has over a wife; and yours would
show that her love to you was very indifferent if she, with the power
she has of a fairy, should refuse you so trifling a request as this I
desire you to ask of her for my sake." The Prince went back, and was
very sad for fear of offending the Fairy. She kept pressing him to
tell her what was the matter, and at last he said: "Madam, you may have
observed that hitherto I have been content with your love, and have
never asked you any other favor. Consider then, I conjure you, that
it is not I, but the Sultan my father, who indiscreetly, or at least I
think so, begs of you a pavilion large enough to shelter him, his Court,
and army from the violence of the weather, and which a man may carry in
his hand. But remember it is the Sultan my father asks this favor."
"Prince," replied the Fairy, smiling, "I am sorry that so small a matter
should disturb you, and make you so uneasy as you appeared to me."
Then the Fairy sent for her treasurer, to whom, when she came, she said:
"Nourgihan"--which was her name--"bring me the largest pavilion in my
treasury." Nourgiham returned presently with the pavilion, which she
could not only hold in her hand, but in the palm of her hand when she
shut her fingers, and presented it to her mistress, who gave it to
Prince Ahmed to look at.
When Prince Ahmed saw the pavilion which the Fairy called the largest in
her treasury, he fancied she had a mind to jest with him, and thereupon
the marks of his surprise appeared presently in his countenance; which
Paribanou perceiving burst out laughing. "What! Prince," cried she, "do
you think I jest with you? You'll see presently that I am in earnest.
Nourgihan," said she to her treasurer, taking the tent out of Prince
Ahmed's hands, "go and set it up, that the Prince may judge whether it
may be large enough for the Sultan his father."
The treasurer went immediately with it out of the palace, and carried it
a great way off; and when she had set it up one end reached to the very
palace; at which time the Prince, thinking it small, found it large
enough to shelter two greater armies than that of the Sultan his
father's, and then said to Paribanou: "I ask my Princess a thousand
pardons for my incredulity; after what I have seen I believe there
is nothing impossible to you." "You see," said the Fairy, "that the
pavilion is larger than what your father may have occasion for; for
you must know that it has one property--that it is larger or smaller
according to the army it is to cover."
The treasurer took down the tent again, and brought it to the Prince,
who took it, and, without staying any longer than till the next day,
mounted his horse, and went with the same attendants to the Sultan his
The Sultan, who was persuaded that there could not be any such thing
as such a tent as he asked for, was in a great surprise at the Prince's
diligence. He took the tent and after he had admired its smallness his
amazement was so great that he could not recover himself. When the tent
was set up in the great plain, which we have before mentioned, he found
it large enough to shelter an army twice as large as he could bring into
But the Sultan was not yet satisfied. "Son," said he, "I have already
expressed to you how much I am obliged to you for the present of the
tent you have procured me; that I look upon it as the most valuable
thing in all my treasury. But you must do one thing more for me, which
will be every whit as agreeable to me. I am informed that the Fairy,
your spouse, makes use of a certain water, called the Water of the
Fountain of Lions, which cures all sorts of fevers, even the most
dangerous, and, as I am perfectly well persuaded my health is dear to
you, I don't doubt but you will ask her for a bottle of that water for
me, and bring it me as a sovereign medicine, which I may make use of
when I have occasion. Do me this other important piece of service, and
thereby complete the duty of a good son toward a tender father."
The Prince returned and told the Fairy what his father had said;
"There's a great deal of wickedness in this demand?" she answered, "as
you will understand by what I am going to tell you. The Fountain of
Lions is situated in the middle of a court of a great castle, the
entrance into which is guarded by four fierce lions, two of which sleep
alternately, while the other two are awake. But don't let that frighten
you: I'll give you means to pass by them without any danger."
The Fairy Paribanou was at that time very hard at work, and, as she had
several clews of thread by her, she took up one, and, presenting it
to Prince Ahmed, said: "First take this clew of thread. I'll tell you
presently the use of it. In the second place, you must have two horses;
one you must ride yourself, and the other you must lead, which must be
loaded with a sheep cut into four quarters, that must be killed to-day.
In the third place, you must be provided with a bottle, which I will
give you, to bring the water in. Set out early to-morrow morning, and
when you have passed the iron gate throw the clew of thread before you,
which will roll till it comes to the gates of the castle. Follow it, and
when it stops, as the gates will be open, you will see the four lions:
the two that are awake will, by their roaring, wake the other two, but
don't be frightened, but throw each of them a quarter of mutton, and
then clap spurs to your horse and ride to the fountain; fill your bottle
without alighting, and then return with the same expedition. The lions
will be so busy eating they will let you pass by them."