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From The blue fairy book by Andrew lang
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Start of Story
If I may believe you," replied Prince Ahmed, "the virtues of this apple
are wonderful, and it is invaluable; but what ground have I, for all you
tell me, to be persuaded of the truth of this matter?" "Sir," replied
the crier, "the thing is known and averred by the whole city of
Samarcand; but, without going any further, ask all these merchants you
see here, and hear what they say. You will find several of them will
tell you they had not been alive this day if they had not made use of
this excellent remedy. And, that you may better comprehend what it is,
I must tell you it is the fruit of the study and experiments of a
celebrated philosopher of this city, who applied himself all his
lifetime to the study and knowledge of the virtues of plants and
minerals, and at last attained to this composition, by which he
performed such surprising cures in this town as will never be forgot,
but died suddenly himself, before he could apply his sovereign remedy,
and left his wife and a great many young children behind him, in very
indifferent circumstances, who, to support her family and provide for
her children, is resolved to sell it."
While the crier informed Prince Ahmed of the virtues of the artificial
apple, a great many persons came about them and confirmed what he said;
and one among the rest said he had a friend dangerously ill, whose life
was despaired of; and that was a favorable opportunity to show Prince
Ahmed the experiment. Upon which Prince Ahmed told the crier he would
give him forty purses if he cured the sick person.
The crier, who had orders to sell it at that price, said to Prince
Ahmed: "Come, sir, let us go and make the experiment, and the apple
shall be yours; and I can assure you that it will always have the
desired effect." In short, the experiment succeeded, and the Prince,
after he had counted out to the crier forty purses, and he had delivered
the apple to him, waited patiently for the first caravan that should
return to the Indies, and arrived in perfect health at the inn where the
Princes Houssain and Ali waited for him.
When the Princes met they showed each other their treasures, and
immediately saw through the glass that the Princess was dying. They then
sat down on the carpet, wished themselves with her, and were there in a
Prince Ahmed no sooner perceived himself in Nouronnihar's chamber than
he rose off the tapestry, as did also the other two Princes, and went
to the bedside, and put the apple under her nose; some moments after the
Princess opened her eyes, and turned her head from one side to another,
looking at the persons who stood about her; and then rose up in the bed,
and asked to be dressed, just as if she had waked out of a sound sleep.
Her women having presently informed her, in a manner that showed their
joy, that she was obliged to the three Princes for the sudden recovery
of her health, and particularly to Prince Ahmed, she immediately
expressed her joy to see them, and thanked them all together, and
afterward Prince Ahmed in particular.
While the Princess was dressing the Princes went to throw themselves at
the Sultan their father's feet, and pay their respects to him. But when
they came before him they found he had been informed of their arrival by
the chief of the Princess's eunuchs, and by what means the Princess had
been perfectly cured. The Sultan received and embraced them with the
greatest joy, both for their return and the recovery of the Princess his
niece, whom he loved as well as if she had been his own daughter, and
who had been given over by the physicians. After the usual ceremonies
and compliments the Princes presented each his rarity: Prince Houssain
his tapestry, which he had taken care not to leave behind him in the
Princess's chamber; Prince Ali his ivory perspective glass, and Prince
Ahmed his artificial apple; and after each had commended their present,
when they put it into the Sultan's hands, they begged of him to
pronounce their fate, and declare to which of them he would give the
Princess Nouronnihar for a wife, according to his promise.
The Sultan of the Indies, having heard, without interrupting them, all
that the Princes could represent further about their rarities, and
being well informed of what had happened in relation to the Princess
Nouronnihar's cure, remained some time silent, as if he were thinking
on what answer he should make. At last he broke the silence, and said
to them: "I would declare for one of you children with a great deal of
pleasure if I could do it with justice; but consider whether I can do it
or no. 'Tis true, Prince Ahmed, the Princess my niece is obliged to
your artificial apple for her cure; but I must ask you whether or no
you could have been so serviceable to her if you had not known by Prince
Ali's perspective glass the danger she was in, and if Prince Houssain's
tapestry had not brought you so soon.
Your perspective glass, Prince
Ali, informed you and your brothers that you were like to lose the
Princess your cousin, and there you must own a great obligation.
"You must also grant that that knowledge would have been of no service
without the artificial apple and the tapestry. And lastly, Prince
Houssain, the Princess would be very ungrateful if she should not
show her acknowledgment of the service of your tapestry, which was so
necessary a means toward her cure. But consider, it would have been of
little use if you had not been acquainted with the Princess's illness
by Prince Ali's glass, and Prince Ahmed had not applied his artificial
apple. Therefore, as neither tapestry, ivory perspective glass, nor
artificial apple have the least preference one before the other, but, on
the contrary, there's a perfect equality, I cannot grant the Princess to
any one of you; and the only fruit you have reaped from your travels is
the glory of having equally contributed to restore her health.
"If all this be true," added the Sultan, "you see that I must have
recourse to other means to determine certainly in the choice I ought
to make among you; and that, as there is time enough between this and
night, I'll do it to-day. Go and get each of you a bow and arrow, and
repair to the great plain, where they exercise horses. I'll soon come to
you, and declare I will give the Princess Nouronnihar to him that shoots
The three Princes had nothing to say against the decision of the Sultan.
When they were out of his presence they each provided themselves with a
bow and arrow, which they delivered to one of their officers, and went
to the plain appointed, followed by a great concourse of people.
The Sultan did not make them wait long for him, and as soon as he
arrived Prince Houssain, as the eldest, took his bow and arrow and shot
first; Prince Ali shot next, and much beyond him; and Prince Ahmed last
of all, but it so happened that nobody could see where his arrow fell;
and, notwithstanding all the diligence that was used by himself and
everybody else, it was not to be found far or near. And though it was
believed that he shot the farthest, and that he therefore deserved the
Princess Nouronnihar, it was, however, necessary that his arrow
should be found to make the matter more evident and certain; and,
notwithstanding his remonstrance, the Sultan judged in favor of Prince
Ali, and gave orders for preparations to be made for the wedding, which
was celebrated a few days after with great magnificence.
Prince Houssain would not honor the feast with his presence. In short,
his grief was so violent and insupportable that he left the Court, and
renounced all right of succession to the crown, to turn hermit.
Prince Ahmed, too, did not come to Prince Ali's and the Princess
Nouronnihar's wedding any more than his brother Houssain, but did not
renounce the world as he had done. But, as he could not imagine what had
become of his arrow, he stole away from his attendants and resolved to
search after it, that he might not have anything to reproach himself
with. With this intent he went to the place where the Princes Houssain's
and Ali's were gathered up, and, going straight forward from there,
looking carefully on both sides of him, he went so far that at last
he began to think his labor was all in vain; but yet he could not help
going forward till he came to some steep craggy rocks, which were
bounds to his journey, and were situated in a barren country, about four
leagues distant from where he set out.
When Prince Ahmed came pretty nigh to these rocks he perceived an arrow,
which he gathered up, looked earnestly at it, and was in the greatest
astonishment to find it was the same he shot away. "Certainly," said he
to himself, "neither I nor any man living could shoot an arrow so far,"
and, finding it laid flat, not sticking into the ground, he judged that
it rebounded against the rock. "There must be some mystery in this,"
said he to himself again, "and it may be advantageous to me. Perhaps
fortune, to make me amends for depriving me of what I thought the
greatest happiness, may have reserved a greater blessing for my
As these rocks were full of caves and some of those caves were deep, the
Prince entered into one, and, looking about, cast his eyes on an iron
door, which seemed to have no lock, but he feared it was fastened.
However, thrusting against it, it opened, and discovered an easy
descent, but no steps, which he walked down with his arrow in his
hand. At first he thought he was going into a dark, obscure place, but
presently a quite different light succeeded that which he came out of,
and, entering into a large, spacious place, at about fifty or sixty
paces distant, he perceived a magnificent palace, which he had not then
time enough to look at. At the same time a lady of majestic port and air
advanced as far as the porch, attended by a large troop of ladies, so
finely dressed and beautiful that it was difficult to distinguish which
was the mistress.
As soon as Prince Ahmed perceived the lady, he made all imaginable
haste to go and pay his respects; and the lady, on her part, seeing him
coming, prevented him from addressing his discourse to her first, but
said to him: "Come nearer, Prince Ahmed, you are welcome."
It was no small surprise to the Prince to hear himself named in a place
he had never heard of, though so nigh to his father's capital, and he
could not comprehend how he should be known to a lady who was a stranger
to him. At last he returned the lady's compliment by throwing himself at
her feet, and, rising up again, said to her:
"Madam, I return you a thousand thanks for the assurance you give me of
a welcome to a place where I believed my imprudent curiosity had made
me penetrate too far. But, madam, may I, without being guilty of ill
manners, dare to ask you by what adventure you know me? and how you, who
live in the same neighborhood with me, should be so great a stranger to
"Prince," said the lady, "let us go into the hall, there I will gratify
you in your request."