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From The The blue fairy book by Andrew lang
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Start of Story
After these words the lady led Prince Ahmed into the hall. Then she sat
down on a sofa, and when the Prince by her entreaty had done the same
she said: "You are surprised, you say, that I should know you and not be
known by you, but you will be no longer surprised when I inform you who
I am. You are undoubtedly sensible that your religion teaches you to
believe that the world is inhabited by genies as well as men. I am the
daughter of one of the most powerful and distinguished genies, and my
name is Paribanou. The only thing that I have to add is, that you seemed
to me worthy of a more happy fate than that of possessing the Princess
Nouronnihar; and, that you might attain to it, I was present when you
drew your arrow, and foresaw it would not go beyond Prince Houssain's.
I took it in the air, and gave it the necessary motion to strike against
the rocks near which you found it, and I tell you that it lies in your
power to make use of the favorable opportunity which presents itself to
make you happy."
As the Fairy Paribanou pronounced these last words with a different
tone, and looked, at the same time, tenderly upon Prince Ahmed, with
a modest blush on her cheeks, it was no hard matter for the Prince to
comprehend what happiness she meant. He presently considered that the
Princess Nouronnihar could never be his and that the Fairy Paribanou
excelled her infinitely in beauty, agreeableness, wit, and, as much
as he could conjecture by the magnificence of the palace, in immense
riches. He blessed the moment that he thought of seeking after his arrow
a second time, and, yielding to his love, "Madam," replied he, "should
I all my life have the happiness of being your slave, and the admirer
of the many charms which ravish my soul, I should think myself the most
blessed of men. Pardon in me the boldness which inspires me to ask this
favor, and don't refuse to admit me into your Court, a prince who is
entirely devoted to you."
"Prince," answered the Fairy, "will you not pledge your faith to me,
as well as I give mine to you?" "Yes, madam," replied the Prince, in an
ecstacy of joy; "what can I do better, and with greater pleasure?
Yes, my sultaness, my queen, I'll give you my heart without the least
reserve." "Then," answered the Fairy, "you are my husband, and I am
your wife. But, as I suppose," pursued she, "that you have eaten nothing
to-day, a slight repast shall be served up for you, while preparations
are making for our wedding feast at night, and then I will show you the
apartments of my palace, and you shall judge if this hall is not the
meanest part of it."
Some of the Fairy's women, who came into the hall with them, and guessed
her intentions, went immediately out, and returned presently with some
excellent meats and wines.
When Prince Ahmed had ate and drunk as much as he cared for, the Fairy
Paribanou carried him through all the apartments, where he saw diamonds,
rubies, emeralds and all sorts of fine jewels, intermixed with pearls,
agate, jasper, porphyry, and all sorts of the most precious marbles.
But, not to mention the richness of the furniture, which was
inestimable, there was such a profuseness throughout that the Prince,
instead of ever having seen anything like it, owned that he could not
have imagined that there was anything in the world that could come up to
it. "Prince," said the Fairy, "if you admire my palace so much, which,
indeed, is very beautiful, what would you say to the palaces of the
chief of our genies, which are much more beautiful, spacious, and
magnificent? I could also charm you with my gardens, but we will let
that alone till another time. Night draws near, and it will be time to
go to supper."
The next hall which the Fairy led the Prince into, and where the cloth
was laid for the feast, was the last apartment the Prince had not seen,
and not in the least inferior to the others. At his entrance into it
he admired the infinite number of sconces of wax candles perfumed with
amber, the multitude of which, instead of being confused, were placed
with so just a symmetry as formed an agreeable and pleasant sight. A
large side table was set out with all sorts of gold plate, so finely
wrought that the workmanship was much more valuable than the weight of
the gold. Several choruses of beautiful women richly dressed, and whose
voices were ravishing, began a concert, accompanied with all sorts of
the most harmonious instruments; and when they were set down at table
the Fairy Paribanou took care to help Prince Ahmed to the most delicate
meats, which she named as she invited him to eat of them, and which
the Prince found to be so exquisitely nice that he commended them with
exaggeration, and said that the entertainment far surpassed those of
man. He found also the same excellence in the wines, which neither he
nor the Fairy tasted of till the dessert was served up, which consisted
of the choicest sweetmeats and fruits.
The wedding feast was continued the next day, or, rather, the days
following the celebration were a continual feast.
At the end of six months Prince Ahmed, who always loved and honored the
Sultan his father, conceived a great desire to know how he was, and
that desire could not be satisfied without his going to see; he told the
Fairy of it, and desired she would give him leave.
"Prince," said she, "go when you please. But first, don't take it amiss
that I give you some advice how you shall behave yourself where you are
going. First, I don't think it proper for you to tell the Sultan your
father of our marriage, nor of my quality, nor the place where you have
been. Beg of him to be satisfied in knowing you are happy, and desire
no more; and let him know that the sole end of your visit is to make him
easy, and inform him of your fate."
She appointed twenty gentlemen, well mounted and equipped, to attend
him. When all was ready Prince Ahmed took his leave of the Fairy,
embraced her, and renewed his promise to return soon. Then his horse,
which was most finely caparisoned, and was as beautiful a creature as
any in the Sultan of Indies' stables, was led to him, and he mounted him
with an extraordinary grace; and, after he had bid her a last adieu, set
forward on his journey.
As it was not a great way to his father's capital, Prince Ahmed soon
arrived there. The people, glad to see him again, received him with
acclamations of joy, and followed him in crowds to the Sultan's
apartment. The Sultan received and embraced him with great joy,
complaining at the same time, with a fatherly tenderness, of the
affliction his long absence had been to him, which he said was the more
grievous for that, fortune having decided in favor of Prince Ali his
brother, he was afraid he might have committed some rash action.
The Prince told a story of his adventures without speaking of the Fairy,
whom he said that he must not mention, and ended: "The only favor I
ask of your Majesty is to give me leave to come often and pay you my
respects, and to know how you do."
"Son," answered the Sultan of the Indies, "I cannot refuse you the leave
you ask me; but I should much rather you would resolve to stay with me;
at least tell me where I may send to you if you should fail to come, or
when I may think your presence necessary." "Sir," replied Prince Ahmed,
"what your Majesty asks of me is part of the mystery I spoke to your
Majesty of. I beg of you to give me leave to remain silent on this head,
for I shall come so frequently that I am afraid that I shall sooner be
thought troublesome than be accused of negligence in my duty."
The Sultan of the Indies pressed Prince Ahmed no more, but said to him:
"Son, I penetrate no farther into your secrets, but leave you at your
liberty; but can tell you that you could not do me a greater pleasure
than to come, and by your presence restore to me the joy I have not
felt this long time, and that you shall always be welcome when you come,
without interrupting your business or pleasure."
Prince Ahmed stayed but three days at the Sultan his father's Court, and
the fourth returned to the Fairy Paribanou, who did not expect him so soon.
A month after Prince Ahmed's return from paying a visit to his father,
as the Fairy Paribanou had observed that the Prince, since the time that
he gave her an account of his journey, his discourse with his father,
and the leave he asked to go and see him often, had never talked of the
Sultan, as if there had been no such person in the world, whereas before
he was always speaking of him, she thought he forebore on her account;
therefore she took an opportunity to say to him one day: "Prince, tell
me, have you forgot the Sultan your father? Don't you remember the
promise you made to go and see him often? For my part I have not forgot
what you told me at your return, and so put you in mind of it, that you
may not be long before you acquit yourself of your promise."
So Prince Ahmed went the next morning with the same attendance as
before, but much finer, and himself more magnificently mounted,
equipped, and dressed, and was received by the Sultan with the same
joy and satisfaction. For several months he constantly paid his visits,
always in a richer and finer equipage.
At last some viziers, the Sultan's favorites, who judged of Prince
Ahmed's grandeur and power by the figure he cut, made the Sultan jealous
of his son, saying it was to be feared he might inveigle himself into
the people's favor and dethrone him.
The Sultan of the Indies was so far from thinking that Prince Ahmed
could be capable of so pernicious a design as his favorites would make
him believe that he said to them: "You are mistaken; my son loves me,
and I am certain of his tenderness and fidelity, as I have given him no
reason to be disgusted."
But the favorites went on abusing Prince Ahmed till the Sultan said: "Be
it as it will, I don't believe my son Ahmed is so wicked as you would
persuade me he is; how ever, I am obliged to you for your good advice,
and don't dispute but that it proceeds from your good intentions."
The Sultan of the Indies said this that his favorites might not know the
impressions their discourse had made on his mind; which had so alarmed
him that he resolved to have Prince Ahmed watched unknown to his grand
vizier. So he sent for a female magician, who was introduced by a back
door into his apartment. "Go immediately," he said, "and follow my son,
and watch him so well as to find out where he retires, and bring me
The magician left the Sultan, and, knowing the place where Prince Ahmed
found his arrow, went immediately thither, and hid herself near the
rocks, so that nobody could see her.
The next morning Prince Ahmed set out by daybreak, without taking leave
either of the Sultan or any of his Court, according to custom. The
magician, seeing him coming, followed him with her eyes, till on a
sudden she lost sight of him and his attendants.
As the rocks were very steep and craggy, they were an insurmountable
barrier, so that the magician judged that there were but two things
for it: either that the Prince retired into some cavern, or an abode of
genies or fairies. Thereupon she came out of the place where she was hid
and went directly to the hollow way, which she traced till she came
to the farther end, looking carefully about on all sides; but,
notwithstanding all her diligence, could perceive no opening, not so
much as the iron gate which Prince Ahmed discovered, which was to be
seen and opened to none but men, and only to such whose presence was
agreeable to the Fairy Paribanou.
The magician, who saw it was in vain for her to search any farther, was
obliged to be satisfied with the discovery she had made, and returned to
give the Sultan an account.
The Sultan was very well pleased with the magician's conduct, and said
to her: "Do you as you think fit; I'll wait patiently the event of your
promises," and to encourage her made her a present of a diamond of great
As Prince Ahmed had obtained the Fairy Paribanou's leave to go to the
Sultan of the Indies' Court once a month, he never failed, and the
magician, knowing the time, went a day or two before to the foot of the
rock where she lost sight of the Prince and his attendants, and waited
The next morning Prince Ahmed went out, as usual, at the iron gate, with
the same attendants as before, and passed by the magician, whom he knew
not to be such, and, seeing her lie with her head against the rock,
and complaining as if she were in great pain, he pitied her, turned his
horse about, went to her, and asked her what was the matter with her,
and what he could do to ease her.
The artful sorceress looked at the Prince in a pitiful manner, without
ever lifting up her head, and answered in broken words and sighs, as
if she could hardly fetch her breath, that she was going to the capital
city, but on the way thither she was taken with so violent a fever that
her strength failed her, and she was forced to lie down where he saw
her, far from any habitation, and without any hopes of assistance.