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Story of the Second Calender.
From Arabian Nights Entertainments by Andrew Lang.
Start of Story
Age Rating 8 Plus.
I was too much dazzled by her beauty to dream of refusing her offer,
and accordingly the princess had me conducted to the bath, and a rich
dress befitting my rank was provided for me. Then a feast of the most
delicate dishes was served in a room hung with embroidered Indian
Next day, when we were at dinner, I could maintain my patience no
longer, and implored the princess to break her bonds, and return with
me to the world which was lighted by the sun.
"What you ask is impossible," she answered; "but stay here with me
instead, and we can be happy, and all you will have to do is to betake
yourself to the forest every tenth day, when I am expecting my master
the genius. He is very jealous, as you know, and will not suffer a man
to come near me."
"Princess," I replied, "I see it is only fear of the genius that makes
you act like this. For myself, I dread him so little that I mean to
break his talisman in pieces! Awful though you think him, he shall
feel the weight of my arm, and I herewith take a solemn vow to stamp
out the whole race."
The princess, who realized the consequences of such audacity, entreated
me not to touch the talisman. "If you do, it will be the ruin of both
of us," said she; "I know genii much better than you." But the wine I
had drunk had confused my brain; I gave one kick to the talisman, and
it fell into a thousand pieces.
Hardly had my foot touched the talisman when the air became as dark as
night, a fearful noise was heard, and the palace shook to its very
foundations. In an instant I was sobered, and understood what I had
done. "Princess!" I cried, "what is happening?"
"Alas!" she exclaimed, forgetting all her own terrors in anxiety for
me, "fly, or you are lost."
I followed her advice and dashed up the staircase, leaving my hatchet
behind me. But I was too late. The palace opened and the genius
appeared, who, turning angrily to the princess, asked indignantly,
"What is the matter, that you have sent for me like this?"
"A pain in my heart," she replied hastily, "obliged me to seek the aid
of this little bottle. Feeling faint, I slipped and fell against the
talisman, which broke. That is really all."
"You are an impudent liar!" cried the genius. "How did this hatchet
and those shoes get here?"
"I never saw them before," she answered, "and you came in such a hurry
that you may have picked them up on the road without knowing it." To
this the genius only replied by insults and blows. I could hear the
shrieks and groans of the princess, and having by this time taken off
my rich garments and put on those in which I had arrived the previous
day, I lifted the trap, found myself once more in the forest, and
returned to my friend the tailor, with a light load of wood and a heart
full of shame and sorrow.
The tailor, who had been uneasy at my long absence, was, delighted to
see me; but I kept silence about my adventure, and as soon as possible
retired to my room to lament in secret over my folly. While I was thus
indulging my grief my host entered, and said, "There is an old man
downstairs who has brought your hatchet and slippers, which he picked
up on the road, and now restores to you, as he found out from one of
your comrades where you lived. You had better come down and speak to
him yourself." At this speech I changed colour, and my legs trembled
under me. The tailor noticed my confusion, and was just going to
inquire the reason when the door of the room opened, and the old man
appeared, carrying with him my hatchet and shoes.
"I am a genius," he said, "the son of the daughter of Eblis, prince of
the genii. Is not this hatchet yours, and these shoes?" Without
waiting for an answer--which, indeed, I could hardly have given him, so
great was my fright--he seized hold of me, and darted up into the air
with the quickness of lightning, and then, with equal swiftness,
dropped down towards the earth. When he touched the ground, he rapped
it with his foot; it opened, and we found ourselves in the enchanted
palace, in the presence of the beautiful princess of the Ebony Isle.
But how different she looked from what she was when I had last seen
her, for she was lying stretched on the ground covered with blood, and
"Traitress!" cried the genius, "is not this man your lover?"
She lifted up her eyes slowly, and looked sadly at me. "I never saw
him before," she answered slowly. "I do not know who he is."
"What!" exclaimed the genius, "you owe all your sufferings to him, and
yet you dare to say he is a stranger to you!"
"But if he really is a stranger to me," she replied, "why should I tell
a lie and cause his death?"
"Very well," said the genius, drawing his sword, "take this, and cut
off his head."
"Alas," answered the princess, "I am too weak even to hold the sabre.
And supposing that I had the strength, why should I put an innocent man
"You condemn yourself by your refusal," said the genius; then turning
to me, he added, "and you, do you not know her?"
"How should I?" I replied, resolved to imitate the princess in her
fidelity. "How should I, when I never saw her before?"
"Cut her head off," then, "if she is a stranger to you, and I shall
believe you are speaking the truth, and will set you at liberty."
"Certainly," I answered, taking the sabre in my hands, and making a
sign to the princess to fear nothing, as it was my own life that I was
about to sacrifice, and not hers. But the look of gratitude she gave
me shook my courage, and I flung the sabre to the earth.
"I should not deserve to live," I said to the genius, "if I were such a
coward as to slay a lady who is not only unknown to me, but who is at
this moment half dead herself. Do with me as you will--I am in your
power--but I refuse to obey your cruel command."
"I see," said the genius, "that you have both made up your minds to
brave me, but I will give you a sample of what you may expect." So
saying, with one sweep of his sabre he cut off a hand of the princess,
who was just able to lift the other to wave me an eternal farewell.
Then I lost consciousness for several minutes.
When I came to myself I implored the genius to keep me no longer in
this state of suspense, but to lose no time in putting an end to my
sufferings. The genius, however, paid no attention to my prayers, but
said sternly, "That is the way in which a genius treats the woman who
has betrayed him. If I chose, I could kill you also; but I will be
merciful, and content myself with changing you into a dog, an ass, a
lion, or a bird--whichever you prefer."
I caught eagerly at these words, as giving me a faint hope of softening
his wrath. "O genius!" I cried, "as you wish to spare my life, be
generous, and spare it altogether. Grant my prayer, and pardon my
crime, as the best man in the whole world forgave his neighbour who was
eaten up with envy of him." Contrary to my hopes, the genius seemed
interested in my words, and said he would like to hear the story of the
two neighbours; and as I think, madam, it may please you, I will tell
it to you also.