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Story of the Three Calenders.
From Arabian Nights Entertainments by Andrew Lang.
Start of Story
Age Rating 8 Plus.
The Caliph, who was naturally very impatient, suffered far more than
either of the others at feeling that his life was at the mercy of a
justly offended lady, but when he heard her question he began to
breathe more freely, for he was convinced that she had only to learn
his name and rank for all danger to be over. So he whispered hastily
to the vizir, who was next to him, to reveal their secret. But the
vizir, wiser than his master, wished to conceal from the public the
affront they had received, and merely answered, "After all, we have
only got what we deserved."
Meanwhile Zobeida had turned to the three Calenders and inquired if, as
they were all blind, they were brothers.
"No, madam," replied one, "we are no blood relations at all, only
brothers by our mode of life."
"And you," she asked, addressing another, "were you born blind of one
"No, madam," returned he, "I became blind through a most surprising
adventure, such as probably has never happened to anybody. After that
I shaved my head and eyebrows and put on the dress in which you see me
Zobeida put the same question to the other two Calenders, and received
the same answer.
"But," added the third, "it may interest you, madam, to know that we
are not men of low birth, but are all three sons of kings, and of
kings, too, whom the world holds in high esteem."
At these words Zobeida's anger cooled down, and she turned to her
slaves and said, "You can give them a little more liberty, but do not
leave the hall. Those that will tell us their histories and their
reasons for coming here shall be allowed to leave unhurt; those who
refuse--" And she paused, but in a moment the porter, who understood
that he had only to relate his story to set himself free from this
terrible danger, immediately broke in,
"Madam, you know already how I came here, and what I have to say will
soon be told. Your sister found me this morning in the place where I
always stand waiting to be hired. She bade me follow her to various
shops, and when my basket was quite full we returned to this house,
when you had the goodness to permit me to remain, for which I shall be
eternally grateful. That is my story."
He looked anxiously to Zobeida, who nodded her head and said, "You can
go; and take care we never meet again."
"Oh, madam," cried the porter, "let me stay yet a little while. It is
not just that the others should have heard my story and that I should
not hear theirs," and without waiting for permission he seated himself
on the end of the sofa occupied by the ladies, whilst the rest crouched
on the carpet, and the slaves stood against the wall.
Then one of the Calenders, addressing himself to Zobeida as the
principal lady, began his story.