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Two sisters who were jealous.
From Arabian Nights Entertainments by Andrew Lang.
Start of Story
Age Rating 8 Plus.
"Madam," cried the dervish, "out of all the number who have asked me
the way to the mountain, you are the first who has ever suggested such
a means of escaping the danger! It is possible that you may succeed,
but all the same, the risk is great."
"Good dervish," answered the princess, "I feel in my heart that I shall
succeed, and it only remains for me to ask you the way I am to go."
Then the dervish said that it was useless to say more, and he gave her
the ball, which she flung before her.
The first thing the princess did on arriving at the mountain was to
stop her ears with cotton, and then, making up her mind which was the
best way to go, she began her ascent. In spite of the cotton, some
echoes of the voices reached her ears, but not so as to trouble her.
Indeed, though they grew louder and more insulting the higher she
climbed, the princess only laughed, and said to herself that she
certainly would not let a few rough words stand between her and the
goal. At last she perceived in the distance the cage and the bird,
whose voice joined itself in tones of thunder to those of the rest:
"Return, return! never dare to come near me."
At the sight of the bird, the princess hastened her steps, and without
vexing herself at the noise which by this time had grown deafening, she
walked straight up to the cage, and seizing it, she said: "Now, my
bird, I have got you, and I shall take good care that you do not
escape." As she spoke she took the cotton from her ears, for it was
needed no longer.
"Brave lady," answered the bird, "do not blame me for having joined my
voice to those who did their best to preserve my freedom. Although
confined in a cage, I was content with my lot, but if I must become a
slave, I could not wish for a nobler mistress than one who has shown so
much constancy, and from this moment I swear to serve you faithfully.
Some day you will put me to the proof, for I know who you are better
than you do yourself. Meanwhile, tell me what I can do, and I will
"Bird," replied the princess, who was filled with a joy that seemed
strange to herself when she thought that the bird had cost her the
lives of both her brothers, "bird, let me first thank you for your good
will, and then let me ask you where the Golden Water is to be found."
The bird described the place, which was not far distant, and the
princess filled a small silver flask that she had brought with her for
the purpose. She then returned to the cage, and said: "Bird, there is
still something else, where shall I find the Singing Tree?"
"Behind you, in that wood," replied the bird, and the princess wandered
through the wood, till a sound of the sweetest voices told her she had
found what she sought. But the tree was tall and strong, and it was
hopeless to think of uprooting it.
"You need not do that," said the bird, when she had returned to ask
counsel. "Break off a twig, and plant it in your garden, and it will
take root, and grow into a magnificent tree."
When the Princess Parizade held in her hands the three wonders promised
her by the old woman, she said to the bird: "All that is not enough.
It was owing to you that my brothers became black stones. I cannot
tell them from the mass of others, but you must know, and point them
out to me, I beg you, for I wish to carry them away."
For some reason that the princess could not guess these words seemed to
displease the bird, and he did not answer. The princess waited a
moment, and then continued in severe tones, "Have you forgotten that
you yourself said that you are my slave to do my bidding, and also that
your life is in my power?"
"No, I have not forgotten," replied the bird, "but what you ask is very
difficult. However, I will do my best. If you look round," he went
on, "you will see a pitcher standing near. Take it, and, as you go
down the mountain, scatter a little of the water it contains over every
black stone and you will soon find your two brothers."
Princess Parizade took the pitcher, and, carrying with her besides the
cage the twig and the flask, returned down the mountain side. At every
black stone she stopped and sprinkled it with water, and as the water
touched it the stone instantly became a man. When she suddenly saw her
brothers before her her delight was mixed with astonishment.
"Why, what are you doing here?" she cried.
"We have been asleep," they said.
"Yes," returned the princess, "but without me your sleep would probably
have lasted till the day of judgment. Have you forgotten that you came
here in search of the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree, and the Golden
Water, and the black stones that were heaped up along the road? Look
round and see if there is one left. These gentlemen, and yourselves,
and all your horses were changed into these stones, and I have
delivered you by sprinkling you with the water from this pitcher. As I
could not return home without you, even though I had gained the prizes
on which I had set my heart, I forced the Talking Bird to tell me how
to break the spell."
On hearing these words Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz understood all
they owed their sister, and the knights who stood by declared
themselves her slaves and ready to carry out her wishes. But the
princess, while thanking them for their politeness, explained that she
wished for no company but that of her brothers, and that the rest were
free to go where they would.
So saying the princess mounted her horse, and, declining to allow even
Prince Bahman to carry the cage with the Talking Bird, she entrusted
him with the branch of the Singing Tree, while Prince Perviz took care
of the flask containing the Golden Water.
Then they rode away, followed by the knights and gentlemen, who begged
to be permitted to escort them.
It had been the intention of the party to stop and tell their
adventures to the dervish, but they found to their sorrow that he was
dead, whether from old age, or whether from the feeling that his task
was done, they never knew.
As they continued their road their numbers grew daily smaller, for the
knights turned off one by one to their own homes, and only the brothers
and sister finally drew up at the gate of the palace.
The princess carried the cage straight into the garden, and, as soon as
the bird began to sing, nightingales, larks, thrushes, finches, and all
sorts of other birds mingled their voices in chorus. The branch she
planted in a corner near the house, and in a few days it had grown into
a great tree. As for the Golden Water it was poured into a great
marble basin specially prepared for it, and it swelled and bubbled and
then shot up into the air in a fountain twenty feet high.
The fame of these wonders soon spread abroad, and people came from far
and near to see and admire.
After a few days Prince Bahman and Prince Perviz fell back into their
ordinary way of life, and passed most of their time hunting. One day
it happened that the Sultan of Persia was also hunting in the same
direction, and, not wishing to interfere with his sport, the young men,
on hearing the noise of the hunt approaching, prepared to retire, but,
as luck would have it, they turned into the very path down which the
Sultan was coming. They threw themselves from their horses and
prostrated themselves to the earth, but the Sultan was curious to see
their faces, and commanded them to rise.
The princes stood up respectfully, but quite at their ease, and the
Sultan looked at them for a few moments without speaking, then he asked
who they were and where they lived.
"Sire," replied Prince Bahman, "we are sons of your Highness's late
intendant of the gardens, and we live in a house that he built a short
time before his death, waiting till an occasion should offer itself to
serve your Highness."
"You seem fond of hunting," answered the Sultan.
"Sire," replied Prince Bahman, "it is our usual exercise, and one that
should be neglected by no man who expects to comply with the ancient
customs of the kingdom and bear arms."
The Sultan was delighted with this remark, and said at once, "In that
case I shall take great pleasure in watching you. Come, choose what
sort of beasts you would like to hunt."
The princes jumped on their horses and followed the Sultan at a little
distance. They had not gone very far before they saw a number of wild
animals appear at once, and Prince Bahman started to give chase to a
lion and Prince Perviz to a bear. Both used their javelins with such
skill that, directly they arrived within striking range, the lion and
the bear fell, pierced through and through. Then Prince Perviz pursued
a lion and Prince Bahman a bear, and in a very few minutes they, too,
lay dead. As they were making ready for a third assault the Sultan
interfered, and, sending one of his officials to summon them, he said
smiling, "If I let you go on, there will soon be no beasts left to
hunt. Besides, your courage and manners have so won my heart that I
will not have you expose yourselves to further danger. I am convinced
that some day or other I shall find you useful as well as agreeable."