| The Ivory City And Its Fairy Princess |
HE SERVANT OBEYED, and the old woman, fearing lest the elephants should go and push down her hut and kill the prince and his friend, begged the princess to let her depart. Now Gulizar had obtained a charmed swing, that landed whoever sat on it at the place wherever they wished to be. "Get the swing," she said to one of the servants standing by. When it was brought she bade the old woman step into it and desire to be at home.
The old woman did so, and was at once carried through the air quickly and safely to her hut, where she found her two lodgers safe and sound. "Oh!" she cried, "I thought that both of you would be killed by this time. The royal elephants have got loose and are running about wildly. When I heard this I was anxious about you. So the princess gave me this charmed swing to return in. But come, let us get outside before the elephants arrive and batter down the place."
"Don't believe this," said the vizier's son. "It is a mere hoax. They have been playing tricks with you."
"You will soon have your heart's desire," he whispered aside to the prince. "These things are signs."
Two days of the dark fortnight had elapsed, when the prince and the vizier's son seated themselves in the swing, and wished themselves within the grounds of the palace. In a moment they were there, and there too was the object of their search standing by one of the palace gates, and longing to see the prince quite as much as he was longing to see her.
Oh, what a happy meeting it was!
"At last," said Gulizar, "I have seen my beloved, my husband."
"A thousand thanks to Heaven for bringing me to you," said the prince.
Then the prince and Gulizar betrothed themselves to one another and parted, the one for the hut and the other for the palace, both of them feeling happier than they had ever been before.
Henceforth the prince visited Gulizar every day and returned to the hut every night. One morning Gulizar begged him to stay with her always. She was constantly afraid of some evil happening to him--perhaps robbers would slay him, or sickness attack him, and then she would be deprived of him. She could not live without seeing him. The prince showed her that there was no real cause for fear, and said that he felt he ought to return to his friend at night, because he had left his home and country and risked his life for him; and, moreover, if it had not been for his friend's help he would never have met with her.
Gulizar for the time assented, but she determined in her heart to get rid of the vizier's son as soon as possible. A few days after this conversation she ordered one of her maids to make a pilaw. She gave special directions that a certain poison was to be mixed into it while cooking, and as soon as it was ready the cover was to be placed on the saucepan, so that the poisonous steam might not escape. When the pilaw was ready she sent it at once by the hand of a servant to the vizier's son with this message "Gulizar, the princess, sends you an offering in the name of her dead uncle."
On receiving the present the vizier's son thought that the prince had spoken gratefully of him to the princess, and therefore she had thus remembered him. Accordingly he sent back his salam and expressions of thankfulness.
When it was dinner-time he took the saucepan of pilaw and went out to eat it by the stream. Taking off the lid, he threw it aside on the grass and then washed his hands. During the minute or so that he was performing these ablutions, the green grass under the cover of the saucepan turned quite yellow. He was astonished, and suspecting that there was poison in the pilaw, he took a little and threw it to some crows that were hopping about. The moment the crows ate what was thrown to them they fell down dead.
"Heaven be praised," exclaimed the vizier's son, "who has preserved me from death at this time!"
On the return of the prince that evening the vizier's son was very reticent and depressed. The prince noticed this change in him, and asked what was the reason. "Is it because I am away so much at the palace?" The vizier's son saw that the prince had nothing to do with the sending of the pilaw, and therefore told him everything.
"Look here," he said, "in this handkerchief is some pilaw that the princess sent me this morning in the name of her deceased uncle. It is saturated with poison. Thank Heaven, I discovered it in time!"
"Oh, brother! who could have done this thing? Who is there that entertains enmity against you?"
"The Princess Gulizar. Listen. The next time you go to see her, I entreat you to take some snow with you; and just before seeing the princess put a little of it into both your eyes. It will provoke tears, and Gulizar will ask you why you are crying. Tell her that you weep for the loss of your friend, who died suddenly this morning. Look! take, too, this wine and this shovel, and when you have feigned intense grief at the death of your friend, bid the princess to drink a little of the wine. It is strong, and will immediately send her into a deep sleep. Then, while she is asleep, heat the shovel and mark her back with it. Remember to bring back the shovel again, and also to take her pearl necklace. This done, return. Now fear not to execute these instructions, because on the fulfilment of them depends your fortune and happiness. I will arrange that your marriage with the princess shall be accepted by the king, her father, and all the court."
The prince promised that he would do everything as the vizier's son had advised him; and he kept his promise.
The following night, on the return of the prince from his visit to Gulizar, he and the vizier's son, taking the horses and bags of muhrs, went to a graveyard about a mile or so distant. It was arranged that the vizier's son should act the part of a fakir and the prince the part of the fakir's disciple and servant.
In the morning, when Gulizar had returned to her senses, she felt a smarting pain in her back, and noticed that her pearl necklace was gone. She went at once and informed the king of the loss of her necklace, but said nothing to him about the pain in her back.
The king was very angry when he heard of the theft, and caused proclamation concerning it to be made throughout all the city and surrounding country.
"It is well," said the vizier's son, when he heard of this proclamation. "Fear not, my brother, but go and take this necklace, and try to sell it in the bazaar."
The prince took it to a goldsmith and asked him to buy it.
"How much do you want for it?" asked the man.
"Fifty thousand rupees," the prince replied.
"All right," said the man; "wait here while I go and fetch the money."
The prince waited and waited, till at last the goldsmith returned, and with him the kotwal, who at once took the prince into custody on the charge of stealing the princess's necklace.
"How did you get the necklace?" the kotwal asked.
"A fakir, whose servant I am, gave it to me to sell in the bazaar," the prince replied. "Permit me, and I will show you where he is."
The prince directed the kotwal and the policeman to the place where he had left the vizier's son, and there they found the fakir with his eyes shut and engaged in prayer. Presently, when he had finished his devotions, the kotwal asked him to explain how he had obtained possession of the princess's necklace.
"Call the king hither," he replied, "and then I will tell his Majesty face to face."
On this some men went to the king and told him what the fakir had said. His Majesty came, and seeing the fakir so solemn and earnest in his devotions, he was afraid to rouse his anger, lest peradventure the displeasure of Heaven should descend on him, and so he placed his hands together in the attitude of a supplicant, and asked, "How did you get my daughter's necklace?"
"Last night," replied the fakir, "we were sitting here by this tomb worshipping Khuda, when a ghoul, dressed as a princess, came and exhumed a body that had been buried a few days ago, and began to eat it. On seeing this I was filled with anger, and beat her back with a shovel, which lay on the fire at the time. While running away from me her necklace got loose and dropped. You wonder at these words, but they are not difficult to prove. Examine your daughter, and you will find the marks of the burn on her back. Go, and if it is as I say, send the princess to me, and I will punish her."
The king went back to the palace, and at once ordered the princess's back to be examined.
"It is so," said the maid-servant; "the burn is there."
"Then let the girl be slain immediately," the king shouted.
"No, no, your Majesty," they replied. "Let us send her to the fakir who discovered this thing, that he may do whatever he wishes with her."
The king agreed, and so the princess was taken to the graveyard.
"Let her be shut up in a cage, and be kept near the grave whence she took out the corpse," said the fakir.
This was done, and in a little while the fakir and his disciple and the princess were left alone in the graveyard. Night had not long cast its dark mantle over the scene when the fakir and his disciple threw off their disguise, and taking their horses and luggage, appeared before the cage. They released the princess, rubbed some ointment over the scars on her back, and then sat her upon one of their horses behind the prince. Away they rode fast and far, and by the morning were able to rest and talk over their plans in safety. The vizier's son showed the princess some of the poisoned pilaw that she had sent him, and asked whether she had repented of her ingratitude. The princess wept, and acknowledged that he was her greatest helper and friend.
A letter was sent to the chief vizier telling him of all that had happened to the prince and the vizier's son since they had left their country. When the vizier read the letter he went and informed the king. The king caused a reply to be sent to the two exiles, in which he ordered them not to return, but to send a letter to Gulizar's father, and inform him of everything. Accordingly they did this; the prince wrote the letter at the vizier's son's dictation.
On reading the letter Gulizar's father was much enraged with his viziers and other officials for not discovering the presence in his country of these illustrious visitors, as he was especially anxious to ingratiate himself in the favour of the prince and the vizier's son. He ordered the execution of some of the viziers on a certain date.
"Come," he wrote back to the vizier's son, "and stay at the palace. And if the prince desires it, I will arrange for his marriage with Gulizar as soon as possible."
The prince and the vizier's son most gladly accepted the invitation, and received a right noble welcome from the king. The marriage soon took place, and then after a few weeks the king gave them presents of horses and elephants, and jewels and rich cloths, and bade them start for their own land; for he was sure that the king would now receive them. The night before they left the viziers and others, whom the king intended to have executed as soon as his visitors had left, came and besought the vizier's son to plead for them, and promised that they each would give him a daughter in marriage. He agreed to do so, and succeeded in obtaining their pardon.
Then the prince, with his beautiful bride Gulizar, and the vizier's son, attended by a troop of soldiers, and a large number of camels and horses bearing very much treasure, left for their own land. In the midst of the way they passed the tower of the robbers, and with the help of the soldiers they razed it to the ground, slew all its inmates, and seized the treasure which they had been amassing there for several years.
At length they reached their own country, and when the king saw his son's beautiful wife and his magnificent retinue he was at once reconciled, and ordered him to enter the city and take up his abode there.
Henceforth all was sunshine on the path of the prince. He became a great favourite, and in due time succeeded to the throne, and ruled the country for many, many years in peace and happiness.