Part 1 out of 6
This etext was scanned by JC Byers and typed by L.M. Shaffer.
LMShaf@aol.com & email@example.com
The Brown Fairy Book
Diana Scott Lang
The stories in this Fairy Book come from all quarters of the
world. For example, the adventures of 'Ball-Carrier and the Bad
One' are told by Red Indian grandmothers to Red Indian children
who never go to school, nor see pen and ink. 'The Bunyip' is
known to even more uneducated little ones, running about with no
clothes at all in the bush, in Australia. You may see
photographs of these merry little black fellows before their
troubles begin, in 'Northern Races of Central Australia,' by
Messrs. Spencer and Gillen. They have no lessons except in
tracking and catching birds, beasts, fishes, lizards, and snakes,
all of which they eat. But when they grow up to be big boys and
girls, they are cruelly cut about with stone knives and
frightened with sham bogies all for their good' their parents
say and I think they would rather go to school, if they had their
choice, and take their chance of being birched and bullied.
However, many boys might think it better fun to begin to learn
hunting as soon as they can walk. Other stories, like 'The
Sacred Milk of Koumongoe,' come from the Kaffirs in Africa, whose
dear papas are not so poor as those in Australia, but have plenty
of cattle and milk, and good mealies to eat, and live in houses
like very big bee-hives, and wear clothes of a sort, though not
very like our own. 'Pivi and Kabo' is a tale from the brown
people in the island of New Caledonia, where a boy is never
allowed to speak to or even look at his own sisters; nobody knows
why, so curious are the manners of this remote island. The story
shows the advantages of good manners and pleasant behaviour; and
the natives do not now cook and eat each other, but live on fish,
vegetables, pork, and chickens, and dwell in houses. 'What the
Rose did to the Cypress,' is a story from Persia, where the
people, of course, are civilised, and much like those of whom you
read in 'The Arabian Nights.' Then there are tales like 'The Fox
and the Lapp ' from the very north of Europe, where it is dark
for half the year and day-light for the other half. The Lapps
are a people not fond of soap and water, and very much given to
art magic. Then there are tales from India, told to Major
Campbell, who wrote them out, by Hindoos; these stories are 'Wali
Dad the Simple-hearted,' and 'The King who would be Stronger than
Fate,' but was not so clever as his daughter. From Brazil, in
South America, comes 'The Tortoise and the Mischievous Monkey,'
with the adventures of other animals. Other tales are told in
various parts of Europe, and in many languages; but all people,
black, white, brown, red, and yellow, are like each other when
they tell stories; for these are meant for children, who like the
same sort of thing, whether they go to school and wear clothes,
or, on the other hand, wear skins of beasts, or even nothing at
all, and live on grubs and lizards and hawks and crows and
serpents, like the little Australian blacks.
The tale of 'What the Rose did to the Cypress,' is translated out
of a Persian manuscript by Mrs. Beveridge. 'Pivi and Kabo' is
translated by the Editor from a French version; 'Asmund and
Signy' by Miss Blackley; the Indian stories by Major Campbell,
and all the rest are told by Mrs. Lang, who does not give them
exactly as they are told by all sorts of outlandish natives, but
makes them up in the hope white people will like them, skipping
the pieces which they will not like. That is how this Fairy Book
was made up for your entertainment.
What the Rose did to the Cypress
Ball-Carrier and the Bad One
How Ball-Carrier finished his Task
The Story of the Yara
The Cunning Hare
The Turtle and his Bride
How Geirald the Coward was Punished
How the Little Brother set Free his Big Brothers
The Sacred Milk of Koumongoe
The Wicked Wolverine
The Husband of the Rat's Daughter
The Mermaid and the Boy
Pivi and Kabo
The Elf Maiden
How Some Wild Animals became Tame Ones
Fortune and the Wood-Cutter
The Enchanted Head
The Sister of the Sun
The Prince and the Three Fates
The Fox and the Lapp
Kisa the Cat
The Lion and the Cat
Which was the Foolishest?
Asmund and Signy
Story of the King who would be Stronger then Fate
Story of Wali Dad the Simple-hearted
Tale of a Tortoise and of a Mischievous Monkey
The Knights of the Fish
The Brown Fairy Book
What the Rose did to the Cypress[FN#1]
Once upon a time a great king of the East, named
Saman-lalposh,[FN#2] had three brave and clever sons--Tahmasp,
Qamas, and Almas-ruh-baksh.[FN#3] One day, when the king was
sitting in his hall of audience, his eldest son, Prince Tahmasp,
came before him, and after greeting his father with due respect,
said: 'O my royal father! I am tired of the town; if you will
give me leave, I will take my servants to-morrow and will go into
the country and hunt on the hill-skirts; and when I have taken
some game I will come back, at evening-prayer time.' His father
consented, and sent with him some of his own trusted servants,
and also hawks, and falcons, hunting dogs, cheetahs and leopards.
At the place where the prince intended to hunt he saw a most
beautiful deer. He ordered that it should not be killed, but
trapped or captured with a noose. The deer looked about for a
place where he might escape from the ring of the beaters, and
spied one unwatched close to the prince himself. It bounded high
and leaped right over his head, got out of the ring, and tore
like the eastern wind into the waste. The prince put spurs to
his horse and pursued it; and was soon lost to the sight of his
followers. Until the world-lighting sun stood above his head in
the zenith he did not take his eyes off the deer; suddenly it
disappeared behind some rising ground, and with all his search he
could not find any further trace of it. He was now drenched in
sweat, and he breathed with pain; and his horse's tongue hung
from its mouth with thirst. He dismounted and toiled on, with
bridle on arm, praying and casting himself on the mercy of
heaven. Then his horse fell and surrendered its life to God. On
and on he went across the sandy waste, weeping and with burning
breast, till at length a hill rose into sight. He mustered his
strength and climbed to the top, and there he found a giant tree
whose foot kept firm the wrinkled earth, and whose crest touched
the very heaven. Its branches had put forth a glory of leaves,
and there were grass and a spring underneath it, and flowers of
Gladdened by this sight, he dragged himself to the water's edge,
drank his fill, and returned thanks for his deliverance from
He looked about him and, to his amazement, saw close by a royal
seat. While he was pondering what could have brought this into
the merciless desert, a man drew near who was dressed like a
faqir, and had bare head and feet, but walked with the free
carriage of a person of rank. His face was kind, and wise and
thoughtful, and he came on and spoke to the prince.
'O good youth! how did you come here? Who are you? Where do you
The prince told everything just as it had happened to him, and
then respectfully added: 'I have made known my own circumstances
to you, and now I venture to beg you to tell me your own. Who
are you? How did you come to make your dwelling in this
To this the faqir replied: 'O youth! it would be best for you to
have nothing to do with me and to know nothing of my fortunes,
for my story is fit neither for telling nor for hearing.' The
prince, however, pleaded so hard to be told, that at last there
was nothing to be done but to let him hear.
'Learn and know, O young man! that I am King Janangir[FN#4] of
Babylon, and that once I had army and servants, family and
treasure; untold wealth and belongings. The Most High God gave
me seven sons who grew up well versed in all princely arts. My
eldest son heard from travellers that in Turkistan, on the
Chinese frontier, there is a king named Quimus, the son of Timus,
and that he has an only child, a daughter named Mihr-afruz,[FN#5]
who, under all the azure heaven, is unrivalled for beauty.
Princes come from all quarters to ask her hand, and on one and
all she imposes a condition. She says to them: "I know a riddle;
and I will marry anyone who answers it, and will bestow on him
all my possessions. But if a suitor cannot answer my question I
cut off his head and hang it on the battlements of the citadel."
The riddle she asks is, "What did the rose do to the cypress?"
'Now, when my son heard this tale, he fell in love with that
unseen girl, and he came to me lamenting and bewailing himself.
Nothing that I could say had the slightest effect on him. I
said: "Oh my son! if there must be fruit of this fancy of yours,
I will lead forth a great army against King Quimus. If he will
give you his daughter freely, well and good; and if not, I will
ravage his kingdom and bring her away by force." This plan did
not please him; he said: "It is not right to lay a kingdom waste
and to destroy a palace so that I may attain my desire. I will
go alone; I will answer the riddle, and win her in this way." At
last, out of pity for him, I let him go. He reached the city of
King Quimus. He was asked the riddle and could not give the true
answer; and his head was cut off and hung upon the battlements.
Then I mourned him in black raiment for forty days.
After this another and another of my sons were seized by the same
desire, and in the end all my seven sons went, and all were
killed. In grief for their death I have abandoned my throne, and
I abide here in this desert, withholding my hand from all State
business and wearing myself away in sorrow.'
Prince Tahmasp listened to this tale, and then the arrow of love
for that unseen girl struck his heart also. Just at this moment
of his ill-fate his people came up, and gathered round him like
moths round a light. They brought him a horse, fleet as the
breeze of the dawn; he set his willing foot in the stirrup of
safety and rode off. As the days went by the thorn of love
rankled in his heart, and he became the very example of lovers,
and grew faint and feeble. At last his confidants searched his
heart and lifted the veil from the face of his love, and then set
the matter before his father, King Saman-lal-posh. 'Your son,
Prince Tahmasp, loves distractedly the Princess Mihr-afruz,
daughter of King Quimus, son of Timus.' Then they told the king
all about her and her doings. A mist of sadness clouded the
king's mind, and he said to his son: 'If this thing is so, I will
in the first place send a courier with friendly letters to King
Quimus, and will ask the hand of his daughter for you. I will
send an abundance of gifts, and a string of camels laden with
flashing stones and rubies of Badakhsham In this way I will bring
her and her suite, and I will give her to you to be your solace.
But if King Quimus is unwilling to give her to you, I will pour a
whirlwind of soldiers upon him, and I will bring to you, in this
way, that most consequential of girls.' But the prince said that
this plan would not be right, and that he would go himself, and
would answer the riddle. Then the king's wise men said: 'This is
a very weighty matter; it would be best to allow the prince to
set out accompanied by some persons in whom you have confidence.
Maybe he will repent and come back.' So King Saman ordered all
preparations for the journey to be made, and then Prince Tahmasp
took his leave and set out, accompanied by some of the courtiers,
and taking with him a string of two-humped and raven-eyed camels
laden with jewels, and gold, and costly stuffs.
By stage after stage, and after many days' journeying, he arrived
at the city of King Quimus. What did he see? A towering citadel
whose foot kept firm the wrinkled earth, and whose battlements
touched the blue heaven. He saw hanging from its battlements
many heads, but it had not the least effect upon him that these
were heads of men of rank; he listened to no advice about laying
aside his fancy, but rode up to the gate and on into the heart of
the city. The place was so splendid that the eyes of the ages
have never seen its like, and there, in an open square, he found
a tent of crimson satin set up, and beneath it two jewelled drums
with jewelled sticks. These drums were put there so that the
suitors of the princess might announce their arrival by beating
on them, after which some one would come and take them to the
king's presence. The sight of the drums stirred the fire of
Prince Tahmasp's love. He dismounted, and moved towards them;
but his companions hurried after and begged him first to let them
go and announce him to the king, and said that then, when they
had put their possessions in a place of security, they would
enter into the all important matter of the princess. The prince,
however, replied that he was there for one thing only; that his
first duty was to beat the drums and announce himself as a
suitor, when he would be taken, as such, to the king, who would
then give him proper lodgment. So he struck upon the drums, and
at once summoned an officer who took him to King Quimus.
When the king saw how very young the prince looked, and that he
was still drinking of the fountain of wonder, he said: 'O youth!
leave aside this fancy which my daughter has conceived in the
pride of her beauty. No one can answer er her riddle, and she
has done to death many men who had had no pleasure in life nor
tasted its charms. God forbid that your spring also should be
ravaged by the autumn winds of martyrdom.' All his urgency,
however, had no effect in making the prince withdraw. At length
it was settled between them that three days should be given to
pleasant hospitality and that then should follow what had to be
said and done. Then the prince went to his own quarters and was
treated as became his station.
King Quimus now sent for his daughter and for her mother,
Gulrukh,[FN#6] and talked to them. He said to Mibrafruz: '
Listen to me, you cruel flirt! Why do you persist in this folly?
Now there has come to ask your hand a prince of the east, so
handsome that the very sun grows modest before the splendour of
his face; he is rich, and he has brought gold and jewels, all for
you, if you will marry him. A better husband you will not find.'
But all the arguments of father and mother were wasted, for her
only answer was: 'O my father! I have sworn to myself that I
will not marry, even if a thousand years go by, unless someone
answers my riddle, and that I will give myself to that man only
who does answer it.'
The three days passed; then the riddle was asked: 'What did the
rose do to the cypress?' The prince had an eloquent tongue,
which could split a hair, and without hesitation he replied to
her with a verse: 'Only the Omnipotent has knowledge of secrets;
if any man says, " I know " do not believe him.'
Then a servant fetched in the polluted, blue-eyed headsman, who
asked: 'Whose sun of life has come near its setting?' took the
prince by the arm, placed him upon the cloth of execution, and
then, all merciless and stony hearted, cut his head from his body
and hung it on the battlements.
The news of the death of Prince Tahmasp plunged his father into
despair and stupefaction. He mourned for him in black raiment
for forty days; and then, a few days later, his second son,
Prince Qamas, extracted from him leave to go too; and he, also,
was put to death. One son only now remained, the brave,
eloquent, happy-natured Prince Almas-ruh-bakhsh. One day, when
his father sat brooding over his lost children, Almas came before
him and said: 'O father mine! the daughter of King Quimus has
done my two brothers to death; I wish to avenge them upon her.'
These words brought his father to tears. 'O light of your
father! ' he cried, 'I have no one left but you, and now you ask
me to let you go to your death.'
'Dear father!' pleaded the prince, 'until I have lowered the
pride of that beauty, and have set her here before you, I cannot
settle down or indeed sit down off my feet.'
In the end he, too, got leave to go; but he went a without a
following and alone. Like his brothers, he made the long journey
to the city of Quimus the son of Timus; like them he saw the
citadel, but he saw there the heads of Tahmasp and Qamas. He
went about in the city, saw the tent and the drums, and then went
out again to a village not far off. Here he found out a very old
man who had a wife 120 years old, or rather more. Their lives
were coming to their end, but they had never beheld face of child
of their own. They were glad when the prince came to their
house, and they dealt with him as with a son. He put all his
belongings into their charge, and fastened his horse in their
out-house. Then he asked them not to speak of him to anyone, and
to keep his affairs secret. He exchanged his royal dress for
another, and next morning, just as the sun looked forth from its
eastern oratory, he went again into the city. He turned over in
his mind without ceasing how he was to find out the meaning of
the riddle, and to give them a right answer, and who could help
him, and how to avenge his brothers. He wandered about the city,
but heard nothing of service, for there was no one in all that
land who understood the riddle of Princess Mihr-afruz.
One day he thought he would go to her own palace and see if he
could learn anything there, so he went out to her garden-house.
It was a very splendid place, with a wonderful gateway, and walls
like Alexander's ramparts. Many gate-keepers were on guard, and
there was no chance of passing them. His heart was full of
bitterness, but he said to himself: 'All will be well! it is here
I shall get what I want.' He went round outside the garden wall
hoping to find a gap, and he made supplication in the Court of
Supplications and prayed, 'O Holder of the hand of the helpless!
show me my way.'
While he prayed he bethought himself that he could get into the
garden with a stream of inflowing water. He looked carefully
round, fearing to be seen, stripped, slid into the stream and was
carried within the great walls. There he hid himself till his
loin cloth was dry. The garden was a very Eden, with running
water amongst its lawns, with flowers and the lament of doves and
the jug-jug of nightingales. It was a place to steal the senses
from the brain, and he wandered about and saw the house, but
there seemed to be no one there. In the forecourt was a royal
seat of polished jasper, and in the middle of the platform was a
basin of purest water that flashed like a mirror. He pleased
himself with these sights for a while, and then went back to the
garden and hid himself from the gardeners and passed the night.
Next morning he put on the appearance of a madman and wandered
about till he came to a lawn where several pert-faced girls were
amusing themselves. On a throne, jewelled and overspread with
silken stuffs, sat a girl the splendour of whose beauty lighted
up the place, and whose ambergris and attar perfumed the whole
air. 'That must be Mihrafruz,' he thought, 'she is indeed
lovely.' Just then one of the attendants came to the water's
edge to fill a cup, and though the prince was in hiding, his face
was reflected in the water. When she saw this image she was
frightened, and let her cup fall into the stream, and thought,
'Is it an angel, or a peri, or a man?' Fear and trembling took
hold of her, and she screamed as women scream. Then some of the
other girls came and took her to the princess who asked: 'What is
the matter, pretty one?'
'O princess! I went for water, and I saw an image, and I was
afraid.' So another girl went to the water and saw the same
thing, and came back with the same story. The princess wished to
see for herself; she rose and paced to the spot with the march of
a prancing peacock. When she saw the image she said to her
nurse: 'Find out who is reflected in the water, and where he
lives.' Her words reached the prince's ear, he lifted up his
head; she saw him and beheld beauty such as she had never seen
before. She lost a hundred hearts to him, and signed to her
nurse to bring him to her presence. The prince let himself be
persuaded to go with the nurse, but when the princess questioned
him as to who he was and how he had got into her garden, he
behaved like a man out of his mind--sometimes smiling, sometimes
crying, and saying: ' I am hungry,'Or words misplaced and random,
civil mixed with the rude.
'What a pity!' said the princess, 'he is mad!' As she liked him
she said: 'He is my madman; let no one hurt him.' She took him
to her house and told him not to go away, for that she would
provide for all his wants. The prince thought, 'It would be
excellent if here, in her very house, I could get the answer to
her riddle; but I must be silent, on pain of death.'
Now in the princess's household there was a girl called
Dil-aram[FN#7]; she it was who had first seen the image of the
prince. She came to love him very much, and she spent day and
night thinking how she could make her affection known to him.
One day she escaped from the princess's notice and went to the
prince, and laid her head on his feet and said: ' Heaven has
bestowed on you beauty and charm. Tell me your secret; who are
you, and how did you come here? I love you very much, and if you
would like to leave this place I will go with you. I have wealth
equal to the treasure of the miserly Qarun.' But the prince only
made answer like a man distraught, and told her nothing. He said
to himself, ' God forbid that the veil should be taken in vain
from my secret; that would indeed disgrace me.' So, with
streaming eyes and burning breast, Dil-aram arose and went to her
house and lamented and fretted.
Now whenever the princess commanded the prince's attendance,
Dil-aram, of all the girls, paid him attention and waited on him
best. The princess noticed this, and said: 'O Dil-aram! you must
take my madman into your charge and give him whatever he wants.'
This was the very thing Dil- aram had prayed for. A little later
she took the prince into a private place and she made him take an
oath of secrecy, and she herself took one and swore, ' By Heaven!
I will not tell your secret. Tell me all about yourself so that
I may help you to get what you want.' The prince now recognised
in her words the perfume of true love, and he made compact with
her. 'O lovely girl! I want to know what the rose did to the
cypress. Your mistress cuts off men's heads because of this
riddle; what is at the bottom of it, and why does she do it?'
Then Dil-aram answered: ' If you will promise to marry me and to
keep me always amongst those you favour, I will tell you all I
know, and I will keep watch about the riddle.'
'O lovely girl,' rejoined he, 'if I accomplish my purpose, so
that I need no longer strive for it, I will keep my compact with
you. When I have this woman in my power and have avenged my
brothers, I will make you my solace.'
'O wealth of my life and source of my joy!' responded Dil-aram,
'I do not know what the rose did to the cypress; but so much I
know that the person who told Mihr-afruz about it is a negro whom
she hides under her throne. He fled here from Waq of the
Caucasus--it is there you must make inquiry; there is no other
way of getting at the truth.'On hearing these words, the prince
said to his heart, 'O my heart! your task will yet wear away much
of your life.'
He fell into long and far thought, and Dil-aram looked at him and
said: 'O my life and my soul! do not be sad. If you would like
this woman killed, I will put poison into her cup so that she
will never lift her head from her drugged sleep again.'
'O Dil-aram! such a vengeance is not manly. I shall not rest
till I have gone to Waq of the Caucasus and have cleared up the
matter.' Then they repeated the agreement about their marriage,
and bade one another goodbye.
The prince now went back to the village, and told the old man
that he was setting out on a long journey, and begged him not to
be anxious, and to keep safe the goods which had been entrusted
The prince had not the least knowledge of the way to Waq of the
Caucasus, and was cast down by the sense of his helplessness. He
was walking along by his horse's side when there appeared before
him an old man of serene countenance, dressed in green and
carrying a staff, who resembled Khizr.[FN#8] The prince thanked
heaven, laid the hands of reverence on his breast and salaamed.
The old man returned the greeting graciously, and asked: 'How
fare you? Whither are you bound? You look like a traveller.'
'O revered saint! I am in this difficulty: I do not know the way
to Waq of the Caucasus.' The old man of good counsel looked at
the young prince and said: 'Turn back from this dangerous
undertaking. Do not go; choose some other task! If you had a
hundred lives you would not bring one out safe from this
journey.' But his words had no effect on the prince's resolve.
'What object have you,' the old man asked, 'in thus consuming
'I have an important piece of business to do, and only this
journey makes it possible. I must go; I pray you, ill God's
name, tell me the way.'
When the saint saw that the prince was not to be moved, he said:
' Learn and know, O youth! that Waq of Qaf is in the Caucasus and
is a dependency of it. In it there are jins, demons, and peris.
You must go on along this road till it forks into three; take
neither the right hand nor the left, but the middle path. Follow
this for a day and a night. Then you will come to a column on
which is a marble slab inscribed with Cufic characters. Do what
is written there; beware of disobedience.' Then he gave his good
wishes for the journey and his blessing, and the prince kissed
his [Bet, said good-bye, and, with thanks to the Causer of
Causes, took the road.
After a day and a night he saw the column rise in silent beauty
to the heavens. Everything was as the wise old man had said it
would be, and the prince, who was skilled in all tongues, read
the following Cufic inscription: 'O travellers! be it known to
you that this column has been set up with its tablet to give true
directions about these roads. If a man would pass his life in
ease and pleasantness, let him take the right-hand path. If he
take the left, he will have some trouble, but he will reach his
goal without much delay. Woe to him who chooses the middle path!
if he had a thousand lives he would not save one; it is very
hazardous; it leads to the Caucasus, and is an endless road.
Beware of it!'
The prince read and bared his head and lifted his hands in
supplication to Him who has no needs, and prayed, 'O Friend of
the traveller! I, Thy servant, come to Thee for succour. My
purpose lies in the land of Qaf and my road is full of peril.
Lead me by it.' Then he took a handful of earth and cast it on
his collar, and said: 'O earth! be thou my grave; and O vest! tee
thou my winding-sheet!' Then he took the middle road and went
along it, day after day, with many a silent prayer, till he saw
trees rise from the weary waste of sand. They grew in a garden,
and he went up to the gate and found it a slab of beautifully
worked marble, and that near it there lay sleeping, with his head
on a stone, a negro whose face was so black that it made darkness
round him. His upper lip, arched like an eyebrow, curved upwards
to his nostrils and his lower hung down like a camel's. Four
millstones formed his shield, and on a box- tree close by hung
his giant sword. His loin-cloth was fashioned of twelve skins of
beasts, and was bound round his waist by a chain of which each
link was as big as an elephant's thigh.
The prince approached and tied up his horse near the negro's
head. Then he let fall the Bismillah from his lips, entered the
garden and walked through it till he came to the private part,
delighting in the great trees, the lovely verdure, and the
flowery borders. In the inner garden there were very many deer.
These signed to him with eye and foot to go back, for that this
was enchanted ground; but he did not understand them, and thought
their pretty gestures were a welcome. After a while he reached a
palace which had a porch more splendid than Caesar's, and was
built of gold and silver bricks. In its midst was a high seat,
overlaid with fine carpets, and into it opened eight doors, each
having opposite to it a marble basin.
Banishing care, Prince Almas walked on through the garden, when
suddenly a window opened and a girl, who was lovely enough to
make the moon writhe with jealousy, put out her head. She lost
her heart to the good looks of the prince, and sent her nurse to
fetch him so that she might learn where he came from and how he
had got into her private garden where even lions and wolves did
not venture. The nurse went, and was struck with amazement at
the sun-like radiance of his face; she salaamed and said: 'O
youth! welcome! the lady of the garden calls you; come!' He went
with her and into a palace which was like a house in Paradise,
and saw seated on the royal carpets of the throne a girl whose
brilliance shamed the shining sun. He salaamed; she rose, took
him by the hand and placed him near her. 'O young man! who are
you? Where do you come from? How did you get into this garden?'
He told her his story from beginning to end, and Lady
Latifa[FN#9] replied: 'This is folly! It will make you a
vagabond of the earth, and lead you to destruction. Come, cease
such talk! No one can go to the Caucasus. Stay with me and be
thankful, for here is a throne which you can share with me, and
in my society you can enjoy my wealth. I will do whatever you
wish; I will bring here King Qulmus and his daughter, and you can
deal with them as you will.'
'O Lady Latifa,' he said, 'I have made a compact with heaven not
to sit down off my feet till I have been to Waq of Qaf and have
cleared up this matter, and have taken Mihr- afruz from her
father, as brave men take, and have put her in prison. When I
have done all this I will come back to you in state and with a
great following, and I will marry you according to the law.'
Lady Latifa argued and urged her wishes, but in vain; the prince
was not to be moved. Then she called to the cupbearers for new
wine, for she thought that when his head was hot with it he might
consent to stay. The pure, clear wine was brought; she filled a
cup and gave to him. He said: 'O most enchanting sweetheart! it
is the rule for the host to drink first and then the guest.' So
to make him lose his head, she drained the cup; then filled it
again and gave him. He drank it off, and she took a lute from
one of the singers and played upon it with skill which witched
away the sense of all who heard. But it was all in vain; three
days passed in such festivities, and on the fourth the prince
said: 'O joy of my eyes! I beg now that you will bid me farewell,
for my way is long and the fire of your love darts flame into the
harvest of my heart. By heaven's grace I may accomplish my
purpose, and, if so, I will come back to you.'
Now she saw that she could not in any way change his resolve, she
told her nurse to bring a certain casket which contained, she
said, something exhilarating which would help the prince on his
journey. The box was brought, and she divided off a portion of
what was within and gave it to the prince to eat. Then, and
while he was all unaware, she put forth her hand to a stick
fashioned like a snake; she said some words over it and struck
him so sharply on the shoulder that he cried out; then he made a
pirouette and found that he was a deer.
When he knew what had been done to him he thought, 'All the
threads of affliction are gathered together; I have lost my last
chance!' He tried to escape, but the magician sent for her
goldsmith, who, coming, overlaid the deer-horns with gold and
jewels. The kerchief which that day she had had in her hand was
then tied round its neck, and this freed it from her attentions.
The prince-deer now bounded into the garden and at once sought
some way of escape. It found none, and it joined the other deer,
which soon made it their leader. Now, although the prince had
been transformed into the form of a deer, he kept his man's heart
and mind. He said to himself, 'Thank heaven that the Lady Latifa
has changed me into this shape, for at least deer are beautiful.'
He remained for some time living as a deer amongst the rest, but
at length resolved that an end to such a life must be put ill
some way. He looked again for some place by which he could get
out of the magic garden. Following round the wall he reached a
lower part; he remembered the Divine Names and flung himself
over, saying, 'Whatever happens is by the will of God.' When he
looked about he found that he was in the very same place he had
jumped from; there was the palace, there the garden and the deer!
Eight times he leaped over the wall and eight times found himself
where he had started from; but after the ninth leap there was a
change, there was a palace and there was a garden, but the deer
Presently a girl of such moon-like beauty opened a window that
the prince lost to her a hundred hearts. She was delighted with
the beautiful deer, and cried to her nurse: 'Catch it! if you
will I will give you this necklace, every pearl of which is worth
a kingdom.' The nurse coveted the pearls, but as she was three
hundred years old she did not know how she could catch a deer.
However, she went down into the garden and held out some grass,
but when she went near the creature ran away. The girl watched
with great excitement from the palace window, and called: 'O
nurse, if you don't catch it, I will kill you!' 'I am killing
myself,' shouted back the old woman. The girl saw that nurse
tottering along and went down to help, marching with the gait of
a prancing peacock. When she saw the gilded horns and the
kerchief she said: 'It must be accustomed to the hand, and be
some royal pet!' The prince had it in mind that this might be
another magician who could give him some other shape, but still
it seemed best to allow himself to be caught. So he played about
the girl and let her catch him by the neck. A leash was brought,
fruits were given, and it was caressed with delight. It was
taken to the palace and tied at the foot of the Lady Jamila's
raised seat, but she ordered a longer cord to be brought so that
it might be able to jump up beside her.
When the nurse went to fix the cord she saw tears falling from
its eyes, and that it was dejected and sorrowful 'O Lady Jamila!
this is a wonderful deer, it is crying; I never saw a deer cry
before.' Jamila darted down like a flash of lightning, and saw
that it was so. It rubbed its head on her feet and then shook it
so sadly that the girl cried for sympathy. She patted it and
said: 'Why are you sad, my heart? Why do you cry, my soul? Is
it because I have caught you? I love you better than my own
life.' But, spite of her comforting, it cried the more. Then
Jamila said: 'Unless I am mistaken, this is the work of my wicked
sister Latifa, who by magic art turns servants of God into beasts
of the field.' At these words the deer uttered sounds, and laid
its head on her feet. Then Jamila was sure it was a man, and
said: ' Be comforted, I will restore you to your own shape.' She
bathed herself and ordered the deer to be bathed, put on clean
raiment, called for a box which stood in an alcove, opened it and
gave a portion of what was in it to the deer to eat. Then she
slipped her hand under her carpet and produced a stick to which
she said something. She struck the deer hard, it pirouetted and
became Prince Almas.
The broidered kerchief and the jewels lay upon the ground. The
prince prostrated himself in thanks to heaven and Jamila, and
said: 'O delicious person! O Chinese Venus! how shall I excuse
myself for giving you so much trouble? With what words can I
thank you?' Then she called for a clothes-wallet and chose out a
royal dress of honour. Her attendants dressed him in it, and
brought him again before the tender-hearted lady. She turned to
him a hundred hearts, took his hand and seated him beside her,
and said: 'O youth! tell me truly who you are and where you come
from, and how you fell into the power of my sister.'
Even when he was a deer the prince had much admired Jamila now he
thought her a thousand times more lovely than before. He judged
that in truth alone was safety, and so told her his whole story.
Then she asked: 'O Prince Almas-ruh-bakhsh, do you still wish so
much to make this journey to Waq of Qaf? What hope is there in
it? The road is dangerous even near here, and this is not yet
the borderland of the Caucasus. Come, give it up! It is a great
risk, and to go is not wise. It would be a pity for a man like
you to fall into the hands of jins and demons. Stay with me, and
I will do whatever you wish.'
'O most delicious person!' he answered, 'you are very generous,
and the choice of my life lies in truth in your hands; but I beg
one favour of you. If you love me, so do I too love you. If you
really love me, do not forbid me to make this journey, but help
me as far as you can. Then it may be that I shall succeed, and
if I return with my purpose fulfilled I will marry you according
to the law, and take you to my own country, and we will spend the
rest of our lives together in pleasure and good companionship.
Help me, if you can, and give me your counsel.'
'O very stuff of my life,' replied Jamila 'I will give you things
that are not in kings' treasuries, and which will be of the
greatest use to you. First, there are the bow and arrows of his
Reverence the Prophet Salih. Secondly, there is the Scorpion of
Solomon (on whom be peace), which is a sword such as no king has;
steel and stone are one to it; if you bring it down on a rock it
will not be injured, and it will cleave whatever you strike.
Thirdly, there is the dagger which the sage Timus himself made;
this is most useful, and the man who wears it would not bend
under seven camels' loads. What you have to do first is to get
to the home of the Simurgh,[FN#10] and to make friends with him.
If he favours you, he will take you to Waq of Qaf; if not, you
will never get there, for seven seas are on the way, and they are
such seas that if all the kings of the earth, and all their
wazirs, and all their wise men considered for a thousand years,
they would not be able to cross them.'
'O most delicious person! where is the Simurgh's home? How shall
I get there?'
'O new fruit of life! you must just do what I tell you, and you
must use your eyes and your brains, for if you don't you will
find yourself at the place of the negroes, who are a bloodthirsty
set; and God forbid they should lay hands on your precious
Then she took the bow and quiver of arrows, the sword, and the
dagger out of a box, and the prince let fall a Bismillah, and
girt them all on. Then Jamila of the houri-face, produced two
saddle-bags of ruby-red silk, one filled with roasted fowl and
little cakes, and the other with stones of price. Next she gave
him a horse as swift as the breeze of the morning, and she said:
' Accept all these things from me; ride till you come to a rising
ground, at no great distance from here, where there is a spring.
It is called the Place of Gifts, and you must stay there one
night. There you will see many wild beasts--lions, tigers,
leopards, apes, and so on. Before you get there you must capture
some game. On the long road beyond there dwells a lion-king,
alla if other beasts did not fear him they would ravage the whole
country and let no one pass. The lion is a red transgressor, so
when he comes rise and do him reverence; take a cloth and rub the
dust and earth from his face, then set the game you have taken
before him, well cleansed, and lay the hands of respect on your
breast. When he wishes to eat, take your knife and cut pieces of
the meat and set them before him with a bow. In this way you
will enfold that lion-king in perfect friendship, and he will be
most useful to you, and you will be safe from molestation by the
negroes. When you go on from the Place of Gifts, be sure you do
not take the right-hand road; take the left, for the other leads
by the negro castle, which is known as the Place of Clashing
Swords, and where there are forty negro captains each over three
thousand or four thousand more. Their chief is Taramtaq.[FN#11]
Further on than this is the home of the Simurgh.'
Having stored these things in the prince's memory, she said: 'You
will see everything happen just as I have said.' Then she
escorted him a little way; they parted, and she went home to
mourn his absence.
Prince Almas, relying on the Causer of Causes, rode on to the
Place of Gifts and dismounted at the platform. Everything
happened just as Jamila had foretold; when one or two watches of
the night had passed, he saw that the open ground around him was
full of such stately and splendid animals as he had never seen
before. By-and-by, they made way for a wonderfully big lion,
which was eighty yards from nose to tail-tip, and was a
magnificent creature. The prince advanced and saluted it; it
proudly drooped its head and forelocks and paced to the platform.
Seventy or eighty others were with it, and now encircled it at a
little distance. It laid its right paw over its left, and the
prince took the kerchief Jamila had given him for the purpose,
and rubbed the dust and earth from its face; then brought forward
the game he had prepared, and crossing his hands respectfully on
his breast stood waiting before it. When it wished for food he
cut off pieces of the meat and put them in its mouth. The
serving lions also came near and the prince would have stayed his
hand, but the king-lion signed to him to feed them too. This he
did, laying the meat on the platform. Then the king-lion
beckoned the prince to come near and said: 'Sleep at ease; my
guards will watch.'. So, surrounded by the lion-guard, he slept
till dawn, when the king lion said good-bye, and gave him a few
of his own hairs and said: 'When you are in any difficulty, burn
one of these and I will be there.' Then it went off into the
Prince Almas immediately started; he rode till he came to the
parting of the ways. He remembered quite well that the
right-hand way was short and dangerous, but he bethought himself
too that whatever was written on his forehead would happen, and
took the forbidden road. By-and-by he saw a castle, and knew
from what Jamila had told him that it was the Place of Clashing
Swords. He would have liked to go back by the way ho had come,
but courage forbade, and he said, 'What has been preordained from
eternity will happen to me,' and went on towards the castle. He
was thinking of tying his horse to a tree which grew near the
gate when a negro came out and spied him. ' Ha!' said the wretch
to himself, 'this is good; Taram-taq has not eaten man-meat for a
long time, and is craving for some. I will take this creature to
him.' He took hold of the prince's reins, and said: 'Dismount,
man-child! Come to my master. He has wanted to eat man-meat
this long time back.' 'What nonsense are you saying?' said the
prince, and other such words. When the negro understood that he
was being abused, he cried: 'Come along! I will put you into such
a state that the birds of the air will weep for you.' Then the
prince drew the Scorpion of So]omon and struck him--struck him on
the leathern belt and shore him through so that the sword came
out on the other side. He stood upright for a little while,
muttered some words, put out his hand to seize the prince, then
fell in two and surrendered his life.
There was water close at hand, and the prince made his ablution,
and then said: 'O my heart! a wonderful task lies upon you.' A
second negro came out of the fort, and seeing what had been done,
went back and told his chief. Others wished to be doubled, and
went out, and of every one the Scorpion of Solomon made two.
Then Taram-taq sent for a giant negro named Chil-maq, who in the
day of battle was worth three hundred, and said to him: 'I shall
thank you to fetch me that man.'
Chil-maq went out, tall as a tower, and bearing a shield of eight
millstones, and as he walked he shouted: 'Ho! blunder- head! by
what right do you come to our country and kill our people? Come!
make two of me.' As the prince was despicable in his eyes, he
tossed aside his club and rushed to grip him with his hands. He
caught him by the collar, tucked him under his arm and set off
with him to Taram-taq. But the prince drew the dagger of Timus
and thrust it upwards through the giant's armpit, for its full
length. This made Chil-maq drop him and try to pick up his club;
but when he stooped the mighty sword shore him through at the
When news of his champion's death reached Taram-taq he put
himself at the head of an army of his negroes and led them forth.
Many fell before the magic sword, and the prince laboured on in
spite of weakness and fatigue till he was almost worn out. In a
moment of respite from attack he struck his fire-steel and burned
a hair of the king-lion; and he had just succeeded in this when
the negroes charged again and all but took him prisoner.
Suddenly from behind the distant veil of the desert appeared an
army of lions led by their king. 'What brings these scourges of
heaven here?' cried the negroes. They came roaring up, and put
fresh life into the prince. He fought on, and when he struck on
a belt the wearer fell in two, and when on a head he cleft to the
waist. Then the ten thousand mighty lions joined the fray and
tore in pieces man and horse.
Taram-taq was left alone; he would have retired into his fort,
but the prince shouted: 'Whither away, accursed one? Are you
fleeing before me?' At these defiant words the chief shouted
back, 'Welcome, man! Come here and I will soften you to wax
beneath my club.' Then he hurled his club at the prince's head,
but it fell harmless because the prince had quickly spurred his
horse forward. The chief, believing he had hit him, was looking
down for him, when all at once he came up behind and cleft him to
the waist and sent him straight to hell.
The king-lion greatly praised the dashing courage of Prince
Almas. They went together into the Castle of Clashing Swords and
found it adorned and fitted in princely fashion. In it was a
daughter of Taram taq, still a child She sent a message to Prince
Almas saying, 'O king of the world! choose this slave to be your
handmaid. Keep her with you; where you go, there she will go! '
He sent for her and she kissed his feet and received the
Mussulman faith at his hands. He told her he was going a long
journey on important business, and that when he came back he
would take her and her possessions to his own country, but that
for the present she must stay in the castle. Then he made over
the fort and all that was in it to the care of the lion, saying:
'Guard them, brother! let no one lay a hand on them.' He said
goodbye, chose a fresh horse from the chief's stable and once
again took the road.
After travelling many stages and for many days, he reached a
plain of marvellous beauty and refreshment. It was carpeted with
flowers--roses, tulips, and clover; it had lovely lawns, and
amongst them running water. This choicest place of earth filled
him with wonder. There was a tree such as he had never seen
before; its branches were alike, but it bore flowers and fruit of
a thousand kinds. Near it a reservoir had been fashioned of four
sorts of stone--touchstone, pure stone, marble, and loadstone.
In and out of it flowed water like attar. The prince felt sure
this must be the place of the Simurgh.' he dismounted, turned
his horse loose to graze, ate some of the food Jamila had given
him, drank of the stream and lay down to sleep.
He was still dozing when he was aroused by the neighing and
pawing of his horse. When he could see clearly he made out a
mountain-like dragon whose heavy breast crushed the stones
beneath it into putty. He remembered the Thousand Names of God
and took the bow of Salih from its case and three arrows from
their quiver. He bound the dagger of Tlmus firmly to his waist
and hung the scorpion of Solomon round his neck. Then he set an
arrow on the string and released it with such force that it went
in at the monster's eye right up to the notch. The dragon
writhed on itself, and belched forth an evil vapour, and beat the
ground with its head till the earth quaked. Then the prince took
a second arrow and shot into its throat. It drew in its breath
and would have sucked the prince into its maw, but when he was
within striking distance he drew his sword and, having committed
himself to God, struck a mighty blow which cut the creature's
neck down to the gullet. The foul vapour of the beast and horror
at its strangeness now overcame the prince, and he fainted. When
he came to himself he found that he was drenched in the gore of
the dead monster. He rose and thanked God for his deliverance.
The nest of the Simurgh was in the wonderful tree above him, and
in it were young birds; the parents were away searching for food.
They always told the children, before they left them, not to put
their heads out of the nest; but, to-day, at the noise of the
fight below, they looked down and so saw the whole affair. By
the time the dragon had been killed they were very hungry and set
up a clamour for food. The prince therefore cut up the dragon
and fed them with it, bit by bit, till they had eaten the whole.
He then washed himself and lay down to rest, and he was still
asleep when the Simurgh came home. As a rule, the young birds
raised a clamour of welcome when their parents came near, but on
this day they were so full of dragon-meat that they had no
choice, they had to go to sleep.
As they flew nearer, the old birds saw the prince lying under the
tree and no sign of life in the nest. They thought that the
misfortune which for so many earlier years had befallen them had
again happened and that their nestlings had disappeared. They
had never been able to find out the murderer, and now suspected
the prince. ' He has eaten our children and sleeps after it; he
must die,' said the father-bird, and flew back to the hills and
clawed up a huge stone which he meant to let fall on the prince's
head. But his mate said, 'Let us look into the nest first for to
kill an innocent person would condemn us at the Day of
Resurrection.' They flew nearer, and presently the young birds
woke and cried, 'Mother, what have you brought for us?' and they
told the whole story of the fight, and of how they were alive
only by the favour of the young man under the tree, and of his
cutting up the dragon and of their eating it. The mother-bird
then remarked, 'Truly, father! you were about to do a strange
thing, and a terrible sin has been averted from you.' Then the
Simurgh flew off to a distance with the great stone and dropped
it. It sank down to the very middle of the earth.
Coming back, the Simurgh saw that a little sunshine fell upon the
prince through the leaves, and it spread its wings and shaded him
till he woke. When he got up he salaamed to it, who returned his
greeting with joy and gratitude, and caressed him and said: 'O
youth, tell me true! who are you, and where are you going? And
how did you cross that pitiless desert where never yet foot of
man had trod?' The prince told his story from beginning to end,
and finished by saying: 'Now it is my heart's wish that you
should help me to get to Waq of the Caucasus. Perhaps, by your
favour, I shall accomplish my task and avenge my brothers.' In
reply the Simurgh.' first blessed the deliverer of his children,
and then went on: ' What you have done no child of man has ever
done before; you assuredly have a claim on all my help, for every
year up till now that dragon has come here and has destroyed my
nestlings, and I have never been able to find who was the
murderer and to avenge myself. By God's grace you have removed
my children's powerful foe. I regard you as a child of my own.
Stay with me; I will give you everything you desire, and I will
establish a city here for you, and will furnish it with every
requisite; I will give you the land of the Caucasus, and will
make its princes subject to you. Give up the journey to Waq, it
is full of risk, and the jins there will certainly kill you.'
But nothing could move the prince, and seeing this the bird went
on: 'Well, so be it! When you wish to set forth you must go into
the plain and take seven head of deer, and must make water-tight
bags of their hides and keep their flesh in seven portions.
Seven seas lie on our way-- I will carry you over them; but if I
have not food and drink we shall fall into the sea and be
drowned. When I ask for it you must put food and water into my
mouth. So we shall make the journey safely.'
The prince did all as he was told, then they took flight; they
crossed the seven seas, and at each one the prince fed the
Simurgh When they alighted on the shore of the last sea, it said:
'O my son! there lies your road; follow it to the city. Take
thee three feathers of mine, and, if you are in a difficulty,
burn one and I will be with you in the twinkling of an eye.'
The prince walked on in solitude till he reached the city. He
went in and wandered about through all quarters, and through
bazaars and lanes and squares, in the least knowing from whom he
could ask information about the riddle of Mihr-afruz. He spent
seven days thinking it over in silence. From the first day of
his coming he had made friends with a young cloth-merchant, and a
great liking had sprung up between them. One day he said
abruptly to his companion: 'O dear friend! I wish you would tell
me what the rose did to the cypress, and what the sense of the
riddle is.' The merchant started, and exclaimed: 'If there were
not brotherly affection between us, I would cut off your head for
asking me this! ' 'If you meant to kill me,' retorted the prince,
' you would still have first to tell me what I want to know.'
When the merchant saw that the prince was in deadly earnest, he
said: ' If you wish to hear the truth of the matter you must wait
upon our king. There is no other way; no one else will tell you.
I have a well-wisher at the Court, named Farrukh-fal,[FN#12] and
will introduce you to him.' 'That would be excellent,' cried the
prince. A meeting was arranged between Farrukhfal and Almas, and
then the amir took him to the king's presence and introduced him
as a stranger and traveller who had come from afar to sit in the
shadow of King Sinaubar.
Now the Simurgh had given the prince a diamond weighing thirty
misqals, and he ordered this to the king, who at once recognised
its value, and asked where it had been obtained. 'I, your slave,
once had riches and state and power; there are many such stones
in my country. On my way here I was plundered at the Castle of
Clashing Swords, and I saved this one thing only, hidden in my
bathing-cloth.' In return for the diamond, King Sinaubar
showered gifts of much greater value, for he remembered that it
was the last possession of the prince. He showed the utmost
kindness and hospitality, and gave his wazir orders to instal the
prince in the royal guest-house. He took much pleasure in his
visitor's society; they were together every day and spent the
time most pleasantly. Several times the king said: 'Ask me for
something, that I may give it you.'One day he so pressed to know
what would pleasure the prince, that the latter said: 'I have
only one wish, and that I will name to you in private.' The king
at once commanded every one to withdraw, and then Prince Almas
said: ' The desire of my life is to know what the rose did to the
cypress, and what meaning there is in the words.' The king was
astounded. 'In God's name! if anyone else had said that to me I
should have cut off his head instantly.' The prince heard this
in silence, and presently so beguiled the king with pleasant talk
that to kill him was impossible.
Time flew by, the king again and again begged the prince to ask
some gift of him, and always received this same reply: 'I wish
for your Majesty's welfare, what more can I desire?'One night
there was a banquet, and cupbearers carried round gold and silver
cups of sparkling wine, and singers with sweetest voices
contended for the prize. The prince drank from the king's own
cup, and when his head was hot with wine he took a lute from one
of the musicians and placed himself on the carpet border and sang
and sang till he witched away the sense of all who listened.
Applause and compliments rang from every side. The king filled
his cup and called the prince and gave it him and said: 'Name
your wish! it is yours.' The prince drained off the wine and
answered: 'O king of the world! learn and know that I have only
one aim in life, and this is to know what the rose did to the
'Never yet,' replied the king, 'has any man come out from that
question alive. If this is your only wish, so be it; I will tell
you. But I will do this on one condition only, namely, that when
you have heard you will submit yourself to death.' To this the
prince agreed, and said: ' I set my foot firmly on this compact.'
The king then gave an order to an attendant; a costly carpet
overlaid with European velvet was placed near him, and a dog was
led in by a golden and jewelled chain and set upon the splendid
stuffs. A band of fair girls came in and stood round it in
Then, with ill words, twelve negroes dragged in a lovely woman,
fettered on hands and feet and meanly dressed, and they set her
down on the bare floor. She was extraordinarily beautiful, and
shamed the glorious sun. The king ordered a hundred stripes to
be laid on her tender body; she sighed a long sigh. Food was
called for and table-cloths were spread. Delicate meats were set
before the dog, and water given it in a royal cup of Chinese
crystal. When it had eaten its fill, its leavings were placed
before the lovely woman and she was made to eat of them. She
wept and her tears were pearls; she smiled and her lips shed
roses. Pearls and flowers were gathered up and taken to the
'Now,' said the king, ' you have seen these things and your
purpose is fulfilled.' 'Truly,' said the prince, 'I have seen
things which I have not understood; what do they mean, and what
is the story of them? Tell me and kill me.'
Then said the king: 'The woman you see there in chains is my
wife; she is called Gul, the Rose, and I am Sinaubar, the
Cypress. One day I was hunting and became very thirsty. After
great search I discovered a well in a place so secret that
neither bird nor beast nor man could find it without labour. I
was alone, I took my turban for a rope and my cap for a bucket.
There was a good deal of water, but when I let down my rope,
something caught it, and I could not in any way draw it back. I
shouted down into the well: "O! servant of God! whoever you are,
why do you deal unfairly with me? I am dying of thirst, let go!
in God's name." A cry came up in answer, "O servant of God! we
have been in the well a long time; in God's name get us out!"
After trying a thousand schemes, I drew up two blind women. They
said they were peris, and that their king had blinded them in his
anger and had left them in the well alone.
' "Now," they said, "if you will get us the cure for our
blindness we will devote ourselves to your service, and will do
whatever you wish."
' "What is the cure for your blindness?"
' "Not far from this place," they said, "a cow comes up from the
great sea to graze; a little of her dung would cure us. We
should be eternally your debtors. Do not let the cow see you, or
she will assuredly kill you."
'With renewed strength and spirit I went to the shore. There I
watched the cow come up from the sea, graze, and go back. Then I
came out of my hiding, took a little of her dung and conveyed it
to the peris. They rubbed it on their eyes, and by the Divine
might saw again.
'They thanked heaven and me, and then considered what they could
do to show their gratitude to me. "Our peri-king," they said,
"has a daughter whom he keeps under his own eye and thinks the
most lovely girl on earth. In good sooth, she has not her equal!
Now we will get you into her house and you must win her heart,
and if she has an inclination for another, you must drive it out
and win her for yourself. Her mother loves her so dearly that
she has no ease but in her presence, and she will give her to no
one in marriage. Teach her to love you so that she cannot exist
without you. But if the matter becomes known to her mother she
will have you burned in the fire. Then you must beg, as a last
favour, that your body may be anointed with oil so that you may
burn the more quickly and be spared torture. If the peri-king
allows this favour, we two will manage to be your anointers, and
we will put an oil on you such that if you were a thousand years
in the fire not a trace of burning would remain."
'In the end the two peris. took me to the girl's house. I saw
her sleeping daintily. She was most lovely, and I was so amazed
at the perfection of her beauty that I stood with senses lost,
and did not know if she were real or a dream. When at last I saw
that she was a real girl, I returned thanks that I, the runner,
had come to my goal, and that I, the seeker, had found my
'When the peri opened her eyes she asked in affright: "Who are
you? Have you come to steal? How did you get here? Be quick!
save yourself from this whirlpool of destruction, for the demons
and peris. who guard me will wake and seize you."
'But love's arrow had struck me deep, and the girl, too, looked
kindly on me. I could not go away. For some months I remained
hidden in her house. 'We did not dare to let her mother know of
our love. Sometimes the girl was very sad and fearful lest her
mother should come to know. One day her father said to her:
"Sweetheart, for some time I have noticed that your beauty is not
what it was. How is this? Has sickness touched you? Tell me
that I may seek a cure." Alas! there was now no way of concealing
the mingled delight and anguish of our love; from secret it
became known. I was put in prison and the world grew dark to my
rose, bereft of her lover.
'The peri-king ordered me to be burnt, and said: "Why have you, a
man, done this perfidious thing in my house?" His demons and
peris. collected amber-wood and made a pile, and would have set
me on it, when I remembered the word of life which the two peris.
I had rescued had breathed into my ear, and I asked that my body
might be rubbed with oil to release me the sooner from torture.
This was allowed, and those two contrived to be the anointers. I
was put into the fire and it was kept up for seven days and
nights. By the will of the Great King it left no trace upon me.
At the end of a week the pert-king ordered the ashes to be cast
upon the dust-heap, and I was found alive and unharmed.
'Peris who had seen Gul consumed by her love for me now
interceded with the king, and said: "It is clear that your
daughter's fortunes are bound up with his, for the fire has not
hurt him. It is best to give him the girl, for they love one
another. He is King of Waq of Qaf, and you will find none
'To this the king agreed, and made formal marriage between Gul
and me. You now know the price I paid for this faithless
creature. O prince! remember our compact.'
'I remember,' said the prince; ' but tell me what brought Queen
Gul to her present pass?'
'One night,' continued King Sinaubar,'I was aroused by feeling
Gul's hands and feet, deadly cold, against my body. I asked her
where she had been to get so cold, and she said she had had to go
out. Next morning, when I went to my stable I saw that two of my
horses, Windfoot and Tiger, were thin and worn out. I
reprimanded the groom and beat him. He asked where his fault
lay, and said that every night my wife took one or other of these
horses and rode away, and came back only just before dawn. A
flame kindled in my heart, and I asked myself where she could go
and what she could do. I told the groom to be silent, and when
next Gul took a horse from the stable to saddle another quickly
and bring it to me. That day I did not hunt, but stayed at home
to follow the matter up. I lay down as usual at night and
pretended to fall asleep. When I seemed safely off Gul got up
and went to the stable as her custom was. That night it was
Tiger's turn. She rode off on him, and I took Windfoot and
followed. With me went that dog you see, a faithful friend who
never left me.
'When I came to the foot of those hills which lie outside the
city I saw Gul dismount and go towards a house which some negroes
have built there. Over against the door was a high seat, and on
it lay a giant negro, before whom she salaamed. He got up and
beat her till she was marked with weals, but she uttered no
complaint. I was dumfounded, for once when I had struck her with
a rose stalk she had complained and fretted for three days! Then
the negro said to her: " How now, ugly one and shaven head! Why
are you so late, and why are you not wearing wedding garments?"
She answered him: "That person did not go to sleep quickly, and
he stayed at home all day, so that I was not able to adorn
myself. I came as soon as I could." In a little while he called
her to sit beside him; but this was more than I could bear. I
lost control of myself and rushed upon him. He clutched my
collar and we grappled in a death struggle. Suddenly she came
behind me, caught my feet and threw me. While he held me on the
ground, she drew out my own knife and gave it to him. I should
have been killed but for that faithful dog which seized his
throat and pulled him down and pinned him to the ground. Then I
got up and despatched the wretch. There were four other negroes
at the place; three I killed and the fourth got away, and has
taken refuge beneath the throne of Mihr-afruz, daughter of King
Quimus. I took Gul back to my palace, and from that time till
now I have treated her as a dog is treated, and I have cared for
my dog as though it were my wife. Now you know what the rose did
to the cypress; and now you must keep compact with me.'
'I shall keep my word,' said the prince; 'but may a little water
be taken to the roof so that I may make my last ablution?'
To this request the king consented. The prince mounted to the
roof, and, getting into a corner, struck his fire-steel and
burned one of the Sirurgh's feathers in the flame. Straightway
it appeared, and by the majesty of its presence made the city
quake. It took the prince on its back and soared away to the
After a time King Sinaubar said: 'That young man is a long time
on the roof; go and bring him here.' But there was no sign of
the prince upon the roof; only, far away in the sky, the Simurgh
was seen carrying him off. When the king heard of his escape he
thanked heaven that his hands were clean of this blood.
Up and up flew the Simurgh, till earth looked like an egg resting
on an ocean. At length it dropped straight down to its own
place, where the kind prince was welcomed by the young birds and
most hospitably entertained. He told the whole story of the rose
and the cypress, and then, laden with gifts which the Simurgh had
gathered from cities far and near, he set his face for the Castle
of Clashing Swords. The king-lion came out to meet him; he took
the negro chief's daughter---whose name was also Gul--in lawful
marriage, and then marched with her and her possessions and her
attendants to the Place of Gifts. Here they halted for a night,
and at dawn said good-bye to the king-lion and set out for
When the Lady Jamila heard that Prince Almas was near, she went
out, with many a fair handmaid, to give him loving reception.
Their meeting was joyful, and they went together to the
garden-palace. Jamila summoned all her notables, and in their
presence her marriage with the prince was solemnised. A few days
later she entrusted her affairs to her wazir, and made
preparation to go with the prince to his own country. Before she
started she restored all the men whom her sister, Latifa, had
bewitched, to their own forms, and received their blessings, and
set them forward to their homes. The wicked Latifa herself she
left quite alone in her garden-house. When all was ready they
set out with all her servants and slaves, all her treasure and
goods, and journeyed at ease to the city of King Quimus.
When King Quimus heard of the approach of such a great company,
he sent out his wazir to give the prince honourable meeting, and
to ask what had procured him the favour of the visit. The prince
sent back word that he had no thought of war, but he wrote: '
Learn and know, King Quimus, that I am here to end the crimes of
your insolent daughter who has tyrannously done to death many
kings and kings sons, and has hung their heads on your citadel.
I am here to give her the answer to her riddle.' Later on he
entered the city, beat boldly on the drums, and was conducted to
The king entreated him to have nothing to do with the riddle, for
that no man had come out of it alive. 'O king!' replied the
prince, 'it is to answer it that I am here; I will not withdraw.'
Mihr-afruz was told that one man more had staked his head on her
question, and that this was one who said he knew the answer. At
the request of the prince, all the officers and notables of the
land were summoned to hear his reply to the princess. All
assembled, and the king and his queen Gul-rakh, and the girl and
the prince were there.
The prince addressed Mihr-afruz: 'What is the question you ask?'
'What did the rose do to the cypress?' she rejoined.
The prince smiled, and turned and addressed the assembly.
'You who are experienced men and versed in affairs, did you ever
know or hear and see anything of this matter?'
'No!' they answered, 'no one has ever known or heard or seen
aught about it; it is an empty fancy.'
'From whom, then, did the princess hear of it? This empty fancy
it is that has done many a servant of God to death!'
All saw the good sense of his words and showed their approval.
Then he turned to the princess: 'Tell us the truth, princess; who
told you of this thing? I know it hair by hair, and in and out;
but if I tell you what I know, who is there that can say I speak
the truth? You must produce the person who can confirm my
Her heart sank, for she feared that her long-kept secret was now
to be noised abroad. But she said merely: 'Explain yourself.'
'I shall explain myself fully when you bring here the negro whom
you hide beneath your throne.'
Here the king shouted in wonderment: 'Explain yourself, young
man! What negro does my daughter hide beneath her throne?'
'That,' said the prince, 'you will see if you order to be brought
here the negro who will be found beneath the throne of the
Messengers were forthwith despatched to the garden house, and
after awhile they returned bringing a negro whom they had
discovered in a secret chamber underneath the throne of
Mihr-afruz, dressed in a dress of honour, and surrounded with
luxury. The king was overwhelmed with astonishment, but the girl
had taken heart again. She had had time to think that perhaps
the prince had heard of the presence of the negro, and knew no
more. So she said haughtily: 'Prince! you have not answered my
'O most amazingly impudent person,' cried he, 'do you not yet
Then he turned to the people, and told them the whole story of
the rose and the cypress, of King Sinaubar and Queen Gul. When
he came to the killing of the negroes, he said to the one who
stood before them: 'You, too, were present.'
'That is so; all happened as you have told it!'
There was great rejoicing in the court and all through the
country over the solving of the riddle, and because now no more
kings and princes would be killed. King Quimus made over his
daughter to Prince Almas, but the latter refused to marry her,
and took her as his captive. He then asked that the heads should
be removed from the battlements and given decent burial. This
was done. He received from the king everything that belonged to
Mihr-afruz; her treasure of gold and silver; her costly stuffs
and carpets; her household plenishing; her horses and camels; her
servants and slaves.
Then he returned to his camp and sent for Dil-aram, who came
bringing her goods and chattels, her gold and her jewels. When
all was ready, Prince Almas set out for home, taking with him
Jamila, and Dil-aram and Gul, daughter of Taram-taq, and the
wicked Mihr-afruz, and all the belongings of the four, packed on
horses and camels, and in carts without number.
As he approached the borders of his father's country word of his
coming went before him, and all the city came forth to give him
welcome. King Saman-lal-posh-- Jessamine, wearer of rubies--had
so bewept the loss of his sons that he was now blind. When the
prince had kissed his feet and received his blessing, he took
from a casket a little collyrium of Solomon, which the Simurgh
had given him, and which reveals the hidden things of earth, and
rubbed it on his father's eyes. Light came, and the king saw his
Mihr-afruz was brought before the king, and the prince said:
'This is the murderer of your sons; do with her as you will.'
The king fancied that the prince might care for the girl's
beauty, and replied: 'You have humbled her; do with her as you
Upon this the prince sent for four swift and strong horses, and
had the negro bound to each one of them; then each was driven to
one of the four quarters, and he tore in pieces like muslin.
This frightened Mihr-afruz horribly, for she thought the same
thing might be done to herself. She cried out to the prince: 'O
Prince Almas! what is hardest to get is most valued. Up till now
I have been subject to no man, and no man had had my love. The
many kings and kings sons who have died at my hands have died
because it was their fate to die like this. In this matter I
have not sinned. That was their fate from eternity; and from the
beginning it was predestined that my fate should be bound up with
The prince gave ear to the argument from pre-ordainment, and as
she was a very lovely maiden he took her too in lawful marriage.
She and Jamila, set up house together, and Dil-aram and Gul set
up theirs; and the prince passed the rest of his life with the
four in perfect happiness, and in pleasant and sociable
Now has been told what the rose did to the cypress.
Finished, finished, finished!
Footnotes for What The Rose Did to the Cypress
[FN#1] Translated from two Persian MSS. in the possession of
the British Museum and the India Office, and adapted, with some
reservations, by Annette S. Beveridge.
[FN#2] Jessamine, ruby-decked.
[FN#3] Life-giving diamond.
[FN#11] Pomp and Pride.
[FN#12] Of happy omen.
Ball-carrier and the Bad One
Far, far in the forest there were two little huts, and in each of
them lived a man who was a famous hunter, his wife, and three or
four children. Now the children were forbidden to play more than
a short distance from the door, as it was known that, away on the
other side of the wood near the great river, there dwelt a witch
who had a magic ball that she used as a means of stealing
Her plan was a very simple one, and had never yet failed. When
she wanted a child she just flung her ball in the direction of
the child's home, and however far off it might be, the ball was
sure to reach it. Then, as soon as the child saw it, the ball
would begin rolling slowly back to the witch, just keeping a
little ahead of the child, so that he always thought that he
could catch it the next minute. But he never did, and, what was
more, his parents never saw him again.
Of course you must not suppose that all the fathers and mothers
who had lost children made no attempts to find them, but the
forest was so large, and the witch was so cunning in knowing
exactly where they were going to search, that it was very easy
for her to keep out of the way. Besides, there was always the
chance that the children might have been eaten by wolves, of
which large herds roamed about in winter.
One day the old witch happened to want a little boy, so she threw
her ball in the direction of the hunters' huts. A child was
standing outside, shooting at a mark with his bow and arrows, but
the moment he saw the ball, which was made of glass whose blues
and greens and whites, all frosted over, kept changing one into
the other, he flung down his bow, and stooped to pick the ball
up. But as he did so it began to roll very gently downhill. The
boy could not let it roll away, when it was so close to him, so
he gave chase. The ball seemed always within his grasp, yet he
could never catch it; it went quicker and quicker, and the boy
grew more and more excited. That time he almost touched it--no,
he missed it by a hair's breadth! Now, surely, if he gave a
spring he could get in front of it! He sprang forward, tripped
and fell, and found himself in the witch's house!
'Welcome! welcome! grandson!' said she; 'get up and rest
yourself, for you have had a long walk, and I am sure you must be
tired!' So the boy sat down, and ate some food which she gave him
in a bowl. It was quite different from anything he had tasted
before, and he thought it was delicious. When he had eaten up
every bit, the witch asked him if he had ever fasted.
'No,' replied the boy, 'at least I have been obliged to
sometimes, but never if there was any food to be had.'
'You will have to fast if you want the spirits to make you strong
and wise, and the sooner you begin the better.'
'Very well,' said the boy, 'what do I do first?'
'Lie down on those buffalo skins by the door of the hut,'
answered she; and the boy lay down, and the squirrels and little
bears and the birds came and talked to him.
At the end of ten days the old woman came to him with a bowl of
the same food that he had eaten before.
'Get up, my grandson, you have fasted long enough. Have the good
spirits visited you, and granted you the strength and wisdom that
'Some of them have come, and have given me a portion of both,'
answered the boy, 'but many have stayed away from me.'
'Then,' said she, 'you must fast ten days more.'
So the boy lay down again on the buffalo skins, and fasted for
ten days, and at the end of that time he turned his face to the
wall, and fasted for twenty days longer. At length the witch
called to him, and said:
'Come and eat something, my grandson.' At the sound of her voice
the boy got up and ate the food she gave him. When he had
finished every scrap she spoke as before: 'Tell me, my grandson,
have not the good spirits visited you all these many days that
you have fasted?'
'Not all, grandmother,' answered he; 'there are still some who
keep away from me and say that I have not fasted long enough.'
'Then you must fast again,' replied the old woman, 'and go on
fasting till you receive the gifts of all the good spirits. Not
one must be missing.'
The boy said nothing, but lay down for the third time on the
buffalo skins, and fasted for twenty days more. And at the end
of that time the witch thought he was dead, his face was so white
and his body so still. But when she had fed him out of the bowl
he grew stronger, and soon was able to sit up.
'You have fasted a long time,' said she, 'longer than anyone ever
fasted before. Surely the good spirits must be satisfied now?'
'Yes, grandmother,' answered the boy, 'they have all come, and
have given me their gifts.'
This pleased the old woman so much that she brought him another
basin of food, and while he was eating it she talked to him, and
this is what she said: 'Far away, on the other side of the great
river, is the home of the Bad One. In his house is much gold,
and what is more precious even than the gold, a little bridge,
which lengthens out when the Bad One waves his hand, so that
there is no river or sea that he cannot cross. Now I want that
bridge and some of the gold for myself, and that is the reason
that I have stolen so many boys by means of my ball. I have
tried to teach them how to gain the gifts of the good spirits,
but none of them would fast long enough, and at last I had to
send them away to perform simple, easy little tasks. But you
have been strong and faithful, and you can do this thing if you
listen to what I tell you! When you reach the river tie this ball
to your foot, and it will take you across--you cannot manage it
in any other way. But do not be afraid; trust to the ball, and
you will be quite safe!'
The boy took the ball and put it in a bag. Then he made himself
a club and a bow, and some arrows which would fly further than
anyone else's arrows, because of the strength the good spirits
had given him. They had also bestowed on him the power of
changing his shape, and had increased the quickness of his eyes
and ears so that nothing escaped him. And in some way or other
they made him understand that if he needed more help they would
give it to him.
When all these things were ready the boy bade farewell to the
witch and set out. He walked through the forest for several days
without seeing anyone but his friends the squirrels and the bears
and the birds, but though he stopped and spoke to them all, he
was careful not to let them know where he was going.
At last, after many days, he came to the river, and beyond it he
noticed a small hut standing on a hill which he guessed to be the
home of the Bad One. But the stream flowed so quickly that he
could not see how he was ever to cross it, and in order to test
how swift the current really was, he broke a branch from a tree
and threw it in. It seemed hardly to touch the water before it
was carried away, and even his magic sight could not follow it.
He could not help feeling frightened, but he hated giving up
anything that he had once undertaken, and, fastening the ball on
his right foot, he ventured on the river. To his surprise he was
able to stand up; then a panic seized him, and he scrambled up
the bank again. In a minute or two he plucked up courage to go a
little further into the river, but again its width frightened
him, and a second time he turned back. However, he felt rather
ashamed of his cowardice, as it was quite clear that his ball
could support him, and on his third trial he got safely to the
Once there he replaced the ball in the bag, and looked carefully
round him. The door of the Bad One's hut was open, and he saw
that the ceiling was supported by great wooden beams, from which
hung the bags of gold and the little bridge. He saw, too, the
Bad One sitting in the midst of his treasures eating his dinner,
and drinking something out of a horn. It was plain to the boy
that he must invent some plan of getting the Bad One out of the
way, or else he would never be able to steal the gold or the
What should he do? Give horrible shrieks as if he were in pain?
But the Bad One would not care whether he were murdered or not!
Call him by his name? But the Bad One was very cunning, and
would suspect some trick. He must try something better than
that! Then suddenly an idea came to him, and he gave a little
jump of joy. 'Oh, how stupid of me not to think of that before!'
said he, and he wished with all his might that the Bad One should
become very hungry--so hungry that he could not wait a moment for
fresh food to be brought to him. And sure enough at that instant
the Bad One called out to his servant, 'You did not bring food
that would satisfy a sparrow Fetch some more at once, for I am
perfectly starving.' Then, without giving the woman time to go
to the larder, he got up from his chair, and rolled, staggering
from hunger, towards the kitchen.
Directly the door had closed on the Bad One the boy ran in,
pulled down a bag of gold from the beam, and tucked it under his
left arm. Next he unhooked the little bridge and put it under
his right. He did not try to escape, as most boys of his age
would have done, for the wisdom put into his mind by the good
spirits taught him that before he could reach the river and make
use of the bridge the Bad One would have tracked him by his
footsteps and been upon him. So, making himself very small and
thin, he hid himself behind a pile of buffalo skins in the
corner, first tearing a slit through one of them, so that he
could see what was going on.
He had hardly settled himself when the servant entered the room,
and, as she did so, the last bag of gold on the beam fell to the
ground--for they had begun to fall directly the boy had taken the
first one. She cried to her master that someone had stolen both
the bag and the bridge, and the Bad One rushed in, mad with
anger, and bade her go and seek for footsteps outside, that they
might find out where the thief had gone. In a few minutes she
returned, saying that he must be in the house, as she could not
see any footsteps leading to the river, and began to move all the
furniture in the room, without discovering Ball Carrier.
'But he must be here somewhere,' she said to herself, examining
for the second time the pile of buffalo skins; and Ball-Carrier,
knowing that he could not possibly escape now, hastily wished
that the Bad One should be unable to eat any more food at
'Ah, there is a slit in this one,' cried the servant, shaking the
skin; 'and here he is.' And she pulled out Ball-Carrier, looking
so lean and small that he would hardly have made a mouthful for a
'Was it you who took my gold and bridge?' asked the Bad One.
'Yes,' answered Ball-Carrier, 'it was I who took them.'
The Bad One made a sign to the woman, who inquired where he had
hidden them. He lifted his left arm where the gold was, and she
picked up a knife and scraped his skin so that no gold should be
left sticking to it.
'What have you done with the bridge?' said she. And he lifted
his right arm, from which she took the bridge, while the Bad One
looked on, well pleased. 'Be sure that he does not run away,'
chuckled he. 'Boil some water, and get him ready for cooking,
while I go and invite my friends the water-demons to the feast.'
The woman seized Ball-Carrier between her finger and thumb, and
was going to carry him to the kitchen, when the boy spoke:
'I am very lean and small now,' he said, 'hardly worth the
trouble of cooking; but if you were to keep me two days, and gave
me plenty of food, I should get big and fat. As it is, your
friends the water-demons would think you meant to laugh at them,
when they found that I was the feast.'
'Well, perhaps you are right,' answered the Bad One; 'I will keep
you for two days.' And he went out to visit the water-demons.
Meanwhile the servant, whose name was Lung Woman, led him into a
little shed, and chained him up to a ring in the wall. But food
was given him every hour, and at the end of two days he was as
fat and big as a Christmas turkey, and could hardly move his head
from one side to the other.
'He will do now,' said the Bad One, who came constantly to see
how he was getting on. 'I shall go and tell the water-demons
that we expect them to dinner to-night. Put the kettle on the
fire, but be sure on no account to taste the broth.'
Lung-Woman lost no time in obeying her orders. She built up the
fire, which had got very low, filled the kettle with water, and
passing a rope which hung from the ceiling through the handle,
swung it over the flames. Then she brought in Ball-Carrier, who,
seeing all these preparations, wished that as long as he was in
the kettle the water might not really boil, though it would hiss
and bubble, and also, that the spirits would turn the water into
The kettle soon began to sing and bubble, and Ball Carrier was
lifted in. Very soon the fat which was to make the sauce rose to
the surface, and Ball-Carrier, who was bobbing about from one
side to the other, called out that Lung-Woman had better taste
the broth, as he though that some salt should be added to it.
The servant knew quite well that her master had forbidden her to
do any thing of the kind, but when once the idea was put into her
head, she found the smell from the kettle so delicious that she
unhooked a long ladle from the wall and plunged it into the
'You will spill it all, if you. stand so far off,' said the boy;
' why don't you come a little nearer?' And as she did so he cried
to the spirits to give him back his usual size and strength and
to make the water scalding hot Then he gave the kettle a kick,
which upset all the boiling water upon her, and jumping over her
body he seized once more the gold and the bridge, picked up his
club and bow and arrows, and after setting fire to the Bad One's
hut, ran down to the river, which he crossed safely by the help
of the bridge.
The hut, which was made of wood, was burned to the ground before
the Bad One came back with a large crowd of water-demons. There
was not a sign of anyone or anything, so he started for the
river, where he saw Ball Carrier sitting quietly on the other
side. Then the Bad One knew what had happened, and after telling
the water demons that there would be no feast after all, he
called to Ball-Carrier, who was eating an a,pple.
'I know your name now,' he said, 'and as you have ruined me, and
I am not rich any more, will you take me as your servant?'
'Yes, I will, though you have tried to kill me,' answered
Ball-Carrier, throwing the bridge across the water as he spoke.
But when the Bad One was in the midst of the stream, the boy
wished it to become small; and the Bad One fell into the water
and was drowned, and the world was rid of him.
[U.S.. Bureau of Ethnology.]
How Ball-carrier Finished His Task
After Ball-Carrier had managed to drown the Bad One so that he
could not do any more mischief, he forgot the way to his
grandmother's house, and could not find it again, though he
searched everywhere. During this time he wandered into many
strange places, and had many adventures; and one day he came to a
hut where a young girl lived. He was tired and hungry and begged
her to let him in and rest, and he stayed a long while, and the
girl became his wife. One morning he saw two children playing in
front of the hut, and went out to speak to them. But as soon as
they saw him they set up cries of horror and ran away. 'They are
the children of my sister who has been on a long journey,'
replied his wife, 'and now that she knows you are my husband she
wants to kill you.'
'Oh, well, let her try,' replied Ball-Carrier. 'It is not the
first time people have wished to do that. And here I am still,
'Be careful,' said the wife, ' she is very cunning.' But at this
moment the sister-in-law came up.
'How do you do, brother-in-law? I have heard of you so often
that I am very glad to meet you. I am told that you are more
powerful than any man on earth, and as I am powerful too, let us
try which is the strongest.'
'That will be delightful,' answered he. 'Suppose we begin with a
short race, and then we will go on to other things.'
' That will suit me very well,' replied the woman, who was a
witch. 'And let us agree that the one who wins shall have the
right to kill the other.'
'Oh, certainly,' said Ball-Carrier;' and I don't think we shall
find a flatter course than the prairie itself--no one knows how
many miles it stretches. We will run to the end and back again.'
This being settled they both made ready for the race, and
Ball-Carrier silently begged the good spirits to help him, and
not to let him fall into the hands of this wicked witch.
'When the sun touches the trunk of that tree we will start,' said
she, as they both stood side by side. But with the first step
Ball-Carrier changed himself into a wolf and for a long way kept
ahead. Then gradually he heard her creeping up behind him, and
soon she was in front. So Ball-Carrier took the shape of a
pigeon and flew rapidly past her, but in a little while she was
in front again and the end of the prairie was in sight. 'A crow
can fly faster than a pigeon,' thought he, and as a crow he
managed to pass her and held his ground so long that he fancied
she was quite beaten. The witch began to be afraid of it too,
and putting out all her strength slipped past him. Next he put
on the shape of a hawk, and in this form he reached the bounds of
the prairie, he and the witch turning homewards at the moment.
Bird after bird he tried, but every time the witch gained on him
and took the lead. At length the goal was in sight, and
Ball-Carrier knew that unless he could get ahead now he would be
killed before his own door, under the eyes of his wife. His eyes
had grown dim from fatigue, his wings flapped wearily and hardly
bore him along, while the witch seemed as fresh as ever. What
bird was there whose flight was swifter than his? Would not the
good spirits tell him? Ah, of course he knew; why had he not
thought of it at first and spared himself all that fatigue? And
the next instant a humming bird, dressed in green and blue,
flashed past the woman and entered the house. The witch came
panting up, furious at having lost the race which she felt
certain of winning; and Ball-Carrier, who had by this time
changed back into his own shape, struck her on the head and
For a long while Ball-Carrier was content to stay quietly at home
with his wife and children, for he was tired of adventures, and
only did enough hunting to supply the house with food. But one
day he happened to eat some poisonous berries that he had found
in the forest, and grew so ill that he felt he was going to die.
'When I am dead do not bury me in the earth,' he said, 'but put
me over there, among that clump of trees.' So his wife and her
three children watched by him as long as he was alive, and after
he was dead they took him up and laid the body on a platform of
stakes which they had prepared in the grove. And as they
returned weeping to the hut they caught a glimpse of the ball
rolling away down the path back to the old grandmother. One of
the sons sprang forward to stop it, for Ball-Carrier had often
told them the tale of how it had helped him to cross the river,
but it was too quick for him, and they had to content themselves
with the war club and bow and arrows, which were put carefully
By-and-by some travellers came past, and the chief among them
asked leave to marry Ball-Carrier's daughter. The mother said
she must have a little time to think over it, as her daughter was
still very young; so it was settled that the man should go away
for a month with his friends, and then come back to see if the
girl was willing.
Now ever since Ball-Carrier's death the family had been very
poor, and often could not get enough to eat. One morning the
girl, who had had no supper and no breakfast, wandered off to
look for cranberries, and though she was quite near home was
astonished at noticing a large hut, which certainly had not been
there when last she had come that way. No one was about, so she
ventured to peep in, and her surprise was increased at seeing,
heaped up in one corner, a quantity of food of all sorts, while a
little robin redbreast stood perched on a beam looking down upon
'It is my father, I am sure,' she cried; and the bird piped in
From that day, whenever they wanted food they went to the hut,
and though the robin could not speak, he would hop on their
shoulders and let them feed him with the food they knew he liked
When the man came back he found the girl looking so much prettier
and fatter than when he had left her, that he insisted that they
should be married on the spot. And the mother, who did not know
how to get rid of him, gave in.
The husband spent all his time in hunting, and the family had
never had so much meat before; but the man, who had seen for
himself how poor they were, noticed with amazement that they did
not seem to care about it, or to be hungry. 'They must get food
from somewhere,' he thought, and one morning, when he pretended
to be going out to hunt, he hid in a thicket to watch. Very soon
they all left the house together, and walked to the other hut,
which the girl's husband saw for the first time, as it was hid in
a hollow. He followed, and noticed that each one went up to the
redbreast, and shook him by the claw; and he then entered boldly
and shook the bird's claw too. The whole party afterwards sat
down to dinner, after which they all returned to their own hut.
The next day the husband declared that he was very ill, and could
not eat anything; but this was only a presence so that he might
get what he wanted. The family were all much distressed, and
begged him to tell them what food he fancied.
'Oh! I could not eat any food,' he answered every time, and at
each answer his voice grew fainter and fainter, till they thought
he would die from weakness before their eyes.
'There must be some thing you could take, if you would only say
what it is,' implored his wife.
'No, nothing, nothing; except, perhaps--but of course that is
'No, I am sure it is not,' replied she; ' you shall have it, I
promise--only tell me what it is.'
'I think--but I could not ask you to do such a thing. Leave me
alone, and let me die quietly.'
'You shall not die,' cried the girl, who was very fond of her
husband, for he did not beat her as most girls' husbands did.
'Whatever it is, I will manage to get it for you.'
'Well, then, I think, if I had that--redbreast, nicely roasted, I
could eat a little bit of his wing!'
The wife started back in horror at such a request; but the man
turned his face to the wall, and took no notice, as he thought it
was better to leave her to herself for a little.
Weeping and wringing her hands, the girl went down to her mother.
The brothers were very angry when they heard the story, and
declared that, if any one were to die, it certainly should not be
the robin. But all that night the man seemed getting weaker and
weaker, and at last, quite early, the wife crept out, and
stealing to the hut, killed the bird, and brought him home to her
Just as she was going to cook it her two brothers came in. They
cried out in horror at the sight, and, rushing out of the hut,
declared they would never see her any more. And the poor girl,
with a heavy heart, took the body of the redbreast up to her
But directly she entered the room the man told her that he felt a
great deal better, and that he would rather have a piece of
bear's flesh, well boiled, than any bird, however tender. His
wife felt very miserable to think that their beloved redbreast
had been sacrificed for nothing, and begged him to try a little
'You felt so sure that it would do you good before,' said she,
'that I can't help thinking it would quite cure you now.' But
the man only flew into a rage, and flung the bird out of the
window. Then he got up and went out.
Now all this while the ball had been rolling, rolling, rolling to
the old grandmother's hut on the other side of the world, and
directly it rolled into her hut she knew that her grandson must
be dead. Without wasting any time she took a fox skin and tied
it round her forehead, and fastened another round her waist, as
witches always do when they leave their own homes. When she was
ready she said to the ball: ' Go back the way you came, and lead
me to my grandson.' And the ball started with the old woman
It was a long journey, even for a witch, but, like other things,
it ended at last; and the old woman stood before the platform of
stakes, where the body of Ball-Carrier lay.
'Wake up, my grandson, it is time to go home,' the witch said.
And Ball-Carrier stepped down oft the platform, and brought his
club and bow and arrows out of the hut, and set out, for the
other side of the world, behind the old woman.
When they reached the hut where Ball-Carrier had fasted so many
years ago, the old woman spoke for the first time since they had
started on their way.
'My grandson, did you ever manage to get that gold from the Bad
'Yes, grandmother, I got it.'
'Where is it?' she asked.
'Here, in my left arm-pit,' answered he.
So she picked up a knife and scraped away all the gold which had
stuck to his skin, and which had been sticking there ever since
he first stole it. After she had finished she asked again:
'My grandson, did you manage to get that bridge from the Bad