Prince Camaralzaman and Princess Badoura
Some twenty days’ sail from the coast of Persia lies the isle of the children of Khaledan. The island is divided into several provinces, in each of which are large flourishing towns, It was ruled in by a king named Schahzaman, who, considered himself one of the most peaceful, prosperous, and fortunate kings on Earth. In fact, he had just one worry, which was that none of his four wives had given him a son.
This upset him so much that one day he told the grand-vizier, who, being a wise counselor, said, “Such matters we cannot do anything about. God alone can grant your wish, and I should advise you, sire, to send large gifts to those holy men who spend their lives in prayer, and to beg for their help. Who knows whether their prayers may be answered?”
The king took his vizier’s advice, and the result of so many prayers for a son was that a son was born the following year.
Schahzaman sent gifts as thanks to all the religious houses, and great rejoicings were celebrated in honour of the birth of the little prince, who was so beautiful that he was named Camaralzaman, or “Moon of the Century.”
Prince Camaralzaman was brought up with extreme care by an excellent governor and all the cleverest teachers, and, a more charming and talented young man was not to be found. While he was still a youth the king, his father, who loved him dearly, had some thoughts of abdicating in his favour. As usual he talked over his plans with his grand-vizier.
“Sire,” he replied, “the prince is still very young for the cares of state. Your Majesty fears him growing lazy and careless, and doubtless you are right. But how would it be if he were first to marry? Your Majesty might give him more responsibility, so that he might gradually learn how to become a king, which you can give up to him whenever you find him capable.”
The vizier’s advice once more struck the king as being good, and he sent for his son.
“I have sent for you,” said the king, “to say that I wish you to marry. What do you think about it?”
The prince was so overcome by these words that he remained silent for some time. At last he said, “Sire, I beg you to pardon me if I am unable to reply as you might wish. I certainly did not expect such a proposal as I am still so young, and I must say that the idea of marrying is very unpleasant to me. Possibly I may not always think like this, but I certainly feel that it will require some time to persuade me to do what your Majesty wants.”
This answer greatly upset the king. However he would not order him to obey, so he said, “I do not wish to force you so I will give you time to consider it, but remember that such a thing is necessary, for a prince such as you who will some day be called to rule over a great kingdom.”
From this time Prince Camaralzaman was admitted to the royal council, and the king gave him more responsibility.
At the end of a year the king took his son aside, and said, “Well, my son, have you changed your mind on the subject of marriage, or do you still refuse to obey my wish?”
The prince was less surprised but still stubborn, and begged his father to forget the subject.
This answer much upset the king, who again told of his trouble to his vizier.
“I have followed your advice,” he said, “But Camaralzaman refuses to marry, and is more obstinate than ever.”
“Sire,” replied the vizir, “much is gained by patience, and your Majesty might regret any force. Why not wait another year and then inform the Prince in front of the assembled council that the good of the country demands his marriage? He cannot possibly refuse again before so many people.”
The Sultan much desired to see his son married at once, but he accepted the vizier’s arguments and decided to wait. He then visited the prince’s mother, and after telling her of his disappointment, he added, “I know that Camaralzaman speaks to you more than he does me. Please speak very seriously to him on this subject, and make him realize that he will most seriously displease me if he remains obstinate, and that he will certainly regret what I must do to make him obey.”
So the first time the Sultana Fatima saw her son she told him she had heard of his refusal to marry, adding how upset she felt that he should have troubled his father so much. She asked what reasons he could have for his objections to obey.
“Madam,” replied the prince, “I am sure that there are many good, virtuous and sweet women. But what bothers me is the idea of marrying a woman without knowing anything at all about her. My father will ask the hand of the daughter of some neighbouring king, who will agree to our marriage. Even if she is she beautiful or ugly, clever or stupid, good or bad, I must marry her, and am left no choice in the matter. How am I to know that she will not be proud, contemptuous, and recklessly extravagant, or that her character will in any way suit mine?”
“But, my son,” urged Fatima, “you surely do not wish to be the last of a family which has reigned so long and so gloriously over this kingdom?”
“Madam,” said the prince, “I will try to reign as well as my ancestors.”
These and similar conversations proved to the Sultan how useless it was to argue with his son, and the year passed without bringing any change in the prince’s ideas.
At last a day came when the Sultan ordered him before the council, and there told him that not only his own wishes but the good of the country demanded his marriage, and told him to give his answer before the assembled ministers.
At this Camaralzaman grew so angry and spoke so fiercely that the king, naturally irritated at being opposed by his son in full council, ordered the prince to be arrested and locked up in an old tower, where he had nothing but a very little furniture, a few books, and a single slave to wait on him.
Camaralzaman, was pleased to be free to enjoy his books.
When night came he washed himself, and, having read some pages of a book, lay down on a couch and was soon asleep.
Now there was a deep well in the tower in which Prince Camaralzaman was imprisoned, and this well was a favourite place of the fairy Maimoune, daughter of Damriat, chief of a group of genies. Towards midnight Maimoune floated lightly up from the well planning, as usual, to wander about the upper world.
The light in the prince’s room surprised her, and without disturbing the slave, who slept at the door, she entered the room. She approached the bed and was still more astonished to find someone there.
The prince lay with his face half hidden by the cover. Maimoune lifted it a little and saw the most beautiful youth she had ever seen.
“How handsome he must be when his eyes are open!” she thought. “What can he have done to deserve to be treated like this?”
She continued to gaze at Camaralzaman, but at last, having softly kissed each cheek, she replaced the cover and carried on her flight through the air.
She heard the sound of great wings coming towards her, and shortly met one of the bad genies. This genie, whose name was Danhasch, recognised Maimoune with terror, for he knew the power which her goodness gave her over him. He would gladly have avoided her altogether, but they were so near that he must either be prepared to fight or surrender to her, so he at once spoke to her in a friendly way.
“Good Maimoune, promise me to do me no harm, and I will promise not to injure you.”
“Wicked genie!” replied Maimoune, “What harm can you do to me? But I will grant your wish and give the promise you ask. And now tell me what you have seen and done to-night.”
“Fair lady,” said Danhasch, “You meet me at the right moment to hear something really interesting. I must tell you that I come from the furthest end of China, which is one of the largest and most powerful kingdoms in the world. The present king has one only daughter, who is so perfectly lovely that neither you, nor I, nor any other creature could find the words in which to describe her marvelous charms. You must therefore imagine the most perfect features, joined to a fair and delicate complexion, and even then you cannot imagine her beauty.
“The king, her father, has taken every care to keep her from the sight of everyone except the happy man he may choose to be her husband. The report of her wonderful beauty has spread far and wide, and many powerful kings have sent messengers to ask for her hand in marriage. The king has always received these messengers politely, but says that he will never force the princess to marry against her will, and as she regularly refuses each new proposal, the messengers have had to leave disappointed.”
“Sire,” said the princess to her father, “you wish me to marry, and I know you want to please me, for which I am very grateful. But, indeed, I will not change my mind, for where could I find so happy a life in such a beautiful and delightful place? I feel that I could never be as happy with any husband as I am here, and I beg you not to try to make me marry one.”
“At last a messenger came from a king so rich and powerful that the King of China felt he had to persuade his daughter. He told her how important such a relationship would be, and pushed her to agree. In fact, he pushed her so much that the princess at last lost her temper and quite forgot the respect for her father. “Sire,” cried she angrily, “do not speak again about this or any other marriage or I will stab this dagger into my heart.”
“The king of China was extremely angry with his daughter and replied, “You have lost your senses.” So he had her shut in one set of rooms in one of her palaces, and only allowed her ten old women, to wait on her and keep her company. He next sent letters to all the kings who had asked for the princess’s hand, begging they would think of her no longer, as she was quite crazy, and he asked his various messengers to make it known that anyone who could cure her would have her for his wife.
“Fair Maimoune,” continued Danhasch, “This is the situation now. Everyday I go to gaze on this beauty, and I am sure that if you would only come with me you would think the sight well worth the trouble, and agree that you never saw such loveliness before.”
The fairy only answered with laughter, and when at last she had control of her voice she cried, “Oh, come, you are making a joke! I thought you had something really interesting to tell me instead of talking about some unknown princess. What would you say if you could see the prince I have just been looking at and whose beauty is really magnificent? That is something worth talking about.”
” Maimoune,” asked Danhasch, “may I ask who the prince you are talking about is?”
“He is in much the same situation as your princess ” replied Maimoune, ” The king, his father, wanted to force him to marry, and on the prince’s refusal to obey he has been imprisoned in an old tower where I have just seen him.”
“I don’t like to argue with a lady,” said Danhasch, “but you must really allow me to doubt there is any person as beautiful as my princess.”
“Do not speak,” cried Maimoune. “I repeat that is impossible.”
“Well, I don’t wish to seem obstinate,” replied Danhasch, “The best plan to test the truth of what I say will be for you to let me take you to see the princess for yourself.”
“There is no need for that,” replied Maimoune; “We can satisfy ourselves in another way. Bring your princess here and lay her down beside my prince. We can then compare them, and decide who is right.”
Danhasch agreed, and he flew off to China to fetch the princess.
In a short time Danhasch returned, carrying the sleeping princess. Maimoune led him to the prince’s room, and the princess was placed beside him.
When the prince and princess lay thus side by side, an arguement started between the fairy and the genie. Danhasch began by saying,” Now you see that my princess is more beautiful than your prince. Can you doubt it any longer?”
“Doubt! Of course I do!” exclaimed Maimoune. “Why, you must be blind not to see how much my prince is more beautiful than your princess. I do not deny that your princess is very pretty, but only look and you must agree that I am right.”
“There is no need for me to look longer,” said Danhasch, “I haven’t changed my mind but of course, Maimoune, I am ready to agree with you if you insist on it.”
“By no means,” replied Maimoune. “. I shall ask a judge, and shall expect you to accept his decision.”
Danhasch agreed, and on Maimoune striking the floor with her foot it opened, and a hideous, hump-backed, lame, genie, with six horns on his head, hands like claws, emerged. As soon as he saw Maimoune he threw himself at her feet.
“Rise, Caschcasch,” said she. “I called you to judge between me and Danhasch. Look at that couch, and say whether you think the man or the woman lying there the more beautiful.”
Caschcasch looked at the prince and princess in surprise and admiration. At length, having gazed long without being able to come to a decision, he said,” Madam, I cannot say that one is more beautiful than the other. There seems to me only one way in which to decide the matter, and that is to wake one after the other and judge which of them shows the greater admiration for the other.”
This advice pleased Maimoune and Danhasch, and the fairy at once transformed herself into the shape of a gnat and settling on Camaralzaman’s throat stung him so sharply that he awoke. As he did so his eyes fell on the Princess of China. Surprised at finding a lady so near him, he raised himself on one arm to look at her. The youth and beauty of the princess at once awoke a new feeling in his heart, and he could not control his delight.
“What loveliness! Oh, my heart, my soul!” he exclaimed, as he kissed her forehead, her eyes and mouth in a way which would certainly have woken her had not the genie’s magic spell kept her asleep.
“Why!” he cried, “Don’t you awaken?”
He then suddenly, that perhaps this was the bride his father had chosen for him, and that the King had probably had her placed in this room in order to see how far Camaralzaman’s dislike of marriage would withstand her charms.
“Anyway,” he thought, “I will take this ring to remember her by.”
He took off a fine ring which the princess wore on her finger, and replaced it with one of his own. After which he lay down again and was soon fast asleep.
Then Danhasch, took the form of a gnat and bit the princess on her lip.
She started up, and was amazed at seeing a young man beside her. Surprise soon changed to admiration, and then to delight on seeing how handsome he was.
“Why,” cried she, “Was it you my father wished me to marry? How unlucky that I did not know sooner! I should not have made him so angry. But wake up! Wake up! For I know I shall love you with all my heart.”
So saying she shook Camaralzaman so violently that nothing but the spells of Maimoune could have prevented his waking.
“Oh!” cried the princess. “Why are you so sleepy?” So saying she took his hand and noticed her own ring on his finger, which made her wonder still more. But as he still remained in a deep sleep she kissed his cheek and soon fell fast asleep too.
Then Maimoune turning to the genie said, “Well, are you satisfied that my prince is better than your princess? Next time believe me when I say something.”
Then turning to Caschcasch, “My thanks to you, and now you and Danhasch carry the princess back to her own home.”
The two genies quickly obeyed, and Maimoune returned to her well.
On waking the next morning the first thing Prince Camaralzaman did was to look round for the lovely lady he had seen at night, and the next to question the slave who waited on him. But the slave said that he knew nothing of any lady, and still less of how she got into the tower, that the prince lost all patience, and after giving him a good beating tied a rope round him and ducked him in the well till the unfortunate man cried out that he would tell everything. Then the prince drew him up all dripping wet, but the slave begged to change his clothes first, and as soon as the prince agreed hurried off to the palace. Here he found the king talking to the grand-vizier of all the anxiety his son had caused him. The slave was admitted at once and cried,”Alas, Sire! I bring sad news to your Majesty. There can be no doubt that the prince has completely lost his senses. He declares that he saw a lady sleeping on his couch last night.” He then told everything the prince had said and done.
The king, told the vizier to find out what was going on, and he at once went to the tower, where he found the prince quietly reading a book. The vizier said, “I feel really very angry with your slave for upsetting his Majesty by the news he brought him.”
“What news?” asked the prince.
“Ah!” replied the vizier, “Something silly, I feel sure.”
“Most likely,” said the prince, “But now that you are here I am glad of the opportunity to ask you where the lady is who slept in this room last night?”
The grand-vizier felt great surprise at this question.
“Prince!” he exclaimed, “How would it be possible for any man, much less a woman, to enter this room at night without walking over your slave at the door? Please consider the matter, and you will realize that you have been dreaming.”
But the prince angrily insisted on knowing who and where the lady was, and was not persuaded by what the vizier said. At last, losing patience, he seized the vizier by the beard and beat him.
“Stop, Prince,” cried the unhappy vizier, “And hear what I have to say.”
The prince, whose arm was getting tired, paused.
“I must say, Prince,” said the vizier, “that there is some truth for what you say. But you know well that a minister has to carry out his master’s orders. Allow me to go and to take to the king any message you may choose to send.”
“Very well,” said the prince, “then go and tell him that I agree to marry the lady he sent or brought here last night. Be quick and bring me back his answer.”
The vizier bowed to the ground and quickly left the room and tower.
“Well,” asked the king as soon as he appeared, “And how was my son?”
“Alas, sire,” was the reply, “The slave’s report is only too true!”
He then reported his conversation with Camaralzaman and of the prince’s anger when told that it was not possible for any lady to have entered his room, and of the treatment he himself had received. The king, much upset, decided to clear up the matter himself, and, ordering the vizier to follow him, set out to visit his son.
The prince received his father with great respect, and the king, making him sit beside him, asked him several questions, to which Camaralzaman replied sensibly. At last the king said, “My son, tell me about the lady who, it is said, was in your room last night.”
“Sire,” replied the prince, “Make me happy by giving her to me in marriage. However much I may have objected to marriage before, the sight of this lovely girl has overcome me and I will gratefully marry her.”
The king was almost speechless on hearing his son, but after a time told him most seriously that he knew nothing whatever about the lady in question, and had not planned to make her appear. He then asked the prince to tell the whole story to him.
Camaralzaman did so, and showed the ring, and begged his father to help to find the bride he desired so strongly.
“After everything you have told me,” said the king, “I believe you, but how and from where the lady came, or why she should have stayed so short a time I cannot imagine. It is indeed mysterious. Come, my dear son, let us wait together for happier days.”
The king took Camaralzaman by the hand and led him back to the palace, where the prince went to bed very depressed, and the king looking after his son, completely forgot about running his kingdom.
The prime minister, felt it his duty at last to tell the king how much the court and all the people complained of his absence, and how bad it was for the country. He begged the sultan to send the prince to a lovely little island close by, whence he could easily run the country, and where the charming scenery and fine air would do the poor prince so much good.
The king agreed, and as soon as the castle on the island could be prepared for them he and the prince arrived there, Schahzaman never leaving his son except for public audiences twice a week.
While all this was happening in the capital of Schahzaman the two genies had carefully carried the Princess of China back to her own palace and replaced her in bed. On waking the next morning she first turned from one side to another and then, finding herself alone, called loudly for her women.
“Tell me,” she cried, “Where is the young man I love so dearly, and who slept near me last night?”
“Princess,” exclaimed the nurse, “We don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Why,” continued the princess, “the most charming and beautiful young man lay sleeping beside me last night. I did my best to wake him, but in vain.”
“Does your Royal Highness wishes to play tricks on us?” said the nurse.
“I am quite serious,” said the princess, “And I want to know where he is.”
“But, Princess,” replied the nurse, “we left you quite alone last night, and we have seen no one enter your room since then.”
At this the princess lost all patience, and taking the nurse by her hair she beat her ears, crying out, “You shall tell me, you old witch, or I’ll kill you.”
The nurse had some trouble in escaping, and hurried off to the queen, who she told the whole story to with tears in her eyes.
“You see, madam,” she said, “that the princess must be out of her mind. If only you will come and see her, you will be able to judge for yourself.”
The queen hurried to her daughter’s room, and asked her why she had treated her nurse so badly.
“Madam,” said the princess, “I believe that your Majesty wishes to make fun of me, but I can tell you that I will never marry anyone except the charming young man I saw last night. You must know where he is, so please send for him.”
The queen was much surprised by these words, but when she said that she knew nothing whatever of the matter the princess lost her temper, and answered that if she were not allowed to marry as she wished she would kill herself, and it was in vain that the queen tried to reason with her.
The king himself heard about it, and the princess still stuck to her story, and as proof showed the ring on her finger. The king hardly knew what to make of it all, but ended by thinking that his daughter was crazier than ever, and he had a powerful guard to stay at the door.
Then he assembled his council, and having told them the sad situation, added, “If any of you can succeed in curing the princess, I will give her to him in marriage.”
An elderly prince who wanted to have a young and lovely wife and to rule over a great kingdom, offered to try the magic that he knew.
“You are welcome to try,” said the king, “but I make one condition, which is, that should you fail you will lose your life.”
The prince accepted the condition, and the king led him to the princess, who, veiling her face, remarked, “I am surprised, sire, that you should bring an unknown man into my presence.”
“You need not be shocked,” said the king; “This is a prince who asks for your hand in marriage.”
“Sire,” replied the princess, “this is not the one you gave me before and whose ring I wear. I must say that I can accept no other.”
The prince, who had expected to hear the princess talk nonsense, finding how calm and reasonable she was, told the king that he could not cure her, so the irritated king promptly had his head cut off.
This was the first of many attempts for the princess whose inability to cure her cost them their lives.
Now it happened that after things had been going on in this way for some time the nurse’s son Marzavan returned from his travels. He had been to many countries and learnt many things. Needless to say that one of the first things his mother told him was the sad condition of the princess, his childhood friend. Marzavan asked if she could not manage to let him see the princess without the king’s knowledge.
After some consideration his mother agreed, and even persuaded the guard to make no objection to Marzavan’s entering the princess’s room.
The princess was delighted to see her childhood friend again, and after some conversation she told to him everything that had happened to her.
Marzavan listened with great attention. When she had finished speaking he said,” If what you tell me Princess is true, I can find comfort for you. Be patient a little longer. I will set out at once to explore other countries, and when you hear of my return be sure that your prince is nearby.” So saying, he left and started the next morning on his travels.
Marzavan journeyed from city to city and from one island and province to another, and wherever he went he heard people talk of the strange story of the Princess Badoura, as the Princess of China was named.
After four months he reached a large seaport town named Torf, and here he heard no more of the Princess Badoura but a great deal of Prince Camaralzaman, who was reported ill, and whose story sounded very similar to that of the Princess Badoura.
Marzavan was happy, and set out at once for Prince Camaralzaman’s home. The ship on which he embarked had a safe voyage till it got within sight of the capital of King Schahzaman. But when just about to enter the harbour it suddenly struck on a rock, and sank within sight of the palace where the prince was living with his father and the grand-vizier.
Marzavan, who swam well, threw himself into the sea and managed to land close to the palace, where he was kindly welcomed, and after having a change of clothing given to him was brought before the grand-vizier. The vizier was at once attracted by the young man’s intelligent conversation, and seeing that he had gained much experience in the course of his travels, he said, “Ah, how I wish you had learnt some secret which might enable you to cure an illness which has upset this court for some time!”
Marzavan replied that if he knew what the illness was he might possibly be able to suggest a remedy, on which the vizier told him the whole history of Prince Camaralzaman.
On hearing this Marzavan rejoiced, for he felt sure that he had at last discovered the object of the Princess Badoura’s love. However, he said nothing, but asked to be allowed to see the prince.
On entering the price’s room the first thing which he noticed was the prince himself, who lay stretched out on his bed with his eyes closed. The king sat near him, but, without paying him any notice. Marzavan exclaimed, “Heavens! What an amazing resemblance!” And, indeed, there was a good deal of resemblance between the features of Camaralzaman and those of the Princess of China.
These words caused the prince to open his eyes with curiosity, and Marzavan took this chance to speak to him and let him know about the princess but without anyone else finding out.
The prince asked his father to allow him the favour of a private meeting with Marzavan, and the king was only too pleased to find his son taking an interest in anyone or anything. As soon as they were left alone Marzavan told the prince the story of the Princess Badoura and her sufferings, adding, “I am convinced that you alone can cure her, but before starting on so long a journey you must be well and strong, so do your best to recover as quickly as you can.”
These words produced a great effect on the prince, who was so much cheered by the news that he declared he felt able to get up and be dressed. The king was overjoyed at the result of Marzavan’s words, and ordered public celebrations in honour of the prince’s recovery.
Before long the prince was quite healthy again, and as soon as he felt himself really strong he took Marzavan aside and said,” Now is the time to leave. I am so impatient to see my beloved princess once more that I am sure I shall fall ill again if we do not start soon. The one problem is my father’s tender care of me, for, as you may have noticed, he cannot bear me out of his sight.”
“Prince,” replied Marzavan, “I have already thought over the matter, and this is what seems to me the best plan. You have not been out of doors since my arrival. Ask the king’s permission to go with me for two or three days’ hunting, and when he has given leave order two good horses to be held ready for each of us. Leave all the rest to me.”
The next day the prince took the opportunity to make his request, and the king gladly granted it on condition that only one night could be spent away out for fear of too much tiredness after such a long illness.
The next morning Prince Camaralzaman and Marzavan left early, attended by two grooms leading the two extra horses. They hunted a little by the way, but took care to get as far from the towns as possible. At nightfall they reached an inn, where they dined and slept till midnight. Then Marzavan awoke the prince without disturbing anyone else. He told the prince to give him the coat he had been wearing and to put on another which they had brought with them. They mounted their second horses, and Marzavan led one of the grooms’ horses by the bridle.
By daybreak our travellers found themselves where four cross roads met in the middle of the forest. Here Marzavan told the prince to wait for him, and leading the groom’s horse into a dense part of the wood he cut its throat, dipped the prince’s coat in its blood, and having rejoined the prince threw the coat on the ground where the roads parted.
In answer to Camaralzaman’s questions as to the reason for this, Marzavan replied that the only chance they had of continuing their journey was by creating the idea of the prince’s death. “Your father will doubtless be in the deepest grief,” he went on, “but his joy at your return will be all the greater.”
The prince and his companion now continued their journey by land and sea, and as they had brought plenty of money they met with no delays. At length they reached the capital of China, where they spent three days in a suitable inn to recover from their long journey.
During this time Marzavan had an astrologer’s robe prepared for the prince, which he put on and was then taken near the king’s palace by Marzavan, who left him there and went to see his mother, the princess’s nurse.
Meanwhile the prince, according to Marzavan’s instructions, walked near to the palace gates and there proclaimed aloud” I am an astrologer and I come to heal the Princess Badoura, daughter of the high and mighty King of China, on the conditions laid down by His Majesty of marrying her should I succeed, or of losing my life if I fail.”
It was some little time since anyone had presented himself to run the terrible risk of attempting to cure the princess, and a crowd soon gathered round the prince. On seeing his youth and good looks, everyone felt pity for him.
“What are you thinking of, sir,” exclaimed some; “Why send yourself to certain death? Are the heads you see on the town wall not sufficient warning? For goodness sake give up this mad idea and go home while you can.”
But the prince refused to leave, and only repeated his cry loudly, to the horror of the crowd.
“He is determined to die!” they cried, “May heaven have pity on him!”
Camaralzaman now called out for the third time, and at last the grand-vizier himself came out and brought him in.
The prime minister led the prince to the king, who was much impressed by this new adventurer, and felt such pity for the fate awaiting him, that he tried to persuade the young man to give up.
But Camaralzaman politely yet showed his determination, and at last the king told the guard of the princess’s apartments to take the astrologer to her.
The guard led the way through long passages, and Camaralzaman followed quickly, in order to reach the object of his desires. At last they came to a large hall which was the ante-room to the princess’s chamber, and here Camaralzaman said to the guard,” Now you shall choose. Shall I cure the princess in her own presence, or shall I do it from here without seeing her?”
The guard, who had expressed many doubts of the newcomer’s powers, was much surprised and said,” If you really can cure her, it doesn’t matter when you do it. Your fame will be equally great.”
“Very well,” replied the prince: “Then, impatient though I am to see the princess, I will cure her where I stand, the better to demonstrate my power.” He took out his pen and wrote as follows, “Adorable princess! Camaralzaman has never forgotten the moment when, seeing your sleeping beauty, he gave you his heart. At that time he gave you his ring as a sign of his love, and to take yours in exchange, which he now encloses in this letter. Should you wish to return it to him he will be the happiest of men, if not he will cheerfully die, seeing he does so for love of you. He awaits your reply in your ante-room.”
Having finished this note the prince carefully enclosed the ring in it without letting the guard see it, and gave him the letter, saying, “Take this to your mistress, my friend, and if on reading it and seeing its contents she is not instantly cured, you may call me a cheat.”
The guard at once entered the princess’s room, and handing her the letter said, “Madam, a new astrologer has arrived, who says that you will be cured as soon as you have read this letter and seen what it contains.”
The princess took the note and opened it uninterested. But no sooner did she see her ring than, barely glancing at the writing, she rose quickly and with one leap reached the doorway. Here she and the prince recognized each other, and in a moment they were in each other’s arms, where they tenderly embraced, wondering how they came to meet at last after so long a separation. The nurse, who had entered, took them back to the inner room, where the princess returned her ring to Camaralzaman.
“Take it back,” she said, “I could not keep it without returning yours to you, and I am determined to wear that as long as I live.”
Meantime the guard had hurried back to the king. “Sire,” he cried, “All the former doctors and astrologers were useless. This man has cured the princess without even seeing her.” He then told all to the king, who, overjoyed, hurried to his daughter’s room, where, after embracing her, he placed her hand in that of the prince, saying,” Happy stranger, I keep my promise, and give you my daughter to be your wife.”
The prince thanked the king in the warmest and most respectful terms, and added, “I am not an astrologer. It is a disguise which I put on. I am myself a prince, my name is Camaralzaman, and my father is Schahzaman, King of the Isles of the Children of Khaledan.” He then told his whole history, including the extraordinary way he first saw and fell in love with the Princess Badoura.
When he had finished the king exclaimed, “Such a remarkable a story must not be lost. It shall be written and placed in the grand library of my kingdom and published everywhere abroad.”
The wedding took place the next day with great celebration. Marzavan was not forgotten, and was given a high position at court.
The prince and princess were now entirely happy, and months slipped by in the enjoyment of each other’s company.
One night, however, Prince Camaralzaman dreamt that he saw his father lying at the point of death, and saying, “Alas! My son, who I loved so tenderly, has deserted me and is now causing my death.”
The prince woke with such a groan as to startle the princess, who asked what the matter was.
“Ah!” cried the prince, “At this very moment my father is perhaps no more!” and he told his dream.
The princess said little at the time, but the next morning she went to the king, and kissing his hand said,” I have a favour to ask of your Majesty. It is that you will allow us both to visit my father-in-law King Schahzaman.”
Sorry though the king felt at the idea of parting with his daughter, he felt her request to be so reasonable that he could not refuse it, and made just one condition, which was that she should only spend one year at the court of King Schahzaman, suggesting that in future the young couple should visit their respective parents in turn.
The princess brought this good news to her husband, who thanked her tenderly for this proof of her love.
All preparations for the journey were now ready and the king accompanied the travelers for some days, after which he left his daughter, and telling the prince to take every care of her, returned to his capital.
The prince and princess journeyed on, and at the end of a month reached a huge meadow with clumps of big trees which provided a most pleasant shade. As the heat was great, Camaralzaman thought it a good idea to camp in this cool spot. The tents were pitched, and the princess entered hers removed her jacket which she placed beside her, and asking her women to leave her, lay down and was soon asleep.
When the camp was all in order the prince entered the tent and, seeing the princess asleep, he sat down near her without speaking. His eyes fell on the jacket which, he picked up, and while looking at the precious stones set in it he noticed a little pouch sewn into the jacket. He touched it and felt something hard inside. Curious as to what this might be, he opened the pouch and found a stone engraved with various figures and strange words.
“This stone must be something very precious,” thought he, “or my wife would not wear it on her with so much care.”
In truth it was a lucky charm which the Queen of China had given her daughter, telling her it would ensure her happiness as long as she carried it with her.
In order to better examine the stone the prince stepped to the open doorway of the tent. As he stood there holding it in the open palm of his hand, a bird suddenly swooped down, picked the stone up in its beak and flew away with it.
Imagine the prince’s dismay at losing a thing which his wife thought was so important!
The bird flew off some yards and landed on the ground, holding the lucky charm it its beak. Prince Camaralzaman followed, hoping the bird would drop it, but as soon as he approached the thief fluttered on a little further still. He continued his chase till the bird suddenly swallowed the stone and took a longer flight than before. The prince then hoped to kill it with a stone, but the more he pursued the further the bird flew.
In this way he was led over hill and dale through the entire day, and when night came the bird roosted on the top of a very high tree where it could rest in safety.
The prince began to think whether he had better return to the camp. “But,” thought he, “How shall I find my way back? Must I go up hill or down? I should certainly lose my way in the dark.” Overwhelmed by hunger, thirst, fatigue and sleep, he ended by spending the night at the foot of the tree.
The next morning Camaralzaman woke up before the bird left, and no sooner did it take flight than he followed it again with as little success as the previous day, only stopping to eat some herbs and fruit he found on the way. He spent ten days, following the bird all day and spending the night at the foot of a tree, whilst it roosted. On the eleventh day the bird and the prince reached a large town, and as soon as they were close to its walls the bird took a sudden and higher flight and was shortly completely out of sight, while Camaralzaman felt in despair at having to give up all hopes of ever recovering the lucky charm of the Princess Badoura.
Much saddened, he entered the town, which was built near the sea and had a fine harbour. He walked about the streets for a long time, not knowing where to go, but at last as he walked near the seashore he found a garden door open and walked in.
The gardener, a good old man, who was at work, happened to look up, and, seeing a stranger, told him to come in at once and to shut the door.
Camaralzaman did as he was told.
Camaralzaman warmly thanked the kind old man for offering him shelter, and was about to say more, but the gardener said,” You are weary and must be hungry. Come in, eat, and rest.” So saying he led the prince into his cottage, and after satisfying his hunger asked why he had come.
Camaralzaman told him all, and ended by asking the shortest way to his father’s capital. “For,” added he, “if I tried to rejoin the princess, how should I find her after eleven days’ separation. Perhaps, indeed, she may be no longer alive!” At this terrible thought he burst into tears.
The gardener told Camaralzaman that they were a year’s land journey to any country, but that there was a much shorter route by sea to the Ebony Island, from which the Isles of the Children of Khaledan could be easily reached, and that a ship sailed once a year for the Ebony Island by which he might get so far as his very home.
“If only you had arrived a few days sooner,” he said, “You might have embarked at once. As it is you must now wait till next year, but if you care to stay with me I offer you my house, such as it is, with all my heart.”
Prince Camaralzaman thought himself lucky to find some place of safety, and gladly accepted the gardener’s offer. He spent his days working in the garden, and his nights thinking of and sighing for his beloved wife.
Let us now see what had become during this time of the Princess Badoura.
On first waking she was much surprised not to find the prince near her. She called her women and asked if they knew where he was, and while they were telling her that they had seen him enter the tent, but had not noticed his leaving it, she picked up her jacket and noticed that the little pouch was open and the lucky charm gone.
She at once thought that her husband had taken it and would shortly bring it back. She waited for him till evening rather impatiently, and wondering what could have kept him from her so long. When night came without him she felt in despair. In spite of her grief and anxiety however, she did not act wildly, but decided on a courageous, though very unusual step.
Only the princess and her women knew of Camaralzaman’s disappearance, for the rest of the party were sleeping or resting in their tents. Fearing some trouble if the truth was known, she ordered her women not to say a word which would cause suspicion, and changed her robe for one of her husband’s, for whom she had a strong likeness.
In this disguise she looked so much like the prince that when she gave orders next morning to leave the camp and continue the journey no one suspected the change. She made one of her women enter her caravan, while she herself went on horseback and the march began.
After a long journey by land and sea the princess, still under the name and disguise of Prince Camaralzaman, arrived at the capital of the Ebony Island whose king was named Armanos.
No sooner did the king hear that the ship which was just in port had on board the son of his old friend than he hurried to meet the supposed prince, and had him and his party brought to the palace, where they were entertained.
After three days, finding that his guest, to whom he had taken a great fancy, talked of continuing his journey, King Armanos said to him,”Prince, I am now an old man, and unfortunately I have no son to whom to leave my kingdom. It has pleased Heaven to give me only one daughter, who possesses such great beauty and charm that I could only give her to a prince as highly born and as accomplished as yourself. Instead of returning to your own country, take my daughter and my crown and stay with us. I shall feel that I have a worthy successor, and shall cheerfully retire from government.”
The king’s offer was naturally rather embarrassing to the Princess Badoura. She felt that it was equally impossible to admit that she had deceived him, or to refuse the marriage on which he had set his heart; a refusal which might turn all his kindness to hatred.
All things considered, she decided to accept, and after a few moments silence said,”Sire, I feel so grateful for what your Majesty has said about me and of the honour you do me, thatI dare not refuse. But, sire, I can only accept this if you give me your promise to assist me with your advice.”
The marriage was arranged for the following day, and the princess used the time in informing the officers of her party what had happened, telling them that the Princess Badoura had given her full agreement to the marriage. She also told her women, and made them keep her secret.
King Armanos, delighted with the success of his plans, lost no time in assembling his court and council, to whom he presented his successor, and placing his future son-in-law on the throne made everyone take oaths of allegiance to the new king.
At night the whole town was filled with rejoicings, and the Princess Haiatelnefous (this was the name of the king’s daughter) was taken to the palace of the Princess Badoura.
Now Badoura had thought much of the difficulties of her first meeting with King Armanos’ daughter, and she felt the only thing to do was at once to tell her the truth.
So, as soon as they were alone she took Haiatelnefous by the hand and said,” Princess, I have a secret to tell you, and must throw myself on your mercy. I am not Prince Camaralzaman, but a princess like yourself and his wife, and I beg you to listen to my story, then I am sure you will forgive me, because of my suffering.”
She then told her whole story, and at its end Haiatelnefous embraced her warmly, and promised her, her sympathy and affection.
The two princesses now planned out their future action, and agreed to work together to keep up the deception and to let Badoura continue to play a man’s part until such time as there might be news of the real Camaralzaman.
Whilst these things were happening in the Ebony Island Prince Camaralzaman continued to find shelter in the gardener’s cottage in the town.
Early one morning the gardener said to the prince,” Today is a public holiday, and the people of the town not only do not work themselves but forbid others to do so. You had better therefore take a good rest while I go to see some friends, and as the time is near for the arrival of the ship of which I told you I will make inquiries about it, and try to get you on it.” He then put on his best clothes and went out, leaving the prince, who strolled into the garden and was soon lost in thoughts of his dear wife and their sad separation.
As he walked up and down he was suddenly heard the noise two large birds were making in a tree.
Camaralzaman stood still and looked up, and saw that the birds were fighting so fiercely with beaks and claws that before long one fell dead to the ground, whilst the winner spread his wings and flew away. Almost immediately two other larger birds, who had been watching the fight, flew up and landed, one at the head and the other at the feet of the dead bird. They stood there some time sadly shaking their heads, and then dug up a grave with their claws in which they buried him.
As soon as they had filled in the grave the two flew off, and before long returned, bringing with them the murderer, whom they held, one by a wing and the other by a leg, with their beaks, screaming and struggling with rage and terror. But they held tight, and having brought him to his victim’s grave, they proceeded to kill him, after which they tore open his body, scattered the inside and once more flew away.
The prince, who had watched the whole scene with much interest, now drew near the spot where it happened, and glancing at the dead bird he noticed something red lying near which had evidently fallen out of its inside. He picked it up, and what was his surprise when he recognized the Princess Badoura’s lucky charm which had been the cause of many misfortunes. It would be impossible to describe his joy. He kissed the lucky charm repeatedly, wrapped it up, and carefully tied it round his arm. For the first time since his separation from the princess he had a good night, and next morning he was up at daybreak and went cheerfully to ask what work he should do.
The gardener told him to cut down an old fruit tree which had quite died away, and Camaralzaman took an axe and cut away at it. As he was chopping at one of the roots the axe struck on something hard. On pushing away the earth he discovered a large slab of bronze, under which was a staircase with ten steps. He went down them and found himself in a roomy kind of cave in which stood fifty large bronze jars, each with a cover on it. The prince uncovered one after another, and found them all filled with gold dust. Delighted with his discovery he left the cave, replaced the slab, and having finished cutting down the tree waited for the gardener’s return.
The gardener had heard the night before that the ship about which he was asking would start soon, but the exact date not being yet known he had been told to return next day for further information. He had gone therefore to ask, and came back with good news.
“My son,” said he, “Be happy and make yourself ready to start in three days’ time. The ship is to set sail, and I have arranged everything with the captain.
“You could not bring me better news,” replied Camaralzaman, “And in return I have something pleasant to tell you. Follow me and see the good fortune which has befallen you.”
He then led the gardener to the cave, and having shown him the treasure there, said how happy it made him that Heaven should in this way reward his kind friend.
“What do you mean?” asked the gardener. “Do you think that I should take this treasure? It is yours, and I have no right whatever to it. For the last eighty years I have dug up the ground here without discovering anything. It is clear that these riches are meant for you, and they are much more needed by a prince like yourself than by an old man like me. This treasure comes just at the right time, when you are about to return to your own country, where you will make good use of it.”
But the prince would not hear of this suggestion, and finally after much discussion they agreed to divide the gold. When this was done the gardener said,” My son, the great thing now is to arrange how you can best carry off this treasure as secretly as possible for fear of losing it. There are no olives in the Ebony Island, and those imported from here fetch a high price. As you know, I have a good stock of the olives which grew in this garden. Now you must take fifty jars, fill each half full of gold dust and fill them up with the olives. We will then have them taken on board ship when you embark.”
The prince took this advice, and spent the rest of the day filling the fifty jars, and fearing the precious lucky charm might slip from his arm and be lost again, he put it in one of the jars, on which he made a mark so as to be able to recognize it. When night came the jars were all ready, and the prince and his host went to bed.
Whether it was because of his great age, or of the excitement of the previous day, I do not know, but the gardener spent a very bad night. He was worse the next day, and by the morning of the third day was dangerously ill. At daybreak the ship’s captain and some of his sailors knocked at the garden door and asked for the passenger who was to embark.
“I am him,” said Camaralzaman, who had opened the door. “The gardener is ill and cannot see you, but please come in and take these jars of olives and my bag, and I will follow as soon as I have said goodbye to him.”
The sailors did as he asked, and the captain before leaving told Camaralzaman to hurry, as the wind was fair, and he wished to set sail at once.
As soon as they were gone the prince returned to the cottage to say goodbye to his old friend, and to thank him once more for all his kindness. But the old man was near the end, and passed away.
Camaralzaman had to stay and take care of it, so having dug a grave in the garden he wrapped the kind old man up and buried him. He then locked the door, gave up the key to the owner of the garden, and hurried to the quay only to hear that the ship had sailed long ago, after waiting three hours for him.
It may well be believed that the prince felt terribly sad at this misfortune, which forced him to spend another year in a strange country. Moreover, he had once more lost the Princess Badoura’s lucky charm, which he feared he might never see again. There was nothing left for him but to work in the garden as the old man had done, and to live on in the cottage. As he could not work the garden by himself, he employed a boy to help him, and to hide the rest of the treasure he put the remaining gold dust into fifty more jars, filling them up with olives so as to have them ready for transport.
While the prince was settling down to this second year of work, the ship made a fast voyage and arrived safely at Ebony Island.
As the palace of the new king, or rather of the Princess Badoura, overlooked the harbour, she saw the ship entering it and asked what ship it was coming in so beautifully decorated with flags, and was told that it was a ship from the Island which every year brought precious merchandise.
The princess, always looking for news of her beloved husband, went down to the harbour with some officers of the court, and arrived just as the captain was landing. She sent for him and asked many questions about his country, the voyage, what passengers he had, and what his ship was carrying. The captain answered all her questions, and said that his passengers consisted entirely of traders who brought valuable good from various countries, fine fabrics, precious stones, musk, amber, spices, olives, and many other things.
As soon as he mentioned olives, the princess, who was very fond of them, exclaimed,” I will take all you have on board. Have them unloaded and tell the other merchants to let me see all their best goods before showing them to other people.”
“Sire,” replied the captain, “I have on board fifty very large pots of olives. They belong to a merchant who was left behind, because he delayed so long that I had to set sail without him.”
“Never mind,” said the princess, “unload them all the same, and we will arrange the price.”
The captain sent his boat off to the ship and it soon returned with the fifty pots of olives. The princess asked what they might be worth.
“Sire,” replied the captain, “The merchant is very poor. Your Majesty will not overpay him if you give him a thousand pieces of silver.”
“In order to satisfy him and as he is so poor,” said the princess, “I will order a thousand pieces of gold to be given you, which you will be sure to give to him.”
So saying she gave orders for the payment and returned to the palace, having the jars carried before her. When evening came the Princess Badoura went to the inner part of the palace, and going to the rooms of the Princess Haiatelnefous she had the fifty jars of olives brought to her. She opened one to let her friend taste the olives and to taste them herself, but great was her surprise when, on pouring some into a dish, she found them all powdered with gold dust. “What an adventure! How extraordinary!” she cried. Then she had the other jars opened, and was more and more surprised to find the olives in each jar mixed with gold dust.
But when at last her lucky charm was discovered in one of the jars her emotion was so great that she fainted away. The Princess Haiatelnefous and her women hurried to help her, and as soon as she awoke she covered the precious lucky charm with kisses.
Then, she said to her friend,” You will have guessed, my dear, that it was the sight of this lucky charm which has moved me so deeply. This was the cause of my separation from my dear husband, and now, I am convinced, it will be the means of our reunion.”
As soon as it was light next day the Princess Badoura sent for the captain, and asked him about the merchant who owned the olive jars she had bought.
In reply the captain told her all he knew of the place where the young man lived, and how, he came to be left behind.
“If that is the case,” said the princess, “You must set sail at once and go back for him. He owes me money and must be brought here at once, or I will take all your merchandise. I shall now give orders to have all the warehouses locked, and they will only be opened when you have brought me the man I ask for. Go at once and obey my orders.”
The captain had no choice but to do as he was told, so he started that same evening on his return voyage.
When, after a quick voyage, he saw the Island, he thought it better not to enter the harbour, but dropping anchor at some distance he got, at night, in a small boat with six sailors and landed near Camaralzaman’s cottage.
The prince was not asleep, and as he lay awake moaning over all the sad events which had separated him from his wife, he thought he heard a knock at the garden door. He went to open it, and was immediately seized by the captain and sailors, who without a word of explanation took him off to the boat, which took them back to the ship immediately. No sooner were they on board than they set sail.
Camaralzaman, who had kept silent till then, now asked the captain (whom he had recognized) the reason for this kidnapping.
“Do you owe the King of the Ebony Island money?” asked the captain.
“I? Why, I have never even heard of him before, and never set foot in his kingdom!” was the answer.
“Well, you must know better than I,” said the captain. “You will soon see him now, and meantime be content where you are and have patience.”
The return voyage was as fast as the former one, and though it was night when the ship entered the harbour, the captain lost no time in landing with his passenger, who he took to the palace, where he asked to see the king.
As soon as the Princess Badoura saw the prince she recognized him in spite of his poor clothes. She wanted to hug him, but stopped herself, feeling it was better for them both that she should play her part a little longer. She therefore asked one of her officers to take care of him and to treat him well. Next she ordered another officer to unlock the warehouse, whilst she presented the captain with a valuable diamond, and told him to keep the thousand pieces of gold paid for the olives, as she would arrange matters with the merchant himself.
She then returned to her private apartments, where she told the Princess Haiatelnefous all that had happened, as well as her plans for the future, and begged her assistance, which her friend readily promised.
The next morning she ordered the prince to be taken to the bath and clothed in a manner suitable to a prince or governor of a province. He was then introduced to the council.
Princess Badoura, delighted to see him looking himself once more, turned to the other princes, saying,”My lords, I introduce to you a new colleague, Camaralzaman, who I have known on my travels and who, I can promise you, you will find well deserves your respect and admiration.”
Camaralzaman was much surprised at hearing the king, who he never suspected of being a woman in disguise, saying that they had met before, for he felt sure he had never seen her before. However he received all the praises and said,” Sire, I cannot find words to thank your Majesty for the great honour given me. I can but promise you that I will do all in my power to prove myself worthy of it.”
On leaving the council the prince was taken to a splendid house which had been prepared for him. On entering his study his servant presented him with a jar filled with gold pieces for spending. He felt more and more puzzled by such good fortune, and did not guess that the Princess of China was the cause of it.
After a few days the Princess Badoura promoted Camaralzaman to the post of grand treasurer, an office which he filled with so much honesty and kindness.
He would now have thought himself the happiest of men had it not been for that separation which he never stopped thinking about. He had no clue to the mystery of his present position, for the princess was generally known as King Armanos the younger, few people remembering that on her first arrival she went by another name.
At last the princess felt that the time had come to put an end to it, and having arranged all her plans with the Princess Haiatelnefous, she told Camaralzaman that she wished his advice on some important business, and, to avoid being disturbed, asked him to come to the palace that evening.
The prince was on time, and was taken into the private room, when, having ordered her servants to leave, the princess took from a small box the lucky charm, and, handing it to Camaralzaman, said: “Not long ago an astrologer gave me this lucky charm. As you are very knowledgeable, you can perhaps tell me what its use is.”
Camaralzaman took the lucky charm and, holding it to the light, cried with surprise, “Sire, you ask me the use of this talisman. Alas before it has been only a source of misfortune to me, being the cause of my separation from the one I love best on Earth. The story is so sad and strange that I am sure your Majesty will be touched by it if you will permit me to tell it to you.”
“I will hear it some other time,” replied the princess. “Meanwhile I believe it is not quite unknown to me. Wait here for me. I will return shortly.”
So saying she went to another room, where she quickly changed her male clothing for that of a woman, and, after putting on the jacket she wore the day they parted, returned to Camaralzaman.
The prince recognized her at once, and, embracing her with the utmost tenderness, cried, “Ah, how can I thank the king for this delightful surprise?”
“Do not expect ever to see the king again,” said the princess, as she wiped the tears of joy from her eyes, “In me you see the king. Let us sit down, and I will tell you all about it.”
She then gave a full account of all her adventures since their parting, and talked much about the charms and good character of the Princess Haiatelnefous,. When she had done she asked to hear the prince’s story, and in this way they spent most of the night.
The next morning the princess put on her woman’s clothes, and as soon as she was ready she asked the chief servant to ask King Armanos to come to her apartments.
When the king arrived great was his surprise at finding a strange lady in company of the grand treasurer who had no l right to enter the private room. Seating himself he asked for the king.
“Sire,” said the princess, “Yesterday I was the king, today I am only the Princess of China and wife to the real Prince Camaralzaman, son of King Schahzaman, and I trust that when your Majesty has heard our story you will not be angry.”
The king agreed to listen, and did so with great surprise.
At the end of her story the princess said, “Sire, as our religion allows a man to have more than one wife, I would ask your Majesty to give your daughter, the Princess Haiatelnefous, in marriage to Prince Camaralzaman.”
King Armanos heard the princess with surprise and admiration, then, turning to Camaralzaman, he said, “My son, as your wife, the Princess Badoura (whom I have before looked on as my son-in-law), agrees to share your hand and affections with my daughter, I have only to ask if this marriage is agreeable to you, and if you will agree to accept the crown which the Princess Badoura deserves to wear all her life, but which she prefers to give to you.”
“Sire,” replied Camaralzaman, “I can refuse your Majesty nothing.”
So Camaralzaman was proclaimed king, and married to the Princess Haiatelnefous, with whose beauty, talents, and affections he had every reason to be pleased.
The two queens lived in true sisterly harmony together, and after a time each presented King Camaralzaman with a son, whose births were celebrated throughout the kingdom with the utmost rejoicing.