VARIANTS AND ANALOGUES OF THE TALES In VOLUME XIII.
By W. A. Clouston.
The Tale of Zayn Al-Asnam--p. 1.
This story is a compound of two distinct tales, namely, the Dream of Riches and the Quest of the Ninth Image. It has always been one of the most popular of the tales in our common version of the "Arabian Nights," with this advantage, that it is perhaps the only one of the whole collection in which something like a moral purpose may be discovered--"a virtuous woman is more precious than fine gold." Baron de Sacy has remarked of The Nights, that in the course of a few years after Galland's version appeared "it filled Europe with its fame, though offering no object of moral or philosophical interest, and detailing stories merely for the pleasure of relating them." But this last statement is not quite accurate: Shahrazad relates her stories merely to prolong her own life.
It is a curious fact--and one perhaps not very generally known--that the Tale of Zayn al-Asnám is one of two (the other being that of Khudádád) which Galland repudiated, as having been foisted into his 8th volume without his knowledge, as he expressly asserts in the "Avertissement" to the 9th vol., promising to remove them in a second edition, which, however, he did not live to see. I understand that M. Herrmann Zotenberg purposes showing, in his forthcoming edition of "Aladdin," that these two histoires (including that of the Princess of Daryábár, which is interwoven with the tale of Khudádád and his Brothers) were Turkish tales translated by M. Petis de la Croix and were intended to appear in his "Mille et un Jours," which was published, after his death, in 1710; and that, like most of the tales in that work, they were derived from the Turkish collection entitled "Al-Faráj ba'd al-Shiddah," or Joy after Affliction. But that Turkish story-book is said to be a translation of the Persian collection entitled "Hazár ú Yek Rúz" (the Thousand and One Days), which M. Petis rendered into French.
In the preface to Petis' work it is stated that during his residence in Persia, in 1675, he made a transcript of the "Hazár ú Yek Rúz," by permission of the author, a dervish named Mukhlis, of Isfahán. That transcript has not, I understand, been found; but Sir William Ouseley brought a manuscript from Persia which contained a portion of the "Hazár ú Yek Rúz," and which he says ("Travels" vol. ii. p. 21, note) agreed so far with the French version. And it does seem strange that Petis should go to the Turkish book for tales to include in his "Mille et un Jours" when he had before him a complete copy of the Persian original, and even if he did so, how came his French rendering of the tales in question into the hands of Galland's publisher? The tales are not found in Petis' version, which is regularly divided into 1001 Days, and the Turkish work, judging from the titles of the eleven first tales, of which I have seen a transcript by M. Zotenberg, has a number of stories which do not occur in the Persian. [FN#375] But I think it very unlikely that the tales of Khudádád and the Princess foisted into Galland's 8th volume, were translated from the Turkish collection. In Galland the story of the Princess Daryábár is inserted in that of Khudádád; while in the Turkish story-book they are separate tales, the 6th recital being under the title, "Of the Vazír with the Daughter of the Prince of Daryábán," and the 9th story is "Of the Sons of the Sovereign of Harrán with Khudádád." This does not seem to support the assertion that these tales in Galland were derived from the Turkish versions: and it is not to be supposed, surely, that the translator of the versions in Galland conceived the idea of fusing the two stories together?
The first part of the tale of Zaun al-Asnam--the Dream of Riches--is an interesting variant of the tale in The Nights, vol. iv. p. 289, where (briefly to recapitulate, for purposes of comparison by-and-by) a man of Baghdad, having lost all his wealth and become destitute, dreams one night that a figure appeared before him and told him that his fortune was in Cairo. To that city he went accordingly, and as it was night when he arrived, he took shelter in a mosque. A party of thieves just then had got into an adjacent house from that same mosque, and the inmates, discovering them, raised such an outcry as to bring the police at once on the spot. The thieves contrive to get away, and the walí, finding only the man of Baghdad in the mosque, causes him to be seized and severely beaten after which he sends him to prison, where the poor fellow remains thirty days, when the walí sends for him and begins to question him. The man tells his story, at which the walí laughs, calls him an ass for coming so far because of a dream, and adds that he himself had had a similar dream of a great treasure buried in the garden of such a house in Baghdad, but he was not so silly as to go there. The poor man recognises his own house and garden from the walí's description, and being set at liberty returns to Baghdad, and finds the treasure on the very spot indicated.
Lane, who puts this story (as indeed he has done with much better ones) among his notes, states that it is also related by El-Ishákí, who flourished during the reign of the Khalíf El-Ma'mún (9th century), and his editor Edward Stanley Poole adds that he found it also in a MS. of Lane's entitled "Murshid ez-Zúwar ilá el-Abrar," with the difference that it is there related of an Egyptian saint who travelled to Baghdad, and was in the same manner directed to his own house in El-Fustát.
The same story is told in the 6th book of the "Masnaví," an enormously long sufí poem, written in Persian, by Jelád ed-Din, the founder of the sect of Muslim devotees generally known in Europe as the Dancing Dervishes, who died in 1272. This version differs from the Arabian in but a few and unimportant details: Arriving at Cairo, destitute and hungry, he resolves to beg when it is dark, and is wandering about, "one foot forward, one foot backwards," for a third of the night, when suddenly a watchman pounces on him and beats him with fist and stick--for the people having been plagued with robbers, the Khalíf had given orders to cut off the head of any one found abroad at night. The wretched man begs for mercy till he has told his story, and when he has finished the watchman acquaints him of a similar dream he had had of treasure at Baghdad. [FN#376]
A Turkish variant occurs in the "History of the Forty Vazírs," where a poor water-carrier of Cairo, named Nu'mán, presents his son's teacher with his only camel, which he used daily for carrying his skins of water, as a reward for instructing the lad in the Kurán, and his wife rails at him for his folly in no measured terms. In his sleep a white haired old man appears to him in a dream and tells him to go to Damascus, where he would find his portion. After this has occurred three times in succession, poor Nu'mán, spite of his wife's remonstrances, sets out for Damascus, enters a mosque there, and receives a loaf of bread from a man who had been baking, and having eaten it falls asleep. Returning home, his wife reviles him for giving away a camel and doing other mad things. But again the venerable old man appears to him thrice in a dream, and bids him dig close by himself, and there he would find his provision. When he takes shovel and pick-axe to dig, his wife's tongue is more bitter than before, and after he had laboured a while and begins to feel somewhat fatigued, when he asks her to take a short spell at the work, she mocks him and calls him anything but a wise man. But on his laying bare a stone slab, she thinks there must be something beneath it, and offers to relieve him. "Nu'mán," quoth she "thou'rt weary now." "No, I'm rested, says he. In the end he discovers a well, goes down into it, and finds a jar full of sequins, upon seeing which his wife clasps him lovingly round the neck, exclaiming, "O my noble little hubby! Blessed be God for thy luck and thy fortune!" Her tune changes, however, when the honest water-carrier tells her that he means to carry the treasure to the King, which he does, and the King having caused the money to be examined, the treasure is found to have the following legend written on it: "This is an alms from God to Nu'mán, by reason of his respect for the Kurán." [FN#377]
This curious story, which dates, as we have seen, at least as far back as the 9th century appears to be spread over Europe. Mr. E. Sidney Hartland, in an able paper treating of several of its forms in "The Antiquary" for February, 1887, pp. 45-48, gives a Sicilian version from Dr. Pitre's collection, which is to this effect:
A poor fellow at Palermo, who got his living by salting tunny and selling it afterwards dreamt one night that a person came to him and said that if he wished to find his fortune he would find it under the bridge of the Teste. Thither he goes and sees a man in rags and is beginning to retire when the man calls him back, informs him that he is his fortune and bids him go at midnight of that same night to the place where he had deposited his casks of tunny, dig there, and whatever he found was his own. The tunny-seller gets a pick-axe and at midnight begins to dig. He comes upon a large flat stone, which he raises and discovers a staircase; he descends, and at the bottom finds an immense treasure of gold. In brief, he becomes so rich that he lends the King of Spain "a million," to enable him to carry on his wars; the King makes him Viceroy of Sicily, and by-and by, being unable to repay the loan, raises him to the highest royal dignities.
Johannes Fungerus, in his "Etymologicon Latino-Græcum," published at Leyden in 1607, in art. Somnus, gravely relates the story, with a young Dutchman for the hero and as having happened "within the memory of our fathers, both as it has been handed down in truthful and honourable fashion as well as frequently told to me." [FN#378] His "true story" may thus be rendered:
A certain young man of Dort, in Holland, had squandered his wealth and all his estate and having contracted a debt, was unable to pay it. A certain one appeared to him in a dream, and advised him to betake himself to Kempen, and there on the bridge he would receive information from some one as to the way in which he should be extricated from his difficulties. He went there, and when he was in a sorrowful mood and thinking upon what had been told him and promenaded almost the whole day, a common beggar, who was asking alms, pitying his condition, sat down and asked him, "Why so sad?" Thereupon the dreamer explained to him his sad and mournful fate, and why he had come there forsooth, under the impulse of a dream, he had set out thither, and was expecting God as if by a wonder, to unravel this more than Gordian knot. The mendicant answered "Good Heaven! are you so mad and foolish as to rely on a dream, which is emptier than nothing, and journey hither? I should betake myself to Dort, to dig up a treasure buried under such a tree in such a man's garden (now this garden had belonged to the dreamer's father), likewise revealed to me in a dream." The other remained silent and pondering all that had been said to him, then hastened with all speed to Dort, and under the aforesaid tree found a great heap of money, which freed him from his obligations, and having paid off all his debts, he set up in a more sumptuous style than before.
The second part of the tale, or novelette, of "The Spectre Barber," by Musaeus (1735-1788), is probably an elaboration of some German popular legend closely resembling the last-cited version, only in this instance the hero does not dream, but is told by a ghost, in reward for a service he had done it (or him), to tarry on the great bridge over the Weser, at the time when day and night are equal, for a friend who would instruct him what he must do to retrieve his fortune. He goes there at dawn, and walks on the bridge till evening comes, when there remained no one but himself and a wooden legged soldier to whom he had given a small coin in the early morning, and who ventured at length to ask him why he had promenaded the bridge all day. The youth at first said he was waiting for a friend, but on the old soldier remarking that he could be no friend who would keep him waiting so long, he said that he had only dreamt he was to meet some friend (for he did not care to say anything about his interview with the ghost), the old fellow observed that he had had many dreams, but put not the least faith in them. "But my dream," quoth the youth, "was a most remarkable one." "It couldn't have been so remarkable as one I had many years ago," and so on, as usual, with this addition, that the young man placed the old soldier in a snug little cottage and gave him a comfortable annuity for life--taking care, we may be sure, not to tell him a word as to the result of acting upon his dream.
To what extent Musaeus has enlarged his original material it is impossible to say; but it is well known that, like Hans Andersen in later times, he did "improve and add to such popular tales and traditions as he dealt with--a circumstance which renders him by no means trustworthy for folk-lore purposes.
In Denmark our well-travelled little tale does duty in accounting for the building of a parish church, as we learn from Thorpe, in his "Northern Mythology," vol. ii. p. 253:
Many years ago there lived in Erritsö, near Frederica, a very poor man who one day said, "If I had a large sum of money, I would build a church for the parish." The following night he dreamed that if he went to the south bridge at Veile he would make his fortune. He followed the intimation and strolled backwards and forwards on the bridge until it grew late, but without seeing any sign of good fortune. When just on the point of returning, he was accosted by an officer, who asked him why he had spent a whole day so on the bridge. He told him his dream, on hearing which the officer related to him in return that he also on the preceding night had dreamed that in a barn in Erritsö, belonging to a man whose name he mentioned, a treasure lay buried. Now the name he mentioned was the man's own, who prudently kept his own counsel, hastened home, and found the treasure in a barn. The man was faithful to his word, and built the church. [FN#379]
Equally at home, as we have seen, in Sicily, Holland, Germany, and Denmark, the identical legend is also domiciled in Scotland and England. Thus Robert Chambers, in his "Popular Rhymes of Scotland," ed. 1826, p. 56, speaking of Dundonald Castle, in Ayrshire, the ancient seat of King Robert II., relates the following local tradition:
Donald, the builder, was originally a poor man, but had the faculty of dreaming lucky dreams. Upon one occasion he dreamed thrice in one night that if he were to go to London Bridge he would make a fortune. He went accordingly, and saw a man looking over the parapet of the bridge, whom he accosted courteously, and after a little conversation, intrusted him with the secret of the occasion of his visiting London Bridge. The stranger told him that he had made a very foolish errand, for he had himself once had a similar vision, which directed him to go to a certain spot in Ayrshire, in Scotland, where he would find a vast treasure, and for his part he had never once thought of obeying the injunction. From his description of the spot, however, the sly Scot at once perceived that the treasure in question must be concealed nowhere but in his own humble kail-yard at home, to which he immediately repaired, in full expectation of finding it. Nor was he disappointed; for after destroying many good and promising cabbages, and completely cracking credit with his wife, who considered him as mad, he found a large potful of gold coin, with which he built a stout castle for himself, and became the founder of a flourishing family.
"This absurd story," adds Chambers, "is localised in almost every district of Scotland always referring to London Bridge, and Hogg (the Ettrick Shepherd) has worked up the fiction in a very amusing manner in one of his 'Winter Evening Tales,' substituting the Bridge at Kelso for that of London."
But the legend of the Chapman, or Pedlar, of Swaffam, in Norfolk, handed down, as it has been, from one credulous generation to another, with the most minute details and perfect local colour, throws quite into the shade all other versions or variants of the ancient tale of the poor man of Baghdad. Blomfield, in his "History of Norfolk," 8vo ea., vol. vi. 211-213, reproduces it as follows, from Sir Roger Twysden's "Reminiscences":
"The story of the Pedlar of Swaffam Market is in substance this: That dreaming one night, if he went to London, he should certainly meet with man upon London Bridge which should tell him good news; he was so perplexed in his mind that till he set upon his journey he could have no rest. To London therefore he hastes, and walked upon the Bridge for some hours, where being espied by a shopkeeper and asked what he wanted, he answered, 'You may well ask me that question, for truly (quoth he) I am come hither upon a very vain errand,' and so told the story of his dream which occasioned his journey. Whereupon the shopkeeper replied, 'Alas, good friend, should I have heeded dreams I might have proved myself as very a fool as thou hast; for 'tis not long since that I dreamt that at a place called Swaffam Market, in Norfolk, dwells one John Chapman, a pedlar, who hath a tree in his back yard, under which is buried a pot of money. Now, therefore if I should have made a journey thither to dig for such hidden treasure, judge you whether I should not have been counted a fool.' To whom the Pedlar cunningly said, 'Yes, truly: I will therefore return home and follow my business, not heeding such dreams hence-forward.' But when he came home (being satisfied that his dream was fulfilled), he took occasion to dig in that place, and accordingly found a large pot full of money, which he prudently concealed, putting the pot among the rest of his brass. After a time, it happened that one who came to his house, and beholding the pot, observed an inscription upon it, which being in Latin he interpreted it, that under that there was another twice as good. [FN#380] Of this inscription the Pedlar was before ignorant, or at least minded it not; but when he heard the meaning of it, he said, ' 'Tis very true, in the shop where I bought this pot stood another under it which was twice as big'; but considering that it might tend to his further profit to dig deeper in the same place where he found that, he fell again to work and discovered such a pot as was intimated by the inscription, full of old coin; notwithstanding all which, he so concealed his wealth that the neighbours took no notice of it. But not long after the inhabitants of Swaffam resolving to re-edify their church, and having consulted the workmen about the charge, they made a levy, wherein they taxed the Pedlar according to no other rate but what they had formerly done. But he, knowing his own ability, came to the church and desired the workmen to show him their model and to tell him what they esteemed the charge of the north aisle would amount to, which when they told him, he presently undertook to pay them for building it, and not only that, but for a very tall and beautiful tower steeple.
"This is the tradition of the inhabitants, as it was told me there. And in testimony thereof, there was then his picture, with his wife and three children, in every window of the aisle, with an inscription running through the bottom of all those windows, viz., 'Orate pro bono statu Johannis Chapman.... Uxoris ejus, et Liberorum quorum, qui quidem Johannes hanc alam cum fenestris tecto et . . . fieri fecit.' It was in Henry the Seventh's time, but the year I now remember not, my notes being left with Mr. William Sedgwicke, who trickt the pictures, he being then with me. In that aisle is his seat, of an antique form, and on each side the entrance, the statue of the Pedlar of about a foot in length, with pack on his back, very artificially [?artistically] cut. This was sent me from Mr. William Dugdale, of Blyth Hall, in Warwickshire, in a letter dated Jan. 29th, 1652-3, which I have since learned from others to have been most True.-Roger Twysden."
Mr. William E. A. Axon, in "The Antiquary," vol. xi. p. 168, gives the same version, with some slight variations, from a work entitled "New Help to Discourse," which he says was often printed between 1619 and 1696: The dream was "doubled and tripled," and the Pedlar stood on the bridge for two or three days; but no mention is made of his finding a second pot of money: "he found an infinite mass of money, with part of which he re-edified the church, having his statue therein to this day, cut out in stone, with his pack on his back and his dog at his heels, his memory being preserved by the same form or picture in most of the glass windows in taverns and alehouses in that town to this day." The story is also told of a cobbler in Somersetshire (in an article on Dreams, "Saturday Review," Dec. 28, 1878), who dreamt three nights in succession that if he went to London Bridge he would there meet with something to his advantage. For three days he walked over the bridge, when at length a stranger came up to him, and asked him why he had been walking from end to end of the bridge for these three days, offering nothing for sale nor purchasing aught. The man having told him of his strange dream, the stranger said that he too had dreamt of a lot of gold buried in a certain orchard in such a place in Somersetshire. Upon this the cobbler returned home and found the pot of gold under an apple-tree. He now sent his son to school, where he learnt Latin, and when the lad had come home for his holidays, he happened to look at the pot that had contained the gold and seeing some writing on it he said, "Father, I can show you what I have learnt at school is of some use." He then translated the Latin inscription on the pot thus: "Look under and you will find better " They did look under and a large quantity of gold was found. Mr. Axon gives a version of the legend in the Yorkshire dialect in "The Antiquary," vol. xii. pp. 121-2, and there is a similar story connected with the parish church of Lambeth. [FN#381]
Regarding the Norfolk tradition of the lucky and generous Pedlar, Blomfield says that the north side of the church of Swaffam (or Sopham) was certainly built by one John Chapman, who was churchwarden in 1462; but he thinks that the figures of the pedlar, etc., were only put "to set forth the name of the founder: such rebuses are frequently met with on old works." The story is also told in Abraham de la Prynne's Diary under date Nov. 10, 1699, as "a constant tradition" concerning a pedlar in Soffham.
Such is the close resemblance between the Turkish version of the Dream and that in the tale of Zayn al-Asnam that I am disposed to consider both as having been derived from the same source, which, however, could hardly have been the story told by El-Isháki. In Zayn al-Asnam a shaykh appears to the prince in a dream and bids him hie to Egypt, where he will find heaps of treasure; in the Turkish story the shaykh appears to the poor water-carrier three times and bids him go to Damascus for the like purpose. The prince arrives at Cairo and goes to sleep in a mosque, when the shayka again presents himself before him in a dream and tells him that he has done well in obeying him--he had only made a trial of his courage: "now return to thy capital and I will make thee wealthy,"-- in the Turkish story the water-carrier also goes into a mosque at Damascus and receives a loaf of bread there from a baker. When the prince returns home the shaykh appears to him once more and bids him take a pickaxe and go to such a palace of his sire and dig in such a place, where he should find riches,--in the Turkish story the water-carrier having returned to his own house, the shaykh comes to him three times more and bids him search near to where he is and he should find wealth. The discovery by Zayn al-Asnam of his father's hidden treasure, after he had recklessly squandered all his means, bears some analogy to the well-known ballad of the "Heir of Linne," who, when reduced to utter poverty, in obedience to his dying father's injunction, should such be his hap, went to hang himself in the "lonely lodge" and found there concealed a store of gold.
With regard to the second part of the tale of Zayn al-Asnam--the Quest of the Ninth Image--and the Turkish version of which my friend Mr. Gibb has kindly furnished us with a translation from the mystical work of 'Alí 'Azíz Efendi, the Cretan, although no other version has hitherto been found, [FN#382] I have little doubt that the story is of either Indian or Persian extraction, images and pictures being abhorred by orthodox (or sunni) Muslims generally; and such also, I think, should we consider all the Arabian tales of young men becoming madly enamoured of beautiful girls from seeing their portraits--though we can readily believe that an Arab as well as a Persian or Indian youth might fall in love with a pretty maid from a mere description of her personal charms, as we are told of the Bedouin coxcomb Amarah in the Romance of Antar. If the Turkish version, which recounts the adventures of the Prince Abd es-Samed in quest of the lacking image (the tenth, not the ninth, as in the Arabian) was adapted from Zayn al-Asnam, the author has made considerable modifications in re-telling the fascinating story, and, in my opinion, it is not inferior to the Arabian version. In the Turkish, the Prince's father appears to him in a vision of the night, [FN#383] and conducts him to the treasure-vault, where he sees the vacant pedestal and on it the paper in which his father directs him to go to Cairo and seek counsel of the Shaykh Mubarak, who would instruct him how to obtain the lacking image; and the prince is commissioned by the shaykh to bring him a spotless virgin who has never so much as longed for the pleasures of love, when he should receive the image for his reward. The shaykh gives him a mirror which should remain clear when held before such a virgin, but become dimmed when reflecting the features of another sort of girl; also a purse which should be always full of money. [FN#384] In the Arabian story the Shaykh Mubarak accompanies Zayn al-Asnam in his quest of the image to the land of Jinnistán, the King whereof it is who requires the prince to procure him a pure virgin and then he would give him the lacking image. In the Turkish version the prince Abd es-Samed proceeds on the adventure alone, and after visiting many places without success he goes to Baghdad, where by means of the Imam he at last finds the desiderated virgin, whom he conducts to Mubarak. In the Arabian story the Imam, Abu Bakr (Haji Bakr in the Turkish), is at first inimical towards the prince and the shaykh but after being propitiated by a present of money he is all complaisance, and, as in the Turkish, introduces the prince to the fallen vazír, the father of the spotless virgin. The sudden conversion of the Imam from a bitter enemy to an obliging friend is related with much humour: one day denouncing the strangers to the folk assembled in the mosque as cutpurses and brigands, and the next day withdrawing his statement, which he says had been made on the information of one of the prince's enviers, and cautioning the people against entertaining aught but reverence for the strangers. This amusing episode is omitted in the Turkish version. In one point the tale of Zayn al-Asnam has the advantage of that of Abd es-Samed: it is much more natural, or congruous, that the King of the Genii should affect to require the chaste maiden and give the prince a magical mirror which would test her purity, and that the freed slave Mubarak should accompany the prince in his quest.
Aladdin; Or, the Wonderful Lamp--p. 31.
Those scholars who declared a number of the tales in Galland's "Mille et une Nuits" to be of his own invention, because they were not found in any of the Arabic MS. texts of The Nights preserved in European libraries, were unconsciously paying that learned and worthy man a very high compliment, since the tales in question are among the best in his work and have ever been, and probably will continue to be, among the most popular favourites. But that fact that Galland seized the first opportunity of intimating that two of those tales were not translated or inserted by himself ought to have been alone amply sufficient presumptive evidence of his good faith with regard to the others.
A friendly reviewer of my "Popular Tales and Fictions" etc. states that modern collectors of European Märchen, though "working from 100 to 150 years after the appearance of the 'Thousand and One Nights,' in European literature, have not found the special versions therein contained distributed widely and profusely throughout Europe," and that my chapter on Aladdin is proof sufficient that they have not done so. The reviewer goes on to say that I cite "numerous variants, but, save one from Rome, variants of the theme, not of the version; some again, such as the Mecklenburg and Danish forms, are more primitive in tone; and all lack those effective and picturesque details which are the charm of the Arabian story, and which a borrower only interested in the story as a story might just be expected to retain.'' [FN#385]
But it is not contended that the folk-tales of Europe owe much, if indeed anything at all, to the "Arabian Nights," which is not only as it now exists a comparatively modern work--Baron de Sacy has adduced good reasons for placing the date of its composition in the middle of the 9th century of the Hijra, or about 1446 A.D. but was first made known in Europe so late as the first quarter of the last century. Several of the tales, and incidents of the tales, in the "Thousand and One Nights" were current in Europe in the 12th century--imported by the Moors of Spain, and by European travellers, pilgrims, and minstrels from the East. Thus the Arabian tale of the Ebony (or Enchanted) Horse is virtually identical with the Hispano-French romance of Cleomades and Claremonde; that of Prince Kamar al Zaman is fairly represented by the romance of Peter of Provence and the Fair Maguelone. The episode of Astolphy and Joconde in Ariosto's "Orlando Furioso" is identical with the opening story of The Nights which constitutes the frame of the collection. [FN#386] The Magnetic Rock (or rock of adamant) which figures in the adventures of Sindbád occurs in the popular German story of "Herzog Ernst von Baiern," which is extant in a Latin poem that cannot be later than the 13th century and is probably a hundred years earlier. [FN#387] The Valley of Diamonds in the History of Sindbád is described by Marco Polo who travelled in the East in the 13th century; moreover, it had been known in Europe from the 4th century, when the story connected with it was related by Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis, who lays the scene in Scythia, while Marco Polo and the author of Sindbád's Voyages both place it in India, where the fiction probably had its origin
When we find a popular (i.e. oral) European tale reproduce the most minute details of a story found in The Nights, we should conclude that it has been derived therefrom and within quite recent times, and such I am now disposed to think is the case of the Roman version of Aladdin given by Miss Busk under the title of "How Cajusse was Married," notwithstandtng the circumstance that the old woman from whom it was obtained was almost wholly illiterate. A child who could read might have told the story out of Galland to his or her nurse, through whom it would afterwards assume local colour, with some modifications of the details. But stories having all the essential features of the tale of Aladdin were known throughout Europe long before Galland's work was published, and in forms strikingly resembling other Asiatic versions, from one of which the Arabian tale must have been adapted. The incidents of the Magician and Aladdin at the Cave, and the conveying of the Princess and the vazír's son three nights in succession to Aladdin's house (which occurs, in modified forms, in other tales in The Nights), I consider as the work of the Arabian author. Stripped of these particulars, the elements of the tale are identical in all versions, Eastern and Western: a talisman, by means of which its possessor can command unlimited wealth, &c.; its loss and the consequent disappearance of the magnificent palace erected by supernatural agents who are subservient to the owner of the talisman, and finally its recovery together with the restoration of the palace to its original situation. The Arabian tale is singular in the circumstance of the talisman (the Lamp) being recovered by human means--by the devices of the hero himself, in fact, since in all the European and the other Asiatic forms of the story it is recovered by, as it was first obtained from, grateful animals. To my mind, this latter is the pristine form of the tale, and points to a Buddhist origin--mercy to all hying creatures being one of the leading doctrines of pure Buddhism.
The space at my disposal does not admit of the reproduction in extenso of the numerous versions or variants of Aladdin: a brief outline of their features will however serve my purpose. In the tale of Marúf the Cobbler, which concludes the Búlák and Calcutta printed texts of The Nights, we have an interesting version of Aladdin. The hero runs away from his shrewish wife and under false presences is married to a king's daughter. He confesses his imposture to the princess, who loves him dearly, and she urges him to flee from her father's vengeance and not to return until his death should leave the throne vacant, and having furnished him with money, he secretly quits the city at daybreak. After riding some distance, he begins to feel hungry, and seeing a peasant ploughing a field he goes up to him and asks for some food. The peasant sets off to his house for eatables and meanwhile Marúf begins to plough a furrow, when presently the ploughshare strikes against something hard, which he finds to be an iron ring. He tugs at the ring and raises a slab, which discovers a number of steps, down which he goes and comes into a cavern filled with gold and precious stones, and in a box made of a single diamond he finds a talismanic ring, on placing which on his finger a monstrous figure appears and expresses his readiness and ability to obey all his commands. In brief, by means of this genie, the hero obtains immense wealth in gold and jewels, and also rich merchandise, which enable him to return to the city in the capacity of a merchant, which he had professed himself when he married the princess. The vazír, who had from the first believed him to be an arrant impostor, lays a plot with the King to worm out of him the secret of his wealth, and succeeds so well at a private supper, when Marúf is elevated with wine, that he obtains possession of the ring, summons the genie, and causes him to carry both the King and Marúf into a far distant desert. He then compels the other ministers and the people to acknowledge him as king, and resolves to marry the princess. She temporises with him; invites him to sup with her; plies him with wine, induces him to throw the ring into a corner of the room, pretending to be afraid of the demon who is held captive in it; and when he has become insensible (in plain English, dead drunk), she seizes the ring, summons the genie, and commands him to secure the vazír and bring back her father and husband, which he does "in less than no time." The vazír is of course put to death, and the princess takes charge of the ring for the future, alleging that neither the King nor her husband is to be trusted with the custody of such a treasure.
Another Arabian version is found--as Sir Richard Burton points out, note 1, p. 119--in "The Fisherman's Son," one of the tales translated by Jonathan Scott from the Wortley Montague MS. text of The Nights, where the hero finds a magic ring inside a cock: like Aladdin, he marries the King's daughter and has a grand palace built for him by the genii. The ring is afterwards disposed of to a Jew, in the same manner as was the Lamp to the Magician, and the palace with the princess is conveyed to a distant desert island. The fisherman's son takes to flight. He purchases of a man who offered them for sale a dog, a cat, and a rat, which turn out to be well-disposed magicians, and they recover the ring from the Jew's mouth while he is asleep. The ring is dropped into the sea accidentally while the animals are crossing it to rejoin their master, but is brought to the hero by a fish which he had returned to the sea out of pity in his fisherman days. The genie conveys the palace back again, and so on.--In a Mongolian version ("Siddhí Kúr") a young merchant parts with all his wares to save a mouse, an ape, and a bear from being tortured to death by boys. One of those creatures procures for him a wishing-stone, by means of which he has a grand palace built and obtains much treasure. He foolishly exchanges his talisman with the chief of a caravan for all their gold and merchandise, and it is afterwards restored to him by the grateful and ingenious animals.--In a Tamil version--referred to by Sir Richard, p. 30, note 2--which occurs in the "Madanakámarájankadai," a poor wandering young prince buys a cat and a serpent; at his mother's suggestion, he sets the serpent at liberty and receives from his father a wishing ring. He gets a city built in the jungle--or rather where the jungle was--and marries a beautiful princess. An old hag is employed by another king to procure him the princess for his wife. She wheedles herself into the confidence of the unsuspecting young lady, and learning from her the properties of the ring, induces her to borrow it of her husband for a few minutes, in order that she (the old trot) might apply it to her head to cure a severe headache. No sooner has she got possession of the ring than she disappears, and having delivered it to the other King, he "thought" of the princess, and in the twinkling of an eye she is carried through the air and set down before him. The ring is recovered by means of the cat which the hero had fostered, and so on.
Sir Richard has referred to a number of Italian versions (p. 30, note 2), which will be found epitomised in a most valuable and interesting paper, by my late friend Mr. H. C. Coote, on the sources of some of M. Galland's Tales, in the First Part of the Folk-Lore Record for 1880, and, in conclusion, I may briefly glance at a few other European variants. Among those which not only bear a close analogy one to another but also to the Asiatic versions cited above are the following: No. 15 of M. Leger's French collection of Slav Tales is a Bohemian version, in which the hero, Jenik, saves a dog, a cat, and a serpent from being killed. From the serpent's father he gets an enchanted watch (evidently a modern substitute for a talismanic stone, or ring), which procures him a splendid palace and the King's daughter for his bride. But the young lady, unlike the Princess Badr al-Badur with Aladdin, does not love Jenik, and having learned from him the secret of his great wealth, she steals the talisman and causes a palace to be built in the middle of the sea, where she goes to live, after making Jenik's palace disappear. Jenik's faithful dog and cat recover the talisman, which, as in the Arabian story of the Fisherman's Son, is dropped in the sea while they are swimming back and restored by a fish.--In No. 9 of M. and so "Comes Albanais" the hero saves a serpent's life and gets in return a wishing-stone and so on. The talisman is stolen by a rascally Jew on the night of the wedding, and the palace with the princess is transported to the distant sea-shore. The hero buys a cat and feeds it well. He and his cat arrive at the spot where the palace now stands, and the cat compels the chief of a colony of mice to steal the talisman from the Jew while he is asleep.--A popular Greek version in Hahn's collection combines incidents found in Aladdin and in the versions in which grateful animals play prominent parts: The hero rescues a snake which some boys are about to kill and gets in reward from the snake's father a seal-ring, which he has only to lick and a black man will present himself, ready to obey his orders. As in Aladdin, the first use he makes of the talisman is to have his mother's cupboard filled with dainty food. Then he bids his mother "go to the King, and tell him he must give me his daughter in marriage." After many objections, she goes to deliver her message to the King, who replies that if her son build a castle larger than his, he shall have the princess to wife. The castle is built that same night, and when the mother goes next morning to require the King's performance of his promise, he makes a further stipulation that her son should first pave the way between the two castles with gold. This is done at once, and the King gives the hero his daughter. Here the resemblance to the Aladdin story ceases and what follows (as well as what precedes) is analogous to the other Asiatic forms. The princess has a black servant of whom she is enamoured. She steals the ring and elopes with her sable paramour to an island in the sea, where she has a castle erected by the power of the ring. The black man sleeps with the ring under his tongue, but the hero's dog takes the cat on his back and swims to the island; and the cat contrives to get the ring and deliver it to her master, who straightway causes the castle to be removed from the island, then kills the black man, and afterwards lives happily with the princess.--In a Danish version (Prof. Grundtvig's "Danske Folkeäventyr") a peasant gets from an aged man a wishing-box, and henceforward lives in grand style. After his death the steward and servants cheat his son and heir, so that in ten years he is ruined and turned out of house and home. All the property he takes with him is an old sheepskin jacket, in which he finds the wishing-box, which had been, unknown to him, the cause of his father's prosperity. When the "slave" of the box appears, the hero merely asks for a fiddle that when played upon makes everybody who hears it to dance. [FN#388] He hires himself to the King, whose daughter gives him, in jest, a written promise to marry him, in exchange for the fiddle. The King, when the hero claims the princess, insists on her keeping her promise, and they are married. Then follows the loss of the wishing-box, as in the Greek version, only in place of a black man it is a handsome cavalier who is the lady's paramour. The recovery of the box is accomplished by very different means, and may be passed over, as belonging to another cycle of tales. [FN#389]
It is perhaps hardly worth while to make a critical analysis of the tale of Aladdin, since with all its gross inconsistencies it has such a hold of the popular fancy that one would not wish it to be otherwise than it is. But it must have occurred to many readers that the author has blundered in representing the Magician as closing the Cave upon Aladdin because he refused to give up the Lamp before he had been helped out. As the lad was not aware of the properties of the Lamp, he could have had no object in retaining it for himself, while the Magician in any case was perfectly able to take it by force from him. And if he wished to do away with Aladdin, yet incur no "blood-guiltiness" (see ante, p. 52 and note), he might surely have contrived to send him down into the Cave again and then close it upon him. As to the Magician giving his ring to Aladdin, I can't agree with Sir Richard in thinking (p. 48, note 1) that he had mistaken its powers; this seems to me quite impossible. The ring was evidently a charm against personal injury as well as a talisman to summon an all-powerful and obedient genie. It was only as a charm that the Magician placed it on Aladdin's finger, and, as the Hindustani Version explains, he had in his rage and vexation forgot about the ring when he closed the entrance to the Cave. It appears to me also incongruous that the Lamp, which Aladdin found burning, should afterwards only require to be rubbed in order to cause the genie to appear. One should have supposed that the lighting of it would have been more natural or appropriate; and it is possible that such was in the original form of the Aladdin version before it was reduced to writing, since we find something of the kind in a Mecklenburg version given in Grimm under the title of "Des blaue Licht." A soldier who had long served his King is at last discharged without any pay. In the course of his wanderings he comes to the hut of an old woman, who proves to be a witch, and makes him work for her in return for his board and lodging. One day she takes him to the edge of a dry well, and bids him go down and get her the Blue Light which he would find at the bottom. He consents, and she lets him down by a rope. When he has secured the Light he signals to the old witch to draw him up, and when she has pulled him within her reach, she bids him give her the Light, he refuses to do so until he is quite out of the well, upon which she lets him fall to the bottom again. After ruminating his condition for some time he bethinks him of his pipe, which is in his pocket--he may as well have a smoke if he is to perish. So he lights his pipe at the Blue Light, when instantly there appears before him a black dwarf, with a hump on his back and a feather in his cap, who demands to know what he wants, for he must obey the possessor of the Blue Light. The soldier first requires to be taken out of the well, and next the destruction of the old witch, after which he helps himself to the treasures in the hag's cottage, and goes off to the nearest town, where he puts up at the best inn and gets himself fine clothes. Then he determines to requite the King, who had sent him away penniless, so he summons the Dwarf [FN#390] and orders him to bring the King's daughter to his room that night, which the Dwarf does, and very early in the morning he carries her back to her own chamber in the palace. The princess tells her father that she has had a strange dream of being borne through the air during the night to an old soldier's house. The King says that if it was not a dream, she should make a hole in her pocket and put peas into it, and by their dropping out the place where she was taken to could be easily traced. But the Dwarf when he transports her the second night discovers the trick, and strews peas through all the other streets, and the only result was the pigeons had a rare feast. Then the King bids the princess hide one of her shoes in the soldier's room, if she is carried there again. A search is made for the shoe in every house the next day, and when it is found in the soldier's room he runs off, but is soon caught and thrown into prison. In his haste to escape he forgot to take the Blue Light with him. He finds only a ducat in his pocket, and with this he bribes an old comrade whom he sees passing to go and fetch him a parcel he had left at the inn, and so he gets the Blue Light once more. He summons the Dwarf, who tells him to be of good cheer, for all will yet be well, only he must take the Blue Light with him when his trial comes on. He is found guilty and sentenced to be hung upon the gallows-tree. On his way to execution he asks as a last favour to be allowed to smoke, which being granted, he lights his pipe and the Dwarf appears. "Send," says the soldier--"send all these people to the right about; as for the King, cut him into three pieces." The Dwarf lays about him with a will, and soon makes the crowd scuttle off. The King begs hard for his life, and agrees to let the soldier have the princess for his wife and the kingdom afterwards.
Thus, it will be seen, popular tales containing all the essential elements of the story of Aladdin are spread over Europe, though hardly any of the versions was probably derived from it; and the conclusion at which I have arrived is that those elements, or incidents have been time out of mind the common property of European and Asiatic peoples, and that the tale of Aladdin may be considered as an almost unique version. The Mecklenburg legend is the only variant which has the incident of the Magician requiring the Lamp before helping the hero out of the Cave and that of the transporting of the princess from her palace to the hero's house during the night, but these are not, I think, sufficient evidence that it was adapted from Galland.
The royal command that all shops are to be closed and everybody must keep within doors while the Princess Badr al-Badúr proceeds to the bath and Aladdin's playing the part of Peeping Tom of Coventry occur in many Eastern stories and find a curious analogue in the Adventures of Kurroglú, the celebrated robber-poet, as translated by Dr. Alexander Chodzko m his "Popular Poetry of Persia," printed for the Oriental Translation Fund, and copies of that work being somewhat scarce, I daresay the story will be new to most of my readers:
Listen now to the tale about the Princess Nighara, daughter of the Turkish sultan Murád. In the neighbourhood of Constantinople lived a man who was known there under the name of Belli Ahmad. One day the Princess Nighara went out for a walk through the bazárs of Constantinople. At the same time Kurroglú's fame spread all over Turkey; everybody was telling stories about him, and all were struck with wonder. The Princess Nighara's fond heart particularly was filled with an ardent wish of seeing this extraordinary hero, and she often thought in her mind, "O my God, when will you allow me to behold Kurroglú?" It happened that while Belli Ahmad was taking a walk in the bazárs of Istambúl, he looked and beheld on the platform of the building daroghs beating drums, whilst all the inmates of the bazár, the workmen as well as the merchants, were flying in a great hurry after having left their shops ajar. "Why are they thus running;" inquired Belli Ahmad of a Turk. "Doss thou know nothing? Then listen: Our king, Sultan Murad, is gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca. His son Burji Sultan reigns until his father's return. He has a sister whose name is the Princess Nighara. Every Friday she goes to pray in the great mosque. The Sultan's will is that during the passage of the princess through the bazárs, no man should remain there, but that all the shops be left open. This is the reason of this panic and flight. As soon as the princess has passed, the merchants and workmen will return to their shops again."
Belli Ahmad said in his heart, "Thy name is Belli Ahmad, and shalt thou not see this beautiful Princess Nighara? If not, thou art unworthy of the name of Belli [FN#391] Ahmad " He then looked to the right and left and entered stealthily into a greengrocer's shop enclosed within a few boards. The train of the princess now appeared. First passed with their whips farashes and yassáls, who led the procession and were followed by eunuchs with canes of office (chogan) in their hands. At last appeared the Princess Nighara, surrounded by a score of waiting-women. She walked with a downcast countenance in front of them, and bending her head towards the ground said to herself, "O thou earth on which my foot is treading, I beseech thee, receive my prayer!" [FN#392] Belli Ahmad saw and heard her through the chinks of the boards behind which he sat concealed When Nighara saw the shop with vegetables she wondered why it should be the only shop enclosed with boards whilst all the other shops were standing open. She then said to her waiting-women, "What is the reason of this? Whilst goldsmiths who possess a capital of a hundred thousand tomans have left their shops open, how is it that this petty merchant of vegetables, whose poor shop used always to be open, has shut it up to-day? There must be something extraordinary in all this. Break down the enclosure, my girls, and throw the boards aside."
Belli Ahmad heard, and his soul was on the point of making its exit. He threw himself with his face downwards as if he was prostrated by a severe illness. When her orders had been executed Nighara entered the shop. Perceiving a fellow stretched out his whole length and embracing the floor with both hands, she kicked him with her foot, [FN#393] exclaiming, "Who art thou that wallowest in the dirt?" Belli Ahmad sprang to his feet and bowing to the Princess said, "Lady, I am a stranger here. God preserve you from being in a strange land anywhere! I saw that the merchants of the bazar were beaten and driven away, and I was frightened. But what was I to do? If I should hide myself in some rich shop I might be taken for a thief. I have therefore chosen this miserable hovel, where nothing can be found except greens, onions, and mouldy biscuits. And even if there were in it a few copper pieces, the owner at his departure must have taken them away. Pardon me, Princess; my soul was at stake and I hid myself."
Nighara inquired, "Stranger, what countryman art thou?" "I am a native of Erzerúm." "Hast thou seen in those parts the Castle of Chamley-bill?" [FN#394] "Yes, lady, I have seen it." "In that valley lives a man named Kurroglú: didst thou see him?" "O my Princess, I am one of his servants, I am a slave purchased with his gold." "Canst thou delver him a letter from me?" "And wherefore not, fairest? Thou hast only to write and entrust it to me." The Princess Nighara immediately wrote a letter to Kurroglú with her own hand. And what did she write? Here it is: "O thou who art called Kurroglú, the glory of thy name has thrown a spell over the countries of Turkey. I have heard that thou hast carried away Ayvaz from the town of Orfah. My name is Princess Nighara, Sultan Murad's daughter. I tell thee, that thou mayest learn if thou dost not know it, that for a long time I have felt an ardent desire of seeing thee. If thou art distinguished by courage, come to Istambul and carry me away."
And the bold Kurroglú, when he read the lady's billet, assumed the dress of a Haji, gained access to the seraglio gardens on the presence that he was entrusted with a private message to the Princess Nighara from her father the Sultan, whom he had met on the road to Mecca, and carried the amorous young lady to his fortress of Chamley-bill.--The story, together with the scene between the princess and Kurroglú in the gardens and the palace, is, no doubt, a true picture of the "ways" of Turkish ladies of high degree in former times, and confirms much that Sir Richard has stated regarding Eastern women in his notes to The Nights and his Terminal Essay.
A VERY DIFFERENT SORT OF ALADDIN
figures in a story which in the first part bears some analogy to the celebrated Arabian tale, and which occurs in an interesting little work, now apparently forgotten, entitled "The Orientalist, or, Letters of a Rabbi (see Vol. 16, App. 4). With Notes by James Noble, Oriental Master in the Scottish Naval and Military Academy," Edinburgh, 1831. The substance of the story is as follows (p. 118 ff.):
An aged Dervish falls ill in the house of a poor widow, who tends him with great care, with which he is so touched that he offers to take charge of her only son Abdallah. The good woman gladly consents, and the Dervish sets out accompanied by his young ward, having intimated to his mother that they must perform a journey which would last about two years. One day they arrived at a solitary place, and the Dervish said to Abdallah, "My son, we are now at the end of our journey. I shall employ my prayers to obtain from Allah that the earth shall open and make an entrance wide enough to permit thee to descend into a place where thou shalt find one of the greatest treasures that the earth contains. Hast thou courage to descend into the subterranean vault?" Abdallah swore he might depend upon his obedience and zeal. Then the Dervish lighted a small fire, into which he cast a perfume; he read and prayed for some moments, after which the earth opened, and he said to the young man, "Thou mayest now enter. Remember that it is in thy power to do me a great service, and that this is perhaps the only opportunity thou shalt ever have of testifying to me that thou art not ungrateful. Do not let thyself be dazzled by all the riches that thou shalt find there: think only of seizing upon an iron candlestick with twelve branches, which thou shalt find close to the door. That is absolutely necessary to me; come up immediately and bring it to me."
Abdallah descended, and, neglecting the advice of the Dervish, filled his vest and sleeves with the gold and jewels which he found heaped up in the vault, whereupon the opening by which he had entered closed of itself. He had, however, sufficient presence of mind to seize the iron candlestick, and endeavoured to find some other means of escape from the vault. At length he discovers a narrow passage, which he follows until he reaches the surface of the earth, and looking about for the Dervish saw him not, but to his surprise found that he was close to his mother's house. On showing his wealth to his mother it all suddenly vanished. But the candlestick remained. He lighted one of the branches, upon which a dervish appeared, and after turning round for an hour, he threw down an asper (about 3 farthings) and vanished. Next night he put a light in each of the branches, when twelve dervishes appeared, and after continuing their gyrations an hour, each threw down an asper and vanished.
Thus Abdallah and his mother contrived to live for a time, till at length he resolved to carry the candlestick to the Dervish, hoping to obtain from him the treasure which he had seen in the vault. He remembered his name and city, and on reaching his dwelling he found the Dervish living in a magnificent palace with fifty porters at the gate. Quoth the Dervish, when Abdallah appeared before him, "Thou art an ungrateful wretch! Hadst thou known the value of the candlestick, thou wouldst never have brought it to me. I will show thee its true use." Then the Dervish placed a light in each branch, whereupon twelve dervishes appeared and began to whirl, but on his giving each a blow with a cane in an instant they were changed into twelve heaps of sequins, diamonds and other precious stones.
Ungrateful as Abdallah had shown himself, yet the Dervish gave him two camels laden with gold and a slave, telling him he must depart the next morning. During the night Abdallah stole the candlestick and placed it at the bottom of one of his sacks. In the morning he took his leave of the generous Dervish and set off. When about half a day's journey from his own city he sold the slave, that there should be no witness to his former poverty and bought another in his stead. Arriving home, he carefully placed his loads of treasure in a private chamber, and then put a light in each branch of the candlestick, and when the twelve dervishes appeared, as usual, he dealt each a blow with a cane. But he had not observed that the Dervish employed his left hand, and he had naturally used his right in consequence of which the twelve dervishes each drew from under their robes a heavy club and beat him till he was nearly dead, and then vanished, as did also the treasure, the camels, the slave, and the wonder-working candlestick.
It is to be regretted that the author has not stated the sources whence he drew his stories, but that they are without exception of Eastern extraction does not admit of any doubt: some are taken from the "Panchatantra," "Hitopadesa," or "Anvár-i-Suhaylí," and others are found in other Asiatic story-books. I have however not met with the foregoing elsewhere than in Noble's little volume. The beginning of the story is near akin to that of Aladdin: for the wicked magician who pretends to take the tailor's son under his care we have a dervish who in good faith takes charge of the son of a poor widow who had nursed him through a severe illness. The cave scene is very similar in both, only the magician performs diabolical incantations, while the dervish practices "white magic" and prays to Allah for assistance. The twelve-branched candlestick takes the place of the Wonderful Lamp. Like Aladdin, young Abdallah is shut in the cavern, though not because he refused to give up the candlestick until he was safe above ground again, but because his cupidity induced him to pocket some of the treasures which filled the cave.
There is a strong Indian--even Buddhistic--flavour in the story of Abdallah and the Dervish, and the apparition of the twelve whirling fakirs, who when struck with a cane held in the left hand fall into so many heaps of gold coin, has its analogue in the "Hitopadesa" and also in the Persian Tales of a Parrot ("Tútí Náma"). The 10th Fable of Book iii. of the "Hitopadesa' goes thus: In the city of Ayodhya (Oude) there was a soldier named Churamani, who, being anxious for money, for a long time with pain of body worshipped the deity the jewel of whose diadem is the lunar crescent. [FN#495] Being at length purified from his sins, in his sleep he had a vision in which, through the favour of the deity, he was directed by the lord of the Yakshas [FN#396] to do as follows: 'Early in the morning, having been shaved, thou must stand, club in hand, concealed behind the door of thy house; and the beggar whom thou seest come into the court thou wilt put to death without mercy by blows of thy staff. Instantly the beggar will become a pot full of gold, by which thou wilt be comfortable the rest of thy life." These instructions being followed, it came to pass accordingly. But the barber who had been brought to shave him, having witnessed it all, said to himself, "O, is this the mode of gaining treasure? Why, then, may not I also do the same?" From that day forward the barber in like manner, with club in hand, day after day awaited the coming of the beggar. One day a beggar being so caught was attacked by him and killed with the stick, for which offence the barber himself was beaten by the King's officers and died.
The same story is differently told, at greater length and with considerable humour, in Nakhshabí's Parrot-Book, but the outline of it only can be given here: A rich merchant named Abd-el-Malik resolved to give all his substance to the poor and needy before he departed this life. At midnight an apparition stood before him in the habit of a fakír and thus addressed him: "I am the apparition of thy good fortune and the genius of thy future happiness. [FN#397] When thou, with such unbounded generosity, didst bequeath all thy wealth to the poor, I determined not to pass by thy door unnoticed, but to enrich thee with an inexhaustible treasure, suitable to the greatness of thy capacious soul. To accomplish which I will every morning in this shape appear to thee; thou shalt strike me a few blows on the head, and I shall instantly fall at thy feet, transformed into an image of gold. From this take as much as thou shalt have occasion for; and every member that shall be separated from the image shall instantly be replaced by another of the same precious metal." [FN#398] In the morning a covetous neighbour named Hajm visited the merchant, and soon after the apparition presented itself. Abd-el-Malik at once arose and after striking it several blows on the head with a stick, it fell down and was changed into an image of gold. He took what sufficed for the day's needs and gave the larger portion to his visitor. When Hajm the covetous returned to his own house he pondered what he had seen, and concluding it would be as easy for him to convert fakírs into gold, invited to a feast at his house all the fakírs of the province. When they had feasted to their hearts' content, Hajm seized a heavy club and began to unmercifully belabour his guests till he broke their heads and "the crimson torrent stained the carpet of hospitality." The cries of the fakírs soon brought the police to their assistance, and a great crowd of people gathered outside the house. Hajm was immediately haled before the magistrate, and attempted to justify his conduct by giving an account of what he had seen done in the house of Abd-el-Malik. The merchant was sent for and declared Hajm to be mad, no better proof of which could be desired than his treatment of the fakírs. So Hajm the covetous was sent forthwith to the hospital for lunatics.
Khudadad and His Brothers--p. 145.
Readers of The Nights must have observed that a large number of the tales begin with an account of a certain powerful king, whose dominions were almost boundless, whose treasury overflowed, and whose reign was a blessing to his people; but he had one all-absorbing care--he had no son. Thus in the tale of Khudadad we read that in the city of Harrán there dwelt a sultan "of illustrious lineage, a protector of the people, a lover of his lieges, a friend of mankind, and renowned for being gifted with every good quality. Allah Almighty had bestowed upon him all that his heart could desire, save the boon of a child, for though he had lovely wives within his harem-door and concubines galore [far too many, no doubt!], he had not been blessed with a son," and so forth. This is the "regulation" opening of by far the greater number of Asiatic stories, even as it was de rigueur for the old pagan Arab poets to begin their kasídas with a lamentation for the departure of a fair one, whether real or imaginary. The Sultan of our story is constantly petitioning Heaven for the boon of a son (who among Easterns is considered as the "light of the house"), and at length there appears to him in his slumbers a comely man who bids him go on the morrow to his chief gardener and get from him a pomegranate, of which he should eat as many seeds as he pleases, after which his prayers for offspring should be granted. This remedy for barrenness is very common in Indian fictions (to which I believe Khudadad belongs), only it is usually the king's wives who eat the seeds or fruit. [FN#399] A few parallels to the opening of our tale from Indian sources may prove somewhat interesting, both to students of popular fictions and to those individuals who are vaguely styled "general readers."
A Kashmiri tale, entitled "The Four Princes," translated by the Rev. J. Hinton Knowles, in the "Indian Antiquary," 1886, [FN#400] thus begins: In days long since gone by there lived a king most clever, most holy, and most wise, who was a pattern king. His mind was always occupied with plans for the improvement of his country and people; his darbár was open to all; his ear was ever ready to listen to the petition of the humblest subject, he afforded every facility for trade; he established hospitals for the sick, inns (sará'e) for travellers, and large schools for those who wished to learn. These and many other such things he did. Nothing was left undone that ought to be done, and nothing was done that ought not to have been done. Under such a wise, just, and beneficent ruler the people of course lived very happily. Few poor or unenlightened or wicked persons were to be found in the country. But the great and good king had not a son. This was an intense sorrow to him--the one dark cloud that now and again overshadowed his otherwise happy and glorious life. Every day he prayed earnestly to Siva to grant him an heir to sit upon the throne after him. One day Siva appeared to him in the garb of a yogi, [FN#401] and bade him ask a boon and it should be granted. "Take these four fruits," said Siva, "and give them to your wife to eat on such a day before sunrise. Then shall your wife give birth to four sons who will be exceedingly clever and good." The king follows these instructions and in due course his wife is delivered of four sons at one birth and thereupon dies. The rest of the story is a variant of the Tamil romance "Alakésa Kathà,'' [FN#402] and of "Strike, but hear!" in Rev. Lal Behari Day's "Folk-Tales of Bengal."
This is how the Tamil story of The Four Good Sisters begins ("Folk-Lore in Southern India," Part iii., by Pandit S. M. Natésa Sástri [FN#403]): In the town of Tañjai there reigned a king named Hariji, who was a very good and charitable sovereign. In his reign the tiger and the bull drank out of the same pool, the serpent and the peacock amused themselves under the same tree; and thus even birds and beasts of a quarrelsome and inimical disposition lived together like sheep of the same flock. While the brute creation of the great God was thus living in friendship and happiness, need it be said that this king's subjects led a life of peace and prosperity unknown in any other country under the canopy of heaven? But for all the peace which his subjects enjoyed, Hariji himself had no joy: his face was always drooping, his lips never moved in laughter, and he was as sad as sad could be because he had no son.--After trying in vain the distribution of charitable gifts which his ministers and the priests recommended, the king resolves to retire into the wilderness and there endeavour to propitiate Mahésvara [i.e. Siva], hoping thus to have his desire fulfilled. He appoints his ministers to order the realm during his absence, and doffing his royal robes clothes himself in the bark of trees and takes up his abode in the desert. After practising the most severe austerities for the space of three years, Siva, mounted on his bull, with his spouse Párvatí by his side, appears before the hermit, who is overjoyed at the sight of the deity. Siva bids him ask any boon and it should be granted. The royal ascetic desires to have a son. Then says Siva: "For thy long penance we grant thy request. Choose then--a son who shall always be with thee till death, but shall be the greatest fool in the whole world, or four daughters who shall live with thee for a short time, then leave thee and return before thy death, but who shall be the incarnation of learning. To thee is left to choose which thou wilt have," and so saying, the deity gives him a mango fruit for his wife to eat, and then disappears. The king elects to have the four learned daughters, whose history is very entertaining.
Another tale in the Pandit's collection (No. 4) informs us that once upon a time in a town named Vañjaimánagar there ruled a king named Siváchar. He was a most just king and ruled so well that no stone thrown up fell down, no crow pecked at the new-drawn milk, the lion and the bull drank water from the same pond, and peace and prosperity reigned throughout the kingdom. Notwithstanding all these blessings, care always sat on his face. His days and nights he spent in praying that God might bless him with a son. Wherever he saw pípal trees he ordered Brahmans to circumambulate them. [FN#404] Whatever medicines the doctors recommended he was ever ready to swallow, however bitter they might be. At last fortune favoured Siváchár; for what religious man fails to obtain his desire? The king in his sixtieth year had a son, and his joy knew no bounds.
In like fashion does the Persian "Sindibád Náma" begin: There reigned in India a sage and mighty monarch, the bricks of whose palace were not of stone or marble but of gold; the fuel of whose kitchen was fresh wood of aloes; who had brought under the signet of his authority the kingdoms of Rúm and Abyssinia; and to whom were alike tributary the Ethiop Maharáj and the Roman Kaysar. He was distinguished above all monarchs for his virtue clemency, and justice. But although he was the refuge of the Khalífate, he was not blessed with an heir: life and the world appeared profitless to him, because he had no fruit of the heart in the garden of his soul. One night, while reclining on his couch, sad and thoughtful, consumed with grief like a morning taper, he heaved a deep sigh upon which one of his favourite wives (he had a hundred in his harem), advancing towards him and kissing the ground, inquired the cause of his distress. He discloses it. His wife consoles him, encourages him to hope, and assures him that if he prayed, his prayers would be answered, but that at all events it was his duty to be resigned to the will of God. "Prayer is the only key that will open the door of difficulty." The king fasted for a whole week and was assiduous in his devotions. One night he prayed with peculiar earnestness and self-abasement till morning. The companion of his couch was one of his wives, fairer than the sun and the envy of a pert. He clasped her in his embrace, exclaiming, "There is no strength, no power, save in God!" and he felt assured in his heart that his prayer was granted. In due time a son was born to him, and, eager to show his gratitude, he bestowed munificent gifts and lavished his treasures on all his subjects.
The seventh of Lal Behari Day's "Folk-Tales of Bengal" opens as follows: Once on a time there reigned a king who had seven queens. He was very sad, for the seven queens were all barren. A holy mendicant, however, one day told the king that in a certain forest there grew a tree, on a branch of which hung seven mangoes; if the king himself plucked those mangoes and gave one to each of the queens they would all become mothers. So the king went to the forest, plucked the seven mangoes that grew upon one branch, and gave a mango to each of the queens to eat. In a short time the king's heart was filled with joy as he heard that the seven queens were pregnant.--In Miss Stokes' "Indian Fairy Tales,' p. 91, Rájá Barbál receives from an ascetic 160 lichí fruits, one of which he is to give to each of his 160 wives, who would have each a son.--Similar instances occur in Steel and Temple's "Wide Awake Stories," from the Panjáb and Kashmír, pp. 47 and 290, and in Natésa Sástrí's "Dravidian Nights' Entertainments" (a translation of the Tamil romance entitled "Madanakámarájankadai"), pp. 55, 56.--Among biblical instances of women having offspring after being long barren are: Sarah, the wife of Abraham (Gen. ch. xv. 2 4, xxi. 1, 2); Rachel, the wife of Jacob (Gen. ch. xxx., 1, 22, 23); and Elisabeth, the wife of Zacharias, the high-priest, who were the parents of John the Baptist (Luke, ch. i.). Whether children be a "blessing," notwithstanding all that has been said and sung about the exquisite joys of paternity and maternity, is perhaps doubtful, generally speaking: one thing is certain, that many an honest fellow has had too much cause to "wonder why the devil he got an heir!" [FN#405]
Although no version or variant of the story of Khudadad and his Brothers has yet been found besides the one in the Turkish collection "Al-Faráj ba'd al-Shiddah," yet the elements of which it is composed occur in many European and Asiatic tales. As we have in Galland a story of sisters who envied their cadette, so, by way of justice to the "fair sex," we have likewise this tale of envious brothers, which is a favourite theme of popular fictions, only in the story of Khudadad, the brothers were not at first aware of the hero's kinship to them, though they had been informed of it when they most ungratefully cut and slashed him with their swords as he lay asleep by the side of his beauteous bride the Princess of Daryabár.
Sometimes it is not a brother, or brothers, but a treacherous friend or a secret, cowardly rival, who attempts the life of the hero and claims the credit and reward for his bold achievement. Many examples must occur to readers familiar with Icelandic, Norwegian, and German folk-tales which need not here be cited. In the old French romance of the Chevalier Berinus and his gallant son Aigres de l'Aimant, the King of Loquiferne is in love with the Princess Melia, daughter of a king named Absalon, who would give her only to the prince who should bring with him two knights prepared to combat with and slay two fierce lions, or would attempt this feat himself. None of the barons of the King of Loquiferne offering themselves for the adventure, Aigres undertakes it very readily, and is accompanied by a knight named Açars, who has charge of a casket of jewels destined for the princess as a wedding-gift. Young Aigres encounters and kills the lions singlehanded, and the lily-livered and faithless Açars envies him the glory of his exploit. On their way back to Loquiferne with the Princess Melia, as they pass near a deep well Açars purposely allows the casket of jewels to fall into it and pretends to be distracted at the misfortune. But the gallant Aigres securing one end of his horse's reins to the top of the well descends by this improvised rope, and when he dives into the water to recover the casket the rascal Açars cuts the reins and compels the princess and her maid to follow him. His triumph is brief, however, for Melia and her maid are taken from him, without his striking a blow in their defence, by a king who is in love with the princess. Açars proceeds to the court of the King of Loquiferne and tells him how the lady had been snatched out of his hands by a king who attacked him with a great army while Aigres had fled like a craven. Meanwhile Aigres contrives to get out of the well, and finds his steed and armour close by: he is fortunate in rescuing the princess and her maid from the king who had taken them from Açars, and arriving at the court of Loquiferne denounces Açars as a coward and traitor, and the princess Melia confirms his assertions; so the carpet-knight is for ever disgraced.
Another example not very generally known is found in the Urdú romance, "Gul-í Bakáwalí:" When the hero, Taj al-Malúk, the youngest son of King Zayn al-Malúk, is born, the astrologers cast his horoscope and predict that the king will lose his sight as soon as he looks upon him. In order to prevent such a calamity, the king causes the child and his mother to be placed in a house far distant from the city, where Zayn al-Malúk grows up into a handsome, courageous youth. By chance he meets his father, the king, while the latter is hunting, and the king no sooner casts his eyes on the youth than he becomes blind. The royal physicians tell him that only the Rose of Bakáwalí can restore his sight, and the four other sons of the king set out together to procure this wonderful flower. They fall victims to the wiles of a courtesan, who wins all their money at play and ultimately imprisons them in her house. In the meantime Taj al-Malúk has started on the same errand; he outwits the courtesan, obtains the liberation of his brothers, and then journeys to Jinnistán, where, by the help of a friendly demon, he plucks the Rose in the garden of the beauteous fairy Bakáwalí, and retraces his way homeward. Meeting with his four brothers on the road, he acquaints them of his success, and on their doubting the virtue of the flower, it is applied to the eyes of a blind man, and his sight is instantly restored. Upon this the brothers take the flower from Taj al-Malúk by force and hasten with it to their father. But the hero's friends the demons build for him a splendid palace, and the fame of his wealth soon reaches the court of his father, who, with the four brothers and the ministers of state, visits him, and after a great feast Taj al-Malúk makes himself known to the king and relates the whole story of how he procured the flower that had restored his sight. The king falls upon his son's neck and weeps tears of joy, saying, "You have restored the light of my eyes by the Rose of Bakáwalí, and by the sight of you the door of cheerfulness has been opened in my sorrowful heart. It is incumbent on me to make known this enlivening news to your mother, who has looked out for you with anxiety and I must cause her, who has been afflicted with grief at your absence, to drink the sherbet of the glad tidings of your safety." Then the king went to Taj al-Malúk's mother, made many apologies for his ill treatment of her, exalted her higher than she was previously, and gave her the joyful news of her son's arrival. The remainder of the romance recounts the marvellous adventures of the hero in fairyland, whither he proceeds to rejoin Bakáwalí, and where he undergoes many strange transformations; but ultimately all is "merry as marriage beds."--Nothing is said about the punishment or pardon of the treacherous brothers, but doubtless in the original form of the story the hero acted as generously towards them as did Khudadad when his father would have put the forty brothers to death. It seems somewhat strange that after Khudadad's brothers had killed him (as they believed) they did not take the Princess Daryabár away with them, which generally happens in stories of this kind.
The Story of the Blind Man, Baba Abdullah--p. 178.
An incident in the Muhammedan version of the legend of the Seven Sleepers may have furnished a hint for this well-told tale. When the evil-minded Dekianus views the Hid Treasure, which he had covenanted with the aged man who read the Tablet for him and conducted him to the spot should be equitably divided betwixt them--when he had beheld with wonder and astonishment the incalculable riches contained in the seven chambers, he says within himself, "And must I share this with the old man?" Then he ponders and thinks, "Nay, but I will give him a goodly portion ;" but finally he resolves to give him nothing--nay more, to take away his life so that there should be none on earth besides himself acquainted with the source of his wealth. In vain does the old man bid him take all the treasure and swear that he will ever preserve the secret: Dekianus smote him with his sword so that he died.
There is a tale in the Persian story-book "Shamsah wa Kahkahah" (also entitled "Mahbúb al-Kalúb") which bears some analogy to the story of the Blind Man, Baba Abdullah. A skilful geomancer is desired by a tradesman to cast his horoscope. He does so, and informs the tradesman that he is to find a treasure. The man is incredulous, but after the operation is repeated with the same result at length becomes convinced of the accuracy of the geomancer's calculations, locks his door, and forthwith they both begin to dig the floor. They come upon a large stone which on removal is found to have covered a well. The geomancer lowers the tradesman down it in a basket, which the latter fills with gold and silver and precious stones, and it is drawn up by the geomancer. When this has been repeated several times and the geomancer views the immense quantity of glittering treasure heaped up beside him, covetous thoughts enter his mind, and he determines to leave the tradesman to his fate at the bottom of the well, take all the wealth for himself, and live in comfort and luxury the rest of his days. Accordingly he does not again let the basket down, and the poor tradesman, suspecting his iniquitous design, calls out piteously to his perfidious friend, imploring him not to leave him there to perish, and swearing that the treasure should be equally shared as between brothers. But the covetous geomancer is deaf to his appeal, and begins to consider how the treasure might be conveyed to his own house without attracting the notice of any of the folk of the quarter, and in the midst of his cogitatious he falls asleep. Now it happened that the poor tradesman had an enemy who had long waited for an opportunity to do him a personal injury, and that very night he came to the house, and by means of a rope with a hook which he fastened to the wall he climbed on to the roof and descended into the place where the geomancer was sleeping. The man, mistaking him for the tradesman, seized the geomancer and with a sharp awl pierced his eyes, blinding him for ever. But, having thus effected his revenge as he thought, in groping his way out of the house he stumbled into the well and broke his foot. The tradesman, taking him for the geomancer, come for more gold, upbraided him for his insatiable avarice, and the man, in his turn, supposing him to have been thrown into the well by the tradesman, replied, "Be satisfied; I have punished him who cast you into this place," but as he began to howl from the pain of his broken foot, the tradesman knew that he was not the geomancer. Next morning the tradesman's son arrives from a long trading journey, with much gold and merchandise and many slaves. On entering his father's house he is astounded to perceive the open well and by the side of it a vast heap of treasure and a man holding both hands to his eyes and wailing bitterly, lamenting the covetousness which had caused him the loss of his eyesight. The young man sends a slave down into the well and the first person drawn up is the tradesman, who is both surprised and overjoyed to behold his son once more, and tells him the whole story. His enemy is then taken out and is dismayed to find that he has blinded the wrong man. Both the geomancer and the tradesman's enemy are pardoned, but the latter dies soon after, while the geomancer retires to a cave in the mountains, where every morning and evening two small loaves are thrown in to him by an unknown hand, and during the rest of his life he never ceased to repeat this distich:
If you possess one barley grain of justice,
You will never have half a grain of sorrow.
But much more closely resembling the story of Baba Adbullah is a tale in the Persian romance which recounts the imaginary adventures of Hatim Ta'í. A blind man is confined in a cage which is suspended from a branch of a tree, and constantly exclaims, "Do evil to none; if you do, evil will overtake you." Hatim having promised to mend his condition and relieve him, he relates his history as follows:
"I am by occupation a merchant, and my name is Hamír. When I became of age my father had finished the building of this city, and he called the same after my name. Shortly after, my father departed on a sea-voyage, and left me in charge of the city. I was a free hearted and social young man, and so in a short time expended all the property left under my care by my father. Thus I became surrounded with poverty and want, and as I knew that my father had hidden treasures somewhere in the house, I resolved to discover them if possible. I searched everywhere, but found nothing, and, to complete my woe, I received the news of my father's death, the ship in which he sailed being wrecked.
"One day as I was sauntering, mournful and dejected, through the bazár, I espied a learned man who cried out, 'If any one has lost his money by theft or otherwise, my knowledge of the occult sciences enables me to recover the same, but on condition that I receive one fourth of the amount.' When I heard this seasonable proclamation, I immediately approached the man of science, and stated to him my sad condition and how I had been reduced from affluence to poverty. The sage undertook to restore my wealth, and above all to discover the treasures concealed in my father's house. I conducted him to the house and showed him every apartment, which he carefully examined one after another. At length by his art he discovered the stores we were in search of; and when I saw the gold and silver and other valuables, which exceeded calculation, the demon of fraud entered my heart, and I refused to fulfil my promise of giving a fourth of the property to the man of wisdom. I offered him only a few small pieces of silver; instead of accepting which, he stood for a few moments in silent meditation, and with a look of scorn said, 'Do I thus receive the fourth part of your treasure which you agreed to give me? Base man, of what perjury are you guilty?' On hearing this I became enraged, and having struck him several blows on the face, I expelled him from my house. In a few days however he returned. and so far ingratiated himself into my confidence that we became intimate friends; and night and day he displayed before my sight the various hidden treasures contained within the bowels of the earth. One day I asked him to instruct me in this wonderful science, to which he answered that no instruction was requisite. 'Here,' said he, 'is a composition of surma and whoever applies the same to his eyes, to him will all the wealth of this world become visible.' [FN#406] 'Most learned sir,' I replied, 'if you will anoint mine eyes with this substance I promise to share with you the half of all such treasures as I may discover.' 'I agree,' said my friend; 'meanwhile let us retire to the desert, where we shall be free from interruption.'
"We immediately set out, and when we arrived there I was surprised at seeing this cage and asked my companion whose it was. I received for answer, that it belonged to no one. In short, we both sat down at the foot of this tree, and the sage, having produced the surma from his pocket, began to apply it to my eyes. But, alas! no sooner had he applied this composition than I became totally deprived of sight. In a voice of sorrow I asked him why he had thus treated me, and he replied, 'Such is the reward of treachery; and if you wish to recover your sight, you must for some time undergo penance in this cage. You must utter no complaint and you shall exclaim from time to time, 'Do no evil to any one; if you do, evil will befall you.' I entreated the sage to relieve me, saying, 'You are a mere mortal like myself, and dare you thus torment a fellow-creature? How will you account for your deeds to the Supreme Judge?' He answered, 'This is the reward of your treachery.' Seeing him inexorable, I begged of him to inform me when and how my sight was to be restored, and he told me, that a noble youth should one day visit me, and to him I was to make known my condition, and farther state, that in the desert of Himyar there is a certain herb called the Flower of Light, which the youth was to procure and apply to my eyes, by means of which my sight should be restored."
When the man in the cage had ended his story, the magnanimous Hatim bade him be of good cheer, for he would at once endeavour to relieve him. By the aid of the fairies, who carry him through the air for the space of seven days, he arrives in the desert where the Flowers of Light shine brilliant as lamps on a festival night, diffusing the sweetest perfume far and wide; and recking naught for the serpents, scorpions, and beasts of prey which infested the place (for he had a talisman that protected him), he advances and plucks three of the largest and most brilliant flowers. Returning in the same manner as he had gone thither, he reaches the spot where the blind man Hamir is imprisoned; taking down the cage, he releases the wretched man, compresses the stalk of the flower so that the juice drops upon his sightless eyeballs, and when this has been repeated three times Hamir opens his eyes, and seeing Hatim falls prostrate at his feet with a profusion of thanks.
Although there are some differences in the details of the story of Baba Abdullah and that of Hamir, as above, yet the general similarity between them is sufficient to warrant the conclusion that if one was not adapted from the other, both must have been derived from the same source; and here we have, I think, clear evidence of the genuineness of another of the tales which Galland was believed to have invented himself.
History of Sidi Nu'man--p. 187.
It is curious to find this current as a folk-tale at Palena, in the Abruzzi, without any material variation except in the conclusion. My friend, Mr. E. Sidney Hartland, has favoured me with the following abstract of the Italian version, as given in vol. iii. of the "Archivio per lo studio delle Tradizioni Popolari" (Palermo, 1882), p. 222:
There was once a husband and wife. The wife says that she cannot eat anything, and only picks a few grains of rice with a large pin. Her husband asks why she eats nothing, and she answers that she does not want to eat. Meantime she goes out secretly every night, and the husband begins to have suspicions of her. One night he follows her softly and finds she goes to the burial ground, where she meets with certain female companions. They open a grave and feed on the flesh of the dead. The next morning the husband cooks rice again, and the wife picks up a few grains of it with a pin as before. The husband exclaims, "What! you enjoy the flesh of dead men, and over rice you are so finical as to eat it with a pin!" The wife is so enraged at learning that her husband knows of her doings that she goes to the water-bucket, fills a small bottle from it, and having muttered certain words over the water flings it upon him and he instantly becomes transformed into a dog. A provision merchant sees him running about, and takes and sets him on his counter. When the people come to buy provisions the dog examines the money to see if it be good, and the false coin he throws on the ground. One day a man comes to buy bacon and offers false coin. The provision merchant refuses to take it; they dispute over the matter, and it is referred to the dog, who throws the money on the ground. The man is astonished, and returning home tells his wife, who at once says that the dog is not a dog, and desires her husband to bring her the animal that she may see it. The man returns to the provision merchant and begs him to lend him the dog for a little while, and takes it home. The wife, who is a companion of the wife of him who has been changed into a dog, and understands witchcraft, fills a bottle with water, pronounces certain words over it, and throws the water upon the dog, who immediately becomes a man again, and she advises him to do to his wife as she had done to him, and imparts the secret to him. As soon as he returns home he fills the bottle with water from the bucket, says the words he had learned, and throws the water over his wife, who becomes a mare. He drives her out of the house and beats her as flax is beaten. To every one who asks why he is thrashing the mare he tells his story, and the people say, "Serve her right!" This goes on for some time. At last, when the husband sees that his wife has voided enough foam from the mouth, with another dash of water he changes her back to her proper form, and henceforward she eats whatever is set before her, obeys her husband in all things, and never goes out by night again. So they live long, happy and contented.
This version from the Abruzzi so closely resembles the story of Sidi Nu'mán that we should perhaps be justified in concluding it to have been directly derived from Galland's Nights, in the absence of any Venetian version, which might well have been imported independently from the East, but however this may be, the story in Galland bears unquestionable internal evidence that it is a genuine Arabian narrative, having nothing peculiarly European in its details.
A somewhat similar story is quite familiar to me, but I cannot at present call to mind whether it occurs in a Persian collection or in The Nights, in which the woman going out when she thinks her husband asleep, the latter follows her to a hut at some distance which she enters, and peeping into the hut, he sees a hideous black give her a severe beating for not coming sooner, while she pleads that she could not venture to quit the house until her husband was sound asleep. The two carouse together, and by-and-by the black going outside for a purpose, the husband strikes off his head with his sword and then conceals himself close by. The woman, after waiting some time, goes out to see what is detaining her paramour, and finding his headless body, she moans over it in great sorrow, and then taking the corpse on her back carries it away and throws it into the river. Her husband hastens home before her, and so she suspects nothing. Some days after, when she refuses to do some light work because of her physical weakness, her husband can no longer control himself, and tells her that she had strength enough to carry on her back the body of her black paramour, and so on. [FN#407]
The ghoul-wife of Arabian tales, who eats little or nothing at home, has her in the rákshasí of Indian fictions, who secretly devours antelopes, etc. There are many parallels in The Nights and other Asiatic story-books to the incident of Sidi Nu'man being changed back into his proper form, the most noteworthy being perhaps the case of the Second Calender in the shape of a monkey, or ape, whom the princess, an adept in white magic, at once recognizes as a man and veils her face, as does the young woman in the case of Sidi Nu'man: but while the Calender is restored to his own form, the princess, alas! perishes in her encounter with the genie who had transformed him.--In most of the Arabian tales of magical transformations of men and women into beasts the victims are ultimately restored to their natural forms, but in the Indian romance of the princess Somasekhara and Chitrasekhara, a wicked king named Ugrabáhu is permanently changed by some water taken from a magic fountain into a monkey and sold to a beggar, who compels him to perform tricks in public for his benefit. Heywood, in his "History of Women" (Book viii.), cites some curious European stories of men being transformed into donkeys by eating a certain kind of cheese,
History of Khwajah Hasan Al-habbal--p. 198.
How this entertaining story found its way into North Germany--and nowhere else in Europe, so far as I am aware--it is not easy to say, but its twin-brother seems to be orally current there, in all essential details, excepting the marvellous conclusion. For the poor ropemaker, however, a struggling weaver and for the two gentlemen, Sa'd and Sa'dí, three rich students are substituted. There does not appear (according to the version given by Thorpe in his "Yule Tide Stories," which he entitles, not inaptly, The Three Gifts) to be any difference of opinion among the students regarding the influence of Destiny, or Fate, upon men's fortunes: they simply give the poor weaver a hundred dollars "to assist him in his housekeeping." The weaver hides the money in a heap of rags, unknown to his wife, who sells them to a rag-collector for a trifling sum. A year afterwards the students are again passing the house of the weaver and find him poorer than ever. He tells them of his mishap and they give him another hundred dollars warning him to be more careful with the money this time. The weaver conceals the dollars in the ash-tub, again without the cognisance of his wife, who disposes of the ashes for a few pieces of soap. At the end of the second year the students once more visit the wretched weaver, and on being informed of his loss, they throw a bit of lead at his feet, saying it's of no use to give such a fool money, and go away in a great huff. The weaver picks up the lead and places it on the window sill. By-and-by a neighbour, who is a fisherman, comes in and asks for a bit of lead or some other heavy thing, for his net, and on receiving the lead thrown down by the students promises to give him in return the first large fish he catches. The weaver does get a fine fish, which he immediately cuts open, and finds in its stomach a "large stone," which he lays on the window-sill, where, as it becomes dark, the stone gives forth a brighter and brighter light, "just like a candle," and then he places it so that it illuminates the whole apartment. "That's a cheap lamp," quoth he to his wife: "wouldst not like to dispose of it as thou didst the two hundred dollars?" The next evening a merchant happening to ride past the weaver's house perceives the brilliant stone, and alighting from his horse, enters and looks at it, then offers ten dollars for it, but the weaver says the stone is not for sale. "What! not even for twenty dollars?" "Not even for that." The merchant keeps on increasing his offers till he reaches a thousand dollars, which was about half its real value, for the stone was a diamond, and which the weaver accepts, and thus he becomes the richest man in all the village. His wife, however, took credit to herself for his prosperity, often saying to him, "How well it was that I threw away the money twice, for thou hast me to thank for thy good luck!"--and here the German story ends. For the turban of the ropemaker and the kite that carried it off, with its precious lining, we have the heap of rags and the rag-collector; but the ashes exchanged for soap agrees with the Arabian story almost exactly.
The incident of the kite carrying off the poor ropemaker's turban in which he had deposited the most part of the gold pieces that he received from the gentleman who believed that "money makes money"--an unquestionable fact, in spite of our story--is of very frequent occurrence in both Western and Eastern fictions. My readers will recollect its exact parallel in the abstract of the romance of Sir Isumbras, cited in Appendix to the preceding volumes: how the Knight, with his little son, after the soudan's ship has sailed away with his wife, is bewildered in a forest, where they fall asleep, and in the morning at sunrise when he awakes, an eagle pounces down and carries off his scarlet mantle, in which he had tied up his scanty store of provisions together with the gold he had received from the soudan; and how many years after he found it in a bird's nest (Supp. Nights, vol. ii. p. 260 and p. 263).--And, not to multiply examples, a similar incident occurs in the "Kathá Sarit Ságara," Book ix. ch. 54, where a merchant named Samudrasúra is shipwrecked and contrives to reach the land, where he perceives the corpse of a man, round the loins of which is a cloth with a knot in it. On unfastening the cloth he finds in it a necklace studded with jewels. The merchant proceeds towards a city called Kalasapuri, carrying the necklace in his hand. Overpowered by the heat, he sits down in a shady place and falls asleep. The necklace is recognised by some passing policemen as that of the king's daughter, and the merchant is at once taken before the king and accused of having stolen it. While the merchant is being examined, a kite swoops down and carries off the necklace. Presently a voice from heaven declares that the merchant is innocent, explains how the necklace came into his possession, and orders the king to dismiss him with honour. This celestial testimony in favour of the accused satisfies the king, who gives the merchant much wealth and sends him on his way. The rest of the story is as follows: "And after he had crossed the sea, he travelled with a caravan, and one day, at evening time, he reached a wood. The caravan encamped in the wood for the night, and while Samudrasúra was awake a powerful host of bandits attacked it. While the bandits were massacring the members of the caravan, Samudrasúra left his wares and fled, and climbed up a banyan-tree without being discovered. The host of bandits departed, after they had carried off all the wealth, and the merchant spent that night there, perplexed with fear and distracted with grief. In the morning he cast his eves towards the top of the tree, and saw, as fate would have it, what looked like the light of a lamp, trembling among the leaves. And in his astonishment he climbed up the tree and saw a kite's nest, in which there was a heap of glittering priceless jewelled ornaments. He took them all out of it, and found among the ornaments that necklace which he had found in Svarnadvípa and the kite had carried off. He obtained from that nest unlimited wealth, and descending from the tree, he went off delighted, and reached in course of time his own city of Harshapúra. There the merchant Samudrasúra remained, enjoying himself to his heart's content, with his family, free from the desire of any other wealth."
There is nothing improbable--at all events, nothing impossible--in the History of Khwajah Hasan al-Habbál. That he should lose the two sums of money in the manner described is quite natural, and the incidents carry with them the moral: "Always take your wife into your confidence" (but the Khwajah was a Muslim), notwithstanding the great good luck which afterwards befell, and which, after all, was by mere chance. There is nothing improbable in the finding of the turban with the money intact in the bird's nest, but that this should occur while the Khwajah's benefactors were his guests is--well, very extraordinary indeed! As to the pot of bran--why, some little license must be allowed a story-teller, that is all that need be said! The story from beginning to end is a most charming one, and will continue to afford pleasure to old and young--to "generations yet unborn."
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves--p.219
I confess to entertaining a peculiar affection for this tale. It was the first of the tales of the "Arabian Nights Entertainments" which I read in the days of my "marvelling boyhood" eheu! fugaces, &c, etc. I may therefore be somewhat prejudiced in its favour, just as I still consider Scott's "Waverley" as the best of his long series of fascinating fictions, that being the first of them which I read--as it was the first he wrote. But "All Baba and the Forty Thieves"--the "open, sesame!" "shut, sesame!"--the sackfuls of gold and silver and the bales of rich merchandise in the robbers' cave--the avaricious brother forgetting the magical formula which would open the door and permit him to escape with his booty--his four quarters hung up in terrorem--and above all, the clever, devoted slave girl Morgiana, who in every way outwitted the crafty robber-chief,--these incidents remain stamped in my memory ineffaceably: like the initials of lovers' names cut into the bark of a growing tree, which, so far from disappearing, become larger by the lapse of time. To me this delightful tale will ever be, as Hafiz sings of something, "freshly fresh and newly new." I care not much though it never be found in an Arabic or any other Oriental dress--but that it is of Asiatic invention is self-evident; there is, in my poor opinion nothing to excel it, if indeed to equal it, for intense interest and graphic narrative power in all The Nights proper.
Sir Richard Burton has remarked, in note 1, p. 219, that Mr. Coote could only find in the south of Europe, or in the Levant, analogues of two of the incidents of this tale, yet one of those may be accepted as proof of its Eastern extraction, namely, the Cyprian story of "Three Eyes," where the ogre attempts to rescue his wife with a party of blacks concealed in bales: "The King's jester went downstairs, in order to open the bales and takes something out of them. Directly he approached one of the sacks, the black man answered from the inside,'Is it time, master?' In the same manner he tried all the sacks, and then went upstairs and told them that the sacks were full of black men. Directly the King's bride heard this, she made the jester and the company go downstairs. They take the executioner with them, and go to the first sack. The black man says from the inside, 'Is it time ?' 'Yes,' say they to him, and directly he came out they cut his head off. In the same manner they go to the other sacks and kill the other black men.'' [FN#408]
The first part of the tale of Ali Baba--ending with the death of his greedy brother--is current in North Germany, to this effect:
A poor woodcutter, about to fell a beech at the back of the scattered ruins of the castle of Dummburg, seeing a monk approach slowly through the forest, hid himself behind a tree. The monk passed by and went among the rocks. The woodcutter stole cautiously after him and saw that he stopped at a small door which had never been discovered by the villagers. The monk knocks gently and cries, "Little door, open!" and the door springs open. He also cries, "Little door, shut!" and the door is closed. The woodcutter carefully observes the place, and next Sunday goes secretly and obtains access to the vault by the same means as that employed by the monk. He finds in it "large open vessels and sacks full of old dollars and fine guilders, together with heavy gold pieces, caskets filled with jewels and pearls, costly shrines and images of saints, which lay about or stood on tables of silver in corners of the vault." He takes but a small quantity of the coin, and as he is quitting the vault a voice cries, "Come again!" First giving to the church, for behoof of the poor, a tenth of what he had taken, he goes to the town and buys clothes for his wife and children, giving out to his neighbours that he had found an old dollar and a few guilders under the roots of a tree that he had felled. Next Sunday he again visits the vault, this time supplying himself somewhat more liberally from the hoard, but still with moderation and discretion, and "Come again!" cries a voice as he is leaving. He now gives to the church two tenths, and resolves to bury the rest of the money he had taken in his cellar. But he can't resist a desire to first measure the gold, for he could not count it. So he borrows for this purpose a corn-measure of a neighbour--a very rich but penurious man, who starved himself, hoarded up corn, cheated the labourer of his hire, robbed the widow and the orphan, and lent money on pledges. Now the measure had some cracks in the bottom, through which the miser shook some grains of corn into his own heap when selling it to the poor labourer, and into these cracks two or three small coins lodged, which the miser was not slow to discover. He goes to the woodcutter and asks him what it was he had been measuring. "Pine-cones and beans. But the miser holds up the coins he had found in the cracks of the measure, and threatens to inform upon him and have him put to the question if he will not disclose to him the secret of his money. So the woodcutter is constrained to tell him the whole story and much against his will, but not before he had made the miser promise that he would give one-tenth to the church, he conducts him to the vault. The miser enters, with a number of sacks, the woodcutter waiting outside to receive them when filled with treasure. But while the miser is gloating over the enormous wealth before him--even "wealth beyond the dreams of avarice"--a great black dog comes and lays himself down on the sacks. Terrified at the flaming eyes of the dog, the miser crept towards the door but in his fear forgot the proper words, and instead of saying, "Little door, open!" he cried!, "Little door, shut!" The woodcutter, having waited a long time, approached the door, and knocking gently and crying "Little door, open!" the door sprang open and he entered. There lay the bleeding body of his wicked neighbour, stretched on his sacks, but the vessels of gold and silver, and diamonds and pearls, sank deeper and deeper into the earth before his eyes, till all had completely vanished. [FN#409]
The resemblance which this North German tale bears to the first part of "All Baba" is striking, and is certainly not merely fortuitous; the fundamental outline of the latter is readily recognisable in the legend of The Dummburg, notwithstanding differences in the details. In both the hero is a poor woodcutter, or faggot-maker; for the band of robbers a monk is substituted in the German legend, and for the "open, sesame" and "shut, sesame," we have "little door, shut," and "little door, open." In both the borrowing of a corn-measure is the cause of the secret being revealed--in the one case, to Kasim, the greedy brother of Ali Baba and in the other, to a miserly old hunks; the fate of the latter and the disappearance of all the treasure are essentially German touches. The subsequent incidents of the tale of Ali Baba, in which the main interest of the narrative is concentrated;--Ali Baba's carrying off the four quarters of his brother's body and having them sewed together, the artifices by which the slave-girl checkmates the robber-chief and his followers in their attempts to discover the man who had learned the secret of the treasure-cave--her marking all the doors in the street and her pouring boiling oil on the robbers concealed in the oil-skins in the courtyard;--these incidents seem to have been adapted, or imitated, from some version of the world-wide story of the Robbery of the Royal Treasury, as told by Herodotus, of Rhampsinitus, King of Egypt, in which the hero performs a series of similar exploits to recover the headless body of his brother and at the same time escape detection. Moreover, the conclusion of the tale of Ali Baba, where we are told he lived in comfort and happiness on the wealth concealed in the robbers' cave, and "in after days he showed the hoard to his sons and his sons' sons, and taught them how the door could be caused to open and shut"--this is near akin to the beginning of Herodotus' legend of the treasury: the architect who built it left a stone loose, yet so nicely adjusted that it could not be discovered by any one not in the secret, by removing which he gained access to the royal stores of gold, and having taken what he wanted replaced the stone as before; on his deathbed he revealed the secret to his two sons as a legacy for their future maintenance. The discovery of Ali Baba's being possessed of much money from some coins adhering to the bottom of the corn-measure is an incident of very frequent occurrence in popular fictions; for instance, in the Icelandic story of the Magic Queen that ground out gold or whatever its possessor desired (Powell and Magnusson's collection, second series); in the Indian tale of the Six Brothers (Vernieux's collection) and its Irish analogue "Little Fairly;" in the modern Greek popular tale of the Man with Three Grapes (Le Grand's French collection), and a host of other tales, both Western and Eastern. The fate of Ali Baba's rich and avaricious brother, envious of his good luck, finds also many parallels--mutatis mutandis--as in the story of the Magic Queen, already referred to, and the Mongolian tale of the poor man and the Dakinis, the 14th relation of Siddhí Kúr. Morgiana's counter-device of marking all the doors in the street, so that her master's house should not be recognised, often occurs, in different forms: in my work on Popular Tales and Fictions, vol. ii. pp. 164, 165, a number of examples are cited. The pretended merchant's objecting to eat meat cooked with salt, which fortunately aroused Morgiana's suspicions of his real character-for robber and murderer as he was, he would not be "false to his salt'' [FN#410]--recalls an anecdote related by D'Herbelot, which may find a place here, in conclusion: The famous robber Yacúb bin Layth, afterwards the founder of a dynasty of Persian monarchs called Soffarides, in one of his expeditions broke into the royal palace and having collected a large quantity of plunder, was on the point of carrying it off when his foot struck against something which made him stumble. Supposing it not to be an article of value, he put it to his mouth, the better to distinguish it. From the taste he found it was a lump of salt, the symbol and pledge of hospitality, on which he was so touched that he retired immediately without carrying away any part of his booty. The next morning the greatest astonishment was caused throughout the palace on the discovery of the valuables packed up and ready for removal. Yacub was arrested and brought before the prince, to whom he gave a faithful account of the whole affair, and by this means so ingratiated himself with his sovereign that he employed him as a man of courage and ability in many arduous enterprises, in which he was so successful as to be raised to the command of the royal troops, whose confidence in and affection for their general induced them on the prince's death to prefer his interest to that of the heir to the throne, from whence he afterwards spread his extensive conquests.
* * * * * * * * * *
Since the foregoing was in type I discovered that I had overlooked another German version, in Grimm, which preserves some features of the Arabian tale omitted in the legend of The Dummburg:
There were two brothers, one rich, the other poor. The poor brother, one day wheeling a barrow through the forest, had just come to a naked looking mountain, when he saw twelve great wild men approaching, and he hid himself in a tree, believing them to be robbers. "Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, open!" they cried, and the mountain opened, and they went in. Presently they came out, carrying heavy sacks. "Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, shut thyself!" they cried; and the mountain closed and they went away. The poor man went up then and cried. "Semsi mountain Semsi mountain, open!" the mountain opens, he goes in, finds a cavern full of gold, silver, and jewels, fills his pockets with gold only, and coming out cries, "Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, shut thyself!" He returns home and lives happily till his gold is exhausted. Then "he went to his brother to borrow a measure that held a bushel, and brought himself some more." This he does again, and this time the rich brother smears the inside of the bushel with pitch and when he gets it back finds a gold coin sticking to it, so he taxes his poor brother with having treasure and learns the secret. Off he drives, resolved to bring back, not gold, but jewels. He gets in by saying, "Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, open!" He loads himself with precious stones, but has forgotten the word, and cries only, "Simeli mountain, Simeli mountain, open!" The robbers return and charge him with having twice stolen from them. He vainly protests, "It was not I " and they cut his head off.
Here the twelve wild men represent the forty robbers, and, as in Ali Baba, it is the hero's brother who falls a victim to his own cupidity. In the Arabian tale the hero climbs up into a tree when he sees the robbers approach, in The Dummburg he hides himself behind a tree to watch the proceedings of the monk; and in Grimm's version he hides in a tree. On this last-cited story W. Grimm has the following note: "It is remarkable that this story, which is told in the province of Munster, is told also in the Hartz, about The Dummburg, and closely resembles the Eastern story of 'The Forty Thieves,' where even the rock Sesam, which falls open at the words Semsi and Semeli, recalls the name of the mountain in the German saga. This name for a mountain is, according to a document in Pistorius (3, 642), very ancient in Germany. A mountain in Grabfeld is called Similes and in a Swiss song a Simeliberg is again mentioned. This makes us think of the Swiss word 'Sine!,' for 'sinbel,' round. In Meier, No. 53, we find 'Open, Simson.' In Prohle's 'Marcher fur die Jugend,' No. 30, where the story is amplified, it is Simsimseliger Mountain. There is also a Polish story which is very like it." Dr. Grimm is mistaken in saying that in the Arabian tale the "rock Sesam" falls open at the words Semsi and Semeli: even in his own version, as the brother finds to his cost, the word Simeli does not open the rock. In Ali Baba the word is "Simsim" (Fr. Sesame), a species of grain, which the brother having forgot, he cries out "Barley." The "Open, Simson" in Meier's version and the "Semsi" in Grimm's story are evidently corruptions of "Simsim," or "Samsam," and seem to show that the story did not become current in Germany through Galland's work.
Dr. N. B. Dennys, in his "Folk-Lore of China, and its Affinities with that of the Aryan and Semitic Races," p. 134, cites a legend of the cave Kwang-sio-foo in Kiang-si, which reflects part of the tale of Ali Baba: There was in the neighbourhood a poor herdsman named Chang, his sole surviving relative being a grandmother with whom he lived. One day, happening to pass near the cave, he overheard some one using the following words: "Shih mun kai, Kwai Ku hsen shêng lai," Stone door, open; Mr. Kwai Ku is coming. Upon this the door of the cave opened and the speaker entered. Having remained there for some time he came out, and saying, "Stone door, close; Mr. Kwai Ku is going," the door again opened and the visitor departed. Chang's curiosity was naturally excited, and having several times heard the formula repeated, he waited one day until the genie (for such he was) had taken his departure and essayed to obtain an entrance. To his great delight the door yielded, and having gone inside he found himself in a romantic grotto of immense extent. Nothing however in the shape of treasure met his eye, so having fully explored the place he returned to the door, which shut at his bidding, and went home. Upon telling his grandmother of his adventure she expressed a strong wish to see the wonderful cavern; and thither they accordingly went together the next day. Wandering about in admiration of the scenery, they became separated, and Chang at length, supposing that his grandmother had left, passed out of the door and ordered it to shut. Reaching home, he found to his dismay that she had not yet arrived. She must of course have been locked up in the cave, so back he sped and before long was using the magic sentence to obtain access. But alas! the talisman had failed, and poor Chang fell into an agony of apprehension as he reflected that his grandmother would either be starved to death or killed by the enraged genie. While in this perplexity the genie appeared and asked him what was amiss. Chang frankly told him the truth and implored him to open the door. This the genie refused to do, but told him that his grandmother's disappearance was a matter of fate. The cave demanded a victim. Had it been a male, every succeeding generation of his family would have seen one of its members arrive at princely rank. In the case of a woman her descendants would in a similar way possess power over demons. Somewhat comforted to know that he was not exactly responsible for his grandmother's death, Chang returned home and in process of time married. His first son duly became Chang tien shih (Chang, the Master of Heaven), who about A.D. 25 was the first holder of an office which has existed uninterruptedly to the present day.
Ali Khwajah and the Merchant of Baghdad--p. 246.
Precocious Children.--See note at end of the Tale, p. 256.--In the (apocryphal) Arabic Gospel of the Saviour's Infancy is the following passage:
"Now in the month of Adar, Jesus, after the manner of a King, assembled the boys together. They spread their clothes on the ground and he sat down upon them. Then they put on his head a crown made of flowers, and like chamber-servants stood in his presence, on the right and on the left, as if he was a king. And whoever passed by that way was forcibly dragged by the boys, saying, 'Come hither and adore the king; then go away.'"
A striking parallel to this is found in the beginning of the Mongolian Tales of Ardshi Bordshi--i.e., the celebrated Indian monarch, Rájá Bhoja, as given in Miss Busk's "Sagas from the Far East," p. 252.
"Long ages ago there lived a mighty king called Ardshi Bordshi. [FN#411] In the neighbourhood of his residence was a hill where the boys who were tending the calves were wont to pass the time by running up and down. But they had also another custom, and it was that whichever of them won the race was king for the day--an ordinary game enough, only that when it was played in this place the Boy-King thus constituted was at once endowed with such extraordinary importance and majesty that everyone was constrained to treat him as a real king. He had not only ministers and dignitaries among his playfellows, who prostrated themselves before him, and fulfilled all his behests, but whoever passed that way could not choose but pay him homage also." [FN#412]
This is followed by an analogous story to that of Ah Khwajah and the Merchant of Baghdad, under the title of "The False Friend," in which a merchant on a trading journey entrusts a friend with a valuable jewel to give to his wife on his return home, and the friend retaining it for his own use suborns two men to bear witness that they saw him deliver it to the merchant's wife, so the King dismisses the suit. But the Boy-King undertakes to try the case de novo; causes the two witnesses to be confined in separate places, each with a piece of clay which he is required to make into the form of the jewel, and the models are found to be different one from the other, and both from the shape of the jewel as described by the false friend. A similar story occurs in several Indian collections, with a Kází instead of the Boy-King.
A curious instance of precocity is related in the Third Book of the "Masnavi" (see ante p. 365), of which Mr. E. H. Whinfield gives an outline in his admirable and most useful abridgment of that work: The boys wished to obtain a holiday, and the sharpest of them suggested that when the master came into school each boy should condole with him on his alleged sickly appearance. Accordingly, when he entered, one said, "O master, how pale you are looking! and another said, You are looking very ill to-day, and so on. The master at first answered that there was nothing the matter with him, but as one boy after another continued assuring him that he looked very ill, he was at length deluded into imagining that he must really be ill. So he returned to his house, making the boys follow him there, and told his wife that he was not well, bidding her mark how pale he was. His wife assured him he was not looking pale, and offered to convince him by bringing a mirror, but he refused to look at it, and took to his bed. He then ordered the boys to begin their lessons; but they assured him that the noise made his head ache, and he believed them, and dismissed them to their homes, to the annoyance of their mothers.
Another example of juvenile cleverness is found in a Persian collection of anecdotes entitled "Latá'yif At-Taw'áyif," by 'Alí ibn Husain Al-Va'iz Al-Káshifí: One day Núrshírván saw in a dream that he was drinking with a frog out of the same cup. When he awoke he told this dream to his vazír, but he knew not the interpretation of it. The king grew angry and said, "How long have I maintained thee, that if any difficulty should arise thou mightest unloose the knot of it, and if any matter weighed on my heart thou shouldst lighten it? Now I give thee three days, that thou mayest find out the meaning of this dream, and remove the trouble of my mind; and if, within that space, thou art not successful, I will kill thee." The vazír went from the presence of Núrshírván confounded and much in trouble. He gathered together all the sages and interpreters of dreams, and told the matter to them, but they were unable to explain it; and the vazír resigned his soul to death. But this story was told in the city, and on the third day he heard that there was a mountain, ten farsangs distant from the city, in which was a cave, and in this cave a sage who had chosen the path of seclusion, and lived apart from mankind, and had turned his face to the wall. The vazír set out for this place of retirement, saying to himself, "Perhaps he will be able to lay a plaster on my wound, and relieve it from the throbbings of care." So he mounted his horse, and went to find the sage. At the moment he arrived at the hill a company of boys were playing together. One of them cried out with a loud voice, "The vazír is running everywhere in search of an interpreter, and all avails him nothing; now the interpretation of the dream is with me, and the truth of it is clear to me." When these words reached the ears of the vazír he drew in the reins, and calling the boy to him asked him, "What is thy name? He replied, "Buzurjmibr." The vazír said "All the sages and interpreters have failed in loosing the knot of this difficulty--how dost thou, so young in years, pretend to be able to do it? He replied, "All the world is not given to every one." The vazír said, "If thou speakest truth, explain." Said the boy "Take me to the monarch, that I may there unloose the knot of this difficulty." The vazír said, "If thou shouldst fail, what then will come of it?" The boy replied, "I will give up my own blood to the king, that they may slay me instead of thee." The vazír took the boy with him, returned, and told the whole matter to the king and produced the boy in his presence. The king was very angry, and said, "All the wise men and dream interpreters of the court were unable to satisfy me, and thou bringest me a child, and expectest that he shall loose the knot of the difficulty." The vazír bowed his head. And Buzurjmihr said, "Look not upon his youth, but see whether he is able to expound the mystery or not." The king then said, "Speak." He replied, "I cannot speak in this multitude." So those who were present retired, and the monarch and the youth were left alone. Then said the youth, "A stranger has found entrance into thy seraglio, and is dishonouring thee, along with a girl who is one of thy concubines." The king was much moved at this interpretation, and looked from one of the wise men to another, and at length said to the boy, "This is a serious matter thou hast asserted; how shall this matter be proceeded in, and in what way fully known?" The boy replied, "Command that every beautiful woman in thy seraglio pass before thee unveiled, that the truth of this matter may be made apparent." The king ordered them to pass before him as the boy had said, and considered the face of each one attentively. Among them came a young girl extremely beautiful, whom the king much regarded. When she came opposite to him, a shuddering as of palsy, fell upon her, and she shook from head to foot, so that she was hardly able to stand. The king called her to him, and threatening her greatly, bade her speak the truth. She confessed that she loved a handsome slave and had privately introduced him into the seraglio. The king ordered them both to be impaled, and turning to the rewarding of Buzurjmihr, he made him the object of his special bounty.
This story has been imported into the "History of the Seven Wise Masters of Rome," the European form of the Book of Sindibád, where the prince discovers to his father the paramour of his step-mother, the empress, in the person of a young man disguised as one of her maid-servants, and its presence in the work is quite inconsistent with the lady's violent lust after the young prince. There is a similar tale in the Hebrew version, "Mishlé Sandabar," but the disguised youth is not detected. Vatsyayana, in his "Káma Sutra" (or Aphorisms of Love), speaks of it as a common practice in India thus to smuggle men into the women's apartments in female attire. In the Introduction to the "Kathá Sarit Ságara," Vararuchi relates how King Yogananda saw his queen leaning out of a window and asking questions of a Báhman guest that was looking up. That trivial circumstance threw the king into a passion, and he gave orders that the Bráhman should be put to death) for jealousy interferes with discernment. Then as that Bráhman was being led off to the place of execution in order that he should be put to death, a fish in the market laughed aloud, though it was dead. The king hearing it immediately prohibited for the present the execution of the Bráhman, and asked Vararuchi the reason why the fish laughed. He desired time to think over the matter and learned from the conversation of a rákshasí with her children that the fish said to himself, "All the king's wives are dissolute, for in every part of his harem there are men dressed up as women, and nevertheless while those escape, an innocent Brahmán is to be put to death;" and this tickled the fish so that he laughed. Mr. Tawney says that Dr. Liebrecht, in "Orient und Occident," vol. i. p. 341, compares this story with one in the old French romance of Merlin. There Merlin laughs because the wife of Julius Cæsar had twelve young men disguised as ladies-in-waiting. Benfey, in a note on Liebrecht's article, compares with the story of Merlin one by the Countess d'Aulnois, No. 36 of Basile's "Pentamerone," Straparola, iv. 1, and a story in the "Suka Saptati." In this some cooked fish laugh so that the whole town hears them; the reason being the same as in the above story and in that of Merlin. In a Kashmírí version, which has several other incidents and bears a close resemblance to No. 4 of M. Legrand's "Recueil de Contes Populaires Grecs," to the story of "The Clever Girl" in Professor T. F. Crane's "Italian Popular Tales," and to a fable in the Talmud, the king requires his vazír to inform him within six months why the fish laughed in presence of the queen. The vazír sends his son abroad until the king's anger had somewhat cooled--for himself he expects nothing but death. The vazír's son learns from the clever daughter of a farmer that the laughing of the fish indicates that there is a man in the palace unknown to the king. He hastens home and tells his father the secret, who at once communicates it to the king. All the female attendants in the palace are called together and ordered to jump across the mouth of a pit which he has caused to be dug: the man would betray his sex in the trial. Only one person succeeded and he was found to be a man. [FN#413] Thus was the queen satisfied, and the faithful old vazír saved, and his son, of course, married the farmer's clever daughter.
Prince Ahmad and the Peri Banu--p. 256.
How, in the name of all that is wonderful--how has it happened that this ever-delightful tale is not found in any text of The Nights? And how could it be supposed for a moment that Galland was capable of conceiving such a tale--redolent, as it is, of the East and of Fairyland? Not that Fairyland where "True Thomas," otherwise ycleped Thomas the Rymer, otherwise Thomas of Erceldoune, passed several years in the bewitching society of the Fairy Queen, years which appeared to him as only so many moments: but Eastern Fairyland, with all its enchanting scenes; where priceless gems are as plentiful as "autumnal leaves which strong the brooks in Vallombrosa;" where, in the royal banqueting hall, illuminated with hundreds of wax candles, in candelabra of the finest amber and the purest crystal are bands of charming damsels, fairest of form and feature, who play on sweet- toned instruments which discourse heart-ravishing strains of melody;--meanwhile the beauteous Perí Bánú is seated on a throne adorned with diamonds and rubies and emeralds, and pearls and other gems, and by her side is the thrice-happy Prince Ahmad, who feels himself amply indemnified for the loss of his fair cousin Princess Núr-en-Nihár. Auspicious was that day when he shot the arrow which the enamoured Perí Bánú caused to be wafted through the air much farther than arm of flesh could ever send the feathered messenger! And when the Prince feels a natural longing to visit his father in the land of mortals from time to time, behold the splendid cavalcade issue from the portals of the fairy palace--the gallant jinn-born cavaliers, mounted on superb steeds with gorgeous housings, who accompany him to his father's capital. But alas! the brightest sky is sooner or later overcast--human felicity is--etc., etc. The old king's mind is poisoned against his noble son by the whisperings of a malignant and envious minister--a snake in the grass--a fly in the ointment of Prince Ahmad's beatitude! And to think of the old witch gaining access to the fairy palace--it was nothing less than an atrocity! And the tasks which she induces the king to set Prince Ahmad to perform--but they are all accomplished for him by his fairy bride. The only thing to regret--the fatal blemish in the tale--is the slaughter of the old king. Shabbar did right well to dash into the smallest pieces the wicked vazír and the foul witch and all who aided and abetted them, but "to kill a king!" and a well-meaning if soft-headed king, who was, like many better men, led astray by evil counsellors!
Having thus blown off the steam--I mean to say, having thus ventilated the enthusiasm engendered by again reading the tale of Prince Ahmad and the Perí Bánú, I am now in a fitter frame of mind for the business of examining some versions and variants of it, for though the tale has not yet been found in Arabic, it is known from the banks of Ganga to the snow-clad hills and vales of Iceland--that strange land whose heart is full of the fiercest fires. This tale, like that of Zayn al-Asnám, comprises two distinct stories, which have no necessary connection, to wit, (1) the adventures of the Three Princes, each in quest of the rarest treasure, wherewith to win the beautiful Princess Núr-en-Nihár; and (2) the subsequent history of the third Prince and the Perí Bánú. The oldest known form of the story concludes with the recovery of the lady--not from death's door, but from a giant who had carried her off, and the rival claims of the heroes to the hand of the lady are left undecided: certainly a most unsatisfactory ending, though it must be confessed the case was, as the priest found that of Paddy and the stolen pullet, somewhat "abstruse." In the "Vetálapanchavinsati," or Twenty-five Tales of a Vampyre (concerning which collection see Appendix to the preceding volumes, p. 230), the fifth recital is to this purpose:
There was a Bráhman in Ajjayini (Oojein) whose name was Harisvamin; he had a son named Devasvamin and a daughter far famed for her wondrous beauty and rightly called Somaprabha (Moonlight). When the maiden had attained marriageable age, she declared to her parents that she was only to be married to a man who possessed heroism, or knowledge, or magic power. It happened soon after this that Harisvamin was sent by the king on state business to the Dekkan, and while there a young Bráhman, who had heard the report of Somaprabha's beauty, came to him as a suitor for the hand of his daughter. Harisvamin informed him of the qualifications which her husband must possess, and the Bráhman answered that he was endowed with magic power, and having shown this to the father's satisfaction, he promised to give him his daughter on the seventh day from that time. In like manner, at home, the son and the wife of Harisvamin had, unknown to each other, promised Somaprabha to a young man who was skilled in the use of missile weapons and was very brave, and to a youth who possessed knowledge of the past, the present, and the future; and the marriage was also fixed to take place on the seventh day. When Harisvamin returned home he at once told his wife and son of the contract he has entered into with the young Bráhman, and they in their turn acquainted him of their separate engagements, and all were much perplexed what course to adopt in the circumstances.
On the seventh day the three suitors arrived, but Somaprabha was found to have disappeared in some inexplicable manner. The father then appealed to the man of knowledge, saying, "Tell me where my daughter is gone?" He replied, "She has been carried off by a rákshasa to his habitation in the Vindhya forest." Then quoth the man of magic power "Be of good cheer, for I will take you in a moment where the possessor of knowledge says she is." And forthwith he prepared a magic chariot that could fly through the air, provided all sorts of weapons, and made Harisvamin, the man of knowledge, and the brave man enter it along with himself, and in a moment carried them to the dwelling of the rákshasa. Then followed a wonderful fight between the brave man and the rákshasa, and in a short time the hero cut off his head, after which they took Somaprabha into the chariot and quickly returned to Harisvamin's house. And now arose a great dispute between the three suitors. Said the man of knowledge, "If I had not known where the maiden was how could she have been discovered?" The man of magic argued, "If I had not made this chariot that can fly through the air, how could you all have come and returned in a moment?" Then the brave man said, "If I had not slain the rákshasa, how could the maiden have been rescued?" While they were thus wrangling Harisvamin remained silent, perplexed in mind. The Vampyre, having told this story to the King, demanded to know to whom the maiden should have been given. The King replied, "She ought to have been given to the brave man; for he won her by the might of his arm and at the risk of his life, slaying that rákshasa in combat. But the man of knowledge and the man of magic power were appointed by the Creator to serve as his instruments." The perplexed Harisvamin would have been glad, no doubt, could he have had such a logical solution of the question as this of the sagacious King Trivikramasena--such was his six-syllabled name.
The Hindí version ("Baytál Pachísi") corresponds with the Sanskrit, but in the Tamil version the father, after hearing from each of the three suitors an account of his accomplishments, promises to give his daughter to "one of them." Meanwhile a giant comes and carries off the damsel. There is no difference in the rest of the story.
In the Persian Parrot-Book ("Tútí Náma" ) where the tale is also found [FN#414]--it is the 34th recital of the loquacious bird in the India Office MS. No. 2573, the 6th in B. Gerrans' partial translation, 1792, and the 22nd in Káderi's abridgment--the first suitor says that his art is to discover anything lost and to predict future events; the second can make a horse of wood which would fly through the air; and the third was an unerring archer.
In the Persian "Sindibád Náma," a princess, while amusing herself in a garden with her maidens, is carried away by a demon to his cave in the mountains. The king proclaims that he will give his daughter in marriage to whoever should bring her back. Four brothers offer themselves for the undertaking: one is a guide who has travelled over the world; the second is a daring robber, who would take the prey even from the lion's mouth; the third is a brave warrior; and the fourth is a skilful physician. The guide leads the three others to the demons' cave, the robber steals the damsel while the demon is absent; the physician, finding her at death's door, restored her to perfect health; while the warrior puts to flight a host of demons who sallied out of the cave.
The Sanskrit story has undergone a curious transformation among the Kalmuks. In the 9th Relation of Siddhí Kúr (a Mongolian version of the Vampyre Tales) six youths are companions: an astrologer, a smith, a doctor, a mechanic, a painter, and a rich man's son. At the mouth of a great river each plants a tree of life and separates, taking different roads, having agreed to meet again at the same spot, when if the tree of any of them is found to be withered it will be a token that he is dead. The rich man's son marries a beautiful girl, who is taken from him by the Khan, and the youth is at the same time put to death by the Khan's soldiers and buried under a great rock. When the four other young men meet at the time and place appointed they find the tree of the rich youth withered. Thereupon the astrologer by his art discovers where the youth is buried; the smith breaks the rock asunder; the physician restores the youth to life, and he tells them how the Khan had robbed him of his wife and killed him. The mechanic then constructs a flying chariot in the form of Garuda--the bird of Vishnu; the counterpart of the Arabian rukh--which the painter decorates, and when it is finished the rich youth enters it and is swiftly borne through the air to the roof of the Khan's dwelling, where he alights. The Khan, supposing the machine to be a real Garuda, sends the rich youth's own wife to the roof with some food for it. Could anything have been more fortunate? The youth takes her into the wooden Garuda and they quickly arrive at the place where his companions waited for his return. When they beheld the marvellous beauty of the lady the five skilful men instantly fell in love with her, and began to quarrel among themselves, each claiming the lady as his by right, and drawing their knives they fought and slew one another. So the rich youth was left in undisputed possession of his beautiful bride.
Coming back to Europe we find the primitive form of the story partly preserved in a Greek popular version given in Hahn's collection: Three young men are in love with the same girl, and agree to go away and meet again at a given time, when he who shall have learned the best craft shall marry the girl. They meet after three years' absence. One has become a famous astronomer; the second is so skilful a physician that he can raise the dead, and the third can run faster than the wind. The astronomer looks at the girl's star and knows from its trembling that she is on the point of death. The physician prepares a medicine which the third runs off with at the top of his speed, and pours it down the girl's throat just in time to save her life--though, for the matter of that, she might as well have died, since the second suitor was able to resuscitate the dead!
But the German tale of the Four Clever Brothers, divested of the preliminary incidents which have been brought into it from different folk-tales, more nearly approaches the form of the original, as we may term the Sanskrit story for convenience' sake: A poor man sends his four sons into the world, each to learn some craft by which he might gain his own livelihood. After travelling together for some time they came to a place where four roads branched off and there they separated, each going along one of the roads, having agreed to meet at the same spot that day four years. One learns to be an excellent astronomer and, on quitting, his master gives him a telescope, [FN#415] saying, "With this thou canst see whatever takes place either on earth or in heaven, and nothing can remain concealed from thee." Another becomes a most expert thief. The third learns to be a sharpshooter and gets from his master a gun which would never fail him: whatever he aimed at he was sure to hit. And the youngest becomes a very clever tailor and is presented by his master with a needle, which could sew anything together, hard or soft. At the end of the four years they met according to agreement, and returning together to their father's house, they satisfied the old man with a display of their abilities Soon after this the king's daughter was carried off by a dragon, and the king proclaimed that whoever brought her back should have her to wife. This the four clever brothers thought was a fine chance for them, and they resolved to liberate the king's daughter. The astronomer looked through his telescope and saw the princess far away on a rock in the sea and the dragon watching beside her. Then they went and got a ship from the king, and sailed over the sea till they came to the rock, where the princess was sitting and the dragon was asleep with his head in her lap. The hunter feared to shoot lest he should kill the princess. Then the thief crept up the rock and stole her from under the dragon so cleverly that the monster did not awake. Full of joy, they hurried off with her and sailed away. But presently the dragon awoke and missing the princess flew after them through the air. Just as he was hovering above the ship to swoop down upon it, the hunter shot him through the heart and he tumbled down dead, but falling on the vessel his carcase smashed it into pieces. They laid hold of two planks and drifted about till the tailor with his wonderful needle sewed the planks together, and then they collected the fragments of the ship which the tailor also sewed together so skilfully that their ship was again sea-worthy, and they soon got home in safety. The king was right glad to see his daughter and told the four brothers they must settle among themselves which of them should have her to wife. Upon this they began to wrangle with one another. The astronomer said, "If I had not seen the princess, all your arts would have been useless, so she is mine." The thief claimed her, because he had rescued her from the dragon; the hunter, because he had shot the monster; and the tailor, because he had sewn the ship together and saved them all from drowning. Then the king decreed: "Each of you has an equal right, and as all of you cannot have her, none of you shall; but I will give to each as a reward half a kingdom," with which the four clever brothers were well contented.
The story has assumed a droll form among the Albanians, in which no fewer than seven remarkably endowed youths play their parts in rescuing a king's daughter from the Devil, who had stolen her out of the palace. One of the heroes could hear far off; the second could make the earth open; the third could steal from any one without his knowing it; the fourth could throw an object to the end of the world; the fifth could erect an impregnable tower; the sixth could bring down anything however high it might be in the air and the seventh could catch whatever fell from any height. So they set off together, and after travelling along way, the first lays his ear to the ground. "I hear him," he says. Then the second causes the earth to open, and down they go, and find the Devil sound asleep, snoring like thunder, with the princess clasped to his breast. The third youth steals her without waking the fiend. Then the fourth takes off the Devil's shoes and flings them to the end of the world, and off they all go with the princess. The Devil wakes and goes after them, but first he must find his shoes--though what need he could have for shoes it is not easy to say; but mayhap the Devil of the Albanians is minus horns, hoof and tail! This gives the fifth hero time to erect his impregnable tower before the fiend returns from the end of the world. When he comes to the tower he finds all his skill is naught, so he has recourse to artifice, which indeed has always been his forte. He begs piteously to be allowed one last look of his beloved princess. They can't refuse him so slight a favour, and make a tiny hole in the tower wall, but, tiny as it is, the Devil is able to pull the princess through it and instantly mounts on high with her. Now is the marksman's opportunity: he shoots at the fiend and down he comes, "like a hundred of bricks" (as we don't say in the classics), at the same time letting go the princess, who is cleverly caught by the seventh hero, and is none the worse for her aerial journey. The princess chooses the seventh for her husband, as he is the youngest and best looking, but her father the king rewards his companions handsomely and all are satisfied.
The charming history of Prince Ahmad and his fairy bride is "conspicuous from its absence" in all these versions, but it re-appears in the Italian collection of Nerucci: "Novelle Popolari Montalesi," No. xl., p. 335, with some variations from Galland's story:
A certain king had three daughters, and a neighbouring king had three sons, who were much devoted to the chase. They arrived at the city of the first king, and all fell in love with his daughter [FN#416] and wanted to marry her. Her father said it was impossible to content them all, but if one of them would ask her, and if he pleased her, he would not oppose the marriage. They could not agree which it was to be, and her father proposed that they should all travel, and the one who at the end of six months brought the most beautiful and wonderful present should marry her. They set out in different directions and at the end of six months they meet by appointment at a certain inn. The eldest brings a magic carpet on which he is wafted whithersoever he will. (It goes a hundred miles in a day.) The second brings a telescope which shows whatever is happening a hundred miles away. The youngest brings three stones of a grape, one of which put into the mouth of a person who is dying restores him to life. They at once test the telescope by wishing to see the princess, and they find her dying--at the last gasp indeed. By means of the carpet they reach the palace m time to save her life with one of the grape-stones. Each claims the victory. Her father, almost at his wits' end to decide the question, decrees that they shall shoot with the crossbow, and he who shoots farthest shall win the princess. The second brother shoots farther than the first; but the youngest shoots so far that they cannot find where kits arrow has fallen. He persists in the search and falls down a deep hole, from the bottom of which he can scarcely see a speck of the sky. There an ogre (mago) appears to him and also a bevy of young fairy maidens of extreme beauty. They lead him to a marvellous palace, give him refreshments and provide him with a room and a bed, where every night one of the fairies bears him company. He spends his days in pleasure until the king's daughter is almost forgotten. At last he begins to think he ought to learn what has become of his brothers, his father, and the lady. The chief fairy however, tries to dissuade him warning him that evil will befall him if he return to his brothers. He persists, and she tells him that the princess is given to his eldest brother, who reigns in his father-in-law's stead the latter having died, and that his own father is also dead; and she warns him again not to go. But he goes. His eldest brother says that he thought he was dead "in that hole." The hero replies that, on the contrary, he fares so well with a bevy of young and beautiful fairies that he does not even envy him, and would not change places with him for all the treasures in the world. His brother, devoured by rage, demands that the hero bring him within eight days a pavilion of silk which will lodge three hundred soldiers, otherwise he will destroy his palace of delights. The hero, affrighted, returns to the fairies and relates his brother's threats. The chief fairy says, "Didn't I tell you so? You deserve that I should leave you to your fate; but, out of pity for your youth, I will help you." And he returns to his brother within eight days with the required pavilion. But his brother is not satisfied: he demands another silk pavilion for 600 soldiers, else he will lay waste the abode of the fairies. This pavilion he also receives from the fairies, and it was much finer and richer than the first. His brother's demands rise when he sees that the hero does not find any difficulty in satisfying him. He now commands that a column of iron 12 cubits (braccia) high be erected in the midst of a piazza. The chief of the fairies also complies with this requirement. The column is ready in a moment, and as the hero cannot carry it himself, she gives it to the guardian ogre, who carries it upon his shoulders, and presents himself, along with the hero, before the eldest brother. As soon as the latter comes to see the column set in the piazza the ogre knocks him down and reduces him to pulp (cofaccino, lit., a cake), and the hero marries his brother's widow and becomes king in his stead.
Almost suspiciously like the story in Galland in many of the details is an Icelandic version in Powell and Magnússon's collection, yet I cannot conceive how the peasantry of that country could have got it out of "Les Mille et une Nuits." There are two ways by which the story might have reached them independently of Galland's work: the Arabs and Persians traded extensively in former times with Scandinavia, through Russia, and this as well as other Norse tales of undoubtedly Eastern extraction may have been communicated by the same channel; [FN#417] or the Norsemen may have taken it back with them from the South of Europe. But however this may be, the Icelandic version is so quaint in its diction, has such a fresh aroma about it, and such novel particulars, that I feel justified in giving it here in full:
It is said that once, in the days of old, there was a good and wealthy king who ruled over a great and powerful realm; but neither his name nor that of his kingdom is given, nor the latter's whereabouts in the world. He had a queen, and by her three sons, who were all fine youths and hopeful, and the king loved them well. The king had taken, too, a king's daughter from a neighbouring kingdom, to foster her, and she was brought up with his sons. She was of the same age as they, and the most beautiful and accomplished lady that had ever been seen in those days, and the king loved her in no way less than his own sons. When the princess was of age, all the king's sons fell in love with her, and things even went so far that they all of them engaged her at once, each in his own name. Their father, being the princess's foster-father, had the right of bestowing her in marriage, as her own father was dead. But as he was fond of all his sons equally the answer he gave them was, that he left it to the lady's own choice to take for a husband whichever of the brothers she loved the most. On a certain day he had the princess called up to him and declared his will to her, telling her that she might choose for a husband whichever she liked best of his sons. The princess answered, "Bound I am in duty to obey your words. But as to this choice of one of your sons to be my husband I am in the greatest perplexity; for I must confess they are all equally dear to me, and I cannot choose one before the other." When the king heard this answer of the princess he found himself in a new embarrassment, and thought a long while what he could do that should be equally agreeable to all parties, and at last hit upon the following decision of the matter: that all his sons should after a year's travel return each with a precious thing, and that he who had the finest thing should be the princess's husband. This decision the king's sons found to be a just one and they agreed to meet after one year at a certain castle in the country, whence they should go all together, to the town, in order to lay their gifts before the princess. And now their departure from the country was arranged as well as could be.
First the tale tells of the eldest, that he went from one land to another, and from one city to another, in search of a precious thing, but found nowhere anything that at all suited his ideas. At last the news came to his ears that there was a princess who had so fine a spy-glass that nothing so marvellous had ever been seen or heard of before. In it one could see all over the world, every place, every city, every man, and every living being that moved on the face of the earth, and what every living thing in the world was doing. Now the prince thought that surely there could be no more precious thing at all likely to turn up for him than this telescope; he therefore went to the princess, in order to buy the spy-glass if possible. But by no means could he prevail upon the king's daughter to part with her spy-glass, till he had told her his whole story and why he wanted it, and used all his powers of entreaty. As might be expected, he paid for it well. Having got it he returned home, glad at his luck, and hoping to wed the king's daughter.
The story next turns to the second son. He had to struggle with the same difficulties as his elder brother. He travelled for a long while over the wide world without finding anything at all suitable, and thus for a time he saw no chance of his wishes being fulfilled. Once he came into a very well-peopled city; and went about in search of precious things among the merchants, but neither did he find nor even see what he wanted. He heard that there lived a short way from the town a dwarf, the cleverest maker of curious and cunning things. He therefore resolved to go to the dwarf in order to try whether he could be persuaded to make him any costly thing. The dwarf said that he had ceased to make things of that sort now and he must beg to be excused from making anything of the kind for the prince. But he said that he had a piece of cloth, made in his younger days, with which however, he was very unwilling to part. The king's son asked the nature and use of the cloth The dwarf answered, "On this cloth one can go all over the world, as well through the air as on the water. Runes are on it, which must be understood by him who uses it." Now the prince saw that a more precious thing than this could scarcely be found, and therefore asked the dwarf by all means to let him have the cloth. And although the dwarf would not at first part with his cloth at all, yet at last, hearing what would happen if the king's son did not get it, he sold it to him at a mighty high price. The prince was truly glad to have got the cloth, for it was not only a cloth of great value, but also the greatest of treasures m other respects, having gold-seams and jewel-embroidery. After this he returned home, hoping to get the best of his brothers in the contest for the damsel.
The youngest prince left home last of all the three brethren. [FN#418] First he travelled from one village to another in his own country, and went about asking for precious things of every merchant he met on his way, as also on all sides where there was the slightest hope of his getting what he wanted. But all his endeavours were in vain, and the greater part of the year was spent in fruitless search till at last he waxed sad in mind at his lot. At this time he came into a well-peopled city, whereto people were gathered from all parts of the world. He went from one merchant to another till at last he came to one who sold apples. [FN#419] This merchant said he had an apple that was of so strange a nature that if it was put into the arm-hole of a dying man he would at once return to life. He declared that it was the property of his family and had always been used in the family as a medicine. As soon as the king's son heard this he would by all means have the apple, deeming that he would never be able to find a thing more acceptable to the king's daughter than this. He therefore asked the merchant to sell him the apple and told him all the story of his search, and that his earthly welfare was based upon his being in no way inferior to his brethren in his choice of precious things for the princess. The merchant felt pity for the prince when he had told him his story, so much so that he sold him the apple, and the prince returned home, glad and comforted at his happy luck.
Now nothing more is related of the three brothers till they met together at the place before appointed. When they were all together each related the striking points in his travelling. All being here, the eldest brother thought that he would be the first to see the princess and find out how she was and therefore he took forth his spy-glass and turned it towards the city. But what saw he? The beloved princess lying in her bed, in the very jaws of death! The king, his father, and all the highest nobles of the court were standing round the bed in the blackness of sorrow, sad in their minds, and ready to receive the last sigh of the fair princess. When the prince saw this lamentable sight he was grieved beyond measure. He told his brothers what he had seen and they were no less struck with sorrow than himself. They began bewailing loudly, saying that they would give all they had never to have undertaken this journey, for then at least they would have been able to perform the last offices for the fair princess. But in the midst of these bewailings the second brother bethought him of his cloth, and remembered that he could get to the town on it in a moment. He told this to his brothers and they were glad at such good and unexpected news. Now the cloth was unfolded and they all stepped on to it, and in one of moment it was high in the air and in the next inside the town. When they were there they made all haste to reach the room of the princess, where everybody wore an air deep sadness. They were told that the princess's every breath was her last. Then the youngest brother remembered his wonderful apple, and thought that it would never be more wanted to show its healing power than now. He therefore went straight into the bed-room of the princess and placed the apple under her right arm. And at the same moment it was as if a new breath of life flushed through the whole body of the princess; her eyes opened, and after a little while she began to speak to the folk around her. This and the return of the king's sons caused great joy at the court of the king.
Now some time went by until the princess was fully recovered. Then a large meeting was called together, at which the brothers were bidden to show their treasures. First the eldest made his appearance, and showing his spy-glass told what a wonderful thing it was, and also how it was due to this glass that the life of the fair princess had ever been saved, as he had seen through it how matters stood in the town. He therefore did not doubt for a moment that his gift was the one which would secure him the fair princess.
Next stepped forward the second brother with the cloth. Having described its powers, he said, "I am of opinion that my brother's having seen the princess first would have proved of little avail had I not had the cloth, for thereupon we came so quickly to the place to save the princess; and I must declare that to my mind, the cloth is the chief cause of the king's daughter's recovery."
Next stepped forward the youngest prince and said, as he laid the apple before the people, "Little would the glass and the cloth have availed to save the princess's live had I not had the apple. What could we brothers have profited in being only witnesses of the beloved damsel's death? What would this have done, but awaken our grief and regret? It is due alone to the apple that the princess is yet alive; wherefore I find myself the most deserving of her."
Then a long discussion arose in the meeting, and the decision at last came out, that all the three things had worked equally towards the princess's recovery, as might be seen from the fact that if one had been wanting the others would have been worthless. It was therefore declared that, as all gifts had equal claim to the prize, no one could decide to whom the princess should belong.
After this the king planned another contrivance in order to come to some end of the matter. He soon should try their skill in shooting, and he who proved to be the ablest shooter of them should have the princess. So a mark was raised and the eldest brother stepped forward with his bow and quiver. He shot, and no great distance from the mark fell his arrow. After that stepped forward the second brother, and his arrow well-nigh reached the mark. Last of all stepped forward the third and youngest brother, and his arrow seemed to go farther than the others, but in spite of continued search for many days it could not be found. The king decided in this matter that his second son should marry the princess They were married accordingly, and as the king, the father of the princess, was dead, his daughter now succeeded him, and her husband became king over his wife's inheritance. They are now out of this tale, as is also the eldest brother, who settled in life abroad.
The youngest brother stayed at home with his father, highly displeased at the decision the latter had given concerning the marriage of the princess. He was wont to wander about every day where he fancied his arrow had fallen, and at last he found it fixed in an oak in the forest, and saw that it had by far outstripped the mark. He now called together witnesses to the place where the arrow was, with the intention of bringing about some justice m his case. But of this there was no chance, for the king said he could by no means alter his decision. At this the king's son was so grieved that he went well-nigh out of his wits. One day he busked for a journey, with the full intention of never again setting foot m his country. He took with him all he possessed of fine and precious things, nobody knowing his rede, not even his father, the king.
He went into a great forest and wandered about there many days, without knowing whither he was going, and at last, yielding to hunger and weariness, he found himself no longer equal to travelling; so he sat down under a tree, thinking that his sad and sorrowful life would here come to a close. But after he had sat thus awhile he saw ten people, all in fine attire and bright armour, come riding towards the stone. On arriving there they dismounted, and having greeted the king's son begged him to go with them, and mount the spare horse they had with them, saddled and bridled in royal fashion. He accepted this offer and mounted the horse, and after this they rode on their way till they came to a large city. The riders dismounted and led the prince into the town, which was governed by a young and beautiful maiden-queen. The riders led the king's son at once to the virgin-queen, who received him with great kindness. She told him that she had heard of all the ill-luck that had befallen him and also that he had fled from his father. "Then," quoth she, "a burning love for you was kindled in my breast and a longing to heal your wounds. You must know that it was I who sent the ten riders to find you out and bring you hither. I give you the chance of staying here; I offer you the rule of my whole kingdom, and I will try to sweeten your embittered life;--this is all that I am able to do." Although the prince was in a sad and gloomy state of mind, he saw nothing better than to accept this generous offer and agree to the marriage with the maiden-queen. A grand feast was made ready, and they were married according to the ways of that country. And the young king took at once in hand the government, which he managed with much ability.
Now the story turns homewards, to the old king. After the disappearance of his son he became sad and weary of life, being, as he was, sinking in age. His queen also had died sometime since. One day it happened that a wayfaring woman came to the palace. She had much knowledge about many things and knew how to tell tales. [FN#420] The king was greatly delighted with her story-telling and she got soon into his favour. Thus some time passed. But in course of time the king fell deeply in love with this woman, and at last married her and made her his queen, in spite of strong dissent from the court. Shortly this new queen began meddling in the affairs of the government, and it soon turned out that she was spoiling everything by her redes, whenever she had the chance. Once it happened that the queen spoke to the king and said, "Strange indeed it seems to me that you make no inquiry about your youngest son's running away: smaller faults have been often chastised than that. You must have heard that he has become king in one of the neighbouring kingdoms, and that it is a common tale that he is going to invade your dominions with a great army whenever he gets the wished-for opportunity, in order to avenge the injustice he thinks he has suffered in that bygone bridal question. Now I want you to be the first in throwing this danger off-hand." The king showed little interest in the matter and paid to his wife's chattering but little attention. But she contrived at length so to speak to him as to make him place faith in her words, and he asked her to give him good redes, that this matter might be arranged in such a way as to be least observed by other folk. The queen said, "You must send men with gifts to him and pray him to come to you for an interview, in order to arrange certain political matters before your death, as also to strengthen your friendship with an interchange of marks of kindred. And then I will give you further advice as to what to do." The king was satisfied with this and equipped his messengers royally.
Then the messengers came before the young king, saying they were sent by his father, who wished his son to come and see him without delay. To this the young king answered well, and lost no time in bushing his men and himself. But when his queen knew this she said he would assuredly rue this journey. The king went off, however, and nothing is said of his travels till he came to the town where his father lived. His father received him rather coldly, much to the wonder and amazement of his son. And when he had been there a short while his father gave him a good chiding for having run away. "Thereby," said the old king, "you have shown full contempt of myself and caused me such sorrow as well-nigh brought me to the grave. Therefore, according to the law, you have deserved to die; but as you have delivered yourself up into my power and are, on the other hand, my son, I have no mind to have you killed. But I have three tasks for you which you must have performed within a year, on pain of death. The first is that you bring me a tent which will hold one hundred men but can yet be hidden in the closed hand; [FN#421] the second, that you shall bring me water that cures all ailments; [FN#422] and the third, that you shall bring me hither a man who has not his like in the whole world." "Show me whither I shall go to obtain these things," said the young king. "That you must find out for yourself," replied the other.
Then the old king turned his back upon his son and went off. Away went also the young king, no farewells being said, and nothing is told of his travels till he came home to his realm. He was then very sad and heavy-minded, and the queen seeing this asked him earnestly what had befallen him and what caused the gloom on his mind. He declared that this did not regard her. The queen answered, "I know that tasks must have been set you which it will not prove easy to perform. But what will it avail you to sit sullen and sad on account of such things? Behave as a man, and try if these tasks may not indeed be accomplished."
Now the king thought it best tell the queen all that had happened and how matters stood. "All this," said the queen, "is the rede of your stepmother, and it would be well indeed if she could do you no more harm by it than she has already tried to do. She has chosen such difficulties she thought you would not easily get over, but I can do something here. The tent is in my possession, so there is that difficulty over. The water you have to get is a short way hence but very hard of approach. It is in a well and the well is in a cave hellishly dark. The well is watched by seven lions and three serpents, and from these monsters nobody has ever returned alive; and the nature of the water is that it has no healing power whatever unless it be drawn when all these monsters are awake. Now I will risk the undertaking of drawing the water." So the queen made herself ready to go to the cave, taking with her seven oxen and three pigs. When she came before the cave she ordered the oxen to be killed and thrown before the lions and the pigs before the serpents. And while these monsters tore and devoured the carcases the queen stepped down into the well and drew as much water as she wanted. And she left the cave just in time as the beasts finished devouring their bait. After this the queen went home to the palace having thus got over the second trial.
Then she came to her husband and said, "Now two of the tasks are done, but the third and indeed the hardest, of them is left. Moreover, this is one you must perform yourself, but I can give you some hints as to whither to go for it. I have got a half brother who rules over an island not far from hence. He is three feet high, and has one eye in the middle of his forehead. He has a beard thirty ells long, stiff and hard as a hog's bristles. He has a dog's snout and cat's ears, and I should scarcely fancy he has his like in the whole world. When he travels he flings himself forward on a staff of fifty ells' length, with a pace as swift as a bird's flight. Once when my father was out hunting he was charmed by an ogress who lived in a cave under a waterfall, and with her he begat this bugbear. The island is one-third of my father's realm, but his son finds it too small for him. My father had a ring the greatest gem, which each of us would have, sister and brother, but I got it, wherefore he has been my enemy ever since. Now I will write him a letter and send him the ring in the hope that that will soften him and turn him in our favour. You shall make ready to go to him, with a splendid suite, and when you come to his palace-door you shall take off your crown and creep bareheaded over the floor up to his throne. Then you shall kiss his right foot and give him the letter and the ring. And if he orders you to stand up, you have succeeded in your task; if not, you have failed."
So he did everything that he was bidden by the queen, and when he appeared before the one-eyed king he was stupefied at his tremendous ugliness and his bugbear appearance; but he plucked up courage as best he could and gave him the letter and the ring. When the king saw the letter and the ring his face brightened up, and he said, "Surely my sister finds herself in straits now, as she sends me this ring." And when he had read the letter he bade the king, his brother-in-law, stand up, and declared that he was ready to comply with his sister's wish and to go off at once without delay. He seized his staff and started away, but stopped now and then for his brother-in-law and his suite, to whom he gave a good chiding for their slowness. [FN#423] They continued thus their march until they came to the palace of the queen, the ugly king's sister; but when they arrived there the one-eyed king cried with a roaring voice to his sister, and asked her what she wished, as she had troubled him to come so far from home. She then told him all the matter as it really was and begged him to help her husband out of the trial put before him. He said he was ready to do so, but would brook no delay.
Now both kings went off, and nothing is told of their journey until they came to the old king. The young king announced to his father his coming and that he brought with him what he had ordered last year. He wished his father to call together a ting [FN#424] in order that he might show openly how he had performed his tasks. This was done, and the king and the queen and other great folk were assembled. First the tent was put forward and nobody could find fault with it. Secondly the young king gave the wondrous healing water to his father. The queen was prayed to taste it and see if it was the right water, taken at the right time. She said that both things were as they should be. Then said the old king, "Now the third and heaviest of all the tasks is left: come, and have it off your hands quickly." Then the young king summoned the king with one eye, and as he appeared on the ting he waxed so hideous that all the people were struck with fright and horror, and most of all the king. When this ugly monarch had shown himself for a while there he thrust his staff against the breast of the queen and tilted her up into the air on the top of it, and then thrust her against the ground with such force that every bone in her body was broken. She turned at once into the most monstrous troll ever beheld. After this the one eyed king rushed away from the ting and the people thronged round the old king in order to help him, for he was in the very jaws of death from fright. The healing water was sprinkled on him and refreshed him.
After the death of the queen, who was killed of course when she turned into a troll, the king confessed that all the tasks which he had given his son to perform were undeserved and that he had acted thus, egged on by the queen. He called his son to him and humbly begged his forgiveness for what he had done against him. He declared he would atone for it by giving into his hand all that kingdom, while he himself only wished to live in peace and quiet for the rest of his days. So the young king sent for his queen and for the courtiers whom he loved most. And, to make a long story short, they gave up their former kingdom to the king with one eye, as a reward, for his lifetime, but governed the realm of the old king to a high age, in great glee and happiness,
The Two Sisters Who Envied Their Cadette--p. 313.
Legends of castaway infants are common to the folk-lore of almost all countries and date far back into antiquity. The most usual mode of exposing them--to perish or be rescued, as chance might direct--is placing them in a box and launching them into a river. The story of Moses in the bulrushes, which must of course be familiar to everybody, is not only paralleled in ancient Greek and Roman legends (e.g. Perseus, Cyrus, Romulus), but finds its analogue in Babylonian folk-lore. [FN#425] The leading idea of the tale of the Envious Sisters, who substituted a puppy, a kitten, and a rat for the three babes their young sister the queen had borne and sent the little innocents away to be destroyed, appealing, as it does to the strongest of human instincts, is the theme of many popular fictions from India to Iceland. With a malignant mother-in-law in place of the two sisters, it is the basis of a mediæval European romance entitled "The Knight of the Swan," and of a similar tale which occurs in "Dolopathus," the oldest version of the "Seven Wise Masters," written in Latin prose about the year 1180: A king while hunting loses his way in a forest and coming to a fountain perceives a beautiful lady, whom he carries home and duly espouses much against the will of his mother, Matabrun. Some time after, having to lead his knights and men-at-arms against an enemy, he commits the queen, now far advanced in pregnancy to the care of his mother, who undertakes that no harm shall befall her during his absence. The queen is delivered at one birth of seven lovely children, six boys and one girl, each of whom has a silver chain around its neck. [FN#426] The king's mother plots with the midwife to do away with the babes and place seven little dogs in bed beside the poor queen. She gives the children to one of her squires, charging him either to slay them or cast them into the river. But when the squire enters the forest his heart relents and laying the infants wrapped in his mantle, on the ground, he returns and tells his mistress that he has done her behest. When the king returns, the wicked Matabrun accuses his wife to him of having had unnatural commerce with a dog, and shows him the seven puppies. The scene which follows presents a striking likeness to that in the Arabian story after the birth of the third child. King Oriant is full of wrath, and at once assembles his counsellors, "dukes, earls knights and other lords of the realm, with the bishop and prelate of the church," and having stated the case, the bishop pleads in favour of the queen, and finally induces him not to put her to death, but confine her in prison for the rest of her life. Meanwhile the children are discovered by an aged hermit, who takes them to his dwelling, baptises them and brings them up. After some years it happens that a yeoman in the service of the king's mother, while hunting in the forest, perceives the seven children with silver chains round their necks seated under a tree. He reports this to Matabrun, who forthwith sends him back to kill the children and bring her their silver chains. He finds but six of them one being absent with the hermit, who was gone alms seeking; and, touched by their innocent looks, he merely takes off the silver chains, whereupon they become transformed into pretty white swans and fly away. How the innocence of the queen is afterwards vindicated by her son Helyas--he who escaped being changed into a swan--and how his brethren and sister are restored to their proper forms would take too long to tell, and indeed the rest of the romance has no bearing on the Arabian tale. [FN#427]
In another mediaeval work, from which Chaucer derived his Man of Law's Tale, the Life of Constance, by Nicholas Trivet, an English Dominican monk, the saintly heroine is married to a king, in whose absence at the wars his mother plots against her daughter-in- law. When Constance gives birth to a son, the old queen causes letters to be written to the king, in which his wife is declared to be an evil spirit in the form of a woman and that she had borne, not a human child, but a hideous monster. The king, in reply, commands Constance to be tended carefully until his return. But the traitress contrives by means of letters forged in the king's name to have Constance and her son sent to sea in a ship, where she meets with strange adventures. Needless to say, the old queen's wicked devices come to naught.
The story of the Envious Sisters as told by Galland was known in Italy (as Dr. W. Grimm points out in the valuable notes to his K. u. H.M.) many generations before the learned Frenchman was born, through the "Pleasant Nights" of Straparola. That Galland took his story from the Italian novelist it is impossible to believe, since, as Mr. Coote has observed, Straparola's work "was already known in France for a couple of centuries through a popular French translation," and Galland would at once have been an easily convicted copyist. Moreover the story, imitated from Straparola, by Madame d'Aulnois, under the title of "La Belie Etoile et Le Prince Cheri," had been published before Galland's last two volumes appeared, and both those writers had the same publisher. It is clear, therefore, that Galland neither invented the story nor borrowed it from Straparola or Madame d'Aulnois. Whence, then, did he obtain it?--that is the question. His Arabic source has not yet been discovered, but a variant of the world-wide story is at the present day orally current in Egypt and forms No. xi. of "Comes Arabes Modernes. Recueillis et Traduits par Guillaume Spitta Bey" (Paris, 1883), of which the following is a translation:
MODERN ARABIC VERSION.
There was once a King who said to his vazír, "Let us take a walk through the town during the night." In walking about they came to a house where they heard people talking, and stopping before it they heard a girl say, "If the King would marry me, I would make him a tart (or pie) so large that it would serve for him and his army." And another said, "If the King would marry me, I would make him a tent that would shelter him and his whole army." Then a third said, "If the King would marry me, I would present him with a daughter and a son, with golden hair, and hair of hyacinth colour alternately; if they should weep, it would thunder, and if they should laugh, the sun and moon would appear." The King on hearing these words went away, and on the following day he sent for the three girls and made the contract of marriage with them. He passed the first night with the one who had spoken first, and said to her, "Where is the tart that would be sufficient for me and my army?" She answered him, "The words of the night are greased with butter: when day appears they melt away." The next night he slept with the second, saying to her, "Where is the tent which would be large enough for me and my army?" She answered him, "It was an idea that came into my mind." So the King ordered them to go down into the kitchen among the slaves. He passed the third night with the tattle one, saying, "Where are the boy and girl whose hair is to be like gold and hyacinth?" She replied, "Tarry with me nine months and nine minutes." In due time she became pregnant, and on the night of her confinement the midwife was sent for. Then the other wife of the King went and met her in the street and said to her, "When she has been delivered, how much will the King give you ?" She answered, "He will issue orders to give me fifteen mahbúbs. [FN#428] The other said, "Behold, here are forty mahhúbs from me. Take these two little blind puppies, and when she has given birth to a son and a daughter, take them and place them in a box and put these two puppies in their stead, and remove the children." The midwife took the money and the little dogs and went away. When the King's new wife was safely delivered, the midwife did according to her agreement with the other wife of the King, and then went before him and said, "I fear to speak." He answered, "Speak; I grant you pardon." Then said she, "Your wife has been delivered of two dogs." Then the King gave orders, saying, "Take and cover her with tar, and bind her to the staircase, and let any who may go up or down spit upon her," which was done accordingly. And the midwife carried away the children and threw them into the river.
Now there was a fisherman who lived on an island with his wife, and they had no children. On the morrow he went to the water-side to fish and found a box driven on to the shore He carried it home to his wife, and placing it between them, he said, "Listen, my dear, I am going to make a bargain with you: if this contains money, it will be for me, if it contains children, they will be for you." She replied, "Very well, I am quite content." They then opened the box and found in it a baby boy and girl. The baby boy had his finger in the baby girl's mouth and the latter had her finger in his mouth, and they were sucking one another's fingers. The woman took them out of the box and prayed to Heaven, "Make milk come into my breasts, for the sake of these little ones." And by the Almighty power the milk came into her breasts, and she continued to bring them up until they had reached the age of twelve years.
One day the fisherman caught two large white fish, and the youth said to him, "These two white fish are pretty, my father; I will take and sell them, or carry them as a present to the King." So the boy took them and went away. He sat down with them in the Fish Market: people gathered about him, and those who did not look at the fish looked at the boy. The King also came past, and seeing the two white fish and the boy he called to him saying, "What is the price, my lad?" The boy answered, "They are a present for you, my prince." Thereupon the King took him to the palace and said to him, "What is your name?" and he replied, "My name is Muhammed, and my father is the fisherman who lives on the island." Then the King gave him thirty mahbúbs, saying, "Go away, discreet one, and every day return here to my house." So the lad returned home and gave the money to his father. The next morning two more white fish were caught and Muhammed carried them to the King, who took him into his garden and made him sit down opposite him. The King remained there drinking his wine and looking on the beauty of the youth: love for the lad entered his heart and he remained with him two hours. [FN#429] Then he gave orders to provide the youth with a horse for his use in coming to and returning from his house, and Muhammed mounted the horse and rode home.
When he visited the King the following day he was again led into the garden, and the other wife of the King, looking from her window saw the lad and recognised him. She at once sent for the old midwife, and said to her, "I bade you kill the children, yet they are still living upon the earth." Replied the old woman, "Have patience with me, O Queen for three days, and I will kill him." Then she went away, and having procured a pitcher tied it to her girdle, bewitched it, mounted on it, and struck it with a whip, and forthwith the pitcher flew away with her and descended upon the island near the fisherman's cottage. [FN#430] She found the young girl, Muhammed's sister, sitting alone, and thus addressed her: "My dear, why are you thus alone and sad? Tell your brother to fetch you the rose of Arab Zandyk, that it may sing to you and amuse you, instead of your being thus lonely and low-spirited." When her brother came home, he found her displeased and asked her, "Why are you vexed, my sister?" She replied, "I should like the rose of Arab Zandyk, that it may sing to me and amuse me." "At your command," said he; "I am going to bring it to you."
He mounted his horse and travelled into the midst of the desert, where he perceived an ogress seated and pounding wheat with a millstone on her arm. Alighting, he came up to her and saluted her saying, "Peace be with you, mother ogress." She replied, "If your safety did not prevail over your words, I would eat the flesh from off your bones." Then she asked, "Where are you going, Muhammed the Discreet?" He answered, "I am in quest of the singing rose of Arab Zandyk." She showed him the way, saying, "You will find before the palace a kid and a dog fastened, and before the kid a piece of meat and before the dog a bunch of clover: lift the meat and throw it to the dog, and give the clover to the kid. [FN#431] Then the door will open for you: enter and pluck the rose; return immediately without looking behind you, because, if you do so, you will be bewitched and changed into stone, like the enchanted ones who are there." Muhammed the Discreet carefully followed the instructions of the ogress: plucked the rose, went out by the door, put back the meat before the kid and the clover before the dog, and carried the rose home to his sister.
Then he again went to the house of the King, who saluted him and said, "Where hast thou been, discreet one? Why hast thou absented thyself so long from my house?" And he answered, "I was sick, O King." Then the King took him by the hand and entered the garden, and both sat down. The wife of the King saw them seated together, and sending for the midwife she angrily asked, "Why do you befool me, old woman?" She replied "Have patience with me for three days more, O Queen." Then she mounted her pitcher and arriving at the house of the young girl, she said, "Has thy brother fetched thee the rose?" "Yes," answered the girl, "but it does not sing." Quoth the old woman, "It only sings with its looking-glass," and then went away. When the youth returned he found his sister vexed, and he asked, "Why are you so sad, my sister?" She replied, "I should like the looking-glass of the rose, by means of which it sings." Quoth he, "I obey your orders, and will bring it to you."
Muhammed the Discreet rode on till he came to the ogress, who asked him what he wanted. "I wish," said he, "the looking-glass of the rose." "Well, go and do with the dog and kid as you did before. When you have entered the garden you will find some stairs go up them, and in the first room you come to you will find the mirror suspended. Take it, and set out directly, without looking behind you. If the earth shake with you, keep a brave heart, otherwise you will have gone on a fruitless errand." He went and did according to the instructions of the ogress. In taking away the mirror the earth shook under him, but he made his heart as hard as an anvil and cared nothing for the shaking. But when he brought the mirror to his sister and she had placed it before the rose of Arab Zandyk, still the rose sang not.
When he visited the King, he excused his absence, saying, "I was led on a journey with my father, but here am I, returned once more." The King led him by the hand into the garden, and the wife of the King again perceiving him she sent for the midwife and demanded of her, "Why do you mock me again, old woman?" Quoth she, "Have patience with me for three days, O Queen; this time will be the beginning and the end." Then she rode on her pitcher to the island, and asked the young girl, "Has thy brother brought thee the mirror?" "Yes, but still the rose sings not." "Ah, it only sings with its mistress, who is called Arab Zandyk," and so saying she departed. Muhammed the Discreet on his return home again found his sister disconsolate, and in answer to his inquiries, she said, "I desire Arab Zandyk, mistress of the rose and of the mirror, that I may amuse myself with her when you are absent."
He at once mounted his horse and rode on till he came to the house of the ogress. "How fares it with you, mother ogress?" "What do you want now, Muhammed the Discreet?" "I wish Arab Zandyk, mistress of the rose and of the mirror." Quoth the ogress, "Many kings and pashas have not been able to bring her: she hath changed them all into stone; and thou art small and poor--what will become of thee?" "Only, my dear mother ogress show me the way, and I shall bring her, with the permission of God." Said the ogress, "Go to the west side of the palace; there you will find an open window. Bring your horse under the window and then cry in a loud voice, 'Descend, Arab Zandyk!'" Muhammed the Wary went accordingly, halted beneath the window, and cried out, "Descend, Arab Zandyk!" She looked from her window scornfully and said," Go away, young man." Muhammed the Discreet raised his eyes and found that half of his horse was changed into stone. A second time cried he in a loud voice, "Descend, Arab Zandyk!" She insulted him and said, "I tell you, go away, young man.' He looked again and found his horse entirely enchanted and half of himself as well. A third time he cried in a loud voice, "I tell you, descend, Arab Zandyk!" She inclined herself half out of the window, and her hair fell down to the ground. Muhammed the Discreet seized it, twined it round his hand pulled her out, and threw her on the earth. Then said she, "Thou art my fate, Muhammed the Wary; relinquish thy hold of my hair, by the life of thy father the King." Quoth he "My father is a fisherman." "Nay," she replied, "thy father is the King, by-and-by I will tell thee his history." Quoth he, "I will leave hold of your hair when you have set at liberty the enchanted men." She made a sign with her right arm and they were at once set free. They rushed headlong towards Muhammed the Prudent to take her from him but some of them said "Thanks to him who hath delivered us: do you still wish to take her from him?" So they left him and went their several ways.
Arab Zandyk then took him by the hand and led him into her castle. She gave her servants orders to build a palace in the midst of the isle of the fisherman, which being accomplished, she took Muhammed the Discreet and her soldiers and proceeded thither and then she said to him, "Go to the King, and when he asks you where you have been reply, 'I have been preparing my nuptials and invite you, with your army.'" He went to the King and spoke as Arab Zandyk had instructed him, upon which the King laughed and said to his vazír, "This young man is the son of a fisherman and comes to invite me with my army!" Quoth the vazír, "On account of your love for him, command that the soldiers take with them food for eight days, and we also will take our provender for eight days." The King having issued orders to that effect, and all being ready, they all set out and arriving at the house of the fisherman's son, they found a large number of beautiful tents erected for the soldiers' accommodation and the King was astonished. Then came the feasting--one dainty dish being quickly followed by another still more delicious and the soldiers said among themselves, "We should like to remain here for two years to eat meat and not be obliged to eat only beans and lentils." They continued there forty days until the nuptials were completed, well content with their fare. Then the King departed with his army. The King sent a return invitation, and Arab Zandyk commanded her soldiers to set out in order to precede her to the capital. When the soldiers arrived they filled the town so that there was scarcely sufficient house-room for them. Then Arab Zandyk set out accompanied by Muhammed and his sister. They entered the royal palace, and as they ascended the staircase, Arab Zandyk perceived the mother of Muhammed covered with tar and in chains, so she threw over her a cashmere shawl and covered her. The servants who were standing about said to Arab Zandyk, "Why do you cover her with a shawl? Spit upon her when you go up and also when you come down." She asked, "Why so?" Said they, "Because she gave birth to two dogs." Then they went to the King and said, "A lady amongst the strangers has thrown a cashmere shawl over her who is fastened to the staircase, and has covered her without spitting upon her." The King went and met Arab Zandyk and asked, "Why have you covered her?" Said she, "Give orders that she be conducted to the bath, cleansed, and dressed in a royal robe, after which I will relate her history." The King gave the required orders, and when she was decked in a royal robe they conducted her into the divan. Then said the King to Arab Zandyk, "Tell me now the history." Said she, "Listen, O King, the fisherman will speak," and then Arab Zandyk said to the fisherman, "Is it true that your wife gave birth to Muhammed and his sister at one time or at separate times?" He replied, "My wife has no children." "Where, then did you get them?" Quoth he, "I went one morning to fish, and found them in a box on the bank of the river. I took them home, and my wife brought them up." Arab Zandyk then said, "Hast thou heard, O King?" and turning to his wife, "Are these thy children, O woman?" Said she, "Tell them to uncover their heads that I may see them." When they uncovered their heads, they were seen to have alternately hair of gold and hair of hyacinth. The King then asked her, "Are these thy children?" "Tell them to weep: if it thunders and rains, they are my children, and if it does not thunder or rain, they are not mine." The children wept, and it thundered and rained. Then he asked her again, "Are these thy children?" And she said, "Tell them to laugh: if the sun and moon appear, they are my children." They told them to laugh, and the sun and moon appeared. Then he asked her once more, "Are these thy children?" and she said, "They are my children!" Then the King appointed the fisherman vazír of his right hand, and commanded that the city be illuminated for forty whole days; on the last day he caused his other wife and the old witch (the midwife) to be led out and burnt, and their ashes to be dispersed to the winds.
The variations between this and Galland's story are very considerable, it must be allowed, and though the fundamental outline is the same in both, they should be regarded as distinct versions of the same tale, and both are represented by Asiatic and European stories. Here the fairy Arab Zandyk plays the part of the Speaking-Bird, which, however, has its equivalent in the preceding tale (No. x.) of Spitta Bey's collection:
A man dies, leaving three sons and one daughter. The sons build a palace for their sister and mother. The girl falls in love with some one who is not considered as an eligible parti by the brothers. By the advice of an old woman, the girl asks her brothers to get her the singing nightingale, in hope that the bird would throw sand on them and thus send them down to the seventh earth. The eldest before setting out on this quest leaves his chaplet with his younger brother, saying that if it shrank it would be a token that he was dead. Journeying through the desert some one tells him that many persons have been lost in their quest of the singing nightingale: he must hide himself till he sees the bird go into its cage and fall asleep, then shut the cage and carry it off. But he does not wait long enough, and tries to shut the cage while the bird's feet are still outside, so the bird takes up sand with its feet and throws it on him, and he descends to the seventh earth. The second brother, finding the chaplet shrunk, goes off in his turn, leaving his ring with the youngest brother--if it contract on the finger it will betoken his death. He meets with the same fate as his elder brother, and now the youngest, finding the ring contract, sets out, leaving with his mother a rose, which will fade if he dies. He waits till the singing nightingale is asleep, and then shuts him in the cage. The bird in alarm implores to be set at liberty, but the youth demands first the restoration of his brothers, and the bird tells him to scatter on the ground some sand from beneath the cage, which he does, when only a crowd of negroes and Turks (? Tátárs) appear, and confess their failure to capture the singing nightingale. Then the bird bids him scatter white sand, which being done, 500 whites and the two lost brothers appear and the three return home with the bird, which sings so charmingly in the palace that all the people come to listen to it outside.--The rest of this story tells of the amours of the girl and a black, who, at her instigation, kills her eldest brother, but he is resuscitated by the Water of Life.
Through the Moors, perhaps, the story found its way among the wandering tribes (the Kabail) of Northern Africa, who have curiously distorted its chief features, though not beyond recognition, as will be seen from the following abstract of their version, from M. Riviere's collection of "Comes Populaires de la Kabylie du Djurdjura" (Paris, 1882):
A man has two wives, one of whom is childless, the other bears in succession seven sons and a daughter. The childless wife cuts off the little finger of each and takes them one by one into the forest, where they are brought up. An old woman comes one day and tells the daughter that if her brothers love her they will give her a bat. The girl cries to her brothers for a bat, and one of them consults an aged man, who sends him to the sea shore. He puts down his gun under a tree, and a bat from above cries out, "What wild beast is this ?" The youth replies, "You just go to sleep, old fellow." The bat comes down, touches the gun and it becomes a piece of wood; touches the youth and he becomes microscopic. This in turn happens to all the brothers, after which the girl goes to the sea-shore, and when she is under the tree the bat calls out, "What wild beast is this?" But she does not answer she waits till the bat is asleep, then climbs the tree, and catching the "bird" (sic), asks it where her brothers are, and on her promising to clothe the bat in silver and gold, the creature touches the guns and the brothers, and they are restored to their proper forms. The bat then conducts them to their father's house, where he asks lodgings and is refused by the childless wife. The husband takes them in however and kills a sheep for their entertainment. The childless wife poisons the meat, and the bat warns the children, bidding them try a cock, a dog, and a cat with it, which is done, and the animals die. The brothers now decline the food and ask that their sister be allowed to prepare somewhat for them to eat. Then the bat touches the eyes of the children, who immediately recognise their parents, and great is the rejoicing. The childless wife is torn in pieces by being dragged at the tail of a wild horse, and the bat, having been dressed in silver and gold, is sent back to his tree.
Sir Richard has given (p. 313, note) some particulars of the version in Hahn's collection of modern Greek tales, which generally corresponds with Galland's story. There is a different version in M. Legrand's "Recueil de Contes Populaires Grecs" (Paris, 1881), which combines incidents in the modern Arabic story of Arab Zandyk with some of those in Galland and some which it has exclusively:
MODERN GREEK VERSION.
Three daughters of an old woman disobey the order of the King, not to use a light at night because of the scarcity of oil, and work on as usual. The King in going round the town to see if his order is obeyed comes to their house, and overhears the eldest girl express a wish that she were married to the royal baker, so that she should have plenty of bread. The second wishes the King's cook for her husband, to have royal meals galore. The youngest wishes to have the King himself, saying she would bear him as children, "Sun," "Moon," and "Star." Next day the King sends for them and marries each as she had wished. When the youngest brings forth the three children, in successive years, her mother-in-law, on the advice of a "wise woman," (? the midwife) substitutes a dog, a cat and a serpent, and causes the infants to be put in a box and sent down the river, and the queen is disgraced.
An old monk, in the habit of going down to the river and taking one fish daily, one day gets two fishes, and asks God the reason. In reply he is told that he will henceforth have two mouths to feed. Presently, he finds the box with the infant "Sun" in it and takes him home. Next year he gets one day three fishes, and finds the infant "Moon", and the third year he has four fishes one day and finds the baby-girl, "Star." When the children have grown up the monk sends them to town in order that they should learn the ways of the world. The eldest hearing a Jew offering a box for sale, saying, "Whoever buys this box will be sorry for it, and he who does not buy it will be equally sorry," purchases it and on taking it home finds his sister weeping for the golden apple which the "wise woman" (who had found them out) told her she must get. He opens the Jew's box and finds a green and winged horse in it. The horse tells him how to get the golden apple from the forty guardian dragons. They go and get it. After this the old woman comes again and tells the sister that she must get the golden bough, on which all the birds in the world sing, and this also is procured by the help of the green and winged horse. A third time the old trot comes and says to the girl, "You must get Tzitzinæna to explain the language of birds." The eldest brother starts off on the horse, and arriving at the dwelling of Tzitzinæna he calls her name, whereupon he, with the horse, is turned to stone up to the knees; and calling again on her they become marble to the waist. Then the youth burns a hair he had got from the monk, who instantly appears, calls out "Tzitzinaena," and she comes forth, and with the water of immortality the youth and horse are disenchanted. After the youth has returned home with Tzitzinæna, the King sees the three children and thinks them like those his wife had promised to bear him. He invites them to dinner, at which Tzitzinæna warns them of poisoned meats, some of which they give to a dog they had brought with them, and the animal dies on the spot. They ask the King to dine at their house and he goes. Tzitzinæna by clapping her hands thrice procures a royal feast for him; then, having induced the King to send for his wife, she tells the whole story of the mother-in-law's evil doings, and shows the King that "Sun," "Moon" and "Star" are his own children. The King's mother and the old woman are torn to pieces.
In Albania, as might be expected, our story is orally current in a form which resembles both the Greek version, as above, and the tale of Arab Zandyk, more especially the latter; and it may have been derived from the Turks, though I am not aware that the story has been found in Turkish. This is an abstract of the second of M. Dozon's "Comes Albanais" (Paris, 1881), a most entertaining collection:
There was a King who had three daughters. When he died, his successor proclaimed by the crier an order prohibiting the use of lights during the night of his accession. Having made this announcement, the King disguised himself and went forth alone. After walking about from place to place he came to the abode of the daughters of the late King, and going up close to it he overheard their conversation. This is what the eldest was saying, "If the King took me for his wife, I would make him a carpet upon which the whole of his army could be seated and there would still be room to spare." Then said the second, "If the King would take me for his wife, I would make him a tent under which the whole army could be sheltered, and room would still remain." Lastly, the youngest said, "If the King should espouse me, I would bring him a son and a daughter with a star on their foreheads and a moon on their shoulders."
The King, who had not lost a word of this conversation, sent for the sisters on the morrow and married all three. [FN#432] The eldest, as she had declared, made a carpet on which the whole army was seated, and yet there was room to spare. The second, in her turn, made a tent under which all the army found shelter. As to the youngest, after a time, she grew great, and her confinement approached. The day she was delivered the King was absent, and on his return he inquired what she had given birth to. The two elder sisters replied, "A little cat and a little mouse." On hearing this the King ordered the mother to be placed upon the staircase, and commanded every one who entered to spit upon her.
Now she had given birth to a boy and a girl, but her two sisters, after having shut them up in a box, sent them away by a servant to be exposed on the bank of the river, and a violent wind afterwards arising, the box was drifted to the other side. There was a mill on that side, where dwelt an old man and his wife. The old man having found the box brought it home. They opened it, and discovered the boy and girl, with a star on their foreheads and a moon on their shoulders. Astonished thereat, they took them out and brought the children up as well as they could.
Time passed away; the old woman died, and soon after came the turn of the old man. Before dying he called the youth to him and said, "Know, my son, that in such a place is a cave where there is a bridle which belongs to me. That bridle is thine, but avoid opening the cave before forty days have elapsed, if you wish the bridle to do whatever you command." The forty days having expired, the young man went to the cave, and on opening it found the bridle. He took it in his hand and said to it, "I want two horses," and in a moment two horses appeared. The brother and sister mounted them, and in the twinkling of an eye they arrived in their father's country. There the young man opened a café, and his sister remained secluded at home.
As the café was the best in the country, the King came to hear of it, and when he entered it he saw the youth, who had a star on his forehead. He thought him so beautiful [and lingered so long] that he returned late to the palace, when he was asked why he had tarried so late. He replied, that a young lad had opened a café, and was so beautiful that he had never seen his equal; and, what was most extraordinary, there was a star on his brow. The sisters no sooner heard these words of the King than they understood that he referred to their younger sister's son. Full of rage and spite, they quickly devised a plan of causing his death. What did they do? They sent to his sister an old woman, who said to her, "Thy brother, O my daughter, can hardly love thee, for he is all day at the café and has a good time of it, while he leaves thee here alone. If he truly loves thee, tell him to bring thee a flower from the Belle of the Earth, so that thou too mayest have something to divert thyself with." On returning home that evening the young man found his sister quite afflicted, and asked the cause of her grief. "Why should I not grieve?" said she "You leave me alone, secluded here, while you go about as your fancy directs. If you love me, go to the Belle of the Earth and bring a flower, so that I too may be amused." "Console yourself," replied he, and at once gave orders to the bridle. An enormous horse appeared, which he mounted and set off.
As he journeyed, a lamia presented herself before him, and said, "I have a great desire to eat thee, but thou also excitest pity, and so I leave thee thy life." The young man then inquired of her how he could find the Belle of the Earth. "I know nothing about it, my son," replied the lamia; "but go ask my second sister." So he rode off and came to her, and she drew near, intending to devour him, but seeing him so beautiful, she asked where he was going. He told his story and said, "Do you know the way to the Belle of the Earth'" But she in her turn sent him to her elder sister, who on seeing him rushed out to eat him, but like the others, was touched by his comeliness and spared him; and when he inquired after the Belle of the Earth, "Take this handkerchief," said she, "and when thou arrivest at her abode, use it to open the door. Inside thou wilt see a lion and a lamb; throw brains to the lion and grass to the lamb." So he went forward and did all the lamia advised. He tried the door and it opened; threw brains to the lion and grass to the lamb, and they allowed him to pass. He went in and pulled a flower, and he had no sooner done so than he found himself at his own door.
Great was his sister's joy as she began playing with the flower. But on the morrow the two sisters sent the old woman to her again. "Has he brought thee the flower?" she asked. "Yes, he has." Thou art content," said the old hag; "but if thou hadst the handkerchief of the Belle of the Earth, it would be quite another thing." When her brother came home he found her in tears, and in reply to his inquiries, "What pleasure," said she--"what pleasure can this flower give me? So long as I have not the handkerchief of the Belle of the Earth I shall not be happy." Then he, desirous that his sister should have no cause for grief, mounted his horse, and in the same manner as he had obtained the flower, possessed himself of the handkerchief and brought it home to his sister.
On the morrow, when the young man had gone to his café, the old witch again visited his sister, who informed her that her brother had brought her the handkerchief. "How happy," said the sorceress--"how happy thou art in having a brother who brings thee whatever thou desirest! But if thou cost wish to spend thy life like a pasha's wife, thou must also obtain the owner of that handkerchief."
To please his sister, the young man once more sets out, and coming to the eldest of the lamiae and telling her his errand, "O my son," said she, "thou canst go there, but as to carrying away the mistress of the handkerchief, that is not so easy. However, try in some way to obtain possession of her ring, for therein lies all her power." So he continues his journey, and after passing the lion and the lamb he comes to the chamber of the Belle of the Earth. He finds her asleep, and approaching her noiselessly draws the ring from her finger, upon which she awakes and discovering that she had not her ring, there was no alternative but to submit to his will. They set out together and in the twinkling of an eye arrived at the young man's house. On perceiving them the sister was overcome with joy.
It happened next day that the King again went to the café, and on his return home ordered supper to be prepared, saying that he had invited the young man and all his friends. The sisters instructed the cooks to put poison in the food, which they did accordingly. At nightfall the young man arrived, accompanied by the Belle of the Earth, whom he had married, and his sister. But none of them, notwithstanding the entreaties of the King, would touch any food, for the Belle of the Earth had revealed to them that the meats were poisoned: they merely ate a few mouthfuls out of the King's mess.
Supper over, the King invited each one to tell a story, and when it came to the young man's turn, he recounted the whole story of his adventures. Then the King recognised in him the son of his fairest wife, whom, deceived by the lies of her sisters, he had exposed on the staircase. So he instantly ordered the two sisters to be seized and cut to pieces, and he took back his wife. As for the young man, he became his heir. He grew old and prospered.
The points of difference between, and the relative merits of, Galland's story and Straparola's
and whence both were probably obtained, will be considered later on, as several other versions or variants remain to be noticed or cited, before attempting a comparative analysis, not the least interesting of which is a
In "Melusine," for 1878, colt 206 ff., M. Luzel gives a Breton version, under the title of "Les Trois Filles du Boulanger; ou, L'Eau qui dense, la Pomme qui chante, et l'Oiseau de Vérité," which does not appear to have been derived from Galland's story, although it corresponds with it closely in the first part. A prince overhears the conversation of three daughters of an old baker, who is a widower. The eldest says that she loves the king's gardener, the second, that she loves the king's valet, and the youngest says the prince is her love, to whom she would bear two boys, each with a star of gold on his brow, and a girl, with a star of silver. The father chides them for talking nonsense and sends them to bed. The following day the prince sends for the girls to come to the palace one after the other, and having questioned them, tells the youngest that he desires to see her father. When she delivers the royal message the old baker begins to shake in his shoes, and exclaims, "I told you that your frivolous remarks would come to the ears of the prince, and now he sends for me to have me punished, without a doubt." "No, no, dear father; go to the palace and fear nothing." He goes, and, to be brief, the three marriages duly take place. The sisters married to the royal gardener and valet soon become jealous of the young queen, and when they find she is about to become a mother they consult a fairy, who advises them to gain over the midwife and get her to substitute a little dog and throw the child into the river, which is done accordingly, when the first son with the gold star is born. For the second son, a dog is also substituted, and the king, as on the former occasion, says, "God's will be done: take care of the poor creature." But when the little girl with the silver star is smuggled away and the king is shown a third puppy as the queen's offspring, he is enraged. "They'll call me the father of dogs!" he exclaims, "and not without cause." He orders the queen to be shut up in a tower and fed on bread and water. The children are picked up by a gardener, who has a garden close to the river, and brought up by his wife as their own. In course of time the worthy couple die, and the king causes the children to be brought to the palace (how he came to know of them the story-teller does not inform us), and as they were very pretty and had been well brought up, he was greatly pleased with them. Every Sunday they went to grand mass in the church, each having a ribbon on the brow to conceal the stars. All the folk were astonished at their beauty.
One day, when the king was out hunting, an old woman came into the kitchen of the palace, where the sister happened to be, and exclaimed, "O how cold I am," and she trembled and her teeth chattered. "Come near the fire, my good mother," said the little girl. "Blessings on you, my child! How beautiful you are! If you had but the Water that dances, the Apple that sings, and the Bird of Truth, you'd not have your equal on the earth." "Yes, but how to obtain these wonders?" "You have two brothers who can procure them for you," and so saying, the old woman went away. When she told her brothers what the old woman had said, the eldest before setting out in quest of the three treasures leaves a poignard which as long as it can be drawn out of its sheath would betoken his welfare. One day it can't be drawn out, so the second brother goes off, leaving with his sister a rosary, as in Galland. When she finds the beads won't run on the string, she goes herself, on horseback, as a cavalier. She comes to a large plain, and in a hollow tree sees a little old man with a beard of great length, which she trims for him. The old man tells her that 60 leagues distant is an inn by the roadside; she may enter it, and having refreshed herself with food and drink leave her horse there, and promise to pay on her return After quitting the inn she will see a very high mountain, to climb which will require hands and feet, and she'll have to encounter a furious storm of hail and snow, it will be bitterly cold: take care and not lose courage, but mount on. She'll see on either side a number of stone pillars--persons like herself who have been thus transformed because they lost heart. On the summit is a plain, bordered with flowers, blooming as in May. She will see a gold seat under an apple-tree and should sit down and make it appear as if asleep; presently the bird will descend from branch to branch and enter the cage; quickly close it on the bird, for it is the Bird of Truth. Cut a branch of the tree, with an apple on it, for it is the Apple that sings. Lastly, there is also the fountain of water which dances: fill a flask from the fountain and in descending the hill sprinkle a few drops of the water on the stone pillars and the enchanted young princes and knights will come to life again. Such were the instructions of the little old man, for which the princess thanked him and went on her way. Arriving at the summit of the mountain, she discovered the cage and sitting down under the tree feigned to be asleep, when presently the merle entered and she at once rose up and closed it. The merle, seeing that he was a prisoner, said, "You have captured me, daughter of the King of France. Many others have tried to seize me, but none has been able till now, and you must have been counselled by some one." The princess then cut a branch of the tree with an apple on it, filled her flask with water from the fountain that danced, and as she went down the hill sprinkled a few drops on the stone pillars, which were instantly turned into princes, dukes, barons, and knights, and last of all her two brothers came to life, but they did not know her. All pressed about the princess, some saying, "Give me the Water which dances," others, "Give me the Apple which sings," and others, "Give me the Bird of Truth." But she departed quickly, carrying with her the three treasures, and passing the inn where she had left her horse she paid her bill and returned home, where she arrived long before her brothers. When at length they came home she embraced them, saying, "Ah, my poor brothers! How much anxiety you have caused me! How long your journey has lasted! But God be praised that you are back here again." "Alas, my poor sister, we have indeed remained a long time away, and after all have not succeeded in our quest. But we may consider ourselves fortunate in having been able to return." "How!" said the princess, "do you not bring me the Water which dances, the Apple which sings, and the Bird of Truth?" "Alas! my poor sister, a young knight who was a stranger to us carried them all away--curse the rascal." The old king who had no children (or rather, who believed he had none) loved the two brothers and the sister very much and was highly delighted to see them back again. He caused a grand feast to be prepared, to which he invited princes, dukes, marquises, barons, and generals. Towards the end of the banquet the young girl placed on the table the Water, the Apple, and the Bird, and bade each do its duty, whereupon the Water began to dance, and the Apple began to sing, and the Bird began to hop about the table, and all present, in ecstasy, mouth and eyes wide open, looked and listened to these wonders. Never before had they seen such a sight. "To whom belong these marvels?" said the king when at length he was able to speak. "To me, sire," replied the young girl. "Is that so?" said the King. "And from whom did you get them?" "I myself procured them with much trouble," answered she. Then the two brothers knew that it was their sister who had delivered them. As to the king, he nearly lost his head in his joy and admiration. "My crown and my kingdom for your wonders, and you yourself, my young girl, shall be my queen," he exclaimed. "Patience for a little, sire," said she, "until you have heard my bird speak-- the Bird of Truth, for he has important things to reveal to you. My little bird, now speak the truth." "I consent," replied the bird; "but let no one go out of this room," and all the doors were closed. The old sorceress of a midwife and one of the king's sisters- in-law were present, and became very uneasy at hearing these words. "Come now, my bird," then said the girl, "speak the truth," and this is what the bird said: "Twenty years ago, sire, your wife was shut up in a tower, abandoned by everybody, and you have long believed her to be dead. She has been accused unjustly." The old midwife and the king's sister-in-law now felt indisposed and wished to leave the room. "Let no one depart hence," said the king. "Continue to speak the truth, my little bird." "You have had two sons and a daughter, sire," the bird went on to say--"all three born of your lady, and here they are! Remove their bandages and you will see that each of them has a star on the forehead." They removed the bandages and saw a gold star on the brow of each of the boys and a silver star on the girl's brow. "The authors of all the evil," continued the bird, "are your two sisters-in-law and this midwife--this sorceress of the devil. They have made you believe that your wife only gave birth to little dogs, and your poor children were exposed on the Seine as soon as they were born. When the midwife--that sorceress of hell--learned that the children had been saved and afterwards brought to the palace, she sought again to destroy them. Penetrating one day into the palace, disguised as a beggar, and affecting to be perishing from cold and hunger, she incited in the mind of the princess the desire to possess the Dancing-Water, the Singing Apple, and the Bird of Truth--myself. Her two brothers went, one after the other, in quest of these things, and the sorceress took very good care that they should never return. Nor would they have returned, if their sister had not succeeded in delivering them after great toil and trouble." As the bird ended his story, the king became unconscious, and when he revived he went himself to fetch the queen from the tower. He soon returned with her to the festive chamber, holding her by the hand. She was beautiful and gracious as ever, and having ate and drank a little, she died on the spot. The king, distraught with grief and anger, ordered a furnace to be heated, and threw into it his sister-in-law and the midwife--"ce tison de l'enfer!" As to the princess and her two brothers, I think they made good marriages all three, and as to the bird, they do not say if it continues still to speak the truth;--"mats je présume que oui, puisque ce n'était pas un homme!"
It would indeed be surprising did we not find our story popularly known throughout Germany in various forms. Under the title of "The Three Little Birds" a version is given in Grimm's K. u. H. M. (No. 96, vol. i. of Mrs. Hunt's English translation), which reproduces the chief particulars of Galland's tale with at least one characteristic German addition;
A king, who dwelt on the Keuterberg, was out hunting one day, when he was seen by three young girls who were watching their cows on the mountain, and the eldest, pointing to him, calls out to the two others, "If I do not get that one, I'll have none;" the second, from another part of the hill, pointing to the one who was on the king's right hand, cries "If I don't get that one, I'll have none;" and the youngest, pointing to the one who was on the king's left hand, shouts, "And if I don't get him, I'll have none." When the king has returned home he sends for the three girls, and after questioning them as to what they had said to each other about himself and his two ministers, he takes the eldest girl for his own wife and marries the two others to the ministers. The king was very fond of his wife, for she was fair and beautiful of face, and when he had to go abroad for a season he left her in charge of the two sisters who were the wives of his ministers, as she was about to become a mother. Now the two sisters had no children, and when the queen gave birth to a boy who "brought a red star into the world with him," they threw him into the river, whereupon a little bird flew up into the air, singing:
"To thy death art thou sped,
Until God's word be said.
In the white lily bloom,
Brave boy, is thy tomb."
When the king came home they told him his queen had been delivered of a dog, and he said, "What God does is well done." The same thing happens the two following years: when the queen had another little boy, the sisters substituted a dog and the king said "What God does is well done;" but when she was delivered of a beautiful little girl, and they told the king she had this time borne a cat, he grew angry and ordered the poor queen to be thrown into prison. On each occasion a fisherman who dwelt near the river drew the child from the water soon after it was thrown in, and having no children, his wife lovingly reared them. When they had grown up, the eldest once went with some other boys to fish, and they would not have him with them, saying to him, "Go away, foundling." The boy, much grieved, goes to the fisherman and asks whether he is a foundling, and the old man tells him the whole story, upon which the youth, spite of the fisherman's entreaties, at once sets off to seek his father. After walking for many days he came to a great river, by the side of which was an old woman fishing. He accosted her very respectfully, and she took him on her back and carried him across the water. When a year had gone by, the second boy set out in search of his brother, and the same happened to him as to the elder one. Then the girl went to look for her two brothers, and coming to the water she said to the old woman, "Good day, mother. May God help you with your fishing." (The brothers had said to her that she would seek long enough before she caught any fish, and she replied, "And thou wilt seek long enough before thou findest thy father"--hence their failure in their quest.)
When the old woman heard that, she became quite friendly, and carried her over the water, gave her a wand, and said to her, "Go, my daughter, ever onwards by this road and when you come to a great black dog, you must pass it silently and boldly, without either laughing or looking at it. Then you will come to a great high castle, on the threshold of which you must let the wand fall, and go straight through the castle and out again on the other side. There you will see an old fountain out of which a large tree has grown whereon hangs a bird in a cage, which you must take down. Take likewise a glass of water out of the fountain, and with these two things go back by the same way. Pick up the wand again from the threshold and take it with you, and when you again pass by the dog strike him in the face with it, but be sure that you hit him, and then just come back here to me." The maiden found everything exactly as the old woman had said, and on her way hack she found her two brothers who had sought each other over half the world. They went together where the black dog was lying on the road; she struck it in the face and it turned into a handsome prince, who went with them to the river. There the old woman was still standing. She rejoiced much to see them again, and carried them all over the water, and then she too went away, for now she was freed. The others, however, went to the old fisherman, and all were glad that they had found each other again, and they hung the bird in its cage on the wall. But the second son could not settle at home, and took his cross-bow and went a-hunting. When he was tired he took his flute and played on it. The king happened to be also hunting, and hearing the music went up to the youth and said, "Who has given thee leave to hunt here?" "O. no one." "To whom dost thou belong, then?" "I am the fisherman's son." "But he has no children." "If thou wilt not believe it, come with me." The king did so, and questioned the fisherman, who told the whole story, and the little bird on the wall began to sing:
"The mother sits alone
There in the prison small;
O King of the royal blood,
These are thy children all.
The sisters twain, so false,
They wrought the children woe,
There in the waters deep,
Where the fishers come and go."
Then the king took the fisherman, the three little children, and the bird back with him to the castle, and ordered his wife to be taken out of prison and brought before him. She had become very ill and weak, but her daughter gave her some of the water of the fountain to drink and she became strong and healthy. But the two false sisters were burnt, and the maiden was married to the Prince.
Even in Iceland, as already stated, the same tale has long cheered the hardy peasant's fire-side circle, while the "wind without did roar and rustle." That it should have reached that out-of-the-way country through Galland's version is surely inconceivable, notwithstanding the general resemblance which it bears to the "Histoire des Sťurs jalouses de leur Cadette." It is found in Powell and Magnússon's "Legends of Iceland," second series, and as that excellent work is not often met with (and why so, I cannot understand), moreover, as the story is told with much naïveté, I give it here in full:
Not very far from a town where dwelt the king lived once upon a time a farmer. He was well to do and had three daughters; the eldest was twenty years of age, the two others younger, but both marriageable. Once, when they were walking outside their father's farm, they saw the king coming riding on horseback with two followers, his secretary and his bootmaker. The king was unmarried, as were also those two men. When they saw him, the eldest of the sisters said, "I do not wish anything higher than to be the wife of the king's shoemaker." Said the second, "And I of the king's secretary." Then the youngest said? "I wish that I were the wife of the king himself." Now the king heard that they were talking together, and said to his followers, "I will go to the girls yonder and know what it is they were talking about. It seemed to me that I heard one of them say, 'The king himself."' His followers said that what the girls had been chattering about could hardly be of much importance. The king did not heed this, however, but declared that they would all go to the girls and have a talk with them. This they did. The king then asked what they had been talking about a moment ago, when he and his men passed them. The sisters were unwilling to tell the truth, but being pressed hard by the king, did so at last. Now as the damsels pleased the king, and he saw that they were both handsome and fair-spoken particularly the youngest of them, he said that all should be as they had wished it. The sisters were amazed at this, but the king's will must be done.
So the three sisters were married, each to the husband she had chosen. But when the youngest sister had become queen, the others began to cast on her looks of envy and hatred, and would have her, at any cost, dragged down from her lofty position. And they laid a plot for the accomplishment of this their will. When the queen was going to be confined for the first time, her sisters got leave to act as her midwives. But as soon as the child was born they hid it away, and ordered it to be thrown into a slough into which all the filth was cast. But the man to whom they had entrusted this task could not bring himself to do it, so put the child on the bank of the slough, thinking that some one might find it and save its life. And so it fell out; for an old man chanced to pass the slough soon afterwards and finding a crying child on the bank, thought it a strange find, took it up and brought it to his home, cherishing it as he could. The queen's sisters took a whelp and showed it to the king as his queen's offspring. The king was grieved at this tale, but, being as fond of the queen as of his own life, he restrained his anger and punished her not.
At the second and third confinement of the queen her sisters played the same trick: they exposed the queen's children in order to have them drowned in the slough. The man however, always left them on the bank, and it so happened that the same old earl always passed by and took up the children, and carried them home, and brought them up as best he could. The queen's sisters said that the second time the queen was confined she had given birth to a kitten, and the third time, to a log of wood. At this the king waxed furiously wroth, and ordered the queen to be thrown into the house where he kept a lion as he did not wish this monster to fill his kingdom with deformities. And the sisters thought that they had managed their boat well and were proud of their success. The lion, however, did not devour the queen, but even gave her part of his food and was friendly towards her and thus the queen lived with the lion, a wretched enough life without anybody's knowing anything about it.
Now the story turns to the old man who fostered the king's children. The eldest of these, a boy, he called Vilhjámr, the second, also a boy, Sigurdr; the third child was a girl and her name was unknown. All that came to him, or with whom he met, the old man would ask if they knew nothing of the children he had found on the bank of the slough. But no one seemed to have the faintest notion about their birth or descent. As the children grew up they were hopeful and fine-looking. The earl had now waxed very old, and, expecting his end, he gave the children this rede, always to ask every one to whom they spoke for news of their family and birth, in order that they might perchance be able at last to trace out the truth. He himself told them all he knew about the matter. After this the old man died, and the children followed closely his advice. Once there came to them an old man, of whom they asked the same questions as of all others. He said he could not give them any hints on the matter himself, but that he could point out one to them who was able to do so. He told them that a short way from their farm was a large stone, whereupon was always sitting a bird which could both understand and speak the tongue of men. It would be best for them, he went on, to find this bird; but there was a difficulty in the matter to be got over first, for many had gone there but none had ever returned. He said that many king's children had gone to this bird in order to know their future fate, but they had all come short in the very thing needed. He told them that whosoever wanted to mount the stone must be so steady as never to look back, whatever he might hear or see, or whatever wonders seemed to take place around the rock. All who did not succeed in this were changed into stones, together with everything they had with them. This steadiness no one had had yet, but whosoever had it could easily mount the rock, and having once done so would be able to quicken all the others who have been turned to stone there. For the top of the rock was flat, and there was a trap-door on it, wherein the bird was sitting. Underneath the trap-door was water, the nature of which was that it would turn all the stones back to life again. The old man ended by saying, "Now he who succeeds in getting to the top is allowed by the bird to take the water and sprinkle the stone-changed folk, and call them to life again, just as they were before." This the king's children thought no hard task. The brothers, however, were the most outspoken about the easiness of the thing. They thanked the old man much for his story and took leave of him.
Not long after this, Vilhjámr, the eldest brother, went to the rock. But before he left he said to his brother, that if three drops of blood should fall on his knife at table while he was away, Sigurdr should at once come to the rock, for then it would be sure that he fared like the others. So Vilhjámr went away, following the old man's directions, and nothing further is told of him for a while. But after three days, or about the time when his brother should have reached the stone, three drops of blood fell upon Sigurdr's knife, once, while at table. He was startled at this and told his sister that he must needs leave her, in order to help his brother. He made the same agreement with his sister as Vilhjámr had before made with him. Then he went away, and, to make the story short, all came to the same issue with him as with his brother, and the blood-drops fell on his sister's knife, at the time when Sigurdr should have reached the stone.
Then the damsel went herself, to see what luck she might have. She succeeded in finding the rock, and when she came there she was greatly struck with the number of stones that surrounded it, in every shape and position. Some had the form of chests, others of various animals, while some again were in other forms. She paid no heed to all this, but going straight forward to the great rock began climbing it. Then she heard, all of a sudden, behind her a loud murmur of human voices, all talking, one louder than another, and amongst the number she heard those of her brothers. But she paid no heed to this, and took good care never to look back, in spite of all she heard going on behind her. Then she got at last to the top of the rock, and the bird greatly praised her steadiness and constancy and promised both to tell her anything she chose to ask him and to assist her in every way he could. First, she would have the surrounding stones recalled to their natural shapes and life. This the bird granted her, pointing to one of the stones and saying, "Methinks you would free that one from his spell, if you knew who he was." So the king's daughter sprinkled water over all the stones and they returned to life again, and thanked her for their release with many fair words. Next she asked the bird who were the parents of herself and her brothers, and to whom they might trace their descent. The bird said that they were the children of the king of that country, and told her how the queen's sisters had acted by them at their birth, and last of all told her how her mother was in the lion's den, and how she was nearer dead than alive from sorrow and want of good food and comfort.
The stone which the bird had pointed out to the princess was a king's son, as noble as he was handsome. He cast affectionate looks to his life-giver and it was plain that each loved the other. It was he who had brought the greater part of the chest-shaped stones thither, the which were coffers full of gold and jewels. When the bird had told to every one that which each wanted to know, all the company of the disenchanted scattered, the three children and the wealthy prince going together. When they came home the first thing they did was to break into the lion's den. They found their mother lying in a swoon, for she had lost her senses on hearing the house broken into. They took her away, and she soon afterwards recovered. Then they dressed her in fitting attire, and taking her to the palace asked audience of the king. This granted, Vilhjámr, Sigurdr, and their sister declared to the king that they were his children and that they had brought with them their mother from the lion's den. The king was amazed at this story and at all that had happened. The sisters of the queen were sent for and questioned, and, having got into scrapes by differing in accounts, confessed at last their misdeed and told the truth. They were thrown before the same lion that the queen had been given to, and it tore them to pieces immediately and ate them up, hair and all.
Now the queen took her former rank, and a banquet was held in joy at this happy turn of affairs, and for many days the palace resounded with the glee of the feast. And at the end of it the foreign prince wooed the king's daughter and gained easily her hand, and thus the banquet was begun afresh and became the young people's marriage-feast. Such glee has never been witnessed in any other kingdom. After the feast the strange prince returned to his home with his bride and became king after his father. Vilhjámr also married and took the kingdom after his father. Sigurdr married a king's daughter abroad, and became king after the death of his father-in-law; and all of them lived in luck and prosperity. And now is the story ended.
From bleak Iceland to sunny India is certainly a "far cry," but we had already got half-way thither in citing the Egypto-Arabian versions, and then turned westwards and northwards. We must now, however, go all the way to Bengal for our next form of the story, which is much simpler in construction than any of the foregoing versions, and may be considered as a transition stage of the tale in its migration to Europe. This is an abridgment of the story--not of Envious Sisters but of jealous co-wives--from the Rev. Lal Bahari Day's "Folk-Tales of Bengal,'' [FN#434] a work of no small value to students of the genealogy of popular fictions:
A certain King had six wives, none of whom had children, in spite of doctors and all sorts of doctors' stuff. He was advised by his ministers to take a seventh wife. There was in the city a poor woman who earned her livelihood by gathering cow-dung from the fields kneading it into cakes, which, after drying in the sun, she sold for fuel. She had a very beautiful daughter, who had contracted friendship with three girls much above her rank namely, the daughter of the King's minister, the daughter of a rich merchant, and the daughter of the King's chaplain. It happened one day that all four were bathing together in a tank near the palace, and the King overheard them conversing as follows: Said the minister's daughter, "The man who marries me won't need to buy me any clothes, for the cloth I once put on never gets soiled, never gets old, and never tears." The merchant's daughter said, "And my husband will also be a happy man, for the fuel which I use in cooking never turns to ashes, but serves from day to day, and from year to year." Quoth the chaplain's daughter, "My husband too will be a happy man, for when once I cook rice it never gets finished; no matter how much we may eat, the original quantity always remains in the pot." [FN#441] Then said the poor woman's daughter, "And the man who marries me will also be happy, for I shall give birth to twin children, a son and a daughter; the girl will be divinely beautiful, and the boy will have a moon on his forehead and stars on the palms of his hands."
The King didn't care to have any of the three young ladies, but resolved at once to marry the fourth girl, who would present him with such extraordinary twin children, notwithstanding her humble birth, and their nuptials were celebrated in due form, much to the chagrin of his six wives. Some time after the King had occasion to go for six months to another part of his dominions, and when about to set out he told his new wife that he expected her to be confined before the period of his absence was expired, and that he would like to be present with her at the time, lest her enemies (her co-wives) might do her some injury. So giving her a golden bell he bade her hang it in her room, and when the pains of labour came on to ring it, and he would be with her in a moment, no matter where he might be at the time; but she must only ring it when her labour pains began. The six other wives had overheard all this, and the day after the King had departed went to the new wife's room and affected to admire the golden bell, and asked her where she got it and what was its use. The unsuspecting creature told them its purpose, upon which they all exclaimed that it was impossible the King could hear it ring at the distance of hundreds of miles, and besides, how could the King travel such a distance in the twinkling of an eye? They urged her to ring the bell and convince herself that what the King had said to her was all nonsense. So she rang the bell, and the King instantly appeared, and seeing her going about as usual, he asked her why she had summoned him before her time. Without saying anything about the six other wives, she replied that she had rung the bell merely out of curiosity to know if what he had said was true. The King was angry, and, telling her distinctly she was not to ring the bell until the labour pains came upon her, went away again. Some weeks after the six wives once more induced her to ring the bell, and when the King appeared and found she was not about to be confined and that she had been merely making another trial of the bell (for, as on the former occasion, she did not say that her co-wives had instigated her), he was greatly enraged, and told her that even should she ring when in the throes of childbirth he should not come to her, and then went away. At last the day of her confinement arrived, and when she rang the bell the King did not come. [FN#435] The six jealous wives seeing this went to her and said that it was not customary for the ladies of the palace to be confined in the royal apartments, and that she must go to a hut near the stables. They then sent for the midwife of the palace, and heavily bribed her to make away with the infant the moment it was born. The seventh wife gave birth, as she had promised, to a son who had a moon on his forehead and stars on the palms of his hands, and also to an uncommonly beautiful girl. The midwife had come provided with a couple of newly-littered pups, which she set before the mother, saying, "You have given birth to these," and took away the twin-children in an earthen vessel, while the mother was insensible. The King, though he was angry with his seventh wife, yet recollecting that she was to give birth to an heir to his throne, changed his mind, and came to see her the next morning. The pups were produced before the King as the offspring of his new wife, and great was his anger and vexation. He gave orders that she should be expelled from the palace, clothed in leather, and employed in the market-place to drive away crows and keep off dogs, all of which was done accordingly.
The midwife placed the vessel containing the twins along with the unburnt clay vessels which a potter had set in order and then gone to sleep, intending to get up during the night and light his furnace; in this way she thought the little innocents would be reduced to ashes. It happened, however, that the potter and his wife overslept themselves that night, and it was near daybreak when the woman awoke and roused her husband. She then hastened to the furnace, and to her surprise found all the pots thoroughly baked, although no fire had been applied to them. Wondering at such good luck, she summoned her husband, who was equally astonished and pleased, and attributed it all to some benevolent deity. In turning over the pots he came upon the one in which the twins were placed, and the wife looking on them as a gift from heaven (for she had no children) carried them into the house and gave out to the neighbours that they had been borne by herself. The children grew in stature and in strength and when they played in the fields were the admiration of every one that saw them. They were about twelve years of age when the potter died, and his wife threw herself on the pyre and was burnt with her husband's body. The boy with the moon on his forehead (which he always kept concealed with a turban, lest it should attract notice) and his beautiful sister now broke up the potter's establishment, sold his wheel and pots and pans, and went to the bazar in the King's city, which they had no sooner entered than it was lit up brilliantly. The shopkeepers thought them divine beings and built a house for them in the bazar. And when they used to ramble about they were always followed at a distance by the woman clothed in leather who was appointed by the King to drive away the crows, and by some strange impulse, she also used to hang about their house.
The youth presently bought a horse and went hunting in the neighbouring jungles. It happened one day, while following the chase, that the King met him, and, struck with his beauty, felt an unaccountable yearning for him. [FN#436] As a deer went past the youth shot an arrow and in so doing his turban fell off, on which a bright light, like that of the moon, was seen shining on his forehead. When the King perceived this, it brought to his mind the son with the moon on his forehead and stars on the palms of his hands who was to have been born of his seventh queen, and would have spoken with the youth, but he immediately galloped off. When the King reached home his six wives observing his sadness asked him its cause, and he told them of the youth he had seen in the forest with a moon on his forehead. They began to wonder if the twins were not still alive, and sending for the midwife closely questioned her as to the fate of the children. She stoutly declared that she had herself seen them burnt to ashes, but she would find out who the youth was whom the King had met while hunting. She soon ascertained that two strangers were living in a house in the bazar which the shopkeepers had built for them, and when she entered the house the girl was alone, her brother having gone into the jungle to hunt. Pretending to be her aunt, the old woman said to her, "My dear child, you are so beautiful, you require only the kataki [FN#437] flower to properly set off your charms. You should tell your brother to plant a row of that flower in your courtyard." "I never saw that flower," said the girl "Of course not; how could you? It does not grow in this country, but on the other side of the ocean. Your brother may try and get it for you, if you ask him." This suggestion the old trot made in the hope that the lad would lose his life in venturing to obtain the flower. When he returned and his sister told him of the visit of their aunt and asked him to get her the kataki flower, on which she had set her heart, he at once consented, albeit he thought the woman had imposed upon his sister by calling herself their aunt.
Next morning he rode off on his fleet horse, and arriving on the borders of an immense forest he saw a number of rákshasí [FN#438] roaming about, he went aside and shot with his arrows some deer and rhinoceroses and then approaching the rákshasís called out, "O auntie dear, your nephew is here." A huge rákshasí strode towards him and said, "O. you are the youth with the moon on your forehead and stars on the palms of your hands. We were all expecting you, but as you have called me aunt, I will not eat you. What is it you want? Have you brought anything for me to eat?" The youth gave her the game he had killed, and she began devouring it. After swallowing all the carcases she said, "Well, what do you want?" He answered, "I want some kataki flowers for my sister." She told him it would be very difficult for him to get them, as they were guarded by seven hundred rákshasas, but if he was determined to attempt it, he had better first go to his uncle on the north side of the Jungle. He goes, and greets the rákshasa, calling him uncle, and having regaled him with deer and rhinoceroses as he had done his "aunt," the rákshasa tells him that in order to obtain the flower he must go through an impenetrable forest of kachiri, [FN#439] and say to it "O mother kachiri, make way for me, else I perish," upon which a passage will be opened for him. Next he will come to the ocean, which he must petition in the same terms, and it would make a way for him. After crossing the ocean he'll come to the gardens where the kataki blooms. The forest opens a passage for the youth, and the ocean stands up like two walls on either side of him, so that he passes over dryshod. [FN#440] He enters the gardens and finds himself in a grand palace which appeared unoccupied. In one of the apartments he sees a young damsel of more than earthly beauty asleep on a golden bed, and going near discovers a stick of gold lying near her head and a stick of silver near her feet. Taking them in his hand, by accident the gold stick fell upon the feet of the sleeping beauty, when she instantly awoke, and told him she knew that he was the youth with the moon on his forehead and stars on the palms of his hands; that the seven hundred rákshasas who guarded the kataki flowers were then out hunting, but would return by sundown, and should they find him they'd eat him. A rákshasí had brought her from her father's palace, and is so fond of her that she will not allow her to return home. By means of the gold and silver sticks the rákshasí kills her when she goes off in the morning, and by means of them also she is revived when she comes back in the evening. He had better flee and save his life. But the youth told her he would not go away without the kataki flower, moreover, that he would take her also with him. They spent the day in walking about the gardens, and when it was drawing near the time for the return of the rákshasas, the youth concealed himself under a great heap of the kataki flower which was in one of the rooms, having first "killed" the damsel by touching her head with the golden stick. The return of the seven hundred rákshasas was like the noise of a mighty tempest. One of them entered the damsel's room and revived her, saying at the same time, "I smell a human being!" [FN#441] The damsel replied, "How can a human being come to this place?" and the rákshasa was satisfied. During the night the damsel worms out of the rákshasí who was her mistress the secret that the lives of the seven hundred rákshasas depended on the lives of a male and female bee, which were in a wooden box at the bottom of a tank, and that the only person who could seize and kill those bees was a youth with a moon on his forehead and stars on the palms of his hands--but there could be no such youth, and so their lives were safe. [FN#442] When the rákshasas had all gone out as usual next morning, the damsel, having been revived by the youth, told him how the demons could be killed, and, to be brief, he was not slow to put her directions into practice. After the death of the seven hundred rákshasas, the youth took some of the kataki flowers and left the palace accompanied by the beautiful damsel, whose name was Pushpavati. They passed through the ocean and forest of kachiri in safety, and arriving at the house in the bazár the youth with the moon on his forehead presented the kataki flower to his sister. Going out to hunt the next day, he met the king, and his turban again falling off as he shot an arrow, the King saw the moon on his forehead and desired his friendship. The youth invited the King to his house, and he went thither at midday. Pushpavati then told the King (for she knew the whole story from first to last) how his seventh wife had been induced by his six other wives to ring the bell twice needlessly; how she gave birth to a boy and a girl, and pups were substituted for them, how the twins were miraculously saved and brought up in the house of a potter, and so forth. When she had concluded the King was highly enraged, and next day caused his six wicked wives to be buried alive. The seventh queen was brought from the market-place and reinstated in the palace, and the youth with a moon on his forehead and stars on the palms of his hands lived happily with his beautiful twin-sister.
In two other Hindú versions known to me--but the story is doubtless as widely spread over India as we have seen it to be over Europe--only the leading idea of Galland's tale reappears, though one of them suggests the romance of "Helyas, the Knight of the Swan," namely, the story called "Truth's Triumph," in Miss Frere's "Old Deccan Days," p. 55 ff. Here a rájá and his minister walking together come to a large garden, where is a bringal- tree bearing 100 fruits but having no leaves, and the minister says to the rájá that whosoever should marry the gardener's daughter should have by her 100 boys and one girl. The rájá espoused the maiden, much to the vexation of the 12 wives he had already, and then follows a repetition of the golden bell affair! as in the Bengali version. Drapadi Bai, the gardener's daughter and the new rání, gives birth "right off" to 100 sons and a daughter, all of whom are thrown by the nurse on a dust-heap in which are a great number of rat-holes, the jealous co-wives fully expecting that the voracious rodents would quickly eat them up. The nurse tells the young rání that her children had turned into stones; such is also the story the 12 co-wives tell the rájá on his return, and he orders the poor Drapadi Bai to be imprisoned for life. But the rats, so far from devouring the children, nourished them with the utmost care. It comes to the knowledge of the 12 co-wives that the children are still alive, they are discovered and turned into crows--all save the little girl, who luckily escapes the fate of her 100 brothers, gets married to a great rájá, and has a son named Ramchandra, who effected the restoration to human form of his crow-uncles by means of magic water which he obtained from a rákshasí.
The other story referred to is No. xx of Miss Stokes' "Indian Fairy Tales," which Mr. Coote could not have read, else he would not have been at the trouble to maintain it was impossible that Galland derived his tale from it: "so long," says he, "as that story remained in the country of its birth--India--it was absolutely inaccessible to him, for great traveller as he was, he never visited that far-off portion of the East." The fact is, this Hindu story only resembles Galland's, and that remotely, in the opening portion Seven daughters of a poor man played daily under the shady trees in the king's garden with the gardener's daughter, and she used to say to them, "When I am married I shall have a son--such a beautiful boy as he will be has never been seen. He will have a moon on his forehead and a star on his chin," and they all laughed at her. The king, having overheard what she so often repeated, married her, though he had already four wives. Then follows the golden bell affair again, with a kettledrum substituted. When the young queen is about to be confined her co-wives tell her it is the custom to bind the eyes of women in her condition, to which she submits, and after she has borne the wonderful boy she promised to do, they tell her she has been delivered of a stone. The king degraded her to the condition of a kitchen servant and never spoke to her. The nurse takes the baby in a box and buries it in the jungle. But the king's dog had followed her, and when she went off he took the box out of the earth and swallowed the baby. Six months after the dog brings him up, caresses him and swallows him again. He does likewise at the end of the year, and the dog's keeper, having seen all told the four wives. They say to the king the dog had torn their clothes, and he replies, he'll have the brute shot to-morrow. The dog overhears this and runs off to the king's cow; he induces her to save the child by swallowing him, and the cow consents. Next day the dog is shot, and so on: the cow is to be killed and induces the king's horse to swallow the child, and so on.--There may have been originally some mystical signification attached to this part of the tale, but it has certainly no connection with our story. [FN#443]
I had nearly omitted an Arabian version of the outcast infants which seems to have hitherto escaped notice by story-comparers. Moreover, it occurs in a text of The Nights, to wit, the Wortley-Montague MS., Nights 472-483, in the story of Abou Neut and Abou Neeuteen = Abú Niyyet and Abú Niyyeteyn, according to Dr. Redhouse; one of those translated by Jonathan Scott in vol. vi. of his edition of the "Arabian Nights," where, at p. 227, the hero marries the King's youngest daughter and the King in dying leaves him heir to his throne, a bequest which is disputed by the husbands of the two elder daughters. The young queen is brought to bed of a son, and her sisters bribe the midwife to declare that she has given birth to a dog and throw the infant at the gate of one of the royal palaces. The same occurs when a second son is born. But at the third lying-in of the princess her husband takes care to be present, and the beautiful daughter she brings forth is saved from the clutches of her vindictive sisters. The two little princes are taken up by a gardener and reared as his own children. In course of time, it happened that the King (Abú Neeut) and his daughter visited the garden and saw the two little boys playing together and the young princess felt an instinctive affection for them, and the King, finding them engaged in martial play, making clay-horses, bows and arrows, &c., had the curiosity to inquire into their history. The dates when they were found agreed with those of the queen's delivery; the midwife also confessed; and the King left the guilty parties to be punished by the pangs of their own consciences, being convinced that envy is the worst of torments. The two young princes were formally acknowledged and grew up to follow their father's example.
We must go back to India once more if we would trace our tale to what is perhaps its primitive form, and that is probably of Buddhist invention; though it is quite possible this may be one of the numerous fiction which have been time out of mind the common heritage of nearly all peoples, and some of which the early Buddhists adapted to their own purposes. Be this as it may, in the following tale, from Dr. Mitra's "Sanskrit Buddhist Literature of Nepál" (Calcutta: 1882), pp. 65, 66, we seem to have somewhat like the germ of the Envious Sisters:
King Brahmadatta picked up in Kampilla a destitute girl named Padmávati, who scattered lotuses at every step she moved, and made her his favourite queen. She was very simple-minded. Other queens used to play tricks upon her, and at the time of her first delivery cheated her most shamefully. The wicked ladies said to her on that occasion, "Dear Padma, you are a rustic girl; you do not know how to give birth to a royal child. Let us help you." She yielded. They covered her eyes, threw into the river the twin boys she had brought forth, and smeared her face with blood. They deceived her by telling her that it was only a lump of flesh that she had given birth to, and it had been thrown into the river. At the same time they informed her husband that Padma had eaten up her two new-born sons. The King enraged at her inhuman conduct, ordered her to instant execution. But there was a shrewd man in the court who privately saved her life. A divinity appeared to the King in a dream, and revealed the whole truth to him. The King made a strict investigation in the harem, and found that Padmávati had been perfectly innocent. He became disconsolate, and gave vent to loud lamentations. Soon after some fishermen appeared at court and presented the King with two infants, who betrayed their royal lineage by the resemblance which their features bore to those of the King. They were reported to have been found in a vessel floating on the river. The courtier who saved Padma's life now wished to produce her before the King, but she refused to return and proceeded to her father's hermitage. After the death of her father she travelled through various places in the habit of a devotee; and in the course of her peregrinations she stopped at Banáres, from whence Brahmadatta conducted her to his capital with great honour.
I am of opinion that this Buddhist tale is the original form of the "Envious Sisters"-- that it ended with the restoration of the children and the vindication of the innocence of their mother. The second part of our story has no necessary connection with the first, the elements of which it is composed being found in scores--nay, hundreds--of popular fictions in every country: the quest of wonderful or magical objects; one brother setting out, and by neglecting to follow the advice tendered him by some person he meets on his way, he comes to grief; a second brother follows, with the same result; and it is reserved for the youngest, and the least esteemed, to successfully accomplish the adventure. In the second part of the "Envious Sisters," the girl, the youngest of the three children, plays the part of the usual hero of folk-tales of this class. There is, generally, a seemingly wretched old man--a hideous, misshapen dwarf--or an ugly, decrepit old woman--who is treated with rudeness by the two elder adventurers, so they do not speed in their enterprise; but the youngest addresses the person in respectful terms--shares his only loaf with him--and is rewarded by counsel which enables him to bring his adventure to a successful end. In the "Envious Sisters," which I cannot but think Galland has garbled from his original, the eldest clips the beard of the hermit, and presumably the second does the same, since we are told he found the hermit in the like condition (albeit, his beard had been trimmed but a few days before). Each of them receives the same instructions. In a true folk-tale the two elder brothers would treat the old man with contempt and suffer accordingly, while the youngest would cut his nails and his beard, and make him more comfortable in his person. We do not require to go to Asiatic folk-lore for tales in which the elements of the second part of the "Envious Sisters" are to be found. In the German story of the Fox's Brush there is a quest of a golden bird. The first brother sets off in high hope, on the road he sees a fox, who calls out to him not to shoot at it, and says that farther along the road are two inns, one of which is bright and cheerful looking, and he should not go into it, but rather into the other, even though it does not look very inviting. He shoots at the fox and misses it, then continues his journey, and puts up at the fine inn, where amidst riot and revel he forgets all about the business on which he had set out. The same happens to the second brother. But the youngest says to the fox that he will not shoot it and the fox takes him on its tail to the small inn, where he passes a quiet night, and in the morning is conveyed by the fox to the castle, wherein is the golden bird in a wooden cage, and so on. Analogous stories to this are plentiful throughout Europe and Asia; there is one, I think, in the Wortley Montague MS. of The Nights.
In Straparoia's version of the "Envious Sisters," when the children's hair is combed pearls and precious stones fall out of it, whereby their foster-parents become rich; this is only hinted at in Galland's story: the boy's hair "should be golden on one side and silvern on the other; when weeping he should drop pearls in place of tears, and when laughing his rosy lips should be fresh as the blossom new-blown," not another word is afterwards said of this, while in the modern Arabic version the children are finally identified by their mother through such peculiarities. The silver chains with which the children are born in the romance of "Helyas, the Knight of the Swan," correspond with the "gold star" etc. on the forehead in other stories. It only remains to observe that the Bird of our tale who in the end relates the history of the children to their father, is represented in the modern Arabic version by the fairy Arab Zandyk in the modern Greek by Tzitzinæna, and in the Albanian by the Belle of the Earth.