Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales , at sacred-texts.com
Now the Padishah's wife had an Arab slave whom she kept locked up in a room, and to whom every day she put the following questions: "Is the moon beautiful? Am I beautiful? Are you beautiful?" "Everything and everybody is beautiful," was invariably the answer. After this entertaining dialogue the Sultana would lock the door again and go away.
One day, as the Padishah's daughter, by name Nar-tanesi or little Pomegranate, was making a tour of the serai, the Arab caught a glimpse of her and immediately fell in love with her. Thus on the next day the Arab modified his usual answer as follows: "The moon is beautiful, you are beautiful, I am beautiful, but Nar-tanesi is the most beautiful of all."
The Sultana was exceedingly angry. Now that the Arab had seen her daughter, probably he would no longer admire the mother. So she went to the Princess and proposed that they should take a walk together. During the promenade they came to
a meadow, where the maiden, being fatigued, lay down in the shade of a tree. When she fell asleep the mother left her there and hastened back to the palace.
When the Princess awoke and could not see her mother she began to weep, running hither and thither in fear, seeking her mother everywhere. It was of no avail, however, and soon her cries of despair echoed through wood and field.
Three brothers were by chance hunting in the forest, and came upon the distressed maiden. When she saw them she was still more afraid, and implored their grace and protection, requesting them to accept her as a sister. Overcome with pity the three hunters agreed to be her brothers, and she accompanied them to their home.
Henceforth the three youths went hunting every day, and when they brought home the game, the Princess prepared it for eating. Thus the days passed merrily away.
But the news of the maiden's extraordinary loveliness spread far and wide. The story was told of her discovery by the three brothers in the forest, and how they had taken her home to be their sister. This came to the ears of the Sultana, her mother, who was enraged to find her daughter still living. She thought the girl had long ago been torn to pieces and devoured by wild beasts.
She went accordingly to a witch and asked what she should do further to get rid of her daughter. The witch gave the Sultana two magic hairpins, saying that if she stuck them in the Princess's head the girl would surely die. The woman took the hairpins, and disguised herself as a poor beggar by means of an old feredje. Packing various articles in a bundle, she went to the maiden.
Whenever the three brothers were away hunting, the Princess kept the door locked; and when the woman knocked she made no answer. "Oh, my child," cried the woman, " why do you not open the door? I have come all the way from Anatolia with presents for my sons; at least
receive them from me." Then the maiden answered through a crack in the door: "The door is locked." "My daughter," returned the woman, "having heard that you are their sister, I have brought you also a present of some hair pins; hold your head close to the keyhole that I may stick them in." Suspecting no evil the girl put her head to the key. hole. The woman stuck the pins into the Princess's head, and she fell down dead immediately. Having thus accomplished her revenge, the Sultana went straight back to the serai.
When towards evening the brothers returned from hunting and entered the house, they saw the dead body of the maiden lying by the door. They raised loud lamentation and wrung their hands in despair. When their grief was somewhat calmed they began to prepare for the funeral. Laying their sister in a golden casket, they took it up a hill and hung it between two trees.
It came to pass soon after this that the son of a Padishah went hunting and saw the golden casket hanging from the trees. Taking it down he opened it, and when he saw the lovely maiden lying within he fell deeply in
love with her. The casket was carried to his home and put into his own apartment, and whenever he went out he took care to lock the door. The Prince spent his days in hunting, and the nights in looking at and sighing over the dead maiden.
In the meantime the Padishah intended to take part in a war that had broken out; but the Vezir dissuaded him, advising him to send his son the Shahzada instead. Therefore the King called his son and ordered him to go to the battlefield. The youth returned to his apartment, opened the casket and took a last fond look at the serene countenance of the maiden. He then locked up the room, and ordering that none should enter it during his absence, he departed for the war.
We have omitted to state that the Shahzada was betrothed. The Princess he was going to marry chanced to hear of the Shahzada's locked apartment, and she determined to discover what secret he hid therein. It availed nothing to tell her that the Prince had forbidden anyone to enter it during his absence. She shook the door with such force that it opened, and she entered the room. Seeing the dead girl in the casket, she exclaimed in great irritation: "Who is this maiden that the Prince guards day and night!" Looking at her more closely she saw the hairpins sticking in her head. Putting forth her hand she drew them out; and hardly had she done so than the maiden was transformed into a bird and flew away.
A long time passed; the war was over, and the Shahzada came home again. Hastening to his apartment, he found to his sorrow and dismay that the casket was open and empty. In great wrath he asked his slave: "Who has dared to enter my apartment?" "The Princess who is to be your bride," was the reply. "What can she have done to her!" groaned the Prince, and from that time he became ill and grew worse every day.
Now that the war was ended the Padishah began to make preparations for his son's marriage, and in due time the wedding took place.
Every morning the bird came to the palace garden, and sitting on a tree said to the gardener, "How is my Shahzada?" "He sleeps," was the answer. "May he sleep and enjoy good health," said the bird, "and may the tree, on which I sit, wither!" This dialogue continued daily for several days, and every day a tree withered. The gardener called the attention of the Shahzada to the matter, observing that if the thing went on much longer there would not be a tree alive in the whole garden. The Prince's curiosity being excited he set a trap to catch the bird. The bird being duly caught, the Prince put it in a golden cage and took a delight in regarding its wonderful plumage.
When first the Prince's wife saw the bird she recognised it as the maiden of the casket, and made up her mind to destroy it as soon as possible. Her opportunity came when one day the Shahzada had to go on a journey. No sooner had he set off than she wrung the bird's neck and threw it into the garden; and on his return home she told her husband the cat had devoured it. The
Shahzada was very sorry for the accident, but it could not be helped. When the dead bird was flung into the garden rose bushes sprang up wherever its blood-drops fell. One day the gardener's wife came for some flowers, and among those the gardener plucked was one of these roses. They were put all together in a vase, but soon faded, with the exception of the rose, which remained as fresh as when it was growing on its stalk. "What wonderful flower is this?" exclaimed the woman.
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The Prince started in pursuit of it
"It does not fade!" And while she was sniffing its delightful odour it suddenly changed into a bird, and flew hither and thither about the room. The woman was startled, thinking it must be either an in or a jin. However, after she had recovered herself somewhat, she took the beautiful creature and caressed it, and in doing so she remarked on its head something resembling a diamond. Examining it, she saw it was a pin. She drew it out, and behold! the bird was transformed into a maiden, who related to the astounded woman the story of her adventures.
Without delay the old woman went to the serai, stole into the private apartment of the Shahzada and told him all. His joy was unutterable; he bade the woman go home and take care of the maiden until he himself should come in the evening.
Twilight was scarcely past when the Shahzada was on the spot. At sight of the maiden he swooned away, and when he came to himself he requested her to relate her story with her own lips. When he left the gardener's house he took the maiden with him, but while on the road to the palace a monkey sprang out upon them. The Prince started in pursuit of it, and he was away so long that the maiden, being tired, fell fast asleep. Now it had come to the knowledge of the maiden's mother that she had disappeared from the casket, and in order to make certain that she would not annoy her again, the Sultana left the serai in search of her, meaning to kill her. After long wandering the woman chanced upon the spot where her daughter lay sleeping. With suppressed glee she muttered: "Oh! you have fallen into my hands once more!"
Meanwhile, failing to catch the monkey, the Prince hurried back to the maiden, anxious lest any further harm should come to her. On arriving at the spot he saw the maiden asleep and a woman by her side. When the Prince demanded her intention, the woman said she was only keeping watch over the girl, who might otherwise have suffered some ill.
Suddenly a thought struck the Shahzada, and he asked the woman who
and what she was. She replied that she was a poor forsaken creature, who had nothing, and who was alone in the world. Then said the Prince, "Come with me, and I will repay your kindness." The maiden, however, being now awake, recognised her mother, and secretly informed the Prince.
All three set off together towards the serai, the woman rejoicing over the opportunity thus afforded her of putting her daughter out of the way for ever. But as soon as they arrived at the palace the Prince ordered the woman, as well as his wife, to be hanged, as a punishment for their treacherous cruelty, and made preparations for his wedding with the maiden of the golden casket. Thus they lived happily ever afterwards.