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Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales [1913], at

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Prince Ahmed

HERE was once a Padishah who had a son. One day the Padishah, being angry with his son, commanded that he should be beheaded. The Vezir endeavoured to dissuade the King from his cruel purpose, saying: "O, Padishah, forty years are as one day and you have but one son; kill him not or you will surely repent of it." The monarch therefore contented himself with sending the Prince into exile. "If my only child is to be sent from me," said his mother, " I will not remain here." So they left the palace together.

After considerable wandering they reached a lake, where they sojourned for some time. While strolling along the waterside one day Prince Ahmed kicked his foot against a stone, and on taking it up he was quite dazzled by its splendour.

The Prince put the stone in his pocket, after which mother and son resumed their journey, and presently came to a town, where they hired a house and commenced house-keeping.

The Padishah who dwelt here had issued a decree forbidding the lighting of candles, lamps, or any illumination at night; but the stone which the youth had found, when laid on a table in the room, illuminated not only the house but the whole city. The woman advised her son to hide the stone, as when its brightness was perceived it

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would be taken from them, and moreover they might get into trouble on account of it. But the Prince would not listen to her, arguing that as they had lighted neither candle nor lamp they had not transgressed the royal command.

One night the Padishah, looking out of his window, saw the bright light which emanated from the glistening stone. He called his Vezir and inquired what this illumination could mean. All the lala could tell him was that the light issued from a certain house. Immediately servants were sent to investigate. They knocked at the door and informed the youth that he was summoned to the Padishah's presence. The youth accordingly went to the palace, and the King asked him how he dared to set at naught the royal command. Prince Ahmed excused himself. by saying that he had done nothing contrary to the King's decree; the light came neither from candle nor lamp, but from a stone which he had picked up. "Bring me the stone," ordered the Padishah. So the youth returned home for the stone, took it to the palace and delivered it to the King, glad that the danger was past.

The Padishah showed the stone to his Vezir, who said: "My Shah, that is a diamond; demand from the man who brought it a sackful, for where this one was there must be many more." Immediately the Padishah again summoned the youth and ordered him to bring a sackful of diamonds. "Whence shall I obtain them?" asked the youth. "That is your affair," replied the Padishah; "and if in forty days you fail to procure them, I will have your head."

Very crestfallen, the young Prince went home to his mother and told her of the task imposed upon him. " Did I not tell you the stone would bring us much ill-luck?" ejaculated his mother; "where can we get so many diamonds?" and she burst into tears. They both continued in a state of despair for several days, and then the mother with sudden resolution said: "Weeping will not avail; something must be done Go where you found the stone and see if you can find others."

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The youth mounted his horse and rode quickly to the spot. While he was searching for stones he saw a large mountain in the distance, Curiosity led him to cross it, and on the other side he saw a serai. He approached it and found the edifice was guarded by a seven-headed dragon. "What was I seeking, and what have I found!" exclaimed the youth, and in his rage he drew his handschar and struck off six of the dragon's heads at one blow. "Strike once more if you are a man," challenged the dragon. "Not I," replied the youth, and left the dragon to his fate.

Suddenly he heard a great noise issuing from the serai, and caught the words: "you have killed my enemy, and are now forsaking me!" He returned to the spot and, entering the palace, saw a maiden of radiant beauty, who said: "O youth, it is ten years since I was taken captive by the dragon; now I am yours;

He struck off six of the Dragon's heads at one blow

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take me whithersoever you will." The youth told her that at present he had other grave matters to attend to; but the maiden implored him not to forsake her, so eventually he set her before him on horseback and they returned together to the Prince's mother.

The youth's grief and sorrow were observed by the maiden, and one day she ventured to inquire what trouble oppressed his heart. "Ask me not," replied the youth; "Allah alone can aid me." But she gave him no peace until he told her, whereupon she said: "It were a pity to grieve over such a trifling matter; I will help you. At present, however, I am very thirsty; bring me a jug of water from the spring and let me take a good draught." The youth thought within himself that he had brought her home only to be a vexation, She was his guest, however, and, though somewhat cross, he brought water from the spring and gave it to her. Instead of drinking it, however, the maiden told the youth to sprinkle her with the water from head to foot. He did so, and lo! the water fell from her in the form of resplendent diamonds. "Now gather them up, put them in a sack, and take them to the Padishah," said the maiden joyfully; and this he did accordingly.

After Prince Ahmed had taken his departure, the Padishah called his Vezir and showed him the diamonds. "Now you see," replied the Vezir triumphantly, "I was right. Demand from him next a sackful of pearls," "Where can he get them?" asked the Padishah, "From the same place as the diamonds," answered the Vezir; "do as I advise you." So the Padishah sent for the youth once more, and ordered him to bring a sackful of pearls. "Whence can I get so many pearls?" asked the youth,

"I give you forty days," replied the King; "if by then they are not here your life shall pay for it."

With downcast head and sorrowful countenance the youth went home. ''What is the matter?" was the maiden's greeting, and he told her his new trouble. "Go," she answered, "and behind the serai where you first met me you will find another serai containing what you seek."

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The youth mounted his horse and set forth. In due time he arrived at the serai, where he slew another dragon. Entering the palace and looking round, he saw another maiden more beautiful than the first. Her also he took home with him. There she requested him to sprinkle her body with water, which fell from her in the form of lustrous pearls. The youth collected them all in a sack and delivered them to the Padishah.

The avaricious Vezir, seeing the pearls, was still unsatisfied, and advised the Padishah to demand a sackful of rubies. The sorely tried Prince told the maiden of his third task. "Now," said she, "beyond the second serai is a third. There you will find what you need." Obediently the youth mounted his horse and rode off.

Again fortune favoured him, he found the third serai, slew the guardian dragon, and entering discovered a maiden lovelier than either of the others, He mounted her before him on his horse, and took her home to his mother's house. He sprinkled her with water, which fell from her body transformed into rubies. These he gathered into a sack and took to the Padishah.

When the Vezir saw them he said to the King: "Now you see! Demand this time a kiosk of diamonds, pearls, and rubies, erected in the midst of the sea." The Padishah doubted whether the youth could really perform such a difficult task, but he made known to him the royal will, and gave him forty days' grace in which to fulfil it. The youth deeply

He delivered them to the Padishah

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repented ever coming to that city, and went home with a countenance clouded by sadness.

As the maidens welcomed him and perceived his sorrowful mien, they demanded to know the cause, which the youth told. Then said the eldest: "Go to such and such a place, where there is a mountain; ascend that mountain, and from its summit shout with all your might: 'Hadji Baba!' and when you hear a voice reply, say: 'Your eldest daughter desires her smallest serai.' If no reply be vouchsafed, beware not to shout again or you are lost."

Mounting his horse, the youth proceeded direct to the place indicated. He arrived at the mountaintop, and shouted as loud as he could: "Hadji Baba!" The earth seemed to shake beneath him, and a voice demanded: "What do you seek here?" "Your eldest daughter desires her smallest serai," answered the youth. Then came again a rumbling of the earth, and a sepulchral voice said: "Her wish is granted even before she asked it." Waiting for nothing else the youth hastened homeward.

Next morning when the Padishah rose from his bed and looked through the window, his eyes were so dazzled by what he saw that he had to shut them. "What can it be?" he wondered, and rubbing his eyes, he clapped his hands to summon his Vezir. "What has happened to my eyes?" he asked; "I cannot look outside without blinking." "It is the kiosk of precious stones in the midst of the sea that dazzles your eyes, O Padishah," answered the Vezir. On hearing this the King was impatient to go with all his vezirs, pashas, and beys to inspect his latest possession.

While the whole court was thus engaged in inspecting the kiosk the maiden advised the youth to go to the mountain and ask for the kiosk to be taken back. So the youth hastened forth, galloped up the mountain and shouted, "Take back the kiosk!" The ground trembled beneath him, and the same sepulchral voice answered: "We have taken it back!" On his return home the youth saw that the kiosk was no

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longer where it had been, and he was informed that the Padishah and his whole court had been drowned in the sea. Then said the maidens: "This city is no longer the place for us; let us go, my Shahzada." So Prince Ahmed with the three maidens and his mother set out on the journey to their native land.

The lame Dew
On the road they encountered a lame Dew. The youth would have slain him instantly, but the Dew implored him to spare his life, hinting that the youth might find him useful. As the maidens supported the Dew's petition, he was spared and joined the party.

When they arrived within sight of the capital they sat down to rest, and the eldest maiden by her magic art created on the spot a palace more magnificent than anyone had ever seen before.

It chanced that the Padishah, the young Prince's father, looking out of the window, saw this fine palace, and summoning his Vezir, asked the meaning of it. Servants were dispatched to inquire, and they returned with the intelligence that this wonderful palace was the residence of Prince Ahmed, who was the Padishah's own son. On hearing this the Padishah went himself to the palace. His son received him with every mark of respect and great joy, and presented the three maidens, whose beauty so fascinated the monarch that he wished to have them in his own palace.

When he returned to his own palace he said to his Vezir: "Let Prince Ahmed be put to

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death." The Vezir attempted to dissuade him, reminding him how once before he had banished his son in anger. "Who knows," he continued, "what sufferings he endured!" Notwithstanding all the Vezir s pleading the Padishah insisted that his son must be put to death. "Then if it must be so," said the Vezir, sighing, "invite him to the palace and poison his food."

Next day the Prince received an invitation to dine at his father's palace, and as he was departing the maiden took a ring from her finger and gave it to him, saying: "When you are in the palace, touch with this ring whatever food is set before you." Putting the ring on his finger, the youth went his way. He conversed with his father for some time, after which food was brought in. All the dishes intended for the Prince were poisoned, but unobserved he touched them with the ring before eating them, and they did him no harm. The table was cleared and he took his leave. Seeing his son did not die from eating the poisoned food, the Padishah summoned his Vezir and asked what must be done now. The latter advised the King to invite his son to play a game of tawla with him, the loser to agree to be bound with cords. "If the Prince loses," said the Vezir, "you will bind him and put him to death." Thus once more the youth was invited to his father's palace. After a repast the Padishah said: "Come, my son, let us play at tawla, the loser to be bound by the winner." They played and the Padishah lost. The Prince, however, waived the forfeit, not suspecting any evil intention on his father's part, and they resumed the game. A second time the Padishah lost. Again the youth waived the forfeit, with deep respect requesting his father to continue the game, and intentionally allowed the King to win. Then said the Padishah to his son: "I shall now bind you in accordance with our agreement." The Prince offering no objection, his father bound him with strong cords, and afterwards sent for the executioner. Meanwhile the Prince gave his bonds a strong pull and freed himself.

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When the Padishah saw this, he pretended that the whole thing was only a joke, as he wished to find out whether his son possessed manly strength. "In that case," said the Prince, "bind me with iron chains." Accordingly this was done, but the Prince broke the chains also at a single pull. Secretly angry, the Padishah endeavoured to devise some means of destroying his son. Outwardly smiling, he said to the Prince: "I see, my son, that you are a valiant fellow; but perhaps you will tell me wherein lies the secret of your strength." Suspecting no evil, the Prince answered that if three hairs were taken from his head and bound round his finger, he would be rendered quite helpless. The Padishah said he would like to test it, and the Prince being willing to submit, he himself pulled out three of his hairs and handed them to his father. The Padishah bound them round the finger of his son, who became as helpless as a babe.

Now the Padishah called in the executioner and ordered him to cut off the Prince's head. The executioner, however, refused and ran away. The Padishah knew not what to do next. After a while he himself put out his son's eyes, placed them in his pocket, and had the Prince taken to a distant dry well and cast therein. The Prince's little dog followed his master to the well, jumped in after him, and remained his faithful companion in misfortune.

A brief period elapsed, and the Padishah made known his intention of taking the three maidens to his palace. They stipulated, however, that he should send for them forty carriages, each occupied by a maid, and forty empty carriages besides for their belongings.

This was done accordingly, but the three maidens cut off the heads of the forty maids and sent them back in the empty carriages. This aroused the Padishah's wrath and caused him to proclaim war on the maidens; but the maidens, aided by the lame Dew, completely destroyed the army sent against them.

Meanwhile a caravan stopped in the neighbourhood of the well into

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The Padishah called in the executioner
Click to enlarge

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which Prince Ahmed had been cast. His little dog made friendly overtures to the people, who gave him bread. This he took direct to the well and let it fall down, returning to the caravan again, and yet a third time. The leader of the caravan seeing this, said: "This dog either has young ones or some one is in hiding." He followed the creature and saw it cast the bread into the well; he then went to the well and shouted down, hearing in answer the words: "Deliver me from this well."

Without delay a rope was let down, and the person at the bottom directed to seize it; but the cry was returned that the unfortunate prisoner's hands were so bound that he could not grasp anything. The Prince related how his enemy had dealt with him. Then said the leader of the caravan: "If we take you with us it may be thought that we have so treated you, and thus our caravan would be subjected to many annoyances. It were best that you remain here and pray to Allah for aid." On this they gave him food and drink and abandoned him. Prince Ahmed was grateful for this small mercy; and as he sat lamenting next night a pir appeared before him. He took two eyes from his pocket and adjusted them in the empty sockets of Prince Ahmed, who instantly received his sight. The pir to whom he owed this good fortune, however, had disappeared before the Prince could look at him.

The youth now returned direct to his native town. He went to his father's serai, and finding that the Padishah was at war with the maidens he said: "My Shah and father, in three days I will capture the Dew and deliver him into your hands." His father rejoiced at this, and promised, if he did so, to grant all his wishes. Hitherto the Dew had slain all who had been sent against him. Prince Ahmed requested his father to allow him to choose a horse and sword for himself. His own horse and sword had remained in the palace since the fateful day when his eyes had been put out, and he chose these. Girding on his sword and mounting his steed he sallied forth to meet the Dew.

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The Dew threw him down from his throne

When the maidens saw this youth coming alone against them, they concluded the Padishah had no more men to send. As the Prince approached, the Dew, instead of attacking him, suddenly desisted, and the two opponents faced each other with drawn swords. Renewing their friendship, the two returned together to the palace of the Padishah. At sight of the Dew the King was seized with terror. "Bring him not hither," cried the King trembling; but the Prince scornfully replied: "Our arrangement was that I should capture the Dew; now you shall kill him." Upon this the Dew set upon the Padishah, threw him down from his throne, and killed him. Then turning to the Vezirs, the Dew said: "Behold! His son Ahmed it was who brought me here." The Vezirs, who had never approved of the Padishah's cruel behaviour toward the Shahzada, now set the Prince on the throne amid great rejoicing.

His first act as Padishah was to send for his mother and the three maidens, who all shared in the happiness of his glorious reign.

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