A Thousand And One Arabian Nights
The Adventures of Prince Camaralzaman and the Princess Badoura
Some twenty days' sail from the coast of Persia lies the isle of the
children of Khaledan. The island is divided into several provinces,
in each of which are large flourishing towns, and the whole forms
an important kingdom. It was governed in former days by a king
named Schahzaman, who, with good right, considered himself one of
the most peaceful, prosperous, and fortunate monarchs on the earth.
In fact, he had but one grievance, which was that none of his four
wives had given him an heir.
This distressed him so greatly that one day he confided his grief
to the grand-vizir, who, being a wise counsellor, said: "Such matters
are indeed beyond human aid. Allah alone can grant your desire,
and I should advise you, sire, to send large gifts to those holy men
who spend their lives in prayer, and to beg for their intercessions.
Who knows whether their petitions may not be answered!"
The king took his vizir's advice, and the result of so many prayers for
an heir to the throne was that a son was born to him the following year.
Schahzaman sent noble gifts as thank offerings to all the mosques
and religious houses, and great rejoicings were celebrated in honour
of the birth of the little prince, who was so beautiful that he
was named Camaralzaman, or "Moon of the Century."
Prince Camaralzaman was brought up with extreme care by an excellent
governor and all the cleverest teachers, and he did such credit to them
that when he was grown up, a more charming and accomplished young man
was not to be found. Whilst he was still a youth the king, his father,
who loved him dearly, had some thoughts of abdicating in his favour.
As usual he talked over his plans with his grand-vizir, who,
though he did not approve the idea, would not state all his objections.
"Sire," he replied, "the prince is still very young for the cares
of state. Your Majesty fears his growing idle and careless,
and doubtless you are right. But how would it be if he were first
to marry? This would attach him to his home, and your Majesty
might give him a share in your counsels, so that he might gradually
learn how to wear a crown, which you can give up to him whenever
you find him capable of wearing it."
The vizir's advice once more struck the king as being good,
and he sent for his son, who lost no time in obeying the summons,
and standing respectfully with downcast eyes before the king asked
for his commands.
"I have sent for you," said the king, "to say that I wish you to marry.
What do you think about it?"
The prince was so much overcome by these words that he remained
silent for some time. At length he said: "Sire, I beg you
to pardon me if I am unable to reply as you might wish.
I certainly did not expect such a proposal as I am still so young,
and I confess that the idea of marrying is very distasteful to me.
Possibly I may not always be in this mind, but I certainly feel
that it will require some time to induce me to take the step
which your Majesty desires."
This answer greatly distressed the king, who was sincerely grieved
by his objection to marriage. However he would not have recourse
to extreme measures, so he said: "I do not wish to force you;
I will give you time to reflect, but remember that such a step
is necessary, for a prince such as you who will some day be called
to rule over a great kingdom."
From this time Prince Camaralzaman was admitted to the royal council,
and the king showed him every mark of favour.
At the end of a year the king took his son aside, and said:
"Well, my son, have you changed your mind on the subject of marriage,
or do you still refuse to obey my wish?"
The prince was less surprised but no less firm than on the
former occasion, and begged his father not to press the subject,
adding that it was quite useless to urge him any longer.
This answer much distressed the king, who again confided his trouble
to his vizir.
"I have followed your advice," he said; "but Camaralzaman declines
to marry, and is more obstinate than ever."
"Sire," replied the vizir, "much is gained by patience, and your
Majesty might regret any violence. Why not wait another year and then
inform the Prince in the midst of the assembled council that the good
of the state demands his marriage? He cannot possibly refuse again
before so distinguished an assemblage, and in our immediate presence."
The Sultan ardently desired to see his son married at once, but he
yielded to the vizir's arguments and decided to wait. He then visited
the prince's mother, and after telling her of his disappointment
and of the further respite he had given his son, he added:
"I know that Camaralzaman confides more in you than he does in me.
Pray speak very seriously to him on this subject, and make him realise
that he will most seriously displease me if he remains obstinate,
and that he will certainly regret the measures I shall be obliged
to take to enforce my will."
So the first time the Sultana Fatima saw her son she told him she
had heard of his refusal to marry, adding how distressed she felt
that he should have vexed his father so much. She asked what reasons
he could have for his objections to obey.
"Madam," replied the prince, "I make no doubt that there are as
many good, virtuous, sweet, and amiable women as there are others
very much the reverse. Would that all were like you! But what revolts
me is the idea of marrying a woman without knowing anything at all
about her. My father will ask the hand of the daughter of some
neighbouring sovereign, who will give his consent to our union.
Be she fair or frightful, clever or stupid, good or bad, I must
marry her, and am left no choice in the matter. How am I to know
that she will not be proud, passionate, contemptuous, and recklessly
extravagant, or that her disposition will in any way suit mine?"
"But, my son," urged Fatima, "you surely do not wish to be the last
of a race which has reigned so long and so gloriously over this kingdom?"
"Madam," said the prince, "I have no wish to survive the king,
my father, but should I do so I will try to reign in such a manner
as may be considered worthy of my predecessors."
These and similar conversations proved to the Sultan how useless it
was to argue with his son, and the year elapsed without bringing
any change in the prince's ideas.
At length a day came when the Sultan summoned him before the council,
and there informed him that not only his own wishes but the good
of the empire demanded his marriage, and desired him to give his
answer before the assembled ministers.
At this Camaralzaman grew so angry and spoke with so much heat
that the king, naturally irritated at being opposed by his son
in full council, ordered the prince to be arrested and locked up
in an old tower, where he had nothing but a very little furniture,
a few books, and a single slave to wait on him.
Camaralzaman, pleased to be free to enjoy his books, showed himself
very indifferent to his sentence.
When night came he washed himself, performed his devotions,
and, having read some pages of the Koran, lay down on a couch,
without putting out the light near him, and was soon asleep.
Now there was a deep well in the tower in which Prince
Camaralzaman was imprisoned, and this well was a favourite
resort of the fairy Maimoune, daughter of Damriat, chief of a
legion of genii. Towards midnight Maimoune floated lightly
up from the well, intending, according to her usual habit,
to roam about the upper world as curiosity or accident might prompt.
The light in the prince's room surprised her, and without disturbing
the slave, who slept across the threshold, she entered the room,
and approaching the bed was still more astonished to find it occupied.
The prince lay with his face half hidden by the coverlet.
Maimoune lifted it a little and beheld the most beautiful youth
she had ever seen.
"What a marvel of beauty he must be when his eyes are open!"
she thought. "What can he have done to deserve to be treated
She could not weary gazing at Camaralzaman, but at length,
having softly kissed his brow and each cheek, she replaced
the coverlet and resumed her flight through the air.
As she entered the middle region she heard the sound of great wings
coming towards her, and shortly met one of the race of bad genii.
This genie, whose name was Danhasch, recognised Maimoune with terror,
for he knew the supremacy which her goodness gave her over him.
He would gladly have avoided her altogether, but they were so near
that he must either be prepared to fight or yield to her, so he at once
addressed her in a conciliatory tone:
"Good Maimoune, swear to me by Allah to do me no harm, and on my
side I will promise not to injure you."
"Accursed genie!" replied Maimoune, "what harm can you do me?
But I will grant your power and give the promise you ask. And now
tell me what you have seen and done to-night."
"Fair lady," said Danhasch, "you meet me at the right moment to hear
something really interesting. I must tell you that I come from the
furthest end of China, which is one of the largest and most powerful
kingdoms in the world. The present king has one only daughter, who is
so perfectly lovely that neither you, nor I, nor any other creature
could find adequate terms in which to describe her marvellous charms.
You must therefore picture to yourself the most perfect features,
joined to a brilliant and delicate complexion, and an enchanting
expression, and even then imagination will fall short of the reality."
"The king, her father, has carefully shielded this treasure from
the vulgar gaze, and has taken every precaution to keep her from
the sight of everyone except the happy mortal he may choose to be
her husband. But in order to give her variety in her confinement he
has built her seven palaces such as have never been seen before.
The first palace is entirely composed of rock crystal, the second
of bronze, the third of fine steel, the fourth of another and more
precious species of bronze, the fifth of touchstone, the sixth
of silver, and the seventh of solid gold. They are all most
sumptuously furnished, whilst the gardens surrounding them are
laid out with exquisite taste. In fact, neither trouble nor cost
has been spared to make this retreat agreeable to the princess.
The report of her wonderful beauty has spread far and wide, and many
powerful kings have sent embassies to ask her hand in marriage.
The king has always received these embassies graciously, but says
that he will never oblige the princess to marry against her will,
and as she regularly declines each fresh proposal, the envoys have
had to leave as disappointed in the result of their missions as they
were gratified by their magnificent receptions.
"Sire," said the princess to her father, "you wish me to marry,
and I know you desire to please me, for which I am very grateful.
But, indeed, I have no inclination to change my state,
for where could I find so happy a life amidst so many beautiful
and delightful surroundings? I feel that I could never be as happy
with any husband as I am here, and I beg you not to press one on me."
"At last an embassy came from a king so rich and powerful that the
King of China felt constrained to urge this suit on his daughter.
He told her how important such an alliance would be, and pressed
her to consent. In fact, he pressed her so persistingly that the
princess at length lost her temper and quite forgot the respect due
to her father. `Sire,' cried she angrily, `do not speak further
of this or any other marriage or I will plunge this dagger in my
breast and so escape from all these importunities.'"
"The king of China was extremely indignant with his daughter and replied:
`You have lost your senses and you must be treated accordingly.'"
So he had her shut in one set of rooms in one of her palaces,
and only allowed her ten old women, of whom her nurse was the head,
to wait on her and keep her company. He next sent letters to all
the kings who had sued for the princess's hand, begging they would
think of her no longer, as she was quite insane, and he desired
his various envoys to make it known that anyone who could cure her
should have her to wife.
"Fair Maimoune," continued Danhasch, "this is the present state
of affairs. I never pass a day without going to gaze on this
incomparable beauty, and I am sure that if you would only
accompany me you would think the sight well worth the trouble,
and own that you never saw such loveliness before."
The fairy only answered with a peal of laughter, and when at length
she had control of her voice she cried, "Oh, come, you are making
game of me! I thought you had something really interesting to tell
me instead of raving about some unknown damsel. What would you say
if you could see the prince I have just been looking at and whose
beauty is really transcendent? That is something worth talking about,
you would certainly quite lose your head."
"Charming Maimoune," asked Danhasch, "may I inquire who and what
is the prince of whom you speak?"
"Know," replied Maimoune, "that he is in much the same case as
your princess. The king, his father, wanted to force him to marry,
and on the prince's refusal to obey he has been imprisoned in an old
tower where I have just seen him."
"I don't like to contradict a lady," said Danhasch, "but you must
really permit me to doubt any mortal being as beautiful as my princess."
"Hold your tongue," cried Maimoune. "I repeat that is impossible."
"Well, I don't wish to seem obstinate," replied Danhasch, "the best
plan to test the truth of what I say will be for you to let me
take you to see the princess for yourself."
"There is no need for that," retorted Maimoune; "we can satisfy
ourselves in another way. Bring your princess here and lay
her down beside my prince. We can then compare them at leisure,
and decide which is in the right."
Danhasch readily consented, and after having the tower where the prince
was confined pointed out to him, and making a wager with Maimoune as to
the result of the comparison, he flew off to China to fetch the princess.
In an incredibly short time Danhasch returned, bearing the
sleeping princess. Maimoune led him to the prince's room,
and the rival beauty was placed beside him.
When the prince and princess lay thus side by side, an animated
dispute as to their respective charms arose between the fairy
and the genius. Danhasch began by saying:
"Now you see that my princess is more beautiful than your prince.
Can you doubt any longer?"
"Doubt! Of course I do!" exclaimed Maimoune. "Why, you must
be blind not to see how much my prince excels your princess.
I do not deny that your princess is very handsome, but only look
and you must own that I am in the right."
"There is no need for me to look longer," said Danhasch, "my first
impression will remain the same; but of course, charming Maimoune,
I am ready to yield to you if you insist on it."
"By no means," replied Maimoune. "I have no idea of being under
any obligation to an accursed genius like you. I refer the matter
to an umpire, and shall expect you to submit to his verdict."
Danhasch readily agreed, and on Maimoune striking the floor with her
foot it opened, and a hideous, hump-backed, lame, squinting genius,
with six horns on his head, hands like claws, emerged. As soon as he
beheld Maimoune he threw himself at her feet and asked her commands.
"Rise, Caschcasch," said she. "I summoned you to judge between me
and Danhasch. Glance at that couch, and say without any partiality
whether you think the youth or the maiden lying there the more beautiful."
Caschcasch looked at the prince and princess with every token
of surprise and admiration. At length, having gazed long without
being able to come to a decision, he said
"Madam, I must confess that I should deceive you were I to declare
one to be handsomer than the other. There seems to me only one
way in which to decide the matter, and that is to wake one after
the other and judge which of them expresses the greater admiration
for the other."
This advice pleased Maimoune and Danhasch, and the fairy at once
transformed herself into the shape of a gnat and settling on
Camaralzaman's throat stung him so sharply that he awoke. As he did
so his eyes fell on the Princess of China. Surprised at finding
a lady so near him, he raised himself on one arm to look at her.
The youth and beauty of the princess at once awoke a feeling to which his
heart had as yet been a stranger, and he could not restrain his delight.
"What loveliness! What charms! Oh, my heart, my soul!" he exclaimed,
as he kissed her forehead, her eyes and mouth in a way which would
certainly have roused her had not the genie's enchantments kept
"How, fair lady!" he cried, "you do not wake at the signs of
Camaralzaman's love? Be you who you may, he is not unworthy of you."
It then suddenly occurred to him, that perhaps this was the bride
his father had destined for him, and that the King had probably
had her placed in this room in order to see how far Camaralzaman's
aversion to marriage would withstand her charms.
"At all events," he thought, "I will take this ring as a remembrance
So saying he drew off a fine ring which the princess wore on
her finger, and replaced it by one of his own. After which he
lay down again and was soon fast asleep.
Then Danhasch, in his turn, took the form of a gnat and bit
the princess on her lip.
She started up, and was not a little amazed at seeing a young man
beside her. From surprise she soon passed to admiration, and then
to delight on perceiving how handsome and fascinating he was.
"Why," cried she, "was it you my father wished me to marry?
How unlucky that I did not know sooner! I should not have made
him so angry. But wake up! wake up! for I know I shall love you
with all my heart."
So saying she shook Camaralzaman so violently that nothing
but the spells of Maimoune could have prevented his waking.
"Oh!" cried the princess. "Why are you so drowsy?" So saying she
took his hand and noticed her own ring on his finger, which made her
wonder still more. But as he still remained in a profound slumber
she pressed a kiss on his cheek and soon fell fast asleep too.
Then Maimoune turning to the genie said: "Well, are you satisfied
that my prince surpasses your princess? Another time pray believe
me when I assert anything."
Then turning to Caschcasch: "My thanks to you, and now do you
and Danhasch bear the princess back to her own home."
The two genii hastened to obey, and Maimoune returned to her well.
On waking next morning the first thing Prince Camaralzaman did
was to look round for the lovely lady he had seen at night,
and the next to question the slave who waited on him about her.
But the slave persisted so strongly that he knew nothing of any lady,
and still less of how she got into the tower, that the prince lost
all patience, and after giving him a good beating tied a rope round him
and ducked him in the well till the unfortunate man cried out that he
would tell everything. Then the prince drew him up all dripping wet,
but the slave begged leave to change his clothes first, and as soon
as the prince consented hurried off just as he was to the palace.
Here he found the king talking to the grand-vizir of all the anxiety
his son had caused him. The slave was admitted at once and cried:
"Alas, Sire! I bring sad news to your Majesty. There can be no
doubt that the prince has completely lost his senses. He declares
that he saw a lady sleeping on his couch last night, and the state
you see me in proves how violent contradiction makes him."
He then gave a minute account of all the prince had said and done.
The king, much moved, begged the vizir to examine into this
new misfortune, and the latter at once went to the tower, where he
found the prince quietly reading a book. After the first exchange
of greetings the vizir said:
"I feel really very angry with your slave for alarming his Majesty
by the news he brought him."
"What news?" asked the prince.
"Ah!" replied the vizir, "something absurd, I feel sure, seeing how
I find you."
"Most likely," said the prince; "but now that you are here I am
glad of the opportunity to ask you where is the lady who slept
in this room last night?"
The grand-vizir felt beside himself at this question.
"Prince!" he exclaimed, "how would it be possible for any man,
much less a woman, to enter this room at night without walking over
your slave on the threshold? Pray consider the matter, and you
will realise that you have been deeply impressed by some dream."
But the prince angrily insisted on knowing who and where the lady was,
and was not to be persuaded by all the vizir's protestations to the
contrary that the plot had not been one of his making. At last,
losing patience, he seized the vizir by the beard and loaded him
"Stop, Prince," cried the unhappy vizir, "stay and hear what I
have to say."
The prince, whose arm was getting tired, paused.
"I confess, Prince," said the vizir, "that there is some foundation
for what you say. But you know well that a minister has to carry
out his master's orders. Allow me to go and to take to the king
any message you may choose to send."
"Very well," said the prince; "then go and tell him that I consent
to marry the lady whom he sent or brought here last night.
Be quick and bring me back his answer."
The vizir bowed to the ground and hastened to leave the room and tower.
"Well," asked the king as soon as he appeared, "and how did you
find my son?"
"Alas, sire," was the reply, "the slave's report is only too true!"
He then gave an exact account of his interview with Camaralzaman
and of the prince's fury when told that it was not possible for any
lady to have entered his room, and of the treatment he himself
had received. The king, much distressed, determined to clear
up the matter himself, and, ordering the vizir to follow him,
set out to visit his son.
The prince received his father with profound respect, and the king,
making him sit beside him, asked him several questions, to which
Camaralzaman replied with much good sense. At last the king said:
"My son, pray tell me about the lady who, it is said, was in your room
"Sire," replied the prince, "pray do not increase my distress
in this matter, but rather make me happy by giving her to me
in marriage. However much I may have objected to matrimony formerly,
the sight of this lovely girl has overcome all my prejudices,
and I will gratefully receive her from your hands."
The king was almost speechless on hearing his son, but after a time
assured him most solemnly that he knew nothing whatever about
the lady in question, and had not connived at her appearance.
He then desired the prince to relate the whole story to him.
Camaralzaman did so at great length, showed the ring, and implored
his father to help to find the bride he so ardently desired.
"After all you tell me," remarked the king, "I can no longer doubt
your word; but how and whence the lady came, or why she should
have stayed so short a time I cannot imagine. The whole affair
is indeed mysterious. Come, my dear son, let us wait together
for happier days."
So saying the king took Camaralzaman by the hand and led him back
to the palace, where the prince took to his bed and gave himself up
to despair, and the king shutting himself up with his son entirely
neglected the affairs of state.
The prime minister, who was the only person admitted, felt it his
duty at last to tell the king how much the court and all the people
complained of his seclusion, and how bad it was for the nation.
He urged the sultan to remove with the prince to a lovely little
island close by, whence he could easily attend public audiences,
and where the charming scenery and fine air would do the invalid so
much good as to enable him to bear his father's occasional absence.
The king approved the plan, and as soon as the castle on the island
could be prepared for their reception he and the prince arrived there,
Schahzaman never leaving his son except for the prescribed public
audiences twice a week.
Whilst all this was happening in the capital of Schahzaman the two
genii had carefully borne the Princess of China back to her own
palace and replaced her in bed. On waking next morning she first
turned from one side to another and then, finding herself alone,
called loudly for her women.
"Tell me," she cried, "where is the young man I love so dearly,
and who slept near me last night?"
"Princess," exclaimed the nurse, "we cannot tell what you allude
to without more explanation."
"Why," continued the princess, "the most charming and beautiful young
man lay sleeping beside me last night. I did my utmost to wake him,
but in vain."
"Your Royal Highness wishes to make game of us," said the nurse.
"Is it your pleasure to rise?"
"I am quite in earnest," persisted the princess, "and I want to know
where he is."
"But, Princess," expostulated the nurse, "we left you quite alone
last night, and we have seen no one enter your room since then."
At this the princess lost all patience, and taking the nurse by her
hair she boxed her ears soundly, crying out: "You shall tell me,
you old witch, or I'll kill you."
The nurse had no little trouble in escaping, and hurried off to
the queen, to whom she related the whole story with tears in her eyes.
"You see, madam," she concluded, "that the princess must be out
of her mind. If only you will come and see her, you will be able
to judge for yourself."
The queen hurried to her daughter's apartments, and after tenderly
embracing her, asked her why she had treated her nurse so badly.
"Madam," said the princess, "I perceive that your Majesty wishes
to make game of me, but I can assure you that I will never marry
anyone except the charming young man whom I saw last night.
You must know where he is, so pray send for him."
The queen was much surprised by these words, but when she
declared that she knew nothing whatever of the matter the
princess lost all respect, and answered that if she were not
allowed to marry as she wished she should kill herself, and
it was in vain that the queen tried to pacify her and bring her to reason.
The king himself came to hear the rights of the matter, but the
princess only persisted in her story, and as a proof showed the ring
on her finger. The king hardly knew what to make of it all, but ended
by thinking that his daughter was more crazy than ever, and without
further argument he had her placed in still closer confinement,
with only her nurse to wait on her and a powerful guard to keep the door.
Then he assembled his council, and having told them the sad state
of things, added: "If any of you can succeed in curing the princess,
I will give her to him in marriage, and he shall be my heir."
An elderly emir present, fired with the desire to possess a young
and lovely wife and to rule over a great kingdom, offered to try
the magic arts with which he was acquainted.
"You are welcome to try," said the king, "but I make one condition,
which is, that should you fail you will lose your life."
The emir accepted the condition, and the king led him to the princess,
who, veiling her face, remarked, "I am surprised, sire, that you
should bring an unknown man into my presence."
"You need not be shocked," said the king; "this is one of my emirs
who asks your hand in marriage."
"Sire," replied the princess, "this is not the one you gave me
before and whose ring I wear. Permit me to say that I can accept
The emir, who had expected to hear the princess talk nonsense,
finding how calm and reasonable she was, assured the king that he
could not venture to undertake a cure, but placed his head at his
Majesty's disposal, on which the justly irritated monarch promptly
had it cut off.
This was the first of many suitors for the princess whose inability
to cure her cost them their lives.
Now it happened that after things had been going on in this way for
some time the nurse's son Marzavan returned from his travels. He had
been in many countries and learnt many things, including astrology.
Needless to say that one of the first things his mother told him
was the sad condition of the princess, his foster-sister. Marzavan
asked if she could not manage to let him see the princess without
the king's knowledge.
After some consideration his mother consented, and even persuaded
the eunuch on guard to make no objection to Marzavan's entering
the royal apartment.
The princess was delighted to see her foster-brother again,
and after some conversation she confided to him all her history
and the cause of her imprisonment.
Marzavan listened with downcast eyes and the utmost attention.
When she had finished speaking he said,
"If what you tell me, Princess, is indeed the case, I do not despair
of finding comfort for you. Take patience yet a little longer.
I will set out at once to explore other countries, and when you hear
of my return be sure that he for whom you sigh is not far off."
So saying, he took his leave and started next morning on his travels.
Marzavan journeyed from city to city and from one island and province
to another, and wherever he went he heard people talk of the strange
story of the Princess Badoura, as the Princess of China was named.
After four months he reached a large populous seaport town named Torf,
and here he heard no more of the Princess Badoura but a great deal
of Prince Camaralzaman, who was reported ill, and whose story
sounded very similar to that of the Princess Badoura.
Marzavan was rejoiced, and set out at once for Prince
Camaralzaman's residence. The ship on which he embarked had
a prosperous voyage till she got within sight of the capital
of King Schahzaman, but when just about to enter the harbour she
suddenly struck on a rock, and foundered within sight of the
palace where the prince was living with his father and the grand-vizir.
Marzavan, who swam well, threw himself into the sea and managed
to land close to the palace, where he was kindly received,
and after having a change of clothing given him was brought before
the grand-vizir. The vizir was at once attracted by the young man's
superior air and intelligent conversation, and perceiving that he
had gained much experience in the course of his travels, he said,
"Ah, how I wish you had learnt some secret which might enable you
to cure a malady which has plunged this court into affliction
for some time past!"
Marzavan replied that if he knew what the illness was he might
possibly be able to suggest a remedy, on which the vizir related
to him the whole history of Prince Camaralzaman.
On hearing this Marzavan rejoiced inwardly, for he felt sure that he
had at last discovered the object of the Princess Badoura's infatuation.
However, he said nothing, but begged to be allowed to see the prince.
On entering the royal apartment the first thing which struck
him was the prince himself, who lay stretched out on his bed
with his eyes closed. The king sat near him, but, without paying
any regard to his presence, Marzavan exclaimed, "Heavens! what a
striking likeness!" And, indeed, there was a good deal of resemblance
between the features of Camaralzaman and those of the Princess of China.
These words caused the prince to open his eyes with languid curiosity,
and Marzavan seized this moment to pay him his compliments,
contriving at the same time to express the condition of the Princess
of China in terms unintelligible, indeed, to the Sultan and his vizir,
but which left the prince in no doubt that his visitor could give
him some welcome information.
The prince begged his father to allow him the favour of a private
interview with Marzavan, and the king was only too pleased to find
his son taking an interest in anyone or anything. As soon as they
were left alone Marzavan told the prince the story of the Princess
Badoura and her sufferings, adding, "I am convinced that you alone
can cure her; but before starting on so long a journey you must
be well and strong, so do your best to recover as quickly as may be."
These words produced a great effect on the prince, who was so much
cheered by the hopes held out that he declared he felt able
to get up and be dressed. The king was overjoyed at the result
of Marzavan s interview, and ordered public rejoicings in honour
of the prince's recovery.
Before long the prince was quite restored to his original state
of health, and as soon as he felt himself really strong he took
Marzavan aside and said:
"Now is the time to perform your promise. I am so impatient to see
my beloved princess once more that I am sure I shall fall ill
again if we do not start soon. The one obstacle is my father's
tender care of me, for, as you may have noticed, he cannot bear
me out of his sight."
"Prince," replied Marzavan, "I have already thought over the matter,
and this is what seems to me the best plan. You have not been
out of doors since my arrival. Ask the king's permission to go
with me for two or three days' hunting, and when he has given
leave order two good horses to be held ready for each of us.
Leave all the rest to me."
Next day the prince seized a favourable opportunity for making
his request, and the king gladly granted it on condition that
only one night should be spent out for fear of too great fatigue
after such a long illness.
Next morning Prince Camaralzaman and Marzavan were off betimes,
attended by two grooms leading the two extra horses. They hunted
a little by the way, but took care to get as far from the towns
as possible. At night-fall they reached an inn, where they supped
and slept till midnight. Then Marzavan awoke and roused the prince
without disturbing anyone else. He begged the prince to give him
the coat he had been wearing and to put on another which they had
brought with them. They mounted their second horses, and Marzavan
led one of the grooms' horses by the bridle.
Next: AN: More Adventures of Prince Camaralzaman and the Princess Badoura
Return to A Thousand and One Arabian Nights