Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales , at sacred-texts.com
"Oh, my Allah!" he complained, "Thou hast blessed this creature with so much offspring. Would that this dragon had one less, and that Thou hadst given me one child!" They continued their walk until it began to get dark, and then re turned to the serai. Time passed, until one night the Sultan's wife was taken seriously ill. In all haste messengers were dispatched here and there in search of skilled nurses.
In the royal palace was a servant who had a stepdaughter whom she hated, This event, the woman thought, presented a good opportunity to get the step-daughter out of the way. Hearing that all the nurses were dead, she went immediately to the Padishah and said: "My
[paragraph continues] Lord and Shah, I have a daughter who is skilled in nursing. If thou wilt permit her to come, the Sultana may perchance be cured."
Accordingly the Padishah ordered a carriage to be sent to fetch the step. daughter. But the girl was quite ignorant of nursing, and asked her father whatever she should do. Her father answered: "Fear not, my daughter. On thy way to the palace, stop awhile at thy mother's grave and offer up a prayer, for Allah always helps those that are in need. Afterwards go in confidence to the serai."
The maiden entered the carriage, drove to her mother's grave, and shed scalding tears in her grief and despair. While calling on the Creator to aid her, a voice was heard proceeding from the grave: "As soon as thou arrivest before the Padishah, ask for a kettle of milk; then canst thou reach the Sultana."
The maiden now reentered the carriage, arrived at the palace, and asked for a kettle of milk, with which she entered the chamber of the Sultana. She returned shortly with the news that a Prince had been born, whose form, however, was that of a dragon. The monarch was not particularly pleased, but contented himself with the knowledge that he now had an heir. To celebrate the auspicious occasion lambs were sacrificed and slaves given their freedom.
The time soon arrived when the young dragon must commence his instruction. Hodjas were summoned, who however, one after another, were killed by the dragon before they had a chance to commence their lesson. In this way there was hardly a hodja left in the land. Hearing this the stepmother went again to the Padishah and said: "My Lord and Shah, the maiden who assisted at the birth of the dragon can also impart the desired instruction."
The Padishah accordingly ordered the maiden to be fetched. Before coming to the royal palace, however, she visited her mother's grave. While she was praying for divine protection and deliverance, her mother reached out her hand from the grave and offered her a staff, saying: "Take this staff,
my daughter, and should the dragon attack thee, thou hast only to show him this staff and he will retreat." So the maiden took the staff and went to the serai. When she approached the Shahzada to commence the instruction, he attempted to bite her, but at sight of the staff he refrained from his intention. After a time her efforts to instruct the Shahzada showed such satisfactory results that the Padishah rewarded the maiden with a pile of gold, and permitted her to go home.
Years passed away, and the Dragon. Prince was now old enough to get married. The Padishah pondered the matter, grieved considerably, and finally came to the conclusion that there was nothing for it but to seek a wife for his heir. A bride was eventually found and the marriage took place, but on the wedding-night the dragon devoured his bride. The same fate overtook a second bride; in short, every maiden that was given him to wife was forthwith killed and eaten. Now the step. mother went to the Padishah and said: "My King and Shah, the maiden that assisted at the birth of the Prince, and who has since instructed him, can also make him a good wife." The Padishah rejoiced at the suggestion, and immediately sent for the maiden. Before obeying the royal summons the maiden once more poured out her sorrow at her mother's grave. The voice of the dead was heard from
the tomb: "My daughter, take the skin of a hedgehog and make a mask thereof. When thou goest to the dragon he will seek to harm thee and the prickles will wound him. He will then say, 'Take off the mask', answer, 'I will take off the mask if thou wilt take off thy clothing.' When he has taken off his clothes, seize them and cast them in the fire. On that he will lose his dragon form and appear as a human being."
In due course the maiden arrived at the palace and was ushered into the private apartment of the Dragon Prince, where the marriage ceremony took place. As soon as they were alone the Dragon essayed to attack his bride, but the prickly mask prevented him. "Take off thy mask," he snapped. "I will only take off the mask if thou wilt take off thy clothes," she answered with as much courage as she could command. With, out hesitation the Dragon undressed; as the last article of attire was discarded, the maiden threw them all in the fire and lo! instead of a horrid Dragon
a handsome youth stood before her. They fell into each other's arms and embraced and kissed unceasingly.
When the slaves entered the apartment next morning they found the newly-wedded pair in the best health and joy. They hastened to carry the joyful news to the Padishah, who ordered a grand feast in honour of the occasion. The maiden who had happily delivered the Prince from the magic spell was received by every one in the palace with the highest honour and respect.
Some time after these events, war was declared between our Padishah and the Padishah of a neighbouring country. The King himself desired to take part in the campaign, but the Shahzada begged his father to allow him to go instead. As he persisted in his request, in spite of discouragement, the Padishah finally yielded and the Prince went to the war.
While he was absent in camp the cruel stepmother considered what steps she should take to destroy the Shahzada's wife. She wrote a letter in the Prince's name to the Padishah in which he requested his father to put his wife away. When the Padishah received the letter the Prince's wife was present, and as soon as she was acquainted with the purport of the missive she said: "Knowing that the Shahzada no longer loves me, there is nothing for me to do but to leave this palace." The Padishah endeavoured to calm her, assuring her that in his belief the letter was the work of some secret enemy; but it was of no avail, she could not be turned from her purpose. "I will go," she said, "for my husband has certainly found some one more beautiful than I, or he would not have written such a letter."
With these words she quitted the palace in tears. Wandering through wood and field, up hill and down dale, across land and sea, she came one day to a spring where she saw a coffin in which a beautiful youth lay dead,
"What can be the meaning of this?" she asked herself, and while absorbed in reflection and trembling with fear the darkness came on. She
sought and found a hiding-place in the neighbourhood of the spring, and about midnight she saw forty doves flying towards the spot. Watching them, she saw them all alight on the crest of the water and shake themselves, on which they immediately changed into maidens and proceeded to the coffin. One of them took a wand, and touching the dead youth three times with it, he rose up as though from sleep. All night long they played together with him, and when morning dawned the youth lay down again in the coffin, the maiden touched him three times with the wand, and he was dead; then all the maidens went back to the spring, shook themselves, and resuming the form of doves, flew off.
All this the Prince's wife saw from her hiding-place. As no one was to be seen, she stole to the coffin, picked up the wand which the fairies had left behind, touched the dead youth three times with it, and he woke up immediately. Seeing the maiden he asked: "Who art thou?" "Who art thou, and what were the maidens who visited thee during the night?" returned she. Then said the youth: "They are forty peris who stole me away in my childhood."
The restored youth and the forlorn maiden swore eternal friendship and
resolved to marry one another. He loved her on account of her fidelity, and for some time they lived very happily together. Then the youth began to look pale and anxious, until one day he said: "Hitherto the forty peris have ignored you, but if they should hear of our marriage they will come and kill us. It would be best for you to go away from here to my mother. There you may live in safety, and we shall see what favour Allah will grant us." So with a heavy heart the maiden set out for the dwelling of the youth's mother.
Some days afterwards, the youth appeared in the form of a bird at the window of her chamber, and inquired: "How art thou, and how is the child?" The woman answered, "We are both well." The young man's mother, chancing to overhear the dialogue, asked the woman who the bird really was. The young woman now told her all she knew and what had happened. "Oh, that is my son indeed!" exclaimed the mother, beside herself with joy.
From this moment she loved the young woman and could not do enough for her; she had better clothing made for her, and surrounded her with all possible care and attention. "My dear daughter," said she one day, "if this bird should come again and ask what the child is doing, tell him it is angry with its father because he does not come to see it. If then he should enter the room ask him in what way he can obtain deliverance from the power of the peris."
Next day the bird appeared again, and when he made the usual inquiries the woman answered: "The child is angry with you." "Why?" asked the young man. " Because you have never seen it," answered the young
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The youth appeared in the form of a bird
woman. "Very well, open the window and let me come in," said the bird. The window was accordingly opened, the youth put off his bird form and stepped into the room. While he was fondling the child the old woman said to him: "My son, is there no means of delivering thee from the forty peris?" "Yes," answered the youth, " there is a means that is easy and yet difficult." He then explained that, to accomplish the desired purpose, his bird-form must be thrown into a hot oven; the peris would know of it, and crying "Our Shah is burning!" would cast themselves into the oven to rescue him; if, on this, the oven door could be shut fast, the peris would all be burnt up and then he would be free from their spell.
HE maiden accordingly gave the servants instructions to get the oven ready; and no sooner had she thrown in the youth's bird-form than the forty peris came crying "Our Shah is burning!" and flew straight into the oven. The door was quickly shut and fastened up, and thus the forty peris all perished. The youth was now free, and there was much embracing and kissing and weeping and laughing for joy.
While the young woman and the young man now spent their days in peace, the Prince, the rightful husband of the young woman, came home from the war, and his first words were: "Where is my wife?" The Padishah informed him that she had left home on account of the letter he had sent. In his despair the Prince resolved to set out at once in search of her.
Carrying a knapsack light in weight but heavy in value, he wandered for six months, up mountains, through valleys, across fields, drinking coffee, smoking his chibouque, and picking flowers, until one day he arrived at the spring where his wife had stopped. He noticed that all around it was burnt up, as though there had been a recent conflagration. From thence he wandered into the town where his wife was living. He entered a coffeehouse, and while he was resting the proprietor accosted him, inquiring whence he came and whither he was going. The Prince said
he was seeking his wife, who had run away from him. On this the coffeehouse keeper related that there was a young man living in that town who had been delivered from the power of the peris by a very beautiful young woman. "Perhaps that is thy wife," suggested the coffeehouse keeper.
He had scarcely finished speaking when the young man referred to entered the coffeehouse. The Shahzada turned to him and inquired after his wife. The man related all that had happened, which was sufficient to convince the Prince that the woman was indeed his wife. Now said he to the young man: "Go home and tell thy wife that I am here, and ask her also which of us she prefers--thee or me. Thou hast but to mention that I am her first husband, Black-eyed Snake" (that was the Prince's name when he was in dragon-form).
The young man accordingly went back home and told his wife of the occurrence, and when he put the question, "Whom wilt thou have--me or thy first husband?" she answered: "By thee I have two roses, but Black-eyed Snake possesses my heart." So saying she flew as on the wings of the wind to her first husband. They rejoiced at finding each other again, and set off on their return journey.
As soon as they arrived at the palace the Prince inquired who was the cause of all the suffering they had both endured, and it was found to be the work of the stepmother. Called into the presence of the Prince the woman was given her choice of forty mules or forty sticks. "Forty sticks are for my enemies," answered the woman; "for myself I prefer forty mules." Accordingly she was tied to the tails of forty mules and torn limb from limb.
The reunited pair now celebrated their wedding anew, and they lived the rest of their lives in unalloyed bliss.