Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales , at sacred-texts.com
There was once a Padishah who had a daughter. Beautiful was she as the full moon, slender as a cypress; her eyes gleamed like live coals, her hair was as black as night, her eyebrows like bows and her eyelids like arrows.
There was a large garden in the palace, in the midst of which was a broad lake.
By its side the Princess sat every day sewing and embroidering. Once, as the Princess's ring was lying on the table near her, a little dove flew down, took the ring in its beak, and flew off. The bird was so lovely that the Princess fell quite in love with it. Next day the maiden laid her bracelet on the table, and the bird carried that off likewise. The flame of her love had now reached such a pitch of intensity that she could neither eat nor drink, and scarce could wait until the following day. On the third day she took the lace from the table and put it close beside her. The bird came as before and flew off with the lace. The maiden had now hardly strength enough to rise; she went in tears back to the palace and there broke down altogether. One of the court dames, perceiving her distress, asked: "O lady, why do you weep? Who has injured you?" "I am weary and sad at heart," answered the Sultan's daughter, weeping and sighing continually.
The Princess was the Padishah's only child, and the court dame feared to inform him of her illness. But seeing the maiden become paler day by day she overcame her fear and reported the Princess's condition to her father. The alarmed Padishah visited the maiden with a large train of physicians and hodjas, but no one could explain her malady. Next day the Vezir said to the King: "Physicians and hodjas are of no avail for your daughter; we must seek a remedy elsewhere." He advised the Padishah to have a large bath built, whose waters should cure all complaints; and every one who came to use the bath should be obliged to relate his life-story. This was done, and a royal proclamation issued that by the use of that bath the bald should receive hair, the deaf should hear, the blind see, and the lame walk. The populace came in streams; each person had a free bath which cured his disease, and was allowed to go after relating his life-story.
One bald man had a lame mother; they also heard of the healing property of the bath. "Let us go," said the son; "peradventure we may be cured." "How can I go," mumbled the old woman, "when I
cannot stand on my feet?" "That's easily managed," answered the bald one, taking his mother up on his back and setting out for the bath. As they went along the man grew tired, and reaching a field near a river, he put his mother down on the ground while he rested a little. A cock passed by with a jug of water on its back. Curious to know where it was going, the man followed it, until, coming to a great castle, the cock entered through a hole in the wall. The young man crept in after it, and found himself before a stately palace. Not a soul challenged him, and so he walked in.
"We have been long away," observed one. "The Padishah will be here soon and nothing is ready." One took a broom and swept out the chamber, the other set the table, while the third brought in the dishes. Now they shook themselves once more and, as doves, flew out at the window. Meanwhile the bald one, feeling hungry, thought that, as there was no
Going to a small box he took therefrom a ring, a bracelet, and a lace table cover. "O ring," he soliloquized, "how happy you are, for her finger has worn you! O bracelet, how happy are you, for her arm has worn you!" As he wept, he wiped the tears from his eyes with the lace. Returning all the articles to the box, he ate the food prepared for him and then lay down. The hungry bald man hardly managed to live till next day, when the handsome youth arose, shook himself, and, as a bird, flew out at the window. The man now stole out of the chest, entered the courtyard, and through the hole in the wall escaped to freedom. There he rejoined his poor mother, who was weeping and moaning because she thought she had been forsaken by her son. He soon consoled her, and taking her on his back they wended their way to the bath. They bathed, and the old woman came forth without lameness and the bald man with hair. Then they related their story, and when the Sultan's daughter heard it she promised to give the man a rich reward if he would take her to the castle he described.
Next day, therefore, the Princess set off, with the formerly bald man for her guide, and in due time they arrived at their destination. He showed her the castle walls, assisted her through the hole, led her to the doves' room, and pointed out the chest wherein she might conceal herself. His duty done, the man went back, and with wealth and health he and his mother lived comfortably all their days.
Toward evening the three doves flew into the room. Transformed into maidens, they swept, put everything in order, set food on the table, and went off again. Soon in flew the white dove, and the Princess in the chest nearly swooned in ecstasy when she saw him transformed into a handsome youth. He went to the little box, drew forth the ring, the bracelet, and the lace which formerly had been in her possession. "O ring," he sighed, "how happy you are, for you have been worn on her dear finger! O bracelet, how happy you should be, for her arm has worn you!" His eyes were wet with tears, which he dried with the lace. The maiden's heart nearly burst with grief. She could not forbear knocking on the inside of the chest with her finger. The youth heard the sound, opened the chest, and behold! there stood before him his heart's love. They embraced each other, and for some minutes were unable to speak for very joy at this unexpected meeting.
Presently the youth inquired how she came there in the palace of the Peris, and she told him all. Then the youth told her that he was born of a mortal mother, but when he was only three days old the peris had stolen him, and now he had become their padishah. He was compelled to be with them the whole day except during two hours, when he was free. The maiden might stay there that day, and during the daytime she could go out and come in at pleasure; toward evening, however, she must hide, as then the thirty peris came home, and if they saw her they would put her to death. On the morrow he would show her his mother's konak, where she could dwell in peace and where he would daily pass his two free hours with her.
Next day the Peri-Padishah pointed out to the Princess his mother's konak. "Go," he said, "and greet her in the name of Bachtijar Bey, and she will take you in and be kind to you."
When the maiden knocked, there came to the door an old lady who, when she heard the name of her son, received her visitor most cordially. The Princess dwelt there a long time, and was visited every day by the little bird. In time it came to pass that a little son was born to the Princess, but the old lady did not know about the baby Prince, nor that her son visited the house.
Next day the little bird came as usual, flew in at the window and chirped: "How is my little boy?" "Nothing is the matter with him," answered the Princess, "but he awaits Bachtijar Bey." "If only my mother knew," sighed the youth, "she would furnish her best chamber for you." Then changing himself into a man, he caressed his wife and fondled the baby. When the two hours were expired he shook himself, was transformed into a bird, and flew away.
Meantime the mother had heard her son's voice and was beside herself with joy. She ran in to her daughter-in-law, kissed her again and again, then left and prepared her best room for the Princess. When all had been comfortably arranged the old lady inquired after her son. By this time she was aware that he had been stolen by the peris, and now she meant to devise some way to steal him back again. "When my son comes tomorrow," said she, "contrive to detain him later than usual; the rest is my affair."
Next day the bird flew to the window, and not seeing the Princess there, he flew to the best room and chirped: "How is my little boy?" The Princess answered: "Much is the matter with him, he awaits Bachtijar." The bird now changed himself into a man, and the happy husband and wife entertained each other so pleasantly that the flight of time was unnoticed.
What was the old lady doing meanwhile?
In front of the house grew a large cypress-tree, on whose branches the thirty peri-doves sometimes alighted. The old lady stuck poisoned pins all over the tree. Towards evening the peris came in search of their missing Padishah and sat on the tree: no sooner did they touch the poisoned pins than they fell dead.
When the youth saw that it was late he was terror-stricken. He ran to and fro, but chancing to look outside, he saw that the thirty peris were not on the tree. His joy was now as great as his anguish had been a moment before, and when his mother explained what had happened his delight knew no bounds. Mother and son, husband and wife, were restored one to another, and now with none to molest them they celebrated their union for forty days and forty nights.