Arabian Child Book Story

Developing early reading habits is a crucial element in a child's development. We had selected for you several stories that are taken from different child story books. Those stories were selected from Arabian story books to keep your children in contact with their culture or to introduce your children to other people's cultures.

child story
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PRINCE BEDER AND THE PRINCESS GIAUHARA (Part Two)

'Madam,' replied King Saleh, 'I have already told you it was contrary to my intention that the king, my nephew, should hear what I related of the Princess Giauhara to the queen my sister. The fault is committed; I will therefore do all that I can to remedy it. I hope, madam, you will approve of my resolution to go myself and wait upon the King of Samandal, with a rich present of precious stones, and demand of him the princess, his daughter, for the King of Persia, your grandson. I have some reason to believe he will not refuse me, but will be pleased at an alliance with one of the greatest potentates of the earth.'

'It were to have been wished,' replied the queen, 'that we had not been under a necessity of making this demand, since the success of our attempt is not so certain as we could desire; but since my grandson's peace and content depend upon it, I freely give my consent. But, above all, I charge you, since you well know the temper of the King of Samandal, that you take care to speak to him with due respect, and in a manner that cannot possibly offend him.'

The queen prepared the present herself, composed of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and strings of pearl; all of which she put into a very neat and very rich box. Next morning, King Saleh took leave of her majesty and the King of Persia, and departed with a chosen and small troop of officers and other attendants. He soon arrived at the kingdom and the palace of the King of Samandal, who rose from his throne as soon as he perceived him; and King Saleh, forgetting his character for some moments, though knowing whom he had to deal with, prostrated himself at his feet, wishing him the accomplishment of all his desires. The King of Samandal immediately stooped to raise him up, and after he had placed him on his left hand, he told him he was welcome, and asked him if there was anything he could do to serve him.

'Sir,' answered King Saleh, 'though I should have no other motive than that of paying my respects to the most potent, most prudent, and most valiant prince in the world, feeble would be my expressions how much I honour your majesty.' Having, spoken these words, he took the box of jewels from one of his servants and having opened it, presented it to the king, imploring him to accept it for his sake.

'Prince,' replied the King of Samandal, 'you would not make me such a present unless you had a request to propose. If there be anything in my power, you may freely command it, and I shall feel the greatest pleasure in granting it. Speak, and tell me frankly wherein I can serve you.'

'I must own,' replied King Saleh, 'I have a boon to ask of your majesty; and I shall take care to ask nothing but what is in your power to grant. The thing depends so absolutely on yourself, that it would be to no purpose to ask it of any other. I ask it then with all possible earnestness, and I beg of you not to refuse it me.'

'If it be so,' replied the King of Samandal, 'you have nothing to do but acquaint me what it is, and you shall see after what manner I can oblige when it is in my power.'

'Sir,' said King Saleh, 'after the confidence your majesty has been pleased to encourage me to put in your goodwill, I will not dissemble any longer. I came to beg of you to honour our house with your alliance by the marriage of your honourable daughter the Princess Giauhara, and to strengthen the good understanding that has so long subsisted between our two crowns.'

At these words the King of Samandal burst out laughing falling back in his throne against a cushion that supported him, and with an imperious and scornful air, said to King Saleh: 'King Saleh, I have always hitherto thought you a prince of great sense; but what you say convinces me how much I was mistaken. Tell me, I beseech you, where was your discretion, when you imagined to yourself so great an absurdity as you have just now proposed to me? Could you conceive a thought only of aspiring in marriage to a princess, the daughter of so great and powerful a king as I am? You ought to have considered better beforehand the great distance between us, and not run the risk of losing in a moment the esteem I always had for your person.'

King Saleh was extremely nettled at this affronting, answer, and had much ado to restrain his resentment; however, he replied, with all possible moderation, 'God reward your majesty as you deserve! I have the honour to inform you, I do not demand the princess your daughter in marriage for myself; had I done so your majesty and the princess ought to have been so far from being offended, that you should have thought it an honour done to both. Your majesty well knows I am one of the kings of the sea as well as yourself; that the kings, my ancestors, yield not in antiquity to any other royal families; and that the kingdom I inherit from them is no less potent and flourishing than it has ever been. If your majesty had not interrupted me, you had soon understood that the favour I ask of you was not for myself, but for the young King of Persia, my nephew, whose power and grandeur, no less than his personal good qualities, cannot be unknown to you. Everybody acknowledges the Princess Giauhara to be the most beautiful person in the world: but it is no less true that the young King of Persia, my nephew, is the best and most accomplished prince on the land. Thus the favour that is asked being likely to redound both to the honour of your majesty and the princess your daughter, you ought not to doubt that your consent to an alliance so equal will be unanimously approved in all the kingdoms of the sea. The princess is worthy of the King of Persia, and the King of Persia is no less worthy of her. No king or prince in the world can dispute her with him.'

The King of Samandal would not have let King Saleh go on so long after this rate, had not the rage he put him in deprived him of all power of speech. It was some time before he could find his tongue, so much was he transported with passion. At length, however, he broke into outrageous language, unworthy of a great king. 'Dog!' cried he, 'dare you talk to me after this manner, and so much as mention my daughter's name in my presence? Can you think the son of your sister Gulnare worthy to come in competition with my daughter? Who are you? Who was your father? Who is your sister? And who your nephew? Was not his father a dog, and a son of a dog, like you? Guards, seize the insolent wretch, and cut off his head.'

The few officers that were about the King of Samandal were immediately going to obey his orders, when King Saleh, who was nimble and vigorous, got from them before they could draw their sabres; and having reached the palace gate, he there found a thousand men of his relations and friends, well armed and equipped, who had just arrived. The queen his mother having considered the small number of attendants he took with him, and, moreover, foreseeing the bad reception he would probably have from the King of Samandal, had sent these troops to protect and defend him in case of danger, ordering them to make haste. Those of his relations who were at the head of this troop had reason to rejoice at their seasonable arrival, when they beheld him and his attendants come running in great disorder and pursued. 'Sir,' cried his friends, the moment he joined them, 'what is the matter? We are ready to revenge you: you need only command us.'

King Saleh related his case to them in as few words as he could, and putting himself at the head of a large troop, he, while some seized on the gates, re-entered the palace as before. The few officers and guards who had pursued him being soon dispersed, he re-entered the King of Samandal's apartment, who, being abandoned by his attendants, was soon seized. King Saleh left sufficient guards to secure his person, and then went from apartment to apartment, in search of the Princess Giauhara. But that princess, on the first alarm, had, together with her women, sprung up to the surface of the sea, and escaped to a desert island.

While this was passing in the palace of the King of Samandal, those of King Saleh's attendants who had fled at the first menaces of that king put the queen mother into terrible consternation upon relating the danger her son was in. King Beder, who was by at that time, was the more concerned, in that he looked upon himself as the principal author of all the mischief: therefore, not caring to abide in the queen's presence any longer, he darted up from the bottom of the sea; and, not knowing how to find his way to the kingdom of Persia, he happened to light on the island where the Princess Giauhara had taken refuge.

The prince, not a little disturbed in mind, went and seated himself under the shade of a large tree. Whilst he was endeavouring to recover himself, he heard somebody talking, but was too far off to understand what was said. He arose and advanced softly towards the place whence the sound came, where, among the branches, he perceived a most beautiful lady. 'Doubtless,' said he, within himself, stopping and considering her with great attention, 'this must be the Princess Giauhara, whom fear has obliged to abandon her father's palace.' This said, he came forward, and approached the princess with profound reverence. 'Madam,' said he, 'a greater happiness could not have befallen me than this opportunity to offer you my most humble services. I beseech you, therefore, madam, to accept them, it being impossible that a lady in this solitude should not want assistance.'

'True, my lord,' replied Giauhara very sorrowfully, 'it is not a little extraordinary for a lady of my rank to be in this situation. I am a princess, daughter of the King of Samandal, and my name is Giauhara. I was in my father's palace, when all of a sudden I heard a dreadful noise: news was immediately brought me that King Saleh, I know not for what reason, had forced his way into the palace, seized the king my father, and murdered all the guards that made any resistance. I had only time to save myself, and escaped hither from his violence.'

At these words of the princess, King Beder began to be concerned that he had quitted his grandmother so hastily, without staying to hear from her an explanation of the news that had been brought her. But he was, on the other hand, overjoyed to find that the king, his uncle, had rendered himself master of the King of Samandal's person, not doubting but that he would consent to give up the princess for his liberty. 'Adorable princess,' continued he, 'your concern is most just, but it is easy to put an end both to that and to your father's captivity. You will agree with me when I tell you that I am Beder, King of Persia, and King Saleh is my uncle; I assure you, madam, he has no design to seize upon the king your father's dominions; his only intent is to obtain his consent that I may have the honour and happiness of being his son-in-law. I had already given my heart to you, and now, far from repenting of what I have done, I beg of you to be assured that I will love you as long as I live. Permit me, then, beauteous princess! to have the honour to go and present you to the king my uncle; and the king your father shall no sooner have consented to our marriage, than King Saleh will leave him sovereign of his dominions as before.'

This declaration of King Beder did not produce the effect he expected. When the princess heard from his own mouth that he had been the occasion of the ill-treatment her father had suffered, of the grief and fright she had endured, and especially the necessity she was reduced to of flying her country, she looked upon him as an enemy with whom she ought to have nothing whatever to do.

King Beder, believing himself arrived at the very pinnacle of happiness, stretched forth his hand, and taking that of the princess' stooped down to kiss it, when she, pushing him back, said, 'Wretch, quit that form of a man, and take that of a white bird, with a red bill and feet.' Upon her pronouncing these words, King Beder was immediately changed into a bird of that sort, to his great surprise and mortification. 'Take him,' said she to one of her women, 'and carry him to the Dry Island.' This island was only one frightful rock, where there was not a drop of water to be had.

The waiting-woman took the bird, and in executing her princess's orders had compassion on King Beder's destiny. 'It would be a great pity,' said she to herself, 'to let a prince, so worthy to live, die of hunger and thirst. The princess, so good and gentle, will, it may be, repent of this cruel order when she comes to herself: it were better that I carried him to a place where he may die a natural death.' She accordingly carried him to a well-frequented island, and left him in a charming plain, planted with all sorts of fruit trees, and watered by several rivulets.

Let us return to King Saleh. After he had sought a good while for the Princess Giauhara, and ordered others to seek for her, to no purpose, he caused the King of Samandal to be shut up in his own palace, under a strong guard; and having given the necessary orders for governing the kingdom in his absence, he returned to give the queen his mother an account of what he had done. The first thing he asked upon his arrival was of the whereabouts of the king his nephew, and he learned with great surprise and vexation that he had disappeared.

'News being brought me,' said the queen, 'of the danger you were in at the palace of the King of Samandal, whilst I was giving orders to send other troops to avenge you, he disappeared. He must have been frightened at hearing of your being in so great danger, and did not think himself in sufficient safety with us.'

This news exceedingly afflicted King Saleh, who now repented of his being so easily wrought upon by King Beder as to carry him away with him without his mother's consent. Whilst he was in this suspense about his nephew, he left his kingdom under the administration of his mother, and went to govern that of the King of Samandal, whom he continued to keep under great vigilance, though with all due respect to his rank.

The same day that King Saleh returned to the kingdom of Samandal, Queen Gulnare, mother to King Beder, arrived at the court of the queen her mother. The princess was not at all surprised to find her son did not return the same day he set out, it being not uncommon for him to go further than he proposed in the heat of the chase; but when she saw that he returned neither the next day, nor the day after, she began to be alarmed. This alarm was increased when the officers, who had accompanied the king, and were obliged to return after they had for a long time sought in vain for both him and his uncle, came and told her majesty they must of necessity have come to some harm, or be together in some place which they could not guess, since they could hear no tidings of them. Their horses, indeed, they had found, but as for their persons, they knew not where to look for them. The queen, hearing this, had resolved to dissemble and conceal her affliction, bidding the officers to search once more with their utmost diligence; but in the mean time, saying nothing to anybody, she plunged into the sea, to satisfy herself as to the suspicion she had that King Saleh must have carried away his nephew along with him.

This great queen would have been more affectionately received by the queen her mother, had she not, upon first sight of her, guessed the occasion of her coming. 'Daughter,' said she, 'I plainly perceive you are not come hither to visit me; you come to inquire after the king your son; and the only news I can tell you will augment both your grief and mine. I no sooner saw him arrive in our territories, than I rejoiced; yet, when I came to understand he had come away without your knowledge, I began to share with you the concern you must needs feel.' Then she related to her with what zeal King Saleh went to demand the Princess Giauhara in marriage for King Beder, and what had happened, till her son disappeared. 'I have sent diligently after him,' added she, 'and the king my son, who is but just gone to govern the kingdom of Samandal, has done all that lay in his power. All our endeavours have hitherto proved unsuccessful, but we must hope nevertheless to see him again, perhaps when we least expect it.'

Queen Gulnare was not satisfied with this hope; she looked upon the king her dear son as lost, and lamented him bitterly, laying all the blame upon the king his uncle. The queen her mother made her consider the necessity of not yielding too much to her grief. 'The king your brother,' said she, 'ought not, it is true, to have talked to you so imprudently about that marriage, nor ever have consented to carry away the king my grandson, without acquainting you first; yet, since it is not certain that the King of Persia is absolutely lost, you ought to neglect nothing to preserve his kingdom for him: lose, then, no more time, but return to your capital; your presence there will be necessary, and it will not be hard for you to preserve the public peace, by causing it to be published that the King of Persia was gone to visit his grandmother.'

Queen Gulnare yielded. She took leave of the queen her mother, and was back in the palace of the capital of Persia before she had been missed. She immediately despatched persons to recall the officers she had sent after the king, and to tell them she knew where his majesty was, and that they should soon see him again. She also governed with the prime minister and council as quietly as if the king had been present.

To return to King Beder, whom the Princess Giauhara's waiting-woman had carried and left in the island before mentioned; that monarch was not a little surprised when he found himself alone, and under the form of a bird. He felt yet more unhappy that he knew not where he was, nor in what part of the world the kingdom of Persia lay. He was forced to remain where he was, and live upon such food as birds of his kind were wont to eat, and to pass the night on a tree.

A few days after, a peasant that was skilled in taking birds with nets chanced to come to the place where he was; when perceiving so fine a bird, the like of which he had never seen before, he began greatly to rejoice. He employed all his art to catch him, and at length succeeded. Overjoyed at so great a prize, which he looked upon as of more worth than all the other birds, because so rare, he shut it up in a cage, and carried it to the city. As soon as he was come into the market, a citizen stops him, and asked him how much he wanted for that bird.

Instead of answering, the peasant asked the citizen what he would do with him in case he should buy him? 'What wouldst thou have me to do with him,' answered the citizen, 'but roast and eat him?'

'If that be the case,' replied the peasant, 'I suppose you would think me very well paid if you gave me the smallest piece of silver for him. I set a much higher value upon him, and you should not have him for a piece of gold. Although I am advanced in years, I never saw such a bird in my life. I intend to make a present of him to the king; he will know the value of him better than you.'

Without staying any longer in the market, the peasant went directly to the palace, and placed himself exactly before the king's apartment. His majesty, being at a window where he could see all that passed in the court, no sooner cast his eyes on this beautiful bird, than he sent an officer to buy it for him. The officer, going to the peasant, asked him how much he wanted for that bird. 'If it be for his majesty,' answered the peasant, 'I humbly beg of him to accept it of me as a present, and I desire you to carry it to him.' The officer took the bird to the king, who found it so great a rarity that he ordered the same officer to take ten pieces of gold, and carry them to the peasant, who departed very well satisfied. The king ordered the bird to be put into a magnificent cage, and gave it seed and water in rich vessels.

His majesty being then ready to go hunting, had not time to consider the bird, therefore had it brought to him as soon as he came back. The officer brought the cage, and the king, that he might better see the bird, took it out himself, and perched it upon his hand. Looking earnestly at it, he asked the officer if he had seen it eat. 'Sir,' replied the officer, 'your majesty may observe the vessel with his food is still full, and he has not touched any of it.' Then the king ordered him meat of various sorts, that he might take what he liked best.

The table being spread, and dinner served up just as the king had given these orders, the bird, flapping his wings, hopped off the king's hand, and flew on to the table, where he began to peck the bread and victuals, sometimes on one plate, and sometimes on another. The king was so surprised, that he immediately sent the officer to desire the queen to come and see this wonder. The officer related it to her majesty, and she came forthwith: but she no sooner saw the bird, than she covered her face with her veil, and would have retired. The king, surprised at her proceeding, asked the reason of it.

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