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.

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PRINCE CAMARALZAMAN AND THE PRINCESS OF CHINA (Part Two)

'Rise, Caschcasch,' said Maimoune, 'I brought you hither to determine a difference between me and Danhasch. Look there, and tell me, without partiality, which is the handsomest of those two that lie asleep, the young man or the young lady.'

Caschcasch looked at the prince and princess with great attention, admiration and surprise; and after he had considered them a good while, without being able to determine which was the handsomer, he turned to Maimoune, and said, 'Madam, I must confess I should deceive you and betray myself, if I pretended to say that one was a whit handsomer than the other: the more I examine them, the more it seems to me that each possesses, in a sovereign degree, the beauty which is betwixt them. But if there be any difference, the best way to determine it is to awaken them one after the other, and by their conduct to decide which ought to be deemed the most beautiful.'

This proposal of Caschcasch's pleased equally both Maimoune and Danhasch. Maimoune then changed herself into a gnat, and leaping on the prince's neck stung him so smartly that he awoke, and put up his hand to the place; but Maimoune skipped away, and resumed her own form, which, like those of the two genies, was invisible, the better to observe what he would do.

In drawing back his hand, the prince chanced to let it fall on that of the Princess of China, and on opening his eyes, was exceedingly surprised to perceive a lady of the greatest beauty. He raised his head and leaned on his elbow, the better to consider her. She was so beautiful that he could not help crying out, 'What beauty! my heart! my soul!' In saying which he kissed her with so little caution that she would certainly have been awaked by it, had she not slept sounder than ordinary, through the enchantment of Danhasch.

He was going to awaken her at that instant, but suddenly refrained himself. 'Is not this she,' said he, 'that the sultan my father would have had me marry? He was in the wrong not to let me see her sooner. I should not have offended him by my disobedience and passionate language to him in public, and he would have spared himself the confusion which I have occasioned him.'

The prince began to repent sincerely of the fault he had committed, and was once more upon the point of waking the Princess of China. 'It may be,' said he, recollecting himself, 'that the sultan my father has a mind to surprise me with this young lady. Who knows but he has brought her himself, and is hidden behind the curtains to make me ashamed of myself. I will content myself with this ring, as a remembrance of her.'

He then gently drew off a fine ring which the princess had on her finger, and immediately put on one of his own in its place. After this he fell into a more profound sleep than before through the enchantment of the genies.

As soon as Prince Camaralzaman was in a sound sleep, Danhasch transformed himself, and went and bit the princess so rudely on the lip that she forthwith awoke, started up, and opening her eyes, was not a little surprised to see a beautiful young prince. From surprise she proceeded to admiration, and from admiration to a transport of joy.

'What,' cried she, 'is it you the king my father has designed me for a husband? I am indeed most unfortunate for not knowing it before, for then I should not have made him so angry with me. Wake then, wake!'

So saying, she took Prince Camaralzaman by the arm and shook him so that he would have awaked, had not Maimoune increased his sleep by enchantment. She shook him several times, and finding he did not wake, she seized his hand, and kissing it eagerly, perceived he had a ring upon his finger which greatly resembled hers, and which she was convinced was her own, by seeing she had another on her finger instead of it. She could not comprehend how this exchange could have been made. Tired with her fruitless endeavours to awaken the prince, she soon fell asleep.

When Maimoune saw that she could now speak without fear of awaking the princess, she cried to Danhasch, 'Ah, cursed genie dost thou not now see what thy contest has come to? Art thou not now convinced how much thy princess is inferior to my prince? But I pardon thee thy wager. Another time believe me when I assert anything.' Then turning to Caschcasch, 'As for you,' said she, 'I thank you for your trouble; take the princess, you and Danhasch, and convey her back whence he has taken her.' Danhasch and Caschcasch did as they were commanded, and Maimoune retired to her well.

Prince Camaralzaman on waking next morning looked to see if the lady whom he had seen the night before were there. When he found she was gone, he cried out, 'I thought indeed this was a trick the king my father designed to play me. I am glad I was aware of it.' Then he waked the slave, who was still asleep, and bade him come and dress him, without saying anything. The slave brought a basin and water, and after he had washed and said his prayers, he took a book and read for some time.

After this, he called the slave, and said to him, 'Come hither, and look you, do not tell me a lie. How came that lady hither, and who brought her?'

'My lord,' answered the slave with great astonishment, 'I know not what lady your highness speaks of.'

'I speak,' said the prince, 'of her that came, or rather, that was brought hither.'

'My lord,' replied the slave, 'I swear I know of no such lady; and how should she come in without my knowledge, since I lay at the door?'

'You are a lying rascal,' replied the prince, 'and in the plot to vex and provoke me the more.' So saying, he gave him a box on the ear which knocked him down; and after having stamped upon him for some time, he at length tied the well-rope under his arms, and plunged him several times into the water, neck and heels. I will drown thee,' cried he, 'if thou dost not tell me speedily who this lady was, and who brought her.'

The slave, perplexed and half-dead, said within himself, 'The prince must have lost his senses through grief.' 'My lord, then,' cried he, in a suppliant tone, 'I beseech your highness to spare my life, and I will tell you the truth.'

The prince drew the slave up, and pressed him to tell him. As soon as he was out of the well, 'My lord,' said he trembling, 'your highness must perceive that it is impossible for me to satisfy you in my present condition; I beg you to give me leave to go and change my clothes first.'

'I permit you, but do it quickly,' said the prince, 'and be sure you conceal nothing.'

The slave went out, and having locked the door upon the prince, ran to the palace just as he was. The king was at that time in discourse with his prime vizier, to whom he had just related the grief in which he had passed the night on account of his son's disobedience and opposition to his will. The minister endeavoured to comfort his master by telling him that the prince himself had given him good cause to be angry. 'Sir,' said he, 'your majesty need not repent of having treated your son after this sort. Have but patience to let him continue a while in prison, and assure yourself his temper will abate, and he will submit to all you require.'

The grand vizier had just made an end of speaking when the slave came in and cast himself at the king's feet. 'My lord,' said he, 'I am very sorry to be the messenger of ill news to your majesty, which I know must create you fresh affliction. The prince is distracted, my lord; and his treatment to me, as you may see, too plainly proves it.' Then he proceeded to tell all the particulars of what Prince Camaralzaman had said to him, and the violence with which he had been treated.

The king, who did not expect to hear anything of this afflictive kind, said to the prime minister, 'This is very melancholy, very different from the hopes you gave me just now: go immediately, without loss of time, see what is the matter, and come and give me an account.'

The grand vizier obeyed instantly; and coming into the prince's chamber, he found him sitting on his bed in good temper, and with a book in his hand, which he was reading.

After mutual salutations, the vizier sat down by him, and said, 'My lord, I wish that a slave of yours were punished for coming to frighten the king your father.'

'What,' replied the prince, 'could give my father alarm? I have much greater cause to complain of that slave.'

'Prince,' answered the vizier, 'God forbid that the news which he has told your father concerning you should be true; indeed, I myself find it to be false, by the good temper I observe you in.'

'It may be,' replied the prince, 'that he did not make himself well understood; but since you are come, who ought to know something of the matter, give me leave to ask you who was that lady who was here last night?'

The grand vizier was thunderstruck at this question; however, he recovered himself and said, 'My lord, be not surprised at my astonishment at your question. Is it possible that a lady, or any other person in the world, should penetrate by night into this place, without entering at the door and walking over the body of your slave? I beseech you, recollect yourself, and you will find it is only a dream which has made this impression on you.'

'I give no ear to what you say,' said the prince, raising his voice; 'I must know of you absolutely what is become of the lady; and if you hesitate to obey me, I shall soon be able to force you to obey me.'

At these stern words the grand vizier began to be in greater confusion than before, and was thinking how to extricate himself. He endeavoured to pacify the prince by good words, and begged of him, in the most humble and guarded manner, to tell him if he had seen this lady.

'Yes, yes,' answered the prince, 'I have seen her, and am very well satisfied you sent her. She played the part you had given her admirably well, for I could not get a word out of her. She pretended to be asleep, but I was no sooner fallen into a slumber than she arose and left me. You know all this; for I doubt not she has been to make her report to you.'

'My lord,' replied the vizier, 'nothing of this has been done which you seem to reproach me with; neither your father nor I have sent this lady you speak of; permit me therefore to remind your highness once more that you have only seen this lady in a dream.'

'Do you come to affront and contradict me,' said the prince in a great rage, 'and to tell me to my face that what I have told you is a dream?' At the same time he took him by the beard, and loaded him with blows as long as he could stand.

The poor grand vizier endured with respectful patience all the violence of his lord's indignation, and could not help saying within himself, 'Now am I in as bad a condition as the slave, and shall think myself happy if I can, like him, escape from any further danger.' In the midst of repeated blows he cried out for but a moment's audience, which the prince, after he had nearly tired himself with beating him, consented to give.

'I own, my prince,' said the grand vizier, dissembling, 'there is something in what your highness suspects; but you cannot be ignorant of the necessity a minister is under to obey his royal master's orders; yet, if you will but be pleased to set me at liberty, I will go and tell him anything on your part that you shall think fit to command me.'

'Go then,' said the prince, 'and tell him from me that if he pleases I will marry the lady he sent me. Do this quickly, and bring me a speedy answer.' The grand vizier made a profound reverence, and went away, not thinking himself altogether safe till he had got out of the tower, and shut the door upon the prince.

He came and presented himself before the king, with a countenance that sufficiently showed he had been ill-used, which the king could not behold without concern. 'Well,' said the king, 'in what condition did you find my son?'

'Sir,' answered the vizier, 'what the slave reported to your majesty is but too true.' He then began to relate his interview with Camaralzaman, how he flew into a passion upon his endeavouring to persuade him it was impossible that the lady he spoke of should have got in; the ill-treatment he had received from him; how he had been used, and by what means he made his escape.

The king, the more concerned as he loved the prince with excessive tenderness, resolved to find out the truth of this matter, and therefore proposed himself to go and see his son in the tower, accompanied by the grand vizier.

Prince Camaralzaman received the king his father in the tower with great respect. The king sat down, and, after he had made his son the prince sit down by him, put several questions to him, which he answered with great good sense. The king every now and then looked at the grand vizier, as intimating that he did not find his son had lost his wits, but rather thought he had lost his.

The king at length spoke of the lady to the prince. 'My son,' said he, 'I desire you to tell me what lady it was that came here, as I have been told.'

'Sir,' answered Camaralzaman, 'I beg of your majesty not to give me more vexation on that head, but rather to oblige me by letting me have her in marriage: this young lady has charmed me. I am ready to receive her at your hands with the deepest gratitude.'

The king was surprised at this answer of the prince, so remote, as he thought, from the good sense he had shown before. 'My son,' said he to him, 'you fill me with the greatest astonishment imaginable by what you now say to me; I declare to you by my crown, that is to devolve upon you after me, I know not one word of the lady you mention; and if any such has come to you, it was altogether without my knowledge. But how could she get into this tower without my consent? For whatever my grand vizier told you, it was only to appease you: it must therefore be a mere dream; and I beg of you not to believe otherwise, but to recover your senses.'

'Sir,' replied the prince, 'I should be for ever unworthy of your majesty's favour, if I did not give entire credit to what you are pleased to say; but I humbly beseech you at the same time to give a patient hearing to what I shall say to you, and then to judge whether what I have the honour to tell you be a dream or not.'

Then Prince Camaralzaman related to the king his father after what manner he had been awakened, and the pains he took to awaken the lady without effect, and how he had made the exchange of his ring with that of the lady: showing the king the ring, he added, 'Sir, your majesty must needs know my ring very well, you have seen it so often. After this, I hope you will be convinced that I have not lost my senses, as you have been almost made to believe.'

The king was so perfectly convinced of the truth of what his son had been telling him, that he had not a word to say, remaining astonished for some time, and not being able to utter a syllable.

'Son,' at length replied the king, 'after what I have just heard, and what I see by the ring on your finger, I cannot doubt but that you have seen this lady. Would I knew who she was, and I would make you happy from this moment, and I should be the happiest father in the world! But where shall I find her, and how seek for her? How could she get in here without my consent? Why did she come? These things, I must confess, are past my finding out.' So saying, and taking the prince by the hand, 'Come then, my son,' he said, 'let us go and be miserable together.'

The king then led his son out of the tower, and conveyed him to the palace, where he no sooner arrived than in despair he fell ill, and took to his bed; the king shut himself up with him, and spent many a day in weeping, without attending to the affairs of his kingdom.

The prime minister, who was the only person that had admittance to him, came one day and told him that the whole court, and even the people, began to murmur at not seeing him, and that he did not administer justice every day as he was wont to do. 'I humbly beg your majesty, therefore,' proceeded he, 'to pay them some attention; I am aware your majesty's company is a great comfort to the prince, but then you must not run the risk of letting all be lost. Permit me to propose to your majesty to remove with the prince to the castle in a little island near the port, where you may give audience to your subjects twice a week only; during these absences the prince will be so agreeably diverted with the beauty, prospect, and good air of the place, that he will bear them with the less uneasiness.'

The king approved this proposal; and after the castle, where he had not resided for some time, had been furnished, he removed thither with the prince; and, excepting the times that he gave audience, as aforesaid, he never left him, but passed all his time by his son's pillow, endeavouring to comfort him in sharing his grief.

Whilst matters passed thus, the two genies, Danhasch and Caschcasch, had carried the Princess of China back to the palace where the king her father had shut her up.

When she awoke the next morning, and found by looking to the right and left that Prince Camaralzaman was not by, she cried out with a loud voice to her women. Her nurse, who presented herself first, desired to be informed what she would please to have, and if anything disagreeable had happened to her.

'Tell me,' said the princess, 'what is become of the young man whom I love with all my soul?'

'Madam,' replied the nurse, 'we cannot understand your highness, unless you will be pleased to explain yourself.'

'A young man, the best and most amiable,' said the princess 'whom I could not awake; I ask you where he is?'

'Madam,' answered the nurse, 'your highness asks these questions to jest with us. I beseech you to rise.'

'I am in earnest,' said the princess, 'and I must know where this young man is.'

'Madam,' insisted the nurse, 'how any man could come without our knowledge we cannot imagine, for we all slept about the door of your chamber, which was locked, and I had the key in my pocket.'

At this the princess lost all patience, and catching her nurse by the hair of her head, and giving her two or three sound cuffs, she cried, 'You shall tell me where this young man is, old sorceress, or I will beat your brains out.'

The nurse struggled to get from her, and at last succeeded; when she went immediately, with tears in her eyes, to complain to the queen her mother, who was not a little surprised to see her in this condition, and asked who had done this.

'Madam,' began the nurse, 'you see how the princess has treated me; she would certainly have murdered me, if I had not had the good fortune to escape out of her hands.' She then began to tell what had been the cause of all that violent passion in the princess. The queen was surprised to hear it, and could not guess how she came to be so senseless as to take that for a reality which could be no other than a dream. 'Your majesty must conclude from all this, madam,' continued the nurse, 'that the princess is out of her senses. You will think so yourself if you go and see her.'

The queen ordered the nurse to follow her; and they went together to the princess's palace that very moment.

The Queen of China sat down by her daughter's bed-side, immediately upon her arrival in her apartment; and after she had informed herself about her health, she began to ask what had made her so angry with her nurse, that she should have treated her in the manner she had done. 'Daughter,' said she, 'this is not right; and a great princess like you should not suffer herself to be so transported by passion.'

'Madam,' replied the princess, 'I plainly perceive your majesty is come to mock me; but I declare I will never let you rest till you consent I shall marry the young man. You must know where he is, and therefore I beg of your majesty to let him come to me again.'

'Daughter,' answered the queen, 'you surprise me; I know nothing of what you talk of.' Then the princess lost all respect for the queen: 'Madam,' replied she, 'the king my father and you persecuted me about marrying, when I had no inclination; I now have an inclination, and I will marry this young man I told you of, or I will kill myself.'

Here the queen endeavoured to calm the princess by soft words. 'Daughter,' said she, 'how could any man come to you?' But instead of hearing her, the princess interrupted her, and flew out into such violence as obliged the queen to leave her, and retire in great affliction to inform the king of all that had passed.

The king hearing it had a mind likewise to be satisfied in person; and coming to his daughter's apartment, asked her if what he had just heard was true. 'Sir,' replied the princess, 'let us talk no more of that; I only beseech your majesty to grant me the favour that I may marry the young man. He was the finest and best made youth the sun ever saw. I entreat you, do not refuse me. But that your majesty may not longer doubt whether I have seen this young man, whether I did not do my utmost to awake him, without succeeding, see, if you please, this ring.' She then reached forth her hand, and showed the king a man's ring on her finger. The king did not know what to make of all this; but as he had shut her up as mad, he began to think her more mad than ever: therefore, without saying anything more to her, for fear she might do violence to herself or somebody about her, he had her chained, and shut up more closely than before, allowing her only the nurse to wait on her, with a good guard at the door.

The king, exceedingly concerned at this indisposition of his daughter, sought all possible means to get her cured. He assembled his council, and after having acquainted them with the condition she was in, 'If any of you,' said he, 'is capable of undertaking her cure, and succeeds, I will give her to him in marriage, and make him heir to my dominions and crown after my decease.'

The desire of marrying a handsome young princess, and the hopes of one day governing so powerful a kingdom as that of China, had a strange effect on an emir, already advanced in age, who was present at this council. As he was well skilled in magic, he offered to cure the king's daughter, and flattered himself he should succeed.

'I consent,' said the king, 'but I forgot to tell you one thing, and that is, that if you do not succeed you shall lose your head. It would not be reasonable that you should have so great a reward, and yet run no risk on your part; and what I say to you,' continued the king, 'I say to all others that shall come after you, that they may consider beforehand what they undertake.'

The emir, however, accepted the condition, and the king conducted him to where the princess was. She covered her face as soon as she saw them come in, and cried out, 'Your majesty surprises me by bringing with you a man whom I do not know, and by whom my religion forbids me to let myself be seen.'

'Daughter,' replied the king, 'you need not be scandalized, it is only one of my emirs who is come to demand you in marriage.'

'It is not, I perceive, the person that you have already given me, and whose faith is plighted by the ring I wear,' replied the princess; 'be not offended that I will never marry any other.'

The emir expected the princess would have said or done some extravagant thing, and was not a little disappointed when he heard her talk so calmly and rationally; for then he understood what was really the matter. He dared not explain himself to the king, who would not have suffered the princess to give her hand to any other than the person to whom he wished to give her with his own hand. He therefore threw himself at his majesty's feet, and said, 'After what I have heard and observed, sir, it will be to no purpose for me to think of curing the princess, since I have no remedies suited to her malady, for which reason I humbly submit my life to your majesty's pleasure.' The king, enraged at his incapacity and the trouble he had given him, caused him immediately to be beheaded.

Some days afterwards, his majesty, unwilling to have it said that he had neglected his daughter's cure, put forth a proclamation in his capital, to the effect that if there were any physician, astrologer, or magician, who would undertake to restore the princess to her senses, he need only come, and he should be employed, on condition of losing his head if he miscarried. He had the same published in the other principal cities and towns of his dominions, and in the courts of the princes his neighbours.

The first that presented himself was an astrologer and magician, whom the king caused to be conducted to the princess's prison. The astrologer drew forth out of a bag he carried under his arm an astrolabe, a small sphere, a chafing dish, several sorts of drugs for fumigations, a brass pot, with many other things, and desired he might have a fire lighted.

The princess demanded what all these preparations were for.

'Madam,' answered the astrologer, 'they are to exorcise the evil spirit that possesses you, to shut him up in this pot, and throw him into the sea.'

'Foolish astrologer,' replied the princess, 'I have no occasion for any of your preparations, but am in my perfect senses, and you alone are mad. If your art can bring him I love to me, I shall be obliged to you; otherwise you may go about your business, for I have nothing to do with you.'

'Madam,' said the astrologer, 'if your case be so, I shall desist from all endeavours, believing that only the king your father can remedy your disaster.' So putting up his apparatus again, he marched away, very much concerned that he had so easily undertaken to cure an imaginary malady.

Coming to give an account to the king of what he had done, he began thus boldly: 'According to what your majesty published in your proclamation, and what you were pleased to confirm to me yourself, I thought the princess was distracted, and depended on being able to recover her by the secrets I have long been acquainted with, but I soon found that your majesty alone is the physician who can cure her, by giving her in marriage the person whom she desires.'

The king was very much enraged at the astrologer, and had his head cut off upon the spot. Not to make too long a story of it, a hundred and fifty astrologers, physicians, and magicians all underwent the same fate, and their heads were set up on poles on every gate of the city.

The Princess of China's nurse had a son whose name was Marzavan, and who had been foster-brother to the princess, and brought up with her. Their friendship was so great during their childhood, and all the time they had been together, that they treated each other as brother and sister as they grew up, even some time after their separation.

This Marzavan, among other studies, had from his youth been much addicted to judicial astrology, geomancy, and the like secret arts, wherein he became exceedingly skilful. Not content with what he had learned from masters, he travelled as soon as he was able to bear the fatigue, and there was hardly any person of note in any science or art but he sought him in the most remote cities, and kept company with him long enough to obtain all the information he desired, so great was his thirst after knowledge.

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