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Payne: The Enchanted Springs

[Go back to The Woman Who Made Her Husband Sift Dust]

There was once a king who had an only son; and when the latter grew up to man's estate, he contracted him in marriage to another king's daughter. Now she was beautiful and graceful and her cousin had sought her in marriage of her father, but she would none of him. So, when he knew that she was to be married to another, despite and jealousy gat hold on him and he bethought himself and sent a rich present to the vizier of the bride-groom's father, desiring him to use craft to make an end of the prince or go about with him, to bring him to leave his intent of marrying the princess and adding that he was the lady's cousin and that it was jealousy of her that moved him to this. The vizier accepted the present and sent an answer, saying, "Be of good cheer, for I will do all that thou wishest."

Presently, the bride's father wrote to the prince, bidding him to his capital, that he might go in to his daughter, whereupon the king his father despatched him thither, sending with him the vizier aforesaid and a thousand horse, besides presents and litters and tents and pavilions. The vizier set out with the prince, plotting the while in his heart to do him a mischief; and when they came into the desert, he called to mind a certain spring of running water in the mountains there, called Ez Zehra, whereof what man soever drank became a woman. So he called a halt near the place and presently mounting again, said to the prince, "Hast thou a mind to go with me and look upon a spring of water nigh at hand?" The prince assented, knowing not what should befall him in the future, and they rode on, unattended, till they came to the spring. The prince alighted and washed his hands and drank, whereupon he straightway became a woman. When he knew what had befallen him, he cried out and wept till he swooned away, and the vizier came up to him and said, "What ails thee?" So he told him what had happened, and the vizier feigned to condole with him and weep for his affliction, saying, "God the Most High succour thee in thine affliction! How came this grievous calamity upon thee, and we carrying thee, rejoicing, that thou mightest go in to the king's daughter? Verily, now I know not whether we shall go to her or not; but it is thine to decide. What dost thou hid me do?" Quoth the prince, "Go back to my father and tell him what hath befallen me, for I will not stir hence till this affliction be removed from me or I die in my grief." So he wrote a letter to his father, telling him what had happened, and the vizier took it and set out to return, leaving the troops with the prince and glad at heart for the success of his plot. As soon as he reached the king's capital, he went in to him and telling him what had passed, delivered to him the prince's letter. The king mourned sore for his son and sent for the wise men and masters of hidden arts, that they might discover to him this thing that had happened to the prince, but none could give him an answer. As for the vizier, he sent to the lady's cousin, giving him the glad news of the prince's misfortune, which when he heard, he rejoiced greatly and thought to marry the princess and wrote to the vizier, thanking him exceedingly and sending him rich presents and great store of treasure.

Meanwhile, the prince abode by the stream three days and nights, eating not nor drinking and committing himself, in his strait, unto God (blessed and exalted be He!) who disappointeth not whoso putteth his trust in Him. On the fourth night, there came to him a cavalier with a crown on his head, as he were of the Sons of the kings, and said to him, "O youth, who brought thee hither?" The prince told him his story, in a voice broken with tears, and the horseman pitied his case and said to him, "It was thy father's vizier who brought this thing upon thee, for he is the only man alive that knows of this spring: but mount thou behind me and come with me to my dwelling, for thou art my guest this night." "Tell me first who thou art," said the prince; and the other answered, saying, "I am a king's son of the Jinn, as thou a king's son of mankind; so take heart and be of good courage, for I will surely do away thy grief and trouble; and this is an easy thing unto me."

So the prince mounted behind the stranger, and they rode on, leaving the troops, from the first of the day till midnight, when the King's son of the Jinn said to the prince, "Knowest thou how many days' travel we have accomplished in this time?" "Not I," answered the prince, and the other, "We have a come a full year's journey for a swift horseman." The prince marvelled at this and said, "How shall I do to return to my people?" "That is not thine affair, but mine," replied the genie. "As soon as thou art quit of thy trouble, thou shalt be with thy people in less than the twinkling of an eye; for that is an easy matter to me." When the prince heard this, he well-nigh lost his wits for excess of joy; it seemed to him as he were in the mazes of a dream, and he exclaimed, "Glory be to Him who can restore the wretched to happiness!" They fared on all that night, and on the morrow they found themselves in a green and smiling country, full of towering trees and warbling birds and excellent fair gardens and splendid palaces and running waters and odoriferous flowers. Here the King's son of the Jinn alighted and bidding the prince do the like, took him by the hand and carried him into one of the palaces, where he found a great and puissant king and abode with him all that day, eating and drinking.

As soon as it was night, the King's son of the Jinn mounted his courser and taking the prince up behind him, fared on swiftly till morning, when they found themselves in a black and desert country, full of black rocks and stones, as it were a piece of hell; and the prince said to the genie, "What is the name of this land?" "It is called the Black Country," answered the other, "and belongs to one of the Kings of the Jinn, by name Dhoul Jenahain, against whom none of the other kings may prevail, neither may any enter his dominions without his leave; so abide thou here, whilst I go ask it. So saying, he went away and returning after awhile, they fared on again, till they came to a spring of water welling forth of a black rock, and the King's son of the Jinn bade the prince alight and drink. So he lighted down and drank of the spring, and no sooner had he done so than, by God's grace, he became a man as before. At this he was beyond measure rejoiced and said to the genie, "O my brother, how is this spring called?"Quoth the other, "It is called the Women's Spring, for that no woman drinks thereof but she becomes a man: wherefore do thou praise God the Most High and thank Him for thy restoration and mount." So the prince prostrated himself in gratitude to God the Most High, after which he mounted again and they fared on diligently all that day, till they came to the genie's palace, where the prince passed the night in all delight and solace of life.

They spent the next day in eating and drinking till nightfall, when the genie said to the prince, "Hast thou a mind to return to thy people?" "Yes," replied he; "for indeed I long for them." Then the king's son of the Jinn called one of his father's slaves, Rajiz by name, and said to him, "Take this young man on thy shoulders and let not the day dawn ere he be with his wife and father-in-law." "I hear and obey," answered the slave, and withdrawing awhile, reappeared in the form of an Afrit. When the prince saw this, he lost his senses for affright, but the genie said to him, "Fear not; no harm shall befall thee. Mount thy horse and leap him on to the Afrit's shoulders." " Nay," answered he ; " I will leave my horse with thee and bestride his shoulders myself." So he bestrode the Afrit's shoulders and shut his eyes, as the genie bade him; whereupon the Afrit rose with him into the air and ceased not to fly between earth and heaven, whilst the prince was unconscious, nor was the last third of the night come before he lighted down with him on the roof of his father-in-law's palace. Then said the Afrit, "Alight and open thine eyes; for this is the palace of thy father-in-law and his daughter." So he alighted and the Afrit flew away and left him on the roof of the palace.

When the day broke and the prince recovered from his trouble, he went down into the palace and his father-in-law, espying him, came to meet him and marvelled to see him descend from the roof of the palace, saying, "We see folk enter by the doors; but thou comest from the skies." Quoth the prince, "What God (may He be hallowed and glorified!) wills, cometh to pass." And he told him all that had befallen him, from first to last, whereat the king marvelled and rejoiced in his safety and bade his vizier make ready splendid bride-feasts. So did he and they held the marriage festival, after which the prince went in to his bride and abode with her two months, then departed with her for his father's capital: but, as for the lady's cousin, he died of jealousy and despite. When the prince and his bride drew near his father's city, the king came out to meet them with his troops and viziers, and so God (blessed and exalted be He!) aided the prince against his bride's cousin and his father's vizier. And I pray God the Most High,' added the damsel, 'to aid thee against thy viziers, O King, and I beseech thee to do me justice on thy son!'

When the King heard this (it being the fourth day), he bade put his son to death; but the fourth vizier entered and kissing the ground before him, said, 'May God stablish and protect the King! O King, be deliberate in doing this thou art resolved upon, for the wise man doth nothing till he have considered the issue thereof, and the proverb says, "He who looks not to the issue of his actions, fortune is no friend to him ;" and whoso acteth without consideration, there befalleth him what befell the bath-keeper with his wife.' 'And what was that?' asked the King. 'I have heard tell, O King,' answered the vizier, 'that...

[Go to The Vizier's Son and the Bathkeeper's Wife]


Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.


1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM


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