The Tale of the Prince and the Ogress

whithersoever To whatever place; to what place soever; wheresoever.
wend To go; to pass; to betake one's self.
crupper The buttocks or rump of a horse.
Ghulah feminine form of ghul (ghoul). Ghul.
whereto To which.
affright Sudden and great fear; terror.
necessitous Very needy or indigent.

A certain King, who had a son over much given to hunting and coursing, ordered one of his Wazirs to be in attendance upon him whithersoever he might wend. One day the youth set out for the chase accompanied by his father's Minister; and, as they jogged on together, a big wild beast came in sight. Cried the Wazir to the King's son, “Up and at yon noble quarry!” So the Prince followed it until he was lost to every eye and the chase got away from him in the waste; whereby he was confused and he knew not which way to turn, when lo! a damsel appeared ahead and she was in tears. The King's son asked, “Who art thou?” and she answered, “I am daughter to a King among the Kings of Hind, and I was travelling with a caravan in the desert when drowsiness overcame me, and I fell from my beast unwittingly whereby I am cut off from my people and sore bewildered.” The Prince, hearing these words, pitied her case and, mounting her on his horse's crupper, travelled until he passed by an old ruin, when the damsel said to him, “O my master, I wish to obey a call of nature”: he therefore set her down at the ruin where she delayed so long that the King's son thought that she was only wasting time; so he followed her without her knowledge and behold, she was a Ghulah, a wicked Ogress, who was saying to her brood, “O my children, this day I bring you a fine fat youth, for dinner;” whereto they answered, “Bring him quick to us, O our mother, that we may browse upon him our bellies full.” The Prince hearing their talk, made sure of death and his side muscles quivered in fear for his life, so he turned away and was about to fly. The Ghulah came out and seeing him in sore affright (for he was trembling in every limb) cried, “Wherefore art thou afraid?” and he replied, “I have hit upon an enemy whom I greatly fear.” Asked the Ghulah, “Diddest thou not say: - I am a King's son?” and he answered, “Even so.” Then quoth she, “Why cost? not give shine enemy something of money and so satisfy him?” Quoth he, “He will not be satisfied with my purse but only with my life, and I mortally fear him and am a man under oppression.” She replied, “If thou be so distressed, as thou deemest, ask aid against him from Allah, who will surely protect thee from his ill doing and from the evil whereof thou art afraid.” Then the Prince raised his eyes heavenwards and cried, “O Thou who answerest the necessitous when he calleth upon Thee and dispellest his distress; O my God ! grant me victory over my foe and turn him from me, for Thou over all things art Almighty.” The Ghulah, hearing his prayer, turned away from him, and the Prince returned to his father, and told him the tale of the Wazir; whereupon the King summoned the Minister to his presence and then and there slew him.

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2007-12