Instantly he awoke and stood up, and kissed her forehead, and said: "You are my child; I'll give you whatever you want." Then he set a moon on her chin and a sun on her forehead, and said: "Now go," and he gave her a pair of slippers studded with jewels and covered with gold, and she went off.
1 Persians carry water in goatskins. The skin, which is called a "mashk," is not cut open. Only the head is cut off and the legs above the knees. This leaves four holes where the legs were. These are tied up tightly, and only the hole where the neck was is left for filling and emptying the skin by. When the skin is full this is also tied up with a piece of woollen string, so that the water may not pour out when the skin is moved or laid on the ground. This is the string referred to. The leg stumps ("angila") are connected by a sling, by which the water-skin can be hung on the shoulder.
By chance, as she went along the road, she dropped one of her slippers. Now a King's Son was going hunting and saw it lying there - a single slipper, embroidered and gilded and bejewelled. "Good Heavens!" cried he, "if her very slipper is like this, what must she be like herself!" And he turned back and did not go hunting, but fell in love with the slipper.
Then he sought out an old woman and said to her: "O old woman, find the owner of this slipper for me, and I'll give you whatever you want." - "I'll find her for you on condition that you give me as much flour and syrup as I can eat." "All right," said he, and he gave her flour and syrup till she could eat no more.
When she had finished eating, she got up and wrapped herself in her chader, and proceeded on her way till she came to a beautiful lady like the shining moon, who was weeping without pause. "Daughter," said the old woman, "what's the matter that you are crying so?" - "I've lost one of my slippers." - "Don't cry, my child, I've found your slipper; come, and I'll give it to you."
Fatima was overjoyed, and the old woman saw that her face was so beautiful that God could never have created it for Himself alone.
"Daughter," she asked, "where is your home?" "In such and such a place," explained the girl.
Thereupon the old woman went back to the King's Son and said: "O Prince, congratulations to you! I have found the owner of the slipper, and such a beautiful face as hers God has never before created." The Prince then sent a man to Fatima's father to ask for her hand in marriage, and he received his consent.
For seven days and nights they held the wedding celebrations, and he carried his bride off to the ladies' apartments in his palace. Then when his eyes fell on her he saw that no one had ever beheld such a lovely face.1 At the end of nine months, nine hours, and nine days a baby son was born to her.
Now let us go back to Four Eyes and Four Stumps. Hearing news of all that had befallen their stepsister, they also made their way to the house of Alla Zingi, but when they got there and he asked them the same questions as he had asked Fatima, they gave him the opposite answers. At this the Div was very angry, and he pulled off two donkey's ears and fixed one on each of their foreheads, and he fixed a bull's tail on each of their chins, and in this state they had to return home.
Now it chanced one day that they went together to the water to have a swim, and it happened that the Prince's wife was bathing that day at the same place. She had taken off her clothes and plunged into the water. When she came out she sat down at the foot of a willow tree to dry herself before dressing to go home. All of a sudden Four Stumps caught her two plaits of hair from behind and tied her by them securely to the willow tree, which was situated in the middle of a forest. Then she put on her stepsister's clothes and went away.
1 He hadn't seen her before. A Muhammadan man is not supposed to see his bride's face until he has actually married her. His mother or any other woman who has arranged the marriage for him tells him of course that the girl is awfully pretty. But that can't always be quite true. The Prince was lucky; it was rather rash to be so sure that Fatima would be as pretty as her slipper. Among the Bakhtiaris the women are not kept hidden away and do not wear veils. It would be too inconvenient.
As for poor Fatima whom she had tied to the willow tree, a tiger came out of the forest and ate her. One single drop of her blood, however, fell from the tip of his lip to the ground, and a reed sprang up from it. One day a shepherd came along and cut the reed and made it into a whistle.
Now listen to a few words about Four Stumps. She drew her chader carefully over her, and pretending to be Fatima, went home to the Prince's house and into the women's apartments. There she went to the cradle of her stepsister's baby boy, but he wanted milk and she had none to give him. Night fell and the King's Son came home. Now he had found that a light appeared every night in the room with his wife, and there was no need for a lamp, but to-night there was neither this light nor any other, and his son was crying.
"Good Heavens!" said he, "what mystery is this? Wife, what game are you playing at to-night?" "Nothing at all," replied Four Stumps. Then he noticed a sound of grinding teeth going on which he could not understand. This was she chewing the donkey's ear and the bull's tail, so that people might not see her with them in the morning. The Prince was very much put out by all this, and went to his mother and said: "A misfortune has befallen me tonight, and I don't know what the secret of it is." "How is that?" said his mother.
"Every night since I was married," replied the Prince, 'there has been a bright light from my wife's face, and there has been no need for a lamp. To-night there is no light, and my baby son won't keep quiet." As nothing could be done, he slept that night with his mother.
After that Four Stumps reared the baby on cow's milk, and no one knew what had happened, though the King's Son felt that somehow his wife was not the same. Some two years later the Prince went off one day to hunt, and he saw a shepherd sitting with his flock and playing on a whistle. As he played, a voice in the whistle sang:
"Play on, O Shepherd, sweetly play,
And tell my tale in the light of day:
My plaits were tied to a willow tree
By the sister who wished to murder me;
And with ugly things on her forehead and chin
She has taken the place that I was in.
And a tiger came who devoured me all
Save a drop of blood that chanced to fall,
And a reed sprang up by the water-side
Whistling to all men how I died."
On hearing these words the Prince was greatly pleased, saying to himself: "This whistle has news of my wife." He took it from the shepherd and played it himself, and found that it played every kind of tune, but it uttered his name now and not that of the shepherd. "I'll take this away," said he, "for my little son to play with." So he took it, and went home and gave it to his boy.
The child began to play on it, but Four Stumps understood what it was, and snatched it from the baby's hand and flung it away into an empty earthen grain jar. The Prince came in and put his hand into the jar to get it out, but the reed thrust a bunch of flowers into his hand. The little son came up, and to him also the whistle gave flowers, but when Four Stumps came it shoved a needle into her hand.
Some nights later Fatima herself came out of the shell of the whistle inside the jar, and one night when no one was about she came out of the jar and a bright light filled the room. You would have said it was a night on which the moon was full. The King's Son happened to enter at this point and saw that it was like a moonlight night, but the moment she saw her husband Fatima sprang back into the jar. He came up and stood over the mouth of the jar and said: "Come out."
"I can't come out," said she. - "Why not?" - "Because I have no clothes." - "Wait, then, till I bring some for you." Now Four Stumps perceived what was going on and wanted to run away, but Fatima cried out: "Lock the door so that that woman may not escape out into the open, and so that no one else may come into the house till I have put my clothes on."
They closed the door and brought a set of bright-coloured clothes for her, and she put them on and then stepped out of the jar. The Prince was amazed, and said: "This is my true wife and not that other woman there. Good! What strange thing is this that has occurred?" All three of them and the child with them came and sat down, and the King's Son said to his wife: "Now tell me your story, so that I may see how it has all come about. Who are you and who is this woman?"
Then Fatima said: "First give me my baby boy into my arms again," and she took the child, and he put his arms round his mother's neck and nestled down on to her breast. Then she said: "O King, the way things fell out was this," and she told him all that had befallen her from first to last, how she had been deceived and had killed her mother; she told him everything in detail.
"Now it rests with you to pass judgement on them," she concluded. The Prince was filled with wrath. He gave orders, and they brought him two wild mules, two broken pots, and two savage dogs, and he had the two sisters, Four Eyes and Four Stumps, tied by their plaits to the tails of the mules and turned them loose. Off they went, the dogs yelping and yapping, and the pots banging and clanging, and the women wailing and shrieking, and the wild mules kicked them into little bits, and they went to Hell.
The story is ended.