She began to address him from the top of the castle, and he said: "If I come and ask the King for you to be my wife, will he give you to me?" "Well," said she," many suitors have come, but he hasn't given me to any of them" "I shall go to the King," said he; ' my refuge is with the Lord of the Universe." Then he sought out a wise, experienced, and readytongued man, and said to him: "Go, my man, to the King, and seek the hand of his daughter for me." "Friend," said the man, "it's a very difficult business "; but Malik Ibrahim gave him five hundred tumans and enlisted his self-interest. So the man went off and presented himself before the King and said: "The son of such and such a King has come to seek your daughter in marriage."
The King, however, took it badly, and gave orders to his servants, saying: "Go and bring the man in and cut off his head." The Wazir rose up and bowed down and kissed the ground in reverence, and said:
"O King, live for ever! Why should you cut off his head?
Why, without cause, should you put a strange young man to T death? Say rather: 'I will give her to you, but I must have from you five hundred camels with loads of jewels, and one white slave-girl and one black slave-girl and one white slave and one black slave riding on them. Produce these, and I will give her to you.' If he does produce them, we can then make up another excuse."
The messenger got up and returned to Malik Ibrahim with this answer, saying: "This is what they said." "Go back, then," said Malik Ibrahim, "and say to them: 'Be ready to receive the camels and slaves in the morning,' and say also to the King: 'But don't let your greed run away with you thinking: "This is only one man, and I can raise objections, and in the end not give him my daughter," for if you do so, by the glory of the Oneness of God, I will carry away all the soil of your land in horses' nose-bags!' Go and say this to him."
In the morning he performed his ablutions before prayer, and said: "O ring of His Majesty King Suleman, furnish all that the King has demanded of me." Presently they heard the sound of jingling bells, and found that it was the five hundred camels with loads of jewels and with male and female slaves, white and black, mounted on them, which had appeared inside the castle. The news was carried to the King: "He has produced all you asked for yesterday and it is here." "Take over charge of them," said the King to his men, and they went and took off the loads.
"What do you want next?" asked Malik Ibrahim. "I want a small castle built of gold and silver bricks for the private apartments of my daughter," replied the King. - "Good, come here to-morrow morning and inspect it." In the morning the King sent a man, and he found the gold and silver castle duly completed.
"flight," said the King. "Now I want five hundred horsemen all alike to come and escort your wife away." Morning came, and they saw five hundred horsemen all alike standing ready. They mounted the King's Daughter on a horse and brought her to the new castle, and she and Malik Ibrahim enjoyed each other's company.
Some time passed after this, and one day the bridegroom went off to hunt, leaving his wife sitting alone in the castle. When evening came a certain man from another country chanced to pass by the foot of the castle. He saw that it was of gold and silver, such as exists nowhere else in the world, and that there was a fair lady sitting in it whose countenance was so beautiful that the like had never before been seen.
The traveller, whowas a king's son, went on into the town and sought out an old woman. "Old woman," said he, "induce the lady of this castle to become interested in me, so that we may meet each other." "With all my heart, your request is a favour," said she, and she drew her chader over her head and started off for the castle. Arrived there, she entered the audience hall and went on in, and sat down beside the wife. Then she plied her with remarks on this side and on that, till she softened the lady's heart so that she was ready to talk with the young man, but not, however, as though he were to be a friend or lover.
Just then Malik Ibrahim came in and saw the old woman seated there, but his wife hid her away. He came and sat down and said: "O Light of my eyes, that old woman is a great magician and a great mischief-maker. Don't let her come into the house." - "She only came to talk to me." - "Well, please yourself, sooner or later she'll let you see what she really is."
Some days came and went and the old woman said to the wife: "Do you never ask your husband how he built this castle?" "No, mother," said she, "I haven't asked him." - "Ask him, my child, it would be well that you should know." In the evening when Malik Ibrahim came in he saw that his wife was put out. "What's the matter?" said he. - "Why don't you tell me how you built this castle?"
Now he forgot all about the advice he had bought, but he said: "Don't plague me about that. What business is it of yours?" "No, but you must tell me," said his wife. At last he could resist her importunity no longer, and he said: "I have a ring," and then he told her all about it. Again in the morning he went out to hunt, and the old woman came to the wife and said: "Well, have you asked him, my child?" "Yes," said she, "and the facts are these," and she repeated all that her husband had said.
"Good," said the old woman, "now get possession of the ring. Say, 'Give it into my hands, so that if you are late in coming back and I should require anything I may be able to ask for it.' Absolutely insist on getting it. He loves you very much and will not refuse you." In the evening when the husband came in he saw her sitting there quite dispirited. "What's the matter now?" said he. - "Nothing. Only after all these years I've been living with you, you've never once trusted me so far as to let me have the ring." - "You couldn't take care of it." - "Why couldn't I take care of it?"
The long and the short of it was that he handed the ring over to her and never thought of the advice he had bought that he should on no account allow an outside woman into the house. The next day he went off again to hunt, and the old woman came and sat down and said: "Daughter, have you got it?" - "Yes, I have." "Good," said the old woman, "I wish you no evil, my daughter. Come now, and let me wash your hair." "Very well," said the wife. Then the old woman washed her head and took it on her knees and occupied her attention with flattery, while very quietly she slipped two fingers into the girl's pocket and extracted the ring and hid it in her own pocket.