Once upon a time there was a time when there was no one but God.

There was a King who had a daughter, but he was never pleased with anything she did, and he found fault with her the whole day long. At last she grew very unhappy, and one day she began thinking what a sad life she was leading. So she took her slave-girl with her and went out of the big gate. They walked and they walked and they walked till they reached a desert, and at last the door of a garden came in sight. The King's Daughter stepped forward and put her hand on the door. No sooner had she touched it than it flew open and she fell into the garden, but the door banged behind her and the Slave-girl was left outside. The Princess went for a stroll through the garden, and when she reached the back of it she saw a raised terrace and some one asleep on it. She drew nearer and climbed up on the terrace, and pulled down the sheet that covered the face. When she did so, she saw that it was a youth so very handsome that it were a sin merely to look at him. And all his body had been pricked with needles darned in and out all over him, so that there wasn't room for another one.

Then she noticed that some one had written a paper and put it beside the head of his couch, saying that if any one would watch by the youth forty nights and forty days without once falling asleep even for a second, and during all that time would only eat one walnut a day and drink only as much water as half a walnut shell would hold, and would pull all the needles out of his body, then at the end of forty days and nights he would sneeze and rise up.

Day by day the King's Daughter drew out the needles, and whenever sleep threatened to overtake her she would go to the door of the garden to visit the Slave-girl, and she would ask through the door: "Are you there? How are you getting on? Has anybody passed this way or not?" And so she continued watching till the fortieth day was come, and there were only three needles left to pull out.

Suddenly she heard the bells of a caravan, and she got up and came down off the terrace and went to the door. She knocked and said: "Who's that? What's the news? Where does the noise of bells come from?" The Slave-girl answered: "It's a caravan which has thrown down its loads here and made this a camping-ground. Then the Princess said: "Go to the leader of the caravan and bid him come and talk to me through the door." The Slave-girl called out to the leader of the caravan: "Come over here, my lady wants you." When he had come, the King's Daughter asked: "How much will you charge to lift up my Slave-girl and put her over into the garden to me?" He said: "One hundred tumans." "Agreed," said the Princess. So he lifted the Slave-girl into the garden, and took his money and went away.

Then the King's Daughter told the Slave-girl the whole tale of the forty days and nights, and she said: "I'.m feeling very ill. I shall just put my head down for one moment and go to sleep. Do you sit by the youth's side, but do not touch him till I wake."

As soon as the Princess had dropped off to sleep the Slave-girl drew down the sheet from the youth's face and pulled out the last three needles. Suddenly he sneezed and rose up. And he said: "Who are you? Are you a huri, or a peri, or a daughter of man?' And she made answer: "I am the daughter of a man." And he asked again: "Where did you come from? How did you get here?"

Then the Slave-girl told him the whole story from the beginning, but gave herself out to be the King's Daughter, and she pretended that the Princess who was sleeping over there was her Slave-girl. And all the hardship that the King's Daughter had undergone and all the trouble she had taken the Slave-girl claimed as her own. The youth said: "Very good. Now, would you like to be my wife?" And she said, "Yes, nothing would please me better. You are the son of a King and I am a King's Daughter, let us be husband and wife."

While they were thus talking the real Princess woke up, and she perceived that her bad luck had done its work, and that all her labour and toil were wasted, nor was there any hope but in patience. She clasped her hands together and said: "Praise be to Thee, O God! Thanks be to Allah!" and after that she said neither "Yea" nor "Nay," and she became a slaye and the other became a great lady.

Then the King's Son ordered them to decorate and illuminate seven cities, and he took the Slave-girl to wife.

The King's Daughter worked in the house and in the kitchen at serving and cooking, and said not a word till after God had given three children to the Prince and his wife.

One day when the King's Son was going on a journey, he came to his wife and said: "What would you like me to bring back from my journey for you?" And she said whatever she wished for. Then he asked the children, and they said what they wished for. Then he turned to the woman, who he thought was a Slave-girl, and said: "And now, what present would you like me to bring you from my trip?" She said: "I want nothing but a marten-stone and a china doll."

At last he set out on his journey. Six months it lasted, and he had bought everything his wife and children had asked for. Then he remembered that the Slave-girl had wanted a marten-stone and a china doll. So he went to this caravanserai and that caravanserai, till at last, after a very long time, he found a merchant who said: "I've got one." When he came again to buy it the merchant asked him: "Whom do you want the marten-stone for?" "I've got a slave-girl at home," said the Prince, "and she asked me to buy her a marten-stone."

The merchant said: "O What's-your-Name, this is no slave-woman; whoever she is, she must be the daughter of a king." - "Nonsense, fellow, I tell you she's my slave-girl." "That's impossible," answered the merchant, "she's no slave. Well, do you want to buy it or not?" And the King's Son said: "Yes."

"Well," said the merchant, "when you get back from your journey, you will give the stone to the slave-girl. When she has finished all her work she will go and sit in a quiet corner, and you will become acquainted with her whole story; and when she has poured out all her woes she will say:

"Marten-stone, Marten-stone, You are marten, I am marten, Either you must break or I must break!"

The moment she has said this, you must run up quickly to her and grasp her firmly round the waist. If you don't hold her tight she will break, and she will die."

To make a long story short, the Prince did just as he was told, and gave the stone to the Slave-girl. As soon as all her work was done, she went into the kitchen, sprinkled water on the floor and swept it, lit her candle, and sat down in a corner on the floor. She put the marten-stone and the china doll in front of her, and began to tell them all her woes. From the very beginning, when ill-luck had overtaken her, she told the stone everything to the very end. Then she said:

"Marten-stone, Marten-stone, You are marten, I am marten, Either you must break or I must break!"

No sooner had she said these words than the King's Son came running up and grasped her firmly round the waist. Thereupon the stone burst and a little blood trickled out of it. The Prince took her in his arms and kissed her and caressed her.

Then he ordered them to take his wife, who was the wicked Slave-girl, and tie her to the tail of a wild horse and turn it loose into the desert.

When this was done he had seven cities decorated and illuminated all over again, and he solemnly married the King's Daughter, and they sat down to live their lives together.

And now my story has come to an end, but the sparrow never got home.