The story has come down to us that there were once two brothers, both of whom were kings. One of them had three daughters and the other had a son. The boy was sent to school, and for some years he pursued his studies, but when it became time for him to marry they took him away from school.
When he came home he used to sit about and never say a word, but he was always writing something. Sometimes he would suddenly disappear and not come back for five months, and when he did return he would not speak a word. One day his father said to him: "My son, I am a King, and I have no children but you, come now and let me give you a wife. I want to get one of your uncle's daughters for you." The Prince wrote on a piece of paper, "Why not? I have no objection." So they made arrangements for the wedding.
He took his uncle's eldest daughter, and they brought her to the women's quarters. The first night he spent with her, and then he went away. He vanished completely and did not appear again for five months. Then he came back again, but he neither slept with her nor talked to her, and then he suddenly disappeared again and went off". The bride went to her father and said: "I don't want this husband. He neither speaks to me nor lives with me." So her father procured a divorce for her.
After the lapse of several years the King said to his son, who had once more returned: "Come, let me give you a wife." The Prince wrote on a piece of paper: "I wanted my uncle's second daughter, why did you get me the eldest one?" The King went and told his brother, and they arranged to give him the second daughter. Just as in the case of his first wife, the King's Son slept with her one night and went away and did not come back for some months, so they procured a divorce for this daughter too.
Some years after this the King's Son wrote: "I want my uncle's youngest daughter." So they got her for him, but just as in the case of the other sisters, he slept with her one night and disappeared.
After some time the two elder sisters said: "It is an extraordinary thing that so young a girl as this should be able to manage a husband," and they took some women's trifles and sent them to her with a message: "Buy these." The girl took the things and said: "The Prince will shortly wake up from sleep." All of a sudden he came in and sat down in her room, and she said: "Cousin, my sisters have sent these things for you to buy for me." At once he wrote a cheque and gave it to her, but he said never a word, and the wife went off and drew the money and paid it where it was due.
One day the sisters said to her: "We are coming to be your guests to-day." "By all means," said she. Now she had a much-trusted slave-girl, and she said to her: "Girl." - "Yes." - "Go and spread the bedclothes in there as if the Prince my husband were sleeping under them, and every few minutes come into the room where I am sitting with my sisters and say: 'The master has asked for sherbet,' then another time come and say: 'Lady, the master has asked for you.'" "Very good," said the slave-girl.
The sisters duly arrived on their visit, and as soon as they were come the slave-girl began coming in and out, saying one time: "The master has asked for sherbet," and another time:" "Lady, he has asked for you yourself," and the mistress would go out and move about in the next room, and talk and laugh aloud, as though to say: "Iam chatting happily with my husband," and then she would comeback again. She did this to make her sisters jealous, and indeed their hearts were filled with envy when they saw these goings-on. Then when their youngest sister had duly entertained them they went away.
Suddenly the Prince came in; he had a golden orange in his hand with which he kept playing, and when his time was up and he had to go again, he forgot about the orange and left it behind. Now his wife saw that he had forgotten the golden orange, and she took it away herself to keep it, so that it might not be lost before he came back again. As she was walking about she came to the mouth of a well, and by chance the orange fell into it. In her alarm at losing the orange she went down into the well after it, and there she saw a small door.
She went in at the door and found her cousin lying there with his arm round the neck of a lady so beautiful that there was no one like her. "Good," said she, "so long as this beautiful peri stands in the way his heart will never go out to me. She noticed that the sunshine was falling on the Peri's face, so she went and stood on the side that the sun was so as to shade her. Then she said: "They will wake up and be annoyed to find me here," and she pulled off her kerchief and made a screen with it over the sleeping Peri's head.
The couple slept on till it was nearly sunset, then they woke, and the Lady saw that there was a screen over her head, and she knew that this was the work of a human being who had shown great loyalty and devotion. "O Prince," said she, "you are my brother." "Why, what have I done wrong?" said he. - "You have done nothing wrong, but a kindness has been shown me by your wife, and I can no longer keep you from her. After this you must speak to her and live with her." The King's Son was greatly pleased at this, and the Peri gave him leave to go, and he went home.
When he came to his wife he began laughing, and said: "O Cousin, things have turned out well for you now. Come, and I will tell you the whole story." The girl was greatly pleased, and the Prince told her all about it: "I didn't talk because I wasn't allowed to, but now the Peri is delighted with you for the generous way you have acted, and has not only given me permission to talk to you, but to live with you, and she herself is become my sister."
Report was brought to the King that his son had spoken, and he too rejoiced. After that the Prince used to go every few days to visit his sister the Peri.
Thus every one who practises patience in the end attains his desire, just as did this youngest daughter of the King.