But time comes and goes. The two wondrous children grew up and scampered up hill and down dale, and the dark woods were bright with the radiance of their golden hair. They hunted the wild beasts, tended sheep, and helped the old people by word and deed. Time came and went till the children had grown up, and the old people had become very old indeed. The golden-haired ones grew in strength while the silver-haired ones grew in feebleness, till, at last, one morning they lay dead there, and the brother and sister were left all alone. Sorely did the poor little things weep and wail, but was ever woe mended by weeping? So they buried their old parents, and the girl stayed at home with the little she-goat, while the lad went a-hunting, for how to find food was now their great care and their little care too.
One day, while he was hunting wild beasts in the forest, he met his father, the Padishah, but he did not know it was his father, neither did the father recognize his son. Yet the moment the Padishah beheld the wondrously beautiful child, he longed to clasp him to his breast, and commanded those about him to inquire of the child from whence he came.
Then one of the courtiers went up to the youth, and said: "Thou hast shot much game there, my Bey!" - "Allah also has created much," replied the youth, "and there is enough for thee and for me also," and with that he left him like a blockhead.
But the Padishah went back to his palace, and was sick at heart because of the boy; and when they asked what ailed him, he said that he had seen such a wondrously beautiful child in the forest, and that he loved him so that he could rest no more. The boy had the very golden hair and the same radiant forehead that his wife had promised him.
The old woman was sore afraid at these words. She hastened to the stream, saw the house, peeped in, and there sat a lovely girl, like a moon fourteen days old. The girl entreated the old woman courteously, and asked her what she sought. The old woman did not wait to be asked twice; indeed, her foot was scarce across the threshold when she began to ask the girl with honey-sweet words whether she lived all alone.
"Nay, my mother," replied the girl; "I have a young brother. In the day-time he goes hunting, and in the evening he comes home."
"Dost thou not grow weary of being all alone here by thyself?" inquired the witch. - " If even I did," said the girl, "what can I do? I must fill up my time as best I may."
"Tell me now, my little diamond! dost thou dearly love this brother of thine?"
"Of course I do."
"Well, then, my girl," said the witch, "I'll tell thee something, but don't let it go any further! When thy brother comes home this evening, fall to weeping and wailing, and keep it up with all thy might. When then he asks what ails thee, answer him not, and when he asks thee again, again give him never a word. When, however, he asks thee a third time, say that thou art tired to death with staying at home here all by thyself, and that if he loves thee, he will go to the garden of the Queen of the Peris, and bring thee from thence a branch. A lovelier branch thou hast never seen all thy life long." - The girl promised she would do this, and the old woman went away.
Towards evening the damsel burst forth a-weeping and wailing till both her eyes were as red as blood. The brother came home in the evening, and was amazed to see his sister in such dire distress, yet could he not prevail upon her to tell him the cause of it. He promised her all the grass of the field and all the trees of the forest if she would only tell him what was the matter, and, to satisfy the desire of his sister's heart, the golden-haired youth set off next morning for the garden of the fairy queen. He went on and on, smoking his chibook and drinking coffee, till he reached the boundaries of the fairy realm. He came to deserts where no caravan had ever gone; he came to mountains where no bird could ever fly; he came to valleys where no serpent can ever crawl. But his trust was in Allah, so he went on and on till he came to an immense desert which the eye of man had never seen nor the foot of man trodden. In the midst of it was a beautiful palace, and by the roadside sat the Mother of Devils, and the smell of her was as the pestilence in the air all round about her.
The youth went straight up to the Mother of Devils, hugged her to his breast, kissed her all over, and said: "Good-day, little mother mine! I am thine own true lad till death!" and he kissed her hand.
"A good-day to thee also, my little son! " replied the Mother of Devils. "If thou hadst not called me thy dear little mother, if thou hadst not embraced me, and if thy innocent mother had not been under the earth, I would have devoured thee at once. But tell me now, my little son, whither away?"
The poor youth said that he wanted a branch from the garden of the Queen of the Peris.
"Who put that word in thy mouth, my little son?" asked the woman in amazement. "Hundreds and hundreds of talismans guard that garden, and hundreds of souls have perished there by reason thereof."
Yet the youth did not hold back. "I can but die once," thought he. - " Thou dost but go to salute thy innocent, buried mother," said the old woman; and then she made the youth sit down beside her and taught him the way: "Set out on thy quest at daybreak, and never stop till thou dost see right in front of thee a well and a forest. Draw forth thine arrows in this forest and catch five to ten birds, but catch them alive. Take these birds to the well, and when thou hast recited a prayer twice over, plunge the birds into the well and cry aloud for a key. A key will straightway be cast out of the well, take it to thee, and go on thy way. Thou wilt come presently to a large cavern; open the door thereof with thy key, and, as soon as thy foot is inside, stretch forth thy right hand into the blank darkness, grip fast hold of whatever thy hand shall touch, drag the thing quickly forth, and cast the key back into the well again. But look not behind thee all the time, or Allah have mercy on thy soul!"