Now the fishermen were just then on the shore, and saw the huge casket floating in the sea. They drew it ashore with ropes and hooks, and when they opened it an old woman crept out of it. They asked her how she had got inside it.
"Oh, that my enemy might lose the sight of his little eye that is so dear to him!" lamented the old woman; "I have not deserved this of him!" and with that she fell a-weeping and wailing till the men believed every word she said. "Where is the Bey of your city?" cried she; "perhaps he will have compassion upon me and receive me into his house," she said to the men. Then they showed her the palace, and exhorted her to go thither, as perhaps she might get an alms.
So the old woman went to the palace, and when she knocked at the door, the Sultan's daughter came down to see who it was. The old woman immediately recognized the damsel, and begged her (for the damsel knew not the old woman) to take her into her service. "My lord comes home to-night, I will ask him," replied the damsel; "meanwhile rest in this corner!" And the damsel's lord allowed her to receive the old woman into the house, and the next day she waited upon them.
There the old woman was for one day and for two days, for a week, for two weeks, and there was no cook to cook the food, and no servant to keep the place clean, and yet every day there was a costly banquet and everything was as clean as clean could be. Then the old woman went to the damsel and asked her whether she did not feel dull at being alone all day. "If I were allowed to help thee pass the time away," added she, " perhaps it might be better." - "I must first ask my lord," replied the damsel. The youth did not mind the old woman helping his wife to pass away the time, and so she went up to the rooms of the damsel and stayed with her for days together.
One day the old woman asked the damsel whence came all the rare meats, and who did the service of the house. But the damsel knew not of the piece of mirror, so she could tell the old woman nothing. "Find out from thy lord," said the old woman, and scarcely had the youth come home, scarce had he had time to eat, than she wheedled him so that he showed her the mirror.
That was all the old woman wanted. A couple of days she let go by, but on the third and the fourth days she bade the damsel beg her lord for the piece of mirror so that she might amuse herself therewith, and make the time pass more easily. And indeed she had only to ask her lord for it, for he, not suspecting her falseness, gave it to her. And in the meantime the old woman was not asleep. She knew where the damsel had put the mirror, stole it, and when she looked into it the negro efrit appeared. "What is thy command?" inquired he of the old woman. "Take me with this damsel to her father's palace," was her first command. Her second command made of the youth's palace a heap of ashes, so that when the young wood-cutter returned home he found nought but the cat meeowing among the ashes. There was also a small piece of meat there; the Sultan's daughter had thrown it down for the cat.
The youth took up the fragment of meat and set out to seek his consort. Find her he would, though he roamed the whole world over. He went on and on, he searched and searched till he came to the city where his wife lived. He went up to the palace, and there he begged the cook to take him into the kitchen as a servant out of pure compassion. In a couple of days he had learnt from his fellow-servants in the kitchen that the Sultan's daughter had returned home.
One day the cook fell sick and there was no heart in him to attend to the cooking. The youth, seeing this, bade him rest, and said he would cook the food in his stead. The cook agreed, and told him what to cook, and how to season it. So the youth set to work, roasting and stewing, and when he sent up the dishes, he also sent up the scrap of food that he had found on the ashes, and put it on the damsel's plate. Scarcely had the damsel cast eyes on this little scrap than she knew within herself that her lord was near her. So she called the cook and asked whom he had with him in the kitchen. At first he denied that he had any one, but at last he confessed that he had taken a poor lad in to assist him.
Then the damsel went to her father and said to him that there was a young lad in the kitchen who prepared coffee so well that she should like some coffee from his hands. So the lad was ordered up, and from thenceforth he prepared the coffee and took it to the Sultan's daughter. So they came together again, and she told her lord how the matter had gone. Then they took counsel how they should await their turn and get the mirror back again.
Scarcely had the youth gone in to the damsel than the old woman appeared. Although she had not seen him for long, she recognized him, and, looking into the mirror, caused the poor lad to be sent back again to the ashes of his old palace. There he found the cat still squatting. When she felt hungry she caught mice, and such ravages did she make upon them that at last the Padishah of the mice had scarce a soldier left.
Very wroth was the poor Padishah, but he durst not tackle the cat. One day, however, he observed the youth, went up to him, and begged his assistance in his dire distress, for if he waited till the morrow his whole realm would be ruined.
"I'll help thee," said the youth, "though, indeed, I have enough troubles of my own to carry already."
"What is thy trouble?" asked the Padishah of the mice. The youth told him about the history of the piece of looking-glass, and how it had been stolen from him, and into whose hands it had fallen.
"Then I can help thee," cried the Padishah, whereupon he called together all the mice in the world. And he asked which of them had access to this palace, and which knew of such-and-such an old woman, and the piece of looking-glass. At these words a lame mouse hobbled forth, kissed the ground at the feet of the Padishah, and said that it was his wont to steal food from the old woman's box. He had seen through the keyhole how she took out a little bit of looking-glass every evening and hid it under a cushion.
Then the Padishah commanded him to go and steal