Now, not with one heart, but with a hundred hearts the Prince had fallen in love with the King's Daughter, so he told her his whole history from the beginning. And the two were in love with each other, but no one knew that he was a king's son except himself and the King's youngest daughter.
Now the King had two other daughters, and the King's Wazir had two sons who were in love with the two Princesses, and the Wazir had great hopes that the King would give them his daughters in marriage. He therefore thought out a plan, and went and talked privately to the gardener. One day the gardener came and gave three melons to his adopted son and said: "Take these to the King," and he did so.
When the King cut the biggest one he saw it was overripe, and there could be no pleasure in eating it; when he cut the middle one, he found it was a most beautiful and delicious melon. When he cut the smallest it was still a little green. Then the Wazir spoke (for it was according to his instructions that the gardener had sent the melons): "May I be the sacrifice for your Majesty's life! The first melon seems to me like a maiden who has remained too long in her father's house, and the happiest moment for her marriage is already past. The second is like a maiden just in the first bloom of her marriageable age, the third is like a young girl whose day for marrying has not yet come."
The King answered and said: "What are you driving at? What meaning lies behind the words you speak?" - "Sire, my meaning is this, that your two elder daughters are now grown up, and that the time for wedding them has come." "Well," said the King, "what do you think I ought to do?" "Make all your preparations for a big hunting expedition," said the Wazir, and take all your nobles and dignitaries and big men with you to hunt. Then tell your three daughters to come too, and make ready three golden oranges, and give them into the hand of the three maidens. When all is prepared, let all these highborn people pass in front of the Princesses where they sit, and let each of the maidens smite on the head with her golden orange the man whom she is willing to accept."
The King did as the Wazir suggested, and the two elder daughters smote with their golden oranges the two sons of the Wazir, but the youngest daughter smote the scald-headed gardener's boy. Then the hunting-party broke up, and each one as he passed mocked the King's youngest daughter and made fun of her.
Then the King gave his two elder girls in marriage to the two sons of the Wazir, and he gave his youngest to the gardener's son, but he became ill with grief to think that she should have made so base a choice. The doctors tried every sort of medicine and every sort of treatment, but the King got no better. At last one doctor came and said: "There is a bird in such and such a desert, and no one has yet been able to bring it down. If any one could be found to hunt and kill that bird and give it to the King to eat, he would get well."
When they heard this, the King's two sons-in-law said: "We two will go and catch this bird and bring it in." "I'll come with you," said the gardener's boy." "By the souls of your fathers, this is nonsense!" cried they; "we are the sons of a Wazir; we may succeed in this affair or we may not, but how could a scald-head like you, who scarcely deserve the name of a human being, hope to succeed?"
When they saw, however, that the lad was obstinate and persisted in wanting to come with them, they spoke to the King's stable-boys and said: "Go into the stable and choose the very worst horse there is, and put a tattered saddle on it and bring it for him to ride." But they chose for themselves the best horses there were, with saddle-cloths and handsome trappings, servants and retinue, and started out on their quest, while the gardener's boy on his wretched nag came limping along behind them.
By the time they reached the middle of a big desert he was all by himself far behind. Then he threw a hair into the fire, and his horse Qeytas appeared with all his kit. The shabby old horse he had been riding he tethered to a peg out of sight, and changed his clothes, and put on the royal robes and set the crown on his head. Then he mounted Qeytas and began to gallop, and soon overtook his brothers-in-law. They were busy trying to catch the bird, but they had had no success.
As soon as they caught sight of the handsome stranger they said: "Who are you? And what business has brought you here?" "I am the son of a king," replied he, "and I am travelling about. Who are you people? And what are you doing out here?"
They answered: "The King, our father-in-law, is sick, and the doctors have prescribed this bird for him, so we have come to get it, but so far we have had no luck." He said: "If you will write a paper saying that you are my slaves and give it to me, I shall bring down the bird for you." They took counsel together and whispered: "After all, we don't know him and he doesn't know us, and if we succeed in bringing home this bird for the King we shall have done a famous deed."
So aloud they said: "We will give you the paper," and they wrote it and sealed it and gave it to the strange prince. Then he caught the bird and killed it, and took its head and feet for himself and gave them the rest. (For on the way Qeytas had told him that it was the head and the feet that were the remedy for the King's illness.) Then he put an iron rod in the fire and branded the Wazir's sons as his slaves.
They were greatly delighted at having got the bird, and mounted their horses and rode away.
He also mounted his horse and galloped off till he came to the place where he had left his wretched lame nag. There he took off his crown and his royal robes and put them on Qeytas, who at once disappeared. Then he dressed himself again in his old clothes, and mounted the shabby old horse. When the brothers-in-law came along they saw, as they thought, the gardener's boy stuck half-way, and they began to make fun of him and to laugh at him, and leaving him there they pricked their horses and hurried on.
When they arrived home they cooked the bird carefully the very way the doctor had prescribed, and put it in a ruby bowl and put an emerald spoon with it, and brought it thus to the King. He ate it and got worse.
Soon after this the gardener's boy arrived home too. He cooked the head and feet of the bird and put them in a wooden bowl, and put a wooden spoon with it and sent it in for the King. The King was very angry and wanted to send it away again untasted, but his wife wouldn't let him, and said: "It would be unkind to break the poor fellow's heart." So the King listened to his wife's words and took a spoonful of the soup and a tiny grain of the meat, and immediately he felt a little better. Thereupon he quickly ate up the whole of it and was completely cured.
At once he sent for his three sons-in-law, and said to the two elder: "The stuff that was my medicine you gave away to this boy, and what was bad for me you brought me yourselves!" They were amazed, and said: "But he wasn't with us at all; his old horse never got more than half-way!' Then they asked the gardener's boy all about it, and he said: "I was about half-way when a youth came up to me and gave me these things."
His two brothers-in-law were greatly vexed, and began to laugh at him. Then he turned to the King: "Hearken to my petition, though I am but a poor boy. I beg you to examine the thigh of these two and see what there is there." The King consented, and saw that they had been branded.
He turned to the gardener's boy and said: "What sort of a tale is this?" Then they told the whole truth to the King and said: "A strange youth branded us and got a declaration of slavery from us, and then he slew the bird and took its head and feet himself and gave the rest of it to us. And then it seems that half-way home he gave the head and feet to this fellow."
At that the gardener's boy put his hand into his bosom and drew out the declaration of slavery, and said: "I was the strange youth."
The King was greatly astonished, and said: "Tell us the whole truth." Then he drew the bit of old sheepskin off his head, and the King looked at him closely and saw that he was a lad of birth and breeding. Then he told the King his story from first to last, and the King was delighted and took the crown from his own head and put it on that of his youngest son-in-law. Then he sent for his youngest daughter and said: "Up till now you have been the daughter of a king, from henceforward you shall be a king's wife, and your sisters' husbands shall be your husband's slaves."
Then the King's Son sat on the royal throne and began to rule, and he set free his brothers-in-law and gave them back their declaration of slavery, and made them his Wazirs.
And now my story has come to an end, but the sparrow never got home.