In days gone by there lived a married couple who had one only son. When he grew up they made him learn something which would be of use to him in afterlife. He was a kind, quiet boy, and feared God greatly. After his schooling was finished his father gave him a ship, freighted with various sorts of merchandise, so that he might go and trade about the world, and grow rich, and become a help to his parents in their old age. The son put to sea, and one day the ship he was in met with a Turkish vessel in which he heard great weeping and wailing. So he demanded of the Turkish sailors, "Pray tell me why there is so much wailing on board your ship?" and they answered, "We are carrying slaves which we have captured in different countries, and those who are chained are weeping".
Then he said, "Please, brothers, ask your captain if he would give me the slaves for ready cash".
The captain gladly agreed to the proposal, and after much bargaining the young man gave to the captain his vessel full of merchandise, and received in exchange the ship full of slaves.
Then he called the slaves before him, and demanded of each whence he came, and told them all they were free to return to their own countries. At last he came to an old woman who held close to her side a very beautiful girl, and he asked them from what country they came. The old woman told him, weeping, that they came from a very distant land, saying, "This young girl is the only daughter of the king, and I am her nurse, and have taken care of her from her childhood. One day, unhappily, she went to walk in a garden far away from the palace, and these wicked Turks saw her and caught her. Luckily I happened to be near, and, hearing her scream, ran to her help, and so the Turks caught me too, and brought us both on board of this ship." Then the old woman and the beautiful girl, being so far from their own country, and having no means of getting there, begged him that he would take them with him. So he married the girl, took her with him, and returned home.
When he arrived his father asked him about his ship and merchandise, and he told him what had happened, how he had given his vessel with its cargo, and had bought the slaves and set them free. "This girl," continued he, "is a king's daughter, and the old woman her nurse; as they could not get back to their country, they prayed to remain with me, so I married the girl".
Thereupon the father was very angry, and said, "My foolish son! what have you done? Why have you made away with my property without cause and of your own will? " and he drove him out of the house.
Then the son lived with his wife and her old nurse a long time in the same village, trying always, through the good offices of his mother and other friends, to obtain his father's forgiveness, and begging him to let him have a second ship full of merchandise, promised to be wiser in future. After some time the father took pity on him, and received him again into his house, with his wife and her old nurse. Shortly after he fitted him out another ship, larger than the first one, and filled with more valuable merchandise. In this he sailed, leaving his wife and her nurse in the house of his parents. He came one day to a city where he found the soldiers very busy carrying some unlucky villagers away to prison. So he asked them, "Why are you doing this, my brethren? Why are you driving these poor people to prison?" and the soldiers answered:
"They have not paid the king's taxes, that is why we take them to prison".
Then he went to the magistrate and asked, "Please tell me how much these poor prisoners owe?"
When the magistrate told him he sold his goods and ship, and paid the debts of all the prisoners, and returned home without anything. Falling at the feet of his father, he told him what he had done, and begged him to forgive him. But the father was exceedingly angry, more so than before, and drove him away from his presence. What could the unhappy son do in this great strait? How could he go begging, he whose parents were so rich? After some time his friends again prevailed upon the father to receive him back, because, they urged, so much suffering had made him wiser. At last the father yielded, took him again into his house and prepared a ship for him finer and richer than the two former ones. Then the son had the portrait of his wife painted on the helm, and that of the old nurse on the stern, and, after taking leave of his father and mother and wife, he sailed away the third time.
After sailing for some days he came near a large city, in which there lived a king, and, dropping anchor, he fired a salute to the city. All the citizens wondered, as did also their king, and no one could say who the captain of the strange ship might be. In the afternoon the king sent one of his ministers to ask who he was, and why he came; and the minister brought a message that the king himself would come at nine o'clock the next morning to see the ship. When the minister came he saw on the helm the portrait of the king's daughter, and on the stern that of her old nurse, and in his surprise and joy dared not believe his own eyes. For the princess had been promised to him in marriage while she was yet a child, and long before she was captured by the Turks.
But the minister did not tell anyone what he had seen.
Next morning, at nine o'clock, the king came with his ministers on board the ship, and asked the captain who he was, and whence he came.
Whilst walking about the vessel he saw there the portrait of the girl on the helm and that of the old woman on the stern, and recognised the features of his own daughter and her old nurse who had been captured by the Turks. But his joy was so great he dared not believe his eyes, so he invited the captain to come that afternoon to his palace to relate his adventures, hoping thus to find out if his hopes were well founded.
In the afternoon, in obedience to the king's wish, he went to the palace, and the king at once began to inquire why the figure of the girl was painted on the helm and that of the old woman on the stern. The captain guessed at once that this king must be his wife's father, so he told him everything that had happened - how he had met the Turkish ship filled with slaves, and had ransomed them and set them free. "This girl, alone," he continued, "with her old nurse, had nowhere to go, as her country was so far off, so they asked to remain with me, and I married the girl".