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although he had some difficulty in walking, for he was accustomed to his dear slippers.
After he had crossed the frontier, he struck out of the main path to find the most solitary spot of the forest, intending to live there only for himself, for he hated all mankind. In a dense forest he chanced upon a little place, which seemed quite suitable to him according to the plan which he had formed. A clear stream, surrounded by gigantic and shady fig-trees, a soft piece of turf invited him to throw himself down, and it was here that he intended to take no more nourishment, but to await death. Over these reflections of death he fell asleep; but on awaking, and when hunger tormented him, he came to the conclusion that after all to die of hunger was a terrible thing, and looked around him to see if he could not find anything to eat.
There were some delicious ripe figs on the tree under which he had slept, so he climbed up the tree to gather some, enjoyed them heartily, and then came down to quench his thirst in the brook. But how great was his terror, when his reflection in the water showed him his head ornamented with two immense ears and a thick long nose. In dismay he seized his ears with his hands, and indeed the former were more than half a yard long.
"I deserve donkey's ears!" he exclaimed, "for I have, like an ass, trampled upon my fortune." He wandered amongst the trees, and on feeling hungry again, he ate once more of the figs, for there was nothing else eatable on the trees. Whilst he was eating the second lot of figs it occurred to him that there might be room enough for his ears under his great turban, so as not to appear too ridiculous; but he felt that his ears had disappeared! He immediately returned to the brook, in order to make sure of it. And indeed it was true; his ears had assumed their former appearance, and also his long and unshapely nose had changed. He now perceived how all this had happened; it was owing to the figs from the first tree that he had got the long nose and ears; the second had healed him. Gladly he recognised that his good fortune had once again given him the means of being happy. He therefore gathered from each tree as much as he could carry, and
returned to the country which he had recently quitted. In the first little town he entered, he disguised himself, and without stopping went towards the city where the King resided, and soon arrived there.
It happened to be the season of the year when ripe fruits were scarce; Little Muck therefore sat down near the gate of the palace, for he remembered that in former times the chief cook bought such rarities for the royal table. Muck had only just sat down when he saw the chief cook coming across the court. He inspected the wares of the sellers who had collected near the gate of the palace; at last his attention was directed towards Muck's little basket. "Ah! a rare bit," he said, "which His Majesty will certainly enjoy. How much do you want for the whole basketful? Little Muck asked a moderate price, and they were soon agreed over the bargain. The chief cook gave the basket to a slave and continued his way. Little Muck however ran away in the meantime, for he feared, that if the horrible developments were to appear on the heads of those at Court, he as the seller might be sought for and punished.
The King was in high spirits during dinner, and complimented the chief cook over and over again on account of his excellent cooking, and care in always selecting the best for him. The chief cook, however, who was well aware what delicacy was to come yet, smiled significantly, and merely said, "The day is not over yet," or "All's well that ends well," so that the Princesses became very curious what else was to come. When therefore he had the splendid inviting figs served up, there was a universal cry of "Ah!" from all present. "How beautiful, how inviting!" exclaimed the King. "Chief cook, you are a capital fellow, and worthy of our entire favour." In speaking thus the King himself distributed such delicacies, with which he was always very frugal, to everyone at table. Each Prince and each Princess received two, the ladies in waiting, the viziers and the officers one each, the rest he placed before himself, and commenced to eat them with a good appetite.
"But dear me, how peculiar you look, father!" exclaimed Princess Amarza all at once. All looked at the King in
surprise immense ears hung down on his head, a long nose extended down his chin. All the guests looked at each other with astonishment and terror; all were more or less adorned with this peculiar head-dress.
The consternation of the Court may be easily imagined. They immediately sent for all the physicians in the town, who came in troops, prescribed pills and mixtures, but the ears and noses remained. An operation was performed on one of the Princes, but the ears budded out again.
Muck had heard of the whole affair in his hiding-place, and thought now was the time for him to act. He had already procured for himself a dress with the money which he had obtained for the figs, and now appeared as a wise man. A long beard of goat's hair disguised him completely. He entered the palace of the King with a little bag filled with figs, and offered his services as a foreign physician. At first they were somewhat sceptical, but after Little Muck had given a fig to one of the Princes to eat, and when the latter's ears and nose again assumed their original shape, then all desired to be cured by the foreign physician. The King, however, took him silently by the hand and led him into his apartment; he there unlocked a door which led into the treasury, beckoning Muck to follow him. "Here are my treasures," said the King; "make your selection, and whatever it be, you shall have, if you rid me of this frightful evil.” This was sweet music to the ears of Little Muck; immediately on entering he had seen his slippers lying on the floor, together with his little staff. He now went about the room as if he were desirous of admiring the King's treasures. Scarcely, however, had he come to his slippers, when he quietly slipped into them, seized his little staff, tore off his false beard, and displayed to the amazed King the well-known features of the exiled Muck. "Perfidious King," he said, "who repay with ingratitude faithful services, take as a well-deserved punishment the deformity which has overtaken you. You shall wear the long ears in order that they may remind you daily of Little Muck."
After having said this, he quickly turned round on his heel, wishing himself far away, and before the King was able to call for assistance, Little Muck was out of sight.
Ever since Little Muck lives here in great wealth, but secluded, for he hates men. Experience has taught him wisdom, and notwithstanding his strange exterior, he rather deserves your admiration than your mockery.
That is the story which my father told me. I repented of my unworthy conduct towards the good little man, and my father remitted the other half of the punishment which was yet in store for me. I related to my comrades the marvellous adventures of the little man, and we became so fond of him, that none of us ever mocked him again. On the contrary, we respected him as long as he lived, and always bowed to him with as much respect as we should have done before Cadi and Mufti.
The travellers agreed to rest in this caravanserai in order to regale themselves and their beasts for further marches. Yesterday's merriment was also kept up to-day, and they amused themselves with all sorts of games. After dinner, however, they called on the fifth merchant, Ali Sizah, to acquit himself also, like the rest, of his task and tell a tale. He answered that his life was too uneventful of startling events of which he might tell them, and he therefore desired to relate to them something else, namely, the Story of the False Prince.
THE STORY OF THE FALSE PRINCE.
THERE was once an honest journeyman-tailor named Labakan, who was apprenticed to a clever master in Alexandria. It could not be said of Labakan that he was awkward in plying his needle; on the contrary, he could turn out some very excellent work. People also were wrong in calling him lazy. Nevertheless there was something wrong with the journeyman, for he could sit sewing away for hours, so that the needle would grow red-hot in his hand, and the thread would smoke; this of course put him much in advance of the others. At other times, and
this, unhappily, occurred very frequently, he would sit buried in deep thought, his eyes staring before him, and having in his face and deportment something so singular, that his master and the rest of his fellow-workmen never said anything else about this except “Labakan is putting on his distinguished airs again."
On Fridays, however, when other people were quietly returning home from their prayers to their work, Labakan would issue from the mosque attired in a magnificent costume, which had cost many hours' work to purchase, and would walk slowly and proudly through the squares and streets of the city. When any of his fellow-workmen saluted him with "Peace be with thee," or "How is it, friend Labakan?" he would wave his hand gracefully, or even nod with his head in a dignified manner. When on such occasions his master would say to him, jocosely, "A Prince has been lost in thee, Labakan," the latter would rejoice at it, and say, "Have you noticed it too?" or, “I have thought so for a long time."
In this way the honest journeyman-tailor Labakan had been carrying on his folly for a long time; his master, however, tolerated it, because he was otherwise a good and clever workman. One day, Selim, the brother of the Sultan, while travelling through Alexandria, sent a galadress to his master to have something altered on it, and it was given to Labakan, who did the most delicate work. In the evening, when his master and the journeymen had gone away to refresh themselves after the toils of the day, an irresistible longing urged Labakan to return again into the workshop, where the robe of the imperial brother was hanging. He stood before it for a long time meditating; admiring at one time its brilliant embroidery, at another the bright colours of the velvet and silk.
He could not help putting it on; and lo! it fitted him as excellently as if it had been made for him. "Am I not a Prince as well as anybody else?" he soliloquised whilst stalking up and down the room. "Did not my master himself say I was born a Prince?" With the dress, the journeyman also seemed to have assumed royal ideas; he could think of nothing else but that he was a king's son in disguise, and as such he resolved to go into the world,