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A Fairy Tale

In the days of old there was a handsome young prince who ruled the many tribes of Khaloon as all his forefathers had done before him. He was married to the most beautiful princess on earth. She was gentle and delicate like the perfume of a rose-bud. Her body was frail and her lips were small. She had long, slim, helpless fingers and a deep soothing soft voice. But what made her the most beautiful princess on earth were her eyes. They were large and luminous; the moods of her soul and the colours of her world passed through them in a continuous dance, graceful and warm. Now their shadow would deepen to a hundred deep purples, reds and golds, and the prince felt as when he listened to the soft notes of a sad, distant melody. Now the light in them would burst forth silvery, bright and warm, and the prince felt life and hope and love burst forth from somewhere in his heart and spread all over the world.

By the will of Allah it came to pass that one day when the prince got up and looked at his beloved, he discovered a dullness in her eyes. As the days passed the dullness increased, in spite of the many herbs and lotions that the court Hakims prescribed. All the tribes of Khaloon were sad and sorrowful.

The prince called an assembly of his wisest counselors and asked their advice. “Heaven born,” said Omar the Poet, “all light is fated to go beyond the sphere of our vision. It does not go out, but goes back to the light it came from. Like a note of music it must flow to silence. That flow is its shape. That going to silence is its life. Therefore do not be sorrowful, 0 Prince, but grateful that you were favoured with the sound of a song that was the very heaven in sweetness, that you worshipped in the light of a spark that was greater than the moon and the sun. And now take the colour from your dreams, the light from your heart and pour it into the eyes of the princess and let your memory give shape to the melodies that come forth from them”.

“Slop and nonsense,” said Khaleel the Wise, “fiddlesticks and make-believe! Heaven-born, my prince, be wise and practical. The world is full of beautiful girls with shining eyes. I will bring you a bevy from the valley of Shameem who will turn your house into a firely garden on a summer night”.

But behold! The prince was furious at this and caught hold of KhaleeFs beard and nearly pulled it all out. For the old man’s beard was not as strong as his wisdom. Then the prince recovered himself and ordered him out of the palace and Khaleel shuffled out, a sad old man. But he remembered the saying of his wise father, who had told him, “My son only a fool will advise the lover.” He felt wise for having discovered he was a fool and became happy because he felt he was wiser. He chuckled and chuckled and went home to sleep and snored wise snores and dreamet foolish dreams.

Behold, there was a great and heavy silence in the palace. At last it was broken by Rahman the Seer. “My beloved prince,” said he in his deep rich voice, “heed my words because it is not I who speak. In the mountains beyond the river to the east of Khaloon lives a man whom the world calls a beggar. But he has in his heart a pool of something that will cure any ailment, for it has conquered time and death. Go find him, 0 prince ask for the magic liquid and put a drop in each eye of your princess. They will shine lovelier, brighter and dreamier then ever”.

The prince smiled with joy and hope and all the wise men heaved a sigh of relief and told one another what a truly great seer Rahman was, and, absent mindedly stroked their long beards. So by the grace of Allah the prince collected all his people and dogs and hunters and Hakims and searched and searched until they found the beggarman. “What have you in your heart? ” asked the prince. “Love and laughter,” laughed the beggarman.

“Could you give me two drops of it for my princess? the prince asked.

“Yes,” laughed the beggarman, “if you would pay the price for it, 0 Prince.” “Name it, 0 beggar,” said the prince.

“Your kingdom for the drop of laughter and your pride for the drop of love,” laughed the beggarman.

“Hm”, said the prince frowning. “My kindgom indeed! Beggarman, this kingdom has been given to me by the great allah who very mercifully has also given me some powers with it. Since you have been so unloving to your prince and so stingy to your princess, I deem you unfit to hold such a treasure and confiscate the whole lot in the name of the law and the people.” So saying he put the beggarman in irons and brought him to his palace and threw him into a dungeon.

The next morning when the door of the dungeon was opened, behold, by the grace of Allah, what did they see but a heap of rags and skin and bones. ? The beggarman had gone and taken his love and laughter with him. On the wall he had written a message for the prince.

“0, my great prince, that which is under your law I leave behind for your law to deal with.”

When the prince saw this he was very angry for he was never defeated before. He was very angry with his wise men and pulled out all their beards. He was very angry with the princess because it was for her sake that he was defeated, and he said, “Blast her eyes.” Then he sent for Khaleel the Wise and started with him to the valley of shameem with fine horses, musicians, hawks and greyhounds, and forgot his one defeat in the many blissful victories in the valley of Shameem.

But the poor little princess, she is nearly blind.

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