34 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
THE STORY OF THE VIZIR WHO WAS PUNISHED
There was once upon a time a king who had a son who was very fond of hunting. He often allowed him to indulge in this pastime, but he had ordered his grand-vizir always to go with him, and never to lose sight of him. One day the huntsman roused a stag, and the prince, thinking that the vizir was behind, gave chase, and rode so hard that he found himself alone. He stopped, and having lost sight of it, he turned to rejoin the vizir, who had not been careful enough to follow him. But he lost his way. Whilst he was trying to find it, he saw on the side of the road a beautiful lady who was crying bitterly. He drew his horse's rein, and asked her who she was and what she was doing in this place, and if she needed help. i I am the daughter of an Indian king,' she answered, ' and whilst riding in the country I fell asleep and tumbled off. My horse has run away, and I do not know what has become of him.'
The young prince had pity on her, and offered to take her behind him, which he did. As they passed by a ruined building the lady dismounted and went in. The prince also dismounted and followed her. To his great surprise, he heard her saying to some one inside, ' Rejoice, my children; I am bringing you a very nice fat youth.' And other voices replied, ' Where is he, mamma, that we may eat him at once, as we are very hungry? '
The prince at once saw the danger he was in. He