224 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
' Know,' replied Maimoune, ' that he is in much the same case as your princess. The king, his father, wanted to force him to marry, and on the prince's refusal to obey he has been imprisoned in an old tower where I have just seen him.'
' I don't like to contradict a lady,' said Danhasch, ' but you must really permit me to doubt any mortal being as beautiful as my princess.'
' Hold your tongue,' cried Maimoune. 'I repeat that is impossible.'
'Well, I don't wish to seem obstinate,' replied Danhasch, ' the best plan to test the truth of what I say will be for you to let me take you to see the princess for yourself.'
' There is no need for that,' retorted Maimoune ; ' we can satisfy ourselves in another way. Bring your princess here and lay her down beside my prince. We can then compare them at leisure, and decide which is in the right.'
Danhasch readily consented, and after having the tower where the prince was confined pointed out to him, and making a wager with Maimoune as to the result of the comparison, he flew off to China to fetch the princess.
In an incredibly short time Danhasch returned, bearing the sleeping princess. Maimoune led him to the prince's room, and the rival beauty was placed beside him.
When the prince and princess lay thus side by side, an animated dispute as to their respective charms arose between the fairy and the genius. Danhasch began by saying:
' Now you see that my princess is more beautiful than your prince. Can you doubt any longer?'
' Doubt! Of course I do!' exclaimed Maimoune. ' Why, you must be blind not to see how much my prince excels your princess. I do not deny that your princess is very handsome, but only look and you must own that I am in the right.'