230 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
' Most likely,' said the prince ; l but now that you are here I am glad of the opportunity to ask you where is the lady who slept in this room last night?'
The grand-vizir felt beside himself at this question.
' Prince!' he exclaimed, ' how would it be possible for any man, much less a woman, to enter this room at night without walking over your slave on the threshold ? Pray consider the matter, and you will realise that you have been deeply impressed by some dream.'
But the prince angrily insisted on knowing who and where the lady was, and was not to be persuaded by all the vizir's protestations to the contrary that the plot had not been one of his making. At last, losing patience, he seized the vizir by the beard and loaded him with blows.
' Stop, Prince,' cried the unhappy vizir, s stay and hear what I have to say.'
The prince, whose arm was getting tired, paused.
' I confess, Prince,' said the vizir, ' that there is some foundation for what you say. But you know well that a minister has to carry out his master's orders. Allow me to go and to take to the king any message you may choose to send.'
'Very well,' said the prince; 'then go and tell him that I consent to marry the lady whom he sent or brought here last night. Be quick and bring me back his answer.'
The vizir bowed to the ground and hastened to leave the room and tower.
' Well,' asked the king as soon as he appeared, ' and how did you find my son?'
' Alas, sire,' was the reply, ' the slave's report is only too true!'
He then gave an exact account of his interview with Camaralzaman and of the prince's fury when told that it was not possible for any lady to have entered his room, and of the treatment he himself had received. The king,