234 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
' Madam,' said the princess, ' I perceive that your Majesty wishes to make game of me, but I can assure you that I will never marry anyone except the charming young man whom I saw last night. You must know where he is, so pray send for him.'
The queen was much surprised by these words, but when she declared that she knew nothing whatever of the matter the princess lost all respect, and answered that if she were not allowed to marry as she wished she should kill herself, and it was in vain that the queen tried to pacify her and bring her to reason.
The king himself came to hear the rights of the matter, but the princess only persisted in her story, and as a proof showed the ring on her finger. The king hardly knew what to make of it all, but ended by thinking that his daughter was more crazy than ever, and without further argument he had her placed in still closer confinement, with only her nurse to wait on her and a powerful guard to keep the door.
Then he assembled his council, and having told them the sad state of things, added : ' If any of you can succeed in curing the princess I will give her to him in marriage, and he shall be my heir.'
An elderly emir present, fired with the desire to possess a young and lovely wife and to rule over a great kingdom, offered to try the magic arts with which he was acquainted.
' You are welcome to try,' said the king, ' but I make one condition, which is, that should you fail you will lose your life.'
The emir accepted the condition, and the king led him to the princess, who, veiling her face, remarked, ' I am surprised, sire, that you should bring an unknown man into my presence.'
' You need not be shocked,' said the king ; ' this is one of my emirs who asks your hand in marriage.'
' Sire,' replied the princess, ' this is not the one you