CAMARALZAMAN AND BADOURA 239
on another which they had brought with them. They mounted their second horses, and Marzavan led one of the grooms' horses by the bridle.
By daybreak our travellers found themselves where four cross roads met in the middle of the forest. Here Marzayan begged the prince to wait for him, and leading the groom's horse into a dense part of the wood he cut its throat, dipped the prince's coat in its blood, and having rejoined the prince threw the coat on the ground where the roads parted.
In answer to Camaralzaman's inquiries as to the reason for this, Marzavan replied that the only chance they had of continuing their journey was to divert attention by creating the idea of the prince's death. ' Your father will doubtless be plunged in the deepest grief,' he went on, 'but his joy at your return will be all the greater.'
The prince and his companion now continued their journey by land and sea, and as they had brought plenty of money to defray their expenses they met with no needless delays. At length they reached the capital of China, where they spent three days in a suitable lodging to recover from their fatigues.
During this time Marzavan had an astrologer's dress prepared for the prince. They then went to the baths, after which the prince put on the astrologer's robe and was conducted within sight of the king's palace by Marzavan, who left him there and went to consult his mother, the princess's nurse.
Meantime the prince, according to Marzavan's instructions, advanced close to the palace gates and there proclaimed aloud:
'I am an astrologer and I come to restore health to the Princess Badoura, daughter of the high and mighty King of China, on the conditions laid down by His Majesty of marrying her should I succeed, or of losing my life if I fail.' It was some little time since anyone had presented himself to run the terrible risk involved in attempting