402 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
' Gentle dervish,' replied Prince Bahman, ' I come from far, and I seek the Talking Bird, the Singing Tree, and the Golden Water. I know that they are to be found somewhere in these parts, but I am ignorant of the exact spot. Tell me, I pray you, if you can, so that I may not have travelled on a useless quest.' While he was speaking, the prince observed a change in the countenance of the dervish, who waited for some time before he made reply.
' My lord,' he said at last, 'I do know the road for which you ask, but your kindness and the friendship I have conceived for you make me loth to point it out.'
'But why not?' inquired the prince. 'What danger can there be ?'
' The very greatest danger,' answered the dervish. ' Other men, as brave as you, have ridden down this road, and have put me that question. I did my best to turn them also from their purpose, but it was of no use. Not one of them would listen to my words, and not one of them came back. Be warned in time, and seek to go no further.'
' I am grateful to you for your interest in me,' said Prince Bahman, ' and for the advice you have given, though I cannot follow it. But what dangers can there be in the adventure which courage and a good sword cannot meet?'
' And suppose,' answered the dervish, ' that your enemies are invisible, how then?'
' Nothing will make me give it up,' replied the prince, ' and for the last time I ask you to tell me where I am to go.'
When the dervish saw that the prince's mind was made up, he drew a ball from a bag that lay near him, and held it out. ' If it must be so,' he said, with a sigh, ' take this, and when you have mounted your horse throw the ball in front of you. It will roll on till it reaches the foot of a mountain, and when it stops you will stop also. You