414 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
you expose yourselves to further danger. I am convinced that some day or other I shall find you useful as well as agreeable.'
He then gave them a warm invitation to stay with him altogether, but with many thanks for the honour done them, they begged to be excused, and to be suffered to remain at home.
The Sultan who was not accustomed to see his offers rejected inquired their reasons, and Prince Bahman explained that they did not wish to leave their sister, and were accustomed to do nothing without consulting all three together.
' Ask her advice, then,' replied the Sultan, f and tomorrow come and hunt with me, and give me your answer.'
The two princes returned home, but their adventure made so little impression on them that they quite forgot to speak to their sister on the subject. The next morning when they went to hunt they met the Sultan in the same place, and he inquired what advice their sister had given. The young men looked at each other and blushed. At last Prince Bahman said, ' Sire, we must throw ourselves on your Highness's mercy. Neither my brother nor myself remembered anything about it.'
' Then be sure you do not forget to-day,' answered the Sultan, ' and bring me back your reply to-morrow.'
When, however, the same thing happened a second time, they feared that the Sultan might be angry with them for their carelessness. But he took it in good part, and, drawing three little golden balls from his purse, he held them out to Prince Bahman, saying, ' Put these in your bosom and you will not forget a third time, for when you remove your girdle to-night the noise they will make in falling will remind you of my wishes.'
It all happened as the Sultan had foreseen, and the two brothers appeared in their sister's apartments just as she was in the act of stepping into bed, and told their tale.