STORY OF THE JEALOUS SISTERS 415
The Princess Parizade wras much disturbed at the news, and did not conceal her feelings. ' Your meeting with the Sultan is very honourable to you,' she said, ' and will, I dare say, be of service to you, but it places me in a very awkward position. It is on my account, I know, that you have resisted the Sultan's wishes, and I am very grateful to you for it. But kings do not like to have their offers refused, and in time he would bear a grudge against you, which would render me very unhappy. Consult the Talking Bird, who is wise and far-seeing, and let me hear what he savs.'
So the bird was sent for and the case laid before him.
' The princes must on no account refuse the Sultan's proposal,' said he, ' and they must even invite him to come and see your house.'
' But, bird,' objected the princess, 'you know how dearly we love each other; will not all this spoil our friendship ?'
' Not at all,' replied the bird, ' it will make it all the closer.'
' Then the Sultan will have to see me,' said the princess.
The bird answered that it was necessary that he should see her, and everything would turn out for the best.
The following morning, when the Sultan inquired if they had spoken to their sister and what advice she had given them, Prince Bahman replied that they were ready to agree to his Highness's wishes, and that their sister had reproved them for their hesitation about the matter. The Sultan received their excuses with great kindness, and told them that he was sure they would be equally faithful to him, and kept them by his side for the rest of the day, to the vexation of the grand-vizir and the rest of the court.
When the procession entered in this order the gates of the capital, the eyes of the people who crowded the streets were fixed on the two young men, strangers to every one.