418 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
cucumber, and the stuffing is to be made of these pearls.'
The head cook, who had never in all his experience heard of such a dish, stepped back in amazement.
' You think I am mad,' answered the princess, who perceived what was in his mind. i But I know quite well what I am doing. Go, and do your best, and take the pearls with you.'
The next morning the princes started for the forest, and were soon joined by the Sultan. The hunt began and continued till mid-day, when the heat became so great that they were obliged to leave off. Then, as arranged, they turned their horses' heads towards the palace, and while Prince Bahman remained by the side of the Sultan, Prince Perviz rode on to warn his sister of their approach.
The moment his Highness entered the courtyard, the princess flung herself at his feet, but he bent and raised her, and gazed at her for some time, struck with her grace and beauty, and also with the indefinable air of courts that seemed to hang round this country girl. ' They are all worthy one of the other,' he said to himself, • and I am not surprised that they think so much of her opinions. I must know more of them.'
By this time the princess had recovered from the first embarrassment of meeting, and proceeded to make her speech of welcome.
' This is only a simple country house, sire,' she said, ' suitable to people like ourselves, who live a quiet life. It cannot compare with the great city mansions, much less, of course, with the smallest of the Sultan's palaces.'
'I cannot quite agree with you,' he replied ; i even the little that I have seen I admire greatly, and I will reserve my judgment until you have shown me the whole.'
The princess then led the way from room to room, and the Sultan examined everything carefully. ' Do you call this a simple country house ?' he said at last. ' Why, if every country house was like this, the towns would soon