THE BRONZE RING
' This is what you must do to obtain the reward which the King promises. Go out of the town by the south gate, and there you will find three little dogs of different colours; the first will be white, the second black, the third red. You must kill them and then burn them separately, and gather up the ashes. Put the ashes of each dog into a bag of its own colour, then go before the door of the palace and cry out, " A celebrated physician has come from Janina in Albania. He alone can cure the King and give him back the strength of his youth." The King's physicians will say, " This is an impostor, and not a learned man," and they will make all sorts of difficulties, but you will overcome them all at last, and will present yourself before the sick King. You must then demand as much wood as three mules can carry, and a great cauldron, and must shut yourself up in a room with the Sultan, and when the caiddron boils you must throw him into it, and there leave him until his flesh is completely separated from his bones. Then arrange the bones in their proper places, and throw over them the ashes out of the three bags. The King will come back to life, and will be just as he was when he was twenty years old. For your reward you must demand the bronze ring which has the power to grant you everything you desire. Go, my son, and do not forget any of my instructions.'
The young man followed the old beggar-woman's directions. On going out of the town he found the white, red, and black dogs, and killed and burnt them, gathering the ashes into three bags; Then he ran to the palace and cried :
' A celebrated physician has just come from Janina in Albania. He alone can cure the King and give him back the strength of his youth.'
The King's physicians at first laughed at the unknown wayfarer, but the Sultan ordered that the stranger should be admitted. They brought the cauldron and the loads of wood, and very soon the King was boiling away. Towards mid-day the gardener's son arranged the bones in their places, and he had hardly scattered the ashes over them before the old King revived, to find himself once more young and hearty.
' How can I reward you, my benefactor ? ' he cried. ' "Will you take half my treasures ? '
' No,' said the gardener's son.
' My daughter's hand ? '
' Take half my kingdom.'