360 THE STORY OF PRINCE AHMED
farther, was obliged to be satisfied with the discovery she had made, and returned to give the Sultan an account.
The Sultan was very well pleased with the magician's conduct, and said to her : ' Do you as you think fit; I'll wait patiently the event of your promises; ' and to encourage her made her a present of a diamond of great value.
As Prince Ahmed had obtained the Fairy Paribanou's leave to go to the Sultan of the Indies' Court once a month, he never failed, and the magician, knowing the time, went a day or two before to the foot of the rock where she lost sight of the Prince and his attendants, and waited there.
The next morning Prince Ahmed went out, as usual, at the iron gate, with the same attendants as before, and passed by the magician, whom he knew not to be such, and, seeing her lie with her head against the rock, and complaining as if she were in great pain, he pitied her, turned his horse about, and went to her, and asked her what was the matter with her, and what he could do to ease her.
The artful sorceress looked at the Prince in a pitiful manner, without ever lifting up her head, and answered in broken words and sighs, as if she could hardly fetch her breath, that she was going to the capital city, but on the way thither she was taken with so violent a fever that her strength failed her, and she was forced to lie down where he saw her, far from any habitation, and without any hopes of assistance.
' Good woman,' replied Prince Ahmed, ' you are not so far from help as you imagine. I am ready to assist you, and convey you where you will meet with a speedy cure ; only get up, and let cne of my people take you behind him.'
At these words the magician, who pretended sickness only to know where the Prince lived and what he did, refused not the charitable offer he made her, and that her actions might correspond with her words she made many pretended vain endeavours to get up. At the same time two of the Prince's attendants, alighting off their horses, helped her up, and set her behind another, and mounted their horses again, and followed the Prince, who turned back to the iron gate, which was opened by one of his retinue who rode before. And when he came into the outward court of the Fairy, without dismounting himself, he sent to tell her he wanted to speak with her.
The Fairy Paribanou came with all imaginable haste, not knowing what made Prince Ahmed return so soon ; who, not giving her