The Blue Fairy Book - online childrens book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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366               THE STORY OF PRINCE AHMED
and carried it a great way off; and when she had set it up one end reached to the very palace : at which time the Prince, thinking it small, found it large enough to shelter two greater armies than that of the Sultan his father's, and then said to Paribanou: ' I ask my Princess a thousand pardons for my incredulity; after what I have seen I believe there is nothing impossible to you.' ' Tou see,' said the Fairy, ' that the pavilion is larger than what your father may have occasion for; for you must know that it has one property—that it is larger or smaller according to the army it is to cover.'
The treasurer took down the tent again, and brought it to the Prince, who took it, and, without staying any longer than till the next day, mounted his horse, and went with the same attendants to the Sultan his father.
The Sultan, who was persuaded that there could not be any such thing as such a tent as he asked for, was in a great surprise at the Prince's diligence. He took the tent, and after he had admired its smallness his amazement was so great that he could not recover him­self. "When the tent was set up in the great plain, which we have before mentioned, he found it large enough to shelter an army twice as large as he could bring into the field.
But the Sultan was not yet satisfied. ' Son,' said he, ' I have already expressed to you how much I am obliged to you for the present of the tent you have procured me : that I look upon it as the most valuable thing in all my treasury. But you must do one thing more for me, which will be every whit as agreeable to me I am informed that the Fairy your spouse makes use of a certain water, called the Water of the Fountain of Lions, which ciu-es all sorts of fevers, even the most dangerous, and, as I am perfectly well per­suaded my health is dear to you, I don't doubt but you will ask her for a bottle of that water for me, and bring it me as a sovereign medicine, which I majT make use of when I have occasion. Do me this other important piece of service, and thereby complete the duty of a good son towards a tender father.'
The Prince returned and told the Fairv what his father had said. 4 There's a great deal of wickedness in this demand,' she answered, 'as you will understand by what I am going to tell you. The Fountain of Lions is situated in the middle of a court of a great castle, the entrance into which is guarded by four fierce lions, two of which sleep alternately, while the other two are awake. But don't let that frighten you; I'll give you means to pass by them without any danger.'
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