WHAT THE ROSE DID TO THE CYPRESS 35
nothing could move the prince, and seeing this the bird went on : ' Well, so be it! When you wish to set forth you must go into the plain and take seven head of deer, and must make water-tight bags of their hides and keep their flesh in seven portions. Seven seas lie on our way— I will carry you over them; but if I have not food and drink we shall fall into the sea and be drowned. When I ask for it you must put food and water into my mouth. So we shall make the journey safely.'
The prince did all as he was told, then they took flight; they crossed the seven seas, and at each one the prince fed the Slmurgh. When they alighted on the shore of the last sea, it said : ' O my son ! there lies your road ; follow it to the city. Take thee three feathers of mine, and, if you are in a difficulty, burn one and I will be with you in the twinkling of an eye.'
The prince walked on in solitude till he reached the city. He went in and wandered about through all quarters, and through bazaars and lanes and squares, in the least knowing from whom he could ask information about the riddle of Mihr-afruz. He spent seven days thinking it over in silence. From the first day of his coming he had made friends with a young cloth-merchant, and a great liking had sprung up between them. One day he said abruptly to his companion : ' O dear friend ! I wish you would tell me what the rose did to the cypress, and what the sense of the riddle is.' The merchant started, and exclaimed: ' If there were not brotherly affection between us, I would cut off your head for asking me this ! ' 'If you meant to kill me,' retorted the prince, ' you would still have first to tell me what I want to know.' When the merchant saw that the prince was in deadly earnest, he said : ' If you wish to hear the truth of the matter you must wait upon our king. There is no other way; no one else will tell you. I have a well-wisher at the Court, named Farrukh-fal,1 and will
1 Of happy omen.