44 WHAT THE ROSE DID TO THE CYPRESS
When King Quimus heard of the approach of such a great company, he sent out his vazir to give the prince honourable meeting, and to ask what had procured him the favour of the visit. The prince sent back word that he had no thought of war, but he wrote : ' Learn and know, King Quimus, that I am here to end the crimes of your insolent daughter who has tyrannously done to death many kings and kings' sons, and has hung their heads on your citadel. I am here to give her the answer to her riddle.' Later on he entered the city, beat boldly on the drums, and was conducted to the presence.
The king entreated him to have nothing to do with the riddle, for that no man had come out of it alive. ' 0 king ! ' replied the prince, ' it is to answer it that I am here ; I will not withdraw.'
Mihr-afruz was told that one man more had staked his head on her question, and that this was one who said he knew the answer. At the request of the prince, all the officers and notables of the land were summoned to hear his reply to the princess. All assembled, and the king and his queen Gul-rukh, and the girl and the prince were there.
The prince addressed Mihr-afruz: ' What is the question you ask ? '
' What did the rose do to the cypress ? ' she rejoined.
The prince smiled, and turned and addressed the assembly.
• You who are experienced men and versed in affairs, did you ever know or hear and see anything of this matter ?'
' No ! ' they answered, ' no one has ever known or heard or seen aught about it; it is an empty fancy.'
' From whom, then, did the princess hear of it ? This empty fancy it is that has done many a servant of God to death!'
All saw the good sense of his words and showed their approval. Then he turned to the princess : ' Tell us the