WHAT THE ROSE DID TO THE CYPRESS 45
truth, princess ; who told you of this thing ? I know it hair by hair, and in and out; but if I tell you what I know, who is there that can say I speak the truth ? You must produce the person who can confirm my words.'
Her heart sank, for she feared that her long-kept secret was now to be noised abroad. But she said merely : ' Explain yourself.'
' I shall explain myself fully when you bring here the negro whom you hide beneath your throne.'
Here the king shouted in wonderment: ' Explain yourself, young man! "What negro does my daughter hide beneath her throne ? '
' That,' said the prince, ' you will see if you order to be brought here the negro who will be found beneath the throne of the princess.'
Messengers were forthwith despatched to the garden-house, and after awhile they returned bringing a negro whom they had discovered in a secret chamber underneath the throne of Mihr-afruz, dressed in a dress of honour, and surrounded with luxury. The king was overwhelmed with astonishment, but the girl had taken heart again. She had had time to think that perhaps the prince had heard of the presence of the negro, and knew no more. So she said haughtily : ' Prince ! you have not answered my riddle.'
' 0 most amazingly impudent person,' cried he, ' do you not yet repent ?'
Then he turned to the people, and told them the whole story of the rose and the cypress, of King Sinaubar and Queen Gul. When he came to the killing of the negroes, he said to the one who stood before them : ' You, too, were present.'
' That is so ; all happened as you have told it! '
There was great rejoicing in the court and all through the country over the solving of the riddle, and because now no more kings and princes would be killed. King Quimus made over his daughter to Prince Almas, but the