THE GOLDEN-HEADED FISH 183
ever happened to be awake at the moment that the ravages were committed. It was in vain that the sleepy soldiers were always punished severely—the same thing invariably occurred next time; and at last heralds were sent throughout the island to offer a great reward to the man who could slay the monster.
As soon as the Arab heard the news, he went straight to the governor's palace.
' If my master can succeed in killing the monster, what reward will you give him ?' asked he.
' My daughter and anything besides that he chooses,' answered the governor. But the Arab shook his head.
' Give him your daughter and keep your wealth,' said he; ' but, henceforward, let her share in your gains, whatever they are.'
' It is well,' replied the governor; and ordered a deed to be prepared, which was signed by both of them.
That night the Arab stole down to the shore to watch, but, before he set out, he rubbed himself all over with some oil which made his skin smart so badly that there was no chance of his going to sleep as the soldiers had done. Then he hid himself behind a large rock and waited. By-and-by a swell seemed to rise on the water, and, a few minutes later, a hideous monster—part bird, part beast, and part serpent—stepped noiselessly on to the rocks. It walked stealthily up towards the fields, but the Arab was ready for it, and, as it passed, plunged his dagger into the soft part behind the ear. The creature staggered and gave a loud cry, and then rolled over dead, with its feet in the sea.
The Arab watched for a little while, in order to make sure that there was no life left in his enemy, but as the huge body remained quite still, he quitted his hiding-place, and cut off the ears of his foe. These he carried to his master, bidding him show them to the governor, and declare that he himself, and no other, had killed the monster.