186 THE GOLDEN-HEADED FISH
the next morning, his new son-in-law craved an audience of his Majesty.
' What, you ?' he cried, as the young man entered.
'Yes, I. Why not?' asked the bridegroom, who thought it best to pretend not to know anything that had occurred. ' You remember, I told you that the luck must turn at last, and so it has. But I came to ask whether you would be so kind as to bid the gardeners fill up a great hole right underneath my window, which spoils the view.'
' Oh! certainly, yes; of course it shall be done!' stammered the king. ' Is there anything else ?'
' No, nothing, thank you,' replied the prince, as he bowed and withdrew.
Now, from the moment that the Arab cut off the snake's head, the spell, or whatever it was, seemed to have been taken off the princess, and she lived very happily with her husband. The days passed swiftly in hunting in the forests, or sailing on the broad river that flowed past the palace, and when night fell she would sing to her harp, or the prince would tell her tales of hie own country.
One evening a man in a strange garb, with a face burnt brown by the sun, arrived at court. He asked to see the bridegroom, and falling on his face announced that he was a messenger sent by the Queen of Egypt, proclaiming him king in succession to his father, who was dead.
' Her Majesty begs you will set off without delay, and your bride also, as the affairs of the kingdom are somewhat in disorder,' ended the messenger.
Then the young man hastened to seek an audience of his father-in-law, who was delighted to find that his daughter's husband was not merely the governor of a province, as he had supposed, but the king of a powerful country. He at once ordered a splendid ship to be made ready, and in a week's time rode down to the harbour, to bid farewell to the young couple.