THE GOLDEN-HEADED FISH 187
In spite of her grief for the dead king, the queen was overjoyed to welcome her son home, and commanded the palace to be hung with splendid stuffs to do honour to the bride. The people expected great things from their new sovereign, for they had suffered much from the harsh rule of the old one, and crowds presented themselves every morning with petitions in their hands, which they hoped to persuade the king to grant. Truly, he had enough to keep him busy; but he was very happy for all that, till, one night, the Arab came to him, and begged permission to return to his own land.
Filled with dismay the young man said: ' Leave me! Do you really wish to leave me ?' Sadly the Arab bowed his head.
' No, my master; never could I wish to leave you I But I have received a summons, and I dare not disobey it.'
The king was silent, trying to choke down the grief he felt at the thought of losing his faithful servant.
' Well, I must not try to keep you,' he faltered out at last. ' That would be a poor return for all that you have done for me! Everything I have is yours: take what you will, for without you I should long ago have been dead!'
' And without you, I should long ago have been dead/ answered the Arab. ' I am the Golden-headed Fish.'
[Adapted from Contes Armeniens. Par Frederic Macler, Paris. Ernest Leroux, Editeur.]