268 THE STORY OF HASSEBU
wise men said that the only thing to cure him was the flesh of the King of the Snakes, and that the only man who could get it was a man with a strange mark on his chest. So the Vizir had set people to watch at the public baths, to see if such a man came there.
For three days Hassebu remembered his promise to the King of the Snakes, and did not go near the baths; then came a morning so hot he could hardly breathe, and he forgot all about it.
The moment he had slipped off his robe he was taken before the Vizir, who said to him, ' Lead us to the place where the King of the Snakes lives.'
' I do not know it! ' answered he, but the Vizir did not believe him, and had him bound and beaten till his back was all torn.
Then Hassebu cried, ' Loose me, that I may take you.'
They went together a long, long way, till they reached the palace of the King of the Snakes.
And Hassebu said to the King: ' It was not I: look at my back and you will see how they drove me to it.'
' Who has beaten you like this? ' asked the King.
' It was the Vizir,' replied Hassebu.
' Then I am already dead,' said the King sadly, ' but you must carry me there yourself.'
So Hassebu carried him. And on the way the King said, ' When I arrive, I shall be killed, and my flesh will be cooked. But take some of the water that I am boiled in, and put it in a bottle and lay it on one side. The Vizir will tell you to drink it, but be careful not to do so. Then take some more of the water, and drink it, and you will become a great physician, and the third supply you will give to the Sultan. And when the Vizir comes to you and asks, " Did you drink what I gave you ? " you must answer, "I did, and this is for you," and he will drink it and die, and your soul will rest.'