VIRGILIUS THE SORCERER 379
Then the sultan ordered his guards to bind him, and left him there till the following day.
Directly the sultan was up he summoned his lords and nobles into his great hall, and commanded that the cords which bound Virgilius should be taken off, and the prisoner brought before him. The moment he appeared the sultan's passion broke forth, and he accused his captive of the crime of conveying the princess into distant lands without his leave.
Virgilius replied that if he had taken her away he had also brought her back, when he might have kept her, and that if they would set hi in free to return to his own land he would come hither no more.
i Not so! ' cried the sultan, ' but a shameful death you shall die!' And the princess fell on her knees, and begged she might die with him.
' You are out in your reckoning, Sir Sultan! ' said Virgilius, whose patience was at an end, and he cast a spell over the sultan and his lords, so that they believed that the great river of Babylon was flowing through the hall, and that they must swim for their lives. So, leaving them to plunge and leap like frogs and fishes, Virgilius took the princess in his arms, and carried her over the airy bridge back to Rome.
Now Virgilius did not think that either his palace, or even Rome itself, was good enough to contain such a pearl as the princess, so he built her a city whose foundations stood upon eggs, buried far away clown in the depths of the sea. And in the city was a square tower, and on the roof of the tower was a rod of iron, and across the rod he laid a bottle, and on the bottle he placed an egg, and from the egg there hung chained an apple, which hangs there to this day. And when the egg shakes the city quakes, and wiien the egg shall be broken the city shall be destroyed. And the city Virgilius filled full of wonders, such as never were seen before, and he called its name Naples.
[Adapted from ' Virgilius the Sorcerer.']