THE BRONZE RING
ship with a black battered hull, and the sailors were infirm and crippled.'
' It is quite true,' said the King.
' It is false,' cried the minister's son. ' I do not know this man !'
' Sire,' said the young captain, 'order your daughter's betrothed to be stripped, and see if the mark of my ring is not branded upon his back.'
The King was about to give this order, when the minister's son, to save himself from such an indignity, admitted that the story was true.
' And now, sire,' said the young captain, ' do not you recognise me ?'
' I recognise you,' said the Princess ; ' you are the gardener's son whom I have always loved, and it is you I wish to marry.'
' Young man, you shall be my son-in-law,' cried the King. ' The marriage festivities are already begun, so you shall marry my daughter this very day.'
And so that very day the gardener's son married the beautiful Princess.
Several months passed. The young couple were as happy as the day was long, and the King was more and more pleased with himself for having secured such a son-in-law.
But, presently, the captain of the golden ship found it necessary to take a long voyage, and after embracing his wife tenderly he embarked.
Now in the outskirts of the capital there lived a Jew, who had spent his life in studying black arts—alchemy, astrology, magic, and enchantment. This man found out that the gardener's son had only succeeded in marrying the Princess by the help of the genii who obeyed the bronze ring.
' I will have that ring,' said he to himself. So he went down to the sea-shore and caught some little red fishes. Eeally, they were quite wonderfully pretty. Then he came back, and, passing before the Princess's window, he began to cry out:
' "Who wants some pretty little red fishes ? '
The Princess heard him, and sent out one of her slaves, who said to the old Jew:
' What will you take for vour fish ? '
' A bronze ring.'
' A bronze ring, old simpleton ! And where shall I find one ?'