350 THE STORY OF PRINCE AHMED
throughout that the Prince, instead of ever having seen anything like it, owned that he could not have imagined that there was anything in the world that could come up to it. ' Prince,' said the Fairy, ' if you admire my palace so much, which, indeed, is very beautiful, what would you say to the palaces of the chief of our genies, which are much more beautiful, spacious, and magnificent ? I could also charm you with my gardens, but we will let that alone till another time. Night draws near, and it will be time to go to supper.'
The next hall which the Fairy led the Prince into, and where the cloth was laid for the feast, was the last apartment the Prince had not seen, and not in the least inferior to the others. At his entrance into it he admired the infinite number of sconces of wax candles perfumed with amber, the multitude of which, instead of being confused, were placed with so just a symmetry as formed an agreeable and pleasant sight. A large side table was set out with all sorts of gold plate, so finely wrought that the workmanship was much more valuable than the weight of the gold. Several choruses of beautiful women richly dressed, and whose voices were ravishing, began a concert, accompanied with all sorts of the most harmonious instruments ; and when they were set down at table the Fabry Pari-banou took care to help Prince Ahmed with the most delicate meats, which she named as she invited him to eat of them, and which the Prince found to be so exquisitely nice that he commended them with exaggeration, and said that the entertainment far surpassed those of men. He found also the same excellence in the wines, which neither he nor the Fairy tasted of till the dessert was served up, which consisted of the choicest sweetmeats and fruits.
The wedding feast was continued the next day, or, rather, the days following the celebration were a continual feast.
At the end of six months Prince Ahmed, who always loved and honoured the Sultan his father, conceived a great desire to know how he was, and that desire could not be satisfied without his going to see ; he told the Fairy of it, and desired she would give him leave.
' Prince,' said she,' go when you please. But first, don't take it amiss that I give you some advice how you shall behave yourself where you are going. First, I don't think it proper for you to tell the Sultan your father of our marriage, nor of my quality, nor the place where you have been. Beg of him to be satisfied in knowing