WHAT THE ROSE DID TO THE CYPRESS 5
hard to be told, that at last there was nothing to be done but to let him hear.
' Learn and know, O young man! that I am King Janangirl of Babylon, and that once I had army and servants, family and treasure ; untold wealth and belongings. The Most High God gave me seven sons who grew up well versed in all princely arts. My eldest son heard from travellers that in Turklstan, on the Chinese frontier, there is a king named Quimus, the son of Timus, and that he has an only child, a daughter named Mihr-afruz,2 who, under all the azure heaven, is unrivalled for beauty. Princes come from all quarters to ask her hand, and on one and all she imposes a condition. She says to them : " I know a riddle; and I will marry anyone who answers it, and will bestow on him all my possessions. But if a suitor cannot answer my question I cut off his head and hang it on the battlements of the citadel." The riddle she asks is, " What did the rose do to the cypress? "
' Now, when my son heard this tale, he fell in love with that unseen girl, and he came to me lamenting and bewailing himself. Nothing that I could say had the slightest effect on him. I said : " Oh my son! if there must be fruit of this fancy of yours, I will lead forth a great army against King Quimus. If he will give you his daughter freely, well and good; and if not, I will ravage his kingdom and bring her away by force." This plan did not please him ; he said : " It is not right to lay a kingdom waste and to destroy a palace so that I may attain my desire. I will go alone; I will answer the riddle, and win her in this way." At last, out of pity for him, I let him go. He reached the city of King Quimus. He was asked the riddle and could not give the true answer; and his head was cut off and hung upon the battlements. Then I mourned him in black raiment for forty days.
' After this another and another of my sons were seized 1 World-gripper. '-' Love-enkindler.