HERE were once two brothers, whose parents were dead. With his share of the inheritance the elder opened a shop, but the younger squandered his portion in foolish pleasures. A day came when the latter had no more money, so he went to his brother and begged a few paras.
When he had spent those, he went again to his brother and obtained more money. This practice he continued until eventually the elder realized that in order to save the remnant of his fortune, he must sell his business and emigrate to Egypt. The younger, however, got wind of his brother's intention, and before the ship sailed, he stole on board with out being observed and hid himself. The elder brother, fearing that if he discovered his intention the younger would follow him, avoided showing him, self on deck. Hardly had the ship set sail than both appeared on the deck, and the elder saw that his plan had failed, and that his younger brother would still be as a burden hanging round his neck.
The elder brother was angry, but anger was of no avail; the ship bore them both to Egypt. After they had disembarked, the elder said to the younger: "Remain here while I procure mules to carry us farther."
Accordingly the younger sat down on the shore to await the other's return--but in vain. "I will seek him," he said to himself, and set out after his brother.
He took short steps and long strides and travelled in this way for six months, when looking backward one day he saw that nevertheless he had accomplished only a short distance. Then he took longer strides and went for half a year forward, gathering violets, and in this way he came to the foot of a mountain. Here, seeing three fellows quarrelling, he went up and asked them the cause of their difference.
"We are the children of one father," said the eldest; "he died not long ago and left behind him a turban, a whip, and a praying-carpet. Whoever sets the turban on his head becomes invisible. Whoever sits on the carpet and cracks the whip, flies away like a bird. Who shall have the turban, who the whip, and who the carpet? This is the matter about which we are continually wrangling."
"All three things should belong to one of us," they all cried.
"I am the eldest--they ought to belong to me." "No, to me, the second son." "Oh no, to me, the youngest." With words and sticks they belaboured each other so mercilessly that the prodigal had much difficulty in separating them.
"Not so," said he, "I will make an arrow out of a piece of wood and shoot it. You will all run after it, and whichever of you brings it back to me becomes the possessor of the three things."
The arrow sped its way, and the three brothers ran after it. While this was happening, however, our prodigal was thinking: "I have only to put on the turban, sit on the carpet, crack the whip, and in a twinkling I shall be where my brother is." To think was to act, and before he was aware of moving he found himself at the entrance to a large city.
As soon as he had arrived in the town he was informed by one of the Padishah's entourage that the Sultan's daughter disappeared every night. Whoever could discover what became of her would be given the maiden in marriage and half of the kingdom besides. "I will solve the mystery," said the prodigal; "take me to the Padishah; if I fail, here is my head!" He was accordingly taken to the palace, and at night posted at the door of the Princess's sleeping-chamber, to await with one eye open whatever should happen. The Princess waited until she thought he would be asleep and then peeped cautiously round the door. He appeared to be in a sound sleep, but, to make assurance doubly sure, she pricked the soles of his feet with a pin, and as he did not stir, she took up the candle in her hand and went out stealthily by a side-door.
Putting the turban on his head, the young man rose and followed her. As he came outside he saw before him an Arab, on whose head rested a golden basin, and in this bowl sat the Princess. The prodigal immediately sprang into the basin, nearly upsetting it as he did so. The Arab, astonished, asked the maiden what she was doing, for he had nearly dropped her. "I have not moved a finger," answered the maiden; "I am sitting in the basin exactly as you put me."
When the Arab took a few steps he perceived that the basin was unusually heavy. (The young man was, of course, rendered invisible through wearing the magic turban.) "What has happened to you, lady?" asked the Arab; "today you are so heavy that you nearly crush me."
"Nothing, dear lala," replied the Princess. "I am neither heavier nor lighter."
Shaking his head dubiously, the Arab set out and ere long they came to a splendid garden, the trees of which were composed of silver set with diamonds. The prodigal broke off a branch and put it in his pocket, where, at the trees began to sigh: "A mortal has injured us! A mortal has injured us!" The Arab and the Princess were bewildered and knew not what to think.
However, they journeyed farther and ere long came to another garden, the trees of which were of gold and precious stones. Here also the young man broke off a branch, whereupon all the trees commenced to groan so loudly that the heavens were shaken. "A mortal has injured us!" they complained. The Arab was dumb with amazement.
Now they reached a bridge, crossing which they arrived at a palace, where a multitude of slaves awaited the Princess. Folding their arms over their breasts, they bowed themselves to the earth. The Sultan's daughter alighted from the basin, stepping on to the Arab's body and thence to the earth. As slaves brought her a pair of slippers studded with jewels, the prodigal seized one and put it in his pocket. The other the Princess put on and then looked about for the missing one, but it had entirely disappeared.
Angry, she entered the palace, and the young man followed her the turban on his head and the whip and carpet in his hands. The maiden entered an apartment in which she found the Dew whose lips swept heaven and earth. He asked her where she had been so long. She told him about the young man who had been set to watch her, but the Dew consoled her and assured her that there was no need for her to be anxious.
They both sat down, and sherbet in diamond-studded cups was brought by a slave. As the Sultan's daughter reached out her hand to take one, the young man struck the slave's arm, whereon he dropped the cup, and it fell broken to the floor. The young man picked up a fragment and put it in his pocket.
"Did I not tell you," cried the Sultan's daughter, "that nothing goes right today? I will not take any sherbet; I will not take anything. I will go home again." The Dew calmed her, and ordered other food to be brought by a different slave. The table was laid, and many dishes were set thereon; but while they ate, the young man, who was hungry, also helped himself The Dew and his visitor nearly swooned with fright when they realized that there was a third--and invisible--guest.
The Dew was now quite perturbed, especially as so much of the confectionery and so many of the cups disappeared. He himself advised the Sultan's daughter to return home earlier than usual that day, and he was about to kiss the Princess in farewell, when the invisible youth tore them apart.
OTH grew pale and summoned the lala. The maiden, sitting in the bowl, ordered the slave to take her home. The prodigal quickly seized a sword from the wall and severed the Dew's head from his body. As the head fell to the ground, heaven and earth trembled, and groans and wailing arose. "Woe to us! a mortal has killed our king!" Even the prodigal was terrified, knowing not where he was. He quickly spread his carpet, sat thereon, and cracked his whip. When the Sultan's daughter arrived back, behold! the young man was already outside the door of her chamber, apparently fast asleep and snoring loudly.
"Interfering pig!" grumbled the Princess in a fury, "thou hast caused me enough unhappiness today." So saying, she again pricked the soles of his feet with a pin, and as he gave no sign she concluded that he was still asleep.
Next morning the prodigal was sent for, and asked whether he had solved the mystery of the Princess's nocturnal disappearances. If he had not, his head would be cut off. "Oh yes, I know all," he answered, "but I shall not tell you; take me to the Padishah." Brought before the ruler, he promised to tell him all if he would assemble together the inhabitants of the city. "Thus I can easily find my brother," he thought to himself. Accordingly all the inhabitants were collected in the marketplace, where the prodigal severed the Dew's head from his body. The Padishah and his daughter sat on a dais. Near at hand stood the prodigal, who related the account of his adventure from beginning to end. "Do not believe it, father; it is not true!" frequently interrupted the Princess.
Here the youth took from his pocket the jewelled branch, the golden slipper, the costly plate; and just as he was describing the death of the Dew-King he caught sight of his brother in the crowd. He said no more and heard no more, but sprang down to join his brother, who at once began to run. The prodigal ran after him, and at length caught him.
When they both returned the younger begged the Padishah to give the Princess and half the kingdom to his brother. For himself, the magic turban, the magic carpet, and the magic whip were enough; with those he could always procure a livelihood. His only desire was always to be near his brother.
The Sultan's daughter rejoiced when she heard of the death of the Dew-King, who had cast a spell over her. Now that this spell was broken she felt nothing but abhorrence for the monster, and in her joy at being free she was quite willing to become the wife of the prodigal's brother. Their wedding festivities lasted forty days and forty nights. I was there also, and when I asked for pilaf the cook gave me such a blow on my hand that it has been lame ever since.
Source: Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales , at sacred-texts.com