In olden times there lived a great and wealthy king, whose greatness and wealth were the envy of the world. Many kings had assayed to fight with him and had been defeated, till at last he began to think that he was unconquerable, and became careless and indifferent as to the state of his army.
Meanwhile another powerful king had been carefully training his forces. He saw the condition of affairs, and determined to do battle with this king. The two armies met on a large plain, and fought bravely for several days. For some time the battle seemed to be equal, but at last the great and wealthy king was slain and his forces scattered. The strange king then entered the city and reigned in his stead. His first act was to banish the late king's wife and her two sons. They were sent out of the country without the least means of subsistence, so that the queen was obliged to pound rice for aser of rice a day, while the two boys got what they could by begging.
One day the woman advised one of her sons to go to the jungle and cut some bundles of wood for sale. The eldest went; and while he was engaged in cutting wood he saw at a little distance a small caravan of loaded camels and mules attended by several men, who evidently were robbers. The boy was frightened, because he thought they would kill him if they knew he was there. So he climbed up into a tree to hide himself.
The caravan halted by a small hut in a part of the jungle near to this tree. He saw the men unload their beasts and place all the bundles inside the hut, the door of which opened and shut by itself at the mention of a certain charm that he heard quite plainly. He saw all this, and rememhered the words of the charm, and determined to enter the hut him self as soon as the robhers departed.
Accordingly on the morrow, when the robbers were well out of sight and hearing, he came down from the tree, went to the hut, and uttered the words of the charm that he had heard. The door immediately opened to him, and he entered. He found immense piles of valuable treasure in the place -- gold and silver, and precious stones, and sundry articles of curious workmanship were stored up there in abundance. He arranged as much of the treasure as he could place on a camel that he found grazing near, and then, repeating the charm, shut the door and went home. His mother was delighted to see the result of her son's day's work.
The following morning the younger prince thought that he also would visit this jungle and try his luck. So he quickly learnt the words of the charm and started. He arrived at the jungle, and climbed the same tree near the hut, and waited there patiently for the robbers' coming. Just before dark they appeared, bringing with them several loads of treasure. On reaching the hut they entered by means of the charm, as before. Great was their surprise and anger when they found that some person had been to the place and taken some of the things. They uttered such terrible oaths, and vowed such fearful vengeance on the offender, that the prince up in the tree trembled exceedingly, and began to repent his adventure.
In the morning the robbers again left; and as soon as they were well out of the way the boy descended the tree and went and repeated the charm whereby the door of the hut was opened. The door obeyed, and he entered. But, alas! the door closed as soon as he was inside, and would not open again, although the boy shouted till he was hoarse, and begged and prayed that he might be set free. Evidently the poor boy had omitted or added something to the words of the charm, and thus brought this misfortune on himself. Terrible must have been his feelings as he counted the hours to the robbers' return, and tried to imagine what they would do to him, when they saw him there! It was vain to hope for escape. He was shut up in a prison of his own making, and must bear the consequences.
Before nightfall sounds of approaching footsteps were heard, and presently the door opened and the robbers came in. A savage gleam of delight passed over their countenances as they saw the youngster crouching away in a corner and weeping.
"Oh! oh!" they exclaimed. "This is the thief that dares to intrude into our quarters, is it? We'll cut him into pieces and strew them about the place, that others may fear to follow in his steps."
This they really did, for they were bloodthirsty and had no feeling, and then went to sleep. The next day they started off on their marauding expeditions as usual, as if nothing had happened.
While they were absent the eldest prince arrived to see what had become of his brother, and to help him in carrying away the spoil. His grief was inexpressible when he saw the pieces of flesh strewn about the place.
"They shall rue this," he exclaimed, and caused the door of the hut to be opened by means of the charm and entered.
He collected the most valuable articles that he could lay hands on and put them into a sack. Afterwards he emptied the contents of another sack on the ground outside the hut, and placed the pieces of his brother's corpse in it. And then, having repeated the charm and shut the door, he took up the two sacks, threw them over his shoulder, and walked home. On reaching home he had the pieces sewed up in a cloth and buried.
When the robbers returned that evening and discovered what had happened they were very angry. They resolved to find the thief, and took an oath to rob no more until they had accomplished their desire. They went to the city, and lodged in different parts of the bázár, in order that they might ascertain if anyone was living there who had suddenly become rich.
One of the robbers happened to meet with the tailor who had made the grave-clothes for the young prince who had been so foully slaughtered, and heard from him that the mother and brother of the boy seemed to have got a lot of money lately, but how he could not say. Some people said that they were members of some royal family, but he did not know.
Accordingly the robber went and found out the house where the queen and prince were living. He marked it, so that he might know it again, and then hastened to inform the rest of the band. However, the prince had fortunately noticed the mark, and guessing what it meant, went and marked several of the adjoining houses in the same way. He thus thoroughly nonplussed the robbers.
"This plan will not do," they said. "One of us had better get to know through the tailor where these people live, and then go to the house and cultivate their friendship. An opportunity for despatching the prince would soon be afforded."
This was agreed to unanimously, and the leader of the robber band was voted to the work. He soon made friends with the young prince and his mother, and was received into the house at all times as a welcome guest.
One day, however, the woman observed a dagger hidden beneath his coat, and from this and one or two other things that she afterwards noticed, decided in her mind that the man was no friend, but an enemy and a robber. She wished to be rid of him. Consequently one evening she suggested to her son and his friend that she should dance before them, and they agreed. In her hand she had a sword, which she waved about most gracefully. Now she approached the robber, and now she receded slowly and smoothly, and accommodated her gestures to a song, till at length she saw her opportunity, and running against the robber, struck off his head.
"What have you done, mother?" exclaimed the prince, who was horror-struck.
"I have simply changed places with our friend," she replied. "Instead of him murdering you, I have murdered him. Look! Behold the dagger with which he would have slain you."
"O mother," said the prince, "how shall I ever he able to repay you for your watchfulness over me. I did not notice anything wrong about the man. I never saw his dagger before. This must be one of the robbers, come to wreak vengeance on me for taking some of their treasure."
When the robber band knew of the death of their leader they divided the spoil and retired to their different villages.
The young prince married, and became a banker and prospered exceedingly.