Prince Bariam and the Fairy Bride

Intermediate
10 min read
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    Once upon a time the king of the giants from the mountains of Kif came to visit the kingdoms of men. His name was Safeyd. As he was wandering over the earth he entered a forest, and there he saw a merry company of huntsmen chasing the deer. Their leader was a young prince named Bairam, and the beauty of this youth was so striking and so unusual that the giant Safeyd felt that he loved him, and that he would never again know happiness or contentment unless he became possessed of him. So he turned himself into a fine horse, with a skin like snow and a neigh like thunder, and in that form repeatedly crossed the path of the prince to attract his attention. The prince was enchanted when he saw so noble a steed, and gave orders that he should be caught.

    Safeyd was only too glad to permit himself to be saddled and bridled, and to suffer the prince of whom he was enamored to vault on to his back. No sooner did he feel him safely seated, however, than he galloped away, and
    never stopped until he had arrived at his own palace in the mountains which girdle the earth. There he heaped on him every favour, loaded him with gold and precious stones, gave him splendid steeds and hundreds of attendants,
    clothed him in the richest apparel, and lodged him in a
    magnificent palace.

    After eight days the giant Safeyd came to Bairam and said, “I shall now leave you for eight days. I must go to
    my brother’s wedding. You, however, will remain here; but take this key, which will admit you into an inner garden,
    which hitherto no one has entered but myself. When you go, go alone, and remember to lock the door again when you return.”

    So the giant gave the prince the key, and atonce set off for the kingdom of his brother.

    That very evening Bairam went to the garden, which surpassed all he had ever imagined. There stood within it a
    wonderful pavilion of jasper, set with precious stones; fountains played on all sides, and the trees, instead of fruit,were laden with rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Sittingdown, he watched the fountains throwing up golden spray, and the reflections mirrored in the beautiful pools. Just then four milk-white doves flew on to a tree, and then settled in the shape of four fairies by the edge of a tank of clear crystal water. Their beauty seemed to dazzle his eyes.

    Having unrobed, they entered the water and began to bathe; and as they were bathing one of them said to the others: ” I have had a dream, and by my dream I can tell that one of us shall be parted from the rest.”

    They then stepped one by one out of the water and began to dress ; but the most beautiful fairy of all could not find her clothes. Meanwhile, the others, having finished dressing, turned once more into milk-white doves and flew away, the fourth fairy, whose name was Ghuldb Bano, exclaiming as she bade them fare- well : ‘ It is my kismet. Some different destiny awaits me here, and we shall never meet again.’ She then looked
    towards the steps and saw the prince. At once her heart escaped from her body, and she fell in love with him. Now,
    it was the prince himself who had stolen the fairy’s clothes and hidden them, and, as he knew that if she recovered them she would change into a milk-white dove again, he now brought out another suit, and she clothed herself, and the
    two lovers remained in the garden.

    When eight days had passed the giant Safeyd returned once more to his house. And when Bairam saw the huge
    chains which encircled his waist he began to tremble with fear ; but the giant reassured him, saying : ‘ Fear not ; are
    you not master of all I possess ?’ and he ordered music to play and dancing girls to assemble in numbers to beguile
    and cheer his spirits, but they were all invisible.

    ‘ Do you see them ?’ asked the giant.

    “No,’ answered the prince;  “I see nothing, but I hear the music and the tinkling of anklets.”

    “I will give you some of King Solomon’s antimony,’ said the giant. ‘ Touch your eyes with it.’

    And when Prince Bairam had touched his eyes with King Solomon’s antimony he saw the whole place filled
    with troops of exquisite damsels, dancing to the music of viola and drum.

    Now, the beautiful fairy whom the prince had captured in the garden was one of the wives of the giant, and the
    giant knew all that had passed. But his love for Bairam was so great that he said to him: ‘”Take not only Ghulab Bino, but all I possess you can take as well.”

    One day the fairy grew sad and said, “Give me leave to visit my father and mother and to return.”

    So the prince brought out her fairy clothes, and she changed into a milk-white dove and away she flew. But her parents, when they heard the news, were angry that she had married a mortal, and they imprisoned her in a gloomy subterranean city. Therefore she did not return ; and as time went on and still she came not, Prince Bairam began to pine and droop from sorrow, and for his sake, too, the giant grew sad and melancholy. At last the prince cried : ‘ I must follow her, and never come back till I find her.’

    “Are you quite resolved to go?” asked the giant.

    “I can no longer live,” said he, “without her.”

    Then the giant gave him three things : his invisible cap, some of King Solomon’s antimony, and one of his own hairs.
    So the prince set out, and after many days he came to the subterranean city. But because it was all in darkness, and he
    could not see his way, he rubbed his eyes with the antimony,which made everything plain and clear before him. Then
    he inquired, and found that the fairy Ghulab Bano was imprisoned in a lofty tower of one hundred iron doors.
    And when he found himself before the tower he put on his magic cap, which rendered him invisible, and which also
    compelled all the doors to fly wide open. He then entered, and when he saw the fairy princess he took off his cap and
    rushed into her arms, and with her he remained for many days.

    A woman can never keep a secret.  It was not long before Ghulab Bano began to whisper to some of her favour-
    ite maids, and to tell her intimate friends the good fortune  which had smiled on her in the midst of her banishment.

    Then the news spread until it reached the ears of her father. He collected his giants together, and, going to the tower,
    they found the prince with the princess. They were horrified, and cried: “Come, let us kill him!”

    Immediately the prince awoke, and, seeing his peril, he put on his magic cap, which made him invisible. Then he took the giant Safeyd’s hair, and held it in the flame of the lamp ; and as the smoke rose a thousand squadrons of giants at once assembled. There was a great battle ; the enemy were routed, and the enraged father compelled to surrender his daughter to Prince Bairam. After this Safeyd and the prince and the fairy returned in triumph to their beautiful home.

    By-and-by, when some years had now elapsed, the prince began to long for his own kingdom ; and his longing grew
    so great that at last he determined to go. The giant became very sad, but on account of his love for him he allowed him leave. Then Ghulab Bano changed herself into an enormous bird, and the prince mounted between her wings, and in a moment they alighted close to the capital.There the prince disguised himself as a poor fakeer, while his wife became a milk-white dove. Then he entered the city and called on his old nurse, who at once recognised him, and told him that his vizier had seized the kingdom and was reigning in his stead.

    “And where are my wives?” asked Bairam.

    “Three of your wives,” answered she, “he took to be his wives; but the fourth defied him, and because of her fidelity
    he imprisoned her in a pit. There a son was born, and there the mother and the babe still remain, and he feeds them
    with the leavings of his hounds.”

    For a time the prince lodged with his nurse, the fairy having resumed her own shape, but one day when he was
    out news was taken to the false king that a woman surpassing in beauty all the women of the earth had been seen at
    the house of the old woman. So the false king rushed to the spot, seized Ghulab Bano by the arm, and cried: “Come
    along with me!”

    “O king,” answered she, “let me first go in and change my clothes.”

    So she left him waiting at the door, but having entered her chamber, she put on her fairy suit, and, at once changing
    into a milk-white dove, flew out of the window, and sped far away, but the false king went back to the palace vexed and
    defeated.

    When Bairim returned, the first thing he said was: “Where is my wife?”

    ‘”She has gone to the vizier’s,” said the woman. ‘”He came and carried her off.”

    So the prince took out the giant’s hair and held it again in the flame, when instantly there rushed to his help
    thousands of giants with clubs and swords, and the city was taken, the vizier and the three false wives were slaughtered, while the faithful wife was delivered from the pit and restored to the palace as queen once more. With her
    Prince Bairam lived for some time, being always kind and good to her; but he sighed for the fairy princess, who had
    flown back to her father’s house and had never returned. By degrees his melancholy increased more and more, until,
    becoming mad, he wandered about the city and the palace and the forest, seeking in vain for his lost love.

    Meanwhile the giant Safeyd grew melancholy also, and at last he could bear his grief no longer. So he set out for
    the kingdom of his friend Bairam, and, having found him, he carried him away and restored him again to his fairy queen. With her he recovered his health, and his whole after-life was spent in happiness and delight, sometimes with Ghulab Bano among the mountains of Koh Kaf, and sometimes with his faithful wife in the capital of his own kingdom. But at last he left his wife for good and never returned again.

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