The Arabian Nights Entertainments
The Story of the Vizir Who Was
There was once upon a time a king who had a son who was very fond of hunting.
He often allowed him to indulge in this pastime, but he had ordered his grand-
vizir always to go with him, and never to lose sight of him. One day the huntsman
roused a stag, and the prince, thinking that the vizir was behind, gave chase, and
rode so hard that he found himself alone. He stopped, and having lost sight of it,
he turned to rejoin the vizir, who had not been careful enough to follow him. But
he lost his way. Whilst he was trying to find it, he saw on the side of the road a
beautiful lady who was crying bitterly. He drew his horse's rein, and asked her
who she was and what she was doing in this place, and if she needed help. "I am
the daughter of an Indian king," she answered, "and whilst riding in the country I
fell asleep and tumbled off. My horse has run away, and I do not know what has
become of him."
The young prince had pity on her, and offered to take her behind him, which he
did. As they passed by a ruined building the lady dismounted and went in. The
prince also dismounted and followed her. To his great surprise, he heard her
saying to some one inside, "Rejoice my children; I am bringing you a nice fat
youth." And other voices replied, "Where is he, mamma, that we may eat him at
once, as we are very hungry?"
The prince at once saw the danger he was in. He now knew that the lady who
said she was the daughter of an Indian king was an ogress, who lived in desolate
places, and who by a thousand wiles surprised and devoured passers-by. He
was terrified, and threw himself on his horse. The pretended princess appeared
at this moment, and seeing that she had lost her prey, she said to him, "Do not
be afraid. What do you want?"
"I am lost," he answered, "and I am looking for the road."
"Keep straight on," said the ogress, "and you will find it."