The Orange Fairy Book HTML version

Story of the King Who Would See Paradise
Once upon a time there was king who, one day out hunting, came upon a fakeer
in a lonely place in the mountains. The fakeer was seated on a little old bedstead
reading the Koran, with his patched cloak thrown over his shoulders.
The king asked him what he was reading; and he said he was reading about
Paradise, and praying that he might be worthy to enter there. Then they began to
talk, and, by-and- bye, the king asked the fakeer if he could show him a glimpse
of Paradise, for he found it very difficult to believe in what he could not see. The
fakeer replied that he was asking a very difficult, and perhaps a very dangerous,
thing; but that he would pray for him, and perhaps he might be able to do it; only
he warned the king both against the dangers of his unbelief, and against the
curiosity which prompted him to ask this thing. However, the king was not to be
turned from his purpose, and he promised the fakeer always to provided him with
food, if he, in return, would pray for him. To this the fakeer agreed, and so they
Time went on, and the king always sent the old fakeer his food according to his
promise; but, whenever he sent to ask him when he was going to show him
Paradise, the fakeer always replied: 'Not yet, not yet!'
After a year or two had passed by, the king heard one day that the fakeer was
very ill-- indeed, he was believed to be dying. Instantly he hurried off himself, and
found that it was really true, and that the fakeer was even then breathing his last.
There and then the king besought him to remember his promise, and to show
him a glimpse of Paradise. The dying fakeer replied that if the king would come
to his funeral, and, when the grave was filled in, and everyone else was gone
away, he would come and lay his hand upon the grave, he would keep his word,
and show him a glimpse of Paradise. At the same time he implored the king not
to do this thing, but to be content to see Paradise when God called him there.
Still the king's curiosity was so aroused that he would not give way.
Accordingly, after the fakeer was dead, and had been buried, he stayed behind
when all the rest went away; and then, when he was quite alone, he stepped
forward, and laid his hand upon the grave! Instantly the ground opened, and the
astonished king, peeping in, saw a flight of rough steps, and, at the bottom of
them, the fakeer sitting, just as he used to sit, on his rickety bedstead, reading
the Koran!
At first the king was so surprised and frightened that he could only stare; but the
fakeer beckoned to him to come down, so, mustering up his courage, he boldly
stepped down into the grave.
The fakeer rose, and, making a sign to the king to follow, walked a few paces
along a dark passage. Then he stopped, turned solemnly to his companion, and,
with a movement of his hand, drew aside as it were a heavy curtain, and
revealed--what? No one knows what was there shown to the king, nor did he
ever tell anyone; but, when the fakeer at length dropped the curtain, and the king