The Faithful Prince by Flora Annie Steel
Long ago there lived a King who had an only son, by name Prince
Bahrâmgor, who was as splendid as the noonday sun, and as beautiful as
the midnight moon. Now one day the Prince went a-hunting, and he
hunted to the north, but found no game; he hunted to the south, yet no
quarry arose; he hunted to the east, and still found nothing. Then he
turned towards the setting sun, when suddenly from a thicket flashed a
golden deer. Burnished gold were its hoofs and horns, rich gold its
body. Dazzled by the wonderful sight, the astonished Prince bade his
retainers form a circle round the beautiful strange creature, and so
gradually enclose and secure it.
'Remember,' said the Prince, 'I hold him towards whom the deer may run
to be responsible for its escape, or capture.'
Closer and closer drew the glittering circle of horsemen, while in the
centre stood the golden deer, until, with marvellous speed, it fled
straight towards the Prince, But he was swifter still, and caught it
by the golden horns. Then the creature found human voice, and cried,
'Let me go, oh! Prince Bahrâmgor and I will give you countless
But the Prince laughed, saying, 'Not so! I have gold and jewels
galore, but never a golden deer.'
'Let me go,' pleaded the deer, 'and I will give you more than
'And what may that be?' asked the Prince, still laughing.
'I will give you a ride on my back such as never mortal man rode
before,' replied the deer.
'Done!' cried the gay Prince, vaulting lightly to the deer's back; and
immediately, like a bird from a thicket, the strange glittering
creature rose through the air till it was lost to sight. For seven
days and seven nights it carried the Prince over all the world, so
that he could see everything like a picture passing below, and on the
evening of the seventh day it touched the earth once more, and
instantly vanished. Prince Bahrâmgor rubbed his eyes in bewilderment,
for he had never been in such a strange country before. Everything
seemed new and unfamiliar. He wandered about for some time looking
for the trace of a house or a footprint, when suddenly from the ground
at his feet popped a wee old man.
'How did you come here? and what are you looking for, my son?' quoth
So Prince Bahrâmgor told him how he had ridden thither on a golden
deer, which had disappeared, and how he was now quite lost and
bewildered in this strange country.
'Do not be alarmed, my son,' returned the wee old man; 'it is true you
are in Demonsland, but no one shall hurt you, for I am the demon
Jasdrűl whose life you saved when I was on the earth in the shape of a
Then the demon Jasdrűl took Prince Bahrâmgor to his house, and treated
him right royally, giving him a hundred keys, and saying, 'These are
the keys of my palaces and gardens. Amuse yourself by looking at
them, and mayhap somewhere you may find a treasure worth having.'
So every day Prince Bahrâmgor opened a new garden, and examined a new
palace, and in one he found rooms full of gold, and in another jewels,
and in a third rich stuffs, in fact everything the heart could desire,
until he came to the hundredth palace, and that he found was a mere
hovel, full of all poisonous things, herbs, stones, snakes, and
insects. But the garden in which it stood was by far the most
magnificent of all. It was seven miles this way, and seven miles
that, full of tall trees and bright flowers, lakes, streams,
fountains, and summer-houses. Gay butterflies flitted about, and
birds sang in it all day and all night. The Prince, enchanted,
wandered seven miles this way, and seven miles that, until he was so
tired that he lay down to rest in a marble summer-house, where he
found a golden bed, all spread with silken shawls. Now while he
slept, the Fairy Princess Shâhpasand, who was taking the air,
fairy-fashion, in the shape of a pigeon, happened to fly over the
garden, and catching sight of the beautiful, splendid, handsome young
Prince, she sank to earth in sheer astonishment at beholding such a
lovely sight, and, resuming her natural shape—as fairies always do
when they touch the ground—she stooped over the young man and gave
him a kiss.
He woke up in a hurry, and what was his astonishment on seeing the
most beautiful Princess in the world kneeling gracefully beside him!
'Dearest Prince!' cried the maiden, clasping her hands,'I have been
looking for you everywhere!'
Now the very same thing befell Prince Bahrâmgor that had happened to
the Princess Shâhpasand—that is to say, no sooner did he set eyes on
her than he fell desperately in love, and so, of course, they agreed
to get married without any delay. Nevertheless, the Prince thought it
best first to consult his host, the demon Jasdrűl, seeing how powerful
he was in Demonsland. To the young man's delight, the demon not only
gave his consent, but appeared greatly pleased, rubbing his hands and
saying, 'Now you will remain with me and be so happy that you will
never think of returning to your own country any more.'
So Prince Bahrâmgor and the Fairy Princess Shâhpasand were married,
and lived ever so happily, for ever so long a time.
At last the thought of the home he had left came back to the Prince,
and he began to think longingly of his father the King, his mother the
Queen, and of his favourite horse and hound. Then from thinking of
them he fell to speaking of them to the Princess, his wife, and then
from speaking he took to sighing and sighing and refusing his dinner,
until he became quite pale and thin. Now the demon Jasdrűl used to
sit every night in a little echoing room below the Prince and
Princess's chamber, and listen to what they said, so as to be sure
they were happy; and when he heard the Prince talking of his far-away
home on the earth, he sighed too, for he was a kindhearted demon, and
loved his handsome young Prince.
At last he asked Prince Bahrâmgor what was the cause of his growing so
pale and sighing so often—for so amiable was the young man that he
would rather have died of grief than have committed the rudeness of
telling his host he was longing to get away; but when he was asked he
said piteously, 'Oh, good demon! let me go home and see my father the
King, my mother the Queen, my horse and my hound, for I am very
weary. Let me and my Princess go, or assuredly I shall die!'
At first the demon refused, but at last he took pity on the Prince,
and said, 'Be it so; nevertheless you will soon repent and long to be
back in Demonsland; for the world has changed since you left it, and
you will have trouble. Take this hair with you, and when you need
help, burn it, then I will come immediately to your assistance.'
Then the demon Jasdrűl said a regretful goodbye, and, Hey presto!—
Prince Bahrâmgor found himself standing outside his native city, with
his beautiful bride beside him.
But, alas! as the good-natured demon had foretold, everything was
changed. His father and mother were both dead, a usurper sat on the
throne, and had put a price on Bahrâmgor's head should he ever return
from his mysterious journey. Luckily no one recognised the young
Prince (so much had he changed during his residence in Demonsland)
save his old huntsman, who, though overjoyed to see his master once
more, said it was as much as his life was worth to give the Prince
shelter; still, being a faithful servant, he agreed to let the young
couple live in the garret of his house.
'My old mother, who is blind,' he said, 'will never see you coming and
going; and as you used to be fond of sport, you can help me to hunt,
as I used to help you.'
So the splendid Prince Bahrâmgor and his lovely Princess hid in the
garret of the huntsman's house, and no one knew they were there. Now
one fine day, when the Prince had gone out to hunt, as servant to the
huntsman, Princess Shâhpasand took the opportunity of washing her
beautiful golden hair, which hung round her ivory neck and down to her
pretty ankles like a shower of sunshine, and when she had washed it
she combed it, and set the window ajar so that the breeze might blow
in and dry her hair.
Just at this moment the Chief Constable of the town happened to pass
by, and hearing the window open, looked up and saw the lovely
Shâhpasand, with her glittering golden hair. He was so overcome at
the sight that he fell right off his horse into the gutter. His
servants, thinking he had a fit, picked him up and carried him back to
his house, where he never ceased raving about a beautiful fairy with
golden hair in the huntsman's garret. This set everybody wondering
whether he had been bewitched, and the story meeting the King's ear,
he sent down some soldiers to make inquiries at the huntsman's house.
'No one lives here!' said the huntsman's cross old mother, 'no
beautiful lady, nor ugly one either, nor any person at all, save me
and my son. However, go to the garret and look for yourselves.'
Hearing these words of the old woman, Princess Shâhpasand bolted the
door, and, seizing a knife, cut a hole in the wooden roof. Then,
taking the form of a pigeon, she flew out, so that when the soldiers
burst open the door they found no one in the garret.
The poor Princess was greatly distressed at having to leave her
beautiful young Prince in this hurried way, and as she flew past the
blind old crone she whispered in her ear, 'I go to my father's house
in the Emerald Mountain.'
In the evening when Prince Bahrâmgor returned from hunting, great was
his grief at finding the garret empty! Nor could the blind old crone
tell him much of what had occurred; still, when he heard of the
mysterious voice which whispered, 'I go to my father's house in the
Emerald Mountain,' he was at first somewhat comforted. Afterwards,
when he reflected that he had not the remotest idea where the Emerald
Mountain was to be found, he fell into a very sad state, and casting
himself on the ground he sobbed and sighed; he refused his dinner, and
never ceased crying, 'Oh, my dearest Princess! my dearest Princess!'
At last he remembered the magic hair, and taking it from its
hiding-place threw it into the fire. It had scarcely begun to burn
when, Hey presto!—the demon Jasdrűl appeared, and asked him what he
'Show me the way to the Emerald Mountain,' cried the Prince.
Then the kind-hearted demon shook his head sorrowfully, saying, 'You
would never reach it alive, my son. Be guided by me,—forget all that
has passed, and begin a new life.'
'I have but one life,' answered the faithful Prince, 'and that is gone
if I lose my dearest Princess! As I must die, let me die seeking
Then the demon Jasdrűl was touched by the constancy of the splendid
young Prince, and promised to aid him as far as possible. So he
carried the young man back to Demonsland, and giving him a magic wand,
bade him travel over the country until he came to the demon Nanâk
'You will meet with many dangers by the way,' said his old friend,
'but keep the magic wand in your hand day and night, and nothing will
harm you. That is all I can do for you, but Nanâk Chand, who is my
elder brother, can help you farther on your way.'
So Prince Bahrâmgor travelled through Demonsland, and because he held
the magic wand in his hand day and night, no harm came to him. At
last he arrived at the demon Nanâk Chand's house, just as the demon
had awakened from sleep, which, according to the habit of demons, had
lasted for twelve years. Naturally he was desperately hungry, and on
catching sight of the Prince, thought what a dainty morsel he would be
for breakfast; nevertheless, though his mouth watered, the demon
restrained his appetite when he saw the wand, and asked the Prince
politely what he wanted. But when the demon Nanâk Chand had heard the
whole story, he shook his head, saying, 'You will never reach the
Emerald Mountain, my son. Be guided by me,—forget all that has
passed, and begin a new life.'
Then the splendid young Prince answered as before, 'I have but one
life, and that is gone if I lose my dearest Princess! If I must die,
let me die seeking her.'
This answer touched the demon Nanâk Chand, and he gave the faithful
Prince a box of powdered antimony, and bade him travel on through
Demonsland till he came to the house of the great demon Safed. 'For,'
said he, 'Safed is my eldest brother, and if anybody can do what you
want, he will. If you are in need, rub the powder on your eyes, and
whatever you wish near will be near, but whatever you wish far will be
So the constant Prince travelled on through all the dangers and
difficulties of Demonsland, till he reached the demon Safed's house,
to whom he told his story, showing the powder and the magic wand,
which had brought him so far in safety.
But the great demon Safed shook his head, saying, 'You will never
reach the Emerald Mountain alive, my son. Be guided by me,—forget
all that has passed, and begin a new life.'
Still the faithful Prince gave the same answer, 'I have but one life,
and that is gone if I lose my dearest Princess! If I must die, let me
die seeking her.'
Then the great demon nodded his head approvingly, and said, 'You are a
brave lad, and I must do my best for you. Take this yech-cap:
whenever you put it on you will become invisible. Journey to the
north, and after a while in the far distance you will see the Emerald
Mountain. Then put the powder on your eyes and wish the mountain
near, for it is an enchanted hill, and the farther you climb the
higher it grows. On the summit lies the Emerald City: enter it by
means of your invisible cap, and find the Princess—if you can.'
So the Prince journeyed joyfully to the north, until in the far far
distance he saw the glittering Emerald Mountain. Then he rubbed the
powder on his eyes, and behold! what he desired was near, and the
Emerald City lay before him, looking as if it had been cut out of a
single jewel. But the Prince thought of nothing save his dearest
Princess, and wandered up and down the gleaming city protected by his
invisible cap. Still he could not find her. The fact was, the
Princess Shâhpasand's father had locked her up inside seven prisons,
for fear she should fly away again, for he doated on her, and was in
terror lest she should escape back to earth and her handsome young
Prince, of whom she never ceased talking.
'If your husband comes to you, well and good,' said the old man, 'but
you shall never go back to him.'
So the poor Princess wept all day long inside her seven prisons, for
how could mortal man ever reach the Emerald Mountain?
Now the Prince, whilst roaming disconsolately about the city, noticed
a servant woman who every day at a certain hour entered a certain door
with a tray of sweet dishes on her head. Being curious, he took
advantage of his invisible cap, and when she opened the door he
slipped in behind her. Nothing was to be seen but a large door,
which, after shutting and locking the outer one, the servant opened.
Again Prince Bahrâmgor slipped in behind her, and again saw nothing
but a huge door. And so on he went through all the seven doors, till
he came to the seventh prison, and there sat the beautiful Princess
Shâhpasand, weeping salt tears. At the sight of her he could scarcely
refrain from flinging himself at her feet, but remembering that he was
invisible, he waited till the servant after putting down the tray
retired, locking all the seven prisons one by one. Then he sat down
by the Princess and began to eat out of the same dish with her.
She, poor thing, had not the appetite of a sparrow, and scarcely ate
anything, so when she saw the contents of the dish disappearing, she
thought she must be dreaming. But when the whole had vanished, she
became convinced some one was in the room with her, and cried out
faintly, 'Who eats in the same dish with me?'
Then Prince Bahrâmgor lifted the yech-cap from his forehead, so
that he was no longer quite invisible, but showed like a figure seen
in early dawn. At this the Princess wept bitterly, calling him by
name, thinking she had seen his ghost, but as he lifted the
yech-cap more and more, and, growing from a shadow to real
flesh and blood, clasped her in his arms, her tears changed to radiant
Great was the astonishment of the servant next day when she found the
handsome young Prince seated beside his dearest Princess. She ran to
tell the King, who, on hearing the whole story from his daughter's
lips, was very much pleased at the courage and constancy of Prince
Bahrâmgor, and ordered Princess Shâhpasand to be released at once;
'For,' he said, 'now her husband has found his way to her, my daughter
will not want to go to him.'
Then he appointed the Prince to be his heir, and the faithful Prince
Bahrâmgor and his beautiful bride lived happily ever afterwards in the