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The tale of the Vizier who was Punished

Popular with: Akathia
Unpopular with: None
Less known by: Athral Isle, Gaunt, Principalities, Tarsikka, Oresund
Archtypes, if any: Warrior(1), Wise Man (2)
Variations, if any: Na

There was once upon a time a Sultan who had a daughter(1) who was very fond of hunting. He often allowed her to indulge in this pastime, but he had ordered his grand-vizir(2) always to go with her, and never to lose sight of her. One day the huntsman roused a stag, and the Emira, thinking that the vizir was behind, gave chase, and rode so hard that she found herself alone. She stopped, and having lost sight of it, she turned to rejoin the vizir, who had not been careful enough to follow her. But she lost her way. Whilst she was trying to find it, she saw on the side of the road a beautiful lady who was crying bitterly. She drew her 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 a Tharician 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 Emira had pity on her, and offered to take her up on her horse, which she did. As they passed by a ruined building the lady dismounted and went in. The Emira also dismounted and followed her. To her great surprise, she heard the girl saying to some one inside, "Rejoice my children; I am bringing you a nice fat youth." And other voices replied, "Where is she, mamma, that we may eat her at once, as we are very hungry?"

The Emira at once saw the danger she was in. She now knew that the lady who said she was the daughter of an Tharician king was an extremely clever Ghul, who lived in desolate places, and who by a thousand wiles surprised and devoured passers-by. She was terrified, and threw herself on her horse. The pretended princess appeared at this moment, and seeing that she had lost her prey, she said to her, "Do not be afraid. What do you want?"

"I am lost," she answered, "and I am looking for the road."

"Keep straight on," said the Ghul, "and you will find it."

The Emira could hardly believe his ears, and rode off as hard as she could. She found her way, and arrived safe and sound at her father's house, where she told him of the danger she had run because of the grand-vizir's carelessness. The Sultan was very angry, and ordered that the vizir be executed immediately.

At this cruel order the Vizir threw himself on his knees. "Spare my life," he cried, "and yours will be spared."

All those present, including the Emira, begged for his life, but in vain.

The Vizir on his knees, and bound, said to the king: "At least let me put my affairs in order, and leave my books to persons who will make good use of them. There is one which I should like to present to your majesty. It is very precious, and ought to be kept carefully in your treasury. It contains many curious things the chief being that when you cut off my head, if your majesty will turn to the sixth leaf, and read the third line of the left-hand page, my head will answer all the questions you like to ask it."

The king, eager to see such a wonderful thing, put off his execution to the next day, and sent him under a strong guard to his house. There the Vizir put his affairs in order, and the next day there was a great crowd assembled in the hall to see his death, and the doings after it. The Vizir went up to the foot of the throne with a large book in his hand. He carried a basin, on which he spread the covering of the book, and presenting it to the king, said: "Sire, take this book, and when my head is cut off, let it be placed in the basin on the covering of this book; as soon as it is there, the blood will cease to flow. Then open the book, and my head will answer your questions. But, sire, I implore your mercy, for my mistake was innocent."

"Your prayers are useless, and if it were only to hear your head speak when you are dead, you should die."

So saying, he took the book from the Vizir's hands, and ordered the executioner to do his duty.

The head was so cleverly cut off that it fell into the basin, and directly the blood ceased to flow. Then, to the great astonishment of the king, the eyes opened, and the head said, "Your majesty, open the book." The sultan did so, and finding that the first leaf stuck against the second, he put his finger in his mouth, to turn it more easily. He did the same thing till he reached the sixth page, and not seeing any writing on it, "Vizir," he said, "there is no writing."

"Turn over a few more pages," answered the head. The king went on turning, still putting his finger in his mouth, till the poison in which each page was dipped took effect. His sight failed him, and he fell at the foot of his throne.

When the Vizir's head saw that the poison had taken effect, and that the king had only a few more minutes to live, "Tyrant," it cried, "see how cruelty and injustice are punished."

Scarcely had it uttered these words than the wicked Sultan died, and the head lost also the little life that had remained in it. The Emira was made Sultan, and she became a great warrior, but always just and merciful to her advisors.