Arabian Nights / The Enchanted Horse
In the city of Shiraz, the King spent the Feast of the New Year, the oldest and the most marvelous of all the feasts of the Persian Kingdom, and he watched his subjects’ brilliant performances honoring the festival. The King wanted to close the celebrations at sunset when a splendidly harnessed horse led by an Indian stood before the King’s throne. The horse looked as if it was a real one in all aspects.
Bowing before the King, the Indian requested to demonstrate the horse before His Highness. He assured that although his performance was the last one, none of the wonders the King had seen during the feast could match the horse he was about to show.
The King doubted that there was something special in the horse and considered it just a work of a skilled craftsman and a shrewd reproduction of a real horse.
The man replied that he referred to the use he could make of the horse and not its outer form. If one wished to find himself in even the most distant place, he could mount the horse and appear there in some seconds. The horse was spectacular by that feature and the monarch could check that for himself.
Everything otherworldly intrigued the Persian King. He ordered the man to mount the horse and show its qualities as he had never met an animal like that. The man was on horseback in a flash of light and wanted to know where the King wanted to appear.
The monarch pointed about three leagues away from the city of Shiraz and showed the mountain from where he wanted to have a palm leaf growing at the bottom of the mountain.
Hardly the King uttered his words when the horse jumped swiftly into the air as the Indian turned around the screw placed close to the horse saddle in the animal’s neck. It shortly disappeared out of everyone’s sight. With the palm in his hand the Indian returned in fifteen minutes and laying the leaf at the foot of the throne, the man dismounted the horse.
As soon as the King discovered the amazing swiftness of the horse, he wanted to get hold of it. He already considered the horse to be his own as he was sure the Indian would readily sell it to him.
The Monarch thanked the Indian for showing him his wrong guess of the animal’s value judging it only from the outer form and asked for its price if the man was willing to sell it.
The man admitted expecting the sagacious and skilful King’s high appreciation of his horse after seeing its traits. He also confessed about expecting the King’s wish to buy it. Although he much cherished the horse, only on one condition the Indian agreed to give it to the King. As the man said, he received the horse in exchange for his only daughter from the Inventor who crafted it. The latter demanded that the man could give it away only in return for an equally valuable object and the man solemnly swore.
The King cut him short and asked him to give the name of the city in his large Kingdom where the man would want to rule for his entire life.
The man did not consider the King’s offer generous enough, therefore he thanked His Highness for his honourable proposal, and kindly apologized for his request which was to receive the princess’ hand as a price for the horse.
The Indian’s words angered Prince Firouz Schah, the crown prince, while the rest of the royal aides giggled loudly. Getting such a wonderful toy in exchange for his daughter’s hand did not seem, however, a high price for the King. But the prince intervened hastily while the King was weighing up his answer.
The prince said that the response to such an impudent offer should not be doubted even for a second. He continued that His Majesty should not forget the blood of his dynasty and his own.
The King agreed to the wise words, but the worth of the horse was obvious to him. Furthermore, in case of rejection, the Indian could offer the horse to another King, and knowing that the Seventh Wonder of the World belonged to another but himself would greatly despair his Majesty. He also added that probably the Indian should learn a lesson and his conditions could not be accepted. However, firstly, in case the Indian agreed, the King ordered the prince to test the horse’s capacities.
The horse’s owner presumed the King was about to accept his offer, as he eavesdropped on the conversation between the two. Consenting to the King’s wishes he readily approached to help the prince to jump on the horse and show him how to handle it. No sooner had he shown than the prince vanished hastily turning the screw.
Everyone thought he might return shortly, yet it was in vain and as some time passed the Indian became scared. He told the King, making a deep bow, that as everyone saw he did not manage to show how to come back with the horse because of the prince’s haste. Therefore, he asked the King’s mercy not to inflict a punishment on him because he was not guilty of the mishap.