The Imp of the Well (cont.)
The monarch, being told of this sudden malady, visited his afflicted daughter and was grieved to find her in such dreadful pain. Physicians and hodjas without number were sent for, but all their skill was of no avail; the maiden continued to shriek, "Oh, my head!"
"My darling," said her father, "hearing your cries of suffering causes me pain almost as great as your own. What can be done? I will call the astrologers perhaps they can tell us."
All the most famous astrologers of the land came, consulted the stars, and prescribed each a different medicine, but the Princess grew worse and worse.
TO return to the woodcutter. He managed quite well without his wife and soon forgot her. He had nearly forgotten the imp and the leaves as well, when one day he heard the Padishah's proclamation.
"My daughter is sick unto death," it ran. "Physicians, hodjas, and astrologers have failed to heal her. Whoever can render help, let him come and render it. If he be a Mussulman, he shall receive my daughter in marriage now, and my kingdom at my death, or, if he be an unbeliever, all the treasures of my kingdom shall be his."
This reminded the woodcutter of the imp and the three leaves. He went to the palace and undertook by the aid of Allah to cure the Princess. The Padishah led him without delay into the chamber of his sick daughter, who was still crying, "Oh, my head! my head!"
The woodcutter produced the three leaves, moistened them, and pressed them on the patient's forehead, when the pain instantly departed and she was as well as though she had never known illness. Then there was great rejoicing in the serai. The Sultan's daughter became the bride of the poor woodcutter, who was henceforth the Padishah's son-in-law.
Our Padishah had a good friend in the Padishah of the adjoining kingdom, whose daughter also was in the power of the Imp of the Well. She suffered from the same complaint, and the physicians and hodjas were just as helpless in her case as in the other. Now our Padishah informed his friend of his own good fortune and offered to send his son-in-law, who, by the grace of Allah, would no doubt be able to restore the daughter of his friend.
Accordingly the Padishah made known to his son-in-law what he desired. Though the latter had great misgiving, he could not well refuse, so he set forth on his journey to the court of the neighbouring country. Immediately on arrival he was taken to the sick Princess and soon realised that he had again to do with the Imp of the Well.
"Once you did me a favour," said the imp, "but now you cannot say I am your debtor. I delivered the Sultan's daughter into your hands and sought another for myself; would you take this one also from me? If you do, I will take your Princess from you."
The poor man was terribly perplexed but resolved to try the effect of a trick. "I have not come for the maid," said he. "She is your lawful property; if you wish you may have mine also."
''Then what do you here?" demanded the imp.
"The woman — the woman in the well," groaned the former woodcutter, "she was my wife; I left her in the well to be rid of her."
The imp showed signs of uneasiness and asked: "Has she got out of the well?"
"Yes, more's the pity!" sighed the man. "She follows me about wherever I go. Now she is there behind the door!"
That was enough to frighten the imp; he lost no time in quitting the Sultan's daughter. He left the town in all haste, without waiting to learn if the woodcutter spoke the truth, and was never heard of again.
Thus the Princess recovered and henceforth lived very happily.
Next: The Soothsayer