The King and the Dervish

Once there lived a young and brave king with his gentle and loving wife. Both had enjoyed an easy, comfortable, and, best of all, happy life. The king ruled his people well. The queen was a good wife as well as a good sovereign: she always cheered her husband when he was sad.

One day a dervish came to the palace. He told the king that he possessed magical power, and straightway they became friends. This dervish had the power to leave his body and enter that of a dead animal or person. Now, the king was fond of hunting, and once he took his new friend with him to shoot deer. After a few hours of hard chasing, they succeeded in killing a buck. To show his power, the dervish left his body and entered that of the dead deer. Then he resumed his former shape. The king was very anxious to be able to do the same thing; whereupon the dervish gave him minute instructions, and taught him the necessary charms. Then the king left his body, and took possession of that of the deer. In an instant the dervish entered the king’s body and went home as the monarch. He gave orders that a deer with certain marks should be hunted out and killed. The true king was very unhappy, especially when he saw his own men chasing him to take his life.

In his wanderings through the forest, he saw a dead nightingale. He left the deer’s body and entered the bird’s. Now he was safe, so he flew to his palace. He sang so sweetly, that the queen ordered her attendants to catch him. He gladly allowed himself to be caught, and to be cared for by the queen. Whenever the dervish took the bird in his hands, the bird pecked him; but the beautiful singer always showed signs of satisfaction when the queen smoothed his plumage.

Not long after the bird’s capture, a dog died in the palace. The king underwent another change: he left the bird’s body and entered that of the dog. On waking up in the morning, the queen found that her pet was dead. She began to weep. Unable to see her so sad, the dervish comforted her, and told her that he would give the bird life again. Consequently he left the king’s body and entered the bird’s. Seeing his chance, the real king left the dog’s body and resumed his original form. He then went at once to the cage and killed the ungrateful bird, the dervish.

The tender queen protested against the king’s act of cruelty; but when she heard that she had been deceived by the dervish, she died of grief.

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