Prince Houssain would not honour the feast with his presence; he could scarcely endure to see the princess in the arms of Prince Ali, who, he said, did not deserve her better or love her more than himself. He left the court, and, renouncing all right of succession to the crown, turned dervish, and put himself under the discipline of a famous sheik, who had gained a reputation for his exemplary life, and had taken up his abode, together with his disciples, whose number was great, in an agreeable solitude.
Prince Ahmed did not assist at Prince Ali’s and the Princess Nouronnihar’s wedding, any more than his brother Houssain, but did not renounce the world as he had done. He could not imagine what had become of his arrow, so he stole away from his attendants, and resolved to search for it, that he might not have anything to reproach himself with. With this intention, he went to the place where the Princes Houssain’s and Ali’s were gathered up, and going straight forward from thence, looked carefully on both sides of him. He went so far, that at last he began to think his labour was in vain; yet he could not help going forwards, till he came to some steep, craggy rocks, which would have obliged him to return, had he been ever so anxious to proceed.
They were situated in a barren country, about four leagues distant from whence he set out. When Prince Ahmed came near these rocks, he perceived an arrow, which he picked up, looked earnestly at it, and was in the greatest astonishment to find it was the same he shot. ‘Certainly,’ said he to himself, ‘neither I nor any man living could shoot an arrow so far’; and finding it laid flat, not sticking into the ground, he judged that it had rebounded from the rock. ‘There must be some mystery in this,’ said he to himself again, ‘and it may be to my advantage. Perhaps fortune, to make me amends for depriving me of what I thought the greatest happiness of my life, may have reserved a greater blessing for my comfort.’ As these rocks were full of sharp points and crevices between them, the prince, full of these thoughts, entered a cavity, and looking about, cast his eyes on an iron door, which seemed to have no lock. He feared it was fastened; but pushing against it, it opened, and discovered an easy descent, but no steps.
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