Arabian Child Book Story

Developing early reading habits is a crucial element in a child's development. We had selected for you several stories that are taken from different child story books. Those stories were selected from Arabian story books to keep your children in contact with their culture or to introduce your children to other people's cultures.

child story
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PRINCE BEDER AND THE PRINCESS GIAUHARA (Part One)

Young Prince Beder was brought up and educated in the palace under the care of the King and Queen of Persia. He gave them great pleasure as he advanced in years by his agreeable manners, and by the justness of whatever he said; King Saleh his uncle, the queen his grandmother, and the princesses his relations, came from time to time to see him. He was easily taught to read and write, and was instructed in all the sciences that became a prince of his rank.

When he arrived at the age of fifteen he was very wise and prudent. The king, who had almost from his cradle discovered in him these virtues so necessary for a monarch, and who moreover began to perceive the infirmities of old age coming upon himself every day, would not wait till death gave him possession of the throne, but purposed to resign it to him. He had no great difficulty to make his council consent to it; and the people heard this with so much the more joy, because they considered Prince Beder worthy to govern them. They saw that he treated all mankind with that goodness which invited them to approach him; that he heard favourably all who had anything to say to him; that he answered everybody with a goodness that was peculiar to him; and that he refused nobody anything that had the least appearance of justice.

The day for the ceremony was appointed. In the midst of the whole assembly, which was larger than usual, the King of Persia, then sitting on his throne, came down from it, took the crown from off his head, put it on that of Prince Beder, and having seated him in his place, kissed his hand, as a token that he resigned his authority to him. After which he took his place among the crowd of viziers and emirs below the throne.

Hereupon the viziers, emirs, and other principal officers, came immediately and threw themselves at the new king's feet, taking each the oath of fidelity according to their rank. Then the grand vizier made a report of various important matters, on which the young king gave judgment with admirable prudence and sagacity that surprised all the council. He next turned out several governors convicted of mal-administration, and put others in their place, with wonderful and just discernment. He at length left the council, accompanied by the late king his father, and went to see his mother, Queen Gulnare. The queen no sooner saw him coming with his crown upon his head, than she ran to him, and embraced him with tenderness, wishing him a long and prosperous reign.

The first year of his reign King Beder acquitted himself of all his royal functions with great care. Above all, he took care to inform himself of the state of his affairs, and all that might in any way contribute towards the happiness of his people. Next year, having left the administration to his council, under the direction of the old king his father, he went out of his capital, under pretext of diverting himself with hunting; but his real intention was to visit all the provinces of his kingdom, that he might reform all abuses there, establish good order and discipline everywhere, and take from all ill-minded princes, his neighbours, any opportunities of attempting any thing against the security and tranquillity of his subjects, by showing himself on his frontiers.

It required no less than a whole year for this young king to carry out his plans. Soon after his return, the old king his father fell so dangerously ill that he knew at once he should never recover. He waited for his last moment with great tranquillity, and his only care was to recommend the ministers and other lords of his son's court to remain faithful to him: and there was not one but willingly renewed his oath as freely as at first. He died, at length, to the great grief of King Beder and Queen Gulnare, who caused his corpse to be borne to a stately mausoleum, worthy of his rank and dignity.

The funeral ended, King Beder found no difficulty in complying with that ancient custom in Persia to mourn for the dead a whole month, and not to be seen by anybody during all that time. He would have mourned the death of his father his whole life, had it been right for a great prince thus to abandon himself to grief. During this interval the queen, mother to Queen Gulnare, and King Saleh, together with the princesses their relations, arrived at the Persian court, and shared their affliction, before they offered any consolation.

When the month was expired, the king could not refuse admittance to the grand vizier and the other lords of his court, who besought him to lay aside his mourning, to show himself to his subjects, and take upon him the administration of affairs as before.

He showed such great reluctance at their request, that the grand vizier was forced to take upon himself to say to him; 'Sir, neither our tears nor yours are capable of restoring life to the good king your father, though we should lament him all our days. He has undergone the common law of all men, which subjects them to pay the indispensable tribute of death. Yet we cannot say absolutely that he is dead, since we see him in your sacred person. He did not himself doubt, when he was dying, but that he should revive in you, and to your majesty it belongs to show that he was not deceived.'

King Beder could no longer oppose such pressing entreaties: he laid aside his mourning; and after he had resumed the royal habit and ornaments, he began to provide for the necessities of his kingdom and subjects with the same care as before his father's death. He acquitted himself with universal approbation: and as he was exact in maintaining the ordinances of his predecessor, the people did not feel they had changed their sovereign.

King Saleh, who had returned to his dominions in the sea with the queen his mother and the princesses, no sooner saw that King Beder had resumed the government, at the end of the month than he came alone to visit him; and King Beder and Queen Gulnare were overjoyed to see him.

One evening when they rose from table, they talked of various matters. King Saleh began with the praises of the king his nephew, and expressed to the queen his sister how glad he was to see him govern so prudently, all of which had acquired him great reputation, not among his neighbours only, but more remote princes. King Beder, who could not bear to hear himself so well spoken of, and not being willing, through good manners, to interrupt the king his uncle, turned on one side to sleep, leaning his head against a cushion that was behind him.

'Sister,' said King Saleh, 'I wonder you have not thought of marrying him ere this: if I mistake not, he is in his twentieth year; and, at that age, no prince like him ought to be suffered to be without a wife. I will think of a wife for him myself, since you will not, and marry him to some princess of our lower world that may be worthy of him.'

'Brother,' replied Queen Gulnare, 'I have never thought of it to this very moment, and I am glad you have spoken of it to me. I like your proposing one of our princesses; and I desire you to name one so beautiful and accomplished that the king my son may be obliged to love her.'

'I know one that will suit,' replied King Saleh, softly; 'but I see many difficulties to be surmounted, not on the lady's part, as I hope, but on that of her father. I need only mention to you the Princess Giauhara, daughter of the king of Samandal.'

'What?' replied Queen Gulnare, 'is not the Princess Giauhara yet married? I remember to have seen her before I left your palace; she was then about eighteen months old, and surprisingly beautiful, and must needs be the wonder of the world. The few years she is older than the king my son ought not to prevent us from doing our utmost to bring it about. Let me but know the difficulties that are to be surmounted, and we will surmount them.'

'Sister,' replied King Saleh, 'the greatest difficulty is, that the King of Samandal is insupportably vain, looking upon all others as his inferiors: it is not likely we shall easily get him to enter into this alliance. For my part, I will go to him in person, and demand of him the princess his daughter; and, in case he refuses her, we will address ourselves elsewhere, where we shall be more favourably heard. For this reason, as you may perceive,' added he, 'it is as well for the king my nephew not to know anything of our design, lest he should fall in love with the Princess Giauhara, till we have got the consent of the King of Samandal, in case, after all, we should not be able to obtain her for him.' They discoursed a little longer upon this point, and, before they parted, agreed that King Saleh should forthwith return to his own dominions, and demand the Princess Giauhara of the King of Samandal her father, for the King of Persia his nephew.

Now King Beder had heard what they said, and he immediately fell in love with the Princess Giauhara without having even seen her, and he lay awake thinking all night. Next day King Saleh took leave of Queen Gulnare and the king his nephew. The young king, who knew the king his uncle would not have departed so soon but to go and promote his happiness without loss of time, changed colour when he heard him mention his departure. He resolved to desire his uncle to bring the princess away with him: but only asked him to stay with him one day more, that they might hunt together. The day for hunting was fixed, and King Beder had many opportunities of being alone with his uncle, but he had not the courage to open his mouth. In the heat of the chase, when King Saleh was separated from him, and not one of his officers and attendants was near, he alighted near a rivulet; and having tied his horse to a tree, which, with several others growing along the banks, afforded a very pleasing shade, he laid himself down on the grass. He remained a good while absorbed in thought, without speaking a word.

King Saleh, in the meantime, missing the king his nephew, began to be much concerned to know what had become of him. He therefore left his company to go in search of him, and at length perceived him at a distance. He had observed the day before, and more plainly that day, that he was not so lively as he used to be; and that if he was asked a question, he either answered not at all, or nothing to the purpose. As soon as King Saleh saw him lying in that disconsolate posture, he immediately guessed he had heard what passed between him and Queen Gulnare. He hereupon alighted at some distance from him, and having tied his horse to a tree, came upon him so softly, that he heard him say to himself:

'Amiable princess of the kingdom of Samandal, I would this moment go and offer you my heart, if I knew where to find you.'

King Saleh would hear no more; he advanced immediately, and showed himself to King Beder. 'From what I see, nephew,' said he, 'you heard what the queen your mother and I said the other day of the Princess Giauhara. It was not our intention you should have known anything, and we thought you were asleep.'

'My dear uncle,' replied King Beder, 'I heard every word, but was ashamed to disclose to you my weakness. I beseech you to pity me, and not wait to procure me the consent of the divine Giauhara till you have gained the consent of the King of Samandal that I may marry his daughter.'

These words of the King of Persia greatly embarrassed King Saleh. He represented to him how difficult it was, and that he could not well do it without carrying him along with him; which might be of dangerous consequence, since his presence was so absolutely necessary in his kingdom. He begged him to wait. But these reasons were not sufficient to satisfy the King of Persia.

'Cruel Uncle,' said he, 'I find you do not love me so much as you pretended, and that you had rather see me die than grant the first request I ever made you.'

'I am ready to convince your majesty,' replied King Saleh, 'that I would do anything to serve you; but as for carrying you along with me, I cannot do that till I have spoken to the queen your mother. What would she say of you and me? If she consents, I am ready to do all you would have me, and I will join my entreaties to yours.'

'If you do really love me,' replied the King of Persia impatiently, 'as you would have me believe you do, you must return to your kingdom immediately, and carry me along with you.'

King Saleh, finding himself obliged to yield to his nephew, drew from his finger a ring, on which were engraven the same mysterious names that were upon Solomon's seal, that had wrought so many wonders by their virtue. 'Here, take this ring,' said he, 'put it upon your finger, and fear neither the waters of the sea, nor their depth.'

The King of Persia took the ring, and when he had put it on his finger, King Saleh said to him, 'Do as I do.' At the same time they both mounted lightly up into the air, and made towards the sea which was not far distant, whereinto they both plunged.

The sea-king was not long in getting to his palace with the King of Persia, whom he immediately carried to the queen's apartment, and presented him to her. The King of Persia kissed the queen his grandmother's hands, and she embraced him with great joy. 'I do not ask you how you are,' said she to him; 'I see you are very well, and I am rejoiced at it; but I desire to know how is my daughter, your mother, Queen Gulnare?'

The King of Persia told her the queen his mother was in perfect health. Then the queen presented him to the princesses; and while he was in conversation with them, she left him, and went with King Saleh, who told her how the King of Persia was fallen in love with the Princess Giauhara, and that he had brought him along with him, without being able to hinder it.

Although King Saleh was, to do him justice, perfectly innocent, yet the queen could hardly forgive his indiscretion in mentioning the Princess Giauhara before him. 'Your imprudence is not to be forgiven,' said she to him: 'can you think that the King of Samandal, whose character is so well known, will have greater consideration for you than the many other kings he has refused his daughter to with such evident contempt? Would you have him send you away with the same confusion?'

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