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46 The King’s Wise Daughter T O L D B Y R I V K A C O H E N - A R I E L T O TA M A R A L E X A N D E R Once there were lots of kings—the English and the French and all of those. The king of Turkey had a beautiful daughter. That was because among the Turks the women always covered their faces, and if your face never sees the light and never feels the air it is always like milk. She was beautiful. The son of the king of England heard about her and how exquisitely beautiful she was, and decided that he wanted to marry her. “My daughter cannot marry him,” insisted the king of Turkey, “because he is Christian and she is Muslim.” “If you don’t give her willingly,” retorted the king of England, “we’ll go to war.” “So be it,” said her father. Her father, the Turkish king, asked his daughter what she wanted. “Shall we fight a war or are you willing . . . ?” “I’ll never marry a Christian,” she replied forcefully. So what could her father do? “In that case,” he said, “we’ll go to war. But first, before we start fighting , I will build you an underground palace, inside a mountain. No one will know where you are.” He sent an envoy to the English king. “Wait. Give us time to think it over.” In the meantime, he sent workmen to build a palace inside a mountain. It was a real palace, with a pool and servants and everything. “The first young man you meet here,” said her father, “however he gets in—through the door or through a window—that young man is your destiny .” “All right.” “Even if he is poor. Whoever he is.” Her father sealed her in and the war began. The Turkish king lost. 385 The English king sent envoys to look for the princess, who had vanished as if the earth had swallowed her up. Where could she be? She really was under the ground, of course, but he could not find her palace. That is because the Turkish king did just like Napoleon and killed all the builders so they would not [be able to] talk. There was a poor young man who was bored with his life. What kind of life did he have anyway? He did not have a job and he could not find one, so he used to roam aimlessly during the day and sleep at night in the mountains. One night, in the dark, he saw a small light shining out of the mountainside. “What could that be? Maybe there are demons or who knows what inside!” So the man started walking toward the light. When he got close, he saw it was coming from some kind of window. “I can slip in through the window,” he told himself. First he stuck his head in. When he saw that his head fit, he tried his body too. He climbed inside and discovered a palace. But what a palace! He opened the kitchen door and saw food. The poor young man, who was famished, began to eat. The servants, lying in bed, heard the noise of cutlery on china. They got up and rushed to the kitchen. What did they see there? This young fellow, poor guy, quite pathetic in his tattered clothes— but a handsome man all the same. They went and knocked on the princess’s door. “Come and see, there’s a young man here! We don’t know how he got in. But you just have to come and see him. He’s eating like’s there’s no tomorrow—he must be dying of hunger.” The princess got up, put on a robe over her nightgown, and went down to the kitchen. He was indeed a handsome fellow, but such a pathetic sight, with no coat or shoes. “All right,” she told her servants. “I don’t want him to see me now. I’m going back to sleep. When he finishes eating, give him a nice pair of pajamas and a comfortable bed to sleep in. We will speak with him tomorrow.” When he had finished eating, the servants said to him, “Come now, take a bath. Take these pajamas, put them on, and sleep in a comfortable bed.” He did as they said. Having eaten his fill, what he...


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