The story of the False Prince
He instituted a comparison between himself and the prince. He was obliged to confess that the latter was a man of very lively aspect; that fine sparkling eyes belonged to him, a boldly-arched nose, a gentlemanly, complaisant demeanor, in a word, all the external accomplishments, which every one is wont to commend. But numerous as were the charms he found in his companion, still he was compelled to acknowledge to himself, that a Labakan would be no less acceptable to the royal father than the genuine prince.
These thoughts pursued Labakan the whole day; with them he went to sleep in the nearest night-lodgings; but when he awoke in the morning, and his eye rested upon Omar sleeping near him, who was reposing so quietly, and could dream of his now certain fortune, then arose in him the thought of gaining, by stratagem or violence, what unpropitious destiny had denied him. The dagger, the returning prince’s token of recognition, hung in the sleeper’s girdle; he softly drew it forth, to plunge it in the breast of its owner. Nevertheless, the peaceable soul of the journeyman recoiled before thoughts of murder; he contented himself with appropriating the dagger, and bridling for himself the faster horse of the prince; and, ere Omar awoke to see himself despoiled of all his hopes, his perfidious companion was several miles upon his way.
The day on which Labakan robbed the prince was the first of the holy month Ramadan, and he had therefore four days to reach the pillar El-Serujah, the locality of which was well known to him. Although the region wherein it was situated could at farthest be at a distance of but four days’ journey, still he hastened to reach it, through a constant fear of being overtaken by the real prince.
By the end of the second day, he came in sight of the pillar El-Serujah. It stood upon a little elevation, in the midst of an extensive plain, and could be seen at a distance of two or three leagues. Labakan’s heart beat high at the sight: though he had had time enough on horseback, for the last two days, to think of the part he was to play, still a consciousness of guilt made him anxious; the thought that he was born for a prince, however, encouraged him again, and he advanced towards the mark with renewed confidence.