The Wanderings of Vicram Maharajah
THERE WAS ONCE a king or rajah named Vicram Maharajah, and he had a vizier or prime minister named Butti. Both Vicram Maharajah and Butti were left orphans when very young, and ever since their parents' deaths they had lived together, were educated together and loved each other tenderly - like brothers.
Both were good and kind - no poor man coming to the rajah was ever known to have been sent away disappointed, for it was his delight to give food and clothes to those in need. Indeed, Vicram Maharajah was the spur of every noble work. Still, there were times when the king was too apt to let his imagination run away with his reason, and at those times the vizier, by offering careful judgment and discretion, provided the curb to every rash or impractical impulse. Under their united rule, the kingdom greatly prospered.
In a country far away from Vicram Maharajah's there lived a little Queen called Anar Ranee (the Pomegranate Queen). Her parents reigned over the Pomegranate country, and for her they had made a beautiful garden. In the middle of the garden was a lovely pomegranate tree that bore three large pomegranates. Each one opened in the center and inside was a little bed. In one of them Anar Ranee used to sleep, and in the pomegranates on either side, slept two of her maids.
Early each morning the pomegranate tree would gently bend its branches to the ground, the fruit would open, and Anar Ranee and her attendants would creep out to play under the shadow of the cool tree until evening. And each night the tree again bent down to allow them to climb into their tiny, snug bedrooms.
Many princes wished to marry Anar Ranee for she was said to be the fairest lady on earth - her hair was as black as a raven's wing, her eyes like the eyes of a gazelle, her teeth two rows of exquisite pearls, and her cheeks the color of the rosy pomegranate. But her father and mother had caused her garden to be hedged around with seven hedges made of bayonets so that none could go in or out, and they had published a decree that none could marry her but he who could enter the garden and gain entry to the three pomegranates, in which she and her two maids slept.