The Lost Princess

Once there was a king. The king had six sons and one daughter. The daughter he held in high esteem, and he loved her very much and spent much time with her.

One day, while in her company, he got angry with her. So a word escaped him, “May the Evil One take you away.” At night, she went into her chamber. In the morning no one knew where she was, so the father (the king) was very unhappy indeed and went to look for her everywhere. Then the Prime Minister stood up, because he saw the king was so terribly unhappy, and asked to be given a servant and a horse, and money for expenses, and he went in search of her. (Now he relates how he sought her till he found her.)

He traveled a long time, in deserts, in fields and in forests and searched for her a very long time. He went into a desert and noticed a pathway on one side.  So he decided, “Since I have traveled such a long time in the desert and cannot find her, let me follow this path, perhaps I will reach some settlement.”

So he walked a long time; and then he saw a castle and many soldiers standing around it. The castle was very beautiful and the soldiers stood around it in fine order. He was afraid of the soldiers—perhaps they would not let him in. So he decided, “I shall try,” and left the horse and walked to the castle. He was allowed in and was not molested in any way and he went from one room to another and was not prevented. Thus he came to a palace. He saw the king on his throne with his crown on and many soldiers standing around him. Many were playing on instruments before him. And it was all very beautiful. Neither the king nor anybody else asked him any questions. He saw there good tasty food, so he went and ate and then lay down in a corner to see what would happen there. He saw the king order the queen to be brought in. Servants went to bring her, and there was a great clamor and great rejoicing, and the musicians played and sang as the queen was brought in. A chair was placed for her and she was seated next to him. This was the princess, and he saw her and recognized her. Then the queen looked around and noticed someone lying in a corner. She recognized him, so she stood up from the chair and went to him, and touched him and asked him, “Do you know me?”

He answered, “Yes, I know you. You are the princess who was lost.” He asked her, “How come you are here?”

She answered, “Because father let out the word that ‘the Evil One take you’ and here is the place that is Evil.”

So he told her that her father was very unhappy and had been seeking her many many years, and he asked her, “How can I take you out of here?”

She answered him, “You cannot take me out, only if you select some place and live there a year, and the whole time you should long for me to take me out. And when you have time, you should continually long and wish and hope to take me out of here. And you should fast. On the last day of the year you must also fast and should not sleep the whole twenty-four hours.”

So he went and did so, and at the end of the year, on the last day, he fasted and did not sleep. Then he rose and went there (to the princess to take her out) and he saw a tree on which beautiful apples were growing. He felt very eager and went and ate of them. Immediately upon eating the apple, he fell down, and lapsed into deep slumber and slept a very long time. His servant tried hard but could not wake him.  Then he awoke from this sleep. He asked the servant, “Where in the world am I?”

So the servant told him the whole story. “You have been sleeping a very long time, for many years, and I have maintained myself with fruits.”

So he was very miserable and went and found her (the princess). She complained to him and was very unhappy. “Because of one day, you lost (because you could not restrain yourself one single day and ate that apple, therefore you have lost), for had you come on that day, you would have taken me out. Admittedly, not to eat is very difficult, especially on the last day, for then the Evil One waxes strong. Therefore, you should again select a place and again stay there a year, and on the last day you may eat; but you must not sleep, and you should not drink any wine, so that you will not sleep, because the most important thing is sleep.”

He went and did so. On the last day he went there. He saw a running brook, and the color of the brook was red, and the smell was that of wine. So he asked the servant, “Have you noticed, this is a brook (which should contain water) and the appearance is red, and the smell is of wine.” He went and tasted of the brook. He immediately fell down and slept many years, seventy years.

There marched past many soldiers with all their accompaniment; and the servant hid himself from the soldiers. Then followed a chariot, and in it sat the princess. She stopped near him and descended. She sat near him, recognized him and tried hard to rouse him; but he could not awaken, so she started weeping over him: “After so much effort, and so much striving and hardship, so many years that you troubled yourself and toiled so long in order to take me out, you have lost all.” And she wept bitterly.  She said, “It is a great pity for you and for me. I have been here for such a long time and I cannot get out.” Then she took a kerchief off her head and wrote on it with her tears and placed it next to him. She stood up and seated herself in the chariot and rode away.

Later he awoke and asked the servant, “Where in the world am I?” So he told him the whole story: That so very many soldiers had marched past, and that the chariot was there, and that she had wept over him, and she had wailed, “It is a great pity for you and for me” etc.

Meanwhile, he looked about and saw the kerchief lying near him, so he asked, “From where is this?” and he answered him, “She left it and wrote on it with her tears.” So he took the kerchief and held it up against the sun and began to see the letters and read what was written there—her weeping and lamenting, etc. And (there it was written) that now she is no longer in the castle (as mentioned above) but he should search for a Golden Mountain with a Pearl Castle, “there you will find me.”

He left the servant behind and went forth alone to see her. He sought her for many years. He decided that in a settlement there certainly cannot be found a golden mountain and a pearl castle, for he was skilled in land maps. He said to himself therefore, “I will go into deserts to search there,” and he went to seek her in deserts for many many years.

Then he saw a giant whose size was not human, who carried a large tree. In a settlement such a large tree could not be found.

The giant asked him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am a human being.”

The giant greatly wondered and said, “I have been in the desert such a long time and have never seen a human being here.”

So he told him the whole story, etc., and that he was searching for a golden mountain and a pearl castle. He answered him, “This certainly does not exist,” and put him off, telling him, “You have been persuaded of some foolishness because it certainly is not to be found.”

So he started to weep bitterly (the Prime Minister started weeping) and said, “It positively can be found, for it must exist somewhere.” He put him off (the unearthly man put him off) and said, “You have been persuaded of some foolishness,” and he said (the Prime Minister), “It certainly is to be found somewhere.”

So he said to him (the giant to the Prime Minister), “To my mind, this is ridiculous, but, since you insist, therefore, as I am a commander over all animals, I will do you a favor and call together all the animals, they roam all over the world, perhaps one of them may know of that mountain and that castle,” etc.  So he assembled all the animals from great and small and asked them. They all replied that they had never seen the like. So he said, “You see, you have been persuaded of some foolishness. If you take my advice, turn back, for you will certainly not find it, because it does not exist in the world.”

The Prime Minister stubbornly argued and said, “It surely must be in existence.”
So he said to him (the unearthly man to the Prime Minister), “I have a brother in the desert, and he is a commander over all birds; perhaps they know, since they fly high in the air, maybe then have seen the mountain and the castle. You should go to him and tell him that I have sent you to him.”

So he went many years to search for him and again found a huge person who also carried an immense tree, and also questioned him like the first. He answered telling him the whole story, and that the brother had sent him (to him). He, too, put him off that this was certainly not to be found, and the Prime Minister very earnestly explained that it surely must exist.

So he said to him, “I am a commander over all birds and will assemble them; perhaps they know.” So he called together all the birds and asked all, from small to great; and they answered that they knew nothing of the mountain and the castle. So he said to him, “You see, it positively does not exist in the world. If you take my advice, turn back because it certainly does not exist.”

And he (the Prime Minister) vehemently argued and said, “It is surely to be found in the world.” So he told him, “Further on in the desert is my brother: he is a commander over all the winds and they run all over the whole world. Perhaps they may know.”

So he went many many years in search and again found a giant, etc., also carrying an immense tree, who also questioned him, etc. So he again replied with the whole story, etc. The giant also put him off, and as the Prime Minister implored him, he (the third brother) said he would do him the favor and for his sake would call together all the winds and ask them. He called them and all the winds came. He asked all, and none of them knew of the mountain and the castle. So he said, (the giant to the Prime Minister) “You see, you have been told of some foolishness.”

The Prime Minister began to weep bitterly and said, “I know for certain that it must exist.” Meanwhile, he noticed that there arrived another wind whom the commander angrily asked why he was so late in coming. “I decreed that all winds should come, why did you not come with them?” He answered him, “I was late because I had to carry a princess to a golden mountain with a pearl castle.”

He was overjoyed (the Prime Minister was overjoyed that he was worthy to hear what he wanted). The commander over the winds then asked the wind, “What is there?”

He told him: “There everything is precious.”

The commander over the winds spoke up and said to the Prime Minister, “Seeing that it is such a long time that you have been seeking her, and how many hardships you have endured; therefore, in case you have difficulty about money, I will give you a vessel that whenever you put your hand in it, you will take out money,” and he ordered the wind to carry him there.

So there came a storm wind and carried him there and brought him to the gates. Soldiers stood there and would not let him enter the town. So he put his hand into the vessel, and took out money and bribed them, and went right into the town. It was a beautiful town. He went to a wealthy man and paid for board, as he expected to stay some time, since it was necessary to use wisdom and cleverness to get her out of there (and how he got her out, he did not relate). In the end he got her out, Amen, Selah.

[Translated by Esther Kenig]