The King & the Emperor
There was once a king. The king had no children. There was also an Emperor, and the Emperor too had no children. So the Emperor went out into the world to seek, perhaps he would find advice or some remedy that he might have children. The King also journeyed forth; and they both met at an inn and did not know each other.
The Emperor recognized in the King that he possessed the attributes of royalty and asked him. So he confessed that he was a king. The King also recognized in the Emperor the attributes of royalty, and he also confessed. So they told each other that they were traveling for children and agreed between them if, when they came home, and their wives delivered one a male and one a female, they would betroth them.
The Emperor journeyed home and had a daughter, and the King journeyed home and had a son, and they forgot all about the betrothal. The Emperor sent his daughter to study, and the King also sent his son to study; and they both happened to be pupils of the same teacher, and fell in love, and agreed between themselves to marry. The King’s son took a ring and placed it on her hand, and they got married.
After this, the Emperor sent for his daughter and took her home. The King also sent for his son and also brought him to his home. Suitors were proposed to the Emperor’s daughter, and she refused every match, because of the bond that she had made with the King’s son. The King’s son missed her sorely and the Emperor’s daughter too was always sad. The Emperor led her through his courts and palaces and showed her her greatness, and still she was sad. And the king’s son longed for her till he felt ill, and whenever he was asked, “Why are you ill?” he would never tell. So they spoke to the one who attended him, “Perhaps you will succeed in getting him to explain/” He answered them, “I know,” because the one who attended him had also been with him at the place of his studies, so he told them (the attendant told them the cause of his illness).
The King then remembered that he had long ago made a pact with the Emperor, so he went and wrote to the Emperor to make preparations for the wedding, because the engagement was of long standing, etc. The Emperor, however, by this time did not desire the match. But as he could not oppose him, the Emperor replied that the King should send his son to him, so that he may see whether he was able to reign over countries, and then he would give him his daughter. So the king sent his son to him.
The Emperor placed him in a room and gave him documents concerning the affairs of State, to see whether he was able to lead the State. The King’s son greatly longed to see her, but he could not get to see her. Once he walked near a wall of mirrors and saw her and fainted. She came to him and revived him and told him that she had refused every match because of the bond between them. So he said to her, “What is to be done? Your father does not wish it.” She said that even so, she would still remain his.
After this, they decided to go away across the sea, and hired a ship and cast off to sea and went over the sea. They drifted about on the sea; and then they wanted to come ashore. They came to a shore, and there was a forest which they entered. The Emperor’s daughter took the ring and gave it to him, and she lay down to sleep. Then the King’s son saw that she was about to wake, so he laid down the ring next to her. Then they went to the ship.
Meanwhile, she recalled that they had forgotten the ring there, so she sent him after the ring. He went but could not find the place, so he went further and still could not find the ring, so he went on searching for the ring from one place to another, till he lost his way and could not return. So she went to look for him and she also strayed. He lost his way and walked about aimlessly till he noticed a path which he followed up to a settlement, and as he had nothing to do, he became a servant.
She also lost her way walking, so she resolved to sit down near the sea. She went to the seashore, and there were fruit trees there. She stayed there. During the daytime she walked about the seashore in the hope of finding somebody, and she lived on the fruits. At night she used to climb up a tree for protection against the animals.
There came a day: There was a great merchant, a very great merchant, who had dealings over the whole world, and he had an only son. The merchant was old. One day the son said to his father, “Since you are already old, and I am still very young, and your trusted ones take no thought whatsoever of me, what will happen? You will die, and I will remain all alone, and I will never know what to do . Therefore, give me a ship with merchandise. I will journey across the sea in order to gain experience in trading.”
The father gave him a ship with merchandise; and he journeyed to various lands and sold his merchandise and bought different goods and was very successful. Now, while at sea, he noticed the trees where the Emperor’s daughter lived. The crew thought it was a settlement and wanted to go ashore. As they came nearer and saw that there were only trees, they wanted to go back, when the merchant’s son glanced into the sea and saw the reflection of a tree and sitting upon it what looked like a human being. He thought he might be mistaken. So he told the others who were with him. They too looked and also saw what looked like a person on a tree. So they decided to go nearer. They sent one in a small boat, and they gazed into the water to show the messenger the way to the tree, in order that he not err and be guided to it. The messenger went there and saw a person was living there and told them so. So he himself went there (the son of the merchant). He saw that she was living there (the Emperor’s daughter). He told her to come down. She told him she would not go into the ship unless he promised that he would not touch her till he came back home and they were lawfully married. He made her the promise. So she went into his ship, and he noticed that she could play musical instruments and speak several languages. He rejoiced that he had come upon her.
After this when they began to come nearer to his home, she said to him that the proper thing would be for him to go home to inform his father and his relations and friends that, as he was bringing such an exalted lady, they should all come to meet her; and then he would know who she was, (because previously she had made it a condition that he should not ask her who she was till after the wedding, and then he would know who she was). To this he agreed. Further she told him it was also proper that, since he was bringing home such a woman, he should give drink to all the sailors who sail the ship, to let them know that their merchant is getting married to such a wife. He obliged her and took very good wine that he had on the ship and gave them. They became intoxicated, and he went home to inform his father and friends. The drunken sailors left the ship and fell down drunk, while the whole family were getting ready to come and meet her.
Meantime she went and untied the ship from its mooring and unfurled the sails and made off with the ship. The whole family came to the ship and found nobody. The merchant was furious with his son. The son shouted, “Believe me, I brought a ship with merchandise,” etc. etc., and they saw nothing. So he said, “Ask the sailors.” He went to ask them and they also lay drunk. Afterwards when the sailors were sober and were asked, they knew nothing at all of what had happened to them. They only knew that they had brought a ship with everything and did not know where she was. The merchant was in a great rage at his son, he drove him out of his house that he should never come into his sight, and the son went away desolate. She (the Emperor’s daughter) went out to sea.
Came the day. There was a king. This king built himself palaces on the ocean, as he enjoyed the sea air. Ships passed there, and the Emperor’s daughter journeyed by sea and came near to the palace of the king. The king looked, and he noticed that the ship traveled without guidance, and there was nobody on board. He thought he might be mistaken, so he ordered his followers to look and they saw. As she neared the palace, she bethought to herself, what good was the palace to her and started to turn back. The king sent out and took her back, and he brought her into his house.
The king did not have a wife because he could not satisfy himself, as the one he wanted did not want him and vice versa. As soon as the Emperor’s daughter came to him, she asked him to swear that he would not touch her till he married her lawfully. He swore to her, and she told him it was proper that he should not open her ship and not touch her; but that the ship should stand at sea till the wedding, so that all might then see how much merchandise she had brought, so none would say that he had taken a woman of the market. He promised her this. And the king wrote to all countries inviting them to come to the wedding, and he built palaces for her. She asked to be given eleven ladies to be with her. So the king gave an order and eleven ladies were sent to her, the daughters of high ranking ministers. A separate palace was built for each one, and she also had a separate palace. They all used to come to her, to play musical instruments and amuse themselves together with her.
Once she said to them that she would like to go with them to sea. So they went with her and played there. She said she would like to offer them good wine that she had and gave them of the wine that was on the ship. They became intoxicated and fell down and remained lying there. Then she went and untied the ship and spread the sails and escaped with the ship.
The king and his followers looked and saw that the ship was not there and became very anxious. The king said to them, “See that you do not tell this to her suddenly, as it will grieve her sorely.” (Because the king did not know that she herself had escaped, he thought she was in her chamber), and she might think the king had sent away the ship, only to send one of the ladies to tell her cautiously. They went to her chamber and found nobody there; and so in the next room found nobody and so in all the eleven chambers nobody was to be found. So they decided (the king and his followers) that they should send to her at night an elderly lady, and she would tell her. When they came to her chamber there too nobody was found, and they all became very frightened.
Meantime, the fathers of the ladies saw that they received no letters from their daughters, they sent letters and received no replies; so they arose and themselves traveled to them and did not find a single one of their daughters. They were enraged. They wanted to banish the king, as they were the Ministers of the State, but they bethought themselves: what is the king’s fault that he should suffer banishment, and resolved instead to make him abdicate and drive him away. He was overcome and was driven out, and so he departed.
The Emperor’s daughter who escaped, went on with the ship. Later the ladies awoke and again began to play with her as before, for they were not aware that the ship had left the shore. Then they said to her: “Let us turn back home,” and she answered: “Let us tarry a while here.”
There then arose a storm wind and they said: “Let us return home.” So she revealed to them that the ship had long left the land.
They asked her, “Why did you do this?” and she said she was afraid the ship might be broken in the storm and was therefore obliged to do this.
So they journeyed on the sea, the Emperor’s daughter and the eleven ladies, and there they used to play musical instruments and came across a palace. The ladies said to her, “Let us approach the palace,” and she refused. She said she still regretted that she had approached the other palace (the palace of the king).
Then they saw something resembling an island on the sea and approached. There were twelve pirates there, and the pirates wanted to kill them. So she asked, “Who is the leader among you?” She was shown. She said to him, “What is your calling?” and he told her they were pirates. So she said to him, “We too are pirates, only you are pirates with your force and we are pirates with wisdom, because we are learned in languages and in playing musical instruments. Therefore what do you stand to profit by killing us, better take us for wives, and you will have great wealth also,” and showed them what was in the ship. (Because the ship was that of the merchant’s son with great wealth). The pirates listened to her talk, and they also showed them their wealth and took them over all their places, and it was settled between them that they would not take each other all at once, but one after the other, and that each should choose a lady to suit him according to his rank.
After that she told them that she would honor them with very good wine that she had in the ship, which wine she never used but she had kept hidden till G-d would send her her life partner. So she gave them the wine in twelve goblets and asked that each drink to all twelve. They drank and ecame intoxicated and fell down.
So she called out to the other ladies, “Now go and kill each her man.” So they went and slaughtered them all. And there they found such great wealth as is not possessed by any king. So they resolved not to take copper or silver, only gold and precious stones and threw out of the ship things of smaller value and loaded the whole ship with valuable, gold and gems that they found there, and they decided not to wear female clothes and sewed themselves German style male attire and traveled further with the ship.
There came a day. There was an old king. The king had an only son. And he married him off and handed over to him the kingdom. One day he told his father that he would like to go for a cruise with his wife on the sea in order to get her accustomed to the sea air, in case it might some time be necessary to escape by sea (for this reason he wanted her to get used to the air of the sea). The Prince with his wife and with the high ranking Ministers went aboard a ship. They were very merry and playful there. They all agreed to take off their clothes and did so, and they remained only in their undershirts, and they each tried to see who could climb the mast, and the prince also tried to climb the mast.
Now the Emperor’s daughter and her following came along with her ship, and she saw the ship (of the prince and his Ministers), so at first she was afraid to approach. Then she came a bit nearer and saw how they were making merry, so she understood that these were no pirates and started to come nearer. Said the Emperor’s daughter to her followers, “I can throw down that baldhead into the sea” (i.e., the prince who was endeavoring to climb the mast, because the prince was bald headed).
They asked her, “How is it possible? We are so very far from them.”
So she answered that she had a sun glass, and through this she would throw him down, and she resolved to to throw him down till he reached right to the very top of the mast, because as long as he was in the middle, if he fell, he would fall into the ship, but if he was at the top and would fall, he would fall into the sea. So she waited till he reached the top of the mast. She took the sunglass and held it directly opposite his brain till it burned his brain, and he fell into the sea.
As soon as he fell, there (in his ship) was a great panic, and no one knew what to do. How could they turn back home, for the king would die of grief. They resolved to go to the ship which they saw (the ship of the Emperor’s daughter), perhaps there was some doctor there who could advise them. So they came nearer and said to them (i.e., to the people on the ship of the Emperor’s daughter) they should not be afraid as they would not harm them, and asked, “Perhaps there is a doctor among you to give us advice,” and told them the whole story and that the prince fell into the sea.
The Emperor’s daughter said he should be taken out of the sea. So they went and found him and took him out. The Emperor’s daughter took his pulse with her hand and said his brain had been burned. So they went and broke open his brain and they saw it was as she said. They were astonished (it was a very great surprise to them how the doctor, i.e., the Emperor’s daughter, could know so exactly), and they begged her to come together with them to their home to become the physician to the king and that would be of great value to him. She refused, and she said that she was not a doctor at all but just knew of these things, and the people on board the prince’s ship etc. did not now want to turn back home.
So both ships went together, and it mightily pleased the king’s ministers that their queen (the wife of the prince) should marry the doctor (the Emperor’s daughter who was clad as a male, and who they thought was a doctor) because they recognized him to be a very clever man, and they therefore desired that the queen marry the doctor (the Emperor’s daughter), and he should become their king, and their old king (the father of the Prince) they would kill. But they were ashamed to speak to the queen that she should marry a doctor. The queen however was also very willing to marry the doctor, but she was afraid of the State. Perhaps they would not want him to become king.
So they decided to make a banquet in order that during the drinking, while feeling in a good mood, they could discuss it. So they gave a banquet each one on a separate day.
When the day came for the banquet of the doctor (the Emperor’s daughter), he gave them of his wine that he had and they became intoxicated and felt good. So the Ministers suggested how grand it would be if the queen were to marry the doctor. The doctor (the Emperor’s daughter) said it would surely be very nice if it were spoken of not at a time of drunkenness. The queen also said it would be very nice that she should marry the doctor. But the state should approve of this. The doctor again said it would surely be very nice if only this were spoken not with an intoxicated mouth.
After this, when they were sober of the intoxication, the ministers recalled what they had suggested and were ashamed before the queen that they had spoken thus. But they thought the queen herself had also spoken thus, and the queen was also ashamed before them. But she thought they themselves has also said the same. Meanwhile this began to be discussed and it remained. They became engaged, the queen and the doctor (the Emperor’s daughter who they thought was a doctor etc.) and returned home to their country. When the State saw them coming, they became very joyful, because it was a long time since the prince had gone away with the ship, and they knew not his whereabouts, and the old king had died in the meantime before they returned.
Now they noticed that the Prince, who was their king, was absent, and they asked (i.e., the State asked), “Where is our king?” so they told them the whole story, that the prince had long since died, and that they had already accepted a new king, he who comes with them (the doctor who was the Emperor’s daughter). The State was very glad to have a new king.
The king (the Emperor’s daughter) order it to be proclaimed in all countries that whoever there is to be found, a stranger or a refugee, that is, one who escaped or was banished, they should all come to the wedding, not a single one of them should be missing, and they would receive handsome presents.
Again the king ordered (the Emperor’s daughter) that canals should be dug all around the whole city, to carry clear water, so that is one wanted to drink, he should not have to go away to drink, but everyone should find a stream near at hand.
Also the king (the Emperor’s daughter) ordered that a painting of his face be placed by the side of each stream and that guards be stationed to watch in case someone came who would closely scrutinize his picture (the portrait of the king who was the Emperor’s daughter etc.), and would make a bad face at it (i.e. that his face would become contorted looking at it, as one who stares in astonishment and grief). This person should be arrested and imprisoned. All this was done.
All three such people came along, the first King’s son, who is the true bridegroom of the Emperor’s daughter who became king here, and the son of the merchant (whose father drove him out because of the Emperor’s daughter who ran away from him etc.) and the king who was driven out (also because of the Emperor’s daughter who ran away from him with the eleven ladies etc.). And each of these three recognized this as her face and closely scrutinized it and remembered and were sorely grieved.
They were apprehended and imprisoned. During the wedding the king ordered (the Emperor’s daughter), that these prisoners be brought before him, and all three were brought. She recognized them, and they did not recognize her, because she was dressed in the clothes of a man. So the Emperor’s daughter spoke out and said: “You, King, you were driven out because of the eleven ladies who were lost. Take back your ladies. Turn back home to your country and to your kingdom. You, merchant” (i.e. first she spoke to the king, now she began to speak to the merchant’s son etc.) “your father drove you out because of the ship with the merchandise that was lost. Take back your ship with all the goods and, because your money has been so long outstanding, for that reason you now have more wealth in the ship than before, many times multiplied.” (Because the ship now held the great wealth of the pirates etc.) “And you, Prince,” (the first prince who is in reality the bridegroom) “come here, let us go home.” So they turned back homewards. Amen and Amen.
[Translated by Esther Kenig]