The Sultan's Daughter

Submitted into Contest #127 in response to: Write a story about a problem with no good solutions.... view prompt

4 comments

Bedtime Kids Fiction

There lived long ago a sultan of a great kingdom-on-the-mountain. But it happened that the kingdom entered war with another, and the tide of the conflict threatened to take everything from the sultan. In order to survive, the sultan sought help from three powerful princes.

The sultan first sought help from the prince in the north, whose subjects called him the vain prince. The vain prince sent many beautiful cloaks, furs, and boots to warm the sultan’s soldiers. In return, the sultan promised the hand of his eldest daughter in marriage.

The sultan next sought help from the prince in the east, whose subjects called him the gluttonous prince. The gluttonous prince sent many fat lambs, cows, and chickens to feed the sultan’s soldiers. In return, the sultan again promised the hand of his eldest daughter in marriage.

Finally, the sultan sought help from the prince in the south, whose subjects called him the greedy prince. The greedy prince sent chests of silver, copper, and jewels to pay the sultan’s soldiers. In return, the sultan once more promised the hand of his eldest daughter in marriage.

With the aid of the three princes, the tide of the war slowly turned. For twelve long years the sultan fought, but finally there came a day when the fighting was finished and the war was won. The queen came to congratulate her husband and share in the joy of peace, but she was surprised to find him distraught.

"Dear husband, why are you so worried? Should we not celebrate the happy end of the long war?" she asked. 

The sultan replied, "Dear wife, I fear more fighting may soon begin. To keep our soldiers warm, I promised the vain prince our eldest daughter’s hand in marriage. And to keep our soldiers fed, I promised the gluttonous prince our eldest daughter’s hand in marriage. And to keep our soldiers paid, I promised the greedy prince our eldest daughter’s hand in marriage. I fear that tomorrow, the three princes will come up the mountain to claim what they are owed!"

And upon hearing these words, the queen joined her husband in grief, and wept, for she knew that they had no daughter.

***

On the day the suitors were due to arrive, the sultan sought help from his trusted vizier. The vizier was known for being very clever, and for solving impossible problems. The vizier quickly devised a plan, and the sultan’s fears were calmed.

The vain prince arrived first. He wore a fine silk robe and his sword was polished to a mirror shine so that he could always see his reflection. The prince entered the sultan’s throne room and said, “I have come for your eldest daughter’s hand in marriage.”

The vizier replied, “The princess is eager to meet you. But please be humble, she lost an eye and a leg during the great war, and may look frightening. We will go fetch her,” and the vizier left with the sultan, but when they returned the vain prince had already fled.

Next arrived the gluttonous prince. He was as wide as the chamber door, and ate from each hand two meticulously seasoned turkey legs. The prince entered the sultan’s throne room and said, “I have come for your eldest daughter’s hand in marriage.”

The vizier replied, “The princess is eager to meet you. But please be temperate, she loves to cook and has prepared her favorite soup for you: horsehair and lime, and she prays you will enjoy it. We will go fetch her,” and the vizier left with the sultan, but when they returned the gluttonous prince had already fled.

Finally, the greedy prince arrived. He wore an ornate crown larger than his own head and, as he walked, servants unfurled rich velvet beneath his feet. The prince entered the sultan’s throne room and said, “I have come for your eldest daughter’s hand in marriage.”

The vizier replied, “The princess is eager to meet you. But please be charitable, all of her dowry was spent on the long war, and now she is as poor as a beggar-maid. We will go fetch her,” and the vizier left with the sultan, but when they returned the greedy prince had already fled.

With the three princes gone, the sultan was overjoyed, and planned a great feast to celebrate. But the feast would not be a happy one, for there was only one road down the great mountain, and it happened that the three princes came upon one another, and they fell into conversation.

“I was to be married, but I learned that the bride was terribly ugly, so I fled,” said the vain prince.

“I was to be married, but I learned that the bride was a terrible cook, so I fled,” said the gluttonous prince.

“I was to be married, but I learned that the bride was terribly impoverished, so I fled,” said the greedy prince.

But for their faults, the three princes were not stupid, and they soon realized that they had been tricked by the same vizier. They grew angry and resolved to get answers from the sultan for his deception. So the three princes rode back up the mountain together, and they came upon the sultan enjoying a great feast with music, dancing, and wine. The musicians stopped playing at the sight of the three princes and a silence fell over the hall.

“What an ugly lie!” said one prince.

“That behavior was disgusting!” said another.

“Your promises have no worth!” said the third.

The three princes continued to express their anger while the sultan solemnly listened. Finally, they demanded that the sultan fetch his eldest daughter without delay, or they would bring war to the kingdom-on-the-mountain.

The sultan, finally breaking his silence, realized that he could do nothing but be honest. He turned to the princes and spoke these words:

"Twelve years, in war, we loved and fought,

Twelve years to have it done,

My queen did try to make me true,

Were born, instead, twelve sons."

January 07, 2022 18:25

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4 comments

Adam El Nabli
08:53 Jan 14, 2022

I was really engaged from beginning to end! It heartwarmingly brought out the child in me :) The tone of the story was very light-hearted! I liked the buildup and the open-endedness of the situation. Usually, I can't help wondering whether telling the truth will in fact set you free or not; but here that question remains unanswered, which is often the case in real life. A friendly thought (which may or may not work): To stay comically within the confines of their personas, how about: "What an ugly lie from such an ugly man!" said the vai...

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17:24 Jan 14, 2022

Thanks Adam! I'm glad you liked it, and actually I really like your suggestions! Thanks for taking the time to write them up and for reading the story :)

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13:24 Jan 13, 2022

This was such an enjoyable story! It read like a beautiful fairytale. I thought they had tricked the princes for sure until they met going down the mountain. What a great twist. Excellent writing. I’m looking forward to reading more of your stories!

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20:26 Jan 13, 2022

Thanks Heather, it really means a lot to me to hear that feedback. I was indeed going for that fairytale feeling, and it really brightened my day to hear that you enjoyed it :)

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