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Annotated Fairy Tale #3 — The Prince and the Tortoise

You didn’t think you were getting off this easy, did you? This has always been one of my favorites, probably because a great many people act surprisingly rationally, (instead of everybody acting batshit crazy) and it contains one of the greatest lines in all fairytale-dom. Compared to the sheer cracked-ness of “Master-Maid,” though, this one is pretty straightforward.

This is from a translation of the Arabian Nights from Powys Mathers, 1964.

The Prince and the Tortoise

It is related that there was once, in the antiquity of time and the passage of the age and of the moment, a powerful sultan whom Allah had blessed with three sons: Ali, the eldest, Hussein, the second, and Muhammad, the youngest. They were all indomitable males and heroic warriors; but the youngest was the most handsome, the bravest and the most generous. Their father loved them equally and, in the justice of his heart, had resolved to leave to each an equal part of his riches and his kingdom.

Compared to the last couple of kings we’ve dealt with, this sultan is awesome. No beatings, and I bet he didn’t skimp on the pensions, either.

Also, when they came to marriageable age, the king called his wise and prudent wazir to him, saying, “O wazir, I wish to find wives for my three sons, and have called you to me that you may give me your advice.”

Seeking wise and prudent advice! This is wonderful! Go, Sultan! Buck that trend!


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