STORY OF PRINCE BIHZAD.
“There was once, of old time, a king and he had a son [named Bihzad], there was not in his day a goodlier than he and he loved to consort with the folk and to sit with the merchants and converse with them. One day, as he sat in an assembly, amongst a number of folk, he heard them talking of his own goodliness and grace and saying, ‘There is not in his time a goodlier than he.’ But one of the company said, ’Indeed, the daughter of King Such-an-one is handsomer than he.’ When Bihzad heard this saying, his reason fled and his heart fluttered and he called the last speaker and said to him, ’Repeat to me that which thou saidst and tell me the truth concerning her whom thou avouchest to be handsomer than I and whose daughter she is.’ Quoth the man, ’She is the daughter of King Such-an-one;’ whereupon Bihzad’s heart clave to her and his colour changed.
The news reached his father, who said to him, ’O my son, this damsel to whom thy heart cleaveth is at thy commandment and we have power over her; so wait till I demand her [in marriage] for thee.’ But the prince said, ‘I will not wait.’ So his father hastened in the matter and sent to demand her of her father, who required of him a hundred thousand dinars to his daughter’s dowry. Quoth Bihzad’s father, ‘So be it,’ and paid down what was in his treasuries, and there remained to his charge but a little of the dower. So he said to his son, ’Have patience, O my son, till we gather together the rest of the money and send to fetch her to thee, for that she is become thine.’ Therewith the prince waxed exceeding wroth and said, ‘I will not have patience;’ so he took his sword and his spear and mounting his horse, went forth and fell to stopping the way, [so haply that he might win what lacked of the dowry].
It chanced one day that he fell in upon a company of folk and they overcame him by dint of numbers and taking him prisoner, pinioned him and carried him to the lord of that country. The latter saw his fashion and grace and misdoubting of him, said, ’This is no robber’s favour. Tell me truly, O youth, who thou art.’ Bihzad thought shame to acquaint him with his condition and chose rather death for himself; so he answered, ’I am nought but a thief and a bandit.’ Quoth the king, ’It behoveth us not to act hastily in the matter of this youth, but that we look into his affair, for that haste still engendereth repentance.’ So he imprisoned him in his palace and assigned him one who should serve him.