The Fairy Princess Of Ergetz





I



In a great and beautiful city that stood by the sea, an old man lay

dying. Mar Shalmon was his name, and he was the richest man in the

land. Propped up with pillows on a richly decorated bed in a luxurious

chamber, he gazed, with tears in his eyes, through the open window at

the setting sun. Like a ball of fire it sank lower and lower until it

almost seemed to rest on the tranquil waters beyond the harbor.

Suddenly, Mar Shalmon roused himself.



"Where is my son, Bar Shalmon?" he asked in a feeble voice, and his

hand crept tremblingly along the silken coverlet of the bed as if in

search of something.



"I am here, my father," replied his son who was standing by the side

of his bed. His eyes were moist with tears, but his voice was steady.



"My son," said the old man, slowly, and with some difficulty, "I am

about to leave this world. My soul will take flight from this frail

body when the sun has sunk behind the horizon. I have lived long and

have amassed great wealth which will soon be thine. Use it well, as I

have taught thee, for thou, my son, art a man of learning, as befits

our noble Jewish faith. One thing I must ask thee to promise me."




sizes poured into the synagogue with threatening gestures.

(Page 40).]



"I will, my father," returned Bar Shalmon, sobbing.



"Nay, weep not, my son," said the old man. "My day is ended; my life

has not been ill-spent. I would spare thee the pain that was mine in

my early days, when, as a merchant, I garnered my fortune. The sea out

there that will soon swallow up the sun is calm now. But beware of it,

my son, for it is treacherous. Promise me--nay, swear unto me--that

never wilt thou cross it to foreign lands."



Bar Shalmon placed his hands on those of his father.



"Solemnly I swear," he said, in a broken voice, "to do thy wish--never

to journey on the sea, but to remain here in this, my native land.

'Tis a vow before thee, my father."



"'Tis an oath before heaven," said the old man. "Guard it, keep it,

and heaven will bless thee. Remember! See, the sun is sinking."



Mar Shalmon fell back upon his pillows and spoke no more. Bar Shalmon

stood gazing out of the window until the sun had disappeared, and

then, silently sobbing, he left the chamber of death.



The whole city wept when the sad news was made known, for Mar Shalmon

was a man of great charity, and almost all the inhabitants followed

the remains to the grave. Then Bar Shalmon, his son, took his father's

place of honor in the city, and in him, too, the poor and needy found

a friend whose purse was ever open and whose counsel was ever wisdom.



Thus years passed away.



One day there arrived in the harbor of the city a strange ship from a

distant land. Its captain spoke a tongue unknown, and Bar Shalmon,

being a man of profound knowledge, was sent for. He alone in the city

could understand the language of the captain. To his astonishment, he

learned that the cargo of the vessel was for Mar Shalmon, his father.



"I am the son of Mar Shalmon," he said. "My father is dead, and all

his possessions he left to me."



"Then, verily, art thou the most fortunate mortal, and the richest, on

earth," answered the captain. "My good ship is filled with a vast

store of jewels, precious stones and other treasures. And know you, O

most favored son of Mar Shalmon, this cargo is but a small portion of

the wealth that is thine in a land across the sea."



"'Tis strange," said Bar Shalmon, in surprise; "my father said nought

of this to me. I knew that in his younger days he had traded with

distant lands, but nothing did he ever say of possessions there. And,

moreover, he warned me never to leave this shore."



The captain looked perplexed.



"I understand it not," he said. "I am but performing my father's

bidding. He was thy father's servant, and long years did he wait for

Mar Shalmon's return to claim his riches. On his death-bed he bade me

vow that I would seek his master, or his son, and this have I done."



He produced documents, and there could be no doubt that the vast

wealth mentioned in them belonged now to Bar Shalmon.



"Thou art now my master," said the captain, "and must return with me

to the land across the sea to claim thine inheritance. In another year

it will be too late, for by the laws of the country it will be

forfeit."



"I cannot return with thee," said Bar Shalmon. "I have a vow before

heaven never to voyage on the sea."



The captain laughed.



"In very truth, I understand thee not, as my father understood not

thine," he replied. "My father was wont to say that Mar Shalmon was

strange and peradventure not possessed of all his senses to neglect

his store of wealth and treasure."



With an angry gesture Bar Shalmon stopped the captain, but he was

sorely troubled. He recalled now that his father had often spoken

mysteriously of foreign lands, and he wondered, indeed, whether Mar

Shalmon could have been in his proper senses not to have breathed a

word of his riches abroad. For days he discussed the matter with the

captain, who at last persuaded him to make the journey.



"Fear not thy vow," said the captain. "Thy worthy father must, of a

truth, have been bereft of reason in failing to tell thee of his full

estate, and an oath to a man of mind unsound is not binding. That is

the law in our land."



"So it is here," returned Bar Shalmon, and with this remark his last

scruple vanished.



He bade a tender farewell to his wife, his child, and his friends,

and set sail on the strange ship to the land beyond the sea.



For three days all went well, but on the fourth the ship was becalmed

and the sails flapped lazily against the masts. The sailors had

nothing to do but lie on deck and wait for a breeze, and Bar Shalmon

took advantage of the occasion to treat them to a feast.



Suddenly, in the midst of the feasting, they felt the ship begin to

move. There was no wind, but the vessel sped along very swiftly. The

captain himself rushed to the helm. To his alarm he found the vessel

beyond control.



"The ship is bewitched," he exclaimed. "There is no wind, and no

current, and yet we are being borne along as if driven before a storm.

We shall be lost."



Panic seized the sailors, and Bar Shalmon was unable to pacify them.



"Someone on board has brought us ill-luck," said the boatswain,

looking pointedly at Bar Shalmon; "we shall have to heave him

overboard."



His comrades assented and rushed toward Bar Shalmon.



Just at that moment, however, the look-out in the bow cried excitedly,

"Land ahead!"



The ship still refused to answer the helm and grounded on a sandbank.

She shivered from stem to stern but did not break up. No rocks were

visible, only a desolate tract of desert land was to be seen, with

here and there a solitary tree.



"We seem to have sustained no damage," said the captain, when he had

recovered from his first astonishment, "but how we are going to get

afloat again I do not know. This land is quite strange to me."



He could not find it marked on any of his charts or maps, and the

sailors stood looking gloomily at the mysterious shore.



"Had we not better explore the land?" said Bar Shalmon.



"No, no," exclaimed the boatswain, excitedly. "See, no breakers strike

on the shore. This is not a human land. This is a domain of demons. We

are lost unless we cast overboard the one who has brought on us this

ill-luck."



Said Bar Shalmon, "I will land, and I will give fifty silver crowns to

all who land with me."



Not one of the sailors moved, however, even when he offered fifty

golden crowns, and at last Bar Shalmon said he would land alone,

although the captain strongly urged him not to do so.



Bar Shalmon sprang lightly to the shore, and as he did so the ship

shook violently.



"What did I tell you?" shouted the boatswain. "Bar Shalmon is the one

who has brought us this misfortune. Now we shall refloat the ship."



But it still remained firmly fixed on the sand. Bar Shalmon walked

towards a tree and climbed it. In a few moments he returned, holding a

twig in his hand.



"The land stretches away for miles just as you see it here," he called

to the captain. "There is no sign of man or habitation."



He prepared to board the vessel again, but the sailors would not allow

him. The boatswain stood in the bow and threatened him with a sword.

Bar Shalmon raised the twig to ward off the blow and struck the ship

which shivered from stern to stern again.



"Is not this proof that the vessel is bewitched?" cried the sailors,

and when the captain sternly bade them remember that Bar Shalmon was

their master, they threatened him too.



Bar Shalmon, amused at the fears of the men, again struck the vessel

with the twig. Once more it trembled. A third time he raised the

twig.



"If the ship is bewitched," he said, "something will happen after the

third blow."



"Swish" sounded the branch through the air, and the third blow fell on

the vessel's bow. Something did happen. The ship almost leaped from

the sand, and before Bar Shalmon could realize what had happened it

was speeding swiftly away.



"Come back, come back," he screamed, and he could see the captain

struggling with the helm. But the vessel refused to answer, and Bar

Shalmon saw it grow smaller and smaller and finally disappear. He was

alone on an uninhabited desert land.



"What a wretched plight for the richest man in the world," he said to

himself, and the next moment he realized that he was in danger indeed.



A terrible roar made him look around. To his horror he saw a lion

making toward him. As quick as a flash Bar Shalmon ran to the tree and

hastily scrambled into the branches. The lion dashed itself furiously

against the trunk of the tree, but, for the present, Bar Shalmon was

safe. Night, however, was coming on, and the lion squatted at the foot

of the tree, evidently intending to wait for him. All night the lion

remained, roaring at intervals, and Bar Shalmon clung to one of the

upper branches afraid to sleep lest he should fall off and be

devoured. When morning broke, a new danger threatened him. A huge

eagle flew round the tree and darted at him with its cruel beak. Then

the great bird settled on the thickest branch, and Bar Shalmon moved

stealthily forward with a knife which he drew from his belt. He crept

behind the bird, but as he approached it spread its big wings, and Bar

Shalmon, to prevent himself being swept from the tree, dropped the

knife and clutched at the bird's feathers. Immediately, to his dismay,

the bird rose from the tree. Bar Shalmon clung to its back with all

his might.



Higher and higher soared the eagle until the trees below looked like

mere dots on the land. Swiftly flew the eagle over miles and miles of

desert until Bar Shalmon began to feel giddy. He was faint with hunger

and feared that he would not be able to retain his hold. All day the

bird flew without resting, across island and sea. No houses, no ships,

no human beings could be seen. Toward night, however, Bar Shalmon, to

his great joy, beheld the lights of a city surrounded by trees, and as

the eagle came near, he made a bold dive to the earth. Headlong he

plunged downward. He seemed to be hours in falling. At last he struck

a tree. The branches broke beneath the weight and force of his falling

body, and he continued to plunge downward. The branches tore his

clothes to shreds and bruised his body, but they broke his terrible

fall, and when at last he reached the ground he was not much hurt.





II



Bar Shalmon found himself on the outskirts of the city, and cautiously

he crept forward. To his intense relief, he saw that the first

building was a synagogue. The door, however, was locked. Weary, sore,

and weak with long fasting, Bar Shalmon sank down on the steps and

sobbed like a child.



Something touched him on the arm. He looked up. By the light of the

moon he saw a boy standing before him. Such a queer boy he was, too.

He had cloven feet, and his coat, if it was a coat, seemed to be made

in the shape of wings.



"Ivri Onochi," said Bar Shalmon, "I am a Hebrew."



"So am I," said the boy. "Follow me."



He walked in front with a strange hobble, and when they reached a

house at the back of the synagogue, he leaped from the ground,

spreading his coat wings as he did so, to a window about twenty feet

from the ground. The next moment a door opened, and Bar Shalmon, to

his surprise, saw that the boy had jumped straight through the window

down to the door which he had unfastened from the inside. The boy

motioned him to enter a room. He did so. An aged man, who he saw was a

rabbi, rose to greet him.



"Peace be with you," said the rabbi, and pointed to a seat. He clapped

his hand and immediately a table with food appeared before Bar

Shalmon. The latter was far too hungry to ask any questions just then,

and the rabbi was silent, too, while he ate. When he had finished, the

rabbi clapped his hands and the table vanished.



"Now tell me your story," said the rabbi.



Bar Shalmon did so.



"Alas! I am an unhappy man," he concluded. "I have been punished for

breaking my vow. Help me to return to my home. I will reward thee

well, and will atone for my sin."



"Thy story is indeed sad," said the rabbi, gravely, "but thou knowest

not the full extent of thy unfortunate plight. Art thou aware what

land it is into which thou hast been cast?"



"No," said Bar Shalmon, becoming afraid again.



"Know then," said the rabbi, "thou art not in a land of human beings.

Thou hast fallen into Ergetz, the land of demons, of djinns, and of

fairies."



"But art thou not a Jew?" asked Bar Shalmon, in astonishment.



"Truly," replied the rabbi. "Even in this realm we have all manner of

religions just as you mortals have."



"What will happen to me?" asked Bar Shalmon, in a whisper.



"I know not," replied the rabbi. "Few mortals come here, and mostly, I

fear they are put to death. The demons love them not."



"Woe, woe is me," cried Bar Shalmon, "I am undone."



"Weep not," said the rabbi. "I, as a Jew, love not death by violence

and torture, and will endeavor to save thee."



"I thank thee," cried Bar Shalmon.



"Let thy thanks wait," said the rabbi, kindly. "There is human blood

in my veins. My great-grandfather was a mortal who fell into this

land and was not put to death. Being of mortal descent, I have been

made rabbi. Perhaps thou wilt find favor here and be permitted to live

and settle in this land."



"But I desire to return home," said Bar Shalmon.



The rabbi shook his head.



"Thou must sleep now," he said.



He passed his hands over Bar Shalmon's eyes and he fell into a

profound slumber. When he awoke it was daylight, and the boy stood by

his couch. He made a sign to Bar Shalmon to follow, and through an

underground passage he conducted him into the synagogue and placed him

near the rabbi.



"Thy presence has become known," whispered the rabbi, and even as he

spoke a great noise was heard. It was like the wild chattering of many

high-pitched voices. Through all the windows and the doors a strange

crowd poured into the synagogue. There were demons of all shapes and

sizes. Some had big bodies with tiny heads, others huge heads and

quaint little bodies. Some had great staring eyes, others had long

wide mouths, and many had only one leg each. They surrounded Bar

Shalmon with threatening gestures and noises. The rabbi ascended the

pulpit.



"Silence!" he commanded, and immediately the noise ceased. "Ye who

thirst for mortal blood, desecrate not this holy building wherein I am

master. What ye have to say must wait until after the morning

service."



Silently and patiently they waited, sitting in all manner of queer

places. Some of them perched on the backs of the seats, a few clung

like great big flies to the pillars, others sat on the window-sills,

and several of the tiniest hung from the rafters in the ceiling. As

soon as the service was over, the clamor broke out anew.



"Give to us the perjurer," screamed the demons. "He is not fit to

live."



With some difficulty, the rabbi stilled the tumult, and said:



"Listen unto me, ye demons and sprites of the land of Ergetz. This man

has fallen into my hands, and I am responsible for him. Our king,

Ashmedai, must know of his arrival. We must not condemn a man unheard.

Let us petition the king to grant him a fair trial."



After some demur, the demons agreed to this proposal, and they trooped

out of the synagogue in the same peculiar manner in which they came.

Each was compelled to leave by the same door or window at which he

entered.



Bar Shalmon was carried off to the palace of King Ashmedai, preceded

and followed by a noisy crowd of demons and fairies. There seemed to

be millions of them, all clattering and pointing at him. They hobbled

and hopped over the ground, jumped into the air, sprang from housetop

to housetop, made sudden appearances from holes in the ground and

vanished through solid walls.



The palace was a vast building of white marble that seemed as delicate

as lace work. It stood in a magnificent square where many beautiful

fountains spouted jets of crystal water. King Ashmedai came forth on

the balcony, and at his appearance all the demons and fairies became

silent and went down on their knees.



"What will ye with me?" he cried, in a voice of thunder, and the rabbi

approached and bowed before his majesty.



"A mortal, a Jew, has fallen into my hands," he said, "and thy

subjects crave for his blood. He is a perjurer, they say. Gracious

majesty, I would petition for a trial."



"What manner of mortal is he?" asked Ashmedai.



Bar Shalmon stepped forward.



"Jump up here so I may see thee," commanded the king.



"Jump, jump," cried the crowd.



"I cannot," said Bar Shalmon, as he looked up at the balcony thirty

feet above the ground.



"Try," said the rabbi.



Bar Shalmon did try, and found, the moment he lifted his feet from the

ground, that he was standing on the balcony.



"Neatly done," said the king. "I see thou art quick at learning."



"So my teachers always said," replied Bar Shalmon.



"A proper answer," said the king. "Thou art, then, a scholar."



"In my own land," returned Bar Shalmon, "men said I was great among

the learned."



"So," said the king. "And canst thou impart the wisdom of man and of

the human world to others?"



"I can," said Bar Shalmon.



"We shall see," said the king. "I have a son with a desire for such

knowledge. If thou canst make him acquainted with thy store of

learning, thy life shall be spared. The petition for a trial is

granted."



The king waved his scepter and two slaves seized Bar Shalmon by the

arms. He felt himself lifted from the balcony and carried swiftly

through the air. Across the vast square the slaves flew with him, and

when over the largest of the fountains they loosened their hold. Bar

Shalmon thought he would fall into the fountain, but to his amazement

he found himself standing on the roof of a building. By his side was

the rabbi.



"Where are we?" asked Bar Shalmon. "I feel bewildered."



"We are at the Court of Justice, one hundred miles from the palace,"

replied the rabbi.



A door appeared before them. They stepped through, and found

themselves in a beautiful hall. Three judges in red robes and purple

wigs were seated on a platform, and an immense crowd filled the

galleries in the same queer way as in the synagogue. Bar Shalmon was

placed on a small platform in front of the judges. A tiny sprite, only

about six inches high, stood on another small platform at his right

hand and commenced to read from a scroll that seemed to have no

ending. He read the whole account of Bar Shalmon's life. Not one

little event was missing.



"The charge against Bar Shalmon, the mortal," the sprite concluded,

"is that he has violated the solemn oath sworn at his father's

death-bed."



Then the rabbi pleaded for him and declared that the oath was not

binding because Bar Shalmon's father had not informed him of his

treasures abroad and could not therefore have been in his right

senses. Further, he added, Bar Shalmon was a scholar and the king

desired him to teach his wisdom to the crown prince.



The chief justice rose to pronounce sentence.



"Bar Shalmon," he said, "rightly thou shouldst die for thy broken

oath. It is a grievous sin. But there is the doubt that thy father may

not have been in his right mind. Therefore, thy life shall be spared."



Bar Shalmon expressed his thanks.



"When may I return to my home?" he asked.



"Never," replied the chief justice.



Bar Shalmon left the court, feeling very downhearted. He was safe now.

The demons dared not molest him, but he longed to return to his home.



"How am I to get back to the palace?" he asked the rabbi. "Perhaps

after I have imparted my learning to the crown prince, the king will

allow me to return to my native land."



"That I cannot say. Come, fly with me," said the rabbi.



"Fly!"



"Yes; see thou hast wings."



Bar Shalmon noticed that he was now wearing a garment just like all

the demons. When he spread his arms, he found he could fly, and he

sailed swiftly through the air to the palace. With these wings, he

thought, he would be able to fly home.



"Think not that," said the rabbi, who seemed to be able to read his

thoughts, "for thy wings are useless beyond this land."



Bar Shalmon found that it would be best for him to carry out his

instructions for the present, and he set himself diligently to teach

the crown prince. The prince was an apt pupil, and the two became

great friends. King Ashmedai was delighted and made Bar Shalmon one of

his favorites.



One day the king said to him: "I am about to leave the city for a

while to undertake a campaign against a rebellious tribe of demons

thousands of miles away. I must take the crown prince with me. I leave

thee in charge of the palace."



The king gave him a huge bunch of keys.



"These," he said, "will admit into all but one of the thousand rooms

in the palace. For that one there is no key, and thou must not enter

it. Beware."



For several days Bar Shalmon amused himself by examining the hundreds

of rooms in the vast palace until one day he came to the door for

which he had no key. He forgot the king's warning and his promise to

obey.



"Open this door for me," he said to his attendants, but they replied

that they could not.



"You must," he said angrily, "burst it open."



"We do not know how to burst open a door," they said. "We are not

mortal. If we were permitted to enter the room we should just walk

through the walls."



Bar Shalmon could not do this, so he put his shoulder to the door and

it yielded quite easily.



A strange sight met his gaze. A beautiful woman, the most beautiful he

had ever seen, was seated on a throne of gold, surrounded by fairy

attendants who vanished the moment he entered.



"Who art thou?" asked Bar Shalmon, in great astonishment.



"The daughter of the king," replied the princess, "and thy future

wife."



"Indeed! How know you that?" he asked.



"Thou hast broken thy promise to my father, the king, not to enter

this room," she replied. "Therefore, thou must die, unless--"



"Tell me quickly," interrupted Bar Shalmon, turning pale, "how my life

can be saved."



"Thou must ask my father for my hand," replied the princess. "Only by

becoming my husband canst thou be saved."



"But I have a wife and child in my native land," said Bar Shalmon,

sorely troubled.



"Thou hast now forfeited thy hopes of return," said the princess,

slowly. "Once more hast thou broken a promise. It seems to come easy

to thee now."



Bar Shalmon had no wish to die, and he waited, in fear and trembling

for the king's return. Immediately he heard of King Ashmedai's

approach, he hastened to meet him and flung himself on the ground at

his majesty's feet.



"O King," he cried, "I have seen thy daughter, the princess, and I

desire to make her my wife."



"I cannot refuse," returned the king. "Such is our law--that he who

first sees the princess must become her husband, or die. But, have a

care, Bar Shalmon. Thou must swear to love and be faithful ever."



"I swear," said Bar Shalmon.



The wedding took place with much ceremony. The princess was attended

by a thousand fairy bridesmaids, and the whole city was brilliantly

decorated and illuminated until Bar Shalmon was almost blinded by the

dazzling spectacle.



The rabbi performed the marriage ceremony, and Bar Shalmon had to

swear an oath by word of mouth and in writing that he loved the

princess and would never desert her. He was given a beautiful palace

full of jewels as a dowry, and the wedding festivities lasted six

months. All the fairies and demons invited them in turn; they had to

attend banquets and parties and dances in grottoes and caves and in

the depths of the fairy fountains in the square. Never before in

Ergetz had there been such elaborate rejoicings.





III



Some years rolled by and still Bar Shalmon thought of his native land.

One day the princess found him weeping quietly.



"Why art thou sad, husband mine?" she asked. "Dost thou no longer love

me, and am I not beautiful now?"



"No, it is not that," he said, but for a long time he refused to say

more. At last he confessed that he had an intense longing to see his

home again.



"But thou art bound to me by an oath," said the princess.



"I know," replied Bar Shalmon, "and I shall not break it. Permit me to

visit my home for a brief while, and I will return and prove myself

more devoted to thee than ever."



On these conditions, the princess agreed that he should take leave for

a whole year. A big, black demon flew swiftly with him to his native

city.



No sooner had Bar Shalmon placed his feet on the ground than he

determined not to return to the land of Ergetz.



"Tell thy royal mistress," he said to the demon, "that I shall never

return to her."



He tore his clothes to make himself look poor, but his wife was

overjoyed to see him. She had mourned him as dead. He did not tell of

his adventures, but merely said he had been ship-wrecked and had

worked his way back as a poor sailor. He was delighted to be among

human beings again, to hear his own language and to see solid

buildings that did not appear and disappear just when they pleased,

and as the days passed he began to think his adventures in fairyland

were but a dream.



Meanwhile, the princess waited patiently until the year was ended.



Then she sent the big, black demon to bring Bar Shalmon back.



Bar Shalmon met the messenger one night when walking alone in his

garden.



"I have come to take thee back," said the demon.



Bar Shalmon was startled. He had forgotten that the year was up. He

felt that he was lost, but as the demon did not seize him by force, he

saw that there was a possibility of escape.



"Return and tell thy mistress I refuse," he said.



"I will take thee by force," said the demon.



"Thou canst not," Bar Shalmon said, "for I am the son-in-law of the

king."



The demon was helpless and returned to Ergetz alone.



King Ashmedai was very angry, but the princess counseled patience.



"I will devise means to bring my husband back," she said. "I will send

other messengers."



Thus it was that Bar Shalmon found a troupe of beautiful fairies in

the garden the next evening. They tried their utmost to induce him to

return with them, but he would not listen. Every day different

messengers came--big, ugly demons who threatened, pretty fairies who

tried to coax him, and troublesome sprites and goblins who only

annoyed him. Bar Shalmon could not move without encountering

messengers from the princess in all manner of queer places. Nobody

else could see them, and often he was heard talking to invisible

people. His friends began to regard him as strange in his behavior.



King Ashmedai grew angrier every day, and he threatened to go for Bar

Shalmon himself.



"Nay, I will go," said the princess; "it will be impossible for my

husband to resist me."



She selected a large number of attendants, and the swift flight of the

princess and her retinue through the air caused a violent storm to

rage over the lands they crossed. Like a thick black cloud they

swooped down on the land where Bar Shalmon dwelt, and their weird

cries seemed like the wild shrieking of a mighty hurricane. Down they

swept in a tremendous storm such as the city had never known. Then, as

quickly as it came, the storm ceased, and the people who had fled into

their houses, ventured forth again.



The little son of Bar Shalmon went out into the garden, but quickly

rushed back into the house.



"Father, come forth and see," he cried. "The garden is full of strange

creatures brought by the storm. All manner of creeping, crawling

things have invaded the garden--lizards, toads, and myriads of

insects. The trees, the shrubs, the paths are covered, and some shine

in the twilight like tiny lanterns."



Bar Shalmon went out into the garden, but he did not see toads and

lizards. What he beheld was a vast array of demons and goblins and

sprites, and in a rose-bush the princess, his wife, shining like a

star, surrounded by her attendant fairies. She stretched forth her

arms to him.



"Husband mine," she pleaded, "I have come to implore thee to return to

the land of Ergetz with me. Sadly have I missed thee; long have I

waited for thy coming, and difficult has it been to appease my

father's anger. Come, husband mine, return with me; a great welcome

awaits thee."



"I will not return," said Bar Shalmon.



"Kill him, kill him," shrieked the demons, and they surrounded him,

gesticulating fiercely.



"Nay, harm him not," commanded the princess. "Think well, Bar

Shalmon, ere you answer again. The sun has set and night is upon us.

Think well, until sunrise. Come to me, return, and all shall be well.

Refuse, and thou shalt be dealt with as thou hast merited. Think well

before the sunrise."



"And what will happen at sunrise, if I refuse?" asked Bar Shalmon.



"Thou shalt see," returned the princess. "Bethink thee well, and

remember, I await thee here until the sunrise."



"I have answered; I defy thee," said Bar Shalmon, and he went indoors.



Night passed with strange, mournful music in the garden, and the sun

rose in its glory and spread its golden beams over the city. And with

the coming of the light, more strange sounds woke the people of the

city. A wondrous sight met their gaze in the market place. It was

filled with hundreds upon hundreds of the queerest creatures they had

ever seen, goblins and brownies, demons and fairies. Dainty little

elves ran about the square to the delight of the children, and quaint

sprites clambered up the lamposts and squatted on the gables of the

council house. On the steps of that building was a glittering array of

fairies and attendant genii, and in their midst stood the princess, a

dazzling vision, radiant as the dawn.



The mayor of the city knew not what to do. He put on his chain of

office and made a long speech of welcome to the princess.



"Thank you for your cordial welcome," said the princess, in reply,

"and you the mayor, and ye the good people of this city of mortals,

hearken unto me. I am the princess of the Fairyland of Ergetz where my

father, Ashmedai, rules as king. There is one among ye who is my

husband."



"Who is he?" the crowd asked in astonishment.



"Bar Shalmon is his name," replied the princess, "and to him am I

bound by vows that may not be broken."



"'Tis false," cried Bar Shalmon from the crowd.



"'Tis true. Behold our son," answered the princess, and there stepped

forward a dainty elfin boy whose face was the image of Bar Shalmon.



"I ask of you mortals of the city," the princess continued, "but one

thing, justice--that same justice which we in the land of Ergetz did

give unto Bar Shalmon when, after breaking his oath unto his father,

he set sail for a foreign land and was delivered into our hands. We

spared his life; we granted his petition for a new trial. I but ask

that ye should grant me the same petition. Hear me in your Court of

Justice."



"Thy request is but reasonable, princess," said the mayor. "It shall

not be said that strangers here are refused justice. Bar Shalmon,

follow me."



He led the way into the Chamber of Justice, and the magistrates of the

city heard all that the princess and her witnesses, among whom was the

rabbi, and also all that Bar Shalmon, had to say.



"'Tis plain," said the mayor, delivering judgment, "that her royal

highness, the princess of the Fairyland of Ergetz, has spoken that

which is true. But Bar Shalmon has in this city wife and child to whom

he is bound by ties that may not be broken. Bar Shalmon must divorce

the princess and return unto her the dowry received by him on their

marriage."



"If such be your law, I am content," said the princess.



"What sayest thou, Bar Shalmon?" asked the mayor.



"Oh! I'm content," he answered gruffly. "I agree to anything that

will rid me of the demon princess."



The princess flushed crimson with shame and rage at these cruel words.



"These words I have not deserved," she exclaimed, proudly. "I have

loved thee, and have been faithful unto thee, Bar Shalmon. I accept

the decree of your laws and shall return to the land of Ergetz a

widow. I ask not for your pity. I ask but for that which is my right,

one last kiss."



"Very well," said Bar Shalmon, still more gruffly, "anything to have

done with thee."



The princess stepped proudly forward to him and kissed him on the

lips.



Bar Shalmon turned deadly pale and would have fallen had not his

friends caught him.



"Take thy punishment for all thy sins," cried the princess, haughtily,

"for thy broken vows and thy false promises--thy perjury to thy God,

to thy father, to my father and to me."



As she spoke Bar Shalmon fell dead at her feet. At a sign from the

princess, her retinue of fairies and demons flew out of the building

and up into the air with their royal mistress in their midst and

vanished.





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