Short Story The Story of the Young King of the Black Islands By Victoria Bradshaw
When King Mahmud of the Black Islands died, his young son became king. A few weeks later, he married his cousin. The young king loved his wife very much and he thought that she loved him. He was happy. But she was not a good wife and she didn’t love him. She also had magic powers.
The king and the queen lived happily for five years. Then one afternoon the young king heard a conversation between two of his wife’s maids. They didn’t know that he was listening to them.
‘It’s sad that the queen doesn’t love the king, isn’t it?’ one of them said.
‘Yes, it is,’ the other maid replied. ‘She’s a bad woman. Every night she puts a sleeping potion in his wine. Then, when he is asleep, she goes out to meet her lover in the forest.’
The young king was horrified. He decided to watch his wife carefully.
That night he didn’t drink his wine so he wasn’t asleep when the queen got out of bed and left the palace. He followed her to the forest. Her lover was there and they kissed passionately. When the young king saw them together, he was very angry. He took out his sword and hit the man on the neck. The man fell to the ground. Then the young king ran back to the palace before the queen had time to see his face.
The next morning the queen came to his room. She was wearing black clothes and she was crying.
‘Husband,’ she said. ‘I’m mourning my family. My father, my mother and my two brothers are all dead.’
The young king said nothing. He knew that it was not true.
The queen mourned for a year. At the end of this time, she built a black dome in the palace garden and filled it with precious carpets and paintings. Then she took her lover’s body there. He wasn’t dead, but he couldn’t move or speak. She put him on a sofa in a dark room and built a beautiful fountain for him there. She went to see him every day and gave him soup and wine to drink. She cried all the time.
Three years passed. One day the young king went to the dome to speak to his wife. She was crying as usual. He was very angry.
‘I’m tired of your tears!’ he shouted and he took out his sword. ‘You are a bad woman! I know that you keep your lover here.’
‘Yes, I do,’ the queen replied. ‘I love him and I hate you!’
The king lifted his sword to kill her, but the queen put a magic spell on him before he could hit her. She turned his legs into a block of black marble. He couldn’t move.
Then she turned the four islands into four mountains, the city into a lake, and the people in the city into fish.
After that the queen visited the black dome every day. First she went to her husband and beat him one hundred times with a whip. He cried and shouted loudly but her heart was hard. Then she went to her lover. After giving him some soup and wine, she said, ‘How are you today, my love? Speak to me!’ But he never moved and he never spoke.
Some years later, a king from a distant country travelled to the Black Islands. He went in the black dome and found the young king. When he heard his story, he felt very sorry for him. He promised to help him. ‘I have a plan,’ he said.
The next day, the king went to the room where the queen’s lover was. He killed him with his sword and threw the body down a deep well. Then he lay down on the sofa. Soon the queen arrived. She went to her husband and beat him one hundred times. After that she went to her lover’s room. It was dark so she couldn’t see the man on the sofa very well.
‘How are you today, my love?’ she said. ‘Speak to me!’
The king answered, ‘I’m very tired. When you beat your husband, he shouts very loudly and I can’t sleep. Take the spell off. I don’t want to hear him anymore.’
The queen was very happy to hear her lover’s voice again. She said, ‘I’ll take the spell off immediately, my love.’ She went back to her husband’s room and took a cup of water, which she heated on a fire. Then she said some magic words and threw the water over the block of marble.
‘Now you are free,’ she said. ‘Go away from here and never come back.’ The young king jumped for joy, and the queen went back to her lover’s room.
‘My husband is free,’ she said. ‘Are you better now, my love?’
The king answered, ‘I’m still tired. Every night at midnight the fish in the lake jump out of the water and cry and shout loudly. I can’t sleep. Take the spell off. I don’t want to hear them anymore.’
The queen immediately ran to the lake and took the spell off. The fish became men, women and children again, and the lake became a city.
The queen went back to her lover’s room and said, ‘The people are free. Do you feel better now?’
‘Come here,’ said the king. ‘Come closer.’ The queen moved closer. Then the king suddenly jumped up and cut her body in half with his sword.
‘The queen is dead,’ he said to the young king. ‘And your city and your people are free.’
The young king was very happy.
‘Why don’t you come back with me to my country?’ asked the king. ‘I have no children of my own. You can be my son and rule my kingdom when I die.’
‘Thank you, I will,’ replied the young king immediately. ‘I never want to leave you.’
‘Good!’ said the king. ‘I’ll send my vizier to the Black Islands. He’ll be a good Sultan.’
So the two kings made preparations for their long journey back to the king’s country. They arrived safely and they both lived peacefully for the rest of their lives.