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´╗┐Title: Bright-Wits, Prince of Mogadore
Author: Laughlin, Burren, Flood, L. L. (Leopold L.), 1881-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bright-Wits, Prince of Mogadore" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

at http://dp.rastko.net







  _Copyright, 1909_ BY H.M. CALDWELL CO.

  _Electrotyped and Printed by THE COLONIAL PRESS C. H. Simonds & Co.,
   Boston, U.S.A._


  CHAPTER                                                            PAGE

  TASKS                                                                1

  AWAITING HIM                                                         9

  IN THE PALACE GROUNDS                                               16

  OF GARROFAT                                                         23

  COUNSELS THE PRINCE TO BE PATIENT                                   29

  OF GARROFAT                                                         35

  DISAPPEARED                                                         40

  THE FINAL TEST                                                      46

  RECEIVES HIS REWARD                                                 54

  PUZZLES                                                             59



  THE RUG                                                              8

  THE EIGHT PROVINCES                                                 14

  THE THREE FOUNTAINS AND THE THREE GATES                             18

  THE FIVE SHIELDS                                                    21

  THE ZOLTAN'S ORCHARD                                                25

  THE NINE DISKS                                                      30

  THE SOLDIERS AND GUARDS                                             36

  THE ENDLESS CHAIN                                                   38

  DOOLA'S GAME                                                        42

  THE EIGHT PIECES OF MONEY                                           47

  THE SERPENT                                                         52





Long ago, before geographies were invented, so that it were useless to
seek for the kingdom on any modern map, there lived a wise King who had
but one son, of whom he was exceeding fond. Under the guidance of
learned teachers the young prince had read the Koran according to the
seven traditions, studied the writings of the poets and the science of
the stars, and had become skilled in all the arts and manly exercises to
a degree far surpassing the people of his age; so that his fame had
spread and he was known far and near as "Bright-Wits," Prince of
Mogadore. In person, the prince was comely beyond the beauty of men; and
he possessed the strength and courage of the lion, together with the
gentleness of the dove.

Now when Bright-Wits had reached his eighteenth year, the king called
him to his side and said, "My son, you have arrived at the age when it
befits you to fare forth into the world that your education may be
completed by a knowledge of the ways of men. That when the Great Yama
shall gather me to His bosom you will be prepared to assume the
government of this kingdom and to conduct its affairs wisely and well.
And, lest your inexperience should lead you from the paths of wisdom, I
have arranged that you be accompanied on your journey by Ablano, the
Holy Brahman, who has lately come to our realm. On the morrow, then, you
will be prepared to start in company with an escort of horsemen and a
train of camels as befits your rank and station."

At dawn the caravan was drawn up outside the gates of the city, and
Bright-Wits, after embracing his father, mounted a richly caparisoned
horse, and rode away with Ablano, the Brahman, riding on a camel at his
side. Now, although Bright-Wits was arrayed in the richest of garments,
the Brahman was simply appareled in the white robes of his order; his
only ornament being three great rings of gold encircling the cone above
his turban. His face, which was dark as that of an African, his snowy
beard, and his air of majestic dignity gave him a most noble and
striking appearance.

For some days the caravan journeyed forward, Bright-Wits filled with
constant wonder by the sight of strange cities and people. At last,
after weeks of travel they came upon a defile in the mountains, and
passing through, emerged on a wide plain. Far to the north they could
discern the golden towers of an immense palace rising high above a
large and prosperous city. Thither they pursued their way, entering at
last the great gate in the outer walls they proceeded through the city,
Bright-Wits constantly pausing to exclaim at the size and magnificence
of the buildings; which surpassed those of his father's capital as gold
surpasses copper.

Arriving before the palace, Bright-Wits dismounted, and advanced,
accompanied only by Ablano. As they neared the magnificent edifice they
descried, seated upon a low porch, the figure of a fat and oily looking
old man, wearing on his head a huge turban topped with a golden crown
which was surmounted by a ruby large as a peacock's egg. The stranger
was puffing at his hookah and listening with disdain to the words of a
young maiden of marvellous beauty; who vainly essayed to call his
attention to the approach of the prince and Ablano. To the right of the
porch was suspended a great Mankalah rug made in the pattern of a large
checker board; but which on closer inspection appeared to be imperfectly
put together, as several of the squares were missing.

Ablano, approaching the stranger, made obeisance and said, "Know, thou
Illustrious One, that we are two travellers who, having heard of the
glory of your kingdom, seek your permission to dwell therein for a brief
space, that going hence to our own land, we may bring to our people the
tale of your splendour and greatness."

The fat stranger, turning his beady black eyes on Ablano, made answer in
surly fashion. "Think you that this palace is naught but a tavern for
the entertainment of stray mendicants?"

He would have continued had not Bright-Wits interrupted him, angrily
exclaiming, "Know, thou surly hind, that I am Bright-Wits, Prince of
Mogadore, and that yonder holy man, who honours me in being my guide and
father as I travel in search of knowledge and adventure, is Ablano the
Brahman, whose virtues are as many as the sands in the great desert of
Gobi, and the fame of whose wisdom reaches all men as the rays of the
sun at noon."

Now the fat stranger, alarmed by the fierce outburst of the prince,
scrambled hastily to his feet, and with profuse apologies welcomed the
travellers and bade them recline upon the porch while he summoned
attendants and refreshments. When their ungracious host had retired, the
damsel turned upon Bright-Wits a face which outshone the sun in its
splendour, and thus addressed him.

"Know, O prince, that I am the Princess Azalia, and that this great
palace, and the city and country for ten days' journey in every
direction, formed the kingdom of my father the Great Onalba, Rajah of
Parrabang. Here my days passed as in Paradise, until one year ago, when
my loved parent suddenly disappeared. At first no alarm was felt, for he
was wondrous wise, and fond of secluding himself from men that he might
study in peace and quietness. When, however, a month passing saw not his
return, the Vizier Garrofat, he who was but now upon the porch,
nicknamed the 'Old Woman,' because of his beardless face, called the
Council of Emirs together; whereupon it was solemnly decreed that my
beloved father had departed from this life. Now, I being a maid, and
moreover barely sixteen, could not govern in his stead, and Garrofat had
himself declared Regent until I should have arrived at the age of
eighteen years, by virtue of a decree which he claimed to have received
from the Rajah, my father. Now, moreover, this decree gave Garrofat the
right to accept as a husband for me any suitor who succeeded in
performing certain tasks, first of which was the repairing of the great
Mankalah rug hanging here beside you.

"You can see, O prince, that it is made up of separate pieces, each
containing from three to five squares, fourteen pieces in all. They must
be cut apart and rearranged so as to form a perfect checker board."

"But there are empty spaces, and I can see but thirteen pieces here,"
objected Bright-Wits.

"The missing piece hangs here at the side of the steps, and, as you see,
contains three squares," explained Azalia.

"This surely can be no difficult task to be so richly rewarded," cried

"Then accomplish it, thou Clever One," laughed Azalia.

     _The reader who wishes to learn what chance Bright-Wits has of
     winning the promised reward, should cut out the rug on page at the
     back of the book, and try the task himself. Cut with a scissors or
     sharp knife along the heavy lines._

[Illustration: THE RUG.]

[Illustration: THE RUG.]

[Illustration: THE RUG.]



Now when the Vizier Garrofat returned he was angered to find the
princess conversing with the strangers, and remarked sourly, "Much
wisdom, my lords, may be found in the complaints of women. Azalia has
doubtless been telling you of the riddle of the Mankalah rug, forgetting
that it is unseemly in a maiden to point the way to the possession of
her charms."

To which Bright-Wits quickly replied, "Learn then, O Garrofat, that I
would fain solve the riddle of the rug, and do proclaim my willingness
to be whipped forth from the gates of your city, if seven days hence I
have not accomplished the task."

"Bright eyes stir dull wits," sneered Garrofat. "Let us pray to Allah
that your skin is as thick as your vanity is great; for my slaves have
stout arms and heavy whips. Know then that I accept your offer and warn
thee against failure. Now enter with me into the palace, where you will
find refreshment; and on the morrow I will have the rug conveyed to the
apartment which you shall occupy while you dwell with us, that you may
begin your task without delay."

During the week which followed, Bright-Wits, and Ablano the Brahman,
made numerous excursions into the city and even out into the surrounding
country. At every opportunity the prince sought the society of Azalia;
and as the holy Brahman Ablano was ever present at their meetings,
Garrofat could offer no objection, much as he frowned on their ripening

On these occasions Azalia told her new friends of many suspicious acts
of the crafty vizier; which clearly indicated that he was plotting to
secure the hand of the princess for himself, and the entire control of
the kingdom into the bargain. "He has assumed the royal red robes," said
Azalia, "and he has issued orders that he be addressed only as rajah. He
has elevated his cunning brother Doola to be head of the Council of
Emirs with the rank of vizier; and has given him the richest province of
my father's kingdom to govern." When relating these things the princess
would give way to her grief.

But Ablano comforted her, saying, "Peace, my child. Be not disheartened.
Always must thou remember that as happiness passeth away so passeth away
anxiety and sorrow."

At last on the evening of the sixth day, Garrofat summoned the prince to
his presence and warned him to be in attendance in the great hall of the
palace on the morrow. Now when morning came, Bright-Wits was escorted by
a strong guard of slaves to the Hall of Audience from which he was to
emerge victorious as the accepted suitor for the hand of Azalia, or with
the whips of Garrofat's stout slaves singing in his ears and stinging
his shoulders.

Entering boldly, Bright-Wits found Garrofat seated upon the royal
throne, while at his right stood the eight governors of the provinces.
The prince easily distinguished Doola from Azalia's description. Like
his brother, he was beardless; while a golden crown surmounted by a red
cone shaped hat was perched above his rust coloured hair.

As Bright-Wits advanced to the throne, Garrofat cried out with derision,
"Comes the Prince of Boasters to receive his reward? My slaves are
impatient to stretch their whips across your shoulders."

"My business is neither with slaves nor whips," answered the prince with
scorn. "I come to announce that I have solved the riddle of the rug."
Then salaaming deeply, he presented to Garrofat a small roll of
parchment. "On this," he said, "you will find a plan of the rug, so that
should it by any mischance come apart again it may be readily repaired."

Two slaves now entered bearing the rug; and when they had spread it upon
the floor, it was found to be perfectly put together.

"By Allah!" gasped Garrofat, "he must be a genie."

Doola was the first to recover from the general surprise, and stepping
quickly to his brother's side he whispered in his ear. Now the counsel
must have been pleasing; for Garrofat chuckled and thus addressed the
prince. "Let me congratulate you," he said with a grin, "but before I
can consider you as a suitor for the hand of Azalia, I must have further
proof that you are as wise as you pretend. Else, would I be false to my
duty as her guardian.

"Now just before your entrance we were considering a question of grave
importance to the welfare of the kingdom. You will observe that there
hangs on the wall beside you what appear to be four charts, but which
are really the parts of one chart. Know then that this kingdom consists
of eight provinces; ruled over by the eight emirs you see here
assembled. Now these eight emirs are so jealous of each other that
fierce battles occur whenever two of them chance to meet upon the road.
Only our presence now restrains them. Anxious to put an end to these
disgraceful brawls within the kingdom, the great Rajah Onalba had drawn
yonder plan of the eight provinces. On it as you see he laid down roads
running north and south, and east and west. Other roads cross these in
every direction, so that any one of the eight emirs might leave his
castle and travel by any route across the kingdom without passing the
castle of another emir on the way. Now by some misfortune the
chart was cut into four pieces before the roads were built, and we
have never been able to arrange them in their original position. There
on the wall are the four pieces. The lines represent the roads, and the
eight spots the castles of the emirs. This matter must be adjusted at
once, and as you are a suitor for the hand of Azalia I expect you to
prove your claim to wisdom by solving the puzzle of the chart."

[Illustration: THE EIGHT PROVINCES.]

[Illustration: THE EIGHT PROVINCES.]

[Illustration: THE EIGHT PROVINCES.]

When Garrofat had concluded, Bright-Wits, in obedience to the counsel of
Ablano, expressed his willingness to attempt the solution of this new
riddle. Whipping from the gates to be the penalty of failure.

At a signal from the vizier, the audience was now dismissed; Bright-Wits
bearing away to his apartments the pieces of the torn chart.

     _The reader may cut out the four pieces of the chart which he will
     find on a page at the back of the book. Cut along the dotted lines
     and endeavour to arrange the four parts so that no two castles will
     appear on any straight lines. He can thus learn Bright-Wits' chance
     of success._



The week passed much as the first; Bright-Wits and Ablano spending the
time roaming over the palace grounds accompanied by the Princess Azalia.
Garrofat sometimes made one of their little party; while Doola would
occasionally thrust his long nose and ugly face into the circle.

On the seventh day Bright-Wits presented himself at the Audience Chamber
in response to the summons of Garrofat, who greeted him with mocking
inquiries as to the success of his map making.

Saluting him gravely Bright-Wits made reply, "Here you will find the map
in proper shape. Scant must be the brains in Parrabang when so simple a
task remained so long unaccomplished."

"All in good time," purred Garrofat, who, barely glancing at the map as
the slaves spread it out before him, addressed some words in a low tone
to his brother Doola. Then turning to Bright-Wits he drawled, "By the
Prophet of Allah, my dear prince, your success delights me. Allah
himself must have directed you to this kingdom, for never was visit more

Thereupon Bright-Wits interrupted him angrily, "Cease, I pray you, these
speeches, and answer at once my demand for the reward I have now

"Calm thyself, dear Bright-Wits," began Garrofat, "I am sorry to remind
you that as your task is yet unfinished there is no reward due you. Your
success, however, warrants me in demanding further proof of your boasted
ability. I would not have Azalia wed to one who was but a lucky fool."
Then, unheeding the prince's rage, he continued, "Now among other things
perplexing the kingdom is the completion of the palace gardens. If you
will but accompany me to the top of the palace I can better explain."

Thither they went, and from this high point Bright-Wits could see a
great walled garden in which were set three fountains, one of gold, one
of silver, and one of bronze. Three gates of the same metals were placed
in the farther wall.

With a wave of his hand, Garrofat began, "This great garden was built by
order of Onalba the Rajah, but through carelessness of the workmen the
gates were put in the wrong places. Hence the difficulty.

"Now the water for the golden fountain must be brought by a pipe running
from the golden gate; that for the silver fountain from the silver gate,
and to the bronze fountain from the bronze gate. At no point must these
pipes cross each other or go outside the walls. Know then, that as
Azalia's wedding must be celebrated in that garden, it is very
important to you that it be completed."




When Garrofat ceased, Bright-Wits was about to give way to his wrath,
but a look from Azalia checked him, and he said, "So be it. I accept
this new task."

"And the old penalty," chuckled Doola.

"Yes, and the old penalty," cried Bright-Wits. "But look to it thyself,
thou hungry hind, lest thou be nearer the whips than I."

Now although Bright-Wits made no secret of his contempt for Garrofat and
Doola, his love for the Princess Azalia daily increased. In a shaded
part of the palace grounds there stood a pretty little pavilion, and
here, in company with Ablano, Bright-Wits and Azalia spent many happy

     _The reader may observe that the fountains and gates are coloured
     the same in pairs: gray for gold, white for silver, and black for
     bronze. He may with his pencil endeavour to connect each fountain
     with the gate of its own colour._

The week finally slipped by, and on the seventh day, Bright-Wits was
led, as before, to the Audience Chamber surrounded by a strong guard of
slaves. Entering the apartment, the prince advanced, and saluting
Garrofat with mock courtesy, he handed him a parchment on which had been
drawn a plan showing the solution of the problem of the fountains and

Garrofat received the parchment, and after a glance at it, passed it to
Doola with a wink. "Verily," said he, "thou art indeed a bright youth.
Now be not impatient, I pray you," he added hastily, on seeing the face
of the prince grow dark. "Think not that I have any desire to cheat you
of the reward you have won, or almost won, I should say; for I have a
further little test for you."

It was with difficulty that Bright-Wits controlled his rage; while
Garrofat continued in oily tones, "You have no doubt heard, among other
things, that the Great Rajah Onalba was very fond of playing at
games of skill. Now it is only just that you should prove your title to
be his successor by performing some of them. On the wall beside you hang
five shields, each smaller than the other. Through the centre of each
there is a hole. You will see that they are numbered from one to five.
Behind you stand three spindles. Now you must first place all the
shields on one of the spindles, the largest, number five, on the bottom,
and the smallest, number one, on the top. Next you must transfer all
five shields to the second spindle, moving but one shield at a time, and
placing it either on a vacant spindle or on top of a larger shield. You
may use all three spindles in the task, which I assure you will test
your bright wits to the full."

[Illustration: THE FIVE SHIELDS.]

[Illustration: THE FIVE SHIELDS.]

[Illustration: THE FIVE SHIELDS.]

Calming himself with an effort, the prince asked, "Do you mean that I am
to do this task here and now?"

"Oh, no," grinned Garrofat, "you may take the shields and spindles to
your apartment, where you can work it out at your leisure."

"Only don't work on it at night, my dear Prince," put in Doola, with a
leer. "The clattering of the shields would keep us all awake."

"Some day, with the help of Allah, I will put you into a sleep that
nothing will ever disturb," cried Bright-Wits as he strode wrathfully
from the hall.

     _If the reader would try this new task, he may cut out the shields
     at the back of the book. For spindles he may use three square
     pieces of cardboard with a pin stuck through the centre of each.
     After placing the shields on the first spindle the first move will
     be shield No. 1 to a vacant spindle. Then shield No. 2 to another
     vacant spindle. Then shield No. 1 on top of shield No. 2, and the
     rest as he may._



Now followed another week of happiness spent with the princess and
Ablano. When the seventh day arrived at last, Bright-Wits presented
himself in the Great Hall accompanied by slaves bearing the shields and

Now Garrofat observed the prince's confident air with displeasure.
Concealing his feelings, however, he chirped, "Well, Prince, have your
wits proven as bright as of yore? Or do you but come to return the
shields and to ask forgiveness for your rash boasting?"

"Cease such drivel," cried Bright-Wits, interrupting him, "I have come
to announce the completion of a task so simple that it should not have
puzzled a child."

"Ah, what a fine thing it is to be clever," exclaimed Doola, with a look
of mock admiration. But a glance from Bright-Wits caused him to shrink
back in alarm.

Now Bright-Wits ordered the slaves to set the spindles and shields
before him; and with a smile to Azalia, he proceeded to repeat his task
before their astonished eyes.

When the last move was made, Garrofat gasped with amazement. None had
ever accomplished that feat save the Rajah Onalba himself. A hurried
consultation with Doola, however, restored his courage, and, rising, he
said, "Praise be to Allah, but thou art a youth of wondrous wisdom, and
I would be false to my trust as the Regent of this kingdom if I failed
to submit to you a question which has for the space of a whole year
puzzled the wisest wits in the realm." Then bidding Bright-Wits to
follow, he led the way to a balcony from which the surrounding country
could be overlooked.

[Illustration: THE ZOLTAN'S ORCHARD.]

[Illustration: THE ZOLTAN'S ORCHARD.]

[Illustration: THE ZOLTAN'S ORCHARD.]

"There," said Garrofat, pointing in the direction of a large orchard,
"is a plot of land which Zoltan, the Aga, willed to his four sons. As
you can see, twelve trees grow upon it, and the whole is surrounded by a
deep ditch. Now, according to the will of Zoltan, that plot of land is
to be divided equally into four parts, each to be of the same size and
shape, and each to contain three of the twelve trees; the trees to be
located in the same position in each piece."

Now Bright-Wits had been warned by Ablano against the folly of losing
his temper when fresh tasks were imposed upon him. "It suits my
purpose," Ablano had said, "that we test their villainy to the bottom."
Remembering this warning, Bright-Wits replied with a smile, "Let the
sons of Zoltan cease from quarrelling. I will divide the land between
them according to the will of their father."

"Do this," said Doola, with a bow and smirk, "and I could die from
admiration of your cleverness."

Whereon, Bright-Wits, casting on him a look of scorn, made answer, "On
the occasion of your death the only one present to merit admiration will
be the public executioner who will officiate." So saying, he turned and
descended to the palace accompanied by Azalia and the Holy Brahman,

When, seven days later, Bright-Wits appeared before Garrofat, he found
him in an ugly mood. Nor did the cheerful air of the prince as he
entered his presence tend to help matters. Fortunate was it for
Bright-Wits that he was under the protection of Ablano, the Brahman,
otherwise his instant execution might have been ordered. But to anger or
offend a Brahman was considered the unpardonable sin; so Bright-Wits was
spared to continue his adventures.

Subduing his rage, Garrofat asked in harsh tones, "How now? Thou
meddling busybody! Hast thou solved the will of Zoltan?"

"Calm thyself, O Garrofat," begged the prince with pretended concern.
"Know you not that he who submits to anger but shortens his own life? Be
happy then, for I have solved the will of Zoltan. Here is a plan of the
orchard properly divided. Are you now satisfied, or have you been able
to concoct new schemes to postpone my marriage with Azalia?"

"Speak not to me of schemes, thou possessed of the Djinns," roared
Garrofat. "It is but for the good of the kingdom that I act. Your task
will be as long as I wish to make it. You have succeeded so far, by
sorcery; but beware of your failure on this next test of your vaunted

     _If the reader would learn whether Bright-Wits is apt to succeed in
     his latest task, he may try to divide the orchard himself._



Now, on a signal, four slaves rolled into the Audience Chamber what
appeared to be a huge table set up endwise between two posts. On it were
inscribed three circles in heavy lines, one within the other. Connecting
the circles were thinner lines; and at the points where they met there
were round spots numbered from one to nine. Another spot, numbered ten,
stood outside the circle, but was connected thereto by a thin curved

"Behold, thou bright-witted one, another of the games with which the
great Onalba was wont to amuse himself. Here in the frame at the steps
of the throne you will see nine disks, three gray, three white, and
three black. On the face of each you can see a square, a triangle, or a
circle. You are to take these disks and place them on the numbered spots
on the table beside you--number ten to be left vacant. The disks must
then be moved along thick or thin lines into vacant spots, until all
three colours, and a square, a triangle, and a circle can be found in
each heavy lined circle and in each row of spots. Seven days you may
have to accomplish this task for which your life may be the forfeit."

"But what do you mean by rows of spots, and how about the tenth spot?"
demanded Bright-Wits, showing no concern over this new test.

"Well wert thou named Bright-Wits," sneered Garrofat. "But I will
explain. The rows of spots are the three lines of spots numbered as
follows, II-V-VIII, I-IV-VII, and III-VI-IX. The tenth spot is left
vacant for the first move. And further, you must cross no spot already
occupied by a disk."

[Illustration: THE NINE DISKS.]

[Illustration: THE NINE DISKS.]

"If I succeed in solving this puzzle, have you any more tests before
giving me the reward which I have already won?" asked the prince.

"That is for me to decide," replied Garrofat with a scowl. "As I have
already told you, my love for Azalia, and respect for the wishes of her
dead parent, the wise Rajah Onalba, compel me to use every possible
resource to insure her future happiness. How better could I do this than
by proving to the world that I have bestowed her upon the wisest of
princes? The table will be carried to your apartment, and I wish again
to remind you that failure now means more than a whipping. Though you
shall have that too, for good measure."

"Give yourself no concern on that head," replied Bright-Wits boldly.
"For, by Allah, the whips are not yet braided which shall sting my
shoulders through any device of thine."

"Bravely said, my dear Bright-Wits," cackled Doola. "But be careful not
to swallow any of the disks; your stomach might find them hard to

"Thrust not thy ugly nose into my affairs," cried the prince, turning
savagely upon Doola. "And look to it that you find not in your own
stomach two hands' breadth of my dagger without your being put to the
trouble of swallowing it or of digesting it thereafter." Then at a sign
from Ablano he retired from the room.

During the next week, Bright-Wits spent much of his time on the solution
of this latest problem. While the prince was thus engaged, Ablano and
Azalia held many consultations in the little pavilion under the trees.
More like father and child they seemed. A secret understanding appeared
to exist between them; which caused Bright-Wits many pangs of jealousy;
despite the respect and affection in which he held his master the Holy
Brahman. He was certain that they were concealing something from him.
Yet when he tried to discover the mystery in their actions Azalia would
but laugh at him; while Ablano gently chided his impatience, saying unto
him, "All things are as Allah hath ordered. It is but for us to await
his meaning without impatience. Yet be thou not cast down, for the end
draweth nigh." Put off, but far from satisfied, Bright-Wits must needs
be content.

Now all this time Garrofat and Doola were busy with a little scheme of
their own that promised to remove one, and perhaps both, of these
meddlesome strangers from the kingdom.

When the seventh day again came round, Bright-Wits repaired to the
Audience Chamber and was considerably puzzled to find several hundred
soldiers drawn up in the court. Among them he discerned some of his own
guards, distinguishable by their high crowned turbans. His wonder was
still further increased by the excessive good humour of Garrofat and
his wily brother Doola. Smilingly they waited while slaves bore in the
great table; and with exclamations of delight greeted Bright-Wits as he
demonstrated his success in mastering the great game of Onalba.

     _If the reader will cut out the little circular disks which he will
     find at the back of the book, and place them at random on the
     numbered spots, leaving number ten vacant for his first move, he
     may find Bright-Wits' task to be less difficult than it looks._



"Verily dost thou deserve success, my dear Prince," smirked Garrofat.
"Your probation is almost over. Now before I demand any further proof of
your wisdom, it is my desire that you travel over the kingdom for a
brief time that you may acquaint yourself with the country and people
over whom it appears you are destined to rule, by the grace of Allah,
and the help of your own bright wits. With you will go a guard of
fifteen soldiers, as befits your rank and station."

Now on hearing this strange announcement, Ablano pierced Garrofat with
his eyes. Then staying Bright-Wits, who was about to make reply, he
asked, "What men are to be selected for this escort, and who is to
select them?"

Now Garrofat winced at this question, but instantly recovering himself
replied, "Has thy stay in Parrabang, O Brahman, made thee so lost to
politeness as to cast suspicion on thy host? Has this been the teaching
of Brahma? But fear not. Bright-Wits may do his own selecting; only as
he is so very clever I would insist that he do it by rule. Fifteen of
these soldiers are his own people; with an equal number of my guards he
will have thirty to select from. This he must do by arranging the thirty
men in a circle, and counting out every tenth man. Now if he is but as
clever as usual it should not be difficult for Bright-Wits to take with
him none but his own soldiers."

Again Bright-Wits essayed to speak; but again Ablano checked him, and
directed that the thirty men should step forth. Now calling Bright-Wits
to his side, the Brahman whispered, "If but one of Garrofat's
guards be among your escort you will be assassinated at the first
opportunity." For a few moments Ablano whispered thus to the prince, and
finished his instructions by telling him not to fear.



Now this whispered conference was but little to the liking of the two
plotters, and Garrofat demanded that the selection be made at once.

With secret misgivings, but outwardly brave, Bright-Wits descended to
the court; where he quickly arranged the thirty soldiers in a circle and
began to count. Ablano now crossed over to the princess and, taking her
trembling little hands in his, gently chided her for her fears.
Bright-Wits, meanwhile, continued to count and select; and to the
amazement of Garrofat and Doola none were chosen but the prince's own

     _With fifteen pieces of white and fifteen pieces of coloured paper,
     or any other counters, the reader may learn the way Bright-Wits
     counted out his own men so successfully._

As the last man stepped out the plotters exchanged glances of terror.
Quickly recovering themselves, however, they applauded rapturously;
while Garrofat pulled a sour smile and said, "Djinn or Genie, by Allah,
thou art wonderful. Now that you have shown such amazing skill I have a
little problem which as a favour to me I would ask that you work out at
your leisure while going forward on your journey." This said, he gave
whispered instructions to Doola, who retired, to return almost instantly
followed by a slave bearing eighteen oblong shaped pieces of silver, on
some of which the links of a chain embossed in gold might be seen.

Bidding the prince to draw near, Garrofat began, "These eighteen pieces
which you see here were originally a complete pattern filling the blank
square space above the throne. The design in gold is an endless chain
representing life. Loosened by time they fell from their place and up to
the present no one has been found skilful enough to rearrange the
pieces so that they will fit the space and show the endless chain
perfectly joined. Here you may see a counterpart of it in this marble
decoration. You would find that no guide in your task, however, except
as showing the pattern of the chain when complete. Do me this little
service, my dear Prince, and I will for ever be your most devoted

[Illustration: THE ENDLESS CHAIN.]

[Illustration: THE ENDLESS CHAIN.]

"I scorn your admiration," broke out Bright-Wits angrily; then catching
a warning look from Ablano, he salaamed deeply to Garrofat, and said
mockingly, "I am ready to become even a chair mender, if by so doing I
can favour a friend or discomfit a rogue."

Now Garrofat refused to show anger at this insolence; but smilingly gave
the prince his permission to withdraw that he make ready for his journey
through the kingdom which was to begin on the morrow.

     _If he is anxious to try to repair the endless chain he has only to
     cut out the pieces at the back of the book._



For the next seven days Bright-Wits was in a constant maze of wonder at
the magnificence and extent of the kingdom of Parrabang. His fame had
spread abroad through the land, so that wherever he went he was welcomed
by the people with all the honour and affection that would have been
bestowed on a royal prince of the country. Laden with rich gifts, and
with the praises of the people still ringing in his ears, he returned to
the palace at last. Here he found Garrofat awaiting him with a smile
that was far from sweet. The Vizier's sour looks, however, were quickly
forgotten when Bright-Wits, casting his eyes up to the windows of the
zenana, caught a glance from the starry orbs of Azalia that set his
heart beating to a merry tune.

Ignoring Garrofat's questions as to his travels, Bright-Wits summoned
two of his guards, who bore between them a closely wrapped square
packet; which upon being opened proved to contain the silver disk, of
the eighteen pieces now perfectly restored, its golden chain showing no
break in all its length.

It was with difficulty that Garrofat choked down his rage at this latest
failure of his plans to discomfit or destroy the prince. Doola, however,
pressed forward to welcome Bright-Wits. Bowing and salaaming like a
manikin he pranced across the court; and, as he drew near, Bright-Wits
noticed that he carried in his hand a narrow strip of teak wood marked
off into squares. Calling upon Allah and all the prophets to bear
witness to his joy at seeing his dear friend Prince Bright-Wits returned
safely from his journey, he would have clasped the prince in his arms
had not our hero thrust him off.

Disregarding the prince's scorn, he endeavoured to call his attention to
the little teak wood board which the prince had already observed. "My
dear Bright-Wits," he chattered, "I have come to crave a boon at your
hands. I want the assistance of your clever wits in solving a little
puzzle over which I have spent hours without arriving at a solution.
This puzzle is in reality another of the games with which the Great
Onalba was fond of amusing himself. So fond indeed was he of this
particular amusement that he had an immense representation of the board
on which it is played reproduced in stone here in the palace wall. As
you can see, my dear Prince, the board is marked off into seven squares,
three gray, and three black, while the centre square was left white. In
playing the game six counters were used, three black and three white. In
starting play, the three black counters are placed on the black
squares, and the three white counters on the gray squares. The centre
square is left vacant. The game consists in making the two sets of
counters change places; moving one at a time. You can jump as in
checkers: that is, you can go over a counter if there is a blank space
behind it. You must always move forward, however, and a move once made
cannot be withdrawn. Few have ever even seen this one of the games of
Onalba, and none but he have ever succeeded in mastering it. Do you
think you could solve this little puzzle, my dear Bright-Wits? I am
dying to find out just how it is done."

[Illustration: DOOLA'S GAME.]

[Illustration: DOOLA'S GAME.]

With an angry gesture, Bright-Wits was about to consign Doola and his
game to oblivion; but at a nod from Ablano he signed for a slave to take
the board from Doola.

     _The reader may use six of the counters from the other game in
     working out this one of Bright-Wits' problems._

Azalia appearing at this moment, all else was forgotten by Bright-Wits,
who rushed to her side and was soon deeply engaged in telling her of his
wonder at the greatness and splendour of her kingdom.

Short-lived, however, was to be their joy. With the coming of the next
day consternation reigned throughout the palace. Ablano, the Brahman,
had disappeared. How or when, none knew.

Couriers and soldiers were hurried abroad throughout the kingdom. The
entire country was shrouded in deepest grief. Nothing availed. Not a
trace of the Holy Brahman could be found. In the caravansaries about the
city, and within the palace naught else was talked of. Everywhere there
was evidence of a great sorrow. Short as had been the residence of
Ablano in Parrabang, the fame of his wisdom and virtue had spread afar,
and he had already a kingdom in the hearts of all the people.

At the first alarm, Bright-Wits instantly suspected treachery on the
part of the two conspirators. But investigation proved that they were no
less mystified by the strange disappearance than he himself. Six days
passed without any tidings, and Bright-Wits, frantic with fear and
suspense, was almost in despair. The most puzzling feature of the whole
affair was the fact that Azalia apparently evinced no concern. This was
surprising in view of the affection which Bright-Wits knew her to
cherish for the missing Brahman. When he chided her for this seeming
heartlessness, she but smiled at him; nor would tell him what she knew.



So matters stood; even the successful solution of Doola's puzzle, which
the prince had easily accomplished, passed almost unnoticed. Imagine,
then, the general surprise when, on the seventh day, Ablano returned as
mysteriously as he had vanished. To all inquiries as to his absence
Ablano remained deaf. With him there had come three strangers, who from
their dress and appearance were inhabitants of the great desert to the
north of Parrabang.



When the excitement had in some measure subsided, and the wanderer had
embraced Bright-Wits and Azalia, Ablano turned to Garrofat and thus
addressed him, "Know, thou who art called Garrofat, that with pride
I have watched the success of my dearly beloved pupil in the performance
of the various tasks which you have seen fit to impose upon him. Now I,
myself, would fain submit to him a question; that I may put to the test
his wisdom and justice and learn if all my teachings have borne good
fruit. Now two of these dwellers in the desert whom you see here with me
halted to-day by the wayside and prepared to break their fast. The food
between them consisted of eight small loaves; one possessing five, and
the other, three. Now as they seated themselves this third man arrived
and they offered unto him a share of their food. During the meal all ate
of the loaves in equal portion. The repast over, their guest threw down
eight pieces of money in payment for his share. Dissension now began. He
who had the five loaves claimed five coins; but the other objected, and
insisted that as all had partaken equally of the food that the money
should be divided equally; each taking four coins. They were still
disputing when I overtook them, and they begged me to settle the matter.
Now Bright-Wits, I put the question to you. What would be a proper
division of the money, so that each may have justice?"

Sorely puzzled, the prince knit his brows in thought; while Garrofat and
Doola grinned broadly at the prospect of his failure. Their joy was
short-lived, however, as, with a smile to Ablano, Bright-Wits announced
that both of the strangers were in the wrong. Then he pointed out the
proper distribution of the coins. Now when the prince had answered
Ablano embraced him; saying, "verily am I proud of thee, my son and
pupil. Be of good heart. Your reward is near."

Garrofat and Doola, who for the moment were forgotten, now claimed
attention. Ordering Bright-Wits to draw near, the crafty Vizier Garrofat
thus addressed him, "Know thou, most wise and fortunate of princes, that
I have one other task to put to you. Now as this one may be the last, I
would give much thought to it to the end that it prove the supreme test
of the boasted brightness of your wits. To-night, therefore, I will
endeavour to devise such a task that your successful accomplishment of
it will prove to all the world that you are in truth wise enough to sit
upon the throne of the Great Onalba." So saying he dismissed the
assembled people, and beckoning Doola, sought the seclusion of his own

In obedience to the command of Garrofat, Bright-Wits presented himself
in the great council hall of the palace at noon of the next day. His
entrance was the signal for a demonstration of joy from the guards who
already looked on him as their future leader. The presence of the Emirs
of the eight provinces of the kingdom perplexed him, nor could he
understand the meaning of the double row of guards placed near the

When Bright-Wits had made obeisance, Garrofat arose and ordered a slave
to remove the rug which lay upon the floor before the throne. This done,
there was revealed a square, slightly sunk into the marble, at one
corner of which could be seen the head of a silver serpent set in the
stone; while at the opposite corner the tail of the serpent was visible.
But for these two pieces the square was blank. Doola now entered,
followed by a slave who bore a number of pieces of metal which proved to
be the missing parts of the serpent's body. These were placed beside the

Now when all these things had been done, Garrofat again addressed the
prince, "Know, O Bright-Wits, that this is to be your last task. To fail
now means death. Not Allah, himself, could save you. To win, however,
means life, and the hand of Azalia, than whom the Houris in Paradise are
not more fair. Long I pondered the selection of this final task; and it
is to your master, Ablano, that I am indebted for my choice. He in fact
suggested this very test. Know then, that somewhere in that square at
your feet is concealed a secret spring which opens a receptacle
containing the last instructions of the Great Onalba. The silver serpent
is the key. You will see that one of the pieces is marked with a star.
Now when the whole is properly fitted together it will set inside that
square and the star will rest directly above the hidden spring. As you
have most at stake, it is for you to give to the world the last words of
the Rajah. Is your wit keen enough, and your courage high enough to
essay and conquer for the last time?"

As Garrofat ceased speaking, Bright-Wits glanced quickly at Azalia, and
the light he saw shining in her eyes would have spurred him to tempt any
fate at that moment. Trembling, but not from fear, the prince gravely
saluted Garrofat and accepted the task and all its conditions. Then, in
a voice that was calm and clear he asked, "Must I do this now?"

"Now. At once," hissed Garrofat. "Now, while thy guardian spirit is

Then for the first time Bright-Wits noticed the absence of Ablano, the
Brahman. Nor could he recognize the tall stranger standing beside
Azalia; his face muffled in a fold of his robe. Then too, he vaguely
wondered at the presence of the many dignitaries and officers of the
kingdom, and at the strange air of mystery which seemed to pervade the
entire audience chamber.

Fear for an instant seized his heart; but a glance from Azalia reassured
while it still further mystified him. The savage command of Garrofat
that he waste no more time brought him to his senses; and dropping on
his knees, he began his task. A breathless stillness reigned as the
prince adjusted and readjusted the pieces. Garrofat and the wily Doola
watching, meanwhile, with looks now filled with cunning, now with fear.

[Illustration: THE SERPENT.]

[Illustration: THE SERPENT.]

Time after time, Bright-Wits arranged the pieces of silver whose
proper placing meant so much to him. The minutes passed until he seemed
to be spending hours on this last and fatal test. Glancing up from time
to time, he could see the tall stranger moving about the hall; now
whispering to this one, now to another of the Emirs. Garrofat and Doola
following his movements with looks of puzzled concern.

At last, in moving one of the pieces, Bright-Wits detected a slight
click. Carefully, now, he proceeded, a dozen more moves, and lo! the
serpent is complete in its position. Tremblingly he presses above the
star. Again the click. The piece slips round to one side and there is
revealed a small square opening in which rests a sealed parchment.
Quickly drawing forth the packet, the prince was about to break the
seal, when to his astonishment the parchment was snatched from his hand
by the stranger.



In a voice that rang through the great hall the stranger commanded
silence. Then tearing the parchment open he read the amazing decree
which Onalba had written thereon. "This decree, I, Onalba, Rajah of
Parrabang, give to my people. Let all hearken, and obey these my
instructions. Knowing that my days are soon to cease, and that my well
beloved daughter Azalia will come to rule in my place, I, filled with a
desire that my kingdom be governed wisely and my beloved child wed
worthily, decided to absent myself from the affairs of my realm and to
journey out into the world that I might seek among the princes of the
earth one who would be full of the promise of wisdom and of high
courage. One fitted to be the consort of the matchless Azalia and in
whom I could see my fondest desires bear fruit. Now that none might know
me, I permitted my beard to grow to my girdle, and stained it with a
white pigment. Then I had only to reverse my name, Onalba, to become
Ablano; and in the Holy Brahman none knew the Rajah of Parrabang.
Hearing tidings of the fame of Prince Bright-Wits, I journeyed hence to
Mogadore. There I tarried studying the heart and instructing the mind of
this jewel among sons and star among princes. Nor has he failed me. In
him I have found one who will be a fitting lord for my child Azalia and
a worthy successor to the great Rajahs who have sat upon the throne of

"His wisdom has been tested by the plotting of those whom I had trusted
as mine own sons. Yet naught has availed against him. Here before the
Council of Emirs, and all my people, I now decree Bright-Wits to be my
chosen successor, and bestow upon him the hand of the Princess Azalia.
Seven weeks from this day, on the Feast of Yama, shall their wedding be

Loud cries now came from all parts of the great hall, while Garrofat
roared, "Up guards. Cut down these rascally impostors." But with a wave
of his hand, the stranger stayed the tumult. "Peace," he cried, "I have
not yet ended." Then, still concealing his face he continued to read
from the decree.

"Now because of my absence there has risen envy and treachery in the
hearts of those who beforetime I have heaped with honours and riches.
Know you, Garrofat, and thee, Doola, that because of your villainy your
lives are forfeit. All your plotting has come to naught. Many times has
my rage almost betrayed my secret; which none knew but my dear child
Azalia. Her I could not long deceive. Let the guards drag from our sight
these wretches whose fat carcasses are to make a banquet for the royal
beasts in the pits beneath the palace."

Terror now blanched the faces of the fallen conspirators. "It is a lie,"
they screamed in concert. "Onalba is dead."

"Look then, and believe," cried the stranger. Throwing the robe from
before his face, Onalba, the Rajah, stood before them. In an instant he
was gathering Azalia and Bright-Wits to his bosom, while the villainous
Garrofat and his cowardly brother fell stricken into the arms of the

Loud cheers now rent the air. Into the great square before the palace
thousands of the people had gathered to greet their beloved Rajah, and
to lay rich gifts at the feet of Prince Bright-Wits and the happy
princess. The next day the Rajah ordered a great feast in honour of the
espousals. Swift couriers were despatched to Mogadore to inform the
father of Bright-Wits of the great good fortune that had befallen his

The seven weeks flew by on wings of love; and as Onalba had decreed,
Bright-Wits and Azalia were married in the famous garden of the

     _Now if you have worked out all the tasks which were set to the
     prince during his wonderful adventures in Parrabang, you can tell
     whether his happiness was easily won._


_The Five Shields_

To simplify explanation, set the spindles in a row. We will then refer
to them as L. for left, C. centre, and R. for the right hand spindle.
Move as follows, numbers refer to the shields.

  Place No. 1  on  C.         Place No. 1  on  L.
  "     "   2  "   R.         "     "   2  "   C.
  "     "   1  "   R.         "     "   1  "   C.
  "     "   3  "   C.         "     "   3  "   L.
  "     "   1  "   L.         "     "   1  "   R.
  "     "   2  "   C.         "     "   2  "   L.
  "     "   1  "   C.         "     "   1  "   L.
  "     "   4  "   R.         "     "   4  "   C.
  "     "   1  "   R.         "     "   1  "   C.
  "     "   2  "   L.         "     "   2  "   R.
  "     "   1  "   L.         "     "   1  "   R.
  "     "   3  "   R.         "     "   3  "   C.
  "     "   1  "   C.         "     "   1  "   L.
  "     "   2  "   R.         "     "   2  "   C.
  "     "   1  "   R.         "     "   1  "   C.
  Four are now                And the riddle is solved.
  transferred.                31 moves.
  Place No. 5 on C.

_The Nine Disks_

No absolute rule would apply to all positions, which makes this game
more fascinating. The following solution of one random placing of the
disks will illustrate the general process. To simplify explanation we
will designate the counters as follows.

The gray counter with the square we will call G.s., the one with a
triangle G.t., and the one with the circle G.c. W.s., etc., for the
white disks, and B.s., etc., for the black, placed at random on the
following spots.

On spot No. 1 place B.c. On spot No. 6 place W.t.
 "  "    "  2   "   B.t.  "  "    "  7  "    B.s.
 "  "    "  3   "   W.c.  "  "    "  8  "    G.t.
 "  "    "  4   "   G.s.  "  "    "  9  "    G.c.
 "  "    "  5   "   W.s.

With the above arrangement of the disks the solution is as below:

Move G.c. from 9 to 10. Move G.s. from 4 to 2.
 "   G.t.   "  8  "  9.  "   B.c.   "  6  " 4.
 "   W.t.   "  6  "  8.  "   W.s.   "  5  " 6.
 "   B.c.   "  1  "  6.  "   B.c.   "  4  " 5.
 "   W.c.   "  3  "  1.  "   G.t.   "  9  " 4.
 "   B.t.   "  2  "  3.  "   G.c.   " 10  " 9.

_The Soldiers and Guards_

Before beginning to select the men for his escort, Bright-Wits arranged
the thirty men in a circle, the black spots representing his own men.

Then he began to count with the man marked A.


_Doola's Game_

The key to this puzzle lies in following these two rules:

1. After moving a counter, one of the _opposite colour_ must invariably
be passed over it.

2. After having passed one counter over another, the next move will be
with a counter of the colour of the first one moved.

After the ninth move, the nest will be with one of the same colour.

Beginning with the white counters the moves are:


  1. D. moves into space 4.

  2. C. passes over D. into space 5.

  3. B. moves into space 3.

  4. D. passes over B. into space 2.

  5. E. passes over C. into space 4.

  6. F. moves into space 6.

  7. C. passes over F. into space 7.

  8. B. passes over E. into space 5.

  9. A. passes over D. into space 3.

  10. D. moves into space 1.

  11. E. passes over A. into space 2.

  12. F. passes over B. into space 4.

  13. B. moves into space 6.

  14. A. passes over F. into space 5.

  15. F. moves into space 3, and the trick is done.

Every move must be in a forward direction, white going one way, black
the other.

_The Eight Pieces of Money_

He who had 5 loaves was entitled to 7 pieces and he who had 3 loaves to
but 1. Divide the loaves into thirds and one had 15 thirds, the other
but 9 thirds, or 24 thirds in all. Now as all three ate alike they had 8
thirds each. Therefore he of the 5 loaves contributed 7 parts of the
stranger's meal, while the other, who had only 3 loaves or 9 thirds in
all, gave but one part.

The serpent puzzle can be worked out in a number of ways by placing the
head and tail at random and then endeavouring to connect them with the
remaining pieces.


[Illustration: THE RUG SOLUTION.]






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