There was an emperor of Persia, named Khoonoo-shah. He often walked in disguise through the city, attended by a trusty minister, when he met with many adventures. On one of these occasions, as he was passing through a street in that part of the town inhabited only by the meaner sort, he heard some people talking very loud; and going close to the house whence the noise proceeded, he perceived a light, and three sisters sitting on a sofa, conversing together after supper. By what the eldest said, he presently understood the subject of their conversation was wishes: “For,” said she, “since we have got upon wishes, mine shall be to have the sultan’s baker for my husband, for then I shall eat my fill of that bread which by way of excellence is called the sultan’s. Let us see if your tastes are as good as mine.”
“For my part,” replied the second sister, “I wish I was wife to the sultan’s chief cook, for then I should eat of the most excellent dishes; and, as I believe the sultan’s bread is common in the palace, I should not want any of that. Therefore, you see,” addressing herself to her eldest sister, “that I have better taste than you.”
The youngest sister, who was very beautiful, and had more charms and wit than the two elder, spoke in her turn: “For my part, sisters,” said she, “I shall not limit my desires to such trifles, but take a higher flight; and since we are upon wishing, I wish to be the emperor’s queen consort. I would make him father of a prince, whose hair should be gold on one side of his head, and silver on the other; when he cried, the tears from his eyes should be pearl; and when he smiled, his vermilion lips should look like a rose-bud fresh blown.”
The three sisters’ wishes, particularly that of the youngest, seemed so singular to the sultan that he resolved to gratify them in their desires; but without communicating his design to his grand vizier he charged him only to take notice of the house, and bring the three sisters before him the following day.
The grand vizier, in executing the emperor’s orders, would give the sisters but just time to dress themselves to appear before him, without telling them the reason. He brought them to the palace and presented them to the emperor, who said to them, “Do you remember the wishes you expressed last night, when you were all in so pleasant a mood? Speak the truth; I must know what they were.”