THE HORSE OF BRASS
AMBUSCAN was the noblest ruler in all the East. On the
day upon which he completed the twentieth year of his
reign, he held a great feast in his palace, to which
all the princes of his realm were invited. The royal
dining-hall was a marvel of beauty and magnificence,
and the table was the finest that the world has ever
seen. At the head of the board sat the king, with his
wife Elfeta, his two sons, Algarsif and Camballo, and
his daughter Canace. On either side were ranged, in the
order of their rank, the noblest lords and the most
beautiful ladies of the land. The minstrels played
sweet music, and the hearts of the king and his guests
were filled with joy.
In the midst of the festivity there came into the hall,
without invitation or announcement, a strange knight
mounted upon a steed of brass, and holding in his hand
a broad, bright mirror. By his side hung a jewel-hilted
sword, and on his thumb was a ring of dazzling beauty.
 was so astonished that the hall became suddenly silent;
the laughter ceased, the minstrels forgot their music,
and the guests turned about in their places to gaze at
the unexpected sight. The horse walked straight toward
the dais where the king sat, and when he was within
speaking distance paused. Then the knight saluted the
king and queen and lords with a grace and courtesy
which none of them had ever seen excelled, and with a
manly voice delivered his message.
"The king of Araby and of Ind, whose servant I am,"
said he, "sends salutations to you. He has also sent to
you, O king, in honor of your anniversary, this horse
of brass, which can in the space of four and twenty
hours bear you without danger into whatsoever part of
the world you may wish to go. Or if you choose to soar
aloft as an eagle, and look down from the
mountain-tops, he will carry you thither. The whole
thing is as simple as turning a pin. This sword is also
a present to you from my king. It has an edge so keen
and sharp that it will cut through the heaviest armor,
and no metal can withstand its stroke. And yet it has
another property that makes it even more valuable; for,
should any man be wounded with it, you can immediately
heal him by passing
 the flat part of it over the wound.
This mirror and the ring are for your daughter, fair
Canace. In the mirror she can see everything that is
going on in your kingdom, and can even read the
thoughts of her lover. And while wearing the ring she
will understand the language of all the birds, and be
able to answer them in their own manner of speaking."
Then the knight, having delivered his message, turned
his steed around and rode out into the courtyard.
Having dismounted, he was conducted, by the king's
command, back into the banquet-hall, where a place was
made for him at the feast. But the horse of brass stood
in its place immovable, the center of a gaping,
wondering crowd. It was as tall and well-proportioned
as the famous steeds of Lombardy, and as handsome and
light of limb as the finest horses of Polish breed.
Some said that it was such a steed as the fairies ride;
others that it was Pegasus, the winged steed of Grecian
story; still others declared that it looked like the
great horse which Epeus contrived for the destruction
of the Trojan people; and they feared that armed men
might somehow be hidden within it. But the greater
number were agreed that it was the skilful work
 of the
Arabic magicians, and hence would better not be
tampered with by ignorant hands.
Cambuscan, when he had done feasting, went out into the
courtyard, with all his lords and ladies, to look at
the wonderful gift which the king of Araby had sent
"I pray you," said he to the knight who had brought it,
"tell us how to manage this strange creature."
"There is but little to tell," said the knight, laying
his hand upon the horse, which began to skip and prance
in the strangest manner possible. "When you wish to
ride anywhere you have simply to remove this peg which
you see between his ears, mount him, and name the
place. He will carry you thither by the shortest route,
and without ever missing his way. When you wish him to
stop, or to descend to the ground, turn this wooden pin
half way round, and he will do your bidding. Or, if you
wish him to leave you for a time, turn this iron pin,
and he will vanish out of sight, and come to you again
when he is called by name. Ride when and where you
please, he will always be ready to obey."
The king was wonderfully pleased, and resolved that on
the morrow he would ride out to see
 the world. Then he
ordered the groom of the bedchamber to take off the
horse's jeweled bridle and carry it into the strong
room of the palace, where it should be locked up among
his costliest treasures. This being done, he gave a
sudden turn to the iron pin, as he had been directed,
and the horse vanished from sight. The knight, too, had
disappeared from the palace, and King Cambuscan
remembered when it was too late that he had not told
him how or by what name to call the magic steed.
If any one will go to Sarra in Tartary—wherever that
may be—and shout the right name of the horse of brass,
I doubt not but that he is still waiting to appear. And
what more wonderful piece of mechanism could any one
wish to own?
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