Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/49

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The Voice of the Stone of Destiny. 37

he decreed that after his death his sons should be tested, and that he should be made king whom the jewel-shoes should fit, under whom the throne should remain steadfast, and on whose head the diadem should rest unshaken, whom the women should recognise, and who should guess six objects to be divined by insight.^ There is a triple test here — divination by the royal insignia, the choice of the harem, and the solution of a riddle. I shall return to the two former tests. But before passing to another type of story I may note that in the Bakhtydr-Ndma, a Persian romance translated by Sir William Ouseley, who brought it from the East in the early part of the last century, there is a story in w^hich the succession to the throne is made to depend upon the solution of three riddles. The king having died with- out issue, it was resolved to go to the prison and propound three questions to the criminals confined there. He who answered best was recognised as king.'^ Riddles are re- garded in certain stages of civilisation as a test of more than ordinary wisdom. Their position in the evolution of thought and custom is well worth investigation. It is too large a subject for discussion here.

Occasionally the instrument of divination is wholly want- ing, and the first man met with is taken for king. Among a tribe in Morocco is told a tale of which the hero is made king, because he is the first man found outside the city-gate when it is opened in the morning.*^ Another of these stories is that of Ali Shar and Zumurrud in the Arabian Nights. Ali Shar was a prodigal, and Zumurrud was his favourite female slave. By a series of diverting adventures which do not concern us, they are separated. After much suffering, Zumurrud contrives to possess herself of a man's clothes,

' Ralston. Tibetan Tales from Indian Sources (London, 1882), p. 29.

- Sir William Ouseley, The Baklitydr Naiua (edited by \V. A. Clouston, 1S83), p. 51.

' Stumme, I\ILirchen der Schhih von Tazcvivalf (Leipzig^. 1S95I, p. 123, Story No. 15.