7 of 9 of the story of The Seven Beggars
The Man with the Withered Hands
Then they were merry, but on the sixth day they remembered the beggar whose hands were withered, and they longed for him. Then he came and said," Here I am, " and he embraced the children, and gave them his gift.
"In the forest I blessed you, that you might be as I am, and today I bestow that upon you as a wedding gift: be as I am. You believe that I cannot use my hands," he said, "but indeed my hands are strong, only there is nothing in the world worth their use, and I save their strength for other deeds. See, I have proof of their strength from the Palace of Water.
"There was a princess who was ill, and many people came together, each boasting that he had the power to heal her in his hands. One said, ‘I have such a power in my hands that when I shoot an arrow I can seize it and bring it back’. Then I said to him, ‘What sort of arrows can you bring back? For there are ten kinds of arrows, since there are ten sorts of poison that may be put upon arrows, and one is stronger than the other’ And again I asked him, .Can you draw back the arrow only while it is still in its flight, or can you draw it back even after it has stricken its victim?’."He answered, ‘I can draw it back even after it has strickenits victim; but it is only the first kind of arrow that I can drawback.’"’If you can only draw back the first kind of arrow, ‘ I said to him, ‘you cannot heal the princess!’
"Another man was there who said he had such a power in his hands that whenever he took something from someone, instead of taking, he gave. Then I knew he was a master of Good, and I said, ‘What sort of Good do you give?’."’ The tenth sort,’ he told me. So I said, ‘ You cannot heal the princess, for you could never come to her chamber; she is surrounded by ten walls, and you can only pass through the first of them.’
"A man was there who said he had such a power in his hands that he gave wisdom to whomever he touched, and it was he who had given wisdom to all the sages of the world: but I said to him, ‘There are ten degrees of wisdom, and which sort of wisdom can you give? ’He could give only one of the ten, then I said, ‘You cannot heal the princess, for you could never find out her pain: there are ten degrees of pain, and you know only one, for you can give only one sort of wisdom with your hands.’
"Another was there, who said, ‘ I have so great a power in my hands that I can catch a stormy wind as it flies, and hold it, and let it out as a gentle wind or strong, however I desire.’ But I said to him, ‘There are ten winds, and which wind can you catch? ‘ ."’ The whirlwind ‘ he answered. Then I told him,’ you cannot heal the princess, for you know the melody of only a single wind, and there are ten winds, and each wind bas a melody,and the princess may be healed only through song.’
"Then they cried to me, ‘What sort of power have you in your hands? ‘ And I told them, ‘All the nine parts of each of the things you cannot do, I can do:
"And this is the story: There was a king who fell in love with a princess, and he called sorcerers and made magic spells over her until he caught her in his love and brought her to his palace. But once at night he dreamed that the princess arose from her bed and murdered him. The king was terribly frightened; he called all his sages to him and asked them the meaning of his dream. They told him,
‘The dream is true. As you dreamed, so it will happen.’ At this, he did not know what to do. He could not kill the princess, for he loved her; and he could not send her away, for he had suffered so much for her, and if he sent her away someone else would have her, and if she went to someone else she might return to do what she had done in his dream; yet he was afraid to keep her by him.
The king did not know what to do, so he did nothing; and as the days passed his love for the princess waned, for he thought of her always as the murderess in his dream; and as his love waned the spell fell from the princess, and her love waned, until it became hatred, and she hated the king.Then she ran from the palace; but he sent out searchers to find her.The searchers returned and said, ‘We have seen her wandering near the Palace of Water."For the king had a palace that was the most wonderful of all places on earth: it was built entirely of water! The walls of the palace were of clear water, they stood and glimmered in the sun; the earth upon which the palace stood was deep water, and the gardens about the palace were of water, and they were filled with all manner of fruits and flowers. luscious and gold and green, all liquid as the sea. The palace and its garden were surrounded by ten watery walls; no man might come into that place, for surely he would be drowned.
"When the guards told the king that they had seen the princess wandering near the walls of water, he cried. ‘We will catch her there!’ andthe king went out with his men to pursue the princess. But as she saw them coming, she was seized with terror, she thought she would rather die than be taken by them again; she looked at the walls and thought, ‘ perhaps I can even pass through the walls and reach the palace!’ Then she ran into the water.
"As the king saw her run into the water, he cried. ‘My dream was true! She is a sorceress!’ And he shouted to his men. ‘ KiIl her! ’They shot their arrows after her, and each of the ten arrows struck the princess, and upon each arrow was another of the ten poisons. But she found the gates beneath the watery walls, and she passed through the ten walls. and fell within the palace, and there she lies in a swoon.
"Only I can heal her, for only he who has the ten virtues in his hands can pass through the ten walls of water. And when the king and his men sought to run after her, they all were drowned in the sea.
"But under the walls of water are the ten winds, and each wind blows beneath the sea and raises the waters up into a wall, and while the wind remains under the ocean the water remains on high; but I can seize the ten winds, and I can pass through the ten walls of water, and I can go into the palace and draw the ten poisoned arrows from the princess; and I can heal her ten wounds with my ten fingers, for through ten melodies she may be healed entirely.
"And then they understood that I might truly heal the princess, they agreed that the greatest power was in my hands, and now I bestow that power upon you, my children!"