Read Hero tales and drolls: Tale 42 of Filipino Popular Tales, free online book, by Dean S. Fansler, on

The prince’s dream

Narrated by Gregorio Frondoso, a Bicol of Tigaon, Camarines. The narrator says, “This story was told to me by my guardian while I was in Nueva Caceres. He told it to me in the Bicol dialect, and said that this must be a Bicol story.”

Once there lived a young prince who, after his father’s death, succeeded to the throne as the sole heir of a vast, rich kingdom. He indulged himself in all worldly pleasures. He gave dances, and all sorts of merry-making surrounded his court to attract the most beautiful ladies of the kingdom. Meanwhile the royal treasury was being drained, and his subjects were becoming disloyal to him; for, his time being chiefly absorbed in personal cares, he often neglected his duties as king. Disappointed by his conduct, his counsellors plotted against him: they resolved to dismiss him from the realm. The prince’s mother, the widowed queen, learned of their plot. So, when he returned to the palace from his evening walk one day, she said to him, “My son, I wish you would turn from your foolish trifling, and govern your people as you ought to do; for your advisers are planning to dethrone you.” The prince, who was not bad at heart, followed his mother’s sensible advice: he now began to devote himself to the welfare of his subjects. His ministers, too, gave up their plan, and aided the young king in his royal tasks.

One noon, when the prince was taking his siesta, he had a dream. A ghost appeared to him, and spoke in this manner: “Your father left a hidden treasure of gold and diamonds, which he forgot to mention in his will. Should you care to have that treasure, go to the city of Black. There you will find a Negro, the richest in that city, who will tell you all about the treasure.” On hearing these words, the prince woke up, and hurriedly acquainted his mother with his dream. “Undeceive yourself,” she said. “Never believe in dreams. I don’t believe in them myself.” In spite of his mother’s words, he decided to look for the Negro.

The next day, disguising himself as a poor traveller, the prince set out for the city of Black. He arrived there at ten o’clock at night, and the gate of the city was closed; for there was a law there, that, after the bell had rung ten, no person could enter the city. So he had to sleep outside the walls. Then the very same ghost that had spoken to him in his palace appeared to him, and said, “Go back to your palace, prince, and there in the cellar you will find the treasure I spoke of.” The moment he heard the voice, the prince got up and returned to his own city. When his mother saw him, she said to him, “Did you find what you were looking for?” “Mother, the very same ghost told me that the treasure is buried in the cellar of the palace.”

“I have told you that dreams are never true,” she said. “The ghost must be joking you. You see, you have gone to a faraway land in vain. Banish all thoughts of that treasure, and continue ruling your kingdom well, and you will be very much better off.”

At first the prince followed his mother’s counsel, and tried to rid his mind of the thought of the treasure; but the ghost haunted him in his sleep, day and night, reminding him of the gold and diamonds. Early one morning, without the knowledge of his mother, he took a pointed iron bar and went down into the cellar of the palace. There he dug where the treasure was supposed to be. He dug and dug to find the coveted gold and diamonds. He remained there several hours, and had excavated a hole some three metres deep, but had found no sign of the hidden wealth. Just as he was about to give up, his bar struck something hard which produced a metallic sound. He went on digging until finally he uncovered an iron platform in the form of a square. It was locked with a padlock, and the key was in the lock. He lifted the platform, and to his great surprise and wonder found a low ladder made of diamond bars, leading down into a small apartment all shining bright as if it were day. Here he found two columns of diamond bars, each a foot in thickness and a metre in height, whose brightness shot through all the corners like sunbeams. This subterranean chamber immediately led to another in which there was a big safe about five feet in height and three feet wide. He opened the safe, and from out of it flowed gold coins like water in torrents from a cliff. His eyes were dazzled by their brightness; and he was so startled at the inexhaustible flow of money, that he said to himself, “Are these gold coins and diamonds real, or am I simply dreaming?” To assure himself, he filled his cap with the gold coins and went up into the sunlight. He rubbed his eyes and examined the coins: they were of pure gold. Greatly delighted by his discovery, he hastened to his mother, and said, “I have found the treasure, I have found the treasure!” When the queen saw the gold glittering in her son’s hand, she was very glad. Now both mother and son hurried down to the cellar. There the prince continued his search for the hidden treasure, while his mother contemplated in awe the columns of diamonds she saw in those underground apartments. Now the prince came to a third chamber, in which he found two more columns of diamonds like those in the first room; and finally he came to a fourth apartment, in which he saw a wide curtain of silk hanging on the wall. Back of this wall was another apartment, but it was securely locked. On the curtain were embroidered the following words in big golden letters: “Inside this chamber is another column of diamonds twice as large and twice as high as those in the other two; none can unlock this apartment but the wealthiest Negro in the city of Black.”

Anxious to have this last column of diamonds, the prince determined to find the Negro. Disguising himself again as a poor traveller, he set out for the city of Black. There he found the Negro, who received him very kindly. In the course of their talk the prince spoke of his dream, and told how he found the gold coins and the diamond columns, and finally gave the reason for his coming there as a poor traveller. Furthermore, the prince mentioned his father’s name. On hearing the prince’s story, the Negro knelt down before him, saying, “My prince, I was the most beloved servant of your father. I acknowledge you as my master, and am disposed and ready to do anything for your sake. As to the chamber you spoke of, I have not the power to unlock it. There is but one man who can unlock it, who knows very well your dead father, and who was his friend. He knows me, too, very well. This man is the king of the demons. And to him we will go together; but before we go, we should eat our dinner.” Then the Negro ordered all kinds of delicious dishes, and the two feasted together.

After they had dined, they set out on their journey to the palace of the king of the demons. Soon they came to a river. There the Negro instructed the prince not to say anything if he should see any extraordinary sights, lest some terrible danger befall them. The Negro waved his hand, and in a moment there came a sphinx paddling a small banca towards them. They got into it, and the sphinx rowed back to the other side. Then they walked on till they came to the palace of the king of the demons, which was protected by two circular walls. They knocked at the gate of the first. The moment they knocked, it became dark all around them; lightnings flashed before their eyes, and it thundered. Then the gate opened. After passing through the first gate, they came to the second. “They knocked, and the gate flung open. At once two lions ran out towards them with eyes glowing like balls of fire, and were ready to spring upon them and devour them; but on coming nearer the strangers, and recognizing the Negro, these two kings of beasts wagged their tails as a sign of welcome.

The Negro and the prince were conducted to the king’s throne. The king of the demons asked them what they wanted. The prince spoke: “King of the demons, I have found in the cellar of my palace a store of gold coins and several diamond columns, my father’s hidden treasure which he forgot to mention in his will. The last column is locked up in a separate apartment, and there is none who has the power to unlock it but yourself.”

“Young king,” replied the king of the demons, “it is true that I am the only one who can unlock it. I gave that diamond column to your father as a gift which he might bequeath to his son; and if you are his son, you shall have it. But, before giving it to you, I should like to have you do me a favor in return for that rich gift. If you will bring me a very beautiful woman to be my companion, one whose heart is untainted by any worldly passion, I will unlock for you your wished-for treasure, the diamond room.”

At this request the young man stood speechless for some time. At last, perplexed, he replied, “O king of the demons! it seems to me impossible to fulfil your wish. I am not a man of superhuman power to read into a woman’s heart.”

“Well,” returned the king of the demons, taking out of his pocket a small oval mirror, “if you see a beautiful woman, hold this mirror before her face. If the surface of the mirror becomes clouded, leave her; but if the surface of the mirror remains as clear as before, bring her to me, for she is the one I want for my comfort.”

The prince took the mirror, and with his Negro companion left the palace to look for the desired girl for the king of the demons. They visited cities and villages. In three days they had searched through three cities and three villages, but every girl that looked on the magic mirror clouded its surface. Then, discouraged by their failure, the travellers decided to go back to the palace of the king of the demons. On their return they felt very tired, and so stopped in a small village to rest. There they found a most beautiful girl, the daughter of a poor farmer. It was the very girl desired by the king of the demons; for, after she had looked on the magic mirror, its surface remained as clear as before. Then with joyful hearts the Negro and the prince set out with the lady for the abode of the king of the demons.

On their way, the prince, fascinated by her beauty, fell in love with the girl. He did not want to give her up to the king of the demons, and so proposed to the Negro that they take her to his palace. But the Negro would not consent, for the king of the demons knew all about their doings, he said. So the prince gave up his plan on condition that the girl’s face be veiled.

When they arrived at the palace, the king of the demons gladly met them, and said to the prince, “Now you have fulfilled my wish. You may go back to your palace, and there you will find the diamond apartment unlocked for you.” The sorrowing prince turned his back and left the palace with heavy heart; for he no longer thought of the treasure of gold and diamonds, but had his whole soul centred in that beautiful maiden that he had given up to the king of the demons. He reached his own palace sad and dejected. Yet, to divert his mind from the thought of her, he went to the subterranean apartment; and there he found the last chamber unlocked.

After some hesitation, he went into the apartment. There he found two veiled figures, the one in the form of a king with his sceptre and crown; the other, a maiden. He unveiled the one with the crown, and was astounded to find the very same king of the demons. “Prince, unveil that figure,” said the king of the demons to him. The young king did so, and to his great joy saw the beautiful maiden he had lost his heart to. At once his sadness disappeared. Then the king of the demons said to the prince, “Young king, since on your way to my palace you fell in love with this maiden, I deem it fit that you should have her for your companion; but do not expect the diamond column any more.” Then the king of the demons disappeared. The prince at once embraced the maiden, and conducted her up to his palace. That same day their marriage was celebrated with pomp and luxury.


Dr. Franz Boas informs me that this story is from the “Arabian Nights,” “The Tale of Zayn Al-Asnam” (see Burton, Supplemental Nights,” iii, 3-38; for Clouston’s discussion of variants and analogues, ibid., 553-563).