The quest of a wonderful flower, or other object, having the virtue of restoring sight to the blind, or of bestowing perennial youth, or of bringing back the dying to life and health, is the theme of many folk-tales. Besides the magical Rose from the garden of the fairy Bakáwalí, which cured the king's blindness (p. 271), we have another instance in the romantic adventures of Hatim Taï (ante, p. 467), in the case of the blind man confined in a cage; and in the same work—but not mentioned in my epitome of it—we are told that in the course of Hatim's Second Adventure he came to the capital of Mahparí, the king of the fairies, and learned that his son had become blind. Hatim tries the effect of his talisman on the eyes of the young prince, and it removes the pain, but not the blindness. He is then informed that “there is a tree that grows amidst the shades of Zulmát [or region of darkness, where is also the Water of Life], which is named Nandar; and from this tree distils a liquid of such rare virtue that if even a drop of it could be procured it would be the means of restoring the prince's sight. A fairy in love with Hatim gives him a guard of seven thousand troops, and he at once sets out on his dangerous journey. Having arrived in the region of darkness, Hatim takes some of the wondrous liquid, and returning in safety applies a few drops to the prince's eyes, when his sight is immediately restored.

The myth of the Water of Life is of ancient date, and it was probably introduced into Europe from the East during the Crusades. In Rabbinical lore it is said that Solomon sent one of his officers for the Water of Immortality, but when he returned successful the sage monarch would have none of it, because he did not wish to survive all his female favourites! According to the Muslim legend, Alexander despatched the mythical prophet Al-Khizar on a similar errand, but no sooner had he drank of the water than it disappeared, and this is how Al-Khizar possesses everlasting youth.

A Fountain of Youth figures prominently in the fabliau which chants the delights of the Land of Cockaigne; and in Conrad of Wartzburg's Trojan War (of the 13th century) Medea obtains water from Paradise to renew the youth of Jason's father. In the romance of Huon of Bordeaux, the doughty hero finds the Fount of Youth on Alexander's Rock, and bathing in it is at once restored to vigorous health.

The quest of the Rose in the garden of Bakáwalí, to cure the king's blindness, finds an analogue in the German tale of the Water of Life, in the collection of the Brothers Grimm— indeed, they are very closely allied: A king is sick unto death. The first and the second of his sons set out in succession to procure for him the Water of Life, but they behave rudely to a dwarf on the road and he enchants them. The third son next undertakes the adventure, and meeting the dwarf is civil and courteous towards him, and in reward the dwarf directs the youth on his way. Following all the instructions of the dwarf, he comes to a castle, which he enters, unhurt by the two lions at the gate. In one room he finds a number of knights in a trance, and taking the rings off their fingers he puts them on his own. Going into another room he sees on a table a sword and a loaf, which he also takes. In a third room he discovers a beautiful damsel on a couch, who welcomes him joyfully, and says that he should have the kingdom if he would free her from the spell by which she is bound, and come back in a year and marry her. Returning homeward, the dwarf tells him that the sword would at a single blow slay a whole army, and the bread would never fail him. But the brave youth will not go home without his brothers, and so the dwarf sets them free. While the three brothers are sailing in a ship, the two elder substitute for the Water of Life a bottle of sea water, which makes the king worse when he drinks some of it. Then the two elder brothers give him the real water and he is cured. But in the end, as in our Tale, the hero turns the tables on his brethren and marries the princess.

Readers of the Arabian Nights will recollect that Prince Ahmed is required by his father, at the suggestion of an envious vazír, to get him some water from the Lion's Spring, and his bride, the Parí Bánú, directs him how to win past the lions, and so forth. There can be little doubt that both the German and the Arabian stories have a common origin. Again, in the tale of the Envious Sisters, with which our ordinary English version of the Arabian Nights concludes, the Fountain of Golden Water has the property of disenchanting all the princes and nobles who had been turned to stone.—But it were tedious to farther multiply examples.