The Charmingly Clever Cousin

The Charmingly Clever Cousin by Suzanne Williams Read Free Book Online

Book: The Charmingly Clever Cousin by Suzanne Williams Read Free Book Online
Authors: Suzanne Williams
next to a silver bowl of nuts. He held it over the king. Fatima heard Ahmed draw in his breath. “You look just like Yusuf did after…” His voice trailed off.
    â€œYusuf? What about Yusuf? Is he ill too?” asked the king.
    â€œNever mind about Yusuf,” said Ahmed.“You haven’t been stung by bees, have you? How long have you had these horrible red bumps?”
    â€œBees?” The king shook his head weakly. “No. It’s a rash, and I’ve had it for more than a week.” He groaned. “It’s hot and itchy and getting worse. The doctors think it’s the plague. They’re afraid of catching it, so they examine me from a distance.”
    Fatima drew back a little, but Elena stepped into the room. “Excuse me, Your Majesty,” she said, “but may I have a look?”
    â€œWho’s this?” The king sounded startled.
    Fatima came forward. “I’m Selime’s sister, Fatima. And this is my friend, Princess Elena.” They both curtsied. “Elena is skilled at healing. Maybe she can help.”
    The king sighed. “I fear I’m beyond anyone’s help.” Then, managing a feeble smile, he added, “But where are my manners? Youmust be hungry after such a long journey.” He motioned to the silver bowl on his bedside table. “Won’t you have some nuts? They’re about the only thing I’ve eaten since I became ill. In fact, I’m feeling a little hungry now myself. Maybe I’ll have a fewtoo.” He reached for the bowl, but Elena stopped him.

    â€œI think those nuts may be the problem,” she said.
    â€œWhat?” cried Ahmed. “You don’t think they’re poisoned, do you?”
    Could he be thinking the same thing she was? Fatima wondered. What if Yusuf…?
    But Elena shook her head. “No, nothing like that. But sometimes certain foods, such as nuts, can cause a rash. If I’m right, Your Majesty, you’ll get better once you stop eating them. But for now,” she said, uncapping her little blue bottle, “this lotion should help.”

12
Back Again
    W HEN F ATIMA AND E LENA CAME DOWNSTAIRS for breakfast the next morning, King Murad was sitting with Ahmed, enjoying a huge meal of scrambled eggs, fruit, and pastries. King Murad beamed when he saw them. “The rash is gone!” he said. “I feel wonderful. Like I could go on living for another fifty years!”
    â€œAnd I hope you shall, Father,” said Ahmed.
    Fatima and Elena looked at each other and smiled.
    Later that morning Ahmed filled in his father on Yusuf’s doings. The king shook his head sadly. “Disgraceful! His mother will be utterly enraged. Sending Yusuf to her is a just punishment indeed. And I’m so glad you’re okay.”
    Shortly afterward Ahmed and the princesses left for home. As Fatima’s carpet sailed over lakes and valleys, mountains and trees, Prince Ahmed praised Elena. “It was clever of you to figure out what was causing my father’s rash when none of those doctors could.” He rolled his eyes. “The plague, indeed!”
    Jealousy surged through Fatima. She was proud of her friend too, but why couldn’t Ahmed ever say anything nice about her ?
    It was evening when they finally arrived back at the palace. Ahmed went in search of Selime and Hassim, while Fatima and Elenaran off to find their friends.
    â€œI can’t believe how much has happened since we’ve been here!” Tansy said later as she polished her flute in Fatima’s room.
    Fatima stopped brushing Elena’s hair. She’d been trying to take some of the frizziness out of it, but it only sprang back, frizzier than ever. “I’m afraid it wasn’t exactly the adventure I’d hoped for.”
    Tansy looked up from her flute. “I thought the whole thing was rather exciting.”
    â€œMe too.” Lysandra set down the book she’d

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