Stories & Tales
The Coward Prince

Once upon a time, a king lived in a country located on the banks of the Great Nile River. He had only one son called “Samba.” When the king was young, he was a courageous fighter, and now he had reached a ripe old age.


When Samba grew and became a handsome and strong young man, everyone loved him because he was so kind. His father was proud of him.


Nevertheless, the king was worried because his son feared many things. When he was a child, he used to run away every time he heard the elephant steps, and he used to scream when he saw the footprints of a lion. People used to say that he was still a child and that when he grew up he would become courageous and fear nothing, and one day his father would ask him to lead his army.


This day came and Samba became the army commander. People said: “we will live in peace, for Samba is strong and will protect us from the thieves.”


The king was glad of his son’s strength and skills. Yet, he remained anxious, for he saw his son avoiding the risky games, and realized that Samba was not among the best members in the hunting team that he leaded.


One morning, people woke up to find out that the thieves had stolen their cattle and sheep and had taken some shepherds as slaves.


They looked for Samba to help them get them back, but could not find him. He vanished…


The king, despite his old age, had to ride his horse and fight against the thieves to get back what they had stolen.


After a few days, the prince Samba, returned and started to tell a story about risking his life while he was hunting a big lion in the forest. He said that he killed the lion but it was so heavy that he could not bring it with him. The people did not believe his story.


Someone said: “why did Samba disappear at this specific time? He is coward!”


Samba started to hear this everywhere he went and the children started to make fun of him. Even his father stopped feeling sympathy for him due to his cowardice and fear…


Samba could not bear all this. He woke up one morning and rode his black horse heading for a peaceful country.


It was a tough trip. Samba was scared all the time. In the morning, he was afraid of encountering thieves or enemies, and at night, he could not sleep for fear of the wild animals. Eventually, Samba arrived at a great city, the fences of which elevated in the neighborhood of the river. Samba was well received because he looked noble and powerful. He passed through the gates of the city riding his horse with magnificence and dignity, and when he arrived at the king’s castle, he raised his head with pride. Meanwhile, the king’s daughter was looking out of the window and saw the strange and handsome prince. She told her servants : “go and get to know this courageous knight. I have never seen such a handsome and strong young man…”
One of the servants came back after a while saying : “he is the only son of a great king.”


The princess replied : “go back and invite him over.”


Samba saw the beautiful princess, he liked her and she liked him as well, so she asked her father for permission to marry him, even though she refused many kings and princes before. The king agreed on this marriage. In fact, he could not refuse his only daughter anything.


Samba and the princess got married in a majestic ceremony. Samba was a loving and smart husband. He lived happily with his wife.


The princess was proud of her handsome and strong husband. She wanted all the people to love him as much as she loved and appreciated him.


One day, she told him : “it’s been a long time since the enemy attacked our country. If they come and threaten our security, I will be proud to see you, my dear husband, lead our people in the battle, and let the city talk about your achievements and heroism.”


The princess looked at her husband with enthusiasm, but this enthusiasm vanished once she saw her husband retreat fearfully and warn her : “do not mention this again. I left my country in order to avoid the battles and blood. If the wars chase me here, I will also leave this city forever.”


At first, the princess thought that her husband was kidding. She could not imagine that a strong and smart man like Samba was afraid of battles. But finally, she felt from his looks that he was not kidding…!!!


A few nights later, the thieves attacked the city, killed the shepherds and stealing a large number of cattle. After discovering this loss in the morning, the king declared war and ordered prince Samba, his daughter’s husband, lead the men into battle. The fighters were very happy to hear of this decision, but Samba disappeared. His wife looked for him and found him hiding in one of the gloomy castle’s depots. She tried her best to convince him to leave his hiding place and lead the forces, but in vain. She failed in making him ashamed of himself. She warned him of the danger that he would encounter if the people knew about his fears, but she could not convince him to ride the horse and lead the battle.


Finally, the princess asked him to give her his weapons. The prince gave her his beautiful golden coat of mail set with precious stones. She put it around her chest. He also gave her his sword, bow, and arrows. When the princess put the helmet on her head in a way that hid her face, obviously no one would know her, since everyone would be busy with the fight.


The princess walked steadily in the castle’s yard, rode the black horse that belonged to her husband and left through the city gates leading the fighters. She easily overcame the aggressors and got back what the thieves had stolen.


The glorious princess went directly back to her room where Samba waited for her anxiously. She did not blame him at all. She just told him : “help me take off this coat of mail.” Then she asked him to wear it right away. He obeyed her without discussion. After that, they went to the balcony under which people gathered. They welcomed him with the battle cry, considering him their hero. Samba smiled at them and waved to them without saying any word. No one knew that he was not the one who overcame the enemy.


The princess’ youngest brother felt that his sister had leaded the battle and when he told his brothers about his doubts, they started to laugh. He replied : “if the aggressors come once again, I will prove it to you. I will try to leave a special sign on the leader.”


Meanwhile, the aggressors were angry because they lost the battle, so they gathered a bigger number of gangsters and attacked the city once again. Samba refused to lead his forces and let his wife replace him as she did before.


When the princess went to ride her husband’s horse, her little brother observed the way she walked. His doubts increased, and in order to know the truth and be completely sure, he came close towards his sister during the battle and wounded her on her leg.


The battle was very tough and the princess did not have enough time to think of her pain, but when she got back to the castle, she suffered due to the blood that she lost, but despite this, she told Samba, who put on the coat of mail she was wearing during the battle : “it is a simple wound on my leg; people are waiting to greet you now, but before you go out to see them, wound your leg at the same spot so that no one would doubt that you leaded the battle.”


Samba jumped from fear and said : “What ? Wound myself ? That is impossible… I cannot… Fear of being wounded is the only reason I do not go to battle.”


The princess sighed desperately and did not say a word, but when the prince turned around to go the balcony, she bent and wounded him on his naked leg. While Samba was screaming, she covered her wound and rushed to call for the king’s doctor in order to treat the injured prince.


The news of Samba’s injury spread right away and people kept on asking about him.


The princess’ elder brother said to the youngest brother : “you must be sure now that Samba was the one who leaded the battle and beat the enemy. Your doubts were not.”


The princess’ youngest brother became confused and when he entered the room in which Samba slept, he could not have any more doubts.


Two days later, the enemy gangsters gathered with their leaders and attacked the city for the third time, hoping that this fast and sudden attack would make them victorious.


The princess told Samba : “my injury is worse than I have ever imagined and I cannot walk anymore. The fighters will discover my illness when they see me unable to ride the horse. You should go this time, I cannot replace you.”


Samba sighed and said : “the king has three sons, why cannot one of them lead the battle ?”


The princess answered : “they are still young. The men will not obey them.”


Samba shouted : “I cannot go !!”


The princess replied : “Put on your coat of mail, ride your horse and go with the men. I will follow you to the forest edge through the shortest road and we will switch roles there.”


Samba agreed on this plan. In fact, he was ready to do anything as long as he was not risking his life. As soon as he sat on his horse saddle, the princess hit the horse violently with the whip and the horse left the city as fast as the wind. All the fighters followed him.


After a while, the prince was in the middle of the battle.


For the first time ever, Samba found himself in danger, he could see the swords and bayonets all around him and he had to fight to stay alive.


To his surprise, Samba found his courage once he realized that there was no escape from fighting. He discovered that he feared fear itself ! When he found himself fighting to save his life, he forgot the fear and used his weapons against the thieves. His great physical strength helped him a lot, and the thieves started to run away from him.


The news of the prince’s courage and bravery spread immediately, and this gave his men the courage and determination to win, while it spread the horror and fear among the enemies.


The battle ended not only with the thieves defeat but also with their extermination so that they would never return…


The king welcomed Samba at the castle gate and while the latter was laying the spoils at the king’s feet, the king said : “My son… how proud I am of you. How can I express my gratitude for your courage and sacrifices defending my people ? I am grateful to you because you totally destroyed our enemies.”


Samba, who finally retrieved his courage said : “In fact, you do not owe me anything, I owe you… I owe everything to your daughter, my dear wife, because she turned a coward man into a courageous leader, and made him realize two victories today, a victory against himself, and a victory against the enemy.