The Prisoner and the Kings tells the story of the greatest mystery of modern times. Between 1867 and 1873 a solitary prisoner in a Turkish penal colony wrote a series of letters to the kings and emperors of the day which predicted with amazing accuracy the course of modern history: the fall of nations, the overthrow of individual monarchs, the decline of religious institutions, the rise of world communism, the birth of the State of Israel, and the threat of nuclear contamination. The Prisoner was Bahá'u'lláh, one of the most remarkable figures in this or any age. What was the secret behind this handful of amazing communications? What was the source of the Prisoner's knowledge? And what did the letters have to say about us and out future in the twentieth century? Bahá'u'lláh is a Persian name. There is every likelihood that it will be as well known to your children as their own names.
"Panic in the streets!"
Section 1- The Assassins
The uniform of Kaiser William I was splendor itself. His shining helmet glistened like a second sun as the royal carriage rolled majestically along the tree lined avenues of Berlin. The king smiled to himself. Where was there another monarch to rival him? He had humiliated France beyond his wildest dreams of vengeance. He had become the first Prussian king to rule the united German states as Emperor. Yes, there was reason to be pleased. Suddenly the tranquil scene was shattered by the blast of a gun! A bullet plunged into the metal headgear of the Kaiser who slumped back onto the seat of his carriage dangerously wounded. Panic ran through the streets of Berlin.
William I recovered. The shot that had nearly ended his life, however, marked the opening of a series of disasters which struck his fellow monarchs in both Europe and the Orient. Most of the latter were not so fortunate as William.
Far away in romantic Constantinople, a second king sat proudly on his throne. He, too, was both pleased with himself and totally unaware of a strange web of death that was gathering about the kings of the earth.
Sultan 'Abdu'l-'Aziz, ruler of the vast Ottoman Empire, had surrounded himself with a protective network of spies. They reported everything that might arouse the slightest suspicion of opposition to the crown. The Sultan's enemies, however, were equally thorough. Suddenly, without warning, the palace corridors were alive with hurrying feet:
Color drained from the king's face. 'Abdu'l-'Aziz' cries for help echoed, unanswered, along the corridors. There was no place to hide. The leaders of the revolt laid violent hands on him and imprisoned him within his own palace. There the fate that was pursuing the kings of the world overtook him. Early one morning, the "slayer" appeared. With a thrill of horror word ran through the streets of Constantinople: "Assassin!"
A third king was marked for the same fate. Alexander II Nicolaevitch, Czar of all the Russias, was not pleased with himself. He lived in daily fear for his life. Guards patrolled outside his door. Even they were suspect and were changed constantly. Every dish of food was tasted first by servants. The Imperial bed chamber was searched each night, before the Czar would retire. Stories of the king's obsession with fear circulated among his subjects. Alexander tried to disprove such damaging rumors by riding openly through streets. In his heart, he dreaded these journeys and was constantly on the alert, watching for the unseen enemy. The inevitable day came. There was a threatening movement in the crowd and suddenly a bomb exploded in the path of the royal carriage. Guards seized the suspected assassin, and Alexander dismounted from his carriage to interview the prisoner. Before he could protect himself, the assassin's accomplice threw a second bomb which exploded at the Czar's feet. The crowd, appalled, fled in panic. Mortally wounded, Alexander II was carried back to his palace. Before the afternoon was out, the whisper ran from one end of St. Petersburg to the other: "Assassin!"
A fourth king, in another continent, was caught up in the same whirlwind. Nasiri'd-Din Shah, king of Persia, went blissfully on his way to offer prayers on the eve of his great Jubilee Festival. The Shah had carefully planned each step of this great celebration. It was to glorify his name and would be his eternal monument in history. Suddenly, without warning, while the king was at prayers, a pistol shot echoed through the sacred Shrine. The chanting hushed. The royal tragedy of Berlin, St. Petersburg and Constantinople had been re-enacted in Teheran. Another king lay dead. Cries of panic rang out among the royal party. Courtiers ran to and fro, not knowing what to do. The Prime Minister, who had accompanied the Shah, was devastated by the unexpected turn of events. "The news must be concealed, at least until after the Festival," he ordered. "No one must know!" The Shah's body was carried secretly back to his carriage. The Grand Vizir climbed in behind the king, supporting the dead weight. He held the Shah's body erect. Frozen in the silence of death, indifferent to the revelry around him, the king of all the Persians was driven back to his palace on the eve of his great Jubilee. Bonfires lighted the night skies. Banners waved everywhere. Trumpets flourished, cymbals crashed, the crowd cheered; all proclaimed the might and majesty of Nasiri'd-Din Shah who had described himself as the "king of kings." Gay festive band music blared out noisily as the carriage rolled on noiseless wheels through the streets. Once within the palace gates, the Shah's terror-stricken ministers passed along the dread words: