Produced by Delphine Lettau, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
INDIAN FAIRY TALES
_Selected and edited by_
JOHN D. BATTEN
TO MY DEAR LITTLE PHIL
From the extreme West of the Indo-European world, we go this year to the extreme East. From the soft rain and green turf of Gaeldom, we seek the garish sun and arid soil of the Hindoo. In the Land of Ire, the belief in fairies, gnomes, ogres and monsters is all but dead; in the Land of Ind it still flourishes in all the vigour of animism.
Soils and national characters differ; but fairy tales are the same in plot and incidents, if not in treatment. The majority of the tales in this volume have been known in the West in some form or other, and the problem arises how to account for their simultaneous existence in farthest West and East. Some–as Benfey in Germany, M. Cosquin in France, and Mr. Clouston in England–have declared that India is the Home of the Fairy Tale, and that all European fairy tales have been brought from thence by Crusaders, by Mongol missionaries, by Gipsies, by Jews, by traders, by travellers. The question is still before the courts, and one can only deal with it as an advocate. So far as my instructions go, I should be prepared, within certain limits, to hold a brief for India. So far as the children of Europe have their fairy stories in common, these–and they form more than a third of the whole –are derived from India. In particular, the majority of the Drolls or comic tales and jingles can be traced, without much difficulty, back to the Indian peninsula.
Certainly there is abundant evidence of the early transmission by literary means of a considerable number of drolls and folk-tales from India about the time of the Crusaders. The collections known in Europe by the titles of _The Fables of Bidpai, The Seven Wise Masters, Gesia Romanorum_, and _Barlaam and Josaphat_, were extremely popular during the Middle Ages, and their contents passed on the one hand into the _Exempla_ of the monkish preachers, and on the other into the _Novelle_ of Italy, thence, after many days, to contribute their quota to the Elizabethan Drama. Perhaps nearly one-tenth of the main incidents of European folktales can be traced to this source.
There are even indications of an earlier literary contact between Europe and India, in the case of one branch of the folk-tale, the Fable or Beast Droll. In a somewhat elaborate discussion [Footnote: “History of the Aesopic Fable,” the introductory volume to my edition of Caxton’s _Fables of Esope_ (London, Nutt, 1889).] I have come to the conclusion that a goodly number of the fables that pass under the name of the Samian slave, Aesop, were derived from India, probably from the same source whence the same tales were utilised in the Jatakas, or Birth-stories of Buddha. These Jatakas contain a large quantity of genuine early Indian folk-tales, and form the earliest collection of folk-tales in the world, a sort of Indian Grimm, collected more than two thousand years before the good German brothers went on their quest among the folk with such delightful results. For this reason I have included a considerable number of them in this volume; and shall be surprised if tales that have roused the laughter and wonder of pious Buddhists for the last two thousand years, cannot produce the same effect on English children. The Jatakas have been fortunate in their English translators, who render with vigour and point; and I rejoice in being able to publish the translation of two new Jatakas, kindly done into English for this volume by Mr. W. H. D. Rouse, of Christ’s College, Cambridge. In one of these I think I have traced the source of the Tar Baby incident in “Uncle Remus.”
Though Indian fairy tales are the earliest in existence, yet they are also from another point of view the youngest. For it is only about twenty-five years ago that Miss Frere began the modern collection of Indian folk-tales with her charming “Old Deccan Days” (London, John Murray, 1868; fourth edition, 1889). Her example has been followed by Miss Stokes, by Mrs. Steel, and Captain (now Major) Temple, by the Pandit Natesa Sastri, by Mr. Knowles and Mr. Campbell, as well as others who have published folk-tales in such periodicals as the _Indian Antiquary_ and _The Orientalist_. The story-store of modern India has been well dipped into during the last quarter of a century, though the immense range of the country leaves room for any number of additional workers and collections. Even so far as the materials already collected go, a large number of the commonest incidents in European folk-tales have been found in India. Whether brought there or born there, we have scarcely any criterion for judging; but as some of those still current among the folk in India can be traced back more than a millennium, the presumption is in favour of an Indian origin.
From all these sources–from the Jatakas, from the Bidpai, and from the more recent collections–I have selected those stories which throw most light on the origin of Fable and Folk-tales, and at the same time are most likely to attract English children. I have not, however, included too many stories of the Grimm types, lest I should repeat the contents of the two preceding volumes of this series. This has to some degree weakened the case for India as represented by this book. The need of catering for the young ones has restricted my selection from the well- named “Ocean of the Streams of Story,” _Katha-Sarit Sagara_ of Somadeva. The stories existing in Pali and Sanskrit I have taken from translations, mostly from the German of Benfey or the vigorous English of Professor Rhys-Davids, whom I have to thank for permission to use his versions of the Jatakas.
I have been enabled to make this book a representative collection of the Fairy Tales of Ind by the kindness of the original collectors or their publishers. I have especially to thank Miss Frere, who kindly made an exception in my favour, and granted me the use of that fine story, “Punchkin,” and that quaint myth, “How Sun, Moon, and Wind went out to Dinner.” Miss Stokes has been equally gracious in granting me the use of characteristic specimens from her “Indian Fairy Tales.” To Major Temple I owe the advantage of selecting from his admirable _Wideawake Stories_, and Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. have allowed me to use Mr. Knowles’ “Folk-tales of Kashmir,” in their Oriental Library; and Messrs. W. H. Allen have been equally obliging with regard to Mrs. Kingscote’s “Tales of the Sun.” Mr. M. L. Dames has enabled me add to the published story-store of India by granting me the use of one from his inedited collection of Baluchi folk-tales.
I have again to congratulate myself an the co-operation of my friend Mr. J. D. Batten in giving beautiful or amusing form to the creations of the folk fancy of the Hindoos. It is no slight thing to embody, as he has done, the glamour and the humour both of the Celt and of the Hindoo. It is only a further proof that Fairy Tales are something more than Celtic or Hindoo. They are human.
I. THE LION AND THE CRANE
II. HOW THE RAJA’S SON WON THE PRINCESS LABAM III. THE LAMBIKIN
V. THE BROKEN POT
VI. THE MAGIC FIDDLE
VII. THE CRUEL CRANE OUTWITTED
VIII. LOVING LAILI
IX. THE TIGER, THE BRAHMAN AND THE JACKAL X. THE SOOTHSAYER’S SON
XII. THE CHARMED RING
XIII. THE TALKATIVE TORTOISE
XIV. A LAC OF RUPEES FOR A PIECE OF ADVICE XV. THE GOLD-GIVING SERPENT
XVI. THE SON OF SEVEN QUEENS
XVII. A LESSON FOR KINGS
XVIII. PRIDE GOETH BEFORE A FALL
XIX. RAJA RASALU
XX. THE ASS IN THE LION’S SKIN
XXI. THE FARMER AND THE MONEY-LENDER XXII. THE BOY WHO HAD A MOON ON HIS FOREHEAD AND A STAR ON HIS CHIN XXIII. THE PRINCE AND THE FAKIR
XXIV. WHY THE FISH LAUGHED
XXV. THE DEMON WITH THE MATTED HAIR XXVI. THE IVORY CITY AND ITS FAIRY PRINCESS XXVII. SUN, MOON, AND WIND GO OUT TO DINNER XXVIII. HOW THE WICKED SONS WERE DUPED
XXIX. THE PIGEON AND THE CROW
NOTES AND REFERENCES
THE LION AND THE CRANE
The Bodhisatta was at one time born in the region of Himavanta as a white crane; now Brahmadatta was at that time reigning in Benares. Now it chanced that as a lion was eating meat a bone stuck in his throat. The throat became swollen, he could not take food, his suffering was terrible. The crane seeing him, as he was perched an a tree looking for food, asked, “What ails thee, friend?” He told him why. “I could free thee from that bone, friend, but dare not enter thy mouth for fear thou mightest eat me.” “Don’t be afraid, friend, I’ll not eat thee; only save my life.” “Very well,” says he, and caused him to lie down on his left side. But thinking to himself, “Who knows what this fellow will do,” he placed a small stick upright between his two jaws that he could not close his mouth, and inserting his head inside his mouth struck one end of the bone with his beak. Whereupon the bone dropped and fell out. As soon as he had caused the bone to fall, he got out of the lion’s mouth, striking the stick with his beak so that it fell out, and then settled on a branch. The lion gets well, and one day was eating a buffalo he had killed. The crane, thinking “I will sound him,” settled an a branch just over him, and in conversation spoke this first verse:
“A service have we done thee
To the best of our ability,
King of the Beasts! Your Majesty!
What return shall we get from thee?”
In reply the Lion spoke the second verse:
“As I feed on blood,
And always hunt for prey,
‘Tis much that thou art still alive Having once been between my teeth.”
Then in reply the crane said the two other verses:
“Ungrateful, doing no good,
Not doing as he would be done by, In him there is no gratitude,
To serve him is useless.
“His friendship is not won
By the clearest good deed.
Better softly withdraw from him,
Neither envying nor abusing.”
And having thus spoken the crane flew away.
_And when the great Teacher, Gautama the Buddha, told this tale, he used to add: “Now at that time the lion was Devadatta the Traitor, but the white crane was I myself_.”
HOW THE RAJA’S SON WON THE PRINCESS LABAM
In a country there was a Raja who had an only son who every day went out to hunt. One day the Rani, his mother, said to him, “You can hunt wherever you like on these three sides; but you must never go to the fourth side.” This she said because she knew if he went on the fourth side he would hear of the beautiful Princess Labam, and that then he would leave his father and mother and seek for the princess.
The young prince listened to his mother, and obeyed her for some time; but one day, when he was hunting on the three sides where he was allowed to go, he remembered what she had said to him about the fourth side, and he determined to go and see why she had forbidden him to hunt on that side. When he got there, he found himself in a jungle, and nothing in the jungle but a quantity of parrots, who lived in it. The young Raja shot at some of them, and at once they all flew away up to the sky. All, that is, but one, and this was their Raja, who was called Hiraman parrot.
When Hiraman parrot found himself left alone, he called out to the other parrots, “Don’t fly away and leave me alone when the Raja’s son shoots. If you desert me like this, I will tell the Princess Labam.”
Then the parrots all flew back to their Raja, chattering. The prince was greatly surprised, and said, “Why, these birds can talk!” Then he said to the parrots, “Who is the Princess Labam? Where does she live?” But the parrots would not tell him where she lived. “You can never get to the Princess Labam’s country.” That is all they would say.
The prince grew very sad when they would not tell him anything more; and he threw his gun away, and went home. When he got home, he would not speak or eat, but lay on his bed for four or five days, and seemed very ill.
At last he told his father and mother that he wanted to go and see the Princess Labam. “I must go,” he said; “I must see what she is like. Tell me where her country is.”
“We do not know where it is,” answered his father and mother.
“Then I must go and look for it,” said the prince.
“No, no,” they said, “you must not leave us. You are our only son. Stay with us. You will never find the Princess Labam.”
“I must try and find her,” said the prince. “Perhaps God will show me the way. If I live and I find her, I will come back to you; but perhaps I shall die, and then I shall never see you again. Still I must go.”
So they had to let him go, though they cried very much at parting with him. His father gave him fine clothes to wear, and a fine horse. And he took his gun, and his bow and arrows, and a great many other weapons, “for,” he said, “I may want them.” His father, too, gave him plenty of rupees.
Then he himself got his horse all ready for the journey, and he said good-bye to his father and mother; and his mother took her handkerchief and wrapped some sweetmeats in it, and gave it to her son. “My child,” she said to him, “When you are hungry eat some of these sweetmeats.”
He then set out on his journey, and rode on and on till he came to a jungle in which were a tank and shady trees. He bathed himself and his horse in the tank, and then sat down under a tree. “Now,” he said to himself, “I will eat some of the sweetmeats my mother gave me, and I will drink some water, and then I will continue my journey.” He opened his handkerchief, and took out a sweetmeat. He found an ant in it. He took out another. There was an ant in that one too. So he laid the two sweetmeats on the ground, and he took out another, and another, and another, until he had taken them all out; but in each he found an ant. “Never mind,” he said, “I won’t eat the sweetmeats; the ants shall eat them.” Then the Ant-Raja came and stood before him and said, “You have been good to us. If ever you are in trouble, think of me and we will come to you.”
The Raja’s son thanked him, mounted his horse and continued his journey. He rode on and on until he came to another jungle, and there he saw a tiger who had a thorn in his foot, and was roaring loudly from the pain.
“Why do you roar like that?” said the young Raja. “What is the matter with you?”
“I have had a thorn in my foot for twelve years,” answered the tiger, “and it hurts me so; that is why I roar.”
“Well,” said the Raja’s son, “I will take it out for you. But perhaps, as you are a tiger, when I have made you well, you will eat me?”
“Oh, no,” said the tiger, “I won’t eat you. Do make me well.”
Then the prince took a little knife from his pocket, and cut the thorn out of the tiger’s foot; but when he cut, the tiger roared louder than ever–so loud that his wife heard him in the next jungle, and came bounding along to see what was the matter. The tiger saw her coming, and hid the prince in the jungle, so that she should not see him.
“What man hurt you that you roared so loud?” said the wife. “No one hurt me,” answered the husband; “but a Raja’s son came and took the thorn out of my foot.”
“Where is he? Show him to me,” said his wife.
“If you promise not to kill him, I will call him,” said the tiger.
“I won’t kill him; only let me see him,” answered his wife.
Then the tiger called the Raja’s son, and when he came the tiger and his wife made him a great many salaams. Then they gave him a good dinner, and he stayed with them for three days. Every day he looked at the tiger’s foot, and the third day it was quite healed. Then he said good-bye to the tigers, and the tiger said to him, “If ever you are in trouble, think of me, and we will come to you.”
The Raja’s son rode on and on till he came to a third jungle. Here he found four fakirs whose teacher and master had died, and had left four things,–a bed, which carried whoever sat on it whithersoever he wished to go; a bag, that gave its owner whatever he wanted, jewels, food, or clothes; a stone bowl that gave its owner as much water as he wanted, no matter how far he might be from a tank; and a stick and rope, to which its owner had only to say, if any one came to make war on him, “Stick, beat as many men and soldiers as are here,” and the stick would beat them and the rope would tie them up.
The four fakirs were quarrelling over these four things. One said, “I want this;” another said, “You cannot have it, for I want it;” and so on.
The Raja’s son said to them, “Do not quarrel for these things. I will shoot four arrows in four different directions. Whichever of you gets to my first arrow, shall have the first thing–the bed. Whosoever gets to the second arrow, shall have the second thing–the bag. He who gets to the third arrow, shall have the third thing–the bowl. And he who gets to the fourth arrow, shall have the last things–the stick and rope.” To this they agreed, and the prince shot off his first arrow. Away raced the fakirs to get it. When they brought it back to him he shot off the second, and when they had found and brought it to him he shot off his third, and when they had brought him the third he shot off the fourth.
While they were away looking for the fourth arrow the Raja’s son let his horse loose in the jungle, and sat on the bed, taking the bowl, the stick and rope, and the bag with him. Then he said, “Bed, I wish to go to the Princess Labam’s country.” The little bed instantly rose up into the air and began to fly, and it flew and flew till it came to the Princess Labam’s country, where it settled on the ground. The Raja’s son asked some men he saw, “Whose country is this?”
“The Princess Labam’s country,” they answered. Then the prince went on till he came to a house where he saw an old woman.
“Who are you?” she said. “Where do you come from?”
“I come from a far country,” he said; “do let me stay with you to- night.”
“No,” she answered, “I cannot let you stay with me; for our king has ordered that men from other countries may not stay in his country. You cannot stay in my house.”
“You are my aunty,” said the prince; “let me remain with you for this one night. You see it is evening, and if I go into the jungle, then the wild beasts will eat me.”
“Well,” said the old woman, “you may stay here to-night; but to-morrow morning you must go away, for if the king hears you have passed the night in my house, he will have me seized and put into prison.”
Then she took him into her house, and the Raja’s son was very glad. The old woman began preparing dinner, but he stopped her, “Aunty,” he said, “I will give you food.” He put his hand into his bag, saying, “Bag, I want some dinner,” and the bag gave him instantly a delicious dinner, served up on two gold plates. The old woman and the Raja’s son then dined together.
When they had finished eating, the old woman said, “Now I will fetch some water.”
“Don’t go,” said the prince. “You shall have plenty of water directly.” So he took his bowl and said to it, “Bowl, I want some water,” and then it filled with water. When it was full, the prince cried out, “Stop, bowl,” and the bowl stopped filling. “See, aunty,” he said, “with this bowl I can always get as much water as I want.”
By this time night had come. “Aunty,” said the Raja’s son, “why don’t you light a lamp?”
“There is no need,” she said. “Our king has forbidden the people in his country to light any lamps; for, as soon as it is dark, his daughter, the Princess Labam, comes and sits on her roof, and she shines so that she lights up all the country and our houses, and we can see to do our work as if it were day.”
When it was quite black night the princess got up. She dressed herself in her rich clothes and jewels, and rolled up her hair, and across her head she put a band of diamonds and pearls. Then she shone like the moon, and her beauty made night day. She came out of her room, and sat on the roof of her palace. In the daytime she never came out of her house; she only came out at night. All the people in her father’s country then went about their work and finished it.
The Raja’s son watched the princess quietly, and was very happy. He said to himself, “How lovely she is!”
At midnight, when everybody had gone to bed, the princess came down from her roof, and went to her room; and when she was in bed and asleep, the Raja’s son got up softly, and sat on his bed. “Bed,” he said to it, “I want to go to the Princess Labam’s bed-room.” So the little bed carried him to the room where she lay fast asleep.
The young Raja took his bag and said, “I want a great deal of betel- leaf,” and it at once gave him quantities of betel-leaf. This he laid near the princess’s bed, and then his little bed carried him back to the old woman’s house.
Next morning all the princess’s servants found the betel-leaf, and began to eat it. “Where did you get all that betel-leaf?” asked the princess.
“We found it near your bed,” answered the servants. Nobody knew the prince had come in the night and put it all there.
In the morning the old woman came to the Raja’s son. “Now it is morning,” she said, “and you must go; for if the king finds out all I have done for you, he will seize me.”
“I am ill to-day, dear aunty,” said the prince; “do let me stay till to-morrow morning.”
“Good,” said the old woman. So he stayed, and they took their dinner out of the bag, and the bowl gave them water.
When night came the princess got up and sat on her roof, and at twelve o’clock, when every one was in bed, she went to her bed-room, and was soon fast asleep. Then the Raja’s son sat on his bed, and it carried him to the princess. He took his bag and said, “Bag, I want a most lovely shawl.” It gave him a splendid shawl, and he spread it over the princess as she lay asleep. Then he went back to the old woman’s house and slept till morning.
In the morning, when the princess saw the shawl she was delighted. “See, mother,” she said; “Khuda must have given me this shawl, it is so beautiful.” Her mother was very glad too.
“Yes, my child,” she said; “Khuda must have given you this splendid shawl.”
When it was morning the old woman said to the Raja’s son, “Now you must really go.”
“Aunty,” he answered, “I am not well enough yet. Let me stay a few days longer. I will remain hidden in your house, so that no one may see me.” So the old woman let him stay.
When it was black night, the princess put on her lovely clothes and jewels, and sat on her roof. At midnight she went to her room and went to sleep. Then the Raja’s son sat on his bed and flew to her bed-room. There he said to his bag, “Bag, I want a very, very beautiful ring.” The bag gave him a glorious ring. Then he took the Princess Labam’s hand gently to put on the ring, and she started up very much frightened.
“Who are you?” she said to the prince. “Where do you come from? Why do you come to my room?”
“Do not be afraid, princess,” he said; “I am no thief. I am a great Raja’s son. Hiraman parrot, who lives in the jungle where I went to hunt, told me your name, and then I left my father and mother, and came to see you.”
“Well,” said the princess, “as you are the son of such a great Raja, I will not have you killed, and I will tell my father and mother that I wish to marry you.”
The prince then returned to the old woman’s house; and when morning came the princess said to her mother, “The son of a great Raja has come to this country, and I wish to marry him.” Her mother told this to the king.
“Good,” said the king; “but if this Raja’s son wishes to marry my daughter, he must first do whatever I bid him. If he fails I will kill him. I will give him eighty pounds weight of mustard seed, and out of this he must crush the oil in one day. If he cannot do this he shall die.”
In the morning the Raja’s son told the old woman that he intended to marry the princess. “Oh,” said the old woman, “go away from this country, and do not think of marrying her. A great many Rajas and Rajas’ sons have come here to marry her, and her father has had them all killed. He says whoever wishes to marry his daughter must first do whatever he bids him. If he can, then he shall marry the princess; if he cannot, the king will have him killed. But no one can do the things the king tells him to do; so all the Rajas and Rajas’ sons who have tried have been put to death. You will be killed too, if you try. Do go away.” But the prince would not listen to anything she said.
The king sent for the prince to the old woman’s house, and his servants brought the Raja’s son to the king’s court-house to the king. There the king gave him eighty pounds of mustard seed, and told him to crush all the oil out of it that day, and bring it next morning to him to the court-house. “Whoever wishes to marry my daughter,” he said to the prince, “must first do all I tell him. If he cannot, then I have him killed. So if you cannot crush all the oil out of this mustard seed, you will die.”
The prince was very sorry when he heard this. “How can I crush the oil out of all this mustard seed in one day?” he said to himself; “and if I do not, the king will kill me.” He took the mustard seed to the old woman’s house, and did not know what to do. At last he remembered the Ant-Raja, and the moment he did so, the Ant-Raja and his ants came to him. “Why do you look so sad?” said the Ant-Raja.
The prince showed him the mustard seed, and said to him, “How can I crush the oil out of all this mustard seed in one day? And if I do not take the oil to the king to-morrow morning, he will kill me.”
“Be happy,” said the Ant-Raja; “lie down and sleep; we will crush all the oil out for you during the day, and to-morrow morning you shall take it to the king.” The Raja’s son lay down and slept, and the ants crushed out the oil for him. The prince was very glad when he saw the oil.
The next morning he took it to the court-house to the king. But the king said, “You cannot yet marry my daughter. If you wish to do so, you must first fight with my two demons and kill them.” The king a long time ago had caught two demons, and then, as he did not know what to do with them, he had shut them up in a cage. He was afraid to let them loose for fear they would eat up all the people in his country; and he did not know how to kill them. So all the kings and kings’ sons who wanted to marry the Princess Labam had to fight with these demons; “for,” said the king to himself, “perhaps the demons may be killed, and then I shall be rid of them.”
When he heard of the demons the Raja’s son was very sad. “What can I do?” he said to himself. “How can I fight with these two demons?” Then he thought of his tiger: and the tiger and his wife came to him and said, “Why are you so sad?” The Raja’s son answered, “The king has ordered me to fight with his two demons and kill them. How can I do this?” “Do not be frightened,” said the tiger. “Be happy. I and my wife will fight with them for you.”
Then the Raja’s son took out of his bag two splendid coats. They were all gold and silver, and covered with pearls and diamonds. These he put on the tigers to make them beautiful, and he took them to the king, and said to him, “May these tigers fight your demons for me?” “Yes,” said the king, who did not care in the least who killed his demons, provided they were killed. “Then call your demons,” said the Raja’s son, “and these tigers will fight them.” The king did so, and the tigers and the demons fought and fought until the tigers had killed the demons.
“That is good,” said the king. “But you must do something else before I give you my daughter. Up in the sky I have a kettle-drum. You must go and beat it. If you cannot do this, I will kill you.”
The Raja’s son thought of his little bed; so he went to the old woman’s house and sat on his bed. “Little bed,” he said, “up in the sky is the king’s kettle-drum. I want to go to it.” The bed flew up with him, and the Raja’s son beat the drum, and the king heard him. Still, when he came down, the king would not give him his daughter. “You have,” he said to the prince, “done the three things I told you to do; but you must do one thing more.” “If I can, I will,” said the Raja’s son.
Then the king showed him the trunk of a tree that was lying near his court-house. It was a very, very thick trunk. He gave the prince a wax hatchet, and said, “Tomorrow morning you must cut this trunk in two with this wax hatchet.”
The Raja’s son went back to the old woman’s house. He was very sad, and thought that now the Raja would certainly kill him. “I had his oil crushed out by the ants,” he said to himself. “I had his demons killed by the tigers. My bed helped me to beat his kettle-drum. But now what can I do? How can I cut that thick tree-trunk in two with a wax hatchet?”
At night he went on his bed to see the princess. “To-morrow,” he said to her, “your father will kill me.” “Why?” asked the princess.
“He has told me to cut a thick tree-trunk in two with a wax hatchet. How can I ever do that?” said the Raja’s son. “Do not be afraid,” said the princess; “do as I bid you, and you will cut it in two quite easily.”
Then she pulled out a hair from her head, and gave it to the prince. “To-morrow,” she said, “when no one is near you, you must say to the tree-trunk, ‘The Princess Labam commands you to let yourself be cut in two by this hair.’ Then stretch the hair down the edge of the wax hatchet’s blade.”
The prince next day did exactly as the princess had told him; and the minute the hair that was stretched down the edge of the hatchet-blade touched the tree-trunk it split into two pieces.
The king said, “Now you can marry my daughter.” Then the wedding took place. All the Rajas and kings of the countries round were asked to come to it, and there were great rejoicings. After a few days the prince’s son said to his wife, “Let us go to my father’s country.” The Princess Labam’s father gave them a quantity of camels and horses and rupees and servants; and they travelled in great state to the prince’s country, where they lived happily.
The prince always kept his bag, bowl, bed, and stick; only, as no one ever came to make war on him, he never needed to use the stick.
Once upon a time there was a wee wee Lambikin, who frolicked about on his little tottery legs, and enjoyed himself amazingly.
Now one day he set off to visit his Granny, and was jumping with joy to think of all the good things he should get from her, when who should he meet but a Jackal, who looked at the tender young morsel and said: “Lambikin! Lambikin! I’ll EAT YOU!”
But Lambikin only gave a little frisk and said:
“To Granny’s house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.”
The Jackal thought this reasonable, and let Lambikin pass.
By-and-by he met a Vulture, and the Vulture, looking hungrily at the tender morsel before him, said: “Lambikin! Lambikin! I’ll EAT YOU!”
But Lambikin only gave a little frisk, and said:
“To Granny’s house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.”
The Vulture thought this reasonable, and let Lambikin pass.
And by-and-by he met a Tiger, and then a Wolf, and a Dog, and an Eagle, and all these, when they saw the tender little morsel, said: “Lambikin! Lambikin! I’ll EAT YOU!”
But to all of them Lambikin replied, with a little frisk:
“To Granny’s house I go,
Where I shall fatter grow,
Then you can eat me so.”
At last he reached his Granny’s house, and said, all in a great hurry, “Granny, dear, I’ve promised to get very fat; so, as people ought to keep their promises, please put me into the corn-bin _at once_.”
So his Granny said he was a good boy, and put him into the corn-bin, and there the greedy little Lambikin stayed for seven days, and ate, and ate, and ate, until he could scarcely waddle, and his Granny said he was fat enough for anything, and must go home. But cunning little Lambikin said that would never do, for some animal would be sure to eat him on the way back, he was so plump and tender.
“I’ll tell you what you must do,” said Master Lambikin, “you must make a little drumikin out of the skin of my little brother who died, and then I can sit inside and trundle along nicely, for I’m as tight as a drum myself.”
So his Granny made a nice little drumikin out of his brother’s skin, with the wool inside, and Lambikin curled himself up snug and warm in the middle, and trundled away gaily. Soon he met with the Eagle, who called out:
Have you seen Lambikin?”
And Mr. Lambikin, curled up in his soft warm nest, replied:
“Fallen into the fire, and so will you On little Drumikin. Tum-pa, tum-too!”
“How very annoying!” sighed the Eagle, thinking regretfully of the tender morsel he had let slip.
Meanwhile Lambikin trundled along, laughing to himself, and singing:
Every animal and bird he met asked him the same question:
Have you seen Lambikin?”
And to each of them the little slyboots replied:
“Fallen into the fire, and so will you On little Drumikin. Tum-pa, tum too;
Tum-pa, tum-too; Tum-pa, tum-too!”
Then they all sighed to think of the tender little morsel they had let slip.
At last the Jackal came limping along, for all his sorry looks as sharp as a needle, and he too called out–
Have you seen Lambikin?”
And Lambikin, curled up in his snug little nest, replied gaily:
“Fallen into the fire, and so will you On little Drumikin! Tum-pa–“
But he never got any further, for the Jackal recognised his voice at once, and cried: “Hullo! you’ve turned yourself inside out, have you? Just you come out of that!”
Whereupon he tore open Drumikin and gobbled up Lambikin.
Once upon a time there was a Raja who had seven beautiful daughters. They were all good girls; but the youngest, named Balna, was more clever than the rest. The Raja’s wife died when they were quite little children, so these seven poor Princesses were left with no mother to take care of them.
The Raja’s daughters took it by turns to cook their father’s dinner every day, whilst he was absent deliberating with his Ministers on the affairs of the nation.
About this time the Prudhan died, leaving a widow and one daughter; and every day, every day, when the seven Princesses were preparing their father’s dinner, the Prudhan’s widow and daughter would come and beg for a little fire from the hearth. Then Balna used to say to her sisters, “Send that woman away; send her away. Let her get the fire at her own house. What does she want with ours? If we allow her to come here, we shall suffer for it some day.”
But the other sisters would answer, “Be quiet, Balna; why must you always be quarrelling with this poor woman? Let her take some fire if she likes.” Then the Prudhan’s widow used to go to the hearth and take a few sticks from it; and whilst no one was looking, she would quickly throw some mud into the midst of the dishes which were being prepared for the Raja’s dinner.
Now the Raja was very fond of his daughters. Ever since their mother’s death they had cooked his dinner with their own hands, in order to avoid the danger of his being poisoned by his enemies. So, when he found the mud mixed up with his dinner, he thought it must arise from their carelessness, as it did not seem likely that any one should have put mud there on purpose; but being very kind he did not like to reprove them for it, although this spoiling of the curry was repeated many successive days.
At last, one day, he determined to hide, and watch his daughters cooking, and see how it all happened; so he went into the next room, and watched them through a hole in the wall.
There he saw his seven daughters carefully washing the rice and preparing the curry, and as each dish was completed, they put it by the fire ready to be cooked. Next he noticed the Prudhan’s widow come to the door, and beg for a few sticks from the fire to cook her dinner with. Balna turned to her, angrily, and said, “Why don’t you keep fuel in your own house, and not come here every day and take ours? Sisters, don’t give this woman any more wood; let her buy it for herself.”
Then the eldest sister answered, “Balna, let the poor woman take the wood and the fire; she does us no harm.” But Balna replied, “If you let her come here so often, maybe she will do us some harm, and make us sorry for it, some day.”
The Raja then saw the Prudhan’s widow go to the place where all his dinner was nicely prepared, and, as she took the wood, she threw a little mud into each of the dishes.
At this he was very angry, and sent to have the woman seized and brought before him. But when the widow came, she told him that she had played this trick because she wanted to gain an audience with him; and she spoke so cleverly, and pleased him so well with her cunning words, that instead of punishing her, the Raja married her, and made her his Ranee, and she and her daughter came to live in the palace.
Now the new Ranee hated the seven poor Princesses, and wanted to get them, if possible, out of the way, in order that her daughter might have all their riches, and live in the palace as Princess in their place; and instead of being grateful to them for their kindness to her, she did all she could to make them miserable. She gave them nothing but bread to eat, and very little of that, and very little water to drink; so these seven poor little Princesses, who had been accustomed to have everything comfortable about them, and good food and good clothes all their lives long, were very miserable and unhappy; and they used to go out every day and sit by their dead mother’s tomb and cry–and say:
“Oh mother, mother, cannot you see your poor children, how unhappy we are, and how we are starved by our cruel step-mother?”
One day, whilst they were thus sobbing and crying, lo and behold! a beautiful pomelo tree grew up out of the grave, covered with fresh ripe pomeloes, and the children satisfied their hunger by eating some of the fruit, and every day after this, instead of trying to eat the bad dinner their step-mother provided for them, they used to go out to their mother’s grave and eat the pomeloes which grew there on the beautiful tree.
Then the Ranee said to her daughter, “I cannot tell how it is, every day those seven girls say they don’t want any dinner, and won’t eat any; and yet they never grow thin nor look ill; they look better than you do. I cannot tell how it is.” And she bade her watch the seven Princesses, and see if any one gave them anything to eat.
So next day, when the Princesses went to their mother’s grave, and were eating the beautiful pomeloes, the Prudhan’s daughter followed them, and saw them gathering the fruit.
Then Balna said to her sisters, “Do you not see that girl watching us? Let us drive her away, or hide the pomeloes, else she will go and tell her mother all about it, and that will be very bad for us.”
But the other sisters said, “Oh no, do not be unkind, Balna. The girl would never be so cruel as to tell her mother. Let us rather invite her to come and have some of the fruit.” And calling her to them, they gave her one of the pomeloes.
No sooner had she eaten it, however, than the Prudhan’s daughter went home and said to her mother, “I do not wonder the seven Princesses will not eat the dinner you prepare for them, for by their mother’s grave there grows a beautiful pomelo tree, and they go there every day and eat the pomeloes. I ate one, and it was the nicest I have ever tasted.”
The cruel Ranee was much vexed at hearing this, and all next day she stayed in her room, and told the Raja that she had a very bad headache. The Raja was deeply grieved, and said to his wife, “What can I do for you?” She answered, “There is only one thing that will make my headache well. By your dead wife’s tomb there grows a fine pomelo tree; you must bring that here, and boil it, root and branch, and put a little of the water in which it has been boiled, on my forehead, and that will cure my headache.” So the Raja sent his servants, and had the beautiful pomelo tree pulled up by the roots, and did as the Ranee desired; and when some of the water, in which it had been boiled, was put on her forehead, she said her headache was gone and she felt quite well.
Next day, when the seven Princesses went as usual to the grave of their mother, the pomelo tree had disappeared. Then they all began to cry very bitterly.
Now there was by the Ranee’s tomb a small tank, and as they were crying they saw that the tank was filled with a rich cream-like substance, which quickly hardened into a thick white cake. At seeing this all the Princesses were very glad, and they ate some of the cake, and liked it; and next day the same thing happened, and so it went on for many days. Every morning the Princesses went to their mother’s grave, and found the little tank filled with the nourishing cream-like cake. Then the cruel step-mother said to her daughter: “I cannot tell how it is, I have had the pomelo tree which used to grow by the Ranee’s grave destroyed, and yet the Princesses grow no thinner, nor look more sad, though they never eat the dinner I give them. I cannot tell how it is!”
And her daughter said, “I will watch.”
Next day, while the Princesses were eating the cream cake, who should come by but their step-mother’s daughter. Balna saw her first, and said, “See, sisters, there comes that girl again. Let us sit round the edge of the tank and not allow her to see it, for if we give her some of our cake, she will go and tell her mother; and that will be very unfortunate for us.”
The other sisters, however, thought Balna unnecessarily suspicious, and instead of following her advice, they gave the Prudhan’s daughter some of the cake, and she went home and told her mother all about it.
The Ranee, on hearing how well the Princesses fared, was exceedingly angry, and sent her servants to pull down the dead Ranee’s tomb, and fill the little tank with the ruins. And not content with this, she next day pretended to be very, very ill–in fact, at the point of death–and when the Raja was much grieved, and asked her whether it was in his power to procure her any remedy, she said to him: “Only one thing can save my life, but I know you will not do it.” He replied, “Yes, whatever it is, I will do it.” She then said, “To save my life, you must kill the seven daughters of your first wife, and put some of their blood on my forehead and on the palms of my hands, and their death will be my life.” At these words the Raja was very sorrowful; but because he feared to break his word, he went out with a heavy heart to find his daughters.
He found them crying by the ruins of their mother’s grave.
Then, feeling he could not kill them, the Raja spoke kindly to them, and told them to come out into the jungle with him; and there he made a fire and cooked some rice, and gave it to them. But in the afternoon, it being very hot, the seven Princesses all fell asleep, and when he saw they were fast asleep, the Raja, their father, stole away and left them (for he feared his wife), saying to himself: “It is better my poor daughters should die here, than be killed by their step-mother.”
He then shot a deer, and returning home, put some of its blood on the forehead and hands of the Ranee, and she thought then that he had really killed the Princesses, and said she felt quite well.
Meantime the seven Princesses awoke, and when they found themselves all alone in the thick jungle they were much frightened, and began to call out as loud as they could, in hopes of making their father hear; but he was by that time far away, and would not have been able to hear them even had their voices been as loud as thunder.
It so happened that this very day the seven young sons of a neighbouring Raja chanced to be hunting in that same jungle, and as they were returning home, after the day’s sport was over, the youngest Prince said to his brothers “Stop, I think I hear some one crying and calling out. Do you not hear voices? Let us go in the direction of the sound, and find out what it is.”
So the seven Princes rode through the wood until they came to the place where the seven Princesses sat crying and wringing their hands. At the sight of them the young Princes were very much astonished, and still more so on learning their story; and they settled that each should take one of these poor forlorn ladies home with him, and marry her.
So the first and eldest Prince took the eldest Princess home with him, and married her.
And the second took the second;
And the third took the third;
And the fourth took the fourth;
And the fifth took the fifth;
And the sixth took the sixth;
And the seventh, and the handsomest of all, took the beautiful Balna.
And when they got to their own land, there was great rejoicing throughout the kingdom, at the marriage of the seven young Princes to seven such beautiful Princesses.
About a year after this Balna had a little son, and his uncles and aunts were so fond of the boy that it was as if he had seven fathers and seven mothers. None of the other Princes and Princesses had any children, so the son of the seventh Prince and Balna was acknowledged their heir by all the rest.
They had thus lived very happily for some time, when one fine day the seventh Prince (Balna’s husband) said he would go out hunting, and away he went; and they waited long for him, but he never came back.
Then his six brothers said they would go and see what had become of him; and they went away, but they also did not return.
And the seven Princesses grieved very much, for they feared that their kind husbands must have been killed.
One day, not long after this had happened, as Balna was rocking her baby’s cradle, and whilst her sisters were working in the room below, there came to the palace door a man in a long black dress, who said that he was a Fakir, and came to beg. The servants said to him, “You cannot go into the palace–the Raja’s sons have all gone away; we think they must be dead, and their widows cannot be interrupted by your begging.” But he said, “I am a holy man, you must let me in.” Then the stupid servants let him walk through the palace, but they did not know that this was no Fakir, but a wicked Magician named Punchkin.
Punchkin Fakir wandered through the palace, and saw many beautiful things there, till at last he reached the room where Balna sat singing beside her little boy’s cradle. The Magician thought her more beautiful than all the other beautiful things he had seen, insomuch that he asked her to go home with him and to marry him. But she said, “My husband, I fear, is dead, but my little boy is still quite young; I will stay here and teach him to grow up a clever man, and when he is grown up he shall go out into the world, and try and learn tidings of his father. Heaven forbid that I should ever leave him, or marry you.” At these words the Magician was very angry, and turned her into a little black dog, and led her away; saying, “Since you will not come with me of your own free will, I will make you.” So the poor Princess was dragged away, without any power of effecting an escape, or of letting her sisters know what had become of her. As Punchkin passed through the palace gate the servants said to him, “Where did you get that pretty little dog?” And he answered, “One of the Princesses gave it to me as a present.” At hearing which they let him go without further questioning.
Soon after this, the six elder Princesses heard the little baby, their nephew, begin to cry, and when they went upstairs they were much surprised to find him all alone, and Balna nowhere to be seen. Then they questioned the servants, and when they heard of the Fakir and the little black dog, they guessed what had happened, and sent in every direction seeking them, but neither the Fakir nor the dog were to be found. What could six poor women do? They gave up all hopes of ever seeing their kind husbands, and their sister, and her husband, again, and devoted themselves thenceforward to teaching and taking care of their little nephew.
Thus time went on, till Balna’s son was fourteen years old. Then, one day, his aunts told him the history of the family; and no sooner did he hear it, than he was seized with a great desire to go in search of his father and mother and uncles, and if he could find them alive to bring them home again. His aunts, on learning his determination, were much alarmed and tried to dissuade him, saying, “We have lost our husbands, and our sister and her husband, and you are now our sole hope; if you go away, what shall we do?” But he replied, “I pray you not to be discouraged; I will return soon, and if it is possible bring my father and mother and uncles with me.” So he set out on his travels; but for some months he could learn nothing to help him in his search.
At last, after he had journeyed many hundreds of weary miles, and become almost hopeless of ever hearing anything further of his parents, he one day came to a country that seemed full of stones, and rocks, and trees, and there he saw a large palace with a high tower; hard by which was a Malee’s little house.
As he was looking about, the Malee’s wife saw him, and ran out of the house and said, “My dear boy, who are you that dare venture to this dangerous place?” He answered, “I am a Raja’s son, and I come in search of my father, and my uncles, and my mother whom a wicked enchanter bewitched.”
Then the Malee’s wife said, “This country and this palace belong to a great enchanter; he is all powerful, and if any one displeases him, he can turn them into stones and trees. All the rocks and trees you see here were living people once, and the Magician turned them to what they now are. Some time ago a Raja’s son came here, and shortly afterwards came his six brothers, and they were all turned into stones and trees; and these are not the only unfortunate ones, for up in that tower lives a beautiful Princess, whom the Magician has kept prisoner there for twelve years, because she hates him and will not marry him.”
Then the little Prince thought, “These must be my parents and my uncles. I have found what I seek at last.” So he told his story to the Malee’s wife, and begged her to help him to remain in that place awhile and inquire further concerning the unhappy people she mentioned; and she promised to befriend him, and advised his disguising himself lest the Magician should see him, and turn him likewise into stone. To this the Prince agreed. So the Malee’s wife dressed him up in a saree, and pretended that he was her daughter.
One day, not long after this, as the Magician was walking in his garden he saw the little girl (as he thought) playing about, and asked her who she was. She told him she was the Malee’s daughter, and the Magician said, “You are a pretty little girl, and to-morrow you shall take a present of flowers from me to the beautiful lady who lives in the tower.”
The young Prince was much delighted at hearing this, and went immediately to inform the Malee’s wife; after consultation with whom he determined that it would be more safe for him to retain his disguise, and trust to the chance of a favourable opportunity for establishing some communication with his mother, if it were indeed she.
Now it happened that at Balna’s marriage her husband had given her a small gold ring on which her name was engraved, and she had put it on her little son’s finger when he was a baby, and afterwards when he was older his aunts had had it enlarged for him, so that he was still able to wear it. The Malee’s wife advised him to fasten the well-known treasure to one of the bouquets he presented to his mother, and trust to her recognising it. This was not to be done without difficulty, as such a strict watch was kept over the poor Princess (for fear of her ever establishing communication with her friends), that though the supposed Malee’s daughter was permitted to take her flowers every day, the Magician or one of his slaves was always in the room at the time. At last one day, however, opportunity favoured him, and when no one was looking, the boy tied the ring to a nosegay, and threw it at Balna’s feet. It fell with a clang on the floor, and Balna, looking to see what made the strange sound, found the little ring tied to the flowers. On recognising it, she at once believed the story her son told her of his long search, and begged him to advise her as to what she had better do; at the same time entreating him on no account to endanger his life by trying to rescue her. She told him that for twelve long years the Magician had kept her shut up in the tower because she refused to marry him, and she was so closely guarded that she saw no hope of release.
Now Balna’s son was a bright, clever boy, so he said, “Do not fear, dear mother; the first thing to do is to discover how far the Magician’s power extends, in order that we may be able to liberate my father and uncles, whom he has imprisoned in the form of rocks and trees. You have spoken to him angrily for twelve long years; now rather speak kindly. Tell him you have given up all hopes of again seeing the husband you have so long mourned, and say you are willing to marry him. Then endeavour to find out what his power consists in, and whether he is immortal, or can be put to death.”
Balna determined to take her son’s advice; and the next day sent for Punchkin, and spoke to him as had been suggested.
The Magician, greatly delighted, begged her to allow the wedding to take place as soon as possible.
But she told him that before she married him he must allow her a little more time, in which she might make his acquaintance, and that, after being enemies so long, their friendship could but strengthen by degrees. “And do tell me,” she said, “are you quite immortal? Can death never touch you? And are you too great an enchanter ever to feel human suffering?”
“Why do you ask?” said he.
“Because,” she replied, “if I am to be your wife, I would fain know all about you, in order, if any calamity threatens you, to overcome, or if possible to avert it.”
“It is true,” he added, “that I am not as others. Far, far away, hundreds of thousands of miles from this, there lies a desolate country covered with thick jungle. In the midst of the jungle grows a circle of palm trees, and in the centre of the circle stand six chattees full of water, piled one above another: below the sixth chattee is a small cage which contains a little green parrot; on the life of the parrot depends my life; and if the parrot is killed I must die. It is, however,” he added, “impossible that the parrot should sustain any injury, both on account of the inaccessibility of the country, and because, by my appointment, many thousand genii surround the palm trees, and kill all who approach the place.”
Balna told her son what Punchkin had said; but at the same time implored him to give up all idea of getting the parrot.
The Prince, however, replied, “Mother, unless I can get hold of that parrot, you, and my father, and uncles, cannot be liberated: be not afraid, I will shortly return. Do you, meantime, keep the Magician in good humour–still putting off your marriage with him on various pretexts; and before he finds out the cause of delay, I will be here.” So saying, he went away.
Many, many weary miles did he travel, till at last he came to a thick jungle; and, being very tired, sat down under a tree and fell asleep. He was awakened by a soft rustling sound, and looking about him, saw a large serpent which was making its way to an eagle’s nest built in the tree under which he lay, and in the nest were two young eagles. The Prince seeing the danger of the young birds, drew his sword, and killed the serpent; at the same moment a rushing sound was heard in the air, and the two old eagles, who had been out hunting for food for their young ones, returned. They quickly saw the dead serpent and the young Prince standing over it; and the old mother eagle said to him, “Dear boy, for many years all our young ones have been devoured by that cruel serpent; you have now saved the lives of our children; whenever you are in need, therefore, send to us and we will help you; and as for these little eagles, take them, and let them be your servants.”
At this the Prince was very glad, and the two eaglets crossed their wings, on which he mounted; and they carried him far, far away over the thick jungles, until he came to the place where grew the circle of palm trees, in the midst of which stood the six chattees full of water. It was the middle of the day, and the heat was very great. All round the trees were the genii fast asleep; nevertheless, there were such countless thousands of them, that it would have been quite impossible for any one to walk through their ranks to the place; down swooped the strong-winged eaglets–down jumped the Prince; in an instant he had overthrown the six chattees full of water, and seized the little green parrot, which he rolled up in his cloak; while, as he mounted again into the air, all the genii below awoke, and finding their treasure gone, set up a wild and melancholy howl.
Away, away flew the little eagles, till they came to their home in the great tree; then the Prince said to the old eagles, “Take back your little ones; they have done me good service; if ever again I stand in need of help, I will not fail to come to you.” He then continued his journey on foot till he arrived once more at the Magician’s palace, where he sat down at the door and began playing with the parrot. Punchkin saw him, and came to him quickly, and said, “My boy, where did you get that parrot? Give it to me, I pray you.”
But the Prince answered, “Oh no, I cannot give away my parrot, it is a great pet of mine; I have had it many years.”
Then the Magician said, “If it is an old favourite, I can understand your not caring to give it away; but come what will you sell it for?”
“Sir,” replied the Prince, “I will not sell my parrot.”
Then Punchkin got frightened, and said, “Anything, anything; name what price you will, and it shall be yours.” The Prince answered, “Let the seven Raja’s sons whom you turned into rocks and trees be instantly liberated.”
“It is done as you desire,” said the Magician, “only give me my parrot.” And with that, by a stroke of his wand, Balna’s husband and his brothers resumed their natural shapes. “Now, give me my parrot,” repeated Punchkin.
“Not so fast, my master,” rejoined the Prince; “I must first beg that you will restore to life all whom you have thus imprisoned.”
The Magician immediately waved his wand again; and, whilst he cried, in an imploring voice, “Give me my parrot!” the whole garden became suddenly alive: where rocks, and stones, and trees had been before, stood Rajas, and Punts, and Sirdars, and mighty men on prancing horses, and jewelled pages, and troops of armed attendants.
“Give me my parrot!” cried Punchkin. Then the boy took hold of the parrot, and tore off one of its wings; and as he did so the Magician’s right arm fell off.
Punchkin then stretched out his left arm, crying, “Give me my parrot!” The Prince pulled off the parrot’s second wing, and the Magician’s left arm tumbled off.
“Give me my parrot!” cried he, and fell on his knees. The Prince pulled off the parrot’s right leg, the Magician’s right leg fell off: the Prince pulled off the parrot’s left leg, down fell the Magician’s left.
Nothing remained of him save the limbless body and the head; but still he rolled his eyes, and cried, “Give me my parrot!” “Take your parrot, then,” cried the boy, and with that he wrung the bird’s neck, and threw it at the Magician; and, as he did so, Punchkin’s head twisted round, and, with a fearful groan, he died!
Then they let Balna out of the tower; and she, her son, and the seven Princes went to their own country, and lived very happily ever afterwards. And as to the rest of the world, every one went to his own house.
THE BROKEN POT
There lived in a certain place a Brahman, whose name was Svabhavak_ri_pa_n_a, which means “a born miser.” He had collected a quantity of rice by begging, and after having dined off it, he filled a pot with what was left over. He hung the pot on a peg on the wall, placed his couch beneath, and looking intently at it all the night, he thought, “Ah, that pot is indeed brimful of rice. Now, if there should be a famine, I should certainly make a hundred rupees by it. With this I shall buy a couple of goats. They will have young ones every six months, and thus I shall have a whole herd of goats. Then, with the goats, I shall buy cows. As soon as they have calved, I shall sell the calves. Then, with the calves, I shall buy buffaloes; with the buffaloes, mares. When the mares have foaled, I shall have plenty of horses; and when I sell them, plenty of gold. With that gold I shall get a house with four wings. And then a Brahman will come to my house, and will give me his beautiful daughter, with a large dowry. She will have a son, and I shall call him Somasarman. When he is old enough to be danced on his father’s knee, I shall sit with a book at the back of the stable, and while I am reading, the boy will see me, jump from his mother’s lap, and run towards me to be danced on my knee. He will come too near the horse’s hoof, and, full of anger, I shall call to my wife, ‘Take the baby; take him!’ But she, distracted by some domestic work, does not hear me. Then I get up, and give her such a kick with my foot.” While he thought this, he gave a kick with his foot, and broke the pot. All the rice fell over him, and made him quite white. Therefore, I say, “He who makes foolish plans for the future will be white all over, like the father of Somasarman.”
THE MAGIC FIDDLE
Once upon a time there lived seven brothers and a sister. The brothers were married, but their wives did not do the cooking for the family. It was done by their sister, who stopped at home to cook. The wives for this reason bore their sister-in-law much ill-will, and at length they combined together to oust her from the office of cook and general provider, so that one of themselves might obtain it. They said, “She does not go out to the fields to work, but remains quietly at home, and yet she has not the meals ready at the proper time.” They then called upon their Bonga, and vowing vows unto him they secured his good-will and assistance; then they said to the Bonga, “At midday, when our sister-in-law goes to bring water, cause it thus to happen, that on seeing her pitcher, the water shall vanish, and again slowly re-appear. In this way she will be delayed. Let the water not flow into her pitcher, and you may keep the maiden as your own.”
At noon when she went to bring water, it suddenly dried up before her, and she began to weep. Then after a while the water began slowly to rise. When it reached her ankles she tried to fill her pitcher, but it would not go under the water. Being frightened she began to wail and cry to her brother:
“Oh! my brother, the water reaches to my ankles, Still, Oh! my brother, the pitcher will not dip.”
The water continued to rise until it reached her knee, when she began to wail again:
“Oh! my brother, the water reaches to my knee, Still, Oh! my brother, the pitcher will not dip.”
The water continued to rise, and when it reached her waist, she cried again:
“Oh! my brother, the water reaches to my waist, Still, Oh! my brother, the pitcher will not dip.”
The water still rose, and when it reached her neck she kept on crying:
“Oh! my brother, the water reaches to my neck, Still, Oh! my brother, the pitcher will not dip.”
At length the water became so deep that she felt herself drowning, then she cried aloud:
“Oh! my brother, the water measures a man’s height, Oh! my brother, the pitcher begins to fill.”
The pitcher filled with water, and along with it she sank and was drowned. The Bonga then transformed her into a Bonga like himself, and carried her off.
After a time she re-appeared as a bamboo growing on the embankment of the tank in which she had been drowned. When the bamboo had grown to an immense size, a Jogi, who was in the habit of passing that way, seeing it, said to himself, “This will make a splendid fiddle.” So one day he brought an axe to cut it down; but when he was about to begin, the bamboo called out, “Do not cut at the root, cut higher up.” When he lifted his axe to cut high up the stem, the bamboo cried out, “Do not cut near the top, cut at the root.” When the Jogi again prepared himself to cut at the root as requested, the bamboo said, “Do not cut at the root, cut higher up;” and when he was about to cut higher up, it again called out to him, “Do not cut high up, cut at the root.” The Jogi by this time felt sure that a Bonga was trying to frighten him, so becoming angry he cut down the bamboo at the root, and taking it away made a fiddle out of it. The instrument had a superior tone and delighted all who heard it. The Jogi carried it with him when he went a-begging, and through the influence of its sweet music he returned home every evening with a full wallet.
He now and then visited, when on his rounds, the house of the Bonga girl’s brothers, and the strains of the fiddle affected them greatly. Some of them were moved even to tears, for the fiddle seemed to wail as one in bitter anguish. The elder brother wished to purchase it, and offered to support the Jogi for a whole year if he would consent to part with his wonderful instrument. The Jogi, however, knew its value, and refused to sell it.
It so happened that the Jogi some time after went to the house of a village chief, and after playing a tune or two on his fiddle asked for something to eat. They offered to buy his fiddle and promised a high price for it, but he refused to sell it, as his fiddle brought to him his means of livelihood. When they saw that he was not to be prevailed upon, they gave him food and a plentiful supply of liquor. Of the latter he drank so freely that he presently became intoxicated. While he was in this condition, they took away his fiddle, and substituted their own old one for it. When the Jogi recovered, he missed his instrument, and suspecting that it had been stolen asked them to return it to him. They denied having taken it, so he had to depart, leaving his fiddle behind him. The chief’s son, being a musician, used to play on the Jogi’s fiddle, and in his hands the music it gave forth delighted the ears of all who heard it.
When all the household were absent at their labours in the fields, the Bonga girl used to come out of the bamboo fiddle, and prepared the family meal. Having eaten her own share, she placed that of the chief’s son under his bed, and covering it up to keep off the dust, re-entered the fiddle. This happening every day, the other members of the household thought that some girl friend of theirs was in this manner showing her interest in the young man, so they did not trouble themselves to find out how it came about. The young chief, however, was determined to watch, and see which of his girl friends was so attentive to his comfort. He said in his own mind, “I will catch her to-day, and give her a sound beating; she is causing me to be ashamed before the others.” So saying, he hid himself in a corner in a pile of firewood. In a short time the girl came out of the bamboo fiddle, and began to dress her hair. Having completed her toilet, she cooked the meal of rice as usual, and having eaten some herself, she placed the young man’s portion under his bed, as before, and was about to enter the fiddle again, when he, running out from his hiding-place, caught her in his arms. The Bonga girl exclaimed, “Fie! Fie! you may be a Dom, or you may be a Hadi of some other caste with whom I cannot marry.” He said, “No. But from to-day, you and I are one.” So they began lovingly to hold converse with each other. When the others returned home in the evening, they saw that she was both a human being and a Bonga, and they rejoiced exceedingly.
Now in course of time the Bonga girl’s family became very poor, and her brothers on one occasion came to the chief’s house on a visit.
The Bonga girl recognised them at once, but they did not know who she was. She brought them water on their arrival, and afterwards set cooked rice before them. Then sitting down near them, she began in wailing tones to upbraid them on account of the treatment she had been subjected to by their wives. She related all that had befallen her, and wound up by saying, “You must have known it all, and yet you did not interfere to save me.” And that was all the revenge she took.
THE CRUEL CRANE OUTWITTED
Long ago the Bodisat was born to a forest life as the Genius of a tree standing near a certain lotus pond.
Now at that time the water used to run short at the dry season in a certain pond, not over large, in which there were a good many fish. And a crane thought on seeing the fish.
“I must outwit these fish somehow or other and make a prey of them.”
And he went and sat down at the edge of the water, thinking how he should do it.
When the fish saw him, they asked him, “What are you sitting there for, lost in thought?”
“I am sitting thinking about you,” said he.
“Oh, sir! what are you thinking about us?” said they.
“Why,” he replied; “there is very little water in this pond, and but little for you to eat; and the heat is so great! So I was thinking, ‘What in the world will these fish do now?'”
“Yes, indeed, sir! what _are_ we to do?” said they.
“If you will only do as I bid you, I will take you in my beak to a fine large pond, covered with all the kinds of lotuses, and put you into it,” answered the crane.
“That a crane should take thought for the fishes is a thing unheard of, sir, since the world began. It’s eating us, one after the other, that you’re aiming at.”
“Not I! So long as you trust me, I won’t eat you. But if you don’t believe me that there is such a pond, send one of you with me to go and see it.”
Then they trusted him, and handed over to him one of their number–a big fellow, blind of one eye, whom they thought sharp enough in any emergency, afloat or ashore.
Him the crane took with him, let him go in the pond, showed him the whole of it, brought him back, and let him go again close to the other fish. And he told them all the glories of the pond.
And when they heard what he said, they exclaimed, “All right, sir! You may take us with you.”
Then the crane took the old purblind fish first to the bank of the other pond, and alighted in a Varana-tree growing on the bank there. But he threw it into a fork of the tree, struck it with his beak, and killed it; and then ate its flesh, and threw its bones away at the foot of the tree. Then he went back and called out:
“I’ve thrown that fish in; let another one come.”
And in that manner he took all the fish, one by one, and ate them, till he came back and found no more!
But there was still a crab left behind there; and the crane thought he would eat him too, and called out:
“I say, good crab, I’ve taken all the fish away, and put them into a fine large pond. Come along. I’ll take you too!”
“But how will you take hold of me to carry me along?”
“I’ll bite hold of you with my beak.”
“You’ll let me fall if you carry me like that. I won’t go with you!”
“Don’t be afraid! I’ll hold you quite tight all the way.”
Then said the crab to himself, “If this fellow once got hold of fish, he would never let them go in a pond! Now if he should really put me into the pond, it would be capital; but if he doesn’t–then I’ll cut his throat, and kill him!” So he said to him:
“Look here, friend, you won’t be able to hold me tight enough; but we crabs have a famous grip. If you let me catch hold of you round the neck with my claws, I shall be glad to go with you.”
And the other did not see that he was trying to outwit him, and agreed. So the crab caught hold of his neck with his claws as securely as with a pair of blacksmith’s pincers, and called out, “Off with you, now!”
And the crane took him and showed him the pond, and then turned off towards the Varana-tree.
“Uncle!” cried the crab, “the pond lies that way, but you are taking me this way!”
“Oh, that’s it, is it?” answered the crane. “Your dear little uncle, your very sweet nephew, you call me! You mean me to understand, I suppose, that I am your slave, who has to lift you up and carry you about with him! Now cast your eye upon the heap of fish-bones lying at the root of yonder Varana-tree. Just as I have eaten those fish, every one of them, just so I will devour you as well!”
“Ah! those fishes got eaten through their own stupidity,” answered the crab; “but I’m not going to let you eat _me_. On the contrary, is it _you_ that I am going to destroy. For you in your folly have not seen that I was outwitting you. If we die, we die both together; for I will cut off this head of yours, and cast it to the ground!” And so saying, he gave the crane’s neck a grip with his claws, as with a vice.
Then gasping, and with tears trickling from his eyes, and trembling with the fear of death, the crane beseeched him, saying, “O my Lord! Indeed I did not intend to eat you. Grant me my life!”
“Well, well! step down into the pond, and put me in there.”
And he turned round and stepped down into the pond, and placed the crab on the mud at its edge. But the crab cut through its neck as clean as one would cut a lotus-stalk with a hunting-knife, and then only entered the water!
When the Genius who lived in the Varana-tree saw this strange affair, he made the wood resound with his plaudits, uttering in a pleasant voice the verse:
“The villain, though exceeding clever, Shall prosper not by his villainy.
He may win indeed, sharp-witted in deceit, But only as the Crane here from the Crab!”
Once there was a king called King Dantal, who had a great many rupees and soldiers and horses. He had also an only son called Prince Majnun, who was a handsome boy with white teeth, red lips, blue eyes, red cheeks, red hair, and a white skin. This boy was very fond of playing with the Wazir’s son, Husain Mahamat, in King Dantal’s garden, which was very large and full of delicious fruits, and flowers, and trees. They used to take their little knives there and cut the fruits and eat them. King Dantal had a teacher for them to teach them to read and write.
One day, when they were grown two fine young men, Prince Majnun said to his father, “Husain Mahamat and I should like to go and hunt.” His father said they might go, so they got ready their horses and all else they wanted for their hunting, and went to the Phalana country, hunting all the way, but they only founds jackals and birds.
The Raja of the Phalana country was called Munsuk Raja, and he had a daughter named Laili, who was very beautiful; she had brown eyes and black hair.
One night, some time before Prince Majnun came to her father’s kingdom, as she slept, Khuda sent to her an angel in the form of a man who told her that she should marry Prince Majnun and no one else, and that this was Khuda’s command to her. When Laili woke she told her father of the angel’s visit to her as she slept; but her father paid no attention to her story. From that time she began repeating, “Majnun, Majnun; I want Majnun,” and would say nothing else. Even as she sat and ate her food she kept saying, “Majnun, Majnun; I want Majnun.” Her father used to get quite vexed with her. “Who is this Majnun? who ever heard of this Majnun?” he would say.
“He is the man I am to marry,” said Laili. “Khuda has ordered me to marry no one but Majnun.” And she was half mad.
Meanwhile, Majnun and Husain Mahamat came to hunt in the Phalana country; and as they were riding about, Laili came out on her horse to eat the air, and rode behind them. All the time she kept saying, “Majnun, Majnun; I want Majnun.” The prince heard her, and turned round. “Who is calling me?” he asked. At this Laili looked at him, and the moment she saw him she fell deeply in love with him, and she said to herself, “I am sure that is the Prince Majnun that Khuda says I am to marry.” And she went home to her father and said, “Father, I wish to marry the prince who has come to your kingdom; for I know he is the Prince Majnun I am to marry.”
“Very well, you shall have him for your husband,” said Munsuk Raja. “We will ask him to-morrow.” Laili consented to wait, although she was very impatient. As it happened, the prince left the Phalana kingdom that night, and when Laili heard he was gone, she went quite mad. She would not listen to a word her father, or her mother, or her servants said to her, but went off into the jungle, and wandered from jungle to jungle, till she got farther and farther away from her own country. All the time she kept saying, “Majnun, Majnun; I want Majnun;” and so she wandered about for twelve years.
At the end of the twelve years she met a fakir–he was really an angel, but she did not know this–who asked her, “Why do you always say, ‘Majnun, Majnun; I want Majnun’?” She answered, “I am the daughter of the king of the Phalana country, and I want to find Prince Majnun; tell me where his kingdom is.”
“I think you will never get there,” said the fakir, “for it is very far from hence, and you have to cross many rivers to reach it.” But Laili said she did not care; she must see Prince Majnun. “Well,” said the fakir, “when you come to the Bhagirathi river you will see a big fish, a Rohu; and you must get him to carry you to Prince Majnun’s country, or you will never reach it.”
She went on and on, and at last she came to the Bhagirathi river. There was a great big fish called the Rohu fish. It was yawning just as she got up to it, and she instantly jumped down its throat into its stomach. All the time she kept saying, “Majnun, Majnun.” At this the Rohu fish was greatly alarmed and swam down the river as fast as he could. By degrees he got tired and went slower, and a crow came and perched on his back, and said “Caw, caw.” “Oh, Mr. Crow,” said the poor fish “do see what is in my stomach that makes such a noise.”
“Very well,” said the crow, “open your mouth wide, and I’ll fly down and see.”
So the Rohu opened his jaws and the crow flew down, but he came up again very quickly. “You have a Rakshas in your stomach,” said the crow, and he flew away.
This news did not comfort the poor Rohu, and he swam on and on till he came to Prince Majnun’s country. There he stopped. And a jackal came down to the river to drink. “Oh, jackal,” said the Rohu “do tell me what I have inside me.”
“How can I tell?” said the jackal. “I cannot see unless I go inside you.” So the Rohu opened his mouth wide, and the jackal jumped down his throat; but he came up very quickly, looking much frightened and saying, “You have a Rakshas in your stomach, and if I don’t run away quickly, I am afraid it will eat me.” So off he ran. After the jackal came an enormous snake. “Oh,” says the fish, “do tell me what I have in my stomach, for it rattles about so, and keeps saying, ‘Majnun, Majnun; I want Majnun.'”
The snake said, “Open your mouth wide, and I’ll go down and see what it is.” The snake went down: when he returned he said, “You have a Rakshas in your stomach, but if you will let me cut you open, it will come out of you.” “If you do that, I shall die,” said the Rohu. “Oh, no,” said the snake, “you will not, for I will give you a medicine that will make you quite well again.” So the fish agreed, and the snake got a knife and cut him open, and out jumped Laili.
She was now very old. Twelve years she had wandered about the jungle, and for twelve years she had lived inside her Rohu; and she was no longer beautiful, and had lost her teeth. The snake took her on his back and carried her into the country, and there he put her down, and she wandered on and on till she got to Majnun’s court-house, where King Majnun was sitting. There some men heard her crying, “Majnun, Majnun; I want Majnun,” and they asked her what she wanted. “I want King Majnun,” she said.
So they went in and said to Prince Majnun, “An old woman outside says she wants you.” “I cannot leave this place,” said he; “send her in here.” They brought her in and the prince asked her what she wanted. “I want to marry you,” she answered. “Twenty-four years ago you came to my father the Phalana Raja’s country, and I wanted to marry you then; but you went away without marrying me. Then I went mad, and I have wandered about all these years looking for you.” Prince Majnun said, “Very good.”
“Pray to Khuda,” said Laili, “to make us both young again, and then we shall be married.” So the prince prayed to Khuda, and Khuda said to him, “Touch Laili’s clothes and they will catch fire, and when they are on fire, she and you will become young again.” When he touched Laili’s clothes they caught fire, and she and he became young again. And there were great feasts, and they were married, and travelled to the Phalana country to see her father and mother.
Now Laili’s father and mother had wept so much for their daughter that they had become quite blind, and her father kept always repeating, “Laili, Laili, Laili.” When Laili saw their blindness, she prayed to Khuda to restore their sight to them, which he did. As soon as the father and mother saw Laili, they hugged her and kissed her, and then they had the wedding all over again amid great rejoicings. Prince Majnum and Laili stayed with Munsuk Raja and his wife for three years, and then they returned to King Dantal, and lived happily for some time with him. They used to go out hunting, and they often went from country to country to eat the air and amuse themselves.
One day Prince Majnun said to Laili, “Let us go through this jungle.” “No, no,” said Laili; “if we go through this jungle, some harm will happen to me.” But Prince Majnun laughed, and went into the jungle. And as they were going through it, Khuda thought, “I should like to know how much Prince Majnun loves his wife. Would he be very sorry if she died? And would he marry another wife? I will see.” So he sent one of his angels in the form of a fakir into the jungle; and the angel went up to Laili, and threw some powder in her face, and instantly she fell to the ground a heap of ashes.
Prince Majnun was in great sorrow and grief when he saw his dear Laili turned into a little heap of ashes; and he went straight home to his father, and for a long, long time he would not be comforted. After a great many years he grew more cheerful and happy, and began to go again into his father’s beautiful garden with Husain Mahamat. King Dantal wished his son to marry again. “I will only have Laili for my wife; I will not marry any other woman,” said Prince Majnun.
“How can you marry Laili? Laili is dead. She will never come back to you,” said the father. “Then I’ll not have any wife at all,” said Prince Majnun.
Meanwhile Laili was living in the jungle where her husband had left her a little heap of ashes. As soon as Majnun had gone, the fakir had taken her ashes and made them quite clean, and then he had mixed clay and water with the ashes, and made the figure of a woman with them, and so Laili regained her human form, and Khuda sent life into it. But Laili had become once more a hideous old woman, with a long, long nose, and teeth like tusks; just such an old woman, excepting her teeth, as she had been when she came out of the Rohu fish; and she lived in the jungle, and neither ate nor drank, and she kept on saying, “Majnun, Majnun; I want Majnun.”
At last the angel who had come as a fakir and thrown the powder at her, said to Khuda, “Of what use is it that this woman should sit in the jungle crying, crying for ever, ‘Majnun, Majnun; I want Majnun,’ and eating and drinking nothing? Let me take her to Prince Majnun.” “Well,” said Khuda, “you may do so; but tell her that she must not speak to Majnun if he is afraid of her when he sees her; and that if he is afraid when he sees her, she will become a little white dog the next day. Then she must go to the palace, and she will only regain her human shape when Prince Majnun loves her, feeds her with his own food, and lets her sleep in his bed.”
So the angel came to Laili again as a fakir and carried her to King Dantal’s garden. “Now,” he said, “it is Khuda’s command that you stay here till Prince Majnun comes to walk in the garden, and then you may show yourself to him. But you must not speak to him, if he is afraid of you; and should he be afraid of you, you will the next day become a little white dog.” He then told her what she must do as a little dog to regain her human form.
Laili stayed in the garden, hidden in the tall grass, till Prince Majnun and Husain Mahamat came to walk in the garden. King Dantal was now a very old man, and Husain Mahamat, though he was really only as old as Prince Majnun, looked a great deal older than the prince, who had been made quite young again when he married Laili.
As Prince Majnun and the Wazir’s son walked in the garden, they gathered the fruit as they had done as little children, only they bit the fruit with their teeth; they did not cut it. While Majnun was busy eating a fruit in this way, and was talking to Husain Mahamat, he turned towards him and saw Laili walking behind the Wazir’s son.
“Oh, look, look!” he cried, “see what is following you; it is a Rakshas or a demon, and I am sure it is going to eat us.” Laili looked at him beseechingly with all her eyes, and trembled with age and eagerness; but this only frightened Majnun the more. “It is a Rakshas, a Rakshas!” he cried, and he ran quickly to the palace with the Wazir’s son; and as they ran away, Laili disappeared into the jungle. They ran to King Dantal, and Majnun told him there was a Rakshas or a demon in the garden that had come to eat them.
“What nonsense,” said his father. “Fancy two grown men being so frightened by an old ayah or a fakir! And if it had been a Rakshas, it would not have eaten you.” Indeed King Dantal did not believe Majnun had seen anything at all, till Husain Mahamat said the prince was speaking the exact truth. They had the garden searched for the terrible old woman, but found nothing, and King Dantal told his son he was very silly to be so much frightened. However, Prince Majnun would not walk in the garden any more.
The next day Laili turned into a pretty little dog; and in this shape she came into the palace, where Prince Majnun soon became very fond of her. She followed him everywhere, went with him when he was out hunting, and helped him to catch his game, and Prince Majnun fed her with milk, or bread, or anything else he was eating, and at night the little dog slept in his bed.
But one night the little dog disappeared, and in its stead there lay the little old woman who had frightened him so much in the garden; and now Prince Majnun was quite sure she was a Rakshas, or a demon, or some such horrible thing come to eat him; and in his terror he cried out, “What do you want? Oh, do not eat me; do not eat me!” Poor Laili answered, “Don’t you know me? I am your wife Laili, and I want to marry you. Don’t you remember how you would go through that jungle, though I begged and begged you not to go, for I told you that harm would happen to me, and then a fakir came and threw powder in my face, and I became a heap of ashes. But Khuda gave me my life again, and brought me here, after I had stayed a long, long while in the jungle crying for you, and now I am obliged to be a little dog; but if you will marry me, I shall not be a little dog any more.” Majnun, however, said “How can I marry an old woman like you? how can you be Laili? I am sure you are a Rakshas or a demon come to eat me,” and he was in great terror.
In the morning the old woman had turned into the little dog, and the prince went to his father and told him all that had happened. “An old woman! an old woman! always an old woman!” said his father. “You do nothing but think of old women. How can a strong man like you be so easily frightened?” However, when he saw that his son was really in great terror, and that he really believed the old woman would came back at night, he advised him to say to her, “I will marry you if you can make yourself a young girl again. How can I marry such an old woman as you are?”
That night as he lay trembling in bed the little old woman lay there in place of the dog, crying “Majnun, Majnun, I want to marry you. I have loved you all these long, long years. When I was in my father’s kingdom a young girl, I knew of you, though you knew nothing of me, and we should have been married then if you had not gone away so suddenly, and for long, long years I followed you.”
“Well,” said Majnun, “if you can make yourself a young girl again, I will marry you.”
Laili said, “Oh, that is quite easy. Khuda will make me a young girl again. In two days’ time you must go into the garden, and there you will see a beautiful fruit. You must gather it and bring it into your room and cut it open yourself very gently, and you must not open it when your father or anybody else is with you, but when you are quite alone; for I shall be in the fruit quite naked, without any clothes at all on.” In the morning Laili took her little dog’s form, and disappeared in the garden.
Prince Majnun told all this to his father, who told him to do all the old woman had bidden him. In two days’ time he and the Wazir’s son walked in the garden, and there they saw a large, lovely red fruit. “Oh!” said the Prince, “I wonder shall I find my wife in that fruit.” Husain Mahamat wanted him to gather it and see, but he would not till he had told his father, who said, “That must be the fruit; go and gather it.” So Majnun went back and broke the fruit off its stalk; and he said to his father, “Come with me to my room while I open it; I am afraid to open it alone, for perhaps I shall find a Rakshas in it that will eat me.”
“No,” said King Dantal; “remember, Laili will be naked; you must go alone and do not be afraid if, after all, a Rakshas is in the fruit, for I will stay outside the door, and you have only to call me with a loud voice, and I will come to you, so the Rakshas will not be able to eat you.”
Then Majnun took the fruit and began to cut it open tremblingly, for he shook with fear; and when he had cut it, out stepped Laili, young and far more beautiful than she had ever been. At the sight of her extreme beauty, Majnun fell backwards fainting on the floor.
Laili took off his turban and wound it all round herself like a sari (for she had no clothes at all on), and then she called King Dantal, and said to him sadly, “Why has Majnun fallen down like this? Why will he not speak to me? He never used to be afraid of me; and he has seen me so many, many times.”
King Dantal answered, “It is because you are so beautiful. You are far, far more beautiful than you ever were. But he will be very happy directly.” Then the King got some water, and they bathed Majnun’s face and gave him some to drink, and he sat up again.
Then Laili said, “Why did you faint? Did you not see I am Laili?”
“Oh!” said Prince Majnun, “I see you are Laili come back to me, but your eyes have grown so wonderfully beautiful, that I fainted when I saw them.” Then they were all very happy, and King Dantal had all the drums in the place beaten, and had all the musical instruments played on, and they made a grand wedding-feast, and gave presents to the servants, and rice and quantities of rupees to the fakirs.
After some time had passed very happily, Prince Majnun and his wife went out to eat the air. They rode on the same horse, and had only a groom with them. They came to another kingdom, to a beautiful garden. “We must go into that garden and see it,” said Majnun.
“No, no,” said Laili; “it belongs to a bad Raja, Chumman Basa, a very wicked man.” But Majnun insisted on going in, and in spite of all Laili could say, he got off the horse to look at the flowers. Now, as he was looking at the flowers, Laili saw Chumman Basa coming towards them, and she read in his eyes that he meant to kill her husband and seize her. So she said to Majnun, “Come, come, let us go; do not go near that bad man. I see in his eyes, and I feel in my heart, that he will kill you to seize me.”
“What nonsense,” said Majnun. “I believe he is a very good Raja. Anyhow, I am so near to him that I could not get away.”
“Well,” said Laili, “it is better that you should be killed than I, for if I were to be killed a second time, Khuda would not give me my life again; but I can bring you to life if you are killed.” Now Chumman Basa had come quite near, and seemed very pleasant, so thought Prince Majnun; but when he was speaking to Majnun, he drew his scimitar and cut off the prince’s head at one blow.
Laili sat quite still on her horse, and as the Raja came towards her she said, “Why did you kill my husband?”
“Because I want to take you,” he answered.
“You cannot,” said Laili.
“Yes, I can,” said the Raja.
“Take me, then,” said Laili to Chumman Basa; so he came quite close and put out his hand to take hers to lift her off her horse. But she put her hand in her pocket and pulled out a tiny knife, only as long as her hand was broad, and this knife unfolded itself in one instant till it was such a length! and then Laili made a great sweep with her arm and her long, long knife, and off came Chumman Basa’s head at one touch.
Then Laili slipped down off her horse, and she went to Majnun’s dead body, and she cut her little finger inside her hand straight down from the top of her nail to her palm, and out of this gushed blood like healing medicine. Then she put Majnun’s head on his shoulders, and smeared her healing blood all over the wound, and Majnun woke up and said, “What a delightful sleep I have had! Why, I feel as if I had slept for years!” Then he got up and saw the Raja’s dead body by Laili’s horse.
“What’s that?” said Majnun.
“That is the wicked Raja who killed you to seize me, just as I said he would.”
“Who killed him?” asked Majnun.
“I did,” answered Laili, “and it was I who brought you to life.”
“Do bring the poor man to life if you know how to do so,” said Majnun.
“No,” said Laili, “for he is a wicked man, and will try to do you harm.” But Majnun asked her for such a long time, and so earnestly to bring the wicked Raja to life, that at least she said, “Jump up on the horse, then, and go far away with the groom.”
“What will you do,” said Majnun, “if I leave you? I cannot leave you.”
“I will take care of myself,” said Laili; “but this man is so wicked, he may kill you again if you are near him.” So Majnun got up on the horse, and he and the groom went a long way off and waited for Laili. Then she set the wicked Raja’s head straight on his shoulders, and she squeezed the wound in her finger till a little blood-medicine came out of it. Then she smeared this over the place where her knife had passed, and just as she saw the Raja opening his eyes, she began to run, and she ran, and ran so fast, that she outran the Raja, who tried to catch her; and she sprang up on the horse behind her husband, and they rode so fast, so fast, till they reached King Dantal’s palace.
There Prince Majnun told everything to his father, who was horrified and angry. “How lucky for you that you have such a wife,” he said. “Why did you not do what she told you? But for her, you would be now dead.” Then he made a great feast out of gratitude for his son’s safety, and gave many, many rupees to the fakirs. And he made so much of Laili. He loved her dearly; he could not do enough for her. Then he built a splendid palace for her and his son, with a great deal of ground about it, and lovely gardens, and gave them great wealth, and heaps of servants to wait on them. But he would not allow any but their servants to enter their gardens and palace, and he would not allow Majnun to go out of them, nor Laili; “for,” said King Dantal, “Laili is so beautiful, that perhaps some one may kill my son to take her away.”
THE TIGER, THE BRAHMAN, AND THE JACKAL
Once upon a time, a tiger was caught in a trap. He tried in vain to get out through the bars, and rolled and bit with rage and grief when he failed.
By chance a poor Brahman came by. “Let me out of this cage, oh pious one!” cried the tiger.
“Nay, my friend,” replied the Brahman mildly, “you would probably eat me if I did.”
“Not at all!” swore the tiger with many oaths; “on the contrary, I should be for ever grateful, and serve you as a slave!”
Now when the tiger sobbed and sighed and wept and swore, the pious Brahman’s heart softened, and at last he consented to open the door of the cage. Out popped the tiger, and, seizing the poor man, cried, “What a fool you are! What is to prevent my eating you now, for after being cooped up so long I am just terribly hungry!”
In vain the Brahman pleaded for his life; the most he could gain was a promise to abide by the decision of the first three things he chose to question as to the justice of the tiger’s action.
So the Brahman first asked a _pipal_ tree what it thought of the matter, but the _pipal_ tree replied coldly, “What have you to complain about? Don’t I give shade and shelter to every one who passes by, and don’t they in return tear down my branches to feed their cattle? Don’t whimper–be a man!”
Then the Brahman, sad at heart, went further afield till he saw a buffalo turning a well-wheel; but he fared no better from it, for it answered, “You are a fool to expect gratitude! Look at me! Whilst I gave milk they fed me on cotton-seed and oil-cake, but now I am dry they yoke me here, and give me refuse as fodder!”
The Brahman, still more sad, asked the road to give him its opinion.
“My dear sir,” said the road, “how foolish you are to expect anything else! Here am I, useful to everybody, yet all, rich and poor, great and small, trample on me as they go past, giving me nothing but the ashes of their pipes and the husks of their grain!”
On this the Brahman turned back sorrowfully, and on the way he met a jackal, who called out, “Why, what’s the matter, Mr. Brahman? You look as miserable as a fish out of water!”
The Brahman told him all that had occurred. “How very confusing!” said the jackal, when the recital was ended; “would you mind telling me over again, for everything has got so mixed up?”
The Brahman told it all over again, but the jackal shook his head in a distracted sort of way, and still could not understand.
“It’s very odd,” said he, sadly, “but it all seems to go in at one ear and out at the other! I will go to the place where it all happened, and