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- Indian Fairy Tales - 10/38 -


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 then perhaps I shall be able to give a judgment."

So they returned to the cage, by which the tiger was waiting for the Brahman, and sharpening his teeth and claws.

"You've been away a long time!" growled the savage beast, "but now let us begin our dinner."


Indian Fairy Tales - 10/38

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