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- Tales Of The Punjab - 10/50 -

none the wiser.

Thus when the wise woman came once more and wept on the marble stairs, the Princess called to her joyfully, 'Don't cry, mother!--the Prince's life is safe to-day. It lies in his sword, and that is hidden away in my cupboard.'

Then the wicked old hag waited until the Princess took her noonday sleep, and when everything was quiet she stole to the cupboard, took the sword, made a fierce fire, and placed the sharp shining blade in the glowing embers. As it grew hotter and hotter, Prince Lionheart felt a burning fever creep over his body, and knowing the magical property of his sword, drew it out to see if aught had befallen it, and lo! it was not his own sword but a changeling! He cried aloud, 'I am undone! I am undone!' and galloped homewards. But the wise woman blew up the fire so quickly that the sword became red-hot ere Prince Lionheart could arrive, and just as he appeared on the other side of the stream, a rivet came out of the sword hilt, which rolled off, and so did the Prince's head.

Then the wise woman, going to the Princess, said, 'Daughter! see how tangled your beautiful hair is after your sleep! Let me wash and dress it against your husband's return.' So they went down the marble steps to the river; but the wise woman said, 'Step into my boat, sweetheart; the water is clearer on the farther side.'

And then, whilst the Princess's long golden hair was all over her eyes like a veil, so that she could not see, the wicked old hag loosed the boat, which went drifting down stream.

In vain the Princess wept and wailed; all she could do was to make a great vow, saying, 'O you shameless old thing! You are taking me away to some king's palace, I know; but no matter who he may be, I swear not to look on his face for twelve years!'

At last they arrived at the royal city, greatly to the King's delight; but when he found how solemn an oath the Princess had taken, he built her a high tower, where she lived all alone. No one save the hewers of wood and drawers of water were allowed even to enter the courtyard surrounding it, so there she lived and wept over her lost Lionheart.

Now when the Prince's head had rolled off in that shocking manner, the barley plant he had given to the Knifegrinder king suddenly snapped right in two, so that the ear fell to the ground.

This greatly troubled the faithful Knifegrinder, who immediately guessed some terrible disaster had overtaken his dear Prince. He gathered an army without delay, and set off in aid, meeting on the way with the Blacksmith and the Carpenter kings, who were both on the same errand. When it became evident that the three barley plants had fallen at the selfsame moment, the three friends feared the worst, and were not surprised when, after long journeying, they found the Prince's body, all burnt and blistered, lying by the river-side, and his head close to it. Knowing the magical properties of the sword, they looked for it at once, and when they found a changeling in its place their hearts sank indeed! They lifted the body, and carried it to the palace, intending to weep and wail over it, when, lo! they found the real sword, all blistered and burnt, in a heap of ashes, the rivet gone, the hilt lying beside it.

'That is soon mended!' cried the Blacksmith king; so he blew up the fire, forged a rivet, and fastened the hilt to the blade. No sooner had he done so than the Prince's head grew to his shoulders as firm as ever.

'My turn now!' quoth the Knifegrindcr king; and he spun his wheel so deftly that the blisters and stains disappeared like magic, and the sword was soon as bright as ever. And as he spun his wheel, the burns and scars disappeared likewise from Prince Lionheart's body, until at last the Prince sat up alive, as handsome as before.

'Where is my Princess?' he cried, the very first thing, and then told his friends of all that had passed.

'It is my turn now!' quoth the Carpenter king gleefully; 'give me your sword, and I will fetch the Princess back in no time.'

So he set off with the bright strong sword in his hand to find the lost Princess. Ere long he came to the royal city, and noticing a tall new-built tower, inquired who dwelt within. When the townspeople told him it was a strange Princess, who was kept in such close imprisonment that no one but hewers of wood and drawers of water were allowed even to enter the courtyard, he was certain it must be she whom he sought. However, to make sure, he disguised himself as a woodman, and going beneath the windows, cried, 'Wood! wood! Fifteen gold pieces for this bundle of wood!'

The Princess, who was sitting on the roof, taking the air, bade her servant ask what sort of wood it was to make it so expensive.

'It is only firewood,' answered the disguised Carpenter,' but it was cut with this sharp bright sword!'

Hearing these words, the Princess, with a beating heart, peered through the parapet, and recognised Prince Lionheart's sword. So she bade her servant inquire if the woodman had anything else to sell, and he replied that he had a wonderful flying palanquin, which he would show to the Princess, if she wished it, when she walked in the garden at evening.

She agreed to the proposal, and the Carpenter spent all the day in fashioning a marvellous palanquin. This he took with him to the tower garden, saying, 'Seat yourself in it, my Princess, and try how well it flies.'

But the King's sister, who was there, said the Princess must not go alone, so she got in also, and so did the wicked wise woman. Then the Carpenter king jumped up outside, and immediately the palanquin began to fly higher and higher, like a bird.

'I have had enough!--let us go down,' said the King's sister after a time.

Whereupon the Carpenter seized her by the waist, and threw her overboard, just as they were sailing above the river, so that she was drowned; but he waited until they were just above the high tower before he threw down the wicked wise woman, so that she got finely smashed on the stones.

Then the palanquin flew straight to the Jinn's magical marble palace, where Prince Lionheart, who had been awaiting the Carpenter king's arrival with the greatest impatience, was overjoyed to see his Princess once more, and set off, escorted by his three companion kings, to his father's dominions. But when the poor old King, who had very much aged since his son's departure, saw the three armies coming, he made sure they were an invading force, so he went out to meet them, and said, 'Take all my riches, but leave my poor people in peace, for I am old, and cannot fight. Had my dear brave son Lionheart been with me, it would have been a different affair, but he left us years ago, and no one has heard aught of him since.'

On this, the Prince flung himself on his father's neck, and told him all that had occurred, and how these were his three old friends--the Knifegrinder, the Blacksmith, and the Carpenter. This greatly delighted the old man; but when he saw the golden-haired bride his son had brought home, his joy knew no bounds.

So everybody was pleased, and lived happily ever after.


[Illustration: Lambikin surrounded by vicious animals]

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 whom 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

Tales Of The Punjab - 10/50

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