| How The Raja's Son Won The Princess Labam |
HE 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.