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