NCE 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.