| The Boy Who Had A Moon On His Forehead And A Star On His Chin |
GREAT MANY Kings, Rajas, and their sons accepted this invitation and came. When they had all arrived, the little princess's father said to them, "To-morrow morning you must all sit together in my garden" (the King's garden was very large), "for then my youngest daughter will come and see you all, and choose her husband. I do not know whom she will choose."
The youngest princess ordered a grand elephant to be ready for her the next morning, and when the morning came, and all was ready, she dressed herself in the most lovely clothes, and put on her beautiful jewels; then she mounted her elephant, which was painted blue. In her hand she took a gold necklace.
Then she went into the garden where the Kings, Rajas, and their sons were seated. The boy, the grain merchant's servant, was also in the garden: not as a suitor, but looking on with the other servants.
The princess rode all round the garden, and looked at all the Kings and Rajas and princes, and then she hung the gold necklace round the neck of the boy, the grain merchant's servant. At this everybody laughed, and the Kings were greatly astonished. But then they and the Rajas said, "What fooling is this?" and they pushed the pretended poor man away, and took the necklace off his neck, and said to him, "Get out of the way, you poor, dirty man. Your clothes are far too dirty for you to come near us!" The boy went far away from them, and stood a long way off to see what would happen.
Then the King's youngest daughter went all round the garagain, holding her gold necklace in her hand, and once more she hung it round the boy's neck. Every one laughed at her and said, "How can the King's daughter think of marrying this poor, common man!" and the Kings and the Rajas, who had come as suitors, all wanted to turn him out of the garden. But the princess said, "Take care! take care! You must not turn him out. Leave him alone." Then she put him on her elephant, and took him to the palace.
The Kings and Rajas and their sons were very much astonished, and said, "What does this mean? The princess does not care to marry one of us, but chooses that very poor man!" Her father then stood up, and said to them all, "I promised my daughter she should marry any one she pleased, and as she has twice chosen that poor, common man, she shall marry him." And so the princess and the boy were married with great pomp and splendour: her father and mother were quite content with her choice; and the Kings, the Rajas and their sons, all returned to their homes.
Now the princess's six sisters had all married rich princes, and they laughed at her for choosing such a poor ugly husband as hers seemed to be, and said to each other, mockingly, "See! our sister has married this poor, common man!" Their six husbands used to go out hunting every day, and every evening they brought home quantities of all kinds of game to their wives, and the game was cooked for their dinner and for the King's; but the husband of the youngest princess always stayed at home in the palace, and never went out hunting at all. This made her very sad, and she said to herself, "My sisters' husbands hunt every day, but my husband never hunts at all."
At last she said to him, "Why do you never go out hunting as my sisters' husbands do every day, and every day they bring home quantities of all kinds of game? Why do you always stay at home, instead of doing as they do?"
One day he said to her, "I am going out to-day to eat the air."
"Very good," she answered; "go, and take one of the horses."
"No," said the young prince, "I will not ride, I will walk." Then he went to the jungle-plain where he had left Katar, who all this time had seemed to be a donkey, and he told Katar everything. "Listen," he said; "I have married the youngest princess; and when we were married everybody laughed at her for choosing me, and said, 'What a very poor, common man our princess has chosen for her husband!' Besides, my wife is very sad, for her six sisters' husbands all hunt every day, and bring home quantities of game, and their wives therefore are very proud of them. But I stay at home all day, and never hunt. To-day I should like to hunt very much."
"Well," said Katar, "then twist my left ear;" and as soon as the boy had twisted it, Katar was a horse again, and not a donkey any longer. "Now," said Katar, "twist your left ear, and you will see what a beautiful young prince you will become." So the boy twisted his own left ear, and there he stood no longer a poor, common, ugly man, but a grand young prince with a moon on his forehead and a star on his chin. Then he put on his splendid clothes, saddled and bridled Katar, got on his back with his sword and gun, and rode off to hunt.
He rode very far, and shot a great many birds and a quantity of deer. That day his six brothers-in-law could find no game, for the beautiful young prince had shot it all. Nearly all the day long these six princes wandered about looking in vain for game; till at last they grew hungry and thirsty, and could find no water, and they had no food with them. Meanwhile the beautiful young prince had sat down under a tree, to dine and rest, and there his six brothers-in-law found him. By his side was some delicious water, and also some roast meat.
When they saw him the six princes said to each other, "Look at that handsome prince. He has a moon on his forehead and a star on his chin. We have never seen such a prince in this jungle before; he must come from another country." Then they came up to him, and made him many salaams, and begged him to give them some food and water. "Who are you?" said the young prince. "We are the husbands of the six elder daughters of the King of this country," they answered; "and we have hunted all day, and are very hungry and thirsty." They did not recognise their brother-in-law in the least.
"Well," said the young prince, "I will give you something to eat and drink if you will do as I bid you." "We will do all you tell us to do," they answered, "for if we do not get water to drink, we shall die." "Very good," said the young prince. "Now you must let me put a red-hot pice on the back of each of you, and then I will give you food and water. Do you agree to this?" The six princes consented, for they thought, "No one will ever see the mark of the pice, as it will be covered by our clothes; and we shall die if we have no water to drink." Then the young prince took six pice, and made them red-hot in the fire; he laid one on the back of each of the six princes, and gave them good food and water. They ate and drank; and when they had finished they made him many salaams and went home.
The young prince stayed under the tree till it was evening; then he mounted his horse and rode off to the King's palace. All the people looked at him as he came riding along, saying, "What a splendid young prince that is! He has a moon on his forehead and a star on his chin." But no one recognised him. When he came near the King's palace, all the King's servants asked him who he was; and as none of them knew him, the gate-keepers would not let him pass in. They all wondered who he could be, and all thought him the most beautiful prince that had ever been seen.
At last they asked him who he was. "I am the husband of your youngest princess," he answered.
"No, no, indeed you are not," they said; "for he is a poor, common- looking, and ugly man."
"But I am he," answered the prince; only no one would believe him.
"Tell us the truth," said the servants; "who are you?"
"Perhaps you cannot recognise me," said the young prince, "but call the youngest princess here. I wish to speak to her." The servants called her, and she came. "That man is not my husband," she said at once. "My husband is not nearly as handsome as that man. This must be a prince from another country."
Then she said to him, "Who are you? Why do you say you are my husband?"
"Because I am your husband. I am telling you the truth," answered the young prince.
"No you are not, you are not telling me the truth," said the little princess. "My husband is not a handsome man like you. I married a very poor, common-looking man."
"That is true," he answered, "but nevertheless I am your husband. I was the grain merchant's servant; and one hot night I went into your father's garden and sang, and you heard me, and came and asked me who I was and where I came from, and I would not answer you. And the same thing happened the next night, and the next, and on the fourth I told you I was a very poor man, and had come from my country to seek service in yours, and that I was the grain merchant's servant. Then you told your father you wished to marry, but must choose your own husband; and when all the Kings and Rajas were seated in your father's garden, you sat on an elephant and went round and looked at them all; and then twice hung your gold necklace round my neck, and chose me. See, here is your necklace, and here are the ring and the handkerchief you gave me on our wedding day."