Indian Fairy Tales: Princess Labam
Reading time: (4 minutes).
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.
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Source: Indian Fairy Tales (1890), by Joseph Jacobs, illustrated by John Batten. Weblink..
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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