|India Folk Tales
The Ivory City and its Fairy Princess
day a young prince was out practicing archery with the son of his
father's chief vizier, when one of the arrows accidentally struck the
wife of a merchant, who was walking about in an upper room' of a house
close by. The prince aimed at a bird that was perched on the
window-sill of that room, and had not the slightest idea that anybody
was at hand, or he would not have shot in that direction. Consequently,
not knowing what had happened, he and the vizier's son walked away, the
vizier's son chaffing him because he bad missed the bird.
the merchant went to ask his wife about something, and found her lying,
to all appearance, dead in the middle of the room, and an arrow fixed
in the ground within half a yard of her head. Supposing that she was
dead, he rushed to the window and shrieked, "Thieves, thieves! They
have killed my wife." The neighbours quickly gathered, and the servants
came running upstairs to see what was the matter. It happened that the
woman had fainted, and that there was only a very slight wound in her
breast where the arrow had grazed.
As soon as the woman
recovered her senses she told them that two young men had passed by the
place with their bows and arrows, and that one of them had most
deliberately aimed at her as she stood by the window.
this the merchant went to the King, and told him what had taken place.
His Majesty was much enraged at such audacious wickedness, and swore
that most terrible punishment should be visited on the offender if he
could be discovered. He ordered the merchant to go back and ascertain
whether his wife could recognise the young men if she saw them again.
"Oh yes," replied the woman, I should know them again among all the people in the city."
said the King, when the merchant brought back this reply, "to-morrow I
will cause all the male inhabitants of this city to pass before your
house, and your wife will stand at the window and watch for the man who
did this wanton deed."
A royal proclamation was issued to this
effect. So the next day all the men and boys of the city, from the age
of ten years upwards, assembled and marched by the house of the
merchant. By chance (for they both had been excused from obeying this
order) the King's son and the vizier's son were also in the company,
and passed by in the crowd. They came to see the tamasha.
soon as these two appeared in front of the merchant's window they were
recognised by the merchant's wife, and at once reported to the King.
own son and the son of my chief vizier!" exclaimed the King, who had
been present from the commencement. "What examples for the people! Let
them both be executed."
"Not so, your Majesty," said the vizier,
"I beseech you. Let the facts of the case be thoroughly investigated.
How is it?" he continued, turning to the two young men. "Why have you
done this cruel thing?"
"I shot an arrow at a bird that was
sitting on the sill of an open window in yonder house, and missed,"
answered the prince. "I suppose the arrow struck the merchant's wife.
Had I known that she or anybody had been near I should not have shot in
"We will speak of this later on," said the
King, on hearing this answer. "Dismiss the people. Their presence is no
In the evening his Majesty and the vizier had a
long and earnest talk about their two sons. The King wished both of
them to be executed, but the vizier suggested that the prince should be
banished from the country. This was finally agreed to.
on the following morning, a little company of soldiers escorted the
prince out of the city. When they reached the last custom-house the
vizier's son overtook them. He had come with all haste, bringing with
him four bags of muhrs on four horses. "I am come," he said, throwing
his. arms round the prince's neck, "because I cannot let you go alone.
We have lived together, we will be exiled together, and we will die
together. Turn me not back, if you love me."
prince answered, "what you are doing; All kinds of trial may be before
me. Why should you leave your home and country to be with me?"
"Because I love you," he said, "and shall never be happy without you."
the two friends walked along hand in hand as fast as they could to get
out of the country, and behind them marched the soldiers and the horses
with their valuable burdens. On reaching a place on the borders of the
King's dominions the prince gave the soldiers some gold, and ordered
them to return. The soldiers took the money and left; they did not,
however, go very far, but hid themselves behind rocks and stones, and
waited till they were quite sure that the prince did not intend to come
On and on the exiles walked, till they arrived at a
certain village, where they determined to spend the night under one of
the big trees of the place. The prince made preparations for a fire,
and arranged the few articles of bedding that they had with them, while
the vizier's son went to the baniya and the baker and the butcher to
get something for their dinner. For some reason he was delayed; perhaps
the tsut was not quite ready, or the baniya had not got all the spices
prepared. After waiting half an hour the prince became impatient, and
rose up and walked about.
He saw a pretty, clear little brook
running along not far from their resting-place, and hearing that its
source was not far distant, he started off to find it. The source was a
beautiful lake, which at that time was covered with the magnificent
lotus flower and other water plants. The prince sat down on the bank,
and being thirsty took up, some of the water in his hand. Fortunately
he looked into his hand before drinking, and there, to his great
astonishment, he saw reflected whole and clear the image of a beautiful
fairy. He looked round, hoping to see the reality; but seeing no
person, he drank the water, and put out his hand to take some more.
Again he saw the reflection in the water which was in his palm. He
looked around as before, and this time discovered a fairy sitting by
the bank on the opposite side of the lake. On seeing her he fell so
madly in love with her that he dropped down in a swoon.
vizier's son returned, and found the fire lighted, the horses securely
fastened, and the bags of muhrs lying altogether in a heap, but no
prince, he did not know what to think. He waited a little while, and
then shouted; but not getting any reply, he got up and went to the
brook. There he came across the footmarks of his friend. Seeing these,
he went back at once for the money and the horses, and bringing them
with him, he tracked the prince to the lake, where be found him lying
to all appearance dead.
"Alas! alas!" he cried, and lifting up
the prince, be poured some water over his head and face. "Alas! 'my
brother, what is 'this? Oh! do not die and leave me thus. Speak, speak!
I cannot bear this!"
In a few minutes the prince, revived by the water, opened his eyes, and looked about wildly.
"Thank God!" exclaimed the. vizier's son. "But what is the matter, brother?"
"Go away," replied the prince. "I don't want to say anything to you, or to see you. Go away."
come; let us leave this place. Look, I have brought some food for you,
and horses, and everything. Let us eat and depart."
"Go alone," replied the prince.
said the, vizier's son. "What has happened to suddenly estrange you
from me? A little while ago we were brethren, but now you detest the
sight of me."
"I have looked upon a fairy," the prince said.
"But a moment I saw her face; for when she noticed that I was looking
at her she covered her face with lotus petals. Oh, how beautiful she
was! And while I gazed she took out of her bosom an ivory box, and held
it up to me. Then I fainted. Oh! if you can get me that fairy for my
wife, I will go anywhere with you."
"Oh, brother," said the
vizier's son, "you have indeed seen a fairy. She is a fairy of the
fairies. This is none other than Gulizar of the Ivory City. I know this
from the signs that she gave you. From her covering her face with
lotus, petals I learn her name, and from her showing you the ivory box,
I learn where she lives. Be patient, and rest assured that I will
arrange your marriage with her."
When the prince beard these
encouraging words he felt much comforted, rose up, and ate, and then
went away gladly with his friend.
On the way they met two men.
These two men belonged to a family of robbers. There were eleven of
them altogether. One, an elder sister, stayed at home and cooked the
food, and the other ten--all brothers--went out, two and two, and
walked about the four different ways that ran through that part of the
country, robbing those travellers who could not resist them, and
inviting others, who were too powerful for two of, them to manage, to
come and rest at their house, where the whole family attacked them and
stole their goods. These thieves lived in a kind of tower, which had
several strong-rooms in it, and under it was a great pit, wherein they
threw the corpses of the poor unfortunates who chanced to fall into
The two men came forward, and, politely accosting
them, begged them to come and stay at their house for the night. "It is
late," they said, "and there is not another village within several
"Shall we accept this good man's invitation, brother?" asked the prince.
vizier's son frowned slightly in token of disapproval; but the prince
was tired, and thinking that it was only a whim of his friend's, he
said to the men, " Very well. It is very kind of you to ask us."
So they all four went to the robbers' tower.
Seated in a room, with the door fastened on the outside, the two travellers bemoaned their fate.
is no good groaning," said the' vizier's son. "I will climb to the
window, and see whether, there are any means of escape. Yes! yes!" he
whispered, when he had reached the window-hole. "Below there is a ditch
surrounded by a high wall. I will jump down and reconnoitre. You stay
here and wait till I return."
Presently he came back and told
the prince that he had seen a most ugly woman, whom he supposed was the
robbers' housekeeper. She had agreed to release them on the promise of
her marriage with the prince.
So the woman led the way out of the enclosure by a secret door.
"But where are the horses and the goods?" the vizier's son inquired.
"You cannot bring them," the woman said. "To go out by any other way would be to thrust oneself into the grave."
right then; they also shall go out by this door. I have a charm,
whereby I can make them thin or fat." So the vizier's son fetched the
horses without any person knowing it, and repeating the charm, he made
them pass through the narrow doorway like pieces of cloth, and when
they were all outside restored them to their former condition. He at
once mounted his hone and laid hold of the halter of one of the other
horses, and then beckoning to the prince to do likewise, he rode off.
The prince saw his opportunity, and in a moment was riding after him,
having the woman behind him.
Now the robbers heard the galloping
of the horses, and ran out and shot their arrows at the prince and his
companions. And one of the arrows killed the woman, so they had to
leave her behind.
On, on they rode, until they reached a village
where they stayed the night. The following morning they were off again,
and asked for Ivory City from every passer-by. At length they came to
this famous city, and put up at a little hut that belonged to an old
woman, from whom they feared no harm, and with whom, therefore, they
could abide in peace and comfort. At first the old woman did not like
the idea of these travellers staying in her house, but the sight of a
muhr, which the prince dropped in the bottom of a cup in which she had
given him water, and a present of another muhr from the vizier's son,
quickly made her change her mind. She agreed to let them stay there for
a few days.
As soon as her work was over the old woman came and
sat down with her lodgers. The vizier's son pretended to be utterly
ignorant of the place and people. "Has this city a name?" he asked the
"Of course it has, you stupid. Every little village, much more a city, and such a city as this, has a name."
"What is the name of this city?"
"Ivory City. Don't you know that? I thought the name was known all over the world."
the mention of the name Ivory City the prince gave a deep sigh. The
vizier's son looked as much as to say, "Keep quiet, or you'll discover
"Is there a king of this country?" continued the vizier's son.
"Of course there is, and a queen, and a princess."
"What are their names?"
"The name of the princess is Gulizar, and the name of the queen--"
vizier's son interrupted the old woman by turning to look at the
prince, who was staring like a madman. "Yes," he said to him
afterwards, "we are in the right country. We shall see the beautiful
One morning the two travellers noticed the old
woman's most careful toilette: how careful she was in the arrangement
of her hair and the set of her kasabah and puts.
"Who is coming?" said the vizier's son.
"Nobody," the old woman replied.
"Then where are you going?"
am going to see my daughter, who is a servant of the Princess Gulizar.
I see her and the princess every day. I should have gone yesterday, if
you had not been here and taken up all my time."
careful not to say anything about us in the hearing of the princess."
The vizier's son asked her not to speak about them at the palace,
hoping that, because she had been told not to do so, she would mention
their arrival, and thus the princess would be informed of their coming.
On seeing her mother the girl pretended to be very angry. "Why have you not been for two days?" she asked.
my dear," the old woman answered, "two young travellers, a prince and
the son of some great vizier, have taken up their abode in my hut, and
demand so much of my attention. It is nothing but cooking and cleaning,
and cleaning and cooking, all day long. I can't understand the men,"
she added; "one of them especially, appears very stupid. He asked me
the name of this country and the name of the King. Now where can these
men have come from, that they do not know these things? However, they
are very great and very rich. They each give me a muhr every morning
and every evening."
After this the old woman went and repeated
almost the same words to the princess, on the hearing of which the
princess beat her severely, and threatened her with a severer
punishment if she ever again spoke of the strangers before her.
the evening, when the old woman had returned to her hut, she told the
vizier's son how sorry she was that she could not help breaking her
promise, and how the princess had struck her because she mentioned
their coming and all about them.
"Alas! alas!" said the prince, who had eagerly listened to every word. "What, then, will be her anger at the sight of a man?"
said the vizier's son, with an astonished air. "She would be
exceedingly glad to see one man. I know this. In this treatment of the
old woman I see her request that you will go and see her during the
coming dark fortnight."
"Heaven be praised!" the prince exclaimed.
next time the old woman went to the palace Gulizar called one of her
servants and ordered her to rush into the room while she was conversing
with the old woman; and if the old woman asked what was the matter, she
was to say that the King's elephants had gone mad, and were rushing
about the city and bazaar in every direction, and destroying everything
in their way.
The servant obeyed, and the old woman, fearing
lest the elephants should go and push down her hut and kill the prince
and his friend, begged the princess to let her depart. Now Gulizar had
obtained a charmed swing, that landed whoever sat on it at the place
wherever they wished to be, "Get the swing," she said to one of the
servants standing by. When it was brought she bade the old woman step
into it and desire to be at home. The old woman did so, and was at once
carried through the air quickly and safely to her hut, where she found
her two lodgers safe and sound. "Oh!" she cried, "I thought that both
of you would be killed by this time. The royal elephants have got loose
and are running about wildly. When I heard this I was anxious about
you. So the princess gave me this charmed swing to return in. But come,
let us get outside before the elephants arrive and batter down the
"Don't believe this," said the vizier's son. "It is a mere hoax. They have been playing tricks with you."
"You will soon have your heart's desire," he whispered aside to the prince. "These things are signs."
days of the dark fortnight had elapsed, when the prince and the
vizier's son seated themselves in the swing, and wished themselves
within the grounds of the palace. In a moment they were there, and
there too was the object of their search standing by one of the palace
gates, and longing to see the prince quite as much as he was longing to
Oh, what a happy meeting it was!
"At last," said Gulizar, "I have seen my beloved, my husband."
"A thousand thanks to Heaven for bringing me to you," said the prince.
the prince and Gulizar betrothed themselves to one another and parted,
the one for the hut and the other for the palace, both of them feeling
happier than they had ever been before.
Henceforth the prince
visited Gulizar every day and returned to the hut every night. One
morning Gulizar begged him to stay with her always. She was constantly
afraid of some evil happening to him--perhaps robbers would slay-him,
or sickness attack him, and then she would be deprived of him. She
could not live without seeing him. The prince showed her that there was
no real cause for fear, and said that he felt be ought to return to his
friend at night, because he had left his home and country and risked
his life for him; and, moreover, if it had not been for his friend's
help he would never have met with her.
Gulizar for the time
assented, but she determined in her heart to get rid of the vizier's
son as soon as possible. A few days after this conversation she ordered
one of her maids to make a pilaw. She gave special directions that a
certain poison was to be mixed into it while cooking, and as soon as it
was ready the cover was to be placed on the saucepan, so that the
poisonous steam might not escape. When the pilaw was ready she sent it
at once by the hand of a servant to the vizier's son with this message:
"Gulizar, the princess, sends you an offering in the name of her dead
On receiving the present the vizier's son thought that
the prince had spoken gratefully of him to the princess, and therefore
she had thus remembered him. Accordingly he sent back his salaam and
expressions of thankfulness.
When it was dinner-time he took the
saucepan of pilaw and went out to eat it by the stream. Taking off the
lid, he threw it aside on the grass and then washed his hands. During
the minute or so that he was performing these ablutions, the green
grass under the cover of the saucepan turned quite yellow. He was
astonished, and suspecting that there was poison in the pilaw, he took
a little and threw it to some crows that were hopping about. The moment
the crow sate what was thrown to them they fell down dead.
"Heaven be praised," exclaimed the vizier's son, "who has preserved me from death at this time!"
the return of the prince that evening the vizier's son was very
reticent and depressed. The prince noticed this change in him, and
asked what was the reason. "Is it because I am away so much at the
palace?" The vizier's son saw that the prince had nothing to do with
the sending of the pilaw, and therefore told him everything.
here," he said, "in this handkerchief is some pilaw that the princess
sent me this morning in the name of her deceased uncle. It is saturated
with poison. Thank Heaven, I discovered it in-time!"
"Oh, brother! who could have done this thing? Who is there that entertains enmity against you?"
Princess Gulizar. Listen. The next time you go to see her, I entreat
you to take some snow with you; and just before seeing the princess put
a little of it into both your eyes. It will provoke tears, and Gulizar
will ask you why you are crying. Tell her that you weep for the loss of
your friend, who died suddenly this morning. Look! take, too, this wine
and this shovel, and when you have feigned intense grief at the death
of your friend, bid the -princess to drink a little of the wine. It is
strong, and will immediately send her into a deep sleep. Then, while
she is asleep, heat the shovel and mark her back with it. Remember to
bring back the shovel again, and also to take her pearl necklace. This
done, return. Now fear not to execute these instructions, because on
the fulfilment of them depends your fortune and happiness. I will
arrange that your marriage with the princess shall be accepted by the
King, her father, and all the court."
The prince promised that he would do everything as the vizier's son had advised him; and he kept his promise.
following night, on the return of the prince from his visit to Gulizar,
he and the vizier's son, taking the horses and bags of muhrs, went to a
graveyard about a mile or so distant. It was arranged that the vizier's
son should act the part of a fakir and the prince the part of the
fakir's disciple and servant.
In the morning, when Gulizar had
returned to her senses, she felt a smarting pain in her back, and
noticed that her pearl necklace was gone. She went at once and informed
the King of the loss of her necklace, but said nothing to him about the
pain in her back.
The King was very angry when he beard of the
theft, and caused proclamation concerning it to be madee through-out
all the city and surrounding country.
"It is well," said the
vizier's son, when be heard of this proclamation. "Fear not, my
brother, but go and take this necklace, and try to sell it in the
The prince took it to a goldsmith and asked him to buy it.
much do you want for it?" asked the man. "Fifty thousand rupees," the
prince replied. "All right," said the man; "wait here while I go and
fetch the money."
The prince waited and waited, till at last the
goldsmith returned, and with him the kotwal, who at once took the
prince into custody on the charge of stealing the princess's necklace.
"How did you get the necklace?" the kotwal asked.
fakir, whose servant I am, gave it to me to sell in the bazaar," the
prince replied. "Permit me, and I will show you where he is."
prince directed the kotwal and the policeman to the place where he had
left the vizier's son, and there they found the fakir with his eyes
shut and engaged in prayer. Presently, when he had finished his
devotions, the kotwal asked him to explain how he had obtained
possession of the princess's necklace.
"Call the King hither," he replied, "and then I will tell his Majesty face to face."
this some men went to the King and told him what the fakir had said.
His Majesty came, and seeing the fakir so solemn and earnest in his
devotions, he was afraid to rouse his anger, lest peradventure the
displeasure of Heaven should descend on him, and so he placed his hands
together in the attitude of a supplicant, and asked," How did you get
my daughter's necklace? "
"Last night," replied the fakir, "we
were sitting here by this tomb worshipping Khuda, when a ghoul, dressed
as a princess, came and exhumed a body that had been buried a few days
ago, and began to eat it. On seeing this I was filled with anger, and
beat her back with a shovel, which lay on the fire at the time. While
running away from me her necklace got loose and dropped. You wonder at
these words, but they are not difficult to prove. Examine your
daughter, and you will find the marks of the burn on her back. Go, and
if it is as I say, send the princess to me, and I will punish her."
The King went back to the palace, and at once ordered the princess's back to be examined.
"It is so," said the maid-servant; "the burn is there."
"Then let the girl be slain immediately," the King shouted.
no, your Majesty," they replied. "Let us send her to the fakir who
discovered this thing, that he may do whatever he wishes with her."
The King agreed, and so the princess was taken to the graveyard.
"Let her be shut up in a cage, and be kept near the grave whence she took out the corpse," said the fakir.
was done, and in a little while the fakir and his disciple and the
princess were left alone in the graveyard. Night had not long cast its
dark mantle over the scene when the fakir and his disciple threw off
their disguise, and taking their horses and luggage, appeared before
the cage. They released the princess, rubbed some ointment over the
scars on her back, and then sat her upon one of their horses behind the
prince. Away they rode fast and far, and by the morning were able to
rest and talk over their plans in safety. The vizier's son showed the
princess some of the poisoned pilaw that she had sent him, and asked
whether she had repented of her ingratitude. The princess wept, and
acknowledged that he was her greatest helper and friend.
letter was sent to the chief vizier telling him of all that had
happened to the prince and the vizier's son since they had left their
country. When the vizier read the letter he went and informed the King.
The King caused a reply to be sent to the two exiles, in which he
ordered them not to return, but to send a letter to Gulizar's father,
and inform him of everything. Accordingly they did this; the prince
wrote the letter at the vizier's son's dictation.
On reading the
letter Gulizar's father was much enraged with his viziers and other
officials for not discovering the presence in his country of these
illustrious visitors, as he was especially, anxious to ingratiate
himself in the favour of the prince and the vizier's son. He ordered
the execution of some of the viziers on a certain date.
he wrote back to the vizier's son, "and stay at the palace. And if the
prince desires it, I will arrange for his marriage with Gulizar as soon
The prince and the vizier's son most gladly
accepted the invitation, and received a right noble welcome from the
King. The marriage soon took place, and then after a few weeks the King
gave them presents of' horses and elephants, and jewels and rich
cloths, and bade them start for their own land; for he was sure that
the King would now receive them. The night before they left, the
viziers and others, whom the King intended to have executed as soon as
his visitors had left, came and besought the vizier's son to plead for
them, and promised that they each would give him a daughter in
marriage. He agreed to do so, and succeeded in obtaining their pardon.
the prince, with his beautiful bride Gulizar, and the vizier's son,
attended by a troop of soldiers, and a large number of camels and
horses bearing very much treasure, left for their own land. In the
midst of the way they passed the tower of the robbers, and with the
help of the soldiers they razed it to the ground, slew all its inmates,
and seized the treasure which they had been amassing there for several
At length they reached their own country, and when the
King saw his son's beautiful wife and his magnificent retinue he was at
once reconciled, and ordered him to enter the city and take up his
Henceforth all was sunshine on the path of the
prince. He became a great favourite, and in due time succeeded to the
throne, and ruled the country for many, many years in peace and