|India Folk Tales
The Prince and the Fakir
was once upon a time a King who had no children. Now this King went and
laid him down to rest at a place where four roads met, so that every
one who passed had to step over him.
At last a Fakir came along, and he said to the King, "Man, why are you lying here?"
He replied, "Fakir, a thousand men have come and passed by; you pass on too."
But the Fakir said, "Who are you, man?"
King replied, "I am a King, Fakir. Of goods and gold I have no lack,
but I have lived long and have no children. So I have come here, and
have laid me down at the cross-roads. My sins and offences have been
very many, so I have come and am lying here that men may pass over me,
and perchance my sins may be forgiven me, and God may he merciful, and
I may have a son."
The Fakir answered him, " O King! If you have children, what will you give me?"
"Whatever you ask, Fakir," answered the King.
Fakir said, "Of goods and gold I have no lack, but I will say a prayer
for you, and you will have two sons; one of those sons will be mine."
he took out two sweetmeats and handed them to the King, and said,
"King! take these two sweetmeats and give them to your wives; give them
to the wives you love best."
The King took the sweetmeats and put them in his bosom.
Then the Fakir said, "King! in a year I will return, and of the two sons who will be born to you one is mine and one yours."
The King said, "Well, I agree."
the Fakir went on his way, and the King came home and gave one
sweetmeat to each of his two wives. After some time two sons were born
to the King. Then what did the King do but place those two sons in an
underground room, which he had built in the earth.
Some time passed, and one day the Fakir appeared, and said, "King! bring me that son of yours!"
did the King do but bring two slave-girls' sons and present them to the
Fakir. While the Fakir was sitting there the King's sons were sitting
down below in their cellar eating their food. Just then a hungry ant
had carried away a grain of rice from their food, and was going along
with it to her children. Another stronger ant came up and attacked her
in order to get this grain of rice. The first ant said "O ant, why do
you drag this away from me? I have long been lame in my feet, and I
have got just one grain, and am carrying it to my children. The King's
sons are sitting in the cellar eating their food; you go and fetch a
grain from there; why should you take mine from me?" On this the second
ant let go and did not rob the first, but went off to where the King's
sons were eating their food.
On hearing this the Fakir said,
"King! these are not your sons; go and bring those children who are
eating their food in the cellar."
Then the King went and brought
his own sons. The Fakir chose the eldest son and took him away, and set
off with him on his journey. When he got home he told the King's son to
go out to gather fuel.
So the King's son went out to gather cow-dung, and when be had collected some he brought it in.
Then the Fakir looked at the King's son and put on a great pot, and said, "Come round here, my pupil."
the King's son said, "Master first, and pupil after." The Fakir told
him to come once, he told him twice, he told him three times, and each
time the King's son answered, "Master first, and pupil after."
the Fakir made a dash at the King's son, thinking to catch him and
throw him into the caldron. There were about a hundred gallons of oil
in this caldron, and the fire was burning beneath it. Then the King's
son, lifting the Fakir, gave him a jerk and threw him into the caldron,
and he was burnt, and became roast meat. He then saw a key of the
Fakir's lying there; he took this key and opened the door of the
Fakir's house. Now many men were locked up in this house; two horses
were standing there in a hut of the Fakir's; two greyhounds were tied
up there; two simurgs were imprisoned, and two tigers also stood there.
So the King's son let all the creatures go, and took them out of the
house, and they all returned thanks to God. Next he let out all the men
who were in prison. He took away with him the two horses, and he took
away the two tigers, and he took away the two hounds, and he took away
the two simurgs, and with them be set out for another country.
he went along the road he saw above him a bald man, grazing a herd of
calves, and this bald man called out to him, "Fellow! can you fight at
The King's son replied, "When I was little I could fight a
bit, and now, if any one wants to fight, I am not so unmanly as to turn
my back. Come, I will fight you."
The bald man said, "If I throw
you, you shall be my slave; and if you throw me, I will be your slave."
So they got ready and began to fight, and the King's son threw him.
this the King's son said, "I will leave my beasts here my simurgs,
tigers, and dogs, and horses; they will all stay here while I go to the
city to see the sights. I appoint the tiger as guard over my property.
And you are my slave; you, too, must stay here with my belongings." So
the King's son started off to the city to see the sights, and arrived
at a pool.
He saw that it was a pleasant pool, and thought he would stop and bathe there, and therewith he began to strip off his clothes.
the King's daughter, who was sitting on the roof of the palace, saw his
royal marks, and she said, "This man is a king; when I marry, I will
marry him and no other." So she said to her father, "My father; I wish
"Good," said her father.
Then the King made a
proclamation: "Let all men, great and small, attend to-day in the hall
of audience, for the King's daughter will to-day take a husband."
the men of the land assembled, and the traveller Prince also came,
dressed in the Fakir's clothes, saying to himself, "I must see this
ceremony to-day." He went in and sat down.
The King's daughter
came out and sat in the balcony, and cast her glance round all the
assembly. She noticed that the traveller Prince was sitting in the
assembly in Fakir's attire.
The Princess said to her handmaiden,
"Take this dish of henna, go to that traveller dressed like a Fakir,
and sprinkle scent on him from the dish."
The handmaiden obeyed the Princess's order, went to him, and sprinkled the scent over him.
Then the people said, "The slave-girl has made a mistake."
But she replied, "The slave-girl has made no mistake, 'tis her mistress has made the mistake."
On this the King married his daughter to the Fakir, who was really no Fakir, but a Prince.
fate had decreed came to pass in that country, and they were married.
But the King of that city became very sad in his heart, because when so
many chiefs and nobles were sitting there his daughter had chosen none
of them, but had chosen that Fakir; but he kept these thoughts
concealed in his heart.
One day the traveller Prince said, "Let all the King's sons-in-law come out with me to-day to hunt."
People said, "What is this Fakir that he should go a-hunting?"
However, they all set out for the hunt, and fixed their meeting-place at a certain pool.
newly-married Prince went to his tigers, and told his tigers and hounds
to kill and bring in a great number of gazelles and hog-deer and
markhor. Instantly they killed and brought in a great number. Then
taking with him these spoils of the chase, the Prince came to the pool
settled on as a meeting-place. The other Princes; sons-in-law of the
King of that city, also assembled there; but they had brought in no
game, and the new Prince bad brought a great deal. Thence they returned
home to the town, and went to the King, their father-in-law, to present
Now that King had no son. Then the new Prince told
him that in fact he, too, was a Prince. At this the King, his
father-in-law, was greatly delighted and took him by the hand and
embraced him. He seated him by himself, saying, "O Prince, I return
thanks that you have come here and become my son-in-law; I am very
happy at this, and I make over my kingdom to you."