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Main > Indian folktales > Fairy tale "Loving Laili"

Loving Laili

How can I marry such an old woman as you are?"

That night as he lay trembling in bed the little old woman lay there in place of the dog, crying "Majnun, Majnun, I want to marry you. I have loved you all these long, long years. When I was in my father's kingdom a young girl, I knew of you, though you knew nothing of me, and we should have been married then if you had not gone away so suddenly, and for long, long years I followed you."

"Well," said Majnun, "if you can make yourself a young girl again, I will marry you."

Laili said, "Oh, that is quite easy. Khuda will make me a young girl again. In two days' time you must go into the garden, and there you will see a beautiful fruit. You must gather it and bring it into your room and cut it open yourself very gently, and you must not open it when your father or anybody else is with you, but when you are quite alone; for I shall be in the fruit quite naked, without any clothes at all on." In the morning Laili took her little dog's form, and disappeared in the garden.

Prince Majnun told all this to his father, who told him to do all the old woman had bidden him. In two days' time he and the Wazir's son walked in the garden, and there they saw a large, lovely red fruit. "Oh!" said the Prince, "I wonder shall I find my wife in that fruit." Husain Mahamat wanted him to gather it and see, but he would not till he had told his father, who said, "That must be the fruit; go and gather it." So Majnun went back and broke the fruit off its stalk; and he said to his father, "Come with me to my room while I open it; I am afraid to open it alone, for perhaps I shall find a Rakshas in it that will eat me."

"No," said King Dantal; "remember, Laili will be naked; you must go alone and do not be afraid if, after all, a Rakshas is in the fruit, for I will stay outside the door, and you have only to call me with a loud voice, and I will come to you, so the Rakshas will not be able to eat you."

Then Majnun took the fruit and began to cut it open tremblingly, for he shook with fear; and when he had cut it, out stepped Laili, young and far more beautiful than she had ever been.

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