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Main > Indian folktales > Fairy tale "The Magic Bed"

The Magic Bed

One very hot day, a young Prince, or Rajah as they are called in India, had been hunting all the morning in the jungle, and by noon had lost sight of his attendants. So he sat down under a tree to rest and to eat some cakes which his mother had given him.

When he broke the first one he found an ant in it. In the second there were two ants, in the third, three, and so on until in the sixth there were six ants and the Ant-King himself.

"I think these cakes belong to you more than they do to me," said the Prince to the Ant-King. "Take them all, for I am going to sleep."

After a while the Ant-King crawled up to the Prince's ear as he lay there dreaming, and said, "We are much obliged for the cakes and have eaten them up. What can we do for you in return?"

"I have everything I need," replied the Prince in his sleep. "I cannot spend all the money I have, I have more jewels than I can wear, and more servants than I can count, and I am tired of them all."

"You would never be tired of the Princess Lalun," replied the Ant-King. "You should seek her, for she is as lovely as the morning."

When the young Prince awoke, the ants were all gone; and he was very sorry for this, because he remembered what the Ant-King had said about the Princess Lalun.

"The only thing for me to do," he said to himself, "is to find out in what country this princess lives."

So he rode on through the jungle until sundown, and there beside a pool a tiger stood roaring.

"Are you hungry?" asked the Prince. "What is the matter?"

"I am not hungry, but I have a thorn in my foot which hurts me very much," replied the tiger.

Then the Prince jumped off his horse and looked at the tiger's foot. Then he pulled out the thorn and bound some healing leaves over the wound with a piece of cloth which he tore off his turban.

Just as he was ready to mount his horse again, a tigress came crashing through the jungle.

"How nice!" she cried. "Here is a man and we can eat him."

"No, indeed," replied her husband. "He has been very good to me. He has taken a thorn out of my foot and I am grateful to him. If he wants help at any time, we must give it to him."

"We would much better eat him," grumbled the tigress, but her husband growled so in reply that she bounded off into the deep jungle.

Then the Prince asked the tiger if he could tell him the shortest way to Princess Lalun's country, and the tiger told him it was across three ranges of hills and through seven jungles.

"But," said the tiger, "there is a fakir or holy beggar in the next jungle to this, and he has a magic bed which will carry you anywhere you wish to go. Besides this, he has a bag which will give you whatever you ask for, and a stone bowl which will fill itself with water as often as you ask it. If you can get these things you certainly can find the Princess Lalun."

Then the Prince was very much pleased and set out to find the fakir. He found him sitting under a tree on the edge of the jungle, his bed on one side of him and the bag and bowl on the other side.

The fakir sat very still for a long time when he heard what the Prince wanted, and then he asked, "Why do you seek the Princess Lalun?

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