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Main > Indian folktales > Fairy tale "The Two Princesses"

The Two Princesses

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So she began tapping at the door, which was bolted, and called, "Will whoever owns this house give me and my people some water to drink?"

But nobody answered, for the princess, who heard her coming, was busy up in her room, blacking her face with charcoal and covering her rich dress with rags. Then the Ranee got impatient and shook the door, saying angrily, "Let me in, whoever you are! If you don't, I'll force the door open!"

At this the poor little princess got dreadfully frightened, and having blacked her face and made herself look as ugly as possible, she ran downstairs with a pitcher of water. Unbolting the door, she gave the Ranee the pitcher to drink from, but the maiden did not speak, for she was afraid. Now the Ranee was a very clever woman, and as she raised the pitcher to her mouth to drink the water, she thought to herself, "This is a very strange-looking creature who has brought me this jug of water. She would be pretty, but that her face seems to need washing, and her dress also is very untidy. What can that black stuff be on her face and hands? It looks very unnatural." And so instead of drinking the water, she threw it in the princess' face! The princess started back with a little cry while the water, trickling down her face, washed off the charcoal and showed her delicate features and beautiful complexion. The Ranee caught hold of her hand and said, "Now tell me true, who are you? Where do you come from? Who are your father and mother? And why are you here alone by yourself in the jungle? Answer me, or I'll have your head cut off!" And she summoned one of her guards, who drew his sword. The princess was so terrified she could hardly speak, but as best she could, she told how she was the daughter of a king, and had run away into the jungle because of her cruel stepmother, and finding the house had lived there ever since, and, having finished her story, she began to cry.

Then the Ranee said to her, "Pretty child, forgive me for my roughness; do not fear; I will take you home with me.

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