Indian Fairy Tales (Stokes, 1879)/The Monkey Prince

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ONCE upon a time there was a Rájá, called Jabhú Rájá, and he had a great many wives; at least he had seven wives, but he had no children. Although he had married seven wives, not one of them had given him a child. At this he was greatly vexed and said, "I have married seven wives and not one of them has given me a child." And he got very angry with God: he said, "Why does not God give me any children? I will go into the jungle and die by myself." The Ránís coaxed him to stay, but he wouldn't; he would go out into the jungle.

So he went out into the jungle very far, and God sent him an old fakír leaning on a stick. The Rájá met him, and the fakír said, "Why do you come into the jungle? If you go far into the jungle you will meet plenty of tigers, and they will eat you. Tell me what you want. Whatever you want I will give you." "No, I won't tell you," said the Rájá, But at last the Rájá told him, "I have seven wives, and none of them has given me any children, and so here I will die by myself." Then the fakír said, "Take this stick, and a little way off you will find a mango tree with some mangoes on it. Throw the stick at the mangoes with one hand, and catch them as they fall with the other, and when you have caught them all, take them home and give one to each of your seven wives." So the Rájá went and knocked the mangoes off the tree and caught them as the fakír had told him. Then he looked about for the fakír, but he could not find him, for he had gone away into another part of the jungle. So he went home and gave the seven mangoes to his wives. But the fruit was so good that six of the wives ate it up, and would not give the youngest wife any. She cried very much, and went into the compound and picked up one of the mango stones which one of the six wives had thrown away, and ate it. By and by each of the six wives had a son; but the one who had eaten the stone had a monkey, who was called in consequence Bandarsábásá, or Prince Monkey. He was really a boy, but no one knew it, for he had a monkey-skin covering him. His six brothers hated him. They went to school every day; and the monkey went under the ground and was taught by the fairies. His mother did not know this; she thought, as he was a monkey, he went to the jungle and swung in the trees. He was the best and the cleverest of all the boys.

Now, in a kingdom, a three months' journey off by land from Jabhú Rájá's country, there lived a king called King Jamársá. He had a very beautiful daughter whose name was Princess Jahúran, and as her father wanted a very strong son-in-law, he had a large heavy iron ball made, and he sent letters to all the Rájás and Rájás' sons far and near to say that whoever wished to marry his daughter, the Princess Jahúran, must be able to throw this heavy ball at her and hit her. So many Rájás went to try, but none of them could even lift the ball. Now, one of these letters had come to Jabhú Rájá, and his six elder sons determined they would go to King Jamársá's country, for each of them was sure he could throw the ball and win the princess.

Prince Monkey laughed softly and said to himself, "I will go and try too. I know I shall succeed."

Off, therefore, the six brothers set on their long journey, and the monkey followed them; but before he did so, he went into the jungle and took off his monkey-skin, and God sent him a beautiful horse and beautiful clothes. Then he followed his brothers and overtook them, and gave them betel-leaf and lovely flowers. "What a beautiful boy!" they said. "Who is it owns such a beautiful boy? He must be some Rájá's son." Then he galloped quickly away, took off his grand clothes and put them on his horse, and the horse rose into the air. He put on his monkey-skin and followed his brothers,

When they reached King Jamársá's palace they pitched their tents in his compound, which was very big. Every evening the princess used to stand in her verandah and let down her long golden hair so that it fell all round her, and then the Rájás who wished to marry her had to try to hit her the the great heavy ball that lay on the ground just in front of where she stood.

King Jamársá's house had more than one storey, and you had to go upstairs to get to the Princess Jahúran’s rooms which led into the verandah in which she used to stand.

Well, Prince Monkey's six elder brothers all got ready to go up to the palace and throw the ball. They were quite sure they would throw it without any trouble. Before they went they told, their monkey brother to take care of their tents, and to have a good dinner ready for them when they returned. " If the dinner is not ready, we will beat you."

As soon as they were gone, Prince Monkey took some gold mohurs he had, and he went to a traveller’s resting-house, which was a little way, outside King Jamársá's compound, and gave them to the man who owned it, and bade him give him a grand dinner for his six brothers. Then he took the dinner to the tents, went into the jungle, and took off his monkey-skin. And God sent him a grand horse from heaven, and splendid clothes. These he put on, mounted his horse, and rode to King Jamársá's compound. There he took no notice of either the King, or his daughter, or of the ball, or of the Rájás who were there to try and lift it. He spoke only to his brothers, and gave them lovely flowers and betel-leaf. Meanwhile, everybody was looking at him and talking about him. "Who can he be? Did you ever see any one so lovely? Where does he come from? Just look at his clothes! In our countries we cannot get any like them!" As for the Princess Jahúran she thought to herself, "That Rájá shall be my husband, whether he lifts the ball or not." When he had given his brothers the flowers and betel-leaf, Prince Monkey rode straight to the jungle, took off his clothes, laid them on his horse (which instantly went up to heaven), put on his monkey-skin, went back to the tents, and lay down to sleep.

When his brothers came home they were talking eagerly about the unknown beautiful Rájá. All the time they were eating their dinner they could speak of nothing else.

Well, every evening for about ten evenings it was just the same story. Only every evening Prince Monkey appeared in a different dress. The Princess always thought, "That is the man I will marry, whether he can throw the ball or not." Then about the eleventh evening, after he had given his brothers the flowers and betel-leaf, he said to all the Rájás who were standing there, and to King Jamársá and to all the servants, "Now every one of you go and stand far away, for I am going to throw the ball." "No, no " they all cried, "we will stand here and see you." "You must go far away. You can look on at a distance," said the Monkey Prince; "the ball might fall back among you and hurt you." So they all went off and stood round him at a distance.

"Now," said Prince Monkey to himself, "I won't hit the princess this time; but I will hit the verandah railing." Then he took up the ball with one hand, just as if it were quite light, and threw it on the verandah railing, and then he rode off fast to the jungle.

The next evening it was the same thing over again, only this time he threw the ball into the Princess Jahúran’s clothes.

The next evening the ball fell on one of her feet, and hurt her little toe-nail. Now, Princess Jahúran was very angry that this unknown beautiful prince should have thrown the ball three times, and hit her twice, and hurt her the third time, and yet had never spoken to her father, or let any one know who he was, and had always, on the contrary, ridden away as hard as he could, no one knew where. She was very much in love with him, and was very anxious to find this Rájá who had hit her twice, so she ordered a bow and arrow to be brought to her, and said she would shoot the Rájá the next time he hit her. She would not kill him; she would only shoot the arrow at him. Well, the next evening Prince Monkey threw the ball, and it fell on her other foot and hurt her great toe-nail. When he saw she was hurt, he was very sorry in his heart, and said, "Did I hurt you?" "Yes," she said, "very much." "Oh, I am so sorry," said the prince. "I would not have thrown the ball so hard had I thought it would hurt you." Then she shot the arrow and hit him in the leg, and a great deal of blood came out of the wound; but he rode hard away to the jungle all the same, only this time he did not take off his fine clothes, but he drew the monkey-skin over them, and his horse went up to heaven, and he went back to the tents. Then the princess sent a servant into the town and said, whoever or whatever he should hear crying with pain, he should bring to he—were it a man, or a jackal, or a dog, or a wild beast. So the servant went round the town. The six brothers had gone to sleep, but the poor monkey brother could not sleep, but sat up crying from pain. He could not help it, do what he would, and the servant, as he went round the town, heard him crying. So he took him and brought him to the princess, and the princess said she would marry him.

"What!" cried her father, marry that monkey? Never! Who ever heard of any one marrying a monkey, a nasty monkey?" But in spite of all the King said, the princess declared marry that monkey she would. "I like that monkey very, very much," she said. "I will marry him. It is my pleasure to marry him." "Well," said the Rájá at last, "if it is your pleasure to marry him, you must marry him; but who ever heard of any one marrying a nasty monkey?"

So they were married at once; and the Monkey Prince wore his monkey-skin for a wedding garment.

That night when they went to bed, the young prince drew off his skin and lay down by Jahúran, and when she saw her beautiful husband she was so glad, so glad. "Why do you wear a monkey-skin?" she asked. He answered, "I wear it as a protection, because my brothers are naughty and would kill me if they knew what I really am."

They lived very happily with King Jamársá for six months, and the six elder brothers went on living there too, and hating him more and more for having such a beautiful wife.

But one night Prince Monkey thought of his mother, and he said to his wife,"My mother perhaps is crying for me. Let us go to my father's kingdom and see her." Princess Jahúran agreed; so mext morning they spoke to King Jamársá, who said they might go.

The six brothers at once said, "We will go with you;" and they also said, "Let us get two big boats, one for you and the princess, and one for ourselves; and let us go by water, and not by land." Now by water it took only six days to get to Jabhú Rájá's kingdom, by land it took three months. The Monkey Prince agreed to all his brothers said.

Princess Jahúran heard them planning to throw the monkey into the water on the journey, and then to take her home to their father as the wife of one of them; so as she was very wise she went to her father and begged him to have six large beautiful mattresses, well stuffed with cotton, made for her.

"What can you want with six mattresses?" said the King. "I want my bed to be very comfortable on board the boat," said his daughter. Her father loved her dearly, so he had her mattresses made, beautiful mattresses and well stuffed with cotton. The princess had them all carried to her boat.

When everything was ready they went on board the boats with the monkey's six brothers. Now, the princess had warned her husband of his brothers' wicked plans, and she said to him, "Never go near your brothers; never speak to your brothers; for they want to kill you." The first day the six brothers said to the monkey, "Please bring us a little salt." But the monkey said, "No; my wife will take you some." "No," said the brothers, " our wife cannot bring us any. She is a princess. Do you bring us some." So they threw a rope from one boat to another and the monkey wenton the rope, and the brothers untied it, and the monkey fell into the water. Then the princess cried out, "My husband will be drowned! My husband will be drowned!" And she threw out one of the mattresses; the monkey sat on it; it floated back to his boat, and the crew drew him up.

The next day the six brothers begged Prince Monkey to bring them water, and they threw a plank from their boat to his for him to cross on. The prince set off with the water, in spite of all his wife's entreaties, and his brothers tilted the plank into the water. The prince would have been drowned had not the Princess Jahúran thrown him a mattress. And the same thing happened during the next four days. The brothers wanted something to eat or drink, and their monkey-brother brought it them across a rope or plank, which they cut or dropped into the water, and he would have died but for the mattresses which his wife threw to him one by one.

When they reached Jabhú Rájá's kingdom, the eldest son went on shore up to his father's palace. Each of the Rájá's seven wives had a house to herself in his compound. He went to his mother's house and said, "Give me your palanquin, mother, for I have brought home a most lovely wife and want to bring her to the palace."

At this news his mother was delighted, and she told it to the other Ránís, and said, "My son has brought home such a lovely wife! I am so glad! oh, I am so glad!" The youngest Rání began to cry bitterly. "My son," she said, "is nothing but a monkey; he will never be married; he will never have a wife at all."

Then the palanquin was got ready, and the seven Ránís and the prince went with it to the boat. The Princess Jahúran came on land with her monkey, and when the Ránís saw her, they all cried, "How lovely she is! how beautiful!" And the eldest Rání was gladder than ever, and the youngest cried still more. The princess got into the palanquin with her monkey. "What are you doing with that horrid monkey?" said the eldest prince. "Put him out of the palanquin directly." "Indeed I will not," said the princess. "He is my husband, and I love him." "What!" cried all the Ránís, "are you married to that monkey?" "Yes," said the princess. "Then get out of my palanquin at once," said the eldest Rání. "You shall not ride in my palanquin with that nasty monkey." The youngest Rání was very glad her son had such a beautiful wife. So the princess got out and took her monkey in her arms and walked with him to the youngest Rání's house, and there they all lived for some time. Now the little Rání did not know her son was really a beautiful man, for the princess never told her, as her husband had forbidden her to tell any one.

One evening Jabhú Rájá's servants had a grand nautch in the Rájá's compound, and the Rájá and his sons and the neighbouring Rájás all came to see it. Prince Monkey said to his wife, "I, too, will go and see this nautch." So he took off his monkey-skin, folded it up and laid it under her pillow. Then he put on the clothes God had sent him from heaven the last time he threw the ball, and which he had not laid on his horse's back when he put his monkey-skin on again, and when he came among all the Rájá and people who were looking on at the nautch, they all exclaimed, "Who is that? Who can it be?" He was very handsome, and he had beautiful hair all gold. When he had stayed some time, Prince Monkey went quickly back to his wife, and in the morning he put on his monkey-skin again.

Now the little Rání, his mother, though she was very glad her monkey son had such a wife, could never understand how it was that her daughter-in-law was so happy with him. "How could you marry him?" she used to say to her. "Because it pleased me to marry him," the princess used to answer. "How can you be so happy with him?" said his mother, "I love him," said the princess, and the poor Rání used to wonder at this more and more.

Well, one day there was another nautch, and Prince Monkey went to it; but he left his skin under his wife's pillow. As soon as he had gone, she called the little Rání and said, "See, you think my husband is a monkey; he is no monkey, but a very handsome man. There is no one like him, he is so beautiful." The Rání did not believe her. Then the princess took the skin from under her pillow. "See," she said, "when your son puts this on, then he is a monkey; when he takes it off he is a beautiful man. And now, I think, I will burn this skin, and then he must always be a man. What do you say?" "Are you sure it won't hurt him if you burn his skin?" said his mother. "Perhaps he may die if it is burnt." "Oh, no, he won't die," said the princess. "Shall I burn it?" "Burn it," said the little Rání. Then the princess threw the skin on the fire and burnt it quite up.

Prince Monkey was sitting looking on at the nautch when suddenly his heart told him his wife had burnt his skin. He jumped up directly and went home, and when he found his heart had told him true, he was so angry with his wife, that he would say nothing to her but "Why did you burn my skin?" and he was in such a rage that he went straight to bed and went to sleep.

In the morning, while he slept, the princess went to the little Rání, and said, "Come and see your beautiful son." "I am ashamed to do so," said the Rání. "Ashamed to look at your own son? What nonsense! Come directly," said Princess Jahúran. Then the little Rání went with her, and when she saw her beautiful son she was indeed glad, and the prince opened his eyes and saw her, and then he kissed her, and they were very happy.

The news spread through the compound, and Jabhú Rájá and his sons and everybody came at once to see if it were true. When they saw the beautiful young prince with his hair all gold, they could not stand, but fell down. Prince Monkey lifted his father and loved him, and put his arms round him, and said, "I am your son, your own son; you must not fall down before me." "Why did you wear that monkey-skin?" asked his father. "Because," he said, "my mother ate the mango-stone instead of eating the mango, and so I was born with this skin, and God ordered me to wear it till I had found a wife." His brothers said, "Who could have guessed there was such a beautiful man inside that monkey-skin? God's decrees are good! And they left off hating their brother. Prince Monkey.

There were great rejoicings and feasts now, and all were very happy. The six elder brothers lived always with their father and Prince Monkey, but none of them ever married.

Told by Dunkní.