The Prince and the Fakir
The Prince and the Fakir
Once upon a time there was a king who had no children. One day, this king lay down in the middle of an intersection of a road. Everyone who passed had to step over him.
Soon, a fakir came along and 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?”
The king said, “I am the king, Fakir. I am a rich man, but I am sad that I have no children. So I have come here, to try and find answers as men pass over me.”
The fakir said, “Oh, King, if you have children, what will you give me?”
“Anything you want, Fakir,” answered the king.
The fakir said, “If you have two sons, I want one of them.”
Then he took out two candies, handed them to the king, and said, “King, take these two special candies and give them to your wives. Give them to the wives you love best.”
Then the fakir said, “One day, I will return. Of the two sons who will be born to you, one is mine and one is yours. Agreed?”
The king said, “I agree.”
Then the fakir went on his way, and the king went home and gave one candy to each of his two favorite wives. After some time two sons were born to the king.
One day the fakir appeared and asked to see the king.
When the king heard this news, he quickly hid his sons in the basement and brought out two of his servants' sons to present to the fakir. While the fakir was waiting for the king, the king's sons were sitting in the cellar eating.
Just then a hungry ant carried away a grain of rice from the boys' food to take to her children. Another stronger ant came up and attacked her in order to get the grain of rice. The first ant said, “Oh ant, why do you drag this away from me? I have long been lame in my feet, and I have got just one grain. I am carrying it to my children. The king's sons are sitting in the cellar eating their food. Go and fetch a grain from them. Why should you take mine from me?”
Hearing this, the second ant let go. He did not rob the first ant but went off to where the king's sons were eating their food.
On hearing this exchange between the ants, the fakir said, “King, these are not your sons. Go and bring to me those children who are eating their food in the cellar.”
So the king went and brought up his own sons. The fakir chose the elder son and set off with him on his journey.
When they got to the fakir's home, he told the king's son to go gather firewood. So the boy went out to gather the wood and when he had collected some, he brought it in. Then the fakir looked at the king's son while he put a huge kettle on the fire, and said, “Come around here, my pupil.” But 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.”
Then the fakir made a dash at the king's son, thinking to catch him and throw him into the cauldron. There were about a hundred gallons of oil in this cauldron, and the fire was burning beneath it. But the king's son caught the fakir, lifted him up, gave him a jerk, and threw him into the cauldron. The fakir was quickly killed in the boiling oil.
Then the king's son saw a key that belonged to the fakir. He took this key and opened the door of the fakir's barn. Many men were locked up in there, as well as two horses, two hounds, and two tigers. So the king's son freed all the men who were in prison. He took the two horses, the two tigers, and the two hounds and set out for another country where he lived on his own for several years.
Now a young man, he one day set out to take a walk. As he went along the road, he saw a bald man tending his herd of calves. The bald man called out to him, “Fellow, can you fight at all?”
The king's son replied, “When I was little I could fight a bit. Now, if anyone wants to fight, I am not so unmanly as to turn my back.”
The bald man said, “If I throw you, you shall be my slave. If you throw me, I will be your slave.” So they got ready and began to fight, and the king's son threw him.
The king's son said, “I will leave my beasts here: my tigers and dogs and horses. They will all stay here while I go to the city. And you, too, must stay here with my belongings.”
So he started off to the city and arrived at a pool. He saw that it was a pleasant pool and thought he would stop and bathe there.
The king's daughter, who was sitting on the roof of the palace, saw from a distance his royal marks. She said, “This man is a prince. When I marry, I will marry him and no other.” She didn't tell her father, but told him she was ready to be betrothed.
“Good,” said her father. Then he issued a proclamation:“Let all men come to the palace today because my daughter will take a husband.”
All the men of the land assembled, and the traveling prince also came.
The king's daughter came out and sat on the balcony, and cast her glance around all those assembled. She noticed that the prince was sitting in the assembly in fakir's attire.
The princess said to her handmaiden, “Take this dish of henna, go to that traveler 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 servant has made a mistake.”
But the servant replied, “The servant has made no mistake. It is her mistress who has made the mistake.”
At this the king married his daughter to the fakir, who was really no fakir, but a prince. But the king became very sad in his heart, because when so many important men were sitting there, his daughter had chosen the fakir.
One day the traveler prince said, “Let all the king's sons-in-law come out with me today to hunt.”
They all set out for the hunt. The newly married prince went to his tigers and hounds and told them to kill and bring in a great number of gazelles and deer. Instantly they did as he asked. Taking the dead animals with him, the prince came to the pool settled on as a meeting place. The other princes had also assembled there, but they had brought in no game, and the new prince had brought in a remarkable amount. Then they returned home and went to the king, their father-in-law, to present their game.
Now the new prince told the king that he was a prince. The king, his father-in-law, was greatly delighted and took him by the hand and embraced him. They all lived very happily in the kingdom for a very long time.