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The Prince Who Found Two Wives

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There was once a Raja who had an only son. When the Prince grew up the
courtiers proposed to the Raja that he should arrange for his son's
marriage; the Raja however wished to postpone it for a time. So the
courtiers used to laugh and say to the Prince "Wait a little and
we will find you a couple of wives;" the young man would answer,
"What is that? I can find them for myself. If you offered to find me
ten or twelve wives there would be something in it." The Raja heard
of his boasting like this and was very angry and said "Well if he is
so sure that he can find a wife for himself, let him do it;" and he
took no further steps to arrange for his son's marriage.

Now the Prince had a most beautiful voice and used also to play on
the one-stringed lute. He used often to sit up half the night singing
and playing to himself. One night as he sat singing, he heard a laugh
and looking round saw a beautiful bonga girl. He asked who she was
and how she had come there, and she told him that she lived close
by and could not help coming to see who it was, who was singing so
beautifully. After that she used to visit the Prince every night,
but always disappeared before dawn. This went on for some weeks
and then the Prince asked her to stay and be his wife. She agreed,
provided he would first go to her home and see her relations. So
the next night he went with her; and found that her father was also
a Raja and very rich. He stayed there three or four days; while his
mysterious disappearance caused the greatest consternation at his own
home. However he returned quietly by night and was found sleeping as
usual in his bed one morning. Then he told his parents all that had
happened and how he had left his wife behind at her father's house.

Two or three days later the Prince fell very ill: every sort of remedy
was tried in vain. As he grew worse and worse, one day a messenger came
from his father-in-law and offered to cure him if he were removed to
his wife's house. So he was carried thither and when he arrived he
found that his wife was also very ill; but directly he was brought
to where she lay, at the mere sight of each other they both became
well again.

After some months the Prince and his wife set out to return to their
own home. They were benighted on the way; so they tied their horses
to a tree and prepared to camp under it. The Prince went to a bazar
to buy provisions and while there, was arrested on a false charge
and was sent to prison. The Princess waited and waited and at last
felt sure that something must have detained him against his will. She
would not leave the spot, and to make it less likely that she should
be molested, she dressed herself as a man.

Some days passed and the Prince did not return; then one morning an
old woman passing by came and asked for a light for her hookah, and
stayed talking for some time. The old woman was struck by the sweet
face and gentle voice of the stranger, and on her return told the
daughter of the Raja of that country that there was a strange young
man, who looked and talked very differently from any of the young men
of that neighbourhood. The Raja's daughter was curious to see him,
and the next morning she went with the old woman and talked with the
disguised Princess. Before she left she was deeply in love with him,
and directly she reached home she sent word to her father that she
had seen the man whom she must marry. "It is of no use to thwart
one's children," said the Raja and at once sent messengers to bring
the stranger to marry his daughter.

When the disguised Princess was brought before the Raja, she said
that she had no objection to being married provided that it was done
according to the custom of her own country, and that was that the
vermilion should be applied to the bride's forehead with a sword. The
Raja made no objection; so the Princess took her husband's sword and
put vermilion on it and then applied it to the bride's forehead; and
so the marriage was complete. But when the Princess was left alone
with her bride, she confessed that she was a woman and told her all
her history and how her husband had disappeared in the bazar.

Then the Raja's daughter went to her father and told him what had
happened and had enquiries made and speedily had the Prince released
from prison. Then the prince himself again put vermilion on the
forehead of the Raja's daughter, and a few days later set off home
with both his wives. This was the way in which he found two wives
for himself, as he had boasted that he would.

Next: The Unfaithful Wife

Previous: The Prince Who Would Not Marry

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