The Magic Lamp

: Santal Folk Tales

In the capital of a certain raja, there lived a poor widow. She had

an only son who was of comely form and handsome countenance. One

day a merchant from a far country came to her house, and standing

in front of the door called out, "dada, dada," (elder brother). The

widow replied, "He is no more, he died many years ago." On hearing

this the merchant wept bitterly, mourning the loss of his younger

brother. He remained s
me days in his sister-in-law's house, at the

end of which he said to her, "This lad and I will go in quest of the

golden flowers, prepare food for our journey." Early next morning they

set out taking provisions with them for the way. After they had gone

a considerable distance, the boy being fatigued said, "Oh! uncle I can

go no further." The merchant scolded him, and walked along as fast as

he could. After some time the boy again said, "I am so tired I can go

no further." His uncle turned back and beat him, and he, nerved by

fear, walked rapidly along the road. At length they reached a hill,

to the summit of which they climbed, and gathered a large pile of

firewood. They had no fire with them, but the merchant ordered his

nephew to blow with his mouth as if he were kindling the embers of

a fire. He blew until he was exhausted, and then said, "What use is

there in blowing when there is no fire?" The merchant replied "Blow,

or I shall beat you." He again blew with all his might for a short

time, and then stopping, said, "There is no fire, how can it possibly

burn?" on which the merchant struck him. The lad then redoubled his

efforts, and presently the pile of firewood burst into a blaze. On

the firewood being consumed, an iron trap-door appeared underneath the

ashes, and the merchant ordered his nephew to pull it up. He pulled,

but finding himself unable to open it, said, "It will not open." The

merchant told him to pull with greater force, and he, being afraid lest

he should be again beaten, pulled with all his might, but could not

raise it. He again said, "It will not open," whereupon the merchant

struck him, and ordered him to try again. Applying himself with all

his might, he at length succeeded. On the door being raised, they saw

a lamp burning, and beside it an immense quantity of golden flowers.

The merchant then said to the boy, "As you enter do not touch any of

the gold flowers, but put out the lamp, and heap on the gold tray as

many of the gold flowers as you can, and bring them away with you." He

did as he was ordered, and on reaching the door again requested his

uncle to relieve him of the gold flowers, but he refused, saying,

"Climb up as best as you can." The boy replied, "How can I do so,

when my hands are full?" The merchant then shut the iron trap door

on him, and went away to a distant country.

The boy being imprisoned in the dark vault, wept bitterly, and having

no food, in a few days he became very weak. Taking the lamp in his

hand, he sat down in a corner, and without knowing what he was doing,

began to rub the lamp with his hand. A ring, which he wore on his

finger, came into contact with the lamp, and immediately a fairy

issued from it, and asked, "What is it you want with me?" He replied,

"Open the door and let me out." The fairy opened the door, and the

boy went home taking the lamp with him. Being hungry, he asked for

food, but his mother replied, "There is nothing in the house that I

can give you." He then went for his lamp, saying, "I will clean it,

and then sell it, and with the money buy food." Taking the lamp

in his hand he began to rub it, and his ring again touching it, a

fairy issued from it and said "What do you wish for?" The boy said

"Cooked rice and uncooked rice." The fairy immediately brought him

an immense quantity of both kinds of rice.

Sometime after this, certain merchants brought horses for sale, and

the boy seeing them wished to buy one. Having no money, he remembered

his lamp, and taking it up, pressed his ring against it, and the

fairy instantly appeared, and asked him what he wanted. He said,

"Bring me a horse," and immediately the fairy presented to him an

immense number of horses.

When the boy had become a young man, it so happened, that one day

the raja's daughter was being carried to the ghat to bathe, and he

seeing her palki with the attendants passing, went to his mother and

said, "I am going to see the princess." She tried to dissuade him,

but he insisted on her giving him permission, so at length she gave

him leave. He went secretly, and saw her as she was bathing, and

on returning home, said to his mother, "I have seen the princess,

and I am in love with her. Go, and inform the raja that your son

loves his daughter, and begs her hand in marriage." His mother said,

"Do you think the raja will consider us as on an equality with him?" He

would not, however, be gainsaid, but kept urging her daily to carry his

message to the raja, until she being wearied with his importunity went

to the palace, and being admitted to an audience, informed the raja

that her son was enamoured of the princess, his daughter, and begged

that she might be given to him in marriage. The raja made answer that

on her son giving him a large sum of money which he named, and which

would have been beyond the means of the raja himself, he would be

prepared to give his daughter in marriage to her son. The young man

had recourse to his lamp and ring, and the fairy supplied him with a

much larger sum of money than the raja had demanded. He took it all,

and gave it to the raja, who was astonished beyond measure at the

sight of such immense wealth.

After a reasonable time the old mother was sent to the raja to

request him to fulfil his promise, but he, being reluctant to see

his daughter united to one so much her inferior in station, in hope

of being relieved from the obligation to fulfil his promise, demanded

that a palace suited to her rank and station in life be prepared for

her, after which he would no longer delay the nuptials. The would-be

bridegroom applied to his never failing friends, his lamp and ring,

and on the fairy appearing begged him to build a large castle in

one night, and to furnish and adorn it as befitted the residence

of a raja's daughter. The fairy complied with the request, and the

whole city was amazed next morning at the sight of a lordly castle,

where the evening before there had not been even a hut. The dewan

tried to dissuade the raja, but without effect, and in due time the

marriage was celebrated amid great rejoicings.

On a certain day, some time after the marriage, the raja and his

son-in-law went to the forest to hunt. During their absence, the

merchant to whom reference has already been made, arrived at the castle

gate, bearing in his hand a new lamp which he offered in exchange to

the princess for any old lamp she might possess. She thought it a good

opportunity to obtain a new lamp in place of her husband's old one,

and without knowing what she did, gave the magic lamp to the merchant,

and received a new one in return. The merchant rubbed his ring on the

magic lamp, and the fairy obeyed the summons, and desired to know what

he wanted. He said, "Convey the castle as it stands with the princess

in it, to my own country," and instantly his wish was gratified.

When the raja and his son-in-law returned from the chase, they were

surprised and alarmed to find that the palace with its fair occupant

had vanished, and had not left a trace behind. The dewan reminded

his master that he had tried to dissuade him from rashly giving his

daughter in marriage to an unknown person, and had foretold that

some calamity was sure to follow. The raja being grieved and angry

at the loss of his daughter, sent for her husband, and said to him,

"I give you thirteen days during which to find my daughter. If you

fail, on the morning of the fourteenth, I shall surely cause you to

be executed." The thirteenth day arrived, and although her husband

had sought her every where, the princess had not been found. Her

unhappy husband resigned himself to his fate, saying, "I shall go

and rest, to-morrow morning I shall be killed." So he climbed to

the top of a high hill, and lay down to sleep upon a rock. At noon

he accidentally rubbed his finger ring upon the rock on which he

lay, and a fairy issued from it, and awaking him, demanded what

he wanted. In reply he said, "I have lost my wife and my palace,

if you know where they are, take me to them." The fairy immediately

transported him to the gate of his castle in the merchant's country,

and then left him to his own devices. Assuming the form of a dog,

he entered the palace, and the princess at once recognized him. The

merchant had gone out on business, and had taken the lamp with him,

suspended by a chain round his neck. After consultation, it was

determined that the princess should put poison in the merchant's

food that evening. When he returned, he called for his supper, and

the princess set before him the poisoned rice, after eating which

he quickly died. The rightful owner repossessed himself of the magic

lamp, and an application of the ring brought out the attendant fairy

who demanded to know why he had been summoned. "Transport my castle

with the princess and myself in it back to the king's country, and

place it where it stood before," said the young man; and instantly

the castle occupied its former position. So that before the morning

of the fourteenth day dawned, not only had the princess been found,

but her palace had been restored to its former place. The raja was

delighted at receiving his daughter back again. He divided his kingdom

with his son-in-law, giving him one-half, and they ruled the country

peacefully and prosperously for many years.