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Loving Laili
by [?]

Once there was a king called King Dantál, who had a great many rupees and soldiers and horses. He had also an only son called Prince Majnún, who was a handsome boy with white teeth, red lips, blue eyes, red cheeks, red hair, and a white skin. This boy was very fond of playing with the Wazír’s son, Husain Mahámat, in King Dantál’s garden, which was very large and full of delicious fruits, and flowers, and trees. They used to take their little knives there and cut the fruits and eat them. King Dantál had a teacher for them to teach them to read and write.

One day, when they were grown two fine young men, Prince Majnún said to his father, “Husain Mahámat and I should like to go and hunt.” His father said they might go, so they got ready their horses and all else they wanted for their hunting, and went to the Phaláná country, hunting all the way, but they only found jackals and birds.

The Rájá of the Phaláná country was called Múnsúk Rájá, and he had a daughter named Lailí, who was very beautiful; she had brown eyes and black hair.

One night, some time before Prince Majnún came to her father’s kingdom, as she slept, God sent to her an angel in the form of a man who told her that she should marry Prince Majnún and no one else, and that this was God’s command to her. When Lailí woke she told her father of the angel’s visit to her as she slept; but her father paid no attention to her story. From that time she began repeating, “Majnún, Majnún; I want Majnún,” and would say nothing else. Even as she sat and ate her food she kept saying, “Majnún, Majnún; I want Majnún.” Her father used to get quite vexed with her. “Who is this Majnún? who ever heard of this Majnún?” he would say. “He is the man I am to marry,” said Lailí. “God has ordered me to marry no one but Majnún.” And she was half mad. Meanwhile, Majnún and Husain Mahámat came to hunt in the Phaláná country; and as they were riding about, Lailí came out on her horse to eat the air, and rode behind them. All the time she kept saying, “Majnún, Majnún; I want Majnún.” The prince heard her, and turned round. “Who is calling me?” he asked. At this Lailí looked at him, and the moment she saw him she fell deeply in love with him, and she said to herself, “I am sure that is the Prince Majnún that God says I am to marry.” And she went home to her father and said, “Father, I wish to marry the prince who has come to your kingdom; for I know he is the Prince Majnún I am to marry.” “Very well, you shall have him for your husband,” said Múnsúk Rájá. “We will ask him to-morrow.” Lailí consented to wait, although she was very impatient. As it happened, the prince left the Phaláná kingdom that night, and when Lailí heard he was gone, she went quite mad. She would not listen to a word her father, or her mother, or her servants said to her, but went off into the jungle, and wandered from jungle to jungle, till she got farther and farther away from her own country. All the time she kept saying, “Majnún, Majnún; I want Majnún;” and so she wandered about for twelve years.

At the end of the twelve years she met a fakír–he was really an angel, but she did not know this–who asked her, “Why do you always say, ‘Majnún, Majnún; I want Majnún’?” She answered, “I am the daughter of the king of the Phaláná country, and I want to find Prince Majnún; tell me where his kingdom is.” “I think you will never get there,” said the fakír, “for it is very far from hence, and you have to cross many rivers to reach it.” But Lailí said she did not care; she must see Prince Majnún. “Well,” said the fakír, “when you come to the Bhágírathí river you will see a big fish, a Rohú; and you must get him to carry you to Prince Majnún’s country, or you will never reach it.”