: The Olive Fairy Book

Once upon a time there lived in a city of Hindustan a seller of scents

and essences, who had a very beautiful daughter named Dorani. This

maiden had a friend who was a fairy, and the two were high in favour

with Indra, the king of fairyland, because they were able to sing so

sweetly and dance so deftly that no one in the kingdom could equal

them for grace and beauty. Dorani had the most lovely hair in the

world, for it
was like spun gold, and the smell of it was like the

smell of fresh roses. But her locks were so long and thick that the

weight of it was often unbearable, and one day she cut off a shining

tress, and wrapping it in a large leaf, threw it in the river which

ran just below her window. Now it happened that the king's son was out

hunting, and had gone down to the river to drink, when there floated

towards him a folded leaf, from which came a perfume of roses. The

prince, with idle curiosity, took a step into the water and caught the

leaf as it was sailing by. He opened it, and within he found a lock of

hair like spun gold, and from which came a faint, exquisite odour.

When the prince reached home that day he looked so sad and was so

quiet that his father wondered if any ill had befallen him, and asked

what was the matter. Then the youth took from his breast the tress of

hair which he had found in the river, and holding it up to the light,


'See, my father, was ever hair like this? Unless I may win and marry

the maiden that owns that lock I must die!'

So the king immediately sent heralds throughout all his dominions to

search for the damsel with hair like spun gold; and at last he learned

that she was the daughter of the scent-seller. The object of the

herald's mission was quickly noised abroad, and Dorani heard of it

with the rest; and, one day, she said to her father:

'If the hair is mine, and the king requires me to marry his son, I

must do so; but, remember, you must tell him that if, after the

wedding, I stay all day at the palace, every night will be spent in my

old home.'

The old man listened to her with amazement, but answered nothing, as

he knew she was wiser than he. Of course the hair was Dorani's, and

heralds soon returned and informed the king, their master, who

summoned the scent-seller, and told him that he wished for his

daughter to be given in marriage to the prince. The father bowed his

head three times to the ground, and replied:

'Your highness is our lord, and all that you bid us we will do. The

maiden asks this only--that if, after the wedding, she stays all day

at the palace, she may go back each night to her father's house.'

The king thought this a very strange request; but said to himself it

was, after all, his son's affair, and the girl would surely soon get

tired of going to and fro. So he made no difficulty, and everything

was speedily arranged and the wedding was celebrated with great


At first, the condition attaching to his wedding with the lovely

Dorani troubled the prince very little, for he thought that he would

at least see his bride all day. But, to his dismay, he found that she

would do nothing but sit the whole time upon a stool with her head

bowed forward upon her knees, and he could never persuade her to say a

single word. Each evening she was carried in a palanquin to her

father's house, and each morning she was brought back soon after

daybreak; and yet never a sound passed her lips, nor did she show by

any sign that she saw, or heard, or heeded her husband.

One evening the prince, very unhappy and troubled, was wandering in an

old and beautiful garden near the palace. The gardener was a very aged

man, who had served the prince's great grandfather; and when he saw

the prince he came and bowed himself to him, and said:

'Child! child! why do you look so sad--is aught the matter?' Then the

prince replied, 'I am sad, old friend, because I have married a wife

as lovely as the stars, but she will not speak to me, and I know not

what to do. Night after night she leaves me for her father's house,

and day after day she sits in mine as though turned to stone, and

utters no word, whatever I may do or say.'

The old man stood thinking for a moment, and then he hobbled off to

his own cottage. A little later he came back to the prince with five

or six small packets, which he placed in his hands and said:

'To-morrow, when your bride leaves the palace, sprinkle the powder

from one of these packets upon your body, and while seeing clearly,

you will become yourself invisible. More I cannot do for you, but may

all go well!'

And the prince thanked him, and put the packets carefully away in his


The next night, when Dorani left for her father's house in her

palanquin, the prince took out a packet of the magic powder and

sprinkled it over himself, and then hurried after her. He soon found

that, as the old man had promised, he was invisible to everyone,

although he felt as usual, and could see all that passed. He speedily

overtook the palanquin and walked beside it to the scent-seller's

dwelling. There it was set down, and, when his bride, closely veiled,

left it and entered the house, he, too, entered unperceived.

At the first door Dorani removed one veil; then she entered another

doorway at the end of a passage where she removed another veil; next

she mounted the stairs, and at the door of the women's quarters

removed a third veil. After this she proceeded to her own room where

were set two large basins, one of attar of roses and one of water; in

these she washed herself, and afterwards called for food. A servant

brought her a bowl of curds, which she ate hastily, and then arrayed

herself in a robe of silver, and wound about her strings of pearls,

while a wreath of roses crowned her hair. When fully dressed, she

seated herself upon a four-legged stool over which was a canopy with

silken curtains, these she drew around her, and then called out:

'Fly, stool, to the palace of rajah Indra.'

Instantly the stool rose in the air, and the invisible prince, who had

watched all these proceedings with great wonder, seized it by one leg

as it flew away, and found himself being borne through the air at a

rapid rate.

In a short while they arrived at the house of the fairy who, as I told

you before, was the favourite friend of Dorani. The fairy stood

waiting on the threshold, as beautifully dressed as Dorani herself

was, and when the stool stopped at her door she cried in astonishment:

'Why, the stool is flying all crooked to-day! What is the reason of

that, I wonder? I suspect that you have been talking to your husband,

and so it will not fly straight.'

But Dorani declared that she had not spoken one word to him, and she

couldn't think why the stool flew as if weighed down at one side. The

fairy still looked doubtful, but made no answer, and took her seat

beside Dorani, the prince again holding tightly one leg. Then the

stool flew on through the air until it came to the palace of Indra the


All through the night the women sang and danced before the rajah

Indra, whilst a magic lute played of itself the most bewitching music;

till the prince, who sat watching it all, was quite entranced. Just

before dawn the rajah gave the signal to cease; and again the two

women seated themselves on the stool, and, with the prince clinging to

the leg, it flew back to earth, and bore Dorani and her husband safely

to the scent-seller's shop. Here the prince hurried away by himself

past Dorani's palanquin with its sleepy bearers, straight on to the

palace; and, as he passed the threshold of his own rooms he became

visible again. Then he lay down upon a couch and waited for Dorani's


As soon as she arrived she took a seat and remained as silent as

usual, with her head bowed on her knees. For a while not a sound was

heard, but presently the prince said:

'I dreamed a curious dream last night, and as it was all about you I

am going to tell it you, although you heed nothing.'

The girl, indeed, took no notice of his words, but in spite of that he

proceeded to relate every single thing that had happened the evening

before, leaving out no detail of all that he had seen or heard. And

when he praised her singing--and his voice shook a little--Dorani just

looked at him; but she said naught, though, in her own mind, she was

filled with wonder. 'What a dream!' she thought. 'Could it have been a

dream? How could he have learnt in a dream all she had done or said?'

Still she kept silent; only she looked that once at the prince, and

then remained all day as before, with her head bowed upon her knees.

When night came the prince again made himself invisible and followed

her. The same things happened again as had happened before, but Dorani

sang better than ever. In the morning the prince a second time told

Dorani all that she had done, pretending that he had dreamt of it.

Directly he had finished Dorani gazed at him, and said:

'Is it true that you dreamt this, or were you really there?'

'I was there,' answered the prince.

'But why do you follow me?' asked the girl.

'Because,' replied the prince, 'I love you, and to be with you is


This time Dorani's eyelids quivered; but she said no more, and was

silent the rest of the day. However, in the evening, just as she was

stepping into her palanquin, she said to the prince:

'If you love me, prove it by not following me to-night.'

And so the prince did as she wished, and stayed at home.

That evening the magic stool flew so unsteadily that they could hardly

keep their seats, and at last the fairy exclaimed:

'There is only one reason that it should jerk like this! You have been

talking to your husband!'

And Dorani replied: 'Yes, I have spoken; oh, yes, I have spoken!' But

no more would she say.

That night Dorani sang so marvellously that at the end the rajah Indra

rose up and vowed that she might ask what she would and he would give

it to her. At first she was silent; but, when he pressed her, she


'Give me the magic lute.'

The rajah, when he heard this, was displeased with himself for having

made so rash a promise, because this lute he valued above all his

possessions. But as he had promised, so he must perform, and with an

ill grace he handed it to her.

'You must never come here again,' said he, 'for, once having asked so

much, how will you in future be content with smaller gifts?'

Dorani bowed her head silently as she took the lute, and passed with

the fairy out of the great gate, where the stool awaited them. More

unsteadily than before, it flew back to earth.

When Dorani got to the palace that morning she asked the prince

whether he had dreamt again. He laughed with happiness, for this time

she had spoken to him of her own free will; and he replied:

'No; but I begin to dream now--not of what has happened in the past,

but of what may happen in the future.'

That day Dorani sat very quietly, but she answered the prince when he

spoke to her; and when evening fell, and with it the time for her

departure, she still sat on. Then the prince came close to her and

said softly:

'Are you not going to your house, Dorani?'

At that she rose and threw herself weeping into his arms, whispering


'Never again, my lord, never again would I leave thee!'

So the prince won his beautiful bride; and though they neither of them

dealt any further with fairies and their magic, they learnt more daily

of the magic of Love, which one may still learn, although fairy magic

has fled away.

(Punjabi Story, Major Campbell, Feroshepore.)