Not understanding the meaning of these words, the servant repeated them word for word, as he had heard them, to his mistress; and thus his theft was discovered, and he was severely punished. After a little while the young man appeared with the old farmer. Great attention was shown to him, and he was treated in every way as if he were the son of a great man, although his humble host knew nothing of his origin. At length he told them everything—about the laughing of the fish, his father’s threatened execution, and his own banishment—and asked their advice as to what he should do.
“The laughing of the fish,” said the girl, “which seems to have been the cause of all this trouble, indicates that there is a man in the palace who is plotting against the King’s life.”
“Joy, joy!” exclaimed the vizier’s son. “There is yet time for me to return and save my father from an ignominious and unjust death, and the King from danger.”
The following day he hastened back to his own country, taking with him the farmer’s daughter. Immediately on arrival he ran to the palace and informed his father of what he had heard. The poor vizier, now almost dead from the expectation of death, was at once carried to the King, to whom he repeated the news that his son had just brought.
“Never!” said the King.
“But it must be so, your Majesty,” replied the vizier; “and in order to prove the truth of what I have heard, I pray you to call together all the maids in your palace and order them to jump over a pit, which must be dug. We’ll soon find out whether there is any man there.”
The King had the pit dug, and commanded all the maids belonging to the palace to try to jump over it. All of them tried, but only one succeeded. That one was found to be a man!
Thus was the Queen satisfied, and the faithful old vizier saved.
Afterward, as soon as could be, the vizier’s son married the old farmer’s daughter; and a most happy marriage it was.
ADAPTED BY M. FRERE
Once upon a time there were a Rajah and Ranee who had no children. Long had they wished and prayed that the gods would send them a son, but it was all in vain—their prayers were not granted. One day a number of fish were brought into the royal kitchen to be cooked for the Rajah’s dinner, and amongst them was one little fish that was not dead, but all the rest were dead. One of the palace maid-servants, seeing this, took the little fish and put him in a basin of water. Shortly afterward the Ranee saw him, and thinking him very pretty, kept him as a pet; and because she had no children she lavished all her affection on the fish and loved him as a son; and the people called him Muchie Rajah (the Fish Prince).