ADAPTED BY JOSEPH JACOBS
In a country there was a Rajah who had an only son who every day went out to hunt. One day the Ranee his mother, said to him, “You can hunt wherever you like on these three sides; but you must never go to the fourth side.” This she said because she knew if he went on the fourth side he would hear of the beautiful Princess Labam, and that then he would leave his father and mother and seek for the Princess.
The young Prince listened to his mother, and obeyed her for some time; but one day, when he was hunting on the three sides where he was allowed to go, he remembered what she had said to him about the fourth side, and he determined to go and see why she had forbidden him to hunt on that side. When he got there, he found himself in a jungle, and nothing in the jungle but a quantity of parrots, who lived in it. The young Rajah shot at some of them, and at once they all flew away up to the sky. All, that is, but one, and this was their Rajah, who was called Hiraman parrot.
When Hiraman parrot found himself left alone, he called out to the other parrots, “Don’t fly away and leave me alone when the Rajah’s son shoots. If you desert me like this, I will tell the Princess Labam.”
Then the parrots all flew back to their Rajah, chattering. The Prince was greatly surprised, and said, “Why, these birds can talk!” Then he said to the parrots, “Who is the Princess Labam? Where does she live?” But the parrots would not tell him where she lived. “You can never get to the Princess Labam’s country.” That is all they would say.
The Prince grew very sad when they would not tell him anything more; and he threw his gun away and went home. When he got home, he would not speak or eat, but lay on his bed for four or five days, and seemed very ill.
At last he told his father and mother that he wanted to go and see the Princess Labam. “I must go,” he said; “I must see what she is like. Tell me where her country is.”
“We do not know where it is,” answered his father and mother.
“Then I must go and look for it,” said the Prince.
“No, no,” they said, “you must not leave us. You are our only son. Stay with us. You will never find the Princess Labam.”
“I must try and find her,” said the Prince. “Perhaps God will show me the way. If I live and I find her, I will come back to you; but perhaps I shall die, and then I shall never see you again. Still I must go.”
So they had to let him go, though they cried very much at parting with him. His father gave him fine clothes to wear, and a fine horse. And he took his gun, and his bow and arrows, and a great many other weapons; “for,” he said, “I may want them.” His father, too, gave him plenty of rupees.
Then he himself got his horse all ready for the journey, and he said good-by to his father and mother; and his mother took her handkerchief and wrapped some sweetmeats in it, and gave it to her son. “My child,” she said to him, “when you are hungry eat some of these sweetmeats.”