THERE was once a Raja who had an only son. When the Prince grew up the courtiers proposed to the Raja that he should arrange for his son's marriage; the Raja however wished to postpone it for a time. So the courtiers used to laugh and say to the Prince "Wait a little and we will find you a couple of wives;" the young man would answer, "What is that? I can find them for myself. If you offered to find me ten or twelve wives there would be something in it." The Raja heard of his boasting like this and was very angry and said "Well if he is so sure that he can find a wife for himself, let him do it;" and he took no further steps to arrange for his son's marriage.
Now the Prince had a most beautiful voice and used also to play on the one-stringed lute. He used often to sit up half the night singing and playing to himself. One night as he sat singing, he heard a laugh and looking round saw a beautiful bonga girl. He asked who she was and how she had come there, and she told him that she lived close by and could not help coming to see who it was, who was singing so beautifully. After that she used to visit the Prince every night, but always disappeared before dawn. This went on for some weeks and then the Prince asked her to stay and be his wife. She agreed, provided he would first go to her home and see her relations. So the next night he went with her; and found that her father was also a Raja and very rich. He stayed there three or four days; while his mysterious disappearance caused the greatest consternation at his own home. However he returned quietly by night and was found sleeping as usual in his bed one morning. Then he told his parents all that had happened and how he had left his wife behind at her father's house.
Two or three days later the Prince fell very ill: every sort of remedy was tried in vain. As he grew worse and worse, one day a messenger came from his father-in-law and offered to cure him if he were removed to his wife's house. So he was carried thither and when he arrived he found that his wife was also very ill; but directly he was brought to where she lay, at the mere sight of each other they both became well again.
After some months the Prince and his wife set out to return to their own home. They were benighted on the way; so they tied their horses to a tree and prepared to camp under it. The Prince went to a bazar to buy provisions and while there, was arrested on a false charge and was sent to prison. The Princess waited and waited and at last felt sure that something must have detained him against his will. She would not leave the spot, and to make it less likely that she should be molested, she dressed herself as a man.
Some days passed and the Prince did not return; then one morning an old woman passing by came and asked for a light for her hookah, and stayed talking for some time. The old woman was struck by the sweet face and gentle voice of the stranger, and on her return told the daughter of the Raja of that country that there was a strange young man, who looked and talked very differently from any of the young men of that neighbourhood. The Raja's daughter was curious to see him, and the next morning she went with the old woman and talked with the disguised Princess. Before she left she was deeply in love with him, and directly she reached home she sent word to her father that she had seen the man whom she must marry. "It is of no use to thwart one's children," said the Raja and at once sent messengers to bring the stranger to marry his daughter.
When the disguised Princess was brought before the Raja, she said that she had no objection to being married provided that it was done according to the custom of her own country, and that was that the vermilion should be applied to the bride's forehead with a sword. The Raja made no objection; so the Princess took her husband's sword and put vermilion on it and then applied it to the bride's forehead; and so the marriage was complete. But when the Princess was left alone with her bride, she confessed that she was a woman and told her all her history and how her husband had disappeared in the bazar.
Then the Raja's daughter went to her father and told him what had happened and had enquiries made and speedily had the Prince released from prison. Then the prince himself again put vermilion on the forehead of the Raja's daughter, and a few days later set off home with both his wives. This was the way in which he found two wives for himself, as he had boasted that he would.