The Fan Prince by Anonymous

Story type: Literature

In a country there lived a king who had a wife and seven daughters. One day he called all his daughters to him, and said to them, “My children, who gives you food? and by whose permission do you eat it?” Six of them answered, “Father, you give us food; and by your permission we eat it.” But the seventh and youngest said, “Father, God gives me my food; and by my own permission I eat it.” This answer made her father and mother very angry with their youngest daughter. They said, “We will not let our youngest child stay with us any longer.” And her father called some servants and said to them, “Get a palanquin ready, and put my youngest daughter into it; then carry her away to the jungle, and there leave her.”

The servants got the palanquin ready, put the youngest princess into it, and carried her into the jungle. There they put the palanquin down and said to her, “We are going to drink some water.” “Go home now,” said the girl, “as my father ordered you to do.” They left her, therefore, in the jungle alone, and went back to the king’s palace.

The girl prayed to God and worshipped him; then she went to sleep for a little while in her palanquin. When she awoke, it was evening, and she found in her palanquin a jar of water and some food on a plate which God had sent her while she slept. She knew that God had sent her this nice dinner, and thanked him and worshipped him. Then she bathed her face and hands in a little of the water, and ate and drank, and went to sleep quietly in her palanquin as night had come.

This little princess had always been a very gentle girl, and had always done what was right, and been very good, so God loved her dearly. While she slept, therefore, he made a beautiful palace for her on the jungle-plain where she was lying in her palanquin. God made a garden and tank for her, too. When the princess woke in the morning, and got out of her palanquin, she saw the palace standing by its tank in a beautiful garden. “I never saw that palace before,” she said. “It was not here last night.” She went into the garden, and servants met her and made her salaams. The palace was far finer than her father’s; and when she went into it she found it full of servants. “To whom does this palace belong?” she asked. “To you,” they answered. “God made all this for you last night, and he sent us to wait on you and be your servants.” (Now, they were all men, not angels, that God had sent to take care of her.) The princess thanked God, and worshipped him.

A few days later, her father heard that in the jungle to which he had sent her a beautiful palace and garden and tank had suddenly appeared, and that in this palace she was living; and he said, “Yes; my daughter told me the truth: it is God who gives us everything. I know it is he who gave her this beautiful house.” So some time passed, and the princess lived in her palace in the jungle; but her father did not go to see her.

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One day he said to himself, “To-day I will go and eat the air in another country, and I will go by water.” So he ordered a boat to be got ready, and he went to his six daughters, and told them he was going away for a little while. “What would you like me to bring you from this other country?” he said. “I will bring you anything you would like to have.” Some of them wanted jewels, a necklace, a pair of earrings, and so on; and some wanted silk stuffs for sárís and other clothes. Then the king remembered his youngest child, and thought, “I must send to her, and see what she would like.” He called one of his servants, and told him to go to the jungle to his youngest daughter and say, “Your father is going to eat the air of another country. He wishes to know what you would like him to bring back for you.”

The servant found the little princess reading her prayer-book. He gave her the king’s message. She said, “Sabr” (that is wait ), for she meant him to wait for her answer till she had finished reading her prayers. The servant, however, did not understand, but went away at once to the king and told him, “Your daughter wants you to bring her Sabr.” “Sabr?” said the king; “what is Sabr? Never, mind, I will see if I can find any Sabr; and if I do, I will bring it for her.”

The king then went in his boat to another country. There he stayed for a little while and bought the jewels and silks for his six elder daughters. When he thought he should like to go home again, he went down to his boat and got into it. But the boat would not move, because he had forgotten one thing; the thing his youngest daughter had asked for.

Suddenly he remembered he had not got any Sabr. So he gave one of his servants four thousand rupees, and told him to go on shore, and go through the bazar, and try and find the Sabr, and he was to give the four thousand rupees for it.

The man went to the bazar and asked every one if they had Sabr to sell. Then he asked if they could tell him what it was. “No,” they said, “but our king’s son is called Sabr; you had better speak to him.”

The servant went to Prince Sabr. “Our king’s youngest daughter,” he said, “has asked her father to bring her Sabr, and the king has given me four thousand rupees to buy it for her; but I cannot get any, and no one knows what it is.” The prince said, “Very good. Give this little box to your king, and tell him to give it to his youngest daughter. But it is only the princess who has asked for Sabr who is to open the box.” Then he told the man to keep the four thousand rupees as a present from him.

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The servant went back to the boat to the king and gave him the box, saying, “In this is the Sabr,” and he told him Prince Sabr said no one but the youngest princess was to open it. And now the boat moved quite easily, and the king journeyed home safely.

He gave his six eldest daughters the presents he had brought for them, and sent the little box to his youngest daughter. She said, “My father has sent me this. I will look at it by and by.” Then she put it away and forgot it. At the end of a month she found the little box, and thought, “I will see what my father has sent me,” and opened the box. In it was a most lovely little fan. She was very much pleased, and fanned herself with it, and at once a beautiful prince stood before her.

The princess was delighted. “Who are you? Where did you come from?” she said. “My name is Prince Sabr,” he answered. “Your father came to my father’s country, and he said you had asked him to bring you Sabr, so I gave him this little fan for you. I am obliged to come to whoever uses this little fan with the right side turned outwards. And when you want me to go away, you must turn the right side of the fan towards you and then fan yourself with it.” The little princess said, “Very good. And so your name is Prince Sabr?” They talked together for some time. Then she turned her fan, so that the wrong side was outside, and fanned herself with it, and the prince disappeared.

This went on for a month. The princess used to fan herself with the right side turned outwards, and then Prince Sabr came to her. When she turned her fan wrong side outwards and fanned herself, then he vanished.

One day the prince said to her, “I should like to marry you. Will you marry me?” “Yes,” she answered. Then she wrote a letter to her father and mother and six sisters, in which she said, “Come to my wedding. I am going to marry Prince Sabr.” They all came. Her father was very glad that she married Prince Sabr, and said, “I see it is true that God loves my youngest daughter.”

The day of the wedding her six sisters said to her, “To-day we will not let the servants make your bed. We will make it ourselves for you.” “I have plenty of servants to make it,” she said; “but you can do so if you like.” Her sisters went to make the bed. They took a glass bottle and ground it into a powder, and they spread the powder all over the side where Prince Sabr was to lie. This they did because they were angry at their youngest sister being married, while they, who were older, were not married, and they thought, being her elders, they should have married first, especially as they had lived in their father’s palace, and been cared for, while she was cast out in the jungle.

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When the wedding was over, and Prince Sabr and his wife had gone to bed, the prince became very ill, from the glass powder going into his flesh. “Turn your fan the wrong way and fan yourself quickly, that I may go home to my father’s country,” he said to her, “for I am very ill, and dare not remain here.” So she fanned herself at once with the fan turned the wrong way. Then he went home to his father, and was very ill for a long while. The poor princess knew nothing of the glass powder.

Her father and mother and sisters went home after the wedding, and left the princess alone in her palace. Every day she turned her fan the right side outwards and fanned and fanned herself; but Prince Sabr never came. He was far too ill. One day she cried a great deal, and was very, very sad. “Why does my prince not come to me?” she said. “I don’t know where he is, or what has become of him.” That night she had a dream, and in her dream she saw Prince Sabr lying very ill on his bed.

When she got up in the morning she thought she must go and try to find her prince. So she took off all her beautiful clothes and jewels, and put on a yogí’s dress. Then she mounted a horse and set out in the jungle. No one knew she was a woman, or that she was a king’s daughter; every one thought she was a man.

She rode on till night, and then she had come to another jungle. Here she got off her horse, and took it under a tree. She lay down under the tree and went to sleep. At midnight she was awakened by the chattering of a parrot and a mainá, who came and sat on the tree knowing she was lying underneath.

The mainá said to the parrot, “Parrot, tell me something.” The parrot said, “Prince Sabr is very, very ill in his own country. The day he was married, the bride’s six sisters took a glass bottle and ground it to powder. Then they spread the powder all over the prince’s bed, so that when he lay down it got into his flesh. The glass powder has made him very ill.” “What will make him well?” said the mainá; “what will cure him?” “No doctors can cure him,” said the parrot; “no medicine will do him any good: but if any one slept under this tree, and took some of the earth from under it, and mixed it with cold water, and rubbed it all over Prince Sabr, he would get well.”

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All this the princess heard. She got up and longed for morning to come. When it was day she took some of the earth, mounted her horse, and rode off. She went on till she came to Prince Sabr’s country. Then she asked to whom the country belonged; she was told it was Prince Sabr’s father’s country, “but Prince Sabr is very ill.”

“I am a yogí,” said the princess, “and I can cure him.” This was told to the king, Prince Sabr’s father. “That is very good,” he said. “Send the yogí to me.” So the little princess went to the king, who said to her, “My son is very, very ill; make him well.” “Yes,” she said, “I will make him well. Bring me some cold water.”

They brought her the cold water, and she mixed it with the earth she had got from under the tree. This she rubbed all over the prince. For three days and nights she rubbed him with it. After that he got better, and in a week he was quite well. He was able to talk, and could walk about as usual.

Then the yogí said, “Now I will go back to my own country.” But the king said to her, “First you must let me give you a present. You shall have anything that you like. As many horses, or sepoys, or rupees as you want you shall have; for you have made my son well.” “I want nothing at all,” said the princess, “but Prince Sabr’s ring, and the handkerchief he has with his name worked on it.” She had given him both these things on their wedding day. Prince Sabr’s father and mother went to their son and begged him to give the handkerchief and ring to the yogí; and he did so quite willingly. “For,” he thought, “were it not for that yogí, I should never see my dear princess again.”

The yogí took the ring and handkerchief and went home. When she got there, she took off her yogí’s dress and put on her own beautiful clothes. Then she turned her fan right side outwards, and fanned herself with it, and immediately her Prince Sabr stood by her. “Why did you not come to me before?” she said. “I have been fanning and fanning myself.” “I was very ill, and could not come,” said Prince Sabr. “At last a yogí came and made me well, and as a reward I gave him my ring and handkerchief.” “It was no yogí,” said the princess. “It was I who came to you and made you well.” “You!” said the prince. “Oh, no; it was a yogí. You were sitting here in your palace while the yogí came and cured me.” “No, indeed,” she said; “I was the yogí. See, is not this your ring? is not this your handkerchief with your name worked on it?” Then he believed her, and she told him of her dream, and her journey in the yogí’s dress, and the birds’ talk, and all that had happened.

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And Prince Sabr was very happy that his wife had done so much for him, and they lived happily together.

Told by Múniyá.





1. The boat would not move because the king had forgotten to get the thing his youngest daughter had asked him to bring her. Signor de Gubernatis ( Zoological Mythology, vol. II. p. 382) mentions an unpublished story from near Leghorn in which a sailor promises to bring his youngest daughter a rose. The eldest daughter is to have a shawl, and the second a hat. “When the voyage is over, he is about to return, but having forgotten the rose, the ship refuses to move; he is compelled to go back to look for a rose in a garden; a magician hands the rose with a little box to the father to give it to one of his daughters, whom the magician is to marry. At midnight, the father, having returned home, relates to his third daughter all that had happened. The little box is opened; it carries off the third daughter to the magician, who happens to be King Pietraverde, and is now a handsome young man.”

2. The princess’s ring recalls Portia and Nerissa.

3. A yogí is a Hindú religious mendicant.


Bél, a fruit; Ægle marmelos.

Bulbul, a kind of nightingale.

Chaprásí, a messenger wearing a badge ( chaprás ).

Cooly (Tamil kúli ), a labourer in the fields; also a porter.

Dál, a kind of pulse; Phaseolus aureus, according to Wilson; Paspalum frumentaceum, according to Forbes.

Dom (the d is lingual), a low-caste Hindú.

Fakír, a Muhammadan religious mendicant.

Ghee ( ghí ), butter boiled and then set to cool.

Kází, a Muhammadan Judge.

Kotwál, the chief police officer in a town.

Líchí, a fruit; Scytalia litchi, Roxb.

Mahárájá (properly Maháráj), literally great king.

Mahárání, literally great queen.

Mainá, a kind of starling.

Maund ( man ), a measure of weight, about 87 lb.

Mohur ( muhar ), a gold coin worth 16 rupees.

Nautch ( nátya ), a union of song, dance, and instrumental music.

Pálkí, a palanquin.

Pice ( paisa ), a small copper coin.

Pilau, a dish made of either chicken or mutton, and rice.

Rájá, a king.

Rakshas, a kind of demon that eats men and beasts.

Rání, a queen.

Rohú, a kind of big fish.

Rupee ( rúpíya ), a silver coin, now worth about twenty pence.

Ryot ( ràíyat ), a cultivator.

Sarai, a walled enclosure containing small houses for the use of travellers.

Sárí, a long piece of stuff which Hindú women wind round the body as a petticoat, passing one end over the head.

Sepoy ( sipáhí ), a soldier.

Wazír, prime minister.

Yogí, a Hindú religious mendicant.

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