Meantime the seven Princesses awoke, and when they found themselves
all alone in the thick jungle they were much frightened, and began
out as loud as they could, in hopes of making their father hear;
was by that time far away, and would not have been able to hear
even had their voices been as loud as thunder.
It so happened that this very day the seven young sons of a neighboring
Raja chanced to be hunting in that same jungle, and as they were
returning home, after the day's sport was over, the youngest Prince
said to his brothers: "Stop, I think I hear some one crying
out. Do you not hear voices? Let us go in the direction of the
and find out what it is."
So the seven Princes rode through the wood until they came to
where the seven Princesses sat crying and wringing their hands.
sight of them the young Princes were very much astonished, and
more so on learning their story; and they settled that each should
one of these poor forlorn ladies home with him, and marry her.
So the first and eldest Prince took the eldest Princess home
and married her.
And the second took the second; and third took the third; and
fourth took the fourth; and the fifth took the fifth; and the
took the sixth; and the seventh, and the handsomest of all, took
And when they got to their own land, there was great rejoicing
throughout the kingdom, at the marriage of the seven young Princes
seven such beautiful Princesses.
About a year after this Balna had a little son, and his uncles
aunts were so fond of the boy that it was as if he had seven fathers
and seven mothers. None of the other Princes and Princesses had
children, so the son of the seventh Prince and Balna was acknowledged
their heir by all the rest.
They had thus lived very happily for some time, when one fine
seventh Prince (Balna's husband) said he would go out hunting,
he went; and they waited long for him, but he never came back.
Then his six brothers said they would go and see what had become
him; and they went away, but they also did not return.
And the seven Princesses grieved very much, for they feared that
kind husbands must have been killed.
One day, not long after this had happened, as Balna was rocking
baby's cradle, and while her sisters were working in the room
there came to the palace door a man in a long black dress, who
that he was a Fakir, and came to beg. The servant said to him,
cannot go into the palace-the Raja's sons have all gone away;
they must be dead, and their widows cannot be interrupted by your
begging." But he said, "I am a holy man, you must let
me in. Then the
stupid servants let him walk through the palace, but they did
that this was no Fakir, but a wicked Magician named Punchkin.
Punchkin Fakir wandered through the palace, and saw many beautiful
things there, till at last he reached the room where Balna sat
beside her little boy's cradle. The Magician thought her more
beautiful than all the other beautiful things he had seen, insomuch
that he asked her to go home with him and to marry him. But she
"My husband, I fear, is dead, but my little boy is still
quite young; I
will stay here and teach him to grow up a clever man, and when
grown up he shall go out into the world, and try and learn tidings
his father. Heaven forbid that I should ever leave him, or marry
At these words the Magician was very angry, and turned her into
little black dog, and led her away; saying, "Since yon will
with me of your own free will, I will make you." So the poor
was dragged away, without any power of effecting an escape, or
letting her sisters know what had become of her. As Punchkin passed
through the palace gate the servants said to him, "Where
did yon get
that pretty little dog?" And he answered, "One of the
it to me as a present." At hearing which they let him go
Soon after this, the six elder Princesses heard the little baby,
nephew, begin to cry, and when they went upstairs they were much
surprised to find him all alone, and Balna nowhere to be seen.
they questioned the servants, and when they heard of the Fakir
little black dog, they guessed what had happened, and sent in
direction seeking them, but neither the Fakir nor the dog were
found. What could six poor women do? They gave up all hopes of
seeing their kind husbands, and their sister, and her husband
and devoted themselves thenceforward to teaching and taking care
their little nephew.
Thus time went on, till Balna's son was fourteen years old. Then,
day, his aunts told him the history of the family; and no sooner
hear it, than be was seized with a great desire to go in search
father and mother and uncles, and if he could find them alive
them home again. His aunts, on learning his determination, were
alarmed and tried to dissuade him, saying, "We have lost
and our sister and her husband, and you are now our sole hope;
go away, what shall we do?" But he replied, "I pray
you not to be
discouraged; I will return soon, and if it is possible bring my
and mother and uncles with me." So he set out on his travels;
some months he could learn nothing to help him in his search.
At last, after he had journeyed many hundreds of weary miles,
become almost hopeless of ever hearing anything further of his
he one day came to a country that seemed full of stones, and rocks,
trees, and there he saw a large palace with a tower; hard by was
Malee's little house.