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Young Folks' Treasury: Myths and Legendary Heroes

Muchie Lal
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).
In a little while Muchie Rajah had grown too long to live in the small basin, so they put
him into a larger one, and then (when he grew too long for that) into a big tub. In time,
however, Muchie Rajah became too large for even the big tub to hold him; so the Ranee
had a tank made for him, in which he lived very happily, and twice a day she fed him
with boiled rice. Now, though the people fancied Muchie Rajah was only a fish, this was
not the case. He was, in truth, a young Rajah who had angered the gods, and been by
them turned into a fish and thrown into the river as a punishment.
One morning, when the Ranee brought him his daily meal of boiled rice, Muchie Rajah
called out to her and said, "Queen Mother, Queen Mother, I am so lonely here all by
myself! Cannot you get me a wife?" The Ranee promised to try, and sent messengers to
all the people she knew, to ask if they would allow one of their children to marry her son,
the Fish Prince. But they all answered: "We cannot give one of our dear little daughters to
be devoured by a great fish, even though he is the Muchie Rajah and so high in your
Majesty's favor."
At news of this the Ranee did not know what to do. She was so foolishly fond of Muchie
Rajah, however, that she resolved to get him a wife at any cost. Again she sent out
messengers, but this time she gave them a great bag containing a lac of gold mohurs, and
said to them: "Go into every land until you find a wife for my Muchie Rajah, and to
whoever will give you a child to be the Muchie Ranee you shall give this bag of gold
mohurs." The messengers started on their search, but for some time they were
unsuccessful; not even the beggars were to be tempted to sell their children, fearing the
great fish would devour them. At last one day the messengers came to a village where
there lived a Fakeer, who had lost his first wife [pg 113] and married again. His first wife had had
one little daughter, and his second wife also had a daughter. As it happened, the Fakeer's
second wife hated her little stepdaughter, always gave her the hardest work to do and the
least food to eat, and tried by every means in her power to get her out of the way, in order
that the child might not rival her own daughter. When she heard of the errand on which
the messengers had come, she sent for them when the Fakeer was out, and said to them:
"Give me the bag of gold mohurs, and you shall take my little daughter to marry the
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 [pg