Phra Nang Suwanasopha


Once there was a beautiful and clever princess named Phra Nang Suwanasopha. Her father, the king, wanted her to marry a man as clever as she was, a man who could make her talk, for the princess was very shy. In fact, she was so shy that she didn't talk to any man, not even her father.
When Phra Nang Suwanasopha was old enough to be mar­ried, the king sent word to nearby kingdoms. He said that who­ever could make the princess talk could marry her. From all around eager princes came to try and make the princess speak. But they all went home again. Phra Nang Suwanasopha had nothing to say to any of them.
The king had almost given up finding a husband for his daughter. Then another prince came to the palace to try his luck. This prince was called Phra Sanphasit, and he brought many fine gifts with him. He also brought one of his best friends. Before going to see the princess, Phra Sanphasit used magic to put his friend's soul in a lamp.
Phra Nang Suwanasopha was waiting in her room whenthe prince arrived carrying his lamp. He set the lamp carefully on the floor and began to tell a story.
"Once there were three merchants travelling by boat," he began. "They stopped each night to rest by the bank of the river. One night, one of the merchants was awakened by asound. Something was bumping against the boat. When he looked over the side, he saw a piece of wood. Now, this mer­chant liked to carve, so he pulled the piece of wood out of the water. He then carved it into the shape of a beautiful girl. He spoke some magic words and the girl came to life. At this moment the other merchants woke up. One asked the girl to come and sit near him'. The other brought some fine cloth for her to wear. The girl was so sweet and beautiful that all the mer­chants fell in love with her, and they began to fight over who should marry her." Phra Sanphasit paused, then he asked the lamp who should marry the girl.
The lamp immediately replied, "Well, of course the mer­chant who carved her in the first place should marry her."
"Wrong!" said the princess. "The one who carved her is her father. The one who asked her to sit with him is her mother. The one who brought her cloth should be her husband."
At this, a greatcheer went up in the courtyard outsidePhra Nang Suwanasopha's room where all the courtiers were listening. Phra Sanphasit knew, however, that lie would have to make the princess say more than just those few words. He moved his friend's soul from the lamp to the bedpost and began to tell another story.
"Once there were four princes walking through the forest. One was an archer. One was a fortune-teller. Another was a swimmer, and the other was a magician. “Tell us,” they said to the fortune- teller, “What will happen today?”
“Oh, today will be very exciting,” he replied. “In a few minutes a big bird will fly past. It will have a lovely girl in its claws. We're going to try to rescue her."
"At that moment they heard a bird flapping its wings over­head. Looking up, they saw a large bird with a girl held firmly in its claws. The archer took out an arrow and shot the bird. The, bird squawked and dropped the girl into a deep pond. Then the swimmer dived into the water where he found the girl dead on the bottom of the pond. He brought her up, and the magician used his powers to give her life again. The girl sat up and smiled at the princes. She was so beautiful that they all fell in love with her. Naturally, they soon began to quarrel about who should marry her." Again Phra Sanphasit paused. Then he asked the bedpost who should marry the girl.
The bedpost quickly said, "Of course, the archer should marry her. After all, he shot the bird."
"Silly bedpost," said Phra Nang Suwanasopha. "The swim­mer is the one who should marry her. He touched her first."
The cheering in the courtyard was very loud now. Phra Sanphasit moved his friend's soul to the head of the bed. This time he did not begin with a story. Instead, he asked a direct question, "Which is softer to touch, a lovely girl or a fluffy kapok pillow?"
"'That's easy," said the head of the bed. "A kapok pillow is the softest thing in the whole world."
"Not me. The softest and nicest thing in the world," said the princess, "Is the heart of a good husband."
The courtiers outside cheered. Phra Sanphasit knew now that he had won the princess's heart. They were married shortly thereafter, and lived happily from that time on.



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