[Notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Turkish Fairy Tales unit. Story source: Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales by Ignacz Kunos, with illustrations by Willy Pogany (1913).
One day he caught a glimpse of the Sultan's daughter, and from that moment he could think of nothing but the Princess. He went home and said to his mother: "Go to the Padishah and ask him to give me his daughter."
His mother was astonished and answered: "Why, lad, thou dost not possess five paras and knowest no trade! Thinkest thou the Padishah would give his daughter to such a numskull?"
Nevertheless, as the young man insisted, the woman saw that he could be satisfied only by her going to the King on his behalf.
When she found herself in the presence of the Padishah, she said: "O my lord! I have a son who has tormented me every day with the request that I should come to thee and ask thee to give him thy daughter in marriage. I could bear his importunities no longer, wherefore am I come. Slay me or hang me, or otherwise do unto me what seemeth good in thy sight."
The monarch answered: "Send thy son to me," and dismissed her.
She went home and informed her son that he was summoned to the presence of the Padishah. When the youth arrived at the palace, the Padishah saw with disapproval that he was bald and, with a view to getting rid of him, said: "I will give thee my daughter if thou canst gather together on this spot all the birds in the world."
The young man, discomfited, departed from the serai, absorbed in gloomy reflection and, fearing lest the Padishah might order him to be put to death, he resolved to travel. Many days after this, wandering in the wilderness, he met a dervish, to whom he related his difficulty.
The dervish listened patiently and then said: "Go to a certain place where there is a tall cypress tree; sit down beneath it. All the birds in the world will come and alight thereon, and thou hast only to utter the word 'Madjun!' to cause them to stick fast to the tree. Then collect them all and take them to the Padishah."
Thanking the dervish for his useful advice, the young man went his way until he arrived at the place indicated, where he sat down to rest under the tall cypress tree. He waited until all the birds in the world had alighted thereon, then said "Madjun!" and no bird was able to fly away.
Collecting them, he returned home and next morning carried his captives into the presence of the Padishah. The monarch, not at all pleased that the apparently impossible task he imposed had been accomplished, said: "Now go and get a covering of hair on thy bald pate, and I will then give thee my daughter."
The young man, very disappointed, took himself off and spent several days in deep thought. Meanwhile the Padishah betrothed the Princess to a son of his Vezir, and preparations for the wedding were hurried forward. The young man, hearing of this, went on the bridal night to the serai and hid himself on the roof, above the chamber in which the Vezir's son and his bride were to sleep. As soon as he saw them both enter, he pronounced the word "Madjun!" and they were unable to move so much as an eyelid.
Night passed and the day broke. As the day wore on and the newly wedded couple failed to appear, a slave went and, peeping through a chink in the door of their room, endeavoured to discover if anything was the matter. The bald-headed one above, seeing this, cried "Madjun!" and the slave found himself unable to stir from the spot.
In short, as one after the other came to the door, until everyone in the palace was gathered there, the word "Madjun!" was uttered and all became transfixed, unable to move hand or foot.
The Padishah was at a loss to know the meaning of it all and sent for a certain hodja, who would surely help him in this strange matter.
The young man came down from his elevated position on the roof and stole after the Padishah's messengers. On the way, they entered a butcher's shop to buy some meat, and as they laid their hands on a carcass to indicate what they wanted, the bald man, having overtaken them, cried "Madjun!" and they all found themselves stuck fast to the meat.
Meanwhile the Padishah was impatiently awaiting the return of his messengers and becoming angry at their delay. At length, unable to endure it longer, he himself went after them. Passing the butcher's shop, imagine his surprise to see all his servants stuck by their hands to a piece of meat.
"O merciful Allah! What is this?" cried the Padishah and ran immediately to fetch the hodja.
When the latter arrived he said: "My lord, thou hast promised thy daughter to a certain bald-headed young man, and as thou hast not fulfilled thy word, he it is that is doing these things."
"What is to be done?" asked the King.
The hodja answered: "Nothing can be done except to give him thy daughter."
The Padishah returned to his palace and summoned the youth to his presence. When the latter heard that the King's servants were seeking him, he hastened home and instructed his mother as follows: "If I am asked for, say I am not at home and have not been seen for a long time. If they ask where I may be found, answer that for so many gold-pieces thou wilt undertake to find me."
Hardly had he said this than there came a loud knocking at the door. When the old woman opened it, she was asked whether the bald young man was at home. She answered as her son had advised her.
"But where must we look for him?" demanded the messengers.
"The Padishah requests him to present himself and receive the Princess in marriage."
At these words the old woman's interest appeared to increase. "I know not whither he is gone," she answered, "but give me a thousand gold pieces and I engage to find him."
The stipulated amount was paid over.
"Go, then," said the King's servants; "bring him hither and thou shalt receive even more."
A few days later the bald-headed one appeared at the palace and was led into the presence of the Padishah. As soon as the King saw him, he greeted him cordially. "My dear son," he exclaimed, "I have waited long for thee. Where hast thou been all this time?"
To this the youth answered: "O Padishah! I asked thee for thy daughter, but thou gayest her not to me; therefore have I wandered in the world."
Without further delay, the Vezirs were summoned, the Princess sent for, and the pair were betrothed with the customary ceremonies.
Then the bald-headed young man, having accomplished his purpose, went to all those who were under the spell and unable to move. "Be released from Madjun!" he exclaimed, and immediately they were free and skipped about for joy.
As for the son of the Vezir, who had been married to the Princess, he was no sooner released than he ran away and has never been seen since. The Princess was now married to the bald youth, and they lived happily ever after.