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Tales Of The Punjab by Flora Annie Steel

Part 2 out of 5

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and there the greedy little Lambikin stayed for seven days, and ate,
and ate, and ate, until he could scarcely waddle, and his Granny said
he was fat enough for anything, and must go home. But cunning little
Lambikin said that would never do, for some animal would be sure to
eat him on the way back, he was so plump and tender.

'I'll tell you what you must do,' said Master Lambikin,' you must make
a little drumikin out of the skin of my little brother who died, and
then I can sit inside and trundle along nicely, for I'm as tight as a
drum myself.'

So his Granny made a nice little drumikin out of his brother's skin,
with the wool inside, and Lambikin curled himself up snug and warm in
the middle, and trundled away gaily. Soon he met with the Eagle, who
called out--

'Drumikin! Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin?'

And Mr. Lambikin, curled up in his soft warm nest, replied--

'Lost in the forest, and so are you,
On, little Drumikin! Tum-pa, tum-too!'

'How very annoying!' sighed the Eagle, thinking regretfully of the
tender morsel he had let slip.

Meanwhile Lambikin trundled along, laughing to himself, and singing--

'Tum-pa, tum-too;
Tum-pa, tum-too!'

Every animal and bird he met asked him the same question--

'Drumikin! Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin?'

And to each of them the little sly-boots replied--

'Lost in the forest, and so are you,
On, little Drumikin! Tum-pa, tum-too;
Tum-pa, turn-too; Tum-pa, tum-too!'

Then they all sighed to think of the tender little morsel they had let

At last the Jackal came limping along, for all his sorry looks as
sharp as a needle, and he too called out--

'Drumikin! Drumikin!
Have you seen Lambikin?'

And Larnbikin, curled up in his snug little nest, replied gaily--

'Lost in the forest, and so are you,
On, little Drumikin! Tum-pa---'

But he never got any further, for the Jackal recognised his voice at
once, and cried, 'Hullo! you've turned yourself inside out, have you?
Just you come out of that!'

Whereupon he tore open Drumikin and gobbled up Lambikin.


Once upon a time a number of young girls went to draw water at the
village well, and while they were filling their jars, fell a-talking
of their betrothals and weddings.

Said one--'My uncle will soon be coming with the bridal presents, and
he is to bring the finest clothes imaginable.'

Said a second--'And my uncle-in-law is coming, I know, bringing the
most delicious sweetmeats you could think of.'

Said a third--'Oh, my uncle will be here in no time, with the rarest
jewels in the world.'

But Bopolūchī, the prettiest girl of them all, looked sad, for she was
an orphan, and had no one to arrange a marriage for her. Nevertheless
she was too proud to remain silent, so she said gaily--'And my uncle
is coming also, bringing me fine dresses, fine food, and fine jewels.'

Now a wandering pedlar, who sold sweet scents and cosmetics of all
sorts to the country women, happened to be sitting near the well, and
heard what Bopolūchī said. Being much struck by her beauty and
spirit, he determined to marry her himself, and the very next day,
disguised as a well-to-do farmer, he came to Bopolūchī's house laden
with trays upon trays full of fine dresses, fine food, and fine
jewels; for he was not a real pedlar, but a wicked robber, ever so

Bopolūchī could hardly believe her eyes, for everything was just as
she had foretold, and the robber said he was her father's brother, who
had been away in the world for years, and had now come back to arrange
her marriage with one of his sons, her cousin.

Hearing this, Bopolūchī of course believed it all, and was ever so
much pleased; so she packed up the few things she possessed in a
bundle, and set off with the robber in high spirits.

But as they went along the road, a crow sitting on a branch croaked--

'Bopolūchī, 'tis a pity!
You have lost your wits, my pretty!
'Tis no uncle that relieves you,
But a robber who deceives you!'

'Uncle!' said Bopolūchī, 'that crow croaks funnily. What does it

'Pooh!' returned the robber, 'all the crows in this country croak like

A little farther on they met a peacock, which, as soon as it caught
sight of the pretty little maiden, began to scream--

'Bopolūchī, 'tis a pity!
You have lost your wits, my pretty!
'Tis no uncle that relieves you,
But a robber who deceives you!'

'Uncle!' said the girl, 'that peacock screams funnily. What does it

'Pooh!' returned the robber, 'all peacocks scream like that in this

By and by a jackal slunk across the road; the moment it saw poor
pretty Bopolūchī it began to howl--

'Bopolūchī, 'tis a pity!
You have lost your wits, my pretty!
'Tis no uncle that relieves you,
But a robber who deceives you!'

'Uncle!' said the maiden, 'that jackal howls funnily. What does it

'Pooh!' returned the robber, 'all jackals howl like that in this

So poor pretty Bopolūchī journeyed on till they reached the robber's
house. Then he told her who he was, and how he intended to marry her
himself. She wept and cried bitterly, but the robber had no pity, and
left her in charge of his old, oh! ever so old mother, while he went
out to make arrangements for the marriage feast.

Now Bopolūchī had such beautiful hair that it reached right down to
her ankles, but the old mother hadn't a hair on her old bald head.

'Daughter!' said the old, ever so old. mother, as she was putting the
bridal dress on Bopolūchī, 'how did you manage to get such beautiful

'Well,' replied Bopolūchī, 'my mother made it grow by pounding my head
in the big mortar for husking rice. At every stroke of the pestle my
hair grew longer and longer. I assure you it is a plan that never

'Perhaps it would make _my_ hair grow!' said the old woman

'Perhaps it would!' quoth cunning Bopolūchī.

So the old, ever so old mother put her head in the mortar, and
Bopolūchī pounded away with such a will that the old lady died.

Then Bopolūchī dressed the dead body in the scarlet bridal dress,
seated it on the low bridal chair, drew the veil well over the face,
and put the spinning-wheel in front of it, so that when the robber
came home he might think it was the bride. Then she put on the old
mother's clothes, and seizing her own bundle, stepped out of the house
as quickly as possible.

On her way home she met the robber, who was returning with a stolen
millstone, to grind the corn for the wedding feast, on his head. She
was dreadfully frightened, and slipped behind the hedge, so as not to
be seen. But the robber, not recognising her in the old mother's
dress, thought she was some strange woman from a neighbouring village,
and so to avoid being seen he slipped behind the other hedge. Thus
Bopolūchī reached home in safety.

Meanwhile, the robber, having come to his house, saw the figure in
bridal scarlet sitting on the bridal chair, spinning, and of course
thought it was Bopolūchī. So he called to her to help him down with
the millstone, but she didn't answer. He called again, but still she
didn't answer. Then he fell into a rage, and threw the millstone at
her head. The figure toppled over, and lo and behold! it was not
Bopolūchī at all, but his old, ever so old mother! Whereupon the
robber wept, and beat his breast, thinking he had killed her; but when
he discovered pretty Bopolūchī had run away, he became wild with rage,
and determined to bring her back somehow.

[Illustration: Bopolūchī and the robber]

Now Bopolūchī was convinced that the robber would try to carry her
off, so every night she begged a new lodging in some friend's house,
leaving her own little bed in her own little house quite empty, but
after a month or so she had come to the end of her friends, and did
not like to ask any of them to give her shelter a second time. So she
determined to brave it out and sleep at home, whatever happened; but
she took a bill-hook to bed with her. Sure enough, in the very middle
of the night four men crept in, and each seizing a leg of the bed,
lifted it up and walked off, the robber himself having hold of the leg
close behind her head. Bopolūchī was wide awake, but pretended to be
fast asleep, until she came to a wild deserted spot, where the thieves
were off their guard; then she whipped out the bill-hook, and in a
twinkling cut off the heads of the two thieves at the foot of the
bed. Turning round quickly, she did the same to the other thief at
the head, but the robber himself ran away in a terrible fright, and
scrambled like a wild cat up a tree close by before she could reach

'Come down!' cried brave Bopolūchī, brandishing the bill-hook, 'and
fight it out!'

But the robber would not come down; so Bopolūchī gathered all the
sticks she could find, piled them round the tree, and set fire to
them. Of course the tree caught fire also, and the robber, half
stifled with the smoke, tried to jump down, and was killed.

After that, Bopolūchī went to the robber's house and carried off all
the gold and silver, jewels and clothes, that were hidden there,
coming back to the village so rich that she could marry any one she
pleased. And that was the end of Bopolūchī's adventures.


Once upon a time there lived a poor Brahman and his wife, so poor,
that often they did not know whither to turn for a meal, and were
reduced to wild herbs and roots for their dinner.

Now one day, as the Brahman was gathering such herbs as he could find
in the wilderness, he came upon an Aubergine, or egg-plant. Thinking
it might prove useful by and by, he dug it up, took it home, and
planted it by his cottage door. Every day he watered and tended it,
so that it grew wonderfully, and at last bore one large fruit as big
as a pear, purple and white and glossy,--such a handsome fruit, that
the good couple thought it a pity to pick it, and let it hang on the
plant day after day, until one fine morning when there was absolutely
nothing to eat in the house. Then the Brahman said to his wife, 'We
must eat the egg-fruit; go and cut it, and prepare it for dinner.'

So the Brahman's wife took a knife, and cut the beautiful purple and
white fruit off the plant, and as she did so she thought she heard a
low moan. But when she sat down and began to peel the egg-fruit, she
heard a tiny voice say quite distinctly, 'Take care!--oh, please take
care! Peel more gently, or I am sure the knife will run into me!'

The good woman was terribly perplexed, but went on peeling as gently
as she could, wondering all the time what had bewitched the egg-fruit,
until she had cut quite through the rind, when--what do you think
happened? Why, out stepped the most beautiful little maiden
imaginable, dressed in purple and white satin!

The poor Brahman and his wife were mightily astonished, but still more
delighted; for, having no children of their own, they looked on the
tiny maiden as a godsend, and determined to adopt her. So they took
the greatest care of her, petting and spoiling her, and always calling
her the Princess Aubergine; for, said the worthy couple, if she was
not a Princess _really_, she was dainty and delicate enough to be
any king's daughter.

Now not far from the Brahman's hut lived a King, who had a beautiful
wife, and seven stalwart young sons. One day, a slave-girl from the
palace, happening to pass by the Brahman's cottage, went in to ask for
a light, and there she saw the beautiful Aubergine. She went straight
home to the palace, and told her mistress how in a hovel close by
there lived a Princess so lovely and charming, that were the King once
to set eyes on her, he would straightway forget, not only his Queen,
but every other woman in the world.

Now the Queen, who was of a very jealous disposition, could not bear
the idea of any one being more beautiful than she was herself, so she
cast about in her mind how she could destroy the lovely Aubergine. If
she could only inveigle the girl into the palace, she could easily do
the rest, for she was a sorceress, and learned in all sorts of magic.
So she sent a message to the Princess Aubergine, to say that the fame
of her great beauty had reached the palace, and the Queen would like
to see with her own eyes if report said true.

Now lovely Aubergine was vain of her beauty, and fell into the trap.
She went to the palace, and the Queen, pretending to be wonderstruck,
said, 'You were born to live in kings' houses! From this time you
must never leave me; henceforth you are my sister.'

This flattered Princess Aubergine's vanity, so, nothing loath, she
remained in the palace, and exchanged veils with the Queen, and drank
milk out of the same cup with her, as is the custom when two people
say they will be sisters.

But the Queen, from the very first moment she set eyes on her, had
seen that Princess Aubergine was no human being, but a fairy, and knew
she must be very careful how she set about her magic. Therefore she
laid strong spells upon her while she slept, and said--

'Beautiful Aubergine! tell me true--
In what thing does your life lie?'

And the Princess answered--'In the life of your eldest son. Kill him,
and I will die also.'

So the very next morning the wicked Queen went to where her eldest son
lay sleeping, and killed him with her own hands. Then she sent the
slave-girl to the Princess's apartments, hoping to hear she was dead
too, but the girl returned saying the Princess was alive and well.

Then the Queen wept tears of rage, for she knew her spells had not
been strong enough, and she had killed her son for naught.
Nevertheless, the next night she laid stronger spells upon the
Princess Aubergine, saying--

'Princess Aubergine! tell me true--
In what thing does your life lie?'

And the sleeping Princess answered--'In the life of your second son.
Kill him, and I too will die.'

So the wicked Queen killed her second son with her own hands, but when
she sent the slave-girl to see whether Aubergine was dead also, the
girl returned again saying the Princess was alive and well.

Then the sorceress-queen cried with rage and spite, for she had killed
her second son for naught. Nevertheless, she would not give up her
wicked project, and the next night laid still stronger spells on the
sleeping Princess, asking her--

'Princess Aubergine! tell me true--
In what thing does your life lie?'

And the Princess replied--'In the life of your third son. Kill him,
and I must die also!'

But the same thing happened. Though the young Prince was killed by
his wicked mother, Aubergine remained alive and well; and so it went
on day after day, until all the seven young Princes were slain, and
their cruel mother still wept tears of rage and spite, at having
killed her seven sons for naught.

Then the sorceress-queen summoned up all her art, and laid such strong
spells on the Princess Aubergine that she could no longer resist them,
and was obliged to answer truly; so when the wicked Queen asked--

'Princess Aubergine! tell me true--
In what thing does your life lie?'

the poor Princess was obliged to answer--'In a river far away there
lives a red and green fish. Inside the fish there is a bumble bee,
inside the bee a tiny box, and inside the box is the wonderful
nine-lakh necklace. Put it on, and I shall die.'

Then the Queen was satisfied, and set about finding the red and green
fish. Therefore, when her husband the King came to see her, she began
to sob and to cry, until he asked her what was the matter. Then she
told him she had set her heart on procuring the wonderful nine-lakh

'But where is it to be found?' asked the King.

And the Queen answered in the words of the Princess Aubergine,--'In a
river far away there lives a red and green fish. Inside the fish
there is a bumble bee, inside the bee a tiny box, and in the box is
the nine-lakh necklace.'

Now the King was a very kind man, and had grieved sincerely for the
loss of his seven young sons, who, the Queen said, had died suddenly
of an infectious disease. Seeing his wife so distressed, and being
anxious to comfort her, he gave orders that every fisherman in his
kingdom was to fish all day until the red and green fish was found.
So all the fishermen set to work, and ere long the Queen's desire was
fulfilled--the red and green fish was caught, and when the wicked
sorceress opened it, there was the bumble bee, and inside the bee was
the box, and inside the box the wonderful nine-lakh necklace, which
the Queen put on at once.

Now no sooner had the Princess Aubergine been forced to tell the
secret of her life by the Queen's magic, than she knew she must die;
so she returned sadly to her foster-parents' hut, and telling them of
her approaching death, begged them neither to burn nor bury her body.
'This is what I wish you to do,' she said; 'dress me in my finest
clothes, lay me on my bed, scatter flowers over me, and carry me to
the wildest wilderness. There you must place the bed on the ground,
and build a high mud wall around it, so that no one will be able to
see over.'

The poor foster-parents, weeping bitterly, promised to do as she
wished; so when the Princess died (which happened at the very moment
the wicked Queen put on the nine-lakh necklace), they dressed her in
her best clothes, scattered flowers over the bed, and carried her out
to the wildest wilderness.

Now when the Queen sent the slave-girl to the Brāhman's hut to inquire
if the Princess Aubergine was really dead, the girl returned saying,
'She is dead, but neither burnt nor buried; she lies out in the
wilderness to the north, covered with flowers, as beautiful as the

The Queen was not satisfied with this reply, but as she could do no
more, had to be content.

Now the King grieved bitterly for his seven young sons, and to try to
forget his grief he went out hunting every day; so the Queen, who
feared lest in his wanderings he might find the dead Princess
Aubergine, made him promise never to hunt towards the north, for, she
said, 'some evil will surely befall you it you do.'

But one day, having hunted to the east, and the south, and the west,
without finding game, he forgot his promise, and hunted towards the
north. In his wanderings he lost his way, and came upon a high
enclosure, with no door; being curious to know what it contained, he
climbed over the wall. He could scarcely believe his eyes when he saw
a lovely Princess lying on a flower-strewn bed, looking as if she had
just fallen asleep. It seemed impossible she could be dead, so,
kneeling down beside her, he spent the whole day praying and
beseeching her to open her eyes. At nightfall he returned to his
palace, but with the dawning he took his bow, and, dismissing all his
attendants on the pretext of hunting alone, flew to his beautiful
Princess. So he passed day after day, kneeling distractedly beside
the lovely Aubergine, beseeching her to rise; but she never stirred.

Now at the end of a year he, one day, found the most beautiful little
boy imaginable lying beside the Princess. He was greatly astonished,
but taking the child in his arms, cared for it tenderly all day, and
at night laid it down beside its dead mother. After some time the
child learnt to talk, and when the King asked it if its mother was
always dead, it replied, 'No! at night she is alive, and cares for me
as you do during the day.'

Hearing this, the King bade the boy ask his mother what made her die,
and the next day the boy replied, 'My mother says it is the nine-lakh
necklace your Queen wears. At night, when the Queen takes it off, my
mother becomes alive again, but every morning, when the Queen puts it
on, my mother dies.'

This greatly puzzled the King, who could not imagine what his Queen
could have to do with the mysterious Princess, so he told the boy to
ask his mother whose son he was.

The next morning the boy replied, 'Mother bade me say I am your son,
sent to console you for the loss of the seven fair sons your wicked
Queen murdered out of jealousy of my mother, the lovely Princess

Then the King grew very wroth at the thought of his dead sons, and
bade the boy ask his mother how the wicked Queen was to be punished,
and by what means the necklace could be recovered.

The next morning the boy replied, 'Mother says I am the only person
who can recover the necklace, so to-night, when you return to the
palace, you are to take me with you.' So the King carried the boy
back to the palace, and told all his ministers and courtiers that the
child was his heir. On this, the sorceress-queen, thinking of her own
dead sons, became mad with jealousy, and determined to poison the
boy. To this end she prepared some tempting sweetmeats, and,
caressing the child, gave him a handful, bidding him eat them; but the
child refused, saying he would not do so until she gave him the
glittering necklace she wore round her throat, to play with.

Determined to poison the boy, and seeing no other way of inducing him
to eat the sweetmeats, the sorceress-queen slipped off the nine-lakh
necklace, and gave it to the child. No sooner had he touched it than
he fled away so fast that none of the servants or guards could stop
him, and never drew breath till he reached the place where the
beautiful Princess Aubergine lay dead. He threw the necklace over her
head, and immediately she rose up lovelier than ever. Then the King
came, and besought her to return to the palace as his bride, but she
replied, 'I will never be your wife till that wicked sorceress is
dead, for she would only murder me and my boy, as she murdered your
seven young sons. If you will dig a deep ditch at the threshold of
the palace, fill it with scorpions and snakes, throw the wicked Queen
into it, and bury her alive, I will walk over her grave to be your

So the King ordered a deep ditch to be dug, and had it filled with
scorpions and snakes. Then he went to the sorceress-queen, and bade
her come to see something very wonderful. But she refused, suspecting
a trick. Then the guards seized her, bound her, flung her into the
ditch amongst the scorpions and snakes, and buried her alive with
them. As for the Princess Aubergine, she and her son walked over the
grave, and lived happily in the palace ever after.


Once upon a time there lived a little weaver, by name Victor Prince,
but because his head was big, his legs thin, and he was altogether
small, and weak, and ridiculous, his neighbours called him Vicky--
Little Vicky the Weaver.

But despite his size, his thin legs, and his ridiculous appearance,
Vicky was very valiant, and loved to _talk_ for hours of his
bravery, and the heroic acts he would perform if Fate gave him an
opportunity. Only Fate did not, and in consequence Vicky remained
little Vicky the valiant weaver, who was laughed at by all for his

Now one day, as Vicky was sitting at his loom, weaving, a mosquito
settled on his left hand just as he was throwing the shuttle from his
right hand, and by chance, after gliding swiftly through the warp, the
shuttle came flying into his left hand on the very spot where the
mosquito had settled, and squashed it. Seeing this, Vicky became
desperately excited: 'It is as I have always said,' he cried; 'if I
only had the chance I knew I could show my mettle! Now, I'd like to
know how many people could have done that? Killing a mosquito is
easy, and throwing a shuttle is easy, but to do both at one time is a
mighty different affair! It is easy enough to shoot a great hulking
man--there is something to see, something to aim at; then guns and
crossbows are made for shooting; but to shoot a _mosquito_ with a
_shuttle_ is quite another thing. That requires a man!'

The more he thought over the matter, the more elated he became over
his skill and bravery, until he determined that he would no longer
suffer himself to be called 'Vicky.' No! now that he had shown his
mettle he would be called 'Victor'--'Victor Prince'--or better still,
'Prince Victor'; that was a name worthy his merits. But when he
announced this determination to the neighbours, they roared with
laughter, and though some did call him Prince Victor, it was with such
sniggering and giggling and mock reverence that the little man flew
home in a rage. Here he met with no better reception, for his wife, a
fine handsome young woman, who was tired to death by her ridiculous
little husband's whims and fancies, sharply bade him hold his tongue
and not make a fool of himself. Upon this, beside himself with pride
and mortification, he seized her by the hair, and beat her most
unmercifully. Then, resolving to stay no longer in a town where his
merits were unrecognised, he bade her prepare some bread for a
journey, and set about packing his bundle.

'I will go into the world!' he said to himself. 'The man who can
shoot a mosquito dead with a shuttle ought not to hide his light under
a bushel' So off he set, with his bundle, his shuttle, and a loaf of
bread tied up in a kerchief.

Now as he journeyed he came to a city where a dreadful elephant came
daily to make a meal off the inhabitants. Many mighty warriors had
gone against it, but none had returned. On hearing this the valiant
little weaver thought to himself, 'Now is my chance! A great haystack
of an elephant will be a fine mark to a man who has shot a mosquito
with a shuttle!' So he went to the King, and announced that he
proposed single-handed to meet and slay the elephant. At first the
King thought the little man was mad, but as he persisted in his words,
he told him that he was free to try his luck if he chose to run the
risk; adding that many better men than he had failed.

Nevertheless, our brave weaver was nothing daunted; he even refused to
take either sword or bow, but strutted out to meet the elephant armed
only with his shuttle.

'It is a weapon I thoroughly understand, good people,' he replied
boastfully to those who urged him to choose some more deadly arm, 'and
it has done its work in its time, I can tell you!'

It was a beautiful sight to see little Vicky swaggering out to meet
his enemy, while the townsfolk flocked to the walls to witness the
fight. Never was such a valiant weaver till the elephant, descrying
its tiny antagonist, trumpeted fiercely, and charged right at him, and
then, alas! all the little man's courage disappeared, and forgetting
his new name of Prince Victor he dropped his bundle, his shuttle, and
his bread, and bolted away as fast as Vicky's legs could carry him.

Now it so happened that his wife had made the bread ever so sweet, and
had put all sorts of tasty spices in it, because she wanted to hide
the flavour of the poison she had put in it also; for she was a
wicked, revengeful woman, who wanted to be rid of her tiresome,
whimsical little husband. And so, as the elephant charged past, it
smelt the delicious spices, and catching up the bread with its long
trunk, gobbled it up without stopping an instant. Meanwhile fear lent
speed to Vicky's short legs, but though he ran like a hare, the
elephant soon overtook him. In vain he doubled and doubled, and the
beast's hot breath was on him, when in sheer desperation he turned,
hoping to bolt through the enormous creature's legs; being half blind
with fear, however, he ran full tilt against them instead. Now, as
luck would have it, at that very moment the poison took effect, and
the elephant fell to the ground stone dead.

When the spectators saw the monster fall they could scarcely believe
their eyes, but their astonishment was greater still when, running up
to the scene of action, they found Valiant Vicky seated in triumph on
the elephant's head, calmly mopping his face with his handkerchief.

'I had to pretend to run away,' he explained, 'or the coward would
never have engaged me. Then I gave him a little push, and he fell
down, as you see. Elephants are big beasts, but they have no strength
to speak of.'

The good folks were amazed at the careless way in which Valiant Vicky
spoke of his achievement, and as they had been too far off to see very
distinctly what had occurred, they went and told the King that the
little weaver was just a feaiful wee man, and had knocked over the
elephant like a ninepin. Ihen the King said to himself, 'None of my
warriors and wrestlers, no, not even the heroes of old, could have
done this. I must secure this little man's services if I can.' So he
asked Vicky why he was wandering about the world.

[Illustration: Vicky descending from the dead elephant]

'For pleasure, for service, or for conquest!' returned Valiant Vicky,
laying such stress on the last word that the King, in a great hurry,
made him Commander-in-Chief of his whole army, for fear he should take
service elsewhere.

So there was Valiant Vicky a mighty fine warrior, and as proud as a
peacock of having fulfilled his own predictions.

'I knew it!' he would say to himself when he was dressed out in full
fig, with shining armour and waving plumes, and spears, swords, and
shields; 'I _felt_ I had it in me!'

Now after some time a terribly savage tiger came ravaging the country,
and at last the city-folk petitioned that the mighty Prince Victor
might be sent out to destroy it. So out he went at the head of his
army,--for he was a great man now, and had quite forgotten all about
looms and shuttles. But first he made the King promise his daughter
in marriage as a reward. 'Nothing for nothing!' said the astute
little weaver to himself, and when the promise was given he went out
as gay as a lark.

'Do not distress yourselves, good people,' he said to those who
flocked round him praying for his successful return; 'it is ridiculous
to suppose the tiger will have a chance. Why, I knocked over an
elephant with my little finger! I am really invincible! *'

But, alas for our Valiant Vicky! No sooner did he see the tiger
lashing its tail and charging down on him, than he ran for the nearest
tree, and scrambled into the branches. There he sat like a monkey,
while the tiger glowered at him from below. Of course when the army
saw their Commander-in-Chief bolt like a mouse, they followed his
example, and never stopped until they reached the city, where they
spread the news that the little hero had fled up a tree.

'There let him stay!' said the King, secretly relieved, for he was
jealous of the little weaver's prowess, and did not want him for a

Meanwhile, Valiant Vicky sat cowering in the tree, while the tiger
occupied itself below with sharpening its teeth and claws, and curling
its whiskers, till poor Vicky nearly tumbled into its jaws with
fright. So one day, two days, three days, six days passed by; on the
seventh the tiger was fiercer, hungrier, and more watchful than ever.
As for the poor little weaver, he was so hungry that his hunger made
him brave, and he determined to try and slip past his enemy during its
mid-day snooze. He crept stealthily down inch by inch, till his foot
was within a yard of the ground, and then? Why then the tiger, which
had had one eye open all the time, jumped up with a roar!

Valiant Vicky shrieked with fear, and making a tremendous effort,
swung himself into a branch, cocking his little bandy legs over it to
keep them out of reach, for the tiger's red panting mouth and gleaming
white teeth were within half an inch of his toes. In doing so, his
dagger fell out of its sheath, and went pop into the tiger's wide-open
mouth, and thus point foremost down into its stomach, so that it died!

Valiant Vicky could scarcely believe his good fortune, but, after
prodding at the body with a branch, and finding it did not move, he
concluded the tiger really was dead, and ventured down. Then he cut
off its head, and went home in triumph to the King.

'You and your warriors are a nice set of cowards!' said he,
wrathfully. 'Here have I been fighting that tiger for seven days and
seven nights, without bite or sup, whilst you have been guzzling and
snoozing at home. Pah! it's disgusting! but I suppose every one is
not a hero as I am!' So Prince Victor married the King's daughter,
and was a greater man than ever.

But by and by a neighbouring prince, who bore a grudge against the
King, came with a huge army, and encamped outside the city, swearing
to put every man, woman, and child within it to the sword. Hearing
this, the inhabitants of course cried with one accord, 'Prince
Victor! Prince Victor to the rescue!' so the valiant little weaver
was ordered by the King to go out and destroy the invading army, after
which he was to receive half the kingdom as a reward. Now Valiant
Vicky, with all his boasting, was no fool, and he said to himself,
'This is a very different affair from the others. A man may kill a
mosquito, an elephant, and a tiger; yet another man may kill
_him_. And here is not one man, but thousands! No, no!--what is
the use of half a kingdom if you haven't a head on your shoulders?
Under the circumstances I prefer _not_ to be a hero!'

So in the dead of night he bade his wife rise, pack up her golden
dishes, and follow him--'Not that you will want the golden dishes at
my house,' he explained boastfully, 'for I have heaps and heaps, but
on the journey these will be useful.' Then he crept outside the city,
followed by his wife carrying the bundle, and began to steal through
the enemy's camp.

Just as they were in the very middle of it, a big cockchafer flew into
Valiant Vicky's face. 'Run! run!' he shrieked to his wife, in a
terrible taking, and setting off as fast as he could, never stopped
till he had reached his room again and hidden under the bed. His wife
set off at a run likewise, dropping her bundle of golden dishes with a
clang. The noise roused the enemy, who, thinking they were attacked,
flew to arms; but being half asleep, and the night being pitch-dark,
they could not distinguish friend from foe, and falling on each other,
fought with such fury that by next morning not one was left alive!
And then, as may be imagined, great were the rejoicings at Prince
Victor's prowess. 'It was a mere trifle!' remarked that valiant
little gentleman modestly; 'when a man can shoot a mosquito with a
shuttle, everything else is child's play.'

So he received half the kingdom, and ruled it with great dignity,
refusing ever afterwards to fight, saying truly that kings never
fought themselves, but paid others to fight for them.

Thus he lived in peace, and when he died every one said Valiant Vicky
was the greatest hero the world had ever seen.


Once upon a time there lived a King who had seven wives, but no
children. This was a great grief to him, especially when he
remembered that on his death there would be no heir to inherit the

Now, one day, a poor old _fakīr_ or religious devotee, came to
the King and said, 'Your prayers are heard, your desire shall be
accomplished, and each of your seven queens shall bear a son.'

The King's delight at this promise knew no bounds, and he gave orders
for appropriate festivities to be prepared against the coming event
throughout the length and breadth of the land.

Meanwhile the seven Queens lived luxuriously in a splendid palace,
attended by hundreds of female slaves, and fed to their hearts'
content on sweetmeats and confectionery.

Now the King was very fond of hunting, and one day, before he started,
the seven Queens sent him a message saying, 'May it please our dearest
lord not to hunt towards the north to-day, for we have dreamt bad
dreams, and fear lest evil should befall you.'

The King, to allay their anxiety, promised regard for their wishes,
and set out towards the south; but as luck would have it, although he
hunted diligently, he found no game. Nor had he greater success to
the east or west, so that, being a keen sportsman, and determined not
to go home empty-handed, he forgot all about his promise, and turned
to the north. Here also he met at first with no reward, but just as
he had made up his mind to give up for that day, a white hind with
golden horns and silver hoofs flashed past him into a thicket. So
quickly did it pass, that he scarcely saw it; nevertheless a burning
desire to capture and possess the beautiful strange creature filled
his breast. He instantly ordered his attendants to form a ring round
the thicket, and so encircle the hind; then, gradually narrowing the
circle, he pressed forward till he could distinctly see the white hind
panting in the midst. Nearer and nearer he advanced, when, just as he
thought to lay hold of the beautiful strange creature, it gave one
mighty bound, leapt clean over the King's head, and fled towards the
mountains. Forgetful of all else, the King, setting spurs to his
horse, followed at full speed. On, on he galloped, leaving his
retinue far behind, but keeping the white hind in view, and never
drawing bridle, until, finding himself in a narrow ravine with no
outlet, he reined in his steed. Before him stood a miserable hovel,
into which, being tired after his long unsuccessful chase, he entered
to ask for a drink of water. An old woman, seated in the hut at a
spinning-wheel, answered his request by calling to her daughter, and
immediately from an inner room came a maiden so lovely and charming,
so white-skinned and golden-haired, that the King was transfixed by
astonishment at seeing so beautiful a sight in the wretched hovel.

She held the vessel of water to the King's lips, and as he drank he
looked into her eyes, and then it became clear to him that the girl
was no other than the white hind with the golden horns and silver feet
he had chased so far.

Her beauty bewitched him completely, and he fell on his knees, begging
her to return with him as his bride; but she only laughed, saying
seven Queens were quite enough even for a King to manage. However,
when he would take no refusal, but implored her to have pity on him,
and promised her everything she could desire, she replied, 'Give me
the eyes of your seven wives, and then perhaps I may believe that you
mean what you say.'

The King was so carried away by the glamour of the white hind's
magical beauty, that he went home at once, had the eyes of his seven
Queens taken out, and, after throwing the poor blind creatures into a
noisome dungeon whence they could not escape, set off once more for
the hovel in the ravine, bearing with him his loathsome offering. But
the white hind only laughed cruelly when she saw the fourteen eyes,
and threading them as a necklace, flung it round her mother's neck,
saying, 'Wear that, little mother, as a keepsake, whilst I am away in
the King's palace.'

Then she went back with the bewitched monarch as his bride, and he
gave her the seven Queens' rich clothes and jewels to wear, the seven
Queens' palace to live in, and the seven Queens' slaves to wait upon
her; so that she really had everything even a witch could desire.

Now, very soon after the seven wretched, hapless Queens were cast into
prison, the first Queen's baby was born. It was a handsome boy, but
the Queens were so desperately hungry that they killed the child at
once, and, dividing it into seven portions, ate it. All except the
youngest Queen, who saved her portion secretly.

The next day the second Queen's baby was born, and they did the same
with it, and with all the babies in turn, one after the other, until
the seventh and youngest Queen's baby was born on the seventh day.
But when the other six Queens came to the young mother, and wanted to
take it away, saying, 'Give us your child to eat, as you have eaten
ours!' she produced the six pieces of the other babies untouched, and
answered, 'Not so! here are six pieces for you; eat them, and leave my
child alone. You cannot complain, for you have each your fair share,
neither more nor less.'

Now, though the other Queens were very jealous that the youngest
amongst them should by forethought and self-denial have saved her
baby's life, they could say nothing; for, as the young mother had told
them, they received their full share. And though at first they
disliked the handsome little boy, he soon proved so useful to them,
that ere long they all looked on him as their son. Almost as soon as
he was born he began scraping at the mud wall of their dungeon, and in
an incredibly short space of time had made a hole big enough for him
to crawl through. Through this he disappeared, returning in an hour
or so laden with sweetmeats, which he divided equally amongst the
seven blind Queens.

As he grew older he enlarged the hole, and slipped out two or three
times every day to play with the little nobles in the town. No one
knew who the tiny boy was, but everybody liked him, and he was so full
of funny tricks and antics, so merry and bright, that he was sure to
be rewarded by some girdle-cakes, a handful of parched grain, or some
sweetmeats. All these things he brought home to his seven mothers, as
he loved to call the seven blind Queens, who by his help lived on in
their dungeon when all the world thought they had starved to death
ages before.

At last, when he was quite a big lad, he one day took his bow and
arrow, and went out to seek for game. Coming by chance upon the
palace where the white hind lived in wicked splendour and
magnificence, he saw some pigeons fluttering round the white marble
turrets, and, taking good aim, shot one dead. It came tumbling past
the very window where the white Queen was sitting; she rose to see
what was the matter, and looked out. At the first glance at the
handsome young lad standing there bow in hand, she knew by witchcraft
that it was the King's son.

She nearly died of envy and spite, determining to destroy the lad
without delay; therefore, sending a servant to bring him to her
presence, she asked him if he would sell her the pigeon he had just

'No,' replied the sturdy lad, 'the pigeon is for my seven blind
mothers, who live in the noisome dungeon, and who would die if I did
not bring them food.'

'Poor souls!' cried the cunning white witch; 'would you not like to
bring them their eyes again? Give me the pigeon, my dear, and I
faithfully promise to show you where to find them.'

Hearing this, the lad was delighted beyond measure, and gave up the
pigeon at once. Whereupon the white Queen told him to seek her mother
without delay, and ask for the eyes which she wore as a necklace.

'She will not fail to give them,' said the cruel Queen, 'if you show
her this token on which I have written what I want done.'

So saying, she gave the lad a piece of broken potsherd, with these
words inscribed on it--'Kill the bearer at once, and sprinkle his
blood like water!'

Now, as the son of seven mothers could not read, he took the fatal
message cheerfully, and set off to find the white Queen's mother.

But while he was journeying he passed through a town, where every one
of the inhabitants looked so sad that he could not help asking what
was the matter. They told him it was because the King's only daughter
refused to marry; so when her father died there would be no heir to
the throne. They greatly feared she must be out of her mind, for
though every good-looking young man in the kingdom had been shown to
her, she declared she would only marry one who was the son of seven
mothers, and of course no one had ever heard of such a thing. Still
the King, in despair, had ordered every man who entered the city gates
to be led before the Princess in case she might relent. So, much to
the lad's impatience, for he was in an immense hurry to find his
mothers' eyes, he was dragged into the presence-chamber.

No sooner did the Princess catch sight of him than she blushed, and,
turning to the King, said, 'Dear father, this is my choice!'

Never were such rejoicings as these few words produced. The
inhabitants nearly went wild with joy, but the son of seven mothers
said he would not marry the Princess unless they first let him recover
his mothers' eyes. Now when the beautiful bride heard his story, she
asked to see the potsherd, for she was very learned and clever; so
much so that on seeing the treacherous words, she said nothing, but
taking another similarly-shaped bit of potsherd, wrote on it these
words--'Take care of this lad, give him all he desires,' and returned
it to the son of seven mothers, who, none the wiser, set off on his

Ere long, he arrived at the hovel in the ravine, where the white
witch's mother, a hideous old creature, grumbled dreadfully on reading
the message, especially when the lad asked for the necklace of eyes.
Nevertheless she took it off, and gave it him, saying,' There are only
thirteen of 'em now, for I ate one last week, when I was hungry.'

The lad, however, was only too glad to get any at all, so he hurried
home as fast as he could to his seven mothers, and gave two eyes
apiece to the six elder Queens; but to the youngest he gave one,
saying, 'Dearest little mother!--I will be your other eye always!'

After this he set off to marry the Princess, as he had promised, but
when passing by the white Queen's palace he again saw some pigeons on
the roof. Drawing his bow, he shot one, and again it came fluttering
past the window. Then the white hind looked out, and lo! there was
the King's son alive and well.

She cried with hatred and disgust, but sending for the lad, asked him
how he had returned so soon, and when she heard how he had brought
home the thirteen eyes, and given them to the seven blind Queens, she
could hardly restrain her rage. Nevertheless she pretended to be
charmed with his success, and told him that if he would give her this
pigeon also, she would reward him with the Jōgi's wonderful
cow, whose milk flows all day long, and makes a pond as big as a
kingdom. The lad, nothing loath, gave her the pigeon; whereupon, as
before, she bade him go ask her mother for the cow, and gave him a
potsherd whereon was written--'Kill this lad without fail, and
sprinkle his blood like water!'

But on the way, the son of seven mothers looked in on the Princess,
just to tell her how he came to be delayed, and she, after reading the
message on the potsherd, gave him another in its stead; so that when
the lad reached the old hag's hut and asked her for the Jōgi's
cow, she could not refuse, but told the boy how to find it; and,
bidding him of all things not to be afraid of the eighteen thousand
demons who kept watch and ward over the treasure, told him to be off
before she became too angry at her daughter's foolishness in thus
giving away so many good things.

Then the lad did as he had been told bravely. He journeyed on and on
till he came to a milk-white pond, guarded by the eighteen thousand
demons. They were really frightful to behold, but, plucking up
courage, he whistled a tune as he walked through them, looking neither
to the right nor the left. By and by he came upon the Jōgi's cow,
tall, white, and beautiful, while the Jōgi himself, who was king of
all the demons, sat milking her day and night, and the milk streamed
from her udder, filling the milk-white tank.

The Jōgi, seeing the lad, called out fiercely, 'What do you want

Then the lad answered, according to the old hag's bidding, 'I want
your skin, for King Indra is making a new kettledrum, and says your
skin is nice and tough.'

Upon this the Jōgi began to shiver and shake (for no Jinn or Jōgi
dares disobey King Indra's command), and, falling at the lad's feet,
cried, 'If you will spare me I will give you anything I possess, even
my beautiful white cow!'

To this, the son of seven mothers, after a little pretended
hesitation, agreed, saying that after all it would not be difficult to
find a nice tough skin like the Jōgi's elsewhere; so, driving the
wonderful cow before him, he set off homewards. The seven Queens were
delighted to possess so marvellous an animal, and though they toiled
from morning till night making curds and whey, besides selling milk to
the confectioners, they could not use half the cow gave, and became
richer and richer day by day.

Seeing them so comfortably off, the son of seven mothers started with
a light heart to marry the Princess; but when passing the white hind's
palace he could not resist sending a bolt at some pigeons which were
cooing on the parapet, and for the third time one fell dead just
beneath the window where the white Queen was sitting. Looking out,
she saw the lad hale and hearty standing before her, and grew whiter
than ever with rage and spite.

[Illustration: The son demanding the Jōgi's cow]

She sent for him to ask how he had returned so soon, and when she
heard how kindly her mother had received him, she very nearly had a
fit; however, she dissembled her feelings as well as she could, and,
smiling sweetly, said she was glad to have been able to fulfil her
promise, and that if he would give her this third pigeon, she would do
yet more for him than she had done before, by giving him the
million-fold rice, which ripens in one night.

The lad was of course delighted at the very idea, and, giving up the
pigeon, set off on his quest, armed as before with a potsherd, on
which was written, 'Do not fail this time. Kill the lad, and sprinkle
his blood like water!'

But when he looked in on his Princess, just to prevent her becoming
anxious about him, she asked to see the potsherd as usual, and
substituted another, on which was written, 'Yet again give this lad
all he requires, for his blood shall be as your blood!'

Now when the old hag saw this, and heard how the lad wanted the
million-fold rice which ripens in a single night, she fell into the
most furious rage, but being terribly afraid of her daughter, she
controlled herself, and bade the boy go and find the field guarded by
eighteen millions of demons, warning him on no account to look back
after having plucked the tallest spike of rice, which grew in the

So the son of seven mothers set off, and soon came to the field where,
guarded by eighteen millions of demons, the million-fold rice grew.
He walked on bravely, looking neither to the right nor left, till he
reached the centre and plucked the tallest ear; but as he turned
homewards a thousand sweet voices rose behind him, crying in tenderest
accents, 'Pluck me too! oh, please pluck me too!' He looked back, and
lo! there was nothing left of him but a little heap of ashes!

Now as time passed by and the lad did not return, the old hag grew
uneasy, remembering the message 'his blood shall be as your blood'; so
she set off to see what had happened.

Soon she came to the heap of ashes, and knowing by her arts what it
was, she took a little water, and kneading the ashes into a paste,
formed it into the likeness of a man; then, putting a drop of blood
from her little finger into its mouth, she blew on it, and instantly
the son of seven mothers started up as well as ever.

'Don't you disobey orders again!' grumbled the old hag, 'or next time
I'll leave you alone. Now be off, before I repent of my kindness!'

So the son of seven mothers returned joyfully to the seven Queens,
who, by the aid of the million-fold rice, soon became the richest
people in the kingdom. Then they celebrated their son's marriage to
the clever Princess with all imaginable pomp; but the bride was so
clever, she would not rest until she had made known her husband to his
father, and punished the wicked white witch. So she made her husband
build a palace exactly like the one in which the seven Queens had
lived, and in which the white witch now dwelt in splendour. Then,
when all was prepared, she bade her husband give a grand feast to the
King. Now the King had heard much of the mysterious son of seven
mothers, and his marvellous wealth, so he gladly accepted the
invitation; but what was his astonishment when on entering the palace
he found it was a facsimile of his own in every particular! And when
his host, richly attired, led him straight to the private hall, where
on royal thrones sat the seven Queens, dressed as he had last seen
them, he was speechless with surprise, until the Princess, coming
forward, threw herself at his feet, and told him the whole story.
Then the King awoke from his enchantment, and his anger rose against
the wicked white hind who had bewitched him so long, until he could
not contain himself. So she was put to death, and her grave ploughed
over, and after that the seven Queens returned to their own splendid
palace, and everybody lived happily.


A sparrow and a crow once agreed to have _khichrī_ for dinner.
So the Sparrow brought rice, and the Crow brought lentils, and the
Sparrow was cook, and when the _khichrī_ was ready, the Crow
stood by to claim his share.

'Who ever heard of any one sitting down to dinner so dirty as you
are?' quoth the Sparrow scornfully. 'Your body is quite black, and
your head looks as if it were covered with ashes. For goodness
gracious sake, go and wash in the Pond first.'

The Crow, though a little huffy at being called dirty, deemed it best
to comply, for he knew what a determined little person the Sparrow
was; so he went to the Pond, and said--

'Your name, sir, is Pond,
But my name is Crow.
Please give me some water,
For if you do so
I can wash beak and feet
And the nice _khichrī_ eat;
Though I really don't know
What the Sparrow can mean,
For I'm sure, as Crows go,
I'm remarkably clean!'

[Illustration: The crow and those he meets]

But the Pond said, 'Certainly I will give you water; but first you
must go to the Deer, and beg him to lend you a horn. Then with it you
can dig a nice little rill for the water to flow in clean and fresh.'

So the Crow flew to the Deer, and said--

'Your name, sir, is Deer,
But my name is Crow.
Oh, give me a horn, please,
For if you do so
I can dig a clean rill
For the water to fill;
Then I'll wash beak and feet
And the nice _khichrī_ eat;
Though I really don't know
What the Sparrow can mean,
For I'm sure, as Crows go,
I'm remarkably clean!'

But the Deer said, 'Certainly I will give you a horn; but first you
must go to the Cow, and ask her to give you some milk for me to
drink. Then I shall grow fat, and not mind the pain of breaking my

So the Crow flew off to the Cow, and said--

'Your name, ma'am, is Cow,
But my name is Crow.
Oh, give me some milk, please,
For if you do so
The pain will be borne,
Deer will give me his horn,
And I'll dig a clean rill
For the water to fill;
Then I'll wash beak and feet
And the nice _khichrī_ eat;
Though I really don't know
What the Sparrow can mean,
For I'm sure, as Crows go,
I'm remarkably clean!'

But the Cow said, 'Certainly I will give you milk, only first you must
bring me some Grass; for who ever heard of a cow giving milk without

So the Crow flew to some Grass, and said--

'Your name, sir, is Grass,
But my name is Crow.
Oh, give me some blades, please,
For if you do so
Madam Cow will give milk
To the Deer sleek as silk;
The pain will be borne,
He will give me his horn,
And I'll dig a clean rill
For the water to fill;
Then I'll wash beak and feet
And the nice _khichrī_ eat;
Though I really don't know
What the Sparrow can mean,
For I'm sure, as Crows go,
I'm remarkably clean!'

But the Grass said, 'Certainly I will give you Grass; but first you
must go to the Blacksmith, and ask him to make you a sickle. Then you
can cut me, for who ever heard of Grass cutting itself?'

So the Crow went to the Blacksmith, and said--

'Your name, sir, is Smith,
But my name is Crow.
Please give me a sickle,
For if you do so
The Grass I can mow
As food for the Cow;
Madam Cow will give milk
To the Deer sleek as silk;
The pain will be borne,
He will give me his horn,
And I'll dig a clean rill
For the water to fill;
Then I'll wash beak and feet
And the nice _khichrī_ eat;
Though I really don't know
What the Sparrow can mean,
For I'm sure, as Crows go,
I'm remarkably clean!'

'With pleasure,' said the Blacksmith, 'if you will light the fire and
blow the bellows.'

So the Crow began to light the fire, and blow the bellows, but in so
doing he fell right in--to--the--very--middle--of--the---_fire_,
and was burnt!

So that was the end of him, and the Sparrow ate all the


Once upon a time a tiger was caught in a trap. He tried in vain to
get out through the bars, and rolled and bit with rage and grief when
he failed.

By chance a poor Brāhman came by. 'Let me out of this cage, O pious
one!' cried the tiger.

'Nay, my friend,' replied the Brāhman mildly, 'you would probably eat
me if I did.'

'Not at all!' swore the tiger with many oaths; 'on the contrary, I
should be for ever grateful, and serve you as a slave!'

Now when the tiger sobbed and sighed and wept and swore, the pious
Brāhman's heart softened, and at last he consented to open the door of
the cage. Out popped the tiger, and, seizing the poor man, cried,
'What a fool you are! What is to prevent my eating you now, for after
being cooped up so long I am just terribly hungry!'

In vain the Brāhman pleaded for his life; the most he could gain was a
promise to abide by the decision of the first three things he chose to
question as to the justice of the tiger's action.

So the Brāhman first asked a _pīpal_ tree what it thought of the
matter, but the _pīpal_ tree replied coldly, 'What have you to
complain about? Don't I give shade and shelter to every one who
passes by, and don't they in return tear down my blanches to feed
their cattle? Don't whimper--be a man!'

Then the Brāhman, sad at heart, went farther afield till he saw a
buffalo turning a well-wheel; but he fared no better from it, for it
answered, 'You are a fool to expect gratitude! Look at me! While I
gave milk they fed me on cotton-seed and oil-cake, but now I am dry
they yoke me here, and give me refuse as fodder!'

[Illustration: Buffalo turning the well-wheel]

The Brāhman, still more sad, asked the road to give him its opinion.

'My dear sir,' said the road, 'how foolish you are to expect anything
else! Here am I, useful to everybody, yet all, rich and poor, great
and small, trample on me as they go past, giving me nothing but the
ashes of their pipes and the husks of their grain!'

On this the Brāhman turned back sorrowfully, and on the way he met a
jackal, who called out, 'Why, what's the matter, Mr. Brāhman? You
look as miserable as a fish out of water!'

Then the Brāhman told him all that had occurred. 'How very
confusing!' said the jackal, when the recital was ended; 'would you
mind telling me over again? for everything seems so mixed up!'

The Brāhman told it all over again, but the jackal shook his head in a
distracted sort of way, and still could not understand.

'It's very odd,' said he sadly, 'but it all seems to go in at one ear
and out at the other! I will go to the place where it all happened,
and then perhaps I shall be able to give a judgment.'

So they returned to the cage, by which the tiger was waiting for the
Brāhman, and sharpening his teeth and claws.

'You've been away a long time!' growled the savage beast, 'but now let
us begin our dinner.'

'_Our_ dinner!' thought the wretched Brāhman, as his knees
knocked together with fright; 'what a remarkably delicate way of
putting it!'

'Give me five minutes, my lord!' he pleaded, 'in order that I may
explain matters to the jackal here, who is somewhat slow in his wits.'

The tiger consented, and the Brāhman began the whole story over again,
not missing a single detail, and spinning as long a yarn as possible.

'Oh, my poor brain! oh, my poor brain!' cried the jackal, wringing his
paws. 'Let me see! how did it all begin? You were in the cage, and
the tiger came walking by--'

'Pooh!' interrupted the tiger,' what a fool you are! _I_ was in
the cage.'

'Of course!' cried the jackal, pretending to tremble with fright;
'yes! I was in the cage--no, I wasn't--dear! dear! where are my
wits? Let me see--the tiger was in the Brāhman, and the cage came
walking by---no, that's not it either! Well, don't mind me, but begin
your dinner, for I shall never understand!'

'Yes, you shall!' returned the tiger, in a rage at the jackal's
stupidity; 'I'll _make_ you understand! Look here--I am the

'Yes, my lord!'

'And that is the Brāhman---'

'Yes, my lord!'

'And that is the cage---'

'Yes, my lord!'

'And I was in the cage--do you understand?'

'Yes--no--Please, my lord---'

'Well?' cried the tiger, impatiently.

'Please, my lord!--how did you get in?'

'How!--why, in the usual way, of course!'

'Oh dear me!--my head is beginning to whirl again! Please don't be
angry, my lord, but what is the usual way?'

At this the tiger lost patience, and, jumping into the cage, cried,
'This way! Now do you understand how it was?'

'Perfectly!' grinned the jackal, as he dexterously shut the door; 'and
if you will permit me to say so, I think matters will remain as they


[Illustration: Farmer begging the crocodiles not to hurt him]

Once upon a time a farmer went out to look at his fields by the side
of the river, and found to his dismay that all his young green wheat
had been trodden down, and nearly destroyed, by a number of
crocodiles, which were lying lazily amid the crops like great logs of
wood. He flew into a great rage, bidding them go back to the water,
but they only laughed at him.

Every day the same thing occurred,--every day the farmer found the
crocodiles lying in his young wheat, until one morning he completely
lost his temper, and, when they refused to budge, began throwing
stones at them. At this they rushed on him fiercely, and he, quaking
with fear, fell on his knees, begging them not to hurt him.

'We will hurt neither you nor your young wheat,' said the biggest
crocodile, 'if you will give us your daughter in marriage; but if not,
we will eat you for throwing stones at us.'

The farmer, thinking of nothing but saving his own life, promised what
the crocodiles required of him; but when, on his return home, he told
his wife what he had done, she was very much vexed, for their daughter
was as beautiful as the moon, and her betrothal into a very rich
family had already taken place. So his wife persuaded the farmer to
disregard the promise made to the crocodiles, and proceed with his
daughter's marriage as if nothing had happened; but when the
wedding-day drew near the bridegroom died, and there was an end to
that business. The farmer's daughter, however, was so beautiful that
she was very soon asked in marriage again, but this time her suitor
fell sick of a lingering illness; in short, so many misfortunes
occurred to all concerned, that at last even the farmer's wife
acknowledged the crocodiles must have something to do with the bad
luck. By her advice the farmer went down to the river bank to try to
induce the crocodiles to release him from his promise, but they would
hear of no excuse, threatening fearful punishments if the agreement
were not fulfilled at once.

So the farmer returned home to his wife very sorrowful; she, however,
was determined to resist to the uttermost, and refused to give up her

The very next day the poor girl fell down and broke her leg. Then the
mother said, 'These demons of crocodiles will certainly kill us
all!--better to marry our daughter to a strange house than see her

Accordingly, the farmer went down to the river and informed the
crocodiles they might send the bridal procession to fetch the bride as
soon as they chose.

The next day a number of female crocodiles came to the bride's house
with trays full of beautiful clothes, and _henna_ for staining
the bride's hands. They behaved with the utmost politeness, and
carried out all the proper ceremonies with the greatest precision.
Nevertheless the beautiful bride wept, saying, 'Oh, mother! are you
marrying me into the river? I shall be drowned!'

In due course the bridal procession arrived, and all the village was
wonderstruck at the magnificence of the arrangements. Never was there
such a retinue of crocodiles, some playing instruments of music,
others bearing trays upon trays full of sweetmeats, garments, and
jewels, and all dressed in the richest of stuffs. In the middle, a
perfect blaze of gold and gems, sat the King of the Crocodiles.

The sight of so much magnificence somewhat comforted the beautiful
bride, nevertheless she wept bitterly when she was put into the
gorgeous bride's palanquin and borne off to the river bank. Arrived
at the edge of the stream, the crocodiles dragged the poor girl out,
and forced her into the water, despite her struggles, for, thinking
she was going to be drowned, she screamed with terror; but lo and
behold! no sooner had her feet touched the water than it divided
before her, and, rising up on either side, showed a path leading to
the bottom of the river, down which the bridal party disappeared,
leaving the bride's father, who had accompanied her so far, upon the
bank, very much astonished at the marvellous sight.

Some months passed by without further news of the crocodiles. The
farmer's wife wept because she had lost her daughter, declaring that
the girl was really drowned, and her husband's fine story about the
stream dividing was a mere invention.

Now when the King of the Crocodiles was on the point of leaving with
his bride, he had given a piece of brick to her father, with these
words: 'If ever you want to see your daughter, go down to the river,
throw this brick as far as you can into the stream, and you will see
what you will see!'

Remembering this, the farmer said to his wife, 'Since you are so
distressed, I will go myself and see if my daughter be alive or dead.'

Then he went to the river bank, taking the brick, and threw it ever so
far into the stream. Immediately the waters rolled back from before
his feet, leaving a dry path to the bottom of the river. It looked so
inviting, spread with clean sand, and bordered by flowers, that the
farmer hastened along it without the least hesitation, until he came
to a magnificent palace, with a golden roof, and shining, glittering
diamond walls. Lofty trees and gay gardens surrounded it, and a
sentry paced up and down before the gateway.

'Whose palace is this?' asked the farmer of the sentry, who replied
that it belonged to the King of the Crocodiles.

'My daughter has at least a splendid house to live in!' thought the
farmer; 'I only wish her husband were half as handsome!'

Then, turning to the sentry, he asked if his daughter were within.

'Your daughter!' returned the sentry, 'what should she do here?'

'She married the King of the Crocodiles, and I want to see her.'

At this the sentry burst out laughing. 'A likely story, indeed!' he
cried; 'what! _my_ master married to _your_ daughter! Ha!
ha! ha!'

Now the farmer's daughter was sitting beside an open window in the
palace, waiting for her husband to return from hunting. She was as
happy as the day was long, for you must know that in his own
river-kingdom the King of the Crocodiles was the handsomest young
Prince anybody ever set eyes upon; it was only when he went on shore
that he assumed the form of a crocodile. So what with her magnificent
palace and splendid young Prince, the farmer's daughter had been too
happy even to think of her old home; but now, hearing a strange voice
speaking to the sentry, her memory awakened, and she recognised her
father's tones. Looking out, she saw him there, standing in his poor
clothes, in the glittering court; she longed to run and fling her arms
round his neck, but dared not disobey her husband, who had forbidden
her to go out of, or to let any one into the palace without his
permission. So all she could do was to lean out of the window, and
call to him, saying, 'Oh, dearest father! I am here! Only wait till
my husband, the King of the Crocodiles, returns, and I will ask him to
let you in. I dare not without his leave.'

The father, though overjoyed to find his daughter alive, did not
wonder she was afraid of her terrible husband, so he waited patiently.

In a short time a troop of horsemen entered the court. Every man was
dressed from head to foot in armour made of glittering silver plates,
but in the centre of all rode a Prince clad in gold--bright burnished
gold, from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet,--the
handsomest, most gallant young Prince that ever was seen.

Then the poor farmer fell at the gold-clad horseman's feet, and cried,
'O King! cherish me! for I am a poor man whose daughter was carried
off by the dreadful King of the Crocodiles!'

Then the gold-clad horseman smiled, saying, '_I_ am the King of
the Crocodiles! Your daughter is a good, obedient wife, and will be
very glad to see you.'

After this there were great rejoicings and merrymakings, but when a
few days had passed away in feasting, the farmer became restless, and
begged to be allowed to take his daughter home with him for a short
visit, in order to convince his wife the girl was well and happy. But
the Crocodile King refused, saying, 'Not so! but if you like I will
give you a house and land here; then you can dwell with us.'

The farmer said he must first ask his wife, and returned home, taking
several bricks with him, to throw into the river and make the stream

His wife would not at first agree to live in the Crocodile Kingdom,
but she consented to go there on a visit, and afterwards became so
fond of the beautiful river country that she was constantly going to
see her daughter the Queen; till at length the old couple never
returned to shore, but lived altogether in Crocodile Kingdom with
their son-in-law, the King of the Crocodiles.


Once upon a time there was a little boy who lost his parents; so he
went to live with his Auntie, and she set him to herd sheep. All day
long the little fellow wandered barefoot through the pathless plain,
tending his flock, and playing his tiny shepherd's pipe from morn till

But one day came a great big wolf, and looked hungrily at the small
shepherd and his fat sheep, saying, 'Little boy! shall I eat you, or
your sheep?' Then the little boy answered politely, 'I don't know,
Mr. Wolf; I must ask my Auntie.'

So all day long he piped away on his tiny pipe, and in the evening,
when he brought the flock home, he went to his Auntie and said,
'Auntie dear, a great big wolf asked me to-day if he should eat me, or
your sheep. Which shall it be?'

Then his Auntie looked at the wee little shepherd, and at the fat
flock, and said sharply, 'Which shall it be?--why, _you_, of

So next morning the little boy drove his flock out into the pathless
plain, and blew away cheerfully on his shepherd's pipe until the great
big wolf appeared. Then he laid aside his pipe, and, going up to the
savage beast, said, 'Oh, if you please, Mr. Wolf, I asked my Auntie,
and she says you are to eat _me_.'

Now the wolf, savage as wolves always are, could not help having just
a spark of pity for the tiny barefoot shepherd who played his pipe so
sweetly, therefore he said kindly, 'Could I do anything for you,
little boy, after I've eaten you?'

'Thank you!' returned the tiny shepherd. 'If you would be so kind,
after you've picked the bones, as to thread my anklebone on a string
and hang it on the tree that weeps over the pond yonder, I shall be
much obliged.'

So the wolf ate the little shepherd, picked the bones, and afterwards
hung the anklebone by a string to the branches of the tree, where it
danced and swung in the sunlight.

Now, one day, three robbers, who had just robbed a palace, happening
to pass that way, sat down under the tree and began to divide the
spoil. Just as they had arranged all the golden dishes and precious
jewels and costly stuffs into three heaps, a jackal howled. Now you
must know that thieves always use the jackal's cry as a note of
warning, so that when at the very same moment Little Anklebone's
thread snapped, and he fell plump on the head of the chief robber, the
man imagined some one had thrown a pebble at him, and, shouting 'Run!
run!--we are discovered!' he bolted away as hard as he could, followed
by his companions, leaving all the treasure behind them.

'Now,' said Little Anklebone to himself, 'I shall lead a fine life!'

So he gathered the treasure together, and sat under the tree that
drooped over the pond, and played so sweetly on a new shepherd's pipe,
that all the beasts of the forest, and the birds of the air, and the
fishes of the pond came to listen to him. Then Little Anklebone put
marble basins round the pond for the animals to drink out of, and in
the evening the does, and the tigresses, and the she-wolves gathered
round him to be milked, and when he had drunk his fill he milked the
rest into the pond, till at last it became a pond of milk. And Little
Anklebone sat by the milken pond and piped away on his shepherd's

Now, one day, an old woman, passing by with her jar for water, heard
the sweet strains of Little Anklebone's pipe, and following the sound,
came upon the pond of milk, and saw the animals, and the birds, and
the fishes, listening to the music. She was wonderstruck, especially
when Little Anklebone, from his seat under the tree, called out, 'Fill
your jar, mother! All drink who come hither!'

Then the old woman filled her jar with milk, and went on her way
rejoicing at her good fortune. But as she journeyed she met with the
King of that country, who, having been a-hunting, had lost his way in
the pathless plain.

'Give me a drink of water, good mother,' he cried, seeing the jar; 'I
am half dead with thirst!'

'It is milk, my son,' replied the old woman; 'I got it yonder from a
milken pond.' Then she told the King of the wonders she had seen, so
that he resolved to have a peep at them himself. And when he saw the
milken pond, and all the animals and birds and fishes gathered round,
while Little Anklebone played ever so sweetly on his shepherd's pipe,
he said, 'I must have the tiny piper, if I die for it!'

[Illustration: Old woman finding the pond of milk]

No sooner did Little Anklebone hear these words than he set off at a
run, and the King after him. Never was there such a chase before or
since, for Little Anklebone hid himself amid the thickest briars and
thorns, and the King was so determined to have the tiny piper, that he
did not care for scratches. At last the King was successful, but no
sooner did he take hold of Little Anklebone than the clouds above
began to thunder and lighten horribly, and from below came the lowing
of many does, and louder than all came the voice of the little piper
himself singing these words--

'O clouds! why should you storm and flare?
Poor Anklebone is forced to roam.
O does! why wait the milker's care?
Poor Anklebone must leave his home.'

And he sang so piercingly sweet that pity filled the King's heart,
especially when he saw it was nothing but a bone after all. So he let
it go again, and the little piper went back to his seat under the tree
by the pond; and there he sits still, and plays his shepherd's pipe,
while all the beasts of the forest, and birds of the air, and fishes
of the pond, gather round and listen to his music. And sometimes,
people wandering through the pathless plain hear the pipe, and then
they say, 'That is Little Anklebone, who was eaten by a wolf ages



One day a farmer went with his bullocks to plough his field. He had
just turned the first furrow, when a tiger walked up to him and said,
'Peace be with you, friend! How are you this fine morning?'

'The same to you, my lord, and I am pretty well, thank you!' returned
the farmer, quaking with fear, but thinking it wisest to be polite.

'I am glad to hear it,' replied the tiger cheerfully, 'because
Providence has sent me to eat your two bullocks. You are a
God-fearing man, I know, so make haste and unyoke them.'

'My friend, are you sure you are not making a mistake?' asked the
farmer, whose courage had returned now that he knew it was merely a
question of gobbling up bullocks; 'because Providence sent me to
plough this field, and, in order to plough, one must have oxen. Had
you not better go and make further inquiries?'

'There is no occasion for delay, and I should be sorry to keep you
waiting,' returned the tiger. 'If you'll unyoke the bullocks I'll be
ready in a moment.' With that the savage creature fell to sharpening
his teeth and claws in a very significant manner.

But the farmer begged and prayed that his oxen might not be eaten, and
promised that if the tiger would spare them, he would give in exchange
a fine fat young milch cow, which his wife had tied up in the yard at

[Illustration: Farmer pleading with the tiger]

To this the tiger agreed, and, taking the oxen with him, the farmer
went sadly homewards. Seeing him return so early from the fields, his
wife, who was a stirring, busy woman, called out, 'What! lazybones!--
back already, and _my_ work just beginning!'

Then the farmer explained how he had met the tiger, and how to save
the bullocks he had promised the milch cow in exchange. At this the
wife began to cry, saying, 'A likely story, indeed!--saving your
stupid old bullocks at the expense of my beautiful cow! Where will
the children get milk? and how can I cook my pottage and collops
without butter?'

'All very fine, wife,' retorted the farmer, 'but how can we make bread
without corn? and how can you have corn without bullocks to plough the
fields? Pottage and collops are very nice, but it is better to do
without milk and butter than without bread, so make haste and untie
the cow.'

'You great gaby!' wept the wife, 'if you had an ounce of sense in your
brain you'd think of some plan to get out of the scrape!'

'Think yourself!' cried the husband, in a rage.

'Very well!' returned the wife; 'but if I do the thinking you must
obey orders; I can't do both. Go back to the tiger, and tell him the
cow wouldn't come along with you, but that your wife is bringing it'

The farmer, who was a great coward, didn't half like the idea of going
back empty-handed to the tiger, but as he could think of no other plan
he did as he was bid, and found the beast still sharpening his teeth
and claws for very hunger; and when he heard he had to wait still
longer for his dinner, he began to prowl about, and lash his tail, and
curl his whiskers, in a most terrible manner, causing the poor
farmer's knees to knock together with terror.

Now, when the farmer had left the house, his wife went to the stable
and saddled the pony; then she put on her husband's best clothes, tied
the turban very high, so as to make her look as tall as possible,
bestrode the pony, and set off to the field where the tiger was.

She rode along, swaggering and blustering, till she came to where the
lane turned into the field, and then she called out, as bold as brass,
'Now, please the powers! I may find a tiger in this place; for I
haven't tasted tiger's meat since yesterday, when, as luck would have
it, I ate three for breakfast.'

[Illustration: Farmer's wife on a horse]

Hearing these words, and seeing the speaker ride boldly at him, the
tiger became so alarmed that he turned tail, and bolted into the
forest, going away at such a headlong pace that he nearly overturned
his own jackal; for tigers always have a jackal of their own, who, as
it were, waits at table and clears away the bones.

'My lord! my lord!' cried the jackal, 'whither away so fast?'

'Run! run!' panted the tiger; 'there's the very devil of a horseman in
yonder fields, who thinks nothing of eating three tigers for

At this the jackal sniggered in his sleeve. 'My dear lord,' said he,
'the sun has dazzled your eyes! That was no horseman, but only the
farmer's wife dressed up as a man!'

'Are you quite sure?' asked the tiger, pausing.

'Quite sure, my lord,' repeated the jackal; 'and if your lordship's
eyes had not been dazzled by--ahem!--the sun, your lordship would
have seen her pigtail hanging down behind.'

'But you may be mistaken!' persisted the cowardly tiger; 'it was the
very devil of a horseman to look at!'

'Who's afraid?' replied the brave jackal. 'Come! don't give up your
dinner because of a woman!'

'But you may be bribed to betray me!' argued the tiger, who, like all
cowards, was suspicious.

'Let us go together, then!' returned the gallant jackal.

'Nay! but you may take me there and then run away!' insisted the tiger

'In that case, let us tie our tails together, and then I can't!' The
jackal, you see, was determined not to be done out of his bones.

To this the tiger agreed, and having tied their tails together in a
reef-knot, the pair set off arm-in-arm.

Now the farmer and his wife had remained in the field, laughing over
the trick she had played on the tiger, when, lo and behold! what
should they see but the gallant pair coming back ever so bravely, with
their tails tied together.

'Run!' cried the farmer; 'we are lost! we are lost!'

'Nothing of the kind, you great gaby!' answered his wife coolly, 'if
you will only stop that noise and be quiet. I can't hear myself

Then she waited till the pair were within hail, when she called out
politely, 'How very kind of you, dear Mr. Jackal, to bring me such a
nice fat tiger! I shan't be a moment finishing my share of him, and
then you can have the bones.'

At these words the tiger became wild with fright, and, quite
forgetting the jackal, and that reef-knot in their tails, he bolted
away full tilt, dragging the jackal behind him. Bumpety, bump, bump,
over the stones!--crash, scratch, patch, through the briars!

In vain the poor jackal howled and shrieked to the tiger to stop,--the
noise behind him only frightened the coward more; and away he went,
helter-skelter, hurry-scurry, over hill and dale, till he was
_nearly_ dead with fatigue, and the jackal was _quite_ dead
from bumps and bruises.

_Moral_--Don't tie your tail to a coward's.


Once upon a time there lived a King who had two young sons; they were
good boys, and sat in school learning all that kings' sons ought to
know. But while they were still learning, the Queen their mother
died, and their father the King shortly after married again. Of
course the new wife was jealous of the two young Princes, and, as
stepmothers usually do, she soon began to ill-use the poor boys.
First she gave them barley-meal instead of wheaten cakes to eat, and
then even these were made without salt. After a time, the meal of
which the cakes were made was sour and full of weevils; so matters
went on from bad to worse, until at last she took to beating the poor
young Princes, and when they cried, she complained to the King of
their disobedience and peevishness, so that he too was angry, and beat
them again.

At length the lads agreed it was high time to seek some remedy.

'Let us go into the world,' said the younger, 'and earn our own

'Yes,' cried the elder, 'let us go at once, and never again eat bread
under this roof.'

'Not so, brother,' replied the younger, who was wise beyond his years,
'don't you remember the saying--

''With empty stomachs don't venture away,
Be it December, or be it May'?'

So they ate their bread, bad as it was, and afterwards, both mounting
on one pony, they set out to seek their fortune.

Having journeyed for some time through a barren country, they
dismounted under a large tree, and sat down to rest. By chance a
starling and a parrot, flying past, settled on the branches of the
tree, and began to dispute as to who should have the best place.

'I never heard of such impertinence!' cried the starling, pushing and
striving to get to the topmost branch; 'why, I am so important a bird,
that if any man eats me he will without doubt become Prime Minister!'

'Make room for your betters!' returned the parrot, hustling the
starling away; 'why, if any man eats _me_ he will without doubt
become a King!'

Hearing these words, the brothers instantly drew out their crossbows,
and aiming at the same time, both the birds fell dead at the selfsame
moment. Now these two brothers were so fond of each other that
neither would allow he had shot the parrot, for each wanted the other
to be the King, and even when the birds had been cooked and were ready
to eat, the two lads were still disputing over the matter. But at
last the younger said, 'Dearest brother, we are only wasting time.
You are the elder, and must take your right, since it was your fate to
be born first.'

So the elder Prince ate the parrot, and the younger Prince ate the
starling; then they mounted their pony and rode away. They had gone
but a little way, however, when the elder brother missed his whip, and
thinking he had perhaps left it under the tree, proposed to go back
and find it.

'Not so,' said the younger Prince, 'you are King, I am only Minister;
therefore it is my place to go and fetch the whip.'

'Be it as you wish,' replied the elder, 'only take the pony, which
will enable you to return quicker. In the meantime I will go on foot
to yonder town.'

The younger Prince accordingly rode back to the tree, but the
Snake-demon, to whom it belonged, had returned during the interval,
and no sooner did the poor Prince set foot within its shade than the
horrid serpent flew at him and killed him.

Meanwhile, the elder Prince, loitering along the road, arrived at last
at the town, which he found in a state of great commotion. The King
had recently died, and though all the inhabitants had marched past the
sacred elephant in file, the animal had not chosen to elect any one of
them to the vacant throne by kneeling down and saluting the favoured
individual as he passed by, for in this manner Kings were elected in
that country. Therefore the people were in great consternation, and
orders had been issued that every stranger entering the gates of the
city was forthwith to be led before the sacred elephant. No sooner,
therefore, had the elder Prince set foot in the town than he was
dragged unceremoniously--for there had been many disappointments--
before the over-particular animal. This time, however, it had found
what it wanted, for the very instant it caught sight of the Prince it
went down on its knees and began in a great hurry to salute him with
its trunk. So the Prince was immediately elected to the throne, amid
general rejoicings.

[Illustration: The sacred elephant bowing before the prince]

All this time the younger Prince lay dead under the tree, so that the
King his brother, after waiting and searching for him in vain, gave
him up for lost, and appointed another Prime Minister.

But it so happened that a magician and his wife, who, being wise folk,
were not afraid of the serpents which dwelt in the tree, came to draw
water at the spring which flowed from the roots; and when the
magician's wife saw the dead Prince lying there, so handsome and
young, she thought she had never seen anything so beautiful before,
and, taking pity on him, said to her husband, 'You are for ever
talking of your wisdom and power: prove it by bringing this dead lad
to life!'

At first the magician refused, but when his wife began to jeer at him,
saying his vaunted power was all pretence, he replied angrily, 'Very
well; you shall see that although I myself have no power to bring the
dead back to life, I can force others to do the deed.'

Whereupon he bade his wife fill her brass drinking bowl at the spring,
when, lo and behold! every drop of the water flowed into the little
vessel, and the fountain was dry!

'Now,' said the magician, 'come away home, and you shall see what you
will see.'

When the serpents found their spring had dried up, they were terribly
put out, for serpents are thirsty creatures, and love water. They
bore the drought for three days, but after that they went in a body to
the magician, and told him they would do whatever he desired if he
would only restore the water of their spring. This he promised to do,
if they in their turn restored the dead Prince to life; and when they
gladly performed this task, the magician emptied the brass bowl, all
the water flowed back into the spring, and the serpents drank and were

The young Prince, on coming back to life, fancied he had awakened from
sleep, and fearing lest his brother should be vexed at his delay,
seized the whip, mounted the pony--which all this time had been
quietly grazing beside its master--and rode off. But in his hurry and
confusion he took the wrong road, and so arrived at last at a
different city from the one wherein his brother was king.

It was growing late in the evening, and having no money in his pocket,
the young Prince was at a loss how to procure anything to eat; but
seeing a good-natured-looking old woman herding goats, he said to her,
'Mother, if you will give me something to eat you may herd this pony
of mine also, for it will be yours.'

To this the old woman agreed, and the Prince went to live in her
house, finding her very kind and good-natured. But in the course of a
day or two he noticed that his hostess looked very sad, so he asked
her what was the matter.

'The matter is this, my son,' replied the old woman, tearfully; 'in
this kingdom there lives an ogre, which every day devours a young man,
a goat, and a wheaten cake--in consideration of receiving which meal
punctually, he leaves the other inhabitants in peace. Therefore every
day this meal has to be provided, and it falls to the lot of every
inhabitant in turn to prepare it, under pain of death. It is my turn
to-day. The cake I can make, the goat I have, but where is the young

'Why does not some one kill the ogre?' asked the brave young Prince.

'Many have tried, but all have failed, though the King has gone so far
as to promise his daughter in marriage, and half his kingdom, to a
successful champion. And now it is my turn, and I must die, for where
shall I find a young man?' said the poor old woman, weeping bitterly.

'Don't cry, Goody,' returned the good-natured Prince; 'you have been
very kind to me, and I will do my best for you by making part of the
ogre's dinner.'

And though the old woman at first refused flatly to allow so handsome
a young man to sacrifice himself, he laughed at her fears, and cheered
her up so that she gave in.

'Only one thing I ask of you, Goody,' quoth the Prince; 'make the
wheaten cake as big as you can, and give me the finest and fattest
goat in your flock.'

This she promised to do, and when everything was prepared, the Prince,
leading the goat and carrying the cake, went to the tree where the
ogre came every evening to receive and devour his accustomed meal.
Having tied the goat to the tree, and laid the cake on the ground, the
Prince stepped outside the trench that was dug round the ogre's
dining-room, and waited. Presently the ogre, a very frightful monster
indeed, appeared. Now he generally ate the young man first, for as a
rule the cakes and goats brought to him were not appetising; but this
evening, seeing the biggest cake and the fattest goat he ever set eyes
upon, he just went straight at them and began to gobble them up. As
he was finishing the last mouthful, and was looking about for his
man's flesh, the Prince sprang at him, sword in hand. Then ensued a
terrible contest. The ogre fought like an ogre, but in consequence of
having eaten the cake and the goat, one the biggest and the other the
fattest that ever was seen, he was not nearly so active as usual, and
after a tremendous battle the brave Prince was victorious, and laid
his enemy at his feet. Rejoicing at his success, the young man cut
off the ogre's head, tied it up in a handkerchief as a trophy, and
then, being quite wearied out by the combat, lay down to rest and fell
fast asleep.

Now, every morning, a scavenger came to the ogre's dining-room to
clear away the remains of the last night's feast, for the ogre was
mighty fastidious, and could not bear the smell of old bones; and this
particular morning, when the scavenger saw only half the quantity of
bones, he was much astonished, and beginning to search for more, found
the young Prince hard by, fast asleep, with the ogre's head by his

'Ho! ho!' thought the scavenger, 'this is a fine chance for me!'

So, lifting the Prince, who, being dead tired, did not awake, he put
him gently into a clay-pit close by, and covered him up with clay.
Then he took the ogre's head, and going to the King, claimed half the
kingdom and the Princess in marriage, as his reward for slaying the

Although the King had his suspicions that all was not fair, he was
obliged to fulfil his promise as far as giving up part of his kingdom
was concerned, but for the present he managed to evade the dreadful
necessity of giving his daughter in marriage to a scavenger, by the
excuse that the Princess was desirous of a year's delay. So the
Scavenger-king reigned over half the kingdom, and made great
preparations for his future marriage.

Meanwhile, some potters coming to get clay from their pit were
mightily astonished to find a handsome young man, insensible, but
still breathing, hidden away under the clay. Taking him home, they
handed him over to the care of their women, who soon brought him
round. On coming to himself, he learnt with surprise of the
scavenger's victory over the ogre, with which all the town was
ringing. He understood how the wicked wretch had stepped in and
defrauded him, and having no witness but his own word, saw it would be
useless to dispute the point; therefore he gladly accepted the
potters' offer of teaching him their trade.

Thus the Prince sat at the potters' wheel, and proved so clever, that
ere long they became famous for the beautiful patterns and excellent
workmanship of their wares; so much so, that the story of the handsome
young potter who had been found in a clay-pit soon became noised
abroad; and although the Prince had wisely never breathed a word of

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