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Tales Of The Punjab by Flora Annie Steel

Part 3 out of 5

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his adventures to any one, yet, when the news of his existence reached
the Scavenger-king's ears, he determined in some way or another to get
rid of the young man, lest the truth should leak out.

Now, just at this time, the fleet of merchant vessels which annually
came to the city with merchandise and spices was detained in harbour
by calms and contrary winds. So long were they detained that the
merchants feared lest they should be unable to return within the year;
and as this was a serious matter, the auguries were consulted. They
declared that until a human sacrifice was made the vessels would never
leave port. When this was reported to the Scavenger-king he seized
his opportunity, and said, 'Be it so; but do not sacrifice a citizen.
Give the merchants that good-for-nothing potter-lad, who comes no one
knows whence.'

[Illustration: The prince at the potter's wheel]

The courtiers of course lauded the kindness of the Scavenger-king to
the skies, and the Prince was handed over to the merchants, who,
taking him on board their ships, prepared to kill him. However, he
begged and prayed them so hard to wait till evening, on the chance of
a breeze coming up, that they consented to wait till sunset. Then,
when none came, the Prince took a knife and made a tiny cut on his
little finger. As the first drop of blood flowed forth, the sails of
the first ship filled with wind, and she glided swiftly out of
harbour; at the second drop, the second ship did likewise, and so on
till the whole fleet were sailing before a strong breeze.

The merchants were enchanted at having such a valuable possession as
the Prince, who could thus compel the winds, and took the very
greatest care of him; before long he was a great favourite with them
all, for he was really an amiable young man. At length they arrived
at another city, which happened to be the very one where the Prince's
brother had been elected King by the elephant, and while the merchants
went into the town to transact business, they left the Prince to watch
over the vessels. Now, growing weary of watching, the Prince, to
amuse himself, began, with the clay on the shore beside him, to make a
model from memory of his father's palace. Growing interested in his
work, he worked away till he had made the most beautiful thing
imaginable. There was the garden full of flowers, the King on his
throne, the courtiers sitting round,--even the Princes learning in
school, and the pigeons fluttering about the tower. When it was quite
finished, the poor young Prince could not help the tears coming into
his eyes, as he looked at it, and he sighed to think of past days.

Just at that very moment the Prime Minister's daughter, surrounded by
her women, happened to pass that way. She looked at the beautiful
model, and was wonderstruck, but when she saw the handsome, sad young
man who sat sighing beside it, she went straight home, locked the
doors, and refused to eat anything at all. Her father, fearing she
was ill, sent to inquire what was wrong, whereupon she sent him this
reply: 'Tell my father I will neither eat nor drink until he marries
me to the young man who sits sighing on the sea-shore beside a king's
palace made of clay.'

At first the Prime Minister was very angry, but seeing his daughter
was determined to starve herself to death if she did not gain her
point, he outwardly gave his consent; privately, however, arranging
with the merchants that immediately after the marriage the bride and
bridegroom were to go on board the ships, which were at once to set
sail, and that on the first opportunity the Prince was to be thrown
overboard, and the Princess brought back to her father.

So the marriage took place, the ships sailed away, and a day or two
afterwards the merchants pushed the young man overboard as he was
sitting on the prow. But it so happened that a rope was hanging from
the bride's window in the stern, and as the Prince drifted by, he
caught it and climbed up into her cabin unseen. She hid him in her
box, where he lay concealed, and when they brought her food, she
refused to eat, pretending grief, and saying, 'Leave it here; perhaps
I may be hungry by and by.' Then she shared the meal with her

The merchants, thinking they had managed everything beautifully,
turned their ships round, and brought the bride and her box back to
her father, who, being much pleased, rewarded them handsomely.

His daughter also was quite content, and having reached her own
apartments, let her husband out of the box and dressed him as a
woman-servant, so that he could go about the palace quite securely.

Now the Prince had of course told his wife the whole story of his
life, and when she in return had related how the King of that country
had been elected by the elephant, her husband began to feel sure he
had found his long-lost brother at last. Then he laid a plan to make
sure. Every day a bouquet of flowers was sent to the King from the
Minister's garden, so one evening the Prince, in his disguise, went up
to the gardener's daughter, who was cutting flowers, and said, 'I will
teach you a new fashion of arranging them, if you like.' Then, taking
the flowers, he tied them together just as his father's gardener used
to do.

The next morning, when the King saw the bouquet, he became quite pale,
and turning to the gardener, asked him who had arranged the flowers.

'I did, sire,' replied the gardener, trembling with fear.

'You lie, knave!' cried the King; 'but go, bring me just such another
bouquet to-morrow, or your head shall be the forfeit!'

That day the gardener's daughter came weeping to the disguised Prince,
and, telling him all, besought him to make her another bouquet to save
her father's life. The Prince willingly consented, for he was now
certain the King was his long-lost brother; and, making a still more
beautiful bouquet, concealed a paper, on which his name was written,
amidst the flowers.

When the King discovered the paper he turned quite pale, and said to
the gardener, 'I am now convinced you never made this nosegay; but
tell me the truth, and I will forgive you.'

Whereupon the gardener fell on his knees and confessed that one of the
women-servants in the Prime Minister's palace had made it for his
daughter. This surprised the King immensely, and he determined to
disguise himself and go with the gardener's daughter to cut flowers in
the Minister's garden, which he accordingly did; but no sooner did the
disguised young Prince behold his brother than he recognised him, and
wishing to see if power and wealth had made his brother forget their
youthful affection, he parried all questions as to where he had learnt
to arrange flowers, and replied by telling the story of his
adventures, as far as the eating of the starling and the parrot. Then
he declared he was too tired to proceed further that day, but would
continue his story on the next. The King, though greatly excited, was
accordingly obliged to wait till the next evening, when the Prince
told of his fight with the demon and delivery by the potters. Then
once more he declared he was tired, and the King, who was on pins and
needles to hear more, had to wait yet another day; and so on until the
seventh day, when the Prince concluded his tale by relating his
marriage with the Prime Minister's daughter, and disguise as a woman.

Then the King fell on his brother's neck and rejoiced greatly; the
Minister also, when he heard what an excellent marriage his daughter
had made, was so pleased that he voluntarily resigned his office in
favour of his son-in-law. So what the parrot and the starling had
said came true, for the one brother was King, and the other Prime

The very first thing the King did was to send ambassadors to the court
of the king who owned the country where the ogre had been killed,
telling him the truth of the story, and saying that his brother, being
quite satisfied as Prime Minister, did not intend to claim half the
kingdom. At this, the king of that country was so delighted that he
begged the Minister Prince to accept of his daughter as a bride, to
which the Prince replied that he was already married, but that his
brother the King would gladly make her his wife.

So there were immense rejoicings, but the Scavenger-king was put to
death, as he very well deserved.


One moonlight night, a miserable, half-starved jackal, skulking
through the village, found a worn-out pair of shoes in the gutter.
They were too tough for him to eat, so, determined to make some use of
them, he strung them to his ears like earrings, and, going down to the
edge of the pond, gathered all the old bones he could find together,
and built a platform with them, plastering it over with mud.

On this he sat in a dignified attitude, and when any animal came to
the pond to drink, he cried out in a loud voice, 'Hi! stop! You must
not taste a drop till you have done homage to me. So repeat these
verses, which I have composed in honour of the occasion:--

'Silver is his das, plastered o'er with gold;
In his ears are jewels,--some prince I must behold!'

Now, as most of the animals were very thirsty, and in a great hurry to
drink, they did not care to dispute the matter, but gabbled off the
words without a second thought. Even the royal tiger, treating it as
a jest, repeated the jackal's rhyme, in consequence of which the
latter became quite cock-a-hoop, and really began to believe he was a
personage of great importance.

[Illustration: The jackal on the mud-plastered bone platform]

By and by an iguana, or big lizard, came waddling and wheezing down to
the water, looking for all the world like a baby alligator.

'Hi! you there!' sang out the jackal; 'you mustn't drink until you
have said--

'Silver is his das, plastered o'er with gold; In his ears are
jewels,--some prince I must behold!'

'Pouf! pouf! pouf!' gasped the iguana. 'Mercy on us, how dry my
throat is! Mightn't I have just a wee sip of water first? and then I
could do justice to your admirable lines; at present I am as hoarse as
a crow!'

'By all means!' replied the jackal, with a gratified smirk. 'I
flatter myself the verses _are_ good, especially when well

So the iguana, nose down into the water, drank away, until the jackal
began to think he would never leave off, and was quite taken aback
when he finally came to an end of his draught, and began to move away.

'Hi! hi!' cried the jackal, recovering his presence of mind;' stop a
bit, and say--

'Silver is his das, plastered o'er with gold;
In his ears are jewels,--some prince I must behold!'

'Dear me!' replied the iguana, politely, 'I was very nearly
forgetting! Let me see--I must try my voice first--Do, re, me, fa,
sol, la, si,--that is right! Now, how does it run?'

'Silver is his das, plastered o'er with gold;
In his ears are jewels,--some prince I must behold!'

repeated the jackal, not observing that the lizard was carefully
edging farther and farther away.

'Exactly so,' returned the iguana; 'I think I could say that!'
Whereupon he sang out at the top of his voice--

'Bones make up his das, with mud it's plastered o'er,
Old shoes are his ear-drops: a jackal, nothing more!'

And turning round, he bolted for his hole as hard as he could.

The jackal could scarcely believe his ears, and sat dumb with
astonishment. Then, rage lending him wings, he flew after the lizard,
who, despite his short legs and scanty breath, put his best foot
foremost, and scuttled away at a great rate.

It was a near race, however, for just as he popped into his hole, the
jackal caught him by the tail, and held on. Then it was a case of
'pull butcher, pull baker,' until the lizard made certain his tail
must come off, and the jackal felt as if his front teeth would come
out. Still not an inch did either budge, one way or the other, and
there they might have remained till the present day, had not the
iguana called out, in his sweetest tones, 'Friend, I give in! Just
leave hold of my tail, will you? then I can turn round and come out.'

Whereupon the jackal let go, and the tail disappeared up the hole in a
twinkling; while all the reward the jackal got for digging away until
his nails were nearly worn out, was hearing the iguana sing softly--

'Bones make up his das, with mud it's plastered o'er,
Old shoes are his ear-drops: a jackal, nothing more!'


Once upon a time there lived a cock-sparrow and his wife, who were
both growing old. But despite his years the cock-sparrow was a gay,
festive old bird, who plumed himself upon his appearance, and was
quite a ladies' man. So he cast his eyes on a lively young hen, and
determined to marry her, for he was tired of his sober old wife. The
wedding was a mighty grand affair, and everybody as jolly and merry as
could be, except of course the poor old wife, who crept away from all
the noise and fun to sit disconsolately on a quiet branch just under a
crow's nest, where she could be as melancholy as she liked without
anybody poking fun at her.

Now while she sat there it began to rain, and after a while the drops,
soaking through the crow's nest, came drip-dripping on to her
feathers; she, however, was far too miserable to care, and sat there
all huddled up and peepy till the shower was over. Now it so happened
that the crow had used some scraps of dyed cloth in lining its nest,
and as these became wet the colours ran, and dripping down on to the
poor old hen-sparrow beneath, dyed her feathers until she was as gay
as a peacock.

Fine feathers make fine birds, we all know, and she really looked
quite spruce; so much so, that when she flew home, the new wife nearly
burst with envy, and asked her at once where she had found such a
lovely dress.

'Easily enough,' replied the old wife; 'I just went into the dyer's

The bride instantly determined to go there also. She could not endure
the notion of the old thing being better dressed than she was, so she
flew off at once to the dyer's, and being in a great hurry, went pop
into the middle of the vat, without waiting to see if it was hot or
cold. It turned out to be just scalding; consequently the poor thing
was half boiled before she managed to scramble out. Meanwhile, the
gay old cock, not finding his bride at home, flew about distractedly
in search of her, and you may imagine what bitter tears he wept when
he found her, half drowned and half boiled, with her feathers all
awry, lying by the dyer's vat.

'What has happened?' quoth he.

But the poor bedraggled thing could only gasp out feebly--

'The old wife was dyed--
The nasty old cat!
And I, the gay bride,
Fell into the vat!'

Whereupon the cock-sparrow took her up tenderly in his bill, and flew
away home with his precious burden. Now, just as he was crossing the
big river in front of his house, the old hen-sparrow, in her gay
dress, looked out of the window, and when she saw her old husband
bringing home his young bride in such a sorry plight, she burst out
laughing shrilly, and called aloud, 'That is right! that is right!
Remember what the song says--

'Old wives must scramble through water and mud,
But young wives are carried dry-shod o'er the flood.'

This allusion so enraged her husband that he could not contain
himself, but cried out,' Hold your tongue, you shameless old cat!'

Of course, when he opened his mouth to speak, the poor draggled bride
fell out, and going plump into the river, was drowned. Whereupon the
cock-sparrow was so distracted with grief that he picked off all his
feathers until he was as bare as a ploughed field. Then, going to a
_ppal_ tree, he sat all naked and forlorn on the branches,
sobbing and sighing.

'What has happened?' cried the _ppal_ tree, aghast at the sight.

'Don't ask me!' wailed the cock-sparrow; 'it isn't manners to ask
questions when a body is in deep mourning.'

But the _ppal_ would not be satisfied without an answer, so at
last poor bereaved cock-sparrow replied--

'The ugly hen painted.
By jealousy tainted,
The pretty hen dyed.
Lamenting his bride,
The cock, bald and bare,
Sobs loud in despair!'

On hearing this sad tale, the _ppal_ became overwhelmed with
grief, and declaring it must mourn also, shed all its leaves on the

By and by a buffalo, coming in the heat of the day to rest in the
shade of the _ppal_ tree, was astonished to find nothing but
bare twigs.

'What has happened?' cried the buffalo; 'you were as green as possible

'Don't ask me!' whimpered the _ppal_. 'Where are your manners?
Don't you know it isn't decent to ask questions when people are in

But the buffalo insisted on having an answer, so at last, with many
sobs and sighs, the _ppal_ replied--

'The ugly hen painted.
By jealousy tainted,
The pretty hen dyed.
Bewailing his bride,
The cock, bald and bare,
Sobs loud in despair;
The _ppal_ tree grieves
By shedding its leaves!'

'Oh dear me!' cried the buffalo, 'how very sad! I really must mourn
too!' So she immediately cast her horns, and began to weep and wail.
After a while, becoming thirsty, she went to drink at the river-side.

'Goodness gracious!' cried the river, 'what is the matter? and what
have you done with your horns?'

'How rude you are!' wept the buffalo. 'Can't you see I am in deep
mourning? and it isn't polite to ask questions.'

But the river persisted, until the buffalo, with many groans,

'The ugly hen painted.
By jealousy tainted,
The pretty hen dyed.
Lamenting his bride,
The cock, bald and bare,
Sobs loud in despair;
The _ppal_ tree grieves
By shedding its leaves;
The buffalo mourns
By casting her horns!'

'Dreadful!' cried the river, and wept so fast that its water became
quite salt.

By and by a cuckoo, coming to bathe in the stream, called out, 'Why,
river! what has happened? You are as salt as tears!'

'Don't ask me!' mourned the stream; 'it is too dreadful for words!'

Nevertheless, when the cuckoo would take no denial, the river

'The ugly hen painted.
By jealousy tainted,
The pretty hen dyed.
Lamenting his bride,
The cock, bald and bare,
Sobs loud in despair;
The _ppal_ tree grieves
By shedding its leaves;
The buffalo mourns
By casting her horns;
The stream, weeping fast,
Grows briny at last!'

'Oh dear! oh dear me!' cried the cuckoo, 'how very very sad! I must
mourn too!' So it plucked out an eye, and going to a corn-merchant's
shop, sat on the doorstep and wept.

'Why, little cuckoo! what's the matter?' cried Bhagtu the shopkeeper.
'You are generally the pertest of birds, and to-day you are as dull
as ditchwater!'

'Don't ask me!' snivelled the cuckoo; 'it is such terrible grief! such
dreadful sorrow! such--such horrible pain!'

However, when Bhagtu persisted, the cuckoo, wiping its one eye on its
wing, replied--

'The ugly hen painted.
By jealousy tainted,
The pretty hen dyed.
Lamenting his bride,
The cock, bald and bare,
Sobs loud in despair;
The _ppal_ tree grieves
By shedding its leaves;
The buffalo mourns
By casting her horns;
The stream, weeping fast,
Grows briny at last;
The cuckoo with sighs
Blinds one of its eyes!'

'Bless my heart!' cried Bhagtu,'but that is simply the most
heartrending tale I ever heard in my life! I must really mourn
likewise!' Whereupon he wept, and wailed, and beat his breast, until
he went completely out of his mind; and when the Queen's maidservant
came to buy of him, he gave her pepper instead of turmeric, onion
instead of garlic, and wheat instead of pulse.

'Dear me, friend Bhagtu!' quoth the maid-* servant, 'your wits are
wool-gathering! What's the matter?'

'Don't! please don't!' cried Bhagtu; 'I wish you wouldn't ask me, for
I am trying to forget all about it. It is too dreadful--too too

At last, however, yielding to the maid's entreaties, he replied, with
many sobs and tears--

'The ugly hen painted.
By jealousy tainted,
The pretty hen dyed.
Lamenting his bride,
The cock, bald and bare,
Sobs loud in despair;
The _ppal_ tree grieves
By shedding its leaves;
The buffalo mourns
By casting her horns;
The stream, weeping fast,
Grows briny at last;
The cuckoo with sighs
Blinds one of its eyes;
Bhagtu's grief so intense is,
He loses his senses!'

'How very sad!' exclaimed the maidservant. 'I don't wonder at your
distress; but it is always so in this miserable world!--everything
goes wrong!'

Whereupon she fell to railing at everybody and everything in the
world, until the Queen said to her, 'What is the matter, my child?
What distresses you?'

'Oh!' replied the maidservant, 'the old story! every one is miserable,
and I most of all! Such dreadful news!--

'The ugly hen painted.
By jealousy tainted,
The pretty hen dyed.
Lamenting his bride,
The cock, bald and bare,
Sobs loud in despair;
The _ppal_ tree grieves
By shedding its leaves;
The buffalo mourns
By casting her horns;
The stream, weeping fast,
Grows briny at last;
The cuckoo with sighs
Blinds one of its eyes;
Bhagtu's grief so intense is,
He loses his senses;
The maidservant wailing
Has taken to railing!'

'Too true!' wept the Queen, 'too true! The world is a vale of tears!
There is nothing for it but to try and forget!' Whereupon she set to
work dancing away as hard as she could.

By and by in came the Prince, who, seeing her twirling about, said,
'Why, mother! what is the matter?'

The Queen, without stopping, gasped out--

'The ugly hen painted.
By jealousy tainted,
The pretty hen dyed.
Lamenting his bride,
The cock, bald and bare,
Sobs loud in despair;
The _ppal_ tree grieves
By shedding its leaves;
The buffalo mourns
By casting her horns;
The stream, weeping fast,
Grows briny at last;
The cuckoo with sighs
Blinds one of its eyes;
Bhagtu's grief so intense is,
He loses his senses;
The maidservant wailing
Has taken to railing;
The Queen, joy enhancing,
Takes refuge in dancing!'

'If that is your mourning, I'll mourn too!' cried the Prince, and
seizing his tambourine, he began to thump on it with a will. Hearing
the noise, the King came in, and asked what was the matter.

'This is the matter!' cried the Prince, drumming away with all his

'The ugly hen painted.
By jealousy tainted,
The pretty hen dyed.
Lamenting his bride,
The cock, bald and bare,
Sobs loud in despair;
The _ppal_ tree grieves
By shedding its leaves;
The buffalo mourns
By casting her horns;
The stream, weeping fast,
Grows briny at last;
The cuckoo with sighs
Blinds one of its eyes;
Bhagtu's grief so intense is,
He loses his senses;
The maidservant wailing
Has taken to railing;
The Queen, joy enhancing,
Takes refuge in dancing;
To aid the mirth coming,
The Prince begins drumming!'

'Capital! capital!' cried the King, 'that's the way to do it!' so,
seizing his zither, he began to thrum away like one possessed.

And as they danced, the Queen, the King, the Prince, and the
maidservant sang--

'The ugly hen painted.
By jealousy tainted,
The pretty hen dyed.
Bewailing his bride,
The cock, bald and bare,
Sobs loud in despair;
The _ppal_ tree grieves
By shedding its leaves;
The buffalo mourns
By casting her horns;
The stream, weeping fast,
Grows briny at last;
The cuckoo with sighs
Blinds one of its eyes;
Bhagtu's grief so intense is,
He loses his senses;
The maidservant wailing
Has taken to railing;
The Queen, joy enhancing,
Takes refuge in dancing;
To aid the mirth coming,
The Prince begins drumming;
To join in it with her
The King strums the zither!'

So they danced and sang till they were tired, and that was how every
one mourned poor cock-sparrow's pretty bride.



A Bulbul once lived in a forest, and sang all day to her mate, till
one morning she said, 'Oh, dearest husband! you sing beautifully, but
I should so like some nice green pepper to eat!' The obedient bulbul
at once flew off to find some, but though he flew for miles, peeping
into every garden by the way, he could not discover a single green
pepper. Either there was no fruit at all on the bushes, but only tiny
white star-flowers, or the peppers were all ripe, and crimson red.

At last, right out in the wilderness, he came upon a high-walled
garden. Tall mango-trees shaded it on all sides, shutting out fierce
sunshine and rough winds, and within grew innumerable flowers and
fruits. But there was no sign of life within its walls--no birds, no
butterflies, only silence and a perfume of flowers.

The bulbul alighted in the middle of the garden, and, lo! there grew a
solitary pepper plant, and amid the polished leaves shone a single
green fruit of immense size, gleaming like an emerald.

Greatly delighted, the bird flew home to his mate, and telling her he
had found the most beautiful green pepper in the world, brought her
back with him to the garden, where she at once began to eat the
delicious morsel.

Now the Jinn to whom the garden belonged had all this time been asleep
in a summer-house; and as he generally kept awake for twelve whole
years, and then slept for another twelve years, he was of course very
sound asleep, and knew nothing of the bulbul's coming and going.
Nevertheless, as the time of his awaking was not far off, he had
dreadful nightmares whilst the green pepper was being pecked to
pieces, and, becoming restless, awoke just when the bulbul's wife,
after laying one glittering emerald-green egg beneath the pepper
plant, flew away with her husband.

As usual, the Jinn, after yawning and stretching, went to see how his
pet pepper was getting on. Great was his sorrow and rage at finding
it pecked to pieces. He could not imagine what had done the mischief,
knowing as he did that neither bird, beast, nor insect lived in the

'Some dreadful creeping thing from that horrid world outside must have
stolen in, whilst I slept,' said the Jinn to himself, and immediately
began to search for the intruder. He found nothing, however, but the
glittering green egg, with which he was so much astonished that he
took it to his summer-house, wrapped it up in cotton-wool, and put it
away carefully in a carved niche in the wall. Every day he went and
looked at it, sighing over the thought of his lost pepper, until one
morning, lo and behold! the egg had disappeared, and in its place sat
the loveliest little maiden, dressed from head to foot in
emerald-green, while round her neck hung a single emerald of great
size, shaped just like the green pepper.

The Jinn, who was a quiet, inoffensive creature, was delighted, for he
loved children, and this one was the daintiest little morsel ever
beheld. So he made it the business of his life to tend Princess
Pepperina, for such the maiden informed him was her name.

Now, when twelve years had passed by in the flowery garden, it became
time for the good-natured Jinn to go to sleep again; and it puzzled
him very much to think what would become of his Princess when he was
no longer able to take care of her. But it so happened that a great
King and his Minister, while hunting in the forest, came upon the
high-walled garden, and being curious to see what was inside, they
climbed over the wall, and found the lovely Princess Pepperina seated
by the pepper plant.

The King immediately fell in love with her, and in the most elegant
language begged her to be his wife. But the Princess hung down her
head modestly, saying, 'Not so!--you must ask the Jinn who owns this
garden; only he has an unfortunate habit of eating men sometimes.'

Nevertheless, when she saw the young King kneeling before her, she
could not help thinking him the handsomest and most splendid young man
in the world, so her heart softened, and when she heard the Jinn's
footstep, she cried, 'Hide yourself in the garden, and I will see if I
can persuade my guardian to listen to you.'

Now, no sooner had the Jinn appeared, than he began to sniff about,
and cry 'Fee! fa! fum! I smell the blood of a man!'

Then the Princess Pepperina soothed him, saying, 'Dear Jinn! you may
eat _me_ if you like, for there is no one else here,'

And the Jinn replied, kissing and caressing her the while, 'My dearest
life! I would sooner eat bricks and mortar!'

After that the Princess cunningly led the conversation to the Jinn's
approaching slumbers, and wondered tearfully what she should do alone
in the walled garden. At this the good-hearted Jinn became greatly
troubled, until at last he declared that the best plan would be to
marry her to some young nobleman, but, he added, a worthy husband was
hard to find, especially as it was necessary he should be as handsome,
as a man, as Princess Pepperina was beautiful amongst women. Hearing
this, the Princess seized her opportunity, and asked the Jinn if he
would promise to let her marry any one who was as beautiful as she
was. The Jinn promised faithfully, little thinking the Princess
already had her eye on such a one, and was immensely astonished when
she clapped her hands, and the splendid young King appeared from a
thicket. Nevertheless, when the young couple stood together hand in
hand, even the Jinn was obliged to own that such a handsome pair had
never before been seen; so he gave his consent to their marriage,
which was performed in ever so great a hurry, for already the Jinn had
begun to nod and yawn. Still, when it came to saying good-bye to his
dear little Princess, he wept so much that the tears kept him awake,
and he followed her in his thoughts, until the desire to see her face
once more became so strong that he changed himself into a dove, which
flying after her, fluttered above her head. She seemed quite happy,
talking and whispering to her handsome husband, so he flew home again
to sleep. But the green mantle of his dear little Princess kept
floating before his eyes, so that he could not rest, and changing
himself into a hawk, he sped after her, circling far above her head.
She was smiling by her husband's side, so the Jinn flew home to his
garden, yawning terribly. But the soft eyes of his dear little
Pepperina seemed to look into his, driving sleep far from them; so he
changed into an eagle, and soaring far up into the blue sky, saw with
his bright piercing gaze the Princess entering a King's palace far
away on the horizon. Then the good Jinn was satisfied, and fell fast

Now during the years which followed, the young King remained
passionately in love with his beautiful bride, but the other women in
the palace were very jealous of her, especially after she gave birth
to the most lovely young Prince imaginable. They determined to
compass her ruin, and spent hours in thinking how they might kill her,
or lay a snare for her.

Every night they would come to the door of the Queen's room, and
whisper, to see if she was awake, 'The Princess Pepperina is awake,
but all the world is fast asleep.'

Now the emerald, which the young Queen still wore round her neck, was
a real talisman, and always told the truth; if any one even whispered
a story, it just up and out with the truth _at once_, and shamed
the culprit without remorse. So the emerald on these occasions would
answer, 'Not so! the Princess Pepperina is asleep. It is the world
that wakes.'

Then the wicked women would shrink away, for they knew they had no
power to harm the Princess while the talisman was round her neck.

At last it so happened that when the young Queen was bathing she took
off the emerald talisman, and left it by mistake in the
bathing-place. So that night, when the jealous women as usual came
whispering round the door, 'The Princess Pepperina is awake, but all
the world sleeps,' the truthful talisman called out from the
bathing-place, 'Not so! the Princess Pepperina sleeps. It is the
world that wakes.'

Knowing by the sound of the talisman's voice that it was not in its
usual place, these wicked creatures stole into the room gently, killed
the infant Prince, who was peacefully sleeping in his little crib, cut
him into little bits, laid them in his mother's bed, and gently
stained her lips with the blood.

Early next morning they flew to the King, weeping and wailing, bidding
him come and see the horrible sight.

'Look!' said they, 'the beautiful wife you loved so much is an
ogress! We warned you against her, and now she has killed her child
in order to eat its flesh!'

The King was terribly grieved and wroth, for he loved his wife, and
yet could not deny she was an ogress; so he ordered her to be whipped
out of his kingdom and then slain.

So the lovely tender fair young Queen was scourged out of the land,
and then cruelly murdered, whilst the wicked jealous women rejoiced at
their evil success.

But when Princess Pepperina died, her body became a high white marble
wall, her eyes turned into liquid pools of water, her green mantle
changed into stretches of verdant grass, her long curling hair into
lovely creepers and tendrils, while her scarlet mouth and white teeth
became a beautiful bed of roses and narcissus. Then her soul took the
form of a sheldrake and its mate,--those loving birds which, like the
turtle-dove, are always constant,--and floating on the liquid pools,
they mourned all day long the sad fate of the Princess Pepperina.

Now, after many days, the young King, who, despite her supposed crime,
could not help bewailing his beautiful bride, went out a-hunting, and
finding no game, wandered far afield, until he came to the high white
marble wall. Curious to see what it enclosed, he climbed over on to
the verdant grass, where the tendrils waved softly, the roses and
narcissus blossomed, and the loving birds floated on the liquid pools
mourning all day long.

The King, weary and sad, lay down to rest in the lovely spot, and
listened to the cry of the birds, and as he listened, the meaning
seemed to grow plain, so that he heard them tell the whole story of
the wicked women's treachery.

Then the one bird said, weeping, to the other, 'Can she never become
alive again?' And the other answered, 'If the King were to catch us,
and hold us close, heart to heart, while he severed our heads from our
bodies with one blow of his sword, so that neither of us should die
before the other, the Princess Pepperina would become alive once
more. But if one dies before the other, she will always remain as she

Then the King, with a beating heart, called the birds to him, and they
came quite readily, standing heart to heart while he cut off their
heads with one blow of his sword, so that they fell dead at the
self-same moment.

At the very same instant the Princess Pepperina appeared, smiling,
more beautiful than ever; but, strange to say, the liquid pools, the
grass, the climbing tendrils, and the flowers remained as they were.

Then the King besought her to return home with him, vowing he would
never again distrust her, and would put all the wicked traitors to
death; but she refused, saying she would prefer to live always within
the high white marble walls, where no one could molest her.

'Just so!' cried the Jinn, who, having but that moment awakened from
his twelve years' sleep, had flown straight to his dearest Princess.
'Here you shall live, and I will live with you!'

Then he built the King and Queen a magnificent palace, where they
lived very happily ever after; and as no one knew anything about it,
no one was jealous of the beautiful Princess Pepperina.


Once upon a time there were two sisters, who lived together; but while
the elder, Beansie by name, was a hard quarrelsome creature, apt to
disagree with everybody, Peasie, the younger, was soft and most

Now, one day, Peasie, who was for ever trying to please somebody, said
to her sister, 'Beansie, my dear! don't you think we ought to pay a
visit to our poor old father? He must be dull now--it is harvest
time, and he is left alone in the house.'

'I don't care if he is!' replied Beansie. 'Go yourself! I'm not
going to walk about in the heat to please any old man!'

So kind Peasie set off alone, and on the way she met a plum-tree.
'Oh, Peasie!' cried the tree, 'stop a bit, there's a good soul, and
tidy up my thorns a little; they are scattered about so that I feel
quite uncomfortable!'

'So they are, I declare!' returned Peasie, and forthwith set to work
with such a will that ere long the tree was as neat as a new pin.

A little farther on she met a fire, and the fire cried out, 'Oh, sweet
Peasie! tidy up my hearth a bit, for I am half choked in the ashes!'

'So you are, I declare!' returned good-natured Peasie, setting herself
to clear them away, until the fire crackled and flamed with pleasure.

Farther on she met a _ppal_ tree, and the _ppal_ called
out, 'Oh, kind Peasie! bind up this broken branch for me, or it will
die, and I shall lose it!'

'Poor thing! poor thing!' cried soft-hearted Peasie; and tearing a
bandage from her veil, she bound up the wounded limb carefully.

After a while she met a stream, and the stream cried out, 'Pretty
Peasie! clear away the sand and dead leaves from my mouth, for I
cannot run when I am stifled!'

'No more you can!' quoth obliging Peasie; and in a trice she made the
channel so clear and clean that the water flowed on swiftly.

At last she arrived, rather tired, at her old father's house, but his
delight at seeing her was so great that he would scarcely let her away
in the evening, and insisted on giving her a spinning-wheel, a
buffalo, some brass pots, a bed, and all sorts of things, just as if
she had been a bride going to her husband. These she put on the
buffalo's back, and set off homewards.

Now, as she passed the stream, she saw a web of fine cloth floating

'Take it, Peasie, take it!' tinkled the stream; 'I have carried it
far, as a reward for your kindness.'

So she gathered up the cloth, laid it on the buffalo, and went on her

By and by she passed the _ppal_ tree, and lo! on the branch she
had tied up hung a string of pearls.

'Take it, Peasie, take it!' rustled the _ppal_; 'I caught it
from a Prince's turban as a reward for your kindness.'

Then she took the pearls, fastened them round her pretty slender
throat, and went on her way rejoicing.

[Illustration: Peasie and her buffalo]

Farther on she came to the fire, burning brightly, and on it was a
girdle with a nice hot sweet-cake.

'Take it, Peasie, take it!' crackled the fire; 'I have cooked it to a
turn, in reward for your kindness.'

So lucky Peasie took the nice hot cake, and, dividing it into two
pieces, put one aside for her sister, and ate the other while she went
on her way.

Now when she reached the plum-tree, the topmost branches were bending
down, covered with ripe yellow fruit.

'Take some, Peasie, take some!' groaned the laden tree; 'I have
ripened these as a reward for your kindness.'

So she gathered her veil full, and eating some, set the rest aside for
her sister; but when she arrived at home, instead of being pleased at
her little sister's good fortune and thoughtfulness, disagreeable
Beansie nearly cried with spite and envy, and was so cross, that poor
little sweet Peasie became quite remorseful over her own luck, and
suggested that her sister might be equally fortunate if she also went
to visit her father.

So, next morning, greedy Beansie set off to see what she could get
from the old man. But when she came to the plum-tree, and it cried
out, 'Oh, Beansie! stop a bit and tidy up my thorns a little, there's
a good soul!' the disobliging Beansie tossed her head, and replied, 'A
likely story! Why, I could travel three miles in the time it would
take me to settle up your stupid old thorns! Do it yourself!'

And when she met the _ppal_ tree, and it asked her to tie up its
broken branch, she only laughed, saying, 'It doesn't hurt _me_,
and I should have walked three miles in the time it would take to set
it right; so ask somebody else!'

Then when the fire said to her, 'Oh, sweet Beansie! tidy up my hearth
a bit, for I am half choked by my ashes,' the unkind girl replied,
'The more fool you for having ashes! You don't suppose I am going to
dawdle about helping people who won't help themselves? Not a bit of

So when she met the stream, and it asked her to clear away the sand
and the dead leaves which choked it, she replied, 'Do you imagine I'm
going to stop my walk that you may run? No, no!--every one for

At last she reached her father's house, full of determination not to
go away without a heavy load for at least two buffaloes, when, just as
she was entering the courtyard, her brother and his wife fell upon
her, and whacked her most unmercifully, crying, 'So this is your plan,
is it? Yesterday comes Peasie, while we were hard at work, and
wheedles her doting old father out of his best buffalo, and goodness
knows what else besides, and to-day _you_ come to rob us! Out of
the house, you baggage!'

With that they hounded her away, hot, tired, bruised, and hungry.

'Never mind!' said she, to console herself, 'I shall get the web of
cloth yet!'

Sure enough, when she crossed the stream, there was a web, three times
as fine as Peasie's, floating close to the shore, and greedy Beansie
went straight to get it; but, alas! the water was so deep that she was
very nearly drowned, while the beautiful cloth floated past her very
fingers. Thus all she got for her pains was a ducking.

'Never mind!' thought she, 'I'll have the string of pearls!'

Yes, there it hung on the broken branch; but when Beansie jumped to
catch it, branch and all fell right on her head, so that she was
stunned. When she came to herself, some one else had walked off with
the pearls, and she had only a bump on her head as big as an egg.

All these misfortunes had quite wearied her out; she was starving with
hunger, and hurried on to the fire, hoping for a nice hot sweet

Yes, there it was, smelling most deliciously, and Beansie snatched at
it so hastily that she burnt her fingers horribly and the cake rolled
away. Before she had done blowing at her fingers and hopping about in
pain, a crow had carried off the cake, and she was left lamenting.

'At any rate, I'll have the plums!' cried miserable Beansie, setting
off at a run, her mouth watering at the sight of the luscious yellow
fruit on the topmost branches. First she held on to a lower branch
with her left hand, and reached for the fruit with the right; then,
when that was all scratched and torn by the thorns, she held on with
her right, and tried to get the fruit with the left, but all to no
avail; and when face and hands were all bleeding and full of prickles,
she gave up the useless quest, and went home, bruised, beaten, wet,
sore, hungry, and scratched all over, where I have no doubt her kind
sister Peasie put her to bed, and gave her gruel and posset.


A Jackal and a Partridge swore eternal friendship; but the Jackal was
very exacting and jealous. 'You don't do half as much for me as I do
for you,' he used to say, 'and yet you talk a great deal of your
friendship. Now my idea of a friend is one who is able to make me
laugh or cry, give me a good meal, or save my life if need be. You
couldn't do that!'

'Let us see,' answered the Partridge; 'follow me at a little distance,
and if I don't make you laugh soon you may eat me!'

So she flew on till she met two travellers trudging along, one behind
the other. They were both footsore and weary, and the first carried
his bundle on a stick over his shoulder, while the second had his
shoes in his hand.

Lightly as a feather the Partridge settled on the first traveller's
stick. He, none the wiser, trudged on, but the second traveller,
seeing the bird sitting so tamely just in front of his nose, said to

'What a chance for a supper!' and immediately flung his shoes at it,
they being ready to hand. Whereupon the Partridge flew away, and the
shoes knocked off the first traveller's turban.

'What a plague do you mean?' cried he, angrily turning on his
companion. 'Why did you throw your shoes at my head?'

[Illustration: The second traveler preparing to fling his shoe at the

'Brother!' replied the other mildly, 'do not be vexed. I didn't throw
them at you, but at a Partridge that was sitting on your stick.'

'On my stick! Do you take me for a fool?' shouted the injured man, in
a great rage. 'Don't tell me such cock-and-bull stories. First you
insult me, and then you lie like a coward; but I'll teach you

Then he fell upon his fellow-traveller without more ado, and they
fought until they could not see out of their eyes, till their noses
were bleeding, their clothes in rags, and the Jackal had nearly died
of laughing.

'Are you satisfied?' asked the Partridge of her friend.

'Well,' answered the Jackal, 'you have certainly made me laugh, but I
doubt if you could make me cry. It is easy enough to be a buffoon; it
is more difficult to excite the higher emotions.'

'Let us see,' retorted the Partridge, somewhat piqued; 'there is a
huntsman with his dogs coming along the road. Just creep into that
hollow tree and watch me: if you don't weep scalding tears, you must
have no feeling in you!'

The Jackal did as he was bid, and watched the Partridge, who began
fluttering about the bushes till the dogs caught sight of her, when
she flew to the hollow tree where the Jackal was hidden. Of course
the dogs smelt him at once, and set up such a yelping and scratching
that the huntsman came up, and seeing what it was, dragged the Jackal
out by the tail. Whereupon the dogs worried him to their hearts'
content, and finally left him for dead.

By and by he opened his eyes--for he was only foxing--and saw the
Partridge sitting on a branch above him.

'Did you cry?' she asked anxiously. 'Did I rouse your higher emo---'

'Be quiet, will you!' snarled the Jackal; 'I'm half dead with fear!'

So there the Jackal lay for some time, getting the better of his
bruises, and meanwhile he became hungry.

'Now is the time for friendship!' said he to the Partridge. 'Get me a
good dinner, and I will acknowledge you are a true friend.'

'Very well!' replied the Partridge; 'only watch me, and help yourself
when the time comes.'

Just then a troop of women came by, carrying their husbands' dinners
to the harvest-field.

The Partridge gave a little plaintive cry, and began fluttering along
from bush to bush as if she were wounded.

'A wounded bird!--a wounded bird!' cried the women; 'we can easily
catch it!'

Whereupon they set off in pursuit, but the cunning Partridge played a
thousand tricks, till they became so excited over the chase that they
put their bundles on the ground in order to pursue it more nimbly.
The Jackal, meanwhile, seizing his opportunity, crept up, and made off
with a good dinner.

'Are you satisfied now?' asked the Partridge.

'Well,' returned the Jackal, 'I confess you have given me a very good
dinner; you have also made me laugh--and cry--ahem! But, after all,
the great test of friendship is beyond you--you couldn't save my

'Perhaps not,' acquiesced the Partridge mournfully, 'I am so small and
weak. But it grows late--we should be going home; and as it is a long
way round by the ford, let us go across the river. My friend the
crocodile will carry us over.'

Accordingly, they set off for the river, and the crocodile kindly
consented to carry them across, so they sat on his broad back and he
ferried them over. But just as they were in the middle of the stream
the Partridge remarked, 'I believe the crocodile intends to play us a
trick. How awkward if he were to drop you into the water!'

'Awkward for you too!' replied the Jackal, turning pale.

'Not at all! not at all! I have wings, you haven't.'

On this the Jackal shivered and shook with fear, and when the
crocodile, in a gruesome growl, remarked that he was hungry and wanted
a good meal, the wretched creature hadn't a word to say.

'Pooh!' cried the Partridge airily, 'don't try tricks on _us_,--
I should fly away, and as for my friend the Jackal, you couldn't hurt
_him_. He is not such a fool as to take his life with him on
these little excursions; he leaves it at home, locked up in the

'Is that a fact?' asked the crocodile, surprised.

'Certainly!' retorted the Partridge. 'Try to eat him if you like, but
you will only tire yourself to no purpose.'

'Dear me! how very odd!' gasped the crocodile; and he was so taken
aback that he carried the Jackal safe to shore.

'Well, are you satisfied now?' asked the Partridge.

'My dear madam!' quoth the Jackal, 'you have made me laugh, you have
made me cry, you have given me a good dinner, and you have saved my
life; but upon my honour I think you are too clever for a friend; so,

And the Jackal never went near the Partridge again.


Once upon a time King Ali Mardan went out a-hunting, and as he hunted
in the forest above the beautiful Dal lake, which stretches clear and
placid between the mountains and the royal town of Srinagar, he came
suddenly on a maiden, lovely as a flower, who, seated beneath a tree,
was weeping bitterly. Bidding his followers remain at a distance, he
went up to the damsel, and asked her who she was, and how she came to
be alone in the wild forest.

'O great King,' she answered, looking up in his face, 'I am the
Emperor of China's handmaiden, and as I wandered about in the
pleasure-grounds of his palace I lost my way. I know not how far I
have come since, but now I must surely die, for I am weary and

'So fair a maiden must not die while Ali Mardan can deliver her,'
quoth the monarch, gazing ardently on the beautiful girl. So he bade
his servants convey her with the greatest care to his summer palace in
the Shalimar gardens, where the fountains scatter dewdrops over the
beds of flowers, and laden fruit-trees bend over the marble
colonnades. And there, amid the flowers and sunshine, she lived with
the King, who speedily became so enamoured of her that he forgot
everything else in the world.

So the days passed until it chanced that a Jgi's servant, coming back
from the holy lake Gangabal, which lies on the snowy peak of Haramukh,
whither he went every year to draw water for his master, passed by the
gardens; and over the high garden wall he saw the tops of the
fountains, leaping and splashing like silver sunshine. He was so
astonished at the sight that he put his vessel of water on the ground,
and climbed over the wall, determined to see the wonderful things
inside. Once in the garden amid the fountains and flowers, he
wandered hither and thither, bewildered by beauty, until, wearied out
by excitement, he lay down under a tree and fell asleep.

Now the King, coming to walk in the garden, found the man lying there,
and noticed that he held something fast in his closed right hand.
Stooping down, Ali Mardan gently loosed the fingers, and discovered a
tiny box filled with a sweet-smelling ointment. While he was
examining this more closely, the sleeper awoke, and missing his box,
began to weep and wail; whereupon the King bade him be comforted, and
showing him the box, promised to return it if he would faithfully tell
why it was so precious to him.

'O great King,' replied the Jgi's servant, 'the box belongs to my
master, and it contains a holy ointment of many virtues. By its power
I am preserved from all harm, and am able to go to Gangabal and return
with my jar full of water in so short a time that my master is never
without the sacred element.'

Then the King was astonished, and, looking at the man keenly, said,
'Tell me the truth! Is your master indeed such a holy saint? Is he
indeed such a wonderful man?'

'O King,' replied the servant, 'he is indeed such a man, and there is
nothing in the world he does not know!'

This reply aroused the King's curiosity, and putting the box in his
vest, he said to the servant, 'Go home to your master, and tell him
King Ali Mardan has his box, and means to keep it until he comes to
fetch it himself.' In this way he hoped to entice the holy Jgi into
his presence.

So the servant, seeing there was nothing else to be done, set off to
his master, but he was two years and a half in reaching home, because
he had not the precious box with the magical ointment; and all this
time Ali Mardan lived with the beautiful stranger in the Shalimar
palace, and forgot everything in the wide world except her
loveliness. Yet he was not happy, and a strange look came over his
face, and a stony stare into his eyes.

Now, when the servant reached home at last, and told his master what
had occurred, the Jgi was very angry, but as he could not get on
without the box which enabled him to procure the water from Gangabal,
he set off at once to the court of King Ali Mardan. On his arrival,
the King treated him with the greatest honour, and faithfully
fulfilled the promise of returning the box.

Now the Jgi was indeed a learned man, and when he saw the King he
knew at once all was not right, so he said, 'O King, you have been
gracious unto me, and I in my turn desire to do you a kind action; so
tell me truly,--have you always had that white scared face and those
stony eyes?'

The King hung his head.

'Tell me truly,' continued the holy Jgi, 'have you any strange woman
in your palace?'

Then Ali Mardan, feeling a strange relief in speaking, told the Jgi
about the finding of the maiden, so lovely and forlorn, in the forest.

'She is no handmaiden of the Emperor of China--she is no woman!'
quoth the Jgi fearlessly; 'she is nothing but a Lamia--the dreadful
two-hundred-years-old snake which has the power of taking woman's

Hearing this, King Ali Mardan was at first indignant, for he was madly
in love with the stranger; but when the Jgi insisted, he became
alarmed, and at last promised to obey the holy man's orders, and so
discover the truth or falsehood of his words.

Therefore, that same evening he ordered two kinds of _khichr_ to
be made ready for supper, and placed in one dish, so that one half was
sweet _khichr_, and the other half salt.

Now, when as usual the King sat down to eat out of the same dish with
the Snake-woman, he turned the salt side towards her and the sweet
side towards himself.

She found her portion very salt, but, seeing the King eat his with
relish and without remark, finished hers in silence. But when they
had retired to rest, and the King, obeying the Jgi's orders, had
feigned sleep, the Snake-woman became so dreadfully thirsty, in
consequence of all the salt food she had eaten, that she longed for a
drink of water; and as there was none in the room, she was obliged to
go outside to get some.

Now, if a Snake-woman goes out at night, she must resume her own
loathsome form; so, as King Ali Mardan lay feigning sleep, he saw the
beautiful form in his arms change to a deadly slimy snake, that slid
from the bed out of the door into the garden. He followed it softly,
watching it drink of every fountain by the way, until it reached the
Dal lake, where it drank and bathed for hours.

Fully satisfied of the truth of the Jgi's story, King Ali Mardan
begged him for aid in getting rid of the beautiful horror. This the
Jgi promised to do, if the King would faithfully obey orders. So
they made an oven of a hundred different kinds of metal melted
together, and closed by a strong lid and a heavy padlock. This they
placed in a shady corner of the garden, fastening it securely to the
ground by strong chains. When all was ready, the King said to the
Snake-woman, 'My heart's beloved! let us wander in the gardens alone
to-day, and amuse ourselves by cooking our own food,'

She, nothing loath, consented, and so they wandered about in the
garden; and when dinner-time came, set to work, with laughter and
mirth, to cook their own food.

The King heated the oven very hot, and kneaded the bread, but being
clumsy at it, he told the Snake-woman he could do no more, and that
she must bake the bread. This she at first refused to do, saying that
she disliked ovens, but when the King pretended to be vexed, averring
she could not love him since she refused to help, she gave in, and set
to work with a very bad grace to tend the baking.

Then, just as she stooped over the oven's mouth, to turn the loaves,
the King, seizing his opportunity, pushed her in, and clapping down
the cover, locked and double-locked it.

[Illustration: Snake-woman in the oven]

Now, when the Snake-woman found herself caught in the scorching oven,
she bounded so, that had it not been for the strong chains, she would
have bounded out of the garden, oven and all! But as it was, all she
could do was to bound up and down, whilst the King and the Jgi piled
fuel on to the fire, and the oven grew hotter and hotter. So it went
on from four o'clock one afternoon to four o'clock the next, when the
Snake-woman ceased to bound, and all was quiet.

They waited until the oven grew cold, and then opened it, when not a
trace of the Snake-woman was to be seen, only a tiny heap of ashes,
out of which the Jgi took a small round stone, and gave it to the
King, saying, 'This is the real essence of the Snake-woman, and
whatever you touch with it will turn to gold.'

But King Ali Mardan said such a treasure was more than any man's life
was worth, since it must bring envy and battle and murder to its
possessor; so when he went to Attock he threw the magical Snake-stone
into the river, lest it should bring strife into the world.


_Once_ upon a time there lived a King who had two sons, and when
he died he left them all his treasures; but the younger brother began
to squander it all so lavishly that the elder said, 'Let us divide
what there is, and do you take your own share, and do what you please
with it.'

So the younger took his poition, and spent every farthing of it in no

When he had literally nothing left, he asked his wife to give him what
she had. Then she wept, saying, 'I have nothing left but one small
piece of jewellery; however, take that also if you want it.'

So he took the jewel, sold it for four pounds, and taking the money
with him, set off to make his fortune in the world.

As he went on his way he met a man with a cat
'How much for your cat?' asked the spendthrift

'Nothing less than a golden pound/ replied the man.

'A bargain indeed!' cried the spendthrift, and immediately bought the
cat for a golden sovereign.

By and by he met a man with a dog, and called out as before, 'How much
for your dog?' And when the man said not less than a golden pound,
the Prince again declared it was a bargain indeed, and bought it

Then he met a man carrying a parrot, and called out as before, 'How
much for the parrot?' And when he heard it was only a golden
sovereign he was delighted, saying once more that was a bargain

He had only one pound left. Yet even then, when he met a Jgi
carrying a serpent, he cried out at once, 'O Jgi, how much for the

'Not a farthing less than a golden sovereign,' quoth the Jgi.

'And very little, too!' cried the spendthrift, handing over his last

So there he was, possessed of a cat, a dog, a parrot, and a snake, but
not a single penny in his pocket. However, he set to work bravely to
earn his living; but the hard labour wearied him dreadfully, for being
a Prince he was not used to it. Now when his serpent saw this, it
pitied its kind master, and said, 'Prince, if you are not afraid to
come to my father's house, he will perhaps give you something for
saving me from the Jgi.' The spendthrift Prince was not a bit afraid
of anything, so he and the serpent set off together, but when they
arrived at the house, the snake bade the Prince wait outside, while it
went in alone and prepared the snake-father for a visitor. When the
snake-father heard what the serpent had to say, he was much pleased,
declaring he would reward the Prince by giving him anything he
desired. So the serpent went out to fetch the Prince into the
snake-father's presence, and when doing so, it whispered in his ear,
'My father will give you anything you desire. Remember only to ask
for his little ring as a keepsake.'

This rather astonished the Prince, who naturally thought a ring would
be of little use to a man who was half starving; however, he did as he
was bid, and when the snake-father asked him what he desired, he
replied, 'Thank you; I have everything, and want for nothing.'

Then the snake-father asked him once more what he would take as a
reward, but again he answered that he wanted nothing, having all that
heart could desire.

Nevertheless, when the snake-father asked him the third time, he
replied, 'Since you wish me to take something, let it be the ring you
wear on your finger, as a keepsake.'

Then the snake-father frowned, and looked displeased, saying, 'Were it
not for my promise, I would have turned you into ashes on the spot,
for daring to ask for my greatest treasure. But as I have said, it
must be. Take the ring, and go!'

So the Prince, taking the ring, set off homewards with his servant the
serpent, to whom he said regretfully, 'This old ring is a mistake; I
have only made the snake-father angry by asking for it, and much good
it will do me! It would have been wiser to say a sack of gold.'

'Not so, my Prince!' replied the serpent; 'that ring is a wonderful
ring! You have only to make a clean square place on the ground,
plaster it over according to the custom of holy places, put the ring
in the centre, sprinkle it with buttermilk, and then whatever you wish
for will be granted immediately.'

Vastly delighted at possessing so great a treasure as this magic ring,
the Prince went on his way rejoicing, but by and by, as he trudged
along the road, he began to feel hungry, and thought he would put his
ring to the test. So, making a holy place, he put the ring in the
centre, sprinkled it with buttermilk, and cried, 'O ring, I want some
sweetmeats for dinner!'

No sooner had he uttered the words, than a dishful of most delicious
sweets appeared on the holy place. These he ate, and then set off to
a city he saw in the distance.

As he entered the gate a proclamation was being made that any one who
would build a palace of gold, with golden stairs, in the middle of the
sea, in the course of one night, should have half the kingdom, and the
King's daughter in marriage; but if he failed, instant death should be
his portion.

Hearing this, the spendthrift Prince went at once to the Court and
declared his readiness to fulfil the conditions.

The King was much surprised at his temerity, and bade him consider
well what he was doing, telling him that many princes had tried to
perform the task before, and showing him a necklace of their heads, in
hopes that the dreadful sight might deter him from his purpose.

But the Prince merely replied that he was not afraid, and that he was
certain he should succeed.

Whereupon the King ordered him to build the palace that very night,
and setting a guard over him, bade the sentries be careful the young
boaster did not run away. Now when evening came, the Prince lay down
calmly to sleep, whereat the guard whispered amongst themselves that
he must be a madman to fling away his life so uselessly.
Nevertheless, with the first streak of dawn the Prince arose, and
making a holy place, laid the ring in the centre, sprinkled it with
buttermilk, and cried, 'O ring, I want a palace of gold, with golden
stairs, in the midst of the sea!'

And lo! there in the sea it stood, all glittering in the sunshine.
Seeing this, the guard ran to tell the King, who could scarcely
believe his eyes when he and all his Court came to the spot and beheld
the golden palace.

Nevertheless, as the Prince had fulfilled his promise, the King
performed his, and gave his daughter in marriage, and half his
kingdom, to the spendthrift.

'I don't want your kingdom, or your daughter either!' said the
Prince. 'I will take the palace I have built in the sea as my

So he went to dwell there, but when they sent the Princess to him, he
relented, seeing her beauty; and so they were married and lived very
happily together.

Now, when the Prince went out a-hunting he took his dog with him, but
he left the cat and the parrot in the palace, to amuse the Princess;
nevertheless, one day, when he returned, he found her very sad and
sorrowful, and when he begged her to tell him what was the matter, she
said, 'O dear Prince, I wish to be turned into gold by the power of
the magic ring by which you built this glittering golden palace.'

So, to please her, he made a holy place, put the ring in the centre,
sprinkled it with buttermilk, and cried, 'O ring, turn my wife into

No sooner had he said the words than his wish was accomplished, and
his wife became a golden Princess.

Now, when the golden Princess was washing her beautiful golden hair
one day, two long glittering hairs came out in the comb. She looked
at them, regretting that there were no poor people near to whom she
might have given the golden strands; then, determining they should not
be lost, she made a cup of green leaves, and curling the hairs inside
it, set it afloat upon the sea.

As luck would have it, after drifting hither and thither, it reached a
distant shore where a washerman was at work. The poor man, seeing the
wonderful gold hairs, took them to the King, hoping for a reward; and
the King in his turn showed them to his son, who was so much struck by
the sight that he lay down on a dirty old bed, to mark his extreme
grief and despair, and, refusing to eat or drink anything, swore he
must marry the owner of the beautiful golden hair, or die.

The King, greatly distressed at his son's state, cast about how he
should find the golden-haired Princess, and after calling his
ministers and nobles to help him, came to the conclusion that it would
be best to employ a wise woman. So he called the wisest woman in the
land to him, and she promised to find the Princess, on condition of
the King, in his turn, promising to give her anything she desired as a

Then the wise woman caused a golden barge to be made, and in the barge
a silken cradle swinging from silken ropes. When all was ready, she
set off in the direction whence the leafy cup had come, taking with
her four boatmen, whom she trained carefully always to stop rowing
when she put up her finger, and go on as long as she kept it down.

After a long while they came in sight of the golden palace, which the
wise woman guessed at once must belong to the golden Princess; so,
putting up her finger, the boatmen ceased rowing, and the wise woman,
stepping out of the boat, went swiftly into the palace. There she saw
the golden Princess, sitting on a golden throne; and going up to her,
she laid her hands upon the Princess's head, as is the custom when
relatives visit each other; afterwards she kissed her and petted her,
saying, 'Dearest niece! do you not know me? I am your aunt.'

But the Princess at first drew back, and said she had never seen or
heard of such an aunt. Then the wise woman explained how she had left
home years before, and made up such a cunning, plausible story that
the Princess, who was only too glad to get a companion, really
believed what she said, and invited her to stop a few days in the

Now, as they sat talking together, the wise woman asked the Princess
if she did not find it dull alone in the palace in the midst of the
sea, and inquired how they managed to live there without servants, and
how the Prince her husband came and went. Then the Princess told her
about the wonderful ring the Prince wore day and night, and how by its
help they had everything heart could desire.

On this, the pretended aunt looked very grave, and suggested the
terrible plight in which the Princess would be left should the Prince
come to harm while away from her. She spoke so earnestly that the
Princess became quite alarmed, and the same evening, when her husband
returned, she said to him, 'Husband, I wish you would give me the ring
to keep while you are away a-hunting, for if you were to come to harm,
what would become of me alone in this sea-girt palace?'

So, next morning, when the Prince went a-hunting, he left the magical
ring in his wife's keeping.

As soon as the wicked wise woman knew that the ring was really in the
possession of the Princess, she persuaded her to go down the golden
stairs to the sea, and look at the golden boat with the silken cradle;
so, by coaxing words and cunning arts the golden Princess was
inveigled into the boat, in order to have a tiny sail on the sea; but
no sooner was her prize safe in the silken cradle, than the pretended
aunt turned down her finger, and the boatmen immediately began to row
swiftly away.

Soon the Princess begged to be taken back, but the wise woman only
laughed, and answered all the poor girl's tears and prayers with slaps
and harsh words. At last they arrived at the royal city, where great
rejoicings arose when the news was noised abroad that the wise woman
had returned with the golden bride for the love-sick Prince.
Nevertheless, despite all entreaties, the Princess refused even to
look at the Prince for six months; if in that time, she said, her
husband did not claim her, she might think of marriage, but until then
she would not hear of it.

To this the Prince agreed, seeing that six months was not a very long
time to wait; besides, he knew that even should her husband or any
other guardian turn up, nothing was easier than to kill them, and so
get rid both of them and their claims.

Meanwhile, the spendthrift Prince having returned from hunting, called
out as usual to his wife on reaching the golden stairs, but received
no answer; then, entering the palace, he found no one there save the
parrot, which flew towards him and said, 'O master, the Princess's
aunt came here, and has carried her off in a golden boat.'

Hearing this, the poor Prince fell to the ground in a fit, and would
not be consoled. At last, however, he recovered a little, when the
parrot, to comfort him, bade him wait there while it flew away over
the sea to gather news of the lost bride.

So the faithful parrot flew from land to land, from city to city, from
house to house, until it saw the glitter of the Princess's golden
hair. Then it fluttered down beside her and bidding her be of good
courage, for it had come to help her, asked for the magic ring.
Whereupon the golden Princess wept more than ever, for she knew the
wise woman kept the ring in her mouth day and night, and that none
could take it from her.

However, when the parrot consulted the cat, which had accompanied the
faithful bird, the crafty creature declared nothing could be easier.

'All the Princess has to do,' said the cat, 'is to ask the wise woman
to give her rice for supper tonight, and instead of eating it all, she
must scatter some in front of the rat-hole in her room. The rest is
my business, and yours.'

So that night the Princess had rice for supper, and instead of eating
it all, she scattered some before the rat-hole. Then she went to bed,
and slept soundly, and the wise woman snored beside her. By and by,
when all was quiet, the rats came out to eat up the rice, when the
cat, with one bound, pounced on the one which had the longest tail,
and carrying it to where the wise woman lay snoring with her mouth
open, thrust the tail up her nose. She woke with a most terrific
sneeze, and the ring flew out of her mouth on to the floor. Before
she could turn, the parrot seized it in his beak, and, without pausing
a moment, flew back with it to his master the spendthrift Prince, who
had nothing to do but make a holy place, lay the ring in the centre,
sprinkle it with buttermilk, and say, 'O ring, I want my wife!' and
there she was, as beautiful as ever, and overjoyed at seeing the
golden palace and her dear husband once more.


Once upon a time a Jackal and a Pea-hen swore eternal friendship.
Every day they had their meals together, and spent hours in pleasant

Now, one day, the Pea-hen had juicy plums for dinner, and the Jackal,
for his part, had as juicy a young kid; so they enjoyed themselves
immensely. But when the feast was over, the Pea-hen rose gravely,
and, after scratching up the ground, carefully sowed all the
plum-stones in a row.

'It is my custom to do so when I eat plums,' she said, with quite an
aggravating air of complacent virtue; 'my mother, good creature,
brought me up in excellent habits, and with her dying breath bade me
never be wasteful. Now these stones will grow into trees, the fruit
of which, even if I do not live to see the day, will afford a meal to
many a hungry peacock.'

These words made the Jackal feel rather mean, so he answered loftily,
'Exactly so! I always plant my bones for the same reason.' And he
carefully dug up a piece of ground, and sowed the bones of the kid at

After this, the pair used to come every day and look at their gardens;
by and by the plum-stones shot into tender green stems, but the bones
made never a sign.

'Bones do take a long time germinating,' remarked the Jackal,
pretending to be quite at his ease; 'I have known them remain
unchanged in the ground for months.'

'My dear sir,' answered the Pea-hen, with ill-concealed irony,
'_I_ have known them remain so for _years_!'

So time passed on, and every day, when they visited the garden, the
self-complacent Pea-hen became more and more sarcastic, the Jackal
more and more savage.

At last the plum-trees blossomed and bore fruit, and the Pea-hen sat
down to a perfect feast of ripe juicy plums.

'He! he!' sniggered she to the Jackal, who, having been unsuccessful
in hunting that day, stood by dinnerless, hungry, and in consequence
very cross; 'what a time those old bones of yours do take in coming
up! But when they do, my! what a crop you'll have!'

The Jackal was bursting with rage, but she wouldn't take warning, and
went on: 'Poor dear! you do look hungry! There seems some chance of
your starving before harvest. What a pity it is you can't eat plums
in the meantime!'

'If I can't eat plums, I can eat the plum-eater!' quoth the Jackal;
and with that he pounced on the Pea-hen, and gobbled her up.

_Moral_--It is never safe to be wiser than one's friends.

[Illustration: It is never safe to be wiser than ones friends. ]


Once upon a time a farmer's wife was winnowing corn, when a crow,
flying past, swooped off with a grain from the winnowing basket and
perched on a tree close by to eat it. The farmer's wife, greatly
enraged, flung a clod at the bird with so good an aim that the crow
fell to the ground, dropping the grain of corn, which rolled into a
crack in the tree. The farmer's wife, seeing the crow fall, ran up to
it, and seizing it by the tail, cried, 'Give me back my grain of corn,
or I will kill you!'

The wretched bird, in fear of death, promised to do so, but, lo and
behold! when he came to search for the grain, it had rolled so far
into the crack that neither by beak nor claw could he reach it.

So he flew off to a woodman, and said--

'Man! man! cut tree;
I can't get the grain of corn
To save my life from the farmer's wife!'

But the woodman refused to cut the tree; so the crow flew on to the
King's palace, and said--

'King! king! kill man;
Man won't cut tree;
I can't get the grain of corn.
To save my life from the farmer's wife!'

But the King refused to kill the man; so the crow flew on to the
Queen, and said--

'Queen! Queen! coax King;
King won't kill man;
Man won't cut tree;
I can't get the grain of corn
To save my life from the farmer's wife!'

But the Queen refused to coax the King; so the crow flew on till he
met a snake, and said--

'Snake! snake! bite Queen;
Queen won't coax King;
King won't kill man;
Man won't cut tree;
I can't get the grain of corn
To save my life from the farmer's wife!'

But the snake refused to bite the Queen; so the crow flew on till he
met a stick, and said--

'Stick! stick! beat snake;
Snake won't bite Queen;
Queen won't coax King;
King won't kill man;
Man won't cut tree;
I can't get the grain of corn
To save my life from the farmer's wife!'

But the stick refused to beat the snake; so the crow flew on till he
saw a fire, and said--

'Fire! fire! burn stick;
Stick won't beat snake;
Snake won't bite Queen;
Queen won't coax King;
King won't kill man;
Man won't cut tree;
I can't get the grain of corn
To save my life from the farmer's wife!'

But the fire refused to burn the stick; so the crow flew on till he
met some water, and said--

'Water! water! quench fire;
Fire won't burn stick;
Stick won't beat snake;
Snake won't bite Queen;
Queen won't coax King;
King won't kill man;
Man won't cut tree;
I can't get the grain of corn
To save my life from the farmer's wife!'

But the water refused to quench the fire; so the crow flew on till he
met an ox, and said--

'Ox! ox! drink water;
Water won't quench fire;
Fire won't burn stick;
Stick won't beat snake;
Snake won't bite Queen;
Queen won't coax King;
King won't kill man;
Man won't cut tree;
I can't get the grain of corn
To save my life from the farmer's wife!'

But the ox refused to drink the water; so the crow flew on till he met
a rope, and said--

'Rope! rope! bind ox;
Ox won't drink water;
Water won't quench fire;
Fire won't burn stick;
Stick won't beat snake;
Snake won't bite Queen;
Queen won't coax King;
King won't kill man;
Man won't cut tree;
I can't get the grain of corn
To save my life from the farmer's wife!'

But the rope wouldn't bind the ox; so the crow flew on till he met a
mouse, and said--

'Mouse! mouse! gnaw rope;
Rope won't bind ox;
Ox won't drink water;
Water won't quench fire;
Fire won't burn stick;
Stick won't beat snake;
Snake won't bite Queen;
Queen won't coax King;
King won't kill man;
Man won't cut tree;
I can't get the grain of corn
To save my life from the farmer's wife!'

But the mouse wouldn't gnaw the rope; so the crow flew on until he met
a cat, and said--

'Cat! cat! catch mouse;
Mouse won't gnaw rope;
Rope won't bind ox;
Ox won't drink water;
Water won't quench fire;
Fire won't burn stick;
Stick won't beat snake;
Snake won't bite Queen;
Queen won't coax King;
King won't kill man;
Man won't cut tree;
And I can't get the grain of corn
To save my life from the farmer's wife!'

The moment the cat heard the name of mouse, she was after it; for the
world will come to an end before a cat will leave a mouse alone.

'So the cat began to catch the mouse,
The mouse began to gnaw the rope,
The rope began to bind the ox,
The ox began to drink the water,
The water began to quench the fire,
The fire began to burn the stick,
The stick began to beat the snake,
The snake began to bite the Queen,
The Queen began to coax the King,
The King began to kill the man,
The man began to cut the tree;
So the crow got the grain of corn,
And saved his life from the farmer's wife!'


There was once a farmer who suffered much at the hands of a
money-lender. Good harvests, or bad, the farmer was always poor, the
moneylender rich. At last, when he hadn't a farthing left, the farmer
went to the moneylender's house, and said, 'You can't squeeze water
from a stone, and as you have nothing to get by me now, you might tell
me the secret of becoming rich.'

'My friend,' returned the money-lender piously, 'riches come from
Ram--ask _him_.'

'Thank you, I will!' replied the simple farmer; so he prepared three
girdle-cakes to last him on the journey, and set out to find Ram.

First he met a Brhman, and to him he gave a cake, asking him to point
out the road to Ram; but the Brhman only took the cake and went on
his way without a word. Next the farmer met a Jgi or devotee, and to
him he gave a cake, without receiving any help in return. At last, he
came upon a poor man sitting under a tree, and finding out he was
hungry, the kindly farmer gave him his last cake, and sitting down to
rest beside him, entered into conversation.

'And where are you going?' asked the poor man at length.

'Oh, I have a long journey before me, for I am going to find Ram!'
replied the farmer. 'I don't suppose you could tell me which way to

'Perhaps I can,' said the poor man, smiling, 'for _I_ am Ram!
What do you want of me?'

Then the farmer told the whole story, and Ram, taking pity on him,
gave him a conch shell, and showed him how to blow it in a particular
way, saying, 'Remember! whatever you wish for, you have only to blow
the conch that way, and your wish will be fulfilled. Only have a care
of that money-lender, for even magic is not proof against their

The farmer went back to his village rejoicing. In fact the
money-lender noticed his high spirits at once, and said to himself,
'Some good fortune must have befallen the stupid fellow, to make him
hold his head so jauntily.' Therefore he went over to the simple
farmer's house, and congratulated him on his good fortune, in such
cunning words, pretending to have heard all about it, that before long
the farmer found himself telling the whole story--all except the
secret of blowing the conch, for, with all his simplicity, the farmer
was not quite such a fool as to tell that.

Nevertheless, the money-lender determined to have the conch by hook or
by crook, and as he was villain enough not to stick at trifles, he
waited for a favourable opportunity and stole it.

But, after nearly bursting himself with blowing the thing in every
conceivable way, he was obliged to give up the secret as a bad job.
However, being determined to succeed, he went back to the farmer, and
said, 'Now, my friend! I've got your conch, but I can't use it; you
haven't got it, so it's clear you can't use it either. The matter is
at a standstill unless we make a bargain. Now, I promise to give you
back your conch, and never to interfere with your using it, on one
condition, which is this,--whatever you get from it, I am to get

'Never!' cried the farmer; 'that would be the old business all over

'Not at all!' replied the wily money-lender; 'you will have your
share! Now, don't be a dog in the manger, for if _you_ get all
you want, what can it matter to you if _I_ am rich or poor?'

At last, though it went sorely against the grain to be of any benefit
to a money-lender, the farmer was forced to yield, and from that time,
no matter what he gained by the power of the conch, the money-lender
gained double. And the knowledge that this was so preyed upon the
farmer's mind day and night, until he had no satisfaction out of
anything he did get.

At last there came a very dry season,--so dry that the farmer's crops
withered for want of rain. Then he blew his conch, and wished for a
well to water them, and, lo! there was the well. _But the
money-lender had two!_--two beautiful new wells! This was too much
for any farmer to stand; and our friend brooded over it, and brooded
over it, till at last a bright idea came into his head. He seized the
conch, blew it loudly, and cried out, 'O Ram, I wish to be blind of
one eye!' And so he was, in a twinkling, but the money-lender, of
course, was blind of both eyes, and in trying to steer his way between
the two new wells, he fell into one and was drowned.

Now this true story shows that a farmer once got the better of a
money-lender; but only by losing one of his eyes!


Once upon a time there was a road, and every one who travelled along
it died. Some folk said they were killed by a snake, others said by a
scorpion, but certain it is they all died.

Now a very old man was travelling along the road, and being tired, sat
down on a stone to rest; when suddenly, close beside him, he saw a
scorpion as big as a cock, which, while he looked at it, changed into
a horrible snake. He was wonderstruck, and as the creature glided
away, he determined to follow it at a little distance, and so find out
what it really was.

So the snake sped on day and night, and behind it followed the old man
like a shadow. Once it went into an inn, and killed several
travellers; another time it slid into the King's house and killed
him. Then it crept up the waterspout to the Queen's palace, and
killed the King's youngest daughter. So it passed on, and wherever it
went the sound of weeping and wailing arose, and the old man followed
it, silent as a shadow.

Suddenly the road became a broad, deep, swift river, on the banks of
which sat some poor travellers who longed to cross over, but had no
money to pay the ferry. Then the snake changed into a handsome
buffalo, with a brass necklace and bells round its neck, and stood by
the brink of the stream. When the poor travellers saw this, they
said, 'This beast is going to swim to its home across the river; let
us get on its back, and hold on to its tail, so that we too shall get
over the stream.'

Then they climbed on its back and held by its tail, and the buffalo
swam away with them bravely; but when it reached the middle, it began
to kick, until they tumbled off, or let go, and were all drowned.

When the old man, who had crossed the river in a boat, reached the
other side, the buffalo had disappeared, and in its stead stood a
beautiful ox. Seeing this handsome creature wandering about, a
peasant, struck with covetousness, lured it to his home. It was very
gentle, suffering itself to be tied up with the other cattle; but in
the dead of night it changed into a snake, bit all the flocks and
herds, and then, creeping into the house, killed all the sleeping
folk, and crept away. But behind it the old man still followed, as
silent as a shadow.

Presently they came to another river, where the snake changed itself
into the likeness of a beautiful young girl, fair to see, and covered
with costly jewels. After a while, two brothers, soldiers, came by,
and as they approached the girl, she began to weep bitterly.

'What is the matter?' asked the brothers; 'and why do you, so young
and beautiful, sit by the river alone?'

Then the snake-girl answered, 'My husband was even now taking me home;
and going down to the stream to look for the ferry-boat, fell to
washing his face, when he slipped in, and was drowned. So I have
neither husband nor relations!'

'Do not fear!' cried the elder of the two brothers, who had become
enamoured of her beauty; 'come with me, and I will marry you.'

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