Twenty-Two GoblinsSomadeva

Transcribed by “Batsy” Bybell, TWENTY-TWO GOBLINS Translated from the Sanskrit by Arthur W. Ryder CONTENTS Introduction Goblin-story 1. The Prince’s Elopement. Whose fault was the resulting death of his parents-in-law? 2. The Three Lovers who brought the Dead Girl to Life. Whose wife should she be? 3. The Parrot and the Thrush. Which are
This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 1063-1081
Buy it on Amazon Listen via Audible FREE Audible 30 days

Transcribed by “Batsy” Bybell,


Translated from the Sanskrit by Arthur W. Ryder




1. The Prince’s Elopement. Whose fault was the resulting death of his parents-in-law?

2. The Three Lovers who brought the Dead Girl to Life. Whose wife should she be?

3. The Parrot and the Thrush. Which are worse, men or women?

4. King Shudraka and Hero’s Family. Which of the five deserves the most honour?

5. The Brave Man, the Wise Man, and the Clever Man. To which should the girl be given?

6. The Girl who transposed the Heads of her Husband and Brother. Which combination of head and body is her husband?

7. The Mutual Services of King Fierce-lion and Prince Good. Which is the more deserving?

8. The Specialist in Food, the Specialist in Women, and the Specialist in Cotton. Which is the cleverest?

9. The Four Scientific Suitors. To which should the girl be given?

10. The Three Delicate Wives of King Virtue-banner. Which is the most delicate?

11. The King who won a Fairy as his Wife. Why did his counsellor’s heart break?

12. The Brahman who died because Poison from a Snake in the Claws of a Hawk fell into a Dish of Food given him by a Charitable Woman. Who is to blame for his death?

13. The Girl who showed Great Devotion to the Thief. Did he weep or laugh?

14. The Man who changed into a Woman at Will. Was his wife his or the other man’s?

15. The Fairy Prince Cloud-chariot and the Serpent Shell-crest. Which is the more self-sacrificing?

16. The King who died for Love of his General’s Wife; the General follows him in Death. Which is the more worthy?

17. The Youth who went through the Proper Ceremonies. Why did he fail to win the magic spell?

18. The Boy whom his Parents, the King, and the Giant conspired to Kill. Why did he laugh at the moment of death?

19. The Man, his Wife, and her Lover, who all died for Love. Which was the most foolish?

20. The Four Brothers who brought a Dead Lion to Life. Which is to blame when he kills them all?

21. The Old Hermit who exchanged his Body for that of the Dead Boy. Why did he weep and dance?

22. The Father and Son who married Daughter and Mother. What relation were their children?




On the bank of the Godavari River is a kingdom called the Abiding Kingdom. There lived the son of King Victory, the famous King Triple-victory, mighty as the king of the gods. As this king sat in judgment, a monk called Patience brought him every day one piece of fruit as an expression of homage. And the king took it and gave it each day to the treasurer who stood near. Thus twelve years passed.

Now one day the monk came to court, gave the king a piece of fruit as usual, and went away. But on this day the king gave the fruit to a pet baby monkey that had escaped from his keepers, and happened to wander in. And as the monkey ate the fruit, he split it open, and a priceless, magnificent gem came out.

When the king saw this, he took it and asked the treasurer: “Where have you been keeping the fruits which the monk brought? I gave them to you.” When the treasurer heard this, he was frightened and said: “Your Majesty, I have thrown them all through the window. If your Majesty desires, I will look for them now.” And when the king had dismissed him, he went, but returned in a moment, and said again: “Your Majesty, they were all smashed in the treasury, and in them I see heaps of dazzling gems.”

When he heard this, the king was delighted, and gave the jewels to the treasurer. And when the monk came the next day, he asked him: “Monk, why do you keep honouring me in such an expensive way? Unless I know the reason, I will not take your fruit.”

Then the monk took the king aside and said: “O hero, there is a business in which I need help. So I ask for your help in it, because you are a brave man.” And the king promised his assistance.

Then the monk was pleased, and said again: “O King, on the last night of the waning moon, you must go to the great cemetery at nightfall, and come to me under the fig-tree.” Then the king said “Certainly,” and Patience, the monk, went home well pleased.

So when the night came, the mighty king remembered his promise to the monk, and at dusk he wrapped his head in a black veil, took his sword in his hand, and went to the great cemetery without being seen. When he got there, he looked about, and saw the monk standing under the fig-tree and making a magic circle. So he went up and said: “Monk, here I am. Tell me what I am to do for you.”

And when the monk saw the king, he was delighted and said: “O King, if you wish to do me a favour, go south from here some distance all alone, and you will see a sissoo tree and a dead body hanging from it. Be so kind as to bring that here.”

When the brave king heard this, he agreed, and, true to his promise, turned south and started. And as he walked with difficulty along the cemetery road, he came upon the sissoo tree at some distance, and saw a body hanging on it. So he climbed the tree, cut the rope, and let it fall to the ground. And as it fell, it unexpectedly cried aloud, as if alive. Then the king climbed down, and thinking it was alive, he mercifully rubbed its limbs. Then the body gave a loud laugh.

So the king knew that a goblin lived in it, and said without fear: “What are you laughing about? Come, let us be off.” But then he did not see the goblin on the ground any longer. And when he looked up, there he was, hanging in the tree as before. So the king climbed the tree again, and carefully carried the body down. A brave man’s heart is harder than a diamond, and nothing makes it tremble.

Then he put the body with the goblin in it on his shoulder, and started off in silence. And as he walked along, the goblin in the body said: “O King, to amuse the journey, I will tell you a story. Listen.”


The Prince’s Elopement. Whose fault was the resulting death of his parents-in-law?

There is a city called Benares where Shiva lives. It is loved by pious people like the soil of Mount Kailasa. The river of heaven shines there like a pearl necklace. And in the city lived a king called Valour who burned up all his enemies by his valour, as a fire burns a forest. He had a son named Thunderbolt who broke the pride of the love-god by his beauty, and the pride of men by his bravery. This prince had a clever friend, the son of a counsellor.

One day the prince was enjoying himself with his friend hunting, and went a long distance. And so he came to a great forest. There he saw a beautiful lake, and being tired, he drank from it with his friend the counsellor’s son, washed his hands and feet, and sat down under a tree on the bank.

And then he saw a beautiful maiden who had come there with her servants to bathe. She seemed to fill the lake with the stream of her beauty, and seemed to make lilies grow there with her eyes, and seemed to shame the lotuses with a face more lovely than the moon. She captured the prince’s heart the moment that he saw her. And the prince took her eyes captive.

The girl had a strange feeling when she saw him, but was too modest to say a word. So she gave a hint of the feeling in her heart. She put a lotus on her ear, laid a lily on her head after she had made the edge look like a row of teeth, and placed her hand on her heart. But the prince did not understand her signs, only the clever counsellor’s son understood them all.

A moment later the girl went away, led by her servants. She went home and sat on the sofa and stayed there. But her thoughts were with the prince.

The prince went slowly back to his city, and was terribly lonely without her, and grew thinner every day. Then his friend the son of the counsellor took him aside and told him that she was not hard to find. But he had lost all courage and said: “My friend, I don’t know her name, nor her home, nor her family. How can I find her? Why do you vainly try to comfort me?”

Then the counsellor’s son said: “Did you not see all that she hinted with her signs? When she put the lotus on her ear, she meant that she lived in the kingdom of a king named Ear-lotus. And when she made the row of teeth, she meant that she was the daughter of a man named Bite there. And when she laid the lily on her head, she meant that her name was Lily. And when she placed her hand on her heart, she meant that she loved you. And there is a king named Ear-lotus in the Kalinga country. There is a very rich man there whom the king likes. His real name is Battler, but they call him Bite. He has a pearl of a girl whom he loves more than his life, and her name is Lily. This is true, because people told me. So I understood her signs about her country and the other things.” When the counsellor’s son had said this, the prince was delighted to find him so clever, and pleased because he knew what to do.

Then he formed a plan with the counsellor’s son, and started for the lake again, pretending that he was going to hunt, but really to find the girl that he loved. On the way he rode like the wind away from his soldiers, and started for the Kalinga country with the counsellor’s son.

When they reached the city of King Ear-lotus, they looked about and found the house of the man called Bite, and they went to a house near by to live with an old woman. And the counsellor’s son said to the old woman: “Old woman, do you know anybody named Bite in this city?”

Then the old woman answered him respectfully: “My son, I know him well. I was his nurse. And I am a servant of his daughter Lily. But I do not go there now because my dress is stolen. My naughty son is a gambler and steals my clothes.”

Then the counsellor’s son was pleased and satisfied her with his own cloak and other presents. And he said: “Mother, you must do very secretly what we tell you. Go to Bite’s daughter Lily, and tell her that the prince whom she saw on the bank of the lake is here, and sent you with a love-message to her.”

The old woman was pleased with the gifts and went to Lily at once. And when she got a chance, she said: “My child, the prince and the counsellor’s son have come to take you. Tell me what to do now.” But the girl scolded her and struck her cheeks with both hands smeared with camphor.

The old woman was hurt by this treatment, and came home weeping, and said to the two men: “My sons, see how she left the marks of her fingers on my face.”

And the prince was hopeless and sad, but the very clever counsellor’s son took him aside and said, “My friend, do not be sad. She was only keeping the secret when she scolded the old woman, and put ten fingers white with camphor on her face. She meant that you must wait before seeing her, for the next ten nights are bright with moonlight.”

So the counsellor’s son comforted the prince, took a little gold ornament and sold it in the market, and bought a great dinner for the old woman. So they two took dinner with the old woman. They did this for ten days, and then the counsellor’s son sent her to Lily again, to find out something more.

And the old woman was eager for dainty food and drink. So to please him she went to Lily’s house, and then came back and said: “My children, I went there and stayed with her for some time without speaking. But she spoke herself of my naughtiness in mentioning you, and struck me again on the chest with three fingers stained red. So I came back in disgrace.”

Then the counsellor’s son whispered to the prince: “Don’t be alarmed, my friend. When she left the marks of three red fingers on the old woman’s heart, she meant to say very cleverly that there were three dangerous days coming.” So the counsellor’s son comforted the prince.

And when three days were gone, he sent the old woman to Lily again. And this time she went and was very respectfully entertained, and treated to wine and other things the whole day. But when she was ready to go back in the evening, a terrible shouting was heard outside. They heard people running and crying: “Oh, oh! A mad elephant has escaped from his stable and is running around and stamping on people.”

Then Lily said to the old woman: “Mother, you must not go through the street now where the elephant is. I will put you in a swing and let you down with ropes through this great window into the garden. Then you can climb into a tree and jump on the wall, and go home by way of another tree.” So she had her servants let the old woman down from the window into the garden by a rope-swing. And the old woman went home and told the prince and the counsellor’s son all about it.

Then the counsellor’s son said to the prince: “My friend, your wishes are fulfilled. She has been clever enough to show you the road. So you must follow that same road this very evening to the room of your darling.”

So the prince went to the garden with the counsellor’s son by the road that the old woman had shown them. And there he saw the rope-swing hanging down, and servants above keeping an eye on the road. And when he got into the swing, the servants at the window pulled at the rope and he came to his darling. And when he had gone in, the counsellor’s son went back to the old woman’s house.

But the prince saw Lily, and her face was beautiful like the full moon, and the moonlight of her beauty shone forth, like the night when the moon shines in secret because of the dark. And when she saw him, she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. So he married her and stayed hidden with her for some days.

One day he said to his wife: “My dear, my friend the counsellor’s son came with me, and he is staying all alone at the old woman’s house. I must go and see him, then I will come back.”

But Lily was shrewd and said: “My dear, I must ask you something. Did you understand the signs I made, or was it the counsellor’s son?” And the prince said to her: “My dear, I did not understand them all, but my friend has wonderful wisdom. He understood everything and told me.” Then the sweet girl thought, and said: “My dear, you did wrong not to tell me before. Your friend is a real brother to me. I ought to have sent him some nuts and other nice things at the very first.”

Then she let him go, and he went to his friend by night by the same road, and told all that his wife had said. But the counsellor’s son said: “That is foolish,” and did not think much of it. So they spent the night talking.

Then when the time for the twilight sacrifice came, a friend of Lily’s came there with cooked rice and nuts in her hand. She came and asked the counsellor’s son about his health and gave him the present. And she cleverly tried to keep the prince from eating. “Your wife is expecting you to dinner,” she said, and a moment later she went away.

Then the counsellor’s son said to the prince: “Look, your Majesty. I will show you something curious.” So he took a little of the cooked rice and gave it to a dog that was there. And the moment he ate it, the dog died. And the prince asked the counsellor’s son what this strange thing could mean.

And he replied: “Your Majesty, she knew that I was clever because I understood her signs, and she wanted to kill me out of love for you. For she thought the prince would not be all her own while I was alive, but would leave her for my sake and go back to his own city. So she sent me poisoned food to eat. But you must not be angry with her. I will think up some scheme.”

Then the prince praised the counsellor’s son, and said: “You are truly the body of wisdom.” And then suddenly a great wailing of grief-stricken people was heard: “Alas! Alas! The king’s little son is dead.”

When he heard this, the counsellor’s son was delighted, and said: “Your Majesty, go to-night to Lily’s house, and make her drink wine until she loses her senses and seems to be dead. Then as she lies there, make a mark on her hip with a red-hot fork, steal her jewels, and come back the old way through the window. After that I will do the right thing.”

Then he made a three-pronged fork and gave it to the prince. And the prince took the crooked, cruel thing, hard as the weapon of Death, and went by night as before to Lily’s house. “A king,” he thought, “ought not to disregard the words of a high- minded counsellor.” So when he had stupefied her with wine, he branded her hip with the fork, stole her jewels, returned to his friend, and told him everything, showing him the jewels.

Then the counsellor’s son felt sure his scheme was successful. He went to the cemetery in the morning, and disguised himself as a hermit, and the prince as his pupil. And he said: “Take this pearl necklace from among the jewels. Go and sell it in the market-place. And if the policemen arrest you, say this: It was given to me to sell by my teacher.'”

So the prince went to the market-place and stood there offering the pearl necklace for sale, and he was arrested while doing it by the policemen. And as they were eager to find out about the theft of the jewels from Bite’s daughter, they took the prince at once to the chief of police. And when he saw that the culprit was dressed like a hermit, he asked him very gently: “Holy sir, where did you get this pearl necklace? It belongs to Bite’s daughter and was stolen.” Then the prince said to them: “Gentlemen, my teacher gave it to me to sell. You had better go and ask him.”

Then the chief of police went and asked him: “Holy sir, how did this pearl necklace come into your pupil’s hand?”

And the shrewd counsellor’s son whispered to him: “Sir, as I am a hermit, I wander about all the time in this region. And as I happened to be here in this cemetery, I saw a whole company of witches who came here at night. And one of the witches split open the heart of a king’s son, and offered it to her master. She was mad with wine, and screwed up her face most horribly. But when she impudently tried to snatch my rosary as I prayed, I became angry, and branded her on the hip with a three-pronged fork which I had made red-hot with a magic spell. And I took this pearl necklace from her neck. Then, as it was not a thing for a hermit, I sent it to be sold.”

When he heard this, the chief of police went and told the whole story to the king. And when the king heard and saw the evidence, he sent the old woman, who was reliable, to identify the pearl necklace. And he heard from her that Lily was branded on the hip.

Then he was convinced that she was really a witch and had devoured his son. So he went himself to the counsellor’s son, who was disguised as a hermit, and asked how Lily should be punished. And by his advice, she was banished from the city, though her parents wept. So she was banished naked to the forest and knew that the counsellor’s son had done it all, but she did not die.

And at nightfall the prince and the counsellor’s son put off their hermit disguise, mounted on horseback, and found her weeping. They put her on a horse and took her to their own country. And when they got there, the prince lived most happily with her.

But Bite thought that his daughter was eaten by wild beasts in the wood, and he died of grief. And his wife died with him.

When he had told this story, the goblin asked the king: “O King, who was to blame for the death of the parents: the prince, or the counsellor’s son, or Lily? You seem like a very wise man, so resolve my doubts on this point. If you know and do not tell me the truth, then your head will surely fly into a hundred pieces. And if you give a good answer, then I will jump from your shoulder and go back to the sissoo tree.”

Then King Triple-victory said to the goblin: “You are a master of magic. You surely know yourself, but I will tell you. It was not the fault of any of the three you mentioned. It was entirely the fault of King Ear-lotus.”

But the goblin said: “How could it be the king’s fault? The other three did it. Are the crows to blame when the geese eat up the rice?”

Then the king said: “But those three are not to blame. It was right for the counsellor’s son to do his master’s business. So he is not to blame. And Lily and the prince were madly in love and could not stop to think. They only looked after their own affairs. They are not to blame.

“But the king knew the law-books very well, and he had spies to find out the facts among the people. And he knew about the doings of rascals. So he acted without thinking. He is to blame.”

When the goblin heard this, he wanted to test the king’s constancy. So he went back by magic in a moment to the sissoo tree. And the king went back fearlessly to get him.


The Three Lovers who brought the Dead Girl to Life. Whose wife should she be?

Then King Triple-victory went back under the sissoo tree to fetch the goblin. And when he got there and looked about, he saw the goblin fallen on the ground and moaning. Then, when the king put the body with the goblin in it on his shoulder and started to carry him off quickly and silently, the goblin on his shoulder said to him: “Oh King, you have fallen into a very disagreeable task which you do not deserve. So to amuse you I will tell another story. Listen.”

On the bank of Kalindi River is a farm where a very learned Brahman lived. And he had a very beautiful daughter named Coral. When the Creator fashioned her fresh and peerless loveliness, surely he must have despised the cleverness he showed before in fashioning the nymphs of heaven.

When she had grown out of childhood, there came from the city of Kanauj three Brahman youths, endowed with all the virtues. And each of them asked her father for her, that she might be his own. And though her father would rather have died than give her up to anyone, he made up his mind to give her to one of them. But the girl would not marry any one of them for some time, because she was afraid of hurting the feelings of the other two. So they stayed there all three of them day and night, feasting on the beauty of her face, like the birds that live on moonbeams.

Then all at once Coral fell sick of a burning fever and died. And when the Brahman youths saw that she was dead, they were smitten with grief. But they adorned her body, took it to the cemetery, and burned it.

And one of them built a hut there, slept on a bed made of her ashes, and got his food by begging. The second took her bones and went to dip them in the sacred Ganges river. And the third became a monk and wandered in other countries.

And as he wandered, the monk came to a village called Thunderbolt, and was entertained in the house of a Brahman. But when he had been honoured by the master of the house and had begun to eat dinner there, the little boy began to cry and would not stop even when they petted him. So his mother took him on her arm, and angrily threw him into the blazing fire. And being tender, he was reduced to ashes in a moment.

When the monk saw this, his hair stood on end, and he said: “Alas! I have come into the house of a devil. I will not eat this food. It would be like eating sin.” But the master of the house said to him: “Brahman, I have studied to good purpose. See my skill in bringing the dead to life.” So he opened a book, took out a magic spell, read it, and sprinkled water on the ashes. And the moment the water was sprinkled, the boy stood up alive just as before. Then the monk was highly delighted and finished his dinner with pleasure.

And the master of the house hung the book on an ivory peg, took dinner with the monk, and went to bed. When he was asleep, the monk got up quietly, and tremblingly took the book, hoping to bring his darling Coral back to life. He went away and travelled night and day, until he finally reached the cemetery. And he caught sight of the second youth, who had come back after dipping the bones in the Ganges. And he also found the third youth, who had made a hut and lived there, sleeping on the girl’s ashes.

Then the monk cried: “Brother, leave your hut. I will bring the dear girl back to life.” And while they eagerly questioned him, he opened the book, and read the magic spell, and sprinkled holy water on the ashes. And Coral immediately stood up, alive. And the girl was more beautiful than ever. She looked as if she were made of gold.

When the three youths saw her come back to life like that, they went mad with love, and fought with one another to possess her.

One said: “I brought her to life by my magic spell. She is my wife.”

The second said: “She came to life because of my journey to the sacred river. She is my wife.”

The third said: “I kept her ashes. That is why she came to life. She is my dear wife.”

O King, you are able to decide their dispute. Tell me. Whose wife should she be? If you know and say what is false, then your head will split.

When the king heard this, he said to the goblin: “The man who painfully found the magic spell and brought her back to life, he did only what a father ought to do. He is not her husband. And the man who went to dip her bones in the sacred river, he did only what a son ought to do. He is not her husband. But the man who slept with her ashes and lived a hard life in the cemetery, he did what a lover ought to do. He deserves to be her husband.”

When the goblin heard this answer of King Triple-victory, he suddenly escaped from his shoulder and went back. And the king wished to do as the monk had asked him; so he decided to go back and get him. Great-minded people do not waver until they have kept their promises, even at the cost of life.


The Parrot and the Thrush. Which are worse, men or women?

Then the king went back to the sissoo tree to fetch the goblin. When he got there, he took the body with the goblin in it on his shoulder, and started off in silence. And as he walked along, the goblin said to him again: “O King, you must be very tired, coming and going in the night. So to amuse you I will tell another story. Listen.”

There is a city called Patna, the gem of the earth. And long ago a king lived there whose name was Lion-of-Victory. Fate had made him the owner of all virtues and all wealth. And he had a parrot called Jewel-of-Wisdom, that had divine intelligence and knew all the sciences, but lived as a parrot because of a curse.

This king had a son called Moon, and by the advice of the parrot this prince married the daughter of the king of the Magadha country; and her name was Moonlight. Now this princess had a thrush named Moony, who was like the parrot, because she had learning and intelligence. And the parrot and the thrush lived in one cage in the palace.

One day the parrot eagerly said to the thrush: “My darling, love me, and share my bed and my chair and my food and my amusements.”

But the thrush said: “I will have nothing to do with men. Men are bad and ungrateful.”

Then the parrot said: “Men are not bad. It is only women who are bad and cruel-hearted.” And they quarrelled.

Then the two birds wagered their freedom with each other and went to the prince to have their quarrel decided. And the prince mounted his father’s judgment throne, and when he had heard the cause of the quarrel, he asked the thrush: “How are men ungrateful? Tell the truth.” Then she said, “Listen, O Prince,” and to prove her point she started to tell this story illustrating the faults of men.

There is a famous city called Kamandaki, where a wealthy merchant lived named Fortune. And in time a son was born to him and named Treasure. Then when the father went to heaven, the young man became very unruly because of gambling and other vices. And the rascals came together, and ruined him. Association with scoundrels is the root from which springs the tree of calamity.

So in no long time he lost all he had through his vices, and being ashamed of his poverty, he left his own country and went to wander in other places. And during his travels he came to a city called Sandal City, and entered the house of a merchant, seeking something to eat. When the merchant saw the youth, he asked him about his family, and finding that he was a gentleman, he entertained him. And thinking that Gate had sent the young man, he gave him his own daughter Pearl, together with some money. And when Treasure was married, he lived in his father-in-law’s house.

As time passed, he forgot his former miseries in the comforts of his life, and longed for the old vices, and wanted to go home. So the rascal managed to persuade his father-in-law, who had no other children, took his wife Pearl with her beautiful ornaments, and an old woman, and started for his own country. Presently he came to a wood where he said he was afraid of thieves, so he took all his wife’s ornaments. Perceive, O Prince, how cruel and hard are the ungrateful hearts of those who indulge in gambling and other vices. And the scoundrel was ready, just for money, to kill his good wife. He threw her and the old woman into a pit. Then the rascal went away and the old woman perished there.

But Pearl, with the little life she had left, managed to get out by clinging to the grass and bushes, and weeping bitterly, and bleeding, she asked the way step by step, and painfully reached her father’s house by the way she had come. And her mother and father were surprised and asked her: “Why did you come back so soon, and in this condition?”

And that good wife said: “On the road we were robbed, and my husband was forcibly carried off. And the old woman fell into a pit and died, but I escaped. And a kind-hearted traveller pulled me from the pit.” Then her father and mother were saddened, but they comforted her, and Pearl stayed there, true to her husband.

Then in time Treasure lost all his money in gambling, and he reflected: “I will get more money from the house of my father-in-law. I will go there and tell my father-in-law that his daughter is well and is at my house.”

So he went again to his father-in-law. And as he went, his ever-faithful wife saw him afar off. She ran and fell at the rascal’s feet and told him all the story that she had invented for her parents. For the heart of a faithful wife does not change even when she learns that her husband is a rogue.

Then that rascal went without fear into the house of his father-in-law and bowed low before his feet. And his father-in-law rejoiced when he saw him and made a great feast with his relatives, for he said: “My son is delivered alive from the robbers. Heaven be praised!” Then Treasure enjoyed the wealth of his father-in-law and lived with his wife Pearl.

Now one night this worst of scoundrels did what I ought not to repeat, but I will tell it, or my story would be spoiled. Listen, O Prince. While Pearl lay asleep trusting him, that wretch killed her in the night, stole all her jewels, and escaped to his own country. This shows how bad and ungrateful men are.

When the thrush had told her story, the prince smiled and said to the parrot: “It is your turn now.”

Then the parrot said: “Your Majesty, women are cruel and reckless and bad. To prove it, I will tell you a story. Listen.”

There is a city called Joyful, where lived a prince of merchants named Virtue, who owned millions of money. He had a daughter named Fortune, peerless in beauty, dearer to him than life. And she was given in marriage to a merchant’s son from Copper City, whose name was Ocean. He was her equal in wealth, beauty, and family; a delight to the eyes of men.

One day when her husband was away from home, she saw from the window a handsome young man. And the moment she saw him, the fickle girl went mad with love, and secretly sent a messenger to invite him in, and made love to him in secret. Thus her heart was fixed on him alone, and she was happy with him.

But at last her husband came home and delighted the hearts of his parents-in-law. And when the day had been spent in feasting, Fortune was adorned by her mother, and sent to her husband’s room. But she was cold toward him and pretended to sleep. And her husband went to sleep, too, for he was weary with his journey, and had been drinking wine.

When everyone in the house had gone to sleep after their dinner, a thief made a hole in the wall and came into that very room. And just then the merchant’s daughter got up without seeing him, and went out secretly to a meeting with her lover. And the thief was disappointed, and thought: “She has gone out into the night wearing the very jewels that I came to steal. I must see where she goes.” So the thief went out and followed her.

But she met a woman friend who had flowers in her hand, and went to a park not very far away. And there she saw the man whom she came to meet hanging on a tree. For the policeman had thought he was a thief, had put a rope around his neck and hanged him.

And at the sight she went distracted, and lamented pitifully: “Oh, oh! I am undone,” and fell on the ground and wept. Then she took her lover down from the tree and made him sit up, though he was dead, and adorned him with perfumes and jewels and flowers.

But when in her love-madness she lifted his face and kissed him, a goblin who had come to live in her dead lover, bit off her nose. And she was startled and ran in pain from the spot. But then she came back to see if perhaps he was alive after all. But the goblin had gone, and she saw that he was motionless and dead. So she slowly went back home, frightened and disgraced and weeping.

And the concealed thief saw it all and thought: “What has the wicked woman done? Alas! Can women be so dreadful as this? What might she not do next?” So out of curiosity the thief still followed her from afar.

And the wretched woman entered the house and cried aloud, and said: “Save me from my cruel enemy, my own husband. He cut off my nose and I had done nothing.” And her servants heard her cries and all arose in excitement. Her husband too awoke. Then her father came and saw that her nose was cut off, and in his anger he had his son-in-law arrested.

And the poor man did not know what to do. Even when he was being bound, he remained silent and said nothing. Then they all woke up and heard the story, but the thief who knew the whole truth, ran away. And when day came, the merchant’s son was haled before the king by his father-in-law. And Fortune went there without her nose, and the king heard the whole story and condemned the merchant’s son to death for mistreating his wife.

So the innocent, bewildered man was led to the place of execution and the drums were beaten. Just then the thief came up and said to the king’s men: “Why do you kill this man without any good reason? I know how the whole thing happened. Take me to the king, and I will tell all.”

So all the king’s men took him to the king. And the thief told the king all the adventures of the night, and said: “Your Majesty, if you cannot trust my word, you may find the nose at this moment between the teeth of the dead body.”

Then the king sent men to investigate, and when he found it was true, he released the merchant’s son from the punishment of death. As for wretched Fortune, he cut off her ears, too, and banished her from the country. And he took from her father, the merchant, all his money, and made the thief the chief of police. He was pleased with him.

O Prince, this shows how cruel and false women are by nature.

As he spoke these words, the parrot changed into a god, for the curse was fulfilled, and went to heaven like a god. And the thrush suddenly became a goddess, for her curse was at an end, and flew up likewise to heaven. So their dispute was never settled at that court.

When the goblin had told this story, he asked the king: “O King, tell me. Are men bad, or women? If you know and do not tell, your head will fly to pieces.” And when the king heard these words of the goblin on his shoulder, he said to that magic goblin: “O goblin! Here and there, now and then, there is an occasional bad man like that. But women are usually bad. We hear about many of them.”

Then the goblin disappeared from the king’s shoulder as before. And the king tried again to catch him.


King Shudraka and Hero’s Family. Which of the five deserves the most honour?

Then King Triple-victory went back under the sissoo tree and caught the goblin, who gave a horse-laugh. But the king without fear put him on his shoulder as before and started toward the monk. And as he walked along, the goblin on his shoulder said to him again: “O King, why do you take such pains for that wretched monk? Have you no sense about this fruitless task? Well, after all, I like your devotion. So, to amuse the weary journey, I will tell you another story. Listen.”

There is a city called Beautiful, and it deserves the name. There lived a king named Shudraka, of tremendous power and mighty courage. He was so used to victory that the fire of his courage was kept blazing by the wind from the fans in the hands of the wives of his vanquished foes. Under his rule the earth was rich and always good, as in the days of old. And he was fond of brave men.

Now one day a Brahman named Hero came from Malwa to pay his homage to this king. He had a wife named Virtue, a son named Trusty, and a daughter named Heroic. And he had just three servants, a dagger at his hip, a sword in his hand, and a shield in his other hand. These were all the servants he had when he asked the king for five hundred gold-pieces a day as his wages.

And the king thought from his appearance that he was a remarkably brave man, so he gave him the wages he asked. But out of curiosity he put spies on his track, to learn what he did with all the money.

Now Hero called on the king in the morning, and at noon he took his sword and stood at the palace gate and divided his daily salary. One hundred gold-pieces he gave to his wife for food and household expenses. And with another hundred he bought clothes and perfumes and nuts and such things. And another hundred he devoted to the worship of Vishnu and Shiva, after taking the ceremonial bath. And the two hundred which were left he gave to Brahmans and the unhappy and the poor. This was the way he divided and spent the money every day. Then after he had sacrificed and eaten dinner, he stood every night alone at the palace gate with his sword and shield. All this King Shudraka learned from his spies and was greatly pleased and forbad the spies to follow him again. For he thought him a wonderful man, worthy of especial honour.

Then one day a veil of clouds covered the sky and poured down rain in streams day and night, so that the highway was quite deserted. Only Hero was at his post as usual by the palace gate. And when the sun set and dreadful darkness was spread abroad and the rain fell in sheets, the king wished to test Hero’s behaviour. So at night he climbed to the palace roof and cried: “Who is there at the gate?” And Hero answered: “I am here.” And the king thought: “How steadfast this man Hero is, and how devoted to me! I must surely give him a greater post.” And he descended from the roof and entered the palace and went to bed.

The next night it rained again in sheets and the world was wrapped in the darkness of death. And again the king thought to test his behaviour, and climbing to the roof he called out toward the palace gate: “Who is there?” And when Hero said: “I am here, your Majesty,” the king was greatly astonished.

Just then he heard at a distance a sweet-voiced woman crying. And he thought: “Who is this who laments so piteously, as if in deep despair? In my kingdom there is no violence, no poor man and none distressed. Who can she be?” And being merciful, he called to Hero, who stood below: “Listen, Hero. A woman is weeping at some distance. Go and learn why she weeps and who she is.” And Hero said “Certainly,” arranged his dagger, took his sword in his hand, and started. He did not even think of the pelting hail, the flashing lightning, or the rain and darkness. And when the king saw him setting out alone in a night like that, he was filled with pity and curiosity, and descending from the palace roof, took his sword and followed all alone, without being seen.

As Hero traced the sound of crying, he came to a beautiful lake outside the city, and there he saw a woman in the midst of the water, lamenting in these words: “Alas for you, brave and merciful and generous! How shall I live without you?”

And Hero was amazed, and timidly asked her: “Who are you, and why do you weep?” And she replied: “O Hero, I am the Goddess of the Earth, and now my lord, this virtuous King Shudraka, is going to die in three days. How shall I find another such master? So I am distracted with grief, and I lament.”

When Hero heard this, he was frightened and said: “Goddess, is there any remedy for this, any way in which the king might be saved?” And the goddess answered: “There is just one remedy, my son, and it is in your hands.” And Hero said: “Goddess, tell me quickly, that I may adopt it at once. What good would life be to us otherwise?”

Then the goddess said: “My son, there is no other man devoted to his master as you are: so you may learn how to save him. There is a temple to the Dreadful Goddess built by that king near his palace. If you sacrifice your son to her at once, then the king will not die. He will live another hundred years. If you do it this very night, then the blessing will come, not otherwise.”

And Hero, the hero, replied: “Then I will go, Goddess, and do it this moment.” And the Goddess of the Earth said: “Good fortune go with you,” and she vanished. And the king, who had followed secretly, heard it all. So he still followed to find out how Hero would behave.

But Hero went straight home, woke his wife Virtue, and told her all that the Goddess of the Earth had said. And his wife said: “My dear, if so much depends on it, wake the boy and tell him.” Then Hero woke the little boy, told him all, and said: “My boy, if you are sacrificed to the Dreadful Goddess, our king will live. If not, he will die in three days.”

And the boy was true to his name. Without fear and without hesitation he said: “My dear father, I am a lucky boy if the king lives at the cost of my life. Besides, that would pay for the food we have eaten. Why then delay? Take me quickly and sacrifice me to the goddess. May the king’s evil fate be averted by my death!” And Hero was delighted and congratulated him, saying: “Well said! You are indeed my son.”

So Hero’s wife Virtue and his daughter Heroic went through the night with Hero and Trusty to the temple of the Dreadful Goddess. The king too followed them, disguised and unnoticed. Then the father took Trusty from his shoulder in the presence of the goddess. And Trusty worshipped the goddess, and bravely saluted her, and said: “O Goddess, by the sacrifice of my head may the king live another hundred years and rule a thornless kingdom.”

And as he prayed, Hero cut off his head and offered it to the Dreadful Goddess, saying: “May the king live at the cost of my son’s life!” Then a voice cried from heaven: “O Hero, who else is devoted to his master as you are? You have given life and royal power to the king at the cost of your only son, and such a son.” All this the king himself saw and heard.

Then Hero’s daughter Heroic kissed the lips of her dead brother, and was blinded with sorrow, and her heart broke, and she died.

Then Hero’s wife Virtue said: “My dear, we have done our duty by the king. And you see how my daughter died of grief. So now I say: What good is life to me without my children? I was a fool before. I should have given my own head to save the king. So now permit me to burn myself at once.”

And when she insisted, Hero said: “Do so. What happiness is there in a life of constant mourning for your children? And as for your giving your own life instead, do not grieve about that. If there had been any other way, I should of course have given my life. So wait a moment. I will build you a funeral pile out of these logs.” So he built the pile and lighted it.

And Virtue fell at her husband’s feet, then worshipped the Dreadful Goddess, and prayed: “O Goddess, may I have the same husband in another life, and may this same King Shudraka be saved at the cost of my son’s life.” And she died in the blazing fire.

Then Hero thought: “I have done my duty by the king, as the heavenly voice admitted. And I have paid for the king’s food which I have eaten. So now why should I want to live alone? It is not right for a man like me to go on living at the expense of all the family which I ought to support. Why should I not please the goddess by sacrificing myself?”

So Hero first approached the goddess with a hymn of praise: “O Demon-slayer! Saviour! Devil-killer! Trident-holder! Joy of the wise! Protectress of the universe! Victory to thee, O best of mothers, whose feet the world adores! O fearless refuge of the pious! Kali of the dreadful ornaments! Honour and glory to thee, O kindly goddess! Be pleased to accept the sacrifice of my head in behalf of King Shudraka.” Then he suddenly cut off his own head with his dagger.

King Shudraka beheld this from his hiding-place, and was filled with amazement and grief and admiration. And he thought: “I have never seen or heard the like of this. That good man and his family have done a hard thing for me. In this strange world who else is so brave as that, to give his son, his family, and his life for his king: If I should not make a full return for his kindness, my kingdom would mean nothing to me, and my life would be the life of a beast. If I lost my virtue, it would all be a disgrace to me.”

But when he started to cut off his own head, there came a voice from heaven: “My son, do nothing rash. I am well pleased with your character. The Brahman Hero and his children and his wife shall come back to life.” And when the voice ceased, Hero stood up alive and uninjured with his son and his daughter and his wife. Then the king hid himself again and looked on with eyes filled with tears of joy, and could not see enough of them.

Now Hero, like a man awaking from a dream, gazed at his son and his wife and his daughter, and was greatly perplexed. He spoke to each by name, and asked them how they had come to life after being reduced to ashes. “Is this a fancy of mine? Or a dream? Or an illusion? Or the favour of the goddess?” And his wife and children said to him: “By the favour of the goddess we are alive.”

At last Hero believed it, and having worshipped the goddess, he went home happy with his children and his wife. And when he had seen his son and his wife and daughter safe at home, he went back that same night to the palace gate.

And King Shudraka saw all this and went back without being seen himself, and climbed to the roof, and called: “Who is there at the gate?” And Hero replied: “Your Majesty, I, Hero, am here. At your command I followed the woman who cried. She must have been a witch, for she vanished the moment I saw her and spoke to her.”

When the king heard this, he was astonished beyond measure, for he had seen what really happened. And he thought: “Ah, the hearts of brave men are deep as the sea, if they do not boast after doing an unparalleled action.” So the king descended from the roof, entered the palace, and passed the rest of the night there.

Then when the court was held in the morning, Hero came to see the king. And as he stood there, the delighted king told all his counsellors and the others the story of the night. And all were amazed and confounded at hearing of Hero’s virtues, and they praised him, crying: “Well done! Well done!”

Then the king and Hero lived happily together, sharing the power equally.

When the goblin had told this story, he asked King Triple-victory: “O King, which of all these was the most worthy? If you know and will not tell, then the curse I told you of will be fulfilled.”

And the king said to the goblin: “O magic creature, King Shudraka was the most noble of them all.”

But the goblin said: “Why not Hero, the like of whom as a servant is not to be found in the whole world? Or why should not his wife receive the most praise, who did not waver when she saw her son killed like a beast before her eyes? Or why is not the boy Trusty the most worthy, who showed such wonderful manhood when only a little boy? Why do you say that King Shudraka was the best among them?”

Then the king answered the goblin: “Not Hero. He was a gentleman born, so it was his duty to save his king at the cost of life, wife and children. And his wife was a lady, a faithful wife who only did what was right in following her husband. And Trusty was their son, and like them. For the cloth is always like the threads. But the king has aright to use his subjects’ lives to save his own. So when Shudraka gave his life for them, he proved himself the best of all.”

When the goblin heard this, he jumped from the king’s shoulder and went back to his home without being seen. And the king was not disturbed by this magic, but started back through the night to catch him.


The Brave Man, the Wise Man, and the Clever Man. To which should the girl be given?

Then King Triple-victory went back to the sissoo tree and saw the body with the goblin in it hanging there just as before. He took it down without being frightened by all its twistings and writhings, and quickly set out again. And as he walked along in silence as before, the goblin said: “O King, you are obstinate, and you are pleasing to look at. So to amuse you, I will tell another story. Listen.”

There is a city called Ujjain, famous throughout the world. There lived a king named Merit, who had as counsellor a Brahman named Hariswami, adorned with all noble virtues. The counsellor had a worthy wife, and a son named Devaswami was born to her, and was as good as she. And they had one daughter named Moonlight, who was worthy of her name, for she was famous for her matchless beauty and charm.

When the girl had grown out of childhood, she was proud of her wonderful beauty, and she told her mother, her father, and her brother: “I will marry a brave man or a wise man or a clever man. I should die if I were married to anyone else.”

Now while her father was busy looking for such a husband for her, he was sent by King Merit to another king in the southern country to make a treaty for war and peace. When he had finished his business, a Brahman youth, who had heard of his daughter’s beauty, came and asked him for her.

And he said: “My daughter will not marry anyone unless he is a clever man or a wise man or a brave man. Which of these are you? Tell me.” And the Brahman said: “I am a clever man.” “Show me,” said the father, and the clever man made a flying chariot by his skill. Then he took Hariswami in this magic chariot, and carried him to the sky. And he took the delighted father to the camp of the king of the southern country where he had been on business. Then Hariswami appointed the marriage for the seventh day.

At this time another Brahman youth in Ujjain came to the girl’s brother and asked him for her. And when he was told that she would marry only a wise man or a clever man or a brave man, he said he was a brave man. Then when he had shown his skill with weapons, the brother promised his sister to the brave man. And without telling his mother, he consulted the star-gazers and appointed the marriage for the seventh day.

At the same time a third Brahman youth came to the girl’s mother and asked for the girl. And the mother said: “My son, a wise man or a clever man or a brave man shall marry my daughter but no one else. Which of these are you? Tell me.” And he said: “I am a wise man.” So she asked him about the past and the future, and found that he was a wise man. Then she promised to give him her daughter on the seventh day.

The next day Hariswami came home and told his wife and his son all that he had done. And she and he each told him all that she or he had done. So Hariswami was greatly perplexed, because three bridegrooms had been invited. Then the seventh day came and the three bridegrooms came to Hariswami’s house.

Strange to say, at that moment Moonlight disappeared. Then the wise man said: “A giant named Smoke-tail has carried her to his den in the Vindhya forest.”

When Hariswami heard this from the wise man, he was frightened and asked the clever man to find a remedy for the trouble. And the clever man made a chariot as before, full of all kinds of weapons, and brought Hariswami with the wise man and the brave man in a moment to the Vindhya forest. And the wise man showed them the giant’s den.

When the giant saw what had happened, he came out in anger, and the brave man fought with him. Then came a famous duel with strange weapons between a man and a giant for the sake of a woman, like the ancient fight between Rama and Ravana. Though the giant was a terrible fighter, the brave man presently cut off his head with an arrow shaped like a half-moon. When the giant was killed, they found Moonlight in the den and all went back to Ujjain in the clever man’s chariot.

Then when the proper time for wedding came, there arose a great dispute among the three in Hariswami’s house.

The wise man said: “If I had not discovered her by my wisdom, how could you have found her hiding-place? She should be given to me.”

The clever man said: “If I had not made a flying chariot, how could you have gone there in a moment and come back like the gods, or how could you have had a chariot-fight with him? She should be given to me.”

The brave man said: “If I had not killed the giant in the fight, who would have saved her in spite of all your pains? The girl should be given to me.”

And as they quarrelled, Hariswami stood silent, confused, and perplexed.

When the goblin had told this story, he said to the king: “O King, do you say to which of them she should be given. If you know and will not tell, then your head will split into a hundred pieces.”

Then the king broke silence and said: “She should be given to the brave man, who risked his life and killed the giant and saved the girl. The wise man and the clever man were only helpers whom Fate gave him. A star-gazer and a chariot-maker work for other people, do they not?”

When the goblin heard this answer, he suddenly escaped from the king’s shoulder and went back. And the king determined to get him, and went again to the sissoo tree.


The Girl who transposed the Heads of her Husband and Brother. Which combination of head and body is her husband?

Then the king went back to the sissoo tree, put the goblin on his shoulder as before, and started in silence toward the monk. And the goblin said to him: “O King, you are wise and good, so I am pleased with you. To amuse you, therefore, I will tell you another story with a puzzle in it. Listen.”

Long ago there was a king named Glory-banner in the world. His city was named Beautiful. And in this city was a splendid temple to the goddess Gauri. And to the right of the temple was a lake called Bath of Gauri. And on a certain day in each year a great crowd of people came there on a pilgrimage from all directions to bathe.

One day a laundryman named White came there from another village to bathe. And the youth saw a maiden who had also come there to bathe. Her name was Lovely, and her father’s name was Clean-cloth. She robbed the moon of its beauty and White of his heart. So he inquired about her name and family and went home lovesick.

When he got there, he was ill and could not eat without her. And when his mother asked him, he told her what was in his heart, but did not change his habits. But she went and told her husband, whose name was Spotless.

So Spotless went and saw how his son was acting, and said: “My son, why should you be downcast? Your desire is not hard to obtain. For if I ask Clean-cloth, he will surely give you his daughter. We are not inferior to him in birth, wealth, or social position. I know him and he knows me. So there is no difficulty about it.” Thus Spotless comforted his son, made him eat and take care of himself, went with him the next day to Clean-cloth’s house, and asked that the girl might be given to his son White. And Clean-cloth graciously promised to give her to him.

Then when the time came, Clean-cloth gave White his charming daughter, a wife worthy of him. And when he was married, White went happily to his father’s house with his sweet bride.

Now as he lived there happily, Lovely’s brother came to visit. And when they had all asked him about his health and his sister had greeted him with a kiss, and after he had rested, he said: “My father sent me to invite Lovely and White to a festival in our house.” And all the relatives said it was a good plan and entertained him that day with appropriate things to drink and eat.

The next morning White set out for his father-in-law’s house, together with his brother-in-law and Lovely. And when he came to the city Beautiful, he saw the great temple of Gauri. And he said to Lovely and her brother: “We will see this goddess. I will go first and you two stay here.” So White went in to see the goddess. He entered the temple and bowed before the goddess whose eighteen arms had killed the horrible demons, whose lotus-feet were set upon a giant that she had crushed.

And when he had worshipped her, an idea suddenly came to him. “People honour this goddess with all kinds of living sacrifices. Why should I not win her favour by sacrificing myself?” And he fetched a sword from a deserted inner room, cut off his own head, and let it fall on the floor.

Presently his brother-in-law entered the temple to see why he delayed so long. And when he saw his brother-in-law with his head cut off, he went mad with grief, and cut off his own head in the same way with the same sword.

Then when he failed to come out, Lovely was alarmed and entered the temple. And when she saw her husband and her brother in that condition, she cried: “Alas! This is the end of me!” and fell weeping to the floor. But presently she rose, lamenting for the pair so unexpectantly dead, and thought: “What is my life good for now?”

Before killing herself, she prayed to the goddess: “O Goddess! One only deity of happiness and character! Partaker of the life of Shiva! Refuge of all women-folk! Destroyer of grief! Why have you killed my husband and my brother at one fell swoop? It was not right, for I was always devoted to you. Then be my refuge when I pray to you, and hear my one pitiful prayer. I shall leave this wretched body of mine on this spot, but in every future life of mine, O Goddess, may I have the same husband and brother.” Thus she prayed, praised, and worshipped the goddess, then tied a rope to an ashoka tree which grew there.

But while she was arranging the rope about her neck, a voice from heaven cried: “Do nothing rash, my daughter. Leave the rope alone. Though you are young, I am pleased with your unusual goodness. Place the two heads on the two bodies and they shall rise up again and live through my favour.”

So Lovely left the rope alone and joyfully went to the bodies. But in her great hurry and confusion she made a mistake. She put her husband’s head on her brother’s body and her brother’s head on her husband’s body. Then they arose, sound and well, like men awaking from a dream. And they were all delighted to hear one another’s adventures, worshipped the goddess, and went on their way.

Now as she walked along, Lovely noticed that she had made a mistake in their heads. And she was troubled and did not know what to do.

When the goblin had told this story, he asked the king: “O King, when they were mingled in this way, which should be her husband? If you know and do not tell, then the curse I spoke of will be fulfilled.”

And the king said to the goblin: “The body with the husband’s head on it is her husband. For the head is the most important member. It is by the head that we recognize people.”

Then the goblin slipped from the king’s shoulder as before, and quickly disappeared. And the king went back, determined to catch him.


The Mutual Services of King Fierce-lion and Prince Good. Which is the more deserving?

Then the king went back to the sissoo tree, put the goblin on his shoulder as before, and started. And as he walked along, the goblin said: “O King, I will tell you a story to amuse your weariness. Listen.”

On the shore of the Eastern Ocean is Copper City. There a king named Fierce-lion lived. He turned his back to other men’s wives, but not to fighting men. He destroyed his enemies, but not other men’s wealth.

One day a popular prince named Good came from the south to the king’s gate. He introduced himself, but did not get what he wanted from the king. And he thought: “If I am born a prince, why am I so poor? And if I am to be poor, why did God give me so many desires? For this king pays no attention to me, though I wait upon him and grow weary and faint with hunger.”

While he was thinking, the king went hunting. He went with many horsemen and footmen, and the prince ran along in the dress of a pilgrim with a club in his hand. And during the hunt the king chased a great boar a long distance, and so came into another forest. There he lost sight of the boar, for the trail was covered with leaves and grass. And the king was tired and lost his way in the forest. Only the pilgrim-prince thought nothing of his life, and hungry and thirsty as he was, he followed on foot the king who rode a swift horse.

And when the king saw him following, he spoke lovingly: “My good man, do you perhaps know the way we came?”

And the pilgrim bowed low and said: “I know, your Majesty. But first rest yourself a moment. The blazing sun, the middle jewel in the girdle of heaven’s bride, is terribly hot.” Then the king said eagerly: “See if there is water anywhere.”

And the pilgrim agreed and climbed a high tree and looked around. And he saw a river and climbed down and took the king to it. He unsaddled the horse, gave him water and grass, and let him rest. And when the king had bathed, the pilgrim took two fine mangoes from his skirt, washed them and gave them to the king.

“Where did you get these?” asked the king, and the pilgrim bowed and said: “Your Majesty, I have lived on such food for ten years. While I was serving your Majesty, I had to live like a monk.” And the king said: “What can I say? You deserve your name of Good.” And he was filled with pity and shame, and thought: “A curse on kings, who do not know whether their servants are happy or not! And a curse of their attendants, who do not tell them this and that!” And when the pilgrim insisted, the king was prevailed on to take the two mangoes. He rested there with the pilgrim and ate the mangoes and drank water with the pilgrim, who was accustomed to eat mangoes and drink water.

Then the pilgrim saddled the horse and went ahead to show the way, and at last, at the king’s command, mounted behind on the horse; so the king found his soldiers and went safely home. And when he got there, he proclaimed the devotion of the pilgrim, and made him a rich man, but could not feel that he had paid his debt. So Good stayed there happily with King Fierce-lion and stopped living as a pilgrim.

One day the king sent Good to Ceylon to ask for the hand of the daughter of the King of Ceylon. So he set out after sacrificing to the proper god, and entered a ship with some Brahmans chosen by the king. And when the ship had safely reached the middle of the ocean, there suddenly arose from the waves a very large flag-pole made of gold, with a top that touched the sky. It was adorned with waving banners of various colours and was quite astonishing.

At the same moment the clouds gathered, it began to rain violently, and a mighty wind blew. And the ship was driven by the storm winds and caught on the flag-pole. Then the pole began to sink, dragging the ship with it into the raging waves. And the Brahmans who were there were overcome with fear and cursed the name of their king Fierce-lion.

But Good could not endure that because of his devotion to his king. He took his sword in his hand, girt up his garment, and threw himself after the flag-pole into the sea. He had no fear of the pole which seemed a refuge from the ocean. Then as he sank, the ship was battered by the winds and waves and broke up. And all in it fell into the mouths of sharks.

But Good sank into the ocean, and when he looked about he saw a wonderful city. There he entered a shrine to Gauri, tall as the heavenly mountain, with great gem-sprinkled banners on walls made of different kinds of jewels, in a golden temple blazing with jewelled pillars, with a garden that had a pool, the stairs to which were made of splendid gems. After he had bowed low and praised and worshipped the goddess there, he sat down before her in amazement, wondering if it was all a conjuror’s trick.

Just then the door was suddenly opened by a heavenly maiden. Her eyes were like lotuses, her face like the moon. She had a smile like a flower and a body soft as lotus-stems. And a thousand women waited upon her. She entered the shrine of the goddess and the heart of Good at the same moment. And when she had worshipped the goddess there, she went out from the shrine, but not from the heart of Good.

She entered a circle of light, and Good followed her. And he saw another splendid house, that seemed like a place of meeting for all riches and all enjoyments. And he saw the girl sitting on a jewelled couch, and he approached and sat beside her. He was like a man painted in a picture, for his eyes were fastened on her face.

Now a servant of the maiden saw that his body was thrilled, that he was intent upon the maiden, that he was in love. She understood his feelings and said to him: “Sir, you are our guest. Enjoy the hospitality of my mistress. Arise. Bathe. Eat.” And he felt a little hope at her words and went to a pool in the garden which she showed him.

He plunged into the pool, and when he rose to the surface, he found himself in the pool of King Fierce-lion in Copper City. And when he saw that he had come there so suddenly, he thought: “Oh, what does it mean? Where is that heavenly garden? What a difference between the sight of that girl which was like nectar to me, and this immediate separation from her which is like terrible poison! It was no dream. I was awake when the serving-maid deceived me and made a fool of me.”

He was like a madman without the girl. He wandered in the garden and mourned in a lovelorn way. He was surrounded by wind-blown flower-pollen which seemed to him the yellow flames of separation. And when the gardener saw him in this state, he went and told the king.

And the king was troubled. He went himself to see Good, and asked him soothingly: “What does this mean? Tell me, my friend. Where did you go? And where did you come? And where did you stay? And what did you fall into?”

Then Good told him the whole adventure. And the king thought: “Ah, it is fortunate for me that this brave man is lovelorn. For now I have a chance to pay my debt to him.” So the king said to him: “My friend, give over this vain grief. I will go with you by the same road, and bring you to the heavenly maiden.” So he comforted Good, and made him take a bath.

The next day he transferred his royal duties to his counsellors and entered a ship with Good. Good showed the way through the sea and they saw the flag-pole with its banners rising as before in the middle of the ocean. Then Good said to the king: “Your Majesty, here is the magic flag-pole standing up. When I sink down there, you must sink too along the flag-pole.” So when they came near the sinking pole, Good jumped first, and the king followed him.

They sank down and came to the heavenly city. And the king was astonished, and after he had worshipped the goddess, he sat down with Good. Then the girl, like Beauty personified, came out of the circle of light with her friends. “There she is, the lovely creature,” said Good, and the king thought: “He is quite right to love her.” But when she saw the king looking like a god, she wondered who the strange and wonderful man might be, and entered the shrine to worship the goddess.

But the king took Good and went into the garden to show how little he cared about her. A moment later the girl came from the shrine; she had been praying for a good husband. And she said to a girl friend: “My friend, I wonder where I could see the man who was here. Where is the great man? You girls must hunt for him and ask him to be good enough to come and accept our hospitality. For he is a wonderful man, and we must be polite to him.”

So the girl found him in the garden and gave him her mistress’ message very respectfully. But the brave king spoke loftily to her: “Your words are hospitality enough. Nothing else is necessary.”

Now when her mistress had heard what he said, she thought he was a noble character, better than anybody else. She was attracted by the courage of the king in refusing a sort of hospitality which was almost too much to offer a mere man, and thought about the fulfilment of her prayer for a husband. So she went into the garden herself. She drew near to the king and lovingly begged him to accept her hospitality.

But the king pointed to Good and said: “My dear girl, he told me of the goddess here, and I came to see her. And by following the flag-pole I saw the goddess and her very marvellous temple. It was only afterwards that I happened to see you.”

Then the girl said: “O King, you may be interested in seeing a city which is the wonder of the three worlds.” And the king laughed and said: “He told me about that, too. I believe there is a pool for bathing there.” And the girl said: “O King, do not say that. I am not a deceitful girl. Why should I deceive an honourable man, especially as your noble character has made me feel like a servant? Pray do not refuse me.”

So the king agreed and went with Good and the girl to the edge of the circle of light. There a door opened and he entered and saw another heavenly city like a second hill of heaven; for it was built of gems and gold, and the flowers and fruits of every season grew there at the same time.

And the princess seated the king on a splendid throne and brought him gifts and said: “Your Majesty, I am the daughter of the great god Black-wheel. But Vishnu sent my father to heaven. And I inherited these two magic cities where one has everything he wants. There is no old age or death to trouble us here. And now you are in the place of my father to rule over the cities and over me.” So she offered him herself and all she had. But the king said: “In that case you are my daughter and I give you in marriage to my brave friend good.”

In the king’s words she saw the fulfilment of her prayer, and being sensible and modest, she agreed. So the king married them and gave all the magic wealth to happy Good, and said: “My friend, I have paid you now for one of the two mangoes which I ate. But I remain in your debt for the second.”

Then he asked the princess how he could get back to his city. And she gave the king a sword called Invincible, and the magic fruit which wards off birth, old age, and death. And the king took the sword and the fruit, plunged into the pool which she showed him, and came up in his own country, feeling completely successful. But Good ruled happily over the kingdom of the princess.

When the goblin had told this story, he asked the king: “O King, which of these two deserves more credit for plunging into the sea?”

And the king was afraid of the curse, so he gave a true answer: “Good seems to me the more deserving, for he did not know the truth beforehand, but plunged without hope into the sea, while the king knew the truth when he jumped.”

And as soon as the king broke silence, the goblin slipped from his shoulder as before without being seen and went to the sissoo tree. And the king tried as before to catch him. Brave men do not waver until they have finished what they have begun.


The Specialist in Food, the Specialist in Women, and the Specialist in Cotton. Which is the cleverest?

So the king went back under the sissoo tree, caught the goblin just as before, put him on his shoulder, and started toward the monk. And as he walked along, the goblin on his shoulder spoke and said: “O King, listen once more to the following story to beguile your weariness.”

In the Anga country there is a great region called Forest. There lived a great Brahman, pious and wealthy, whose name was Vishnu-swami. To his worthy wife three sons were born, one after another. When they had grown to be young men, specialists in matters of luxury, they were sent one day by their father to find a turtle for a sacrifice which he had begun.

So the brothers went to the ocean and there they found a turtle. Then the eldest said to the two younger: “One of you take this turtle for Father’s sacrifice. I cannot carry a slimy thing that smells raw.”

But when the eldest said this, the two younger said: “Sir, if you feel disgust, why shouldn’t we?”

When the eldest heard this, he said: “You take the turtle, otherwise Father’s sacrifice will be ruined on your account. Then you and Father too will surely go to hell.”

When they heard him, the two younger brothers laughed and said: “Sir, you seem to know our common duty, but not your own.”

Then the eldest said: “What? Are you not aware that I am a connoisseur in food? For I am a specialists in foods. How can I touch this loathsome thing?”

When he heard these words, the second brother said: “But I am even more of a connoisseur. I am a specialist in women. So how can I touch it?”

After this speech, the eldest said to the youngest: “Do you then, being younger than we, carry the turtle.”

Then the youngest frowned and said to them: “Fools! I am a great specialist in cotton.”

So the three brothers quarrelled, and arrogantly leaving the turtle behind them, they went to have the matter decided at Pinnacle, the capital of a king called Conqueror. When they came there, and had been announced and introduced by the door-keeper, they told their story to the king. And when the king had heard all, he said: “Stay here. I will examine you one after another.” So they agreed and all stayed there.

Then the king invited them in at his own dinner hour, seated them on magnificent seats, and set before them sweet dishes of six flavours, fit for a king. While all the rest ate, one of the Brahmans, the specialist in food, disgustedly shook his head and refused to eat. And when the king himself asked him why he would not eat food that was sweet and savoury, he respectfully replied: “Your Majesty, in this food there is the odour of smoke from a burning corpse. Therefore, I do not wish to eat it, however sweet it may be.”

Then at the king’s command all the rest smelt of it and declared it the best of winter rice, and perfectly sweet. But the food-critic held his nose and would not touch it. Now when the king reflected and made a careful investigation, he learned from the commissioners that the dish was made of rice grown near a village crematory. Then he was greatly astonished and pleased, and said: “Brahman, you are certainly a judge of food. Pray take something else.”

After dinner the king dismissed them to their rooms, and sent for the most beautiful woman of his court. And at night he sent this lovely creature, all adorned, to the second brother, the specialist in women. She came with a servant of the king to his chamber, and when she entered, she seemed to illuminate the room. But the judge of women almost fainted, and stopping his nose with his left hand, he said to his servants: “Take her away! If not, I shall die. A goaty smell issues from her.”

So the servants, in distress and astonishment, conducted her to the king and told him what had happened. Then the king sent for the specialist in women, and said: “Brahman, she has anointed herself with sandal, camphor, and aloes, so that a delightful perfume pervades her neighbourhood. How could this woman have a goaty smell?” But in spite of this the specialist in women would not yield. And when the king endeavoured to learn the truth, he heard from her own lips that in her infancy she had been separated from her mother and had been brought up on goat’s milk. Then the king was greatly astonished and loudly praised the critical judgment of the specialist in women.

Quickly he had a couch prepared for the third brother, the specialist in cotton. So the critic of cotton went to sleep on a bed with seven quilts over the frame and covered with a pure, soft coverlet. When only a half of the first watch of the night was gone, he suddenly started from the bed, shouting and writhing with pain, his hand pressed to his side. And the king’s men who were stationed there saw the curly red outline of a hair deeply imprinted on his side.

They went at once and informed the king, who said to them: “See whether there is anything under the quilts or not.” So they went and searched under each quilt, and under the last they found one hair, which they immediately took and showed to the king. And the king summoned the specialist in cotton, and finding the mark exactly corresponding to the hair, was filled with extreme astonishment. And he spent that night wondering how the hair could sink into his body through seven quilts.

Now when the king arose in the morning, he was delighted with their marvellous critical judgment and sensitiveness, so that he gave each of the three specialists a hundred thousand gold-pieces. And they were contented and stayed there, forgetting all about the turtle, and thus incurring a crime through the failure of their father’s sacrifice.

When he had told this remarkable story, the goblin on the king’s shoulder said: “O King, remember the curse I spoke of and declare which of these three was the

When he heard this, the wise king answered the goblin: “Without doubt I regard the specialist in cotton as the cleverest, on whose body the imprint of the hair was seen to appear visibly. The other two might possibly have found out beforehand.”

When the king had said this, the goblin slipped from his shoulder as before. And the king went back under the sissoo tree again to fetch him.


The Four Scientific Suitors. To which should the girl be given?

Then the king went back to the sissoo tree, put the goblin on his shoulder, and started. And the goblin spoke to him again: “O King, why do you go to such pains in this cemetery at night? Do you not see the home of the ghosts, full of dreadful creatures, terrible in the night, wrapped in darkness as in smoke? Why do you work so hard and grow weary for the sake of that monk? Well, to amuse the journey, listen to a puzzle which I will tell you.”

In the Avanti country is a city built by the gods at the beginning of time, adorned with wonderful wealth and opportunities for enjoyment. In the earliest age it was called Lotus City, then Pleasure City, then Golden City, and now it is called Ujjain. There lived a king named Heroic. And his queen was named Lotus.

One day the king went with her to the sacred Ganges river and prayed to Shiva that he might have children. And after long prayer he heard a voice from heaven, for Shiva was at last pleased with his devotion: “O King, there shall be born to you a brave son to continue your dynasty, and a daughter more beautiful than the nymphs of heaven.”

When he heard the heavenly voice, the king was delighted at the fulfilment of his wishes, and went back to his city with the queen. And first Queen Lotus bore a son called Brave, and then a daughter named Grace who put the god of love to shame.

When the girl grew up, the king sought for a suitable husband for her, and invited all the neighbouring princes by letter, but not one of them seemed good enough for her. So the king tenderly said to his daughter: “My dear, I do not see a husband worthy of you, so I will summon all the kings hither, and you shall choose.” But the princess said: “My dear father, such a choice would be very embarrassing. I would rather not. Just marry me to any good-looking young man, who understands a single science from beginning to end. I wish nothing more nor less than that.”

Now while the king was looking for such a husband, four brave, good-looking, scientific men from the south heard of the matter and came to him. And when they had been hospitably received, each explained his own science to the king.

The first said: “I am a working-man, and my name is Five-cloth. I make five splendid suits of clothes a day. One I give to some god and one to a Brahman. One I wear myself, and one I shall give to my wife when I have one. The fifth I sell, to buy food and things. This is my science. Pray give me Grace.”

The second said: “I am a farmer, and my name is Linguist. I understand the cries of all beasts and birds. Pray give me the princess.”

The third said: “I am a strong-armed soldier, and my name is Swordsman. I have no rival on earth in the science of swordsmanship. O King, pray give me your daughter.”

The fourth said: “O King, I am a Brahman, and my name is Life. I possess a wonderful science. For if dead creatures are brought to me, I can quickly restore them to life. Let your daughter find a husband in a man who has such heroic skill.”

When they had spoken, and the king had seen that they all had wonderful garments and personal beauty, he and his daughter swung in doubt.

When the goblin had told this story, he said to the king: “Remember the curse I mentioned, and tell me to which of them the girl should be given.”

And the king said to the goblin: “Sir, you are merely trying to gain time by making me break silence. There is no puzzle about that. How could a warrior’s daughter be given to a working- man, a weaver? Or to a farmer, either? And as to his knowledge of the speech of beasts and birds, of what practical use is it? And what good is a Brahman who neglects his own affairs and turns magician, despising real courage? Of course she should be given to the warrior Swordsman who had some manhood with his science.”

When the goblin heard this, he escaped by magic from the king’s shoulder, and disappeared. And the king followed him as before. Discouragement never enters the brave heart of a resolute man.


The Three Delicate Wives of King Virtue-banner. Which is the most delicate?

Then the king went to the sissoo tree, put the goblin on his shoulder once more, and started toward the monk. And as he walked along, the goblin on his shoulder said: “O King, I will tell you a strange story to relieve your weariness. Listen.”

There once was a king in Ujjain, whose name was Virtue-banner. He had three princesses as wives, and loved them dearly. One of them was named Crescent, the second Star, and the third Moon. While the king lived happily with his wives, he conquered all his enemies, and was content.

One day at the time of the spring festival, the king went to the garden to play with his three wives. There he looked at the flower-laden vines with black rows of bees on them; they seemed like the bow of the god of love, all ready for service. He heard the songs of nightingales in the trees; they sounded like commands of Love. And with his wives he drank wine which seemed like Love’s very life-blood.

Then the king playfully pulled the hair of Queen Crescent, and a lotus-petal fell from her hair into her lap. And the queen was so delicate that it wounded her, and she screamed and fainted. And the king was distracted, but when servants sprinkled her with cool water and fanned her, she gradually recovered consciousness. And the king took her to the palace and waited upon his dear wife with a hundred remedies which the physicians brought.

And when the king saw that she was made comfortable for the night, he went to the palace balcony with his second wife Star. Now while she slept on the king’s breast, the moonbeams found their way through the window and fell upon her. And she awoke in a moment, and started up, crying “I am burned!” Then the king awoke and anxiously asked what the matter was, and he saw great blisters on her body. When he asked her about it, Queen Star said: “The moonbeams that fell on me did it.” And the king was distracted when he saw how she wept and suffered. He called the servants and they made a couch of moist lotus-leaves, and dressed her wounds with damp sandal-paste.

At that moment the third queen, Moon, left her room to go to the king. And as she moved through the noiseless night, she clearly heard in a distant part of the palace the sound of pestles grinding grain. And she cried: “Oh, oh! It will kill me!” She wrung her hands and sat down in agony in the hall. But her servants returned and led her to her room, where she took to her bed and wept. And when the servants asked what the matter was, she tearfully showed her hands with bruises on them, like two lilies with black bees clinging to them. So they went and told the king. And he came in great distress, and asked his dear wife about it. She showed her hands and spoke, though she suffered: “My dear, when I heard the sound of the pestles, these bruises came.” Then the king made them give her a cooling plaster of sandal-paste and other things.

And the king thought: “One of them was wounded by a falling lotus-petal. The second was burned by the moonbeams. The third had her hands terribly bruised by the sound of pestles. I love them dearly, but alas! The very delicacy which is so great a virtue, is positively inconvenient.”

And he wandered about in the palace, and it seemed as if the night had three hundred hours. But in the morning the king and his skilful physicians took such measures that before long his wives were well and he was happy.

When he had told this story, the goblin asked: “O King, which of them was the most delicate?” And the king said: “The one who was bruised by the mere sound of the pestles, when nothing touched her. The other two who were wounded or blistered by actual contact with lotus-petals or moonbeams, are not equal to her.”

When the goblin heard this, he went back, and the king resolutely hastened to catch him again.


The King who won a Fairy as his Wife. Why did his counsellor’s heart break?

Then the king went as before to the sissoo tree, put the goblin on his shoulder, and started back. And the goblin said once more: “O King, I like you wonderfully well because you are not discouraged. So I will tell you a delightful little story to relieve your weariness. Listen.”

In the Anga country was a young king named Glory- banner, so beautiful that he seemed an incarnation of the god of love. He had conquered all his enemies by his strength of arm, and he had a counsellor named Farsight.

At last the king, proud of his youth and beauty, entrusted all the power in his quiet kingdom to his counsellor, and gradually devoted himself entirely to pleasure. He spent all his time with the ladies of the court, and listened more attentively to their love-songs than to the advice of statesmen. He took greater pleasure in peeping into their windows than into the holes in his administration. But Farsight bore the whole burden of public business, and never wearied day or night.

Then the people began to murmur: “The counsellor Farsight has seduced the king, and now he alone has all the kingly glory.” And the counsellor said to his wife, whose name was Prudence: “My dear, the king is devoted to his pleasures, and great infamy is heaped upon me by the people. They say I have devoured the kingdom, though in fact I support the burden of it. Now popular gossip damages the greatest man. Was not Rama forced to abandon his good wife by popular clamour? So what shall I do now?”

Then his clever wife Prudence showed that she deserved her name. She said: “My dear, leave the king and go on a pilgrimage. Tell him that you are an old man now, and should be permitted to travel in foreign countries for a time. Then the gossip will cease, when they see that you are unselfish. And when you are gone, the king will bear his own burdens. And thus his levity will gradually disappear. And when you come back, you can assume your office without reproach.”

To this advice the counsellor assented, and said to the king in the course of conversation: “Your Majesty, permit me to go on a pilgrimage for a few days. Virtue seems of supreme importance to me.”

But the king said: “No, no, counsellor. Is there no other kind of virtue except in pilgrimages? How about generosity and that kind of thing? Isn’t it possible to prepare for heaven in your own house?”

Then the counsellor said: “Your Majesty, one gets worldly prosperity from generosity and that kind of thing. But a pilgrimage gives eternal life. A prudent man should attend to it while he has strength. The chance may be lost, for no one can be sure of his health.”

But the king was still arguing against it when the doorkeeper came in and said: “Your Majesty, the glorious sun is diving beneath the pool of heaven. Arise. The hour for your bath is slipping away.” And the king went immediately to bathe.

The counsellor went home, still determined on his pilgrimage. He would not let his wife go with him, but started secretly. Not even his servants knew.

He wandered alone through many countries to many holy places, and finally came to the Odra country. There he saw a city near the ocean, where he entered a temple to Shiva and sat down in the court. There he sat, hot and dusty from long travel, when he was seen by a merchant named Treasure who had come to worship the god. The merchant gathered from his dress and appearance that he was a high-born Brahman, and invited him home, and entertained him with food, bathing, and the like.

When the counsellor was rested, the merchant asked him: “Who are you? Whence do you come? And where are you going?” And the other replied: “I am a Brahman named Farsight. I came here on a pilgrimage from the Anga country.”

Then the merchant Treasure said to him: “I am preparing for a trading voyage to Golden Island. Do you stay in my house. And when I come back, and you are wearied from your pilgrimage, rest here for a time before going home.” But Farsight said: “I do not want to stay here. I would rather go with you.” And the good merchant agreed. And the counsellor slept in the first bed he had lain in for many nights.

The next day he went to the seashore with the merchant, and entered the ship loaded with the merchant’s goods. He sailed along, admiring the wonders and terrors of the sea, till at last he reached Golden Island. There he stayed for a time until the merchant had finished his buying and selling. Now on the way back, he saw a magic tree suddenly rising from the ocean. It had beautiful branches, boughs of gold, fruits of jewels, and splendid blossoms. And sitting on a jewelled couch in the branches was a lovely maiden of heavenly beauty. And while the counsellor wondered what it all meant, the maiden took her lute in her hand, and began to sing:

Whatever seed of fate is sown,
The fruit appears–’tis strange! Whatever deed a man has done,
Not God himself can change.

And when she had made her meaning clear, the heavenly maiden straightway sank with the magic tree and the couch. And Farsight thought: “What a wonderful thing I have seen to-day! What a strange place the ocean is for the appearance of a tree with a fairy in it! And if this is a usual occurrence at sea, why do not other goddesses arise?”

The pilot and other sailors saw that he was astonished, and they said: “Sir, this wonderful maiden appears here regularly, and sinks a moment after, but the sight is new to you.” Then the counsellor, filled with amazement, came to the shore with Treasure, and disembarked. And when the merchant had unloaded his goods and caused his servants to rejoice, the counsellor went home with him and spent many happy days there.

At last he said to Treasure: “Merchant, I have rested happily for a long time in your house. Now I wish to go to my own country. Peace be with you!” And in spite of urging from the merchant, Farsight took his leave, and started with no companion except his own courage. He went through many countries and at last reached the Anga country. And scouts who had been sent by King Glory-banner saw him before he reached the city. When the king learned of it, he went himself out of the city to meet him, for he had been terribly grieved by the separation. He drew near, embraced and greeted the counsellor and took him, all worn and dusty with the weary journey, into an inner room.

And as soon as the counsellor was refreshed, the king said: “Counsellor, why did you leave us? How could you bring yourself to do so harsh and loveless a thing? But after all, who can understand the strange workings of stern necessity? To think that you should decide all at once to wander off on a pilgrimage! Well, tell me what countries you visited, and what new things you saw.”

Then the counsellor told him the whole story truthfully and in order, the journey to Golden Island and the fairy who rose singing from the sea, her wonderful beauty and the magic tree.

But the king immediately fell in love so hopelessly that his kingdom and his life seemed worthless to him without her. He took the counsellor aside and said: “Counsellor, I simply must see her. Remember that I shall die if I do not. I bow to my fate. I will