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Folklore of the Santal Parganas by Cecil Henry Bompas

Part 5 out of 8

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daughter; but when the sword was produced and she was told that she
must go through the ceremony with the sword, as her bridegroom had not
come, she began to cry and make a great to-do. Nothing would induce
her to consent. "Why was her husband the only one who had not come
in person? he must be blind or lame or married;" this resistance put
all the others into a difficulty, for the younger sisters could not
be married before the elder. At last after much talking her father
and mother persuaded the eldest daughter to go through the ceremony;
the women put vermilion on the sword and with the sword the mark
was made on the bride's forehead; and then the younger sisters were
married and after a grand feast the whole party set out for the palace
of the Kherohuri Raja.

On the way they were benighted in the midst of a great jungle twelve
_kos_ wide, and the palki bearers declined to go any further in
the dark, so they had all to camp where they were. In the middle of
the night, suddenly sixteen hundred Rakhases descended on them and
swallowed up the whole cavalcade, elephants and horses and palkis and
men. In this danger the eldest princess who had been married to the
sword prayed to Chando saying "O Chando! I have never yet set eyes
on my husband; he is not with me here. I pray thee carry my palki in
safety up into the sky." And Chando heard her prayer and lifted her
palki up into the air and preserved her, but all those who were left
on the ground were swallowed up by the Rakhases; when the day dawned
not one was to be seen.

As the princess from mid air gazed on this melancholy spectacle, a
parrot came flying over and she called to it and begged it to take a
letter for her to her husband in the palace of the Kherohuri Raja. The
parrot obeyed her behest, and when the eldest prince read the letter
and learned what had happened, he made a hasty meal and saddled his
horse and was ready to start; but as it was nearly evening he thought
it better to wait till the next day.

Very early the following morning he set out and when his bride saw
him come riding along she prayed to Chando that if it were really her
husband the palki might descend to the ground; it immediately sank, and
the bride and bridegroom met; then she told him all that had happened
and gave him the shield and sword that he had sent to represent him at
the marriage; with these in his hands he waited and when at nightfall
the Rakhases returned, the Prince slew everyone of them with his
sword; and as he killed them the Rakhases vomited up the elephants,
horses and men that they had eaten. Then his wife told the prince to
dip a cloth in water and wring it out over the dead and as the water
fell on them they all became alive again, elephants, horses and men.

But his brothers far from being grateful to him for having restored
them to life, took counsel together saying. "Now that he has delivered
us from this danger, he will think that he has a claim on us and will
treat us as his servants; let us cut open his stomach and then the
Rakhas will eat him." So they turned on him, cut open his stomach,
and went their ways. Then the wounded prince told the palki-bearers
to carry his bride back to her father's house.

When they appeared before the Chandmuni Raja, he upbraided them for
not having brought the prince too, to try if he could not have been
healed. Meanwhile the prince lay in the jungle groaning for a whole
day and night; then Chando and his wife heard his cries and came
down and told him to push in his entrails and when he had done so,
they gave him a slap on his stomach and he became whole again. Then as
he was afraid to return to his home where his brothers were, he went
begging to his father-in-law's house; as he came to it, his wife said
to her sister-in-law that the beggar seemed to be like her husband,
so she went to him and they recognised each other and he was taken in
and well treated and lived there many years. In the end he was seized
with a desire to go and see his old mother, and, his wife consenting
to go with him, they set off to his father's home; when his brothers
saw him come, they were filled with fear and made him Raja over them
and they became his servants and he lived in prosperity for the rest
of his life.

LXXXV. The Dog Bride.

Once upon a time there was a youth who used to herd buffaloes; and as
he watched his animals graze he noticed that exactly at noon every
day a she-dog used to make its way to a ravine, in which there were
some pools of water. This made him curious and he wondered to whom
it belonged and what it did in the ravine; so he decided to watch,
and one day when the dog came he hid himself and saw that when it
got to the water, it shed its dog skin and out stepped a beautiful
maiden, and began to bathe; and when she had finished bathing she put
on the skin and became a dog again, and went off to the village; the
herdboy followed her and watched into what house she entered, and he
enquired to whom the house belonged. Having found out all about it,
he went back to his work.

That year the herdboy's father and mother decided that it was time
for him to marry and began to look about for a wife for him; but he
announced that he had made up his mind to have a dog for his wife
and he-would never marry a human girl.

Everyone laughed at him for such an extraordinary idea, but he could
not be moved; so at last they concluded that he must really have
the soul of a dog in him, and that it was best to let him have his
own way. So his father and mother asked him whether there was any
particular dog he would like to have for his bride, and then he gave
the name of the man into whose house he had tracked the dog that
he had seen going to the ravine. The master of the dog laughed at
the idea that anyone should wish to marry her, and gladly accepted
a bride's price for her; so a day was fixed for the wedding and the
booth built for the ceremony and the bridegroom's party went to the
bride's house and the marriage took place in due form and the bride
was escorted to her husband's house.

Every night when her husband was asleep, the bride used to come out
of the dog's skin and go out of the house; and when her husband found
out this, he one night only pretended to go to sleep and lay watching
her, and when she was about to leave the room he jumped up and caught
hold of her and seizing the dog skin, threw it into the fire, where
it was burnt to ashes, so his bride remained a woman, but she was
of more than human beanty. This soon became known in the village and
everyone congratulated the herdboy on his wisdom in marrying a dog.

Now the herdboy had a friend named Jitu and when Jitu saw what a
prize his friend had got, he thought that he could not do better
than marry a dog himself. His relations made no objection and a
bride was selected and the marriage took place, but when they were
putting vermilion on the bride's forehead she began to growl; but
in spite of her growling they dragged her to the bridegroom's house,
and forcibly anointed her with oil and turmeric; but when the bride's
party set off home, the dog broke loose and ran after them; then
everyone shouted to Jitu to run after his bride and bring her back,
but she only growled and bit at him, so that he had at last to give
it up. Then everyone laughed at him so much that he was too ashamed
to speak, and two or three days later he hanged himself.

LXXXVI. Wealth or Wisdom.

Once upon a time there were a Raja and a rich merchant, and they
each had one son. The two boys went to the same school and in the
course of time became great friends; they were always together out of
school hours; the merchant's son would take his meals at the Raja's
palace or the Raja's son would eat with his friend at the merchant's
house. One day the two youths began a discussion as to whether wealth
or wisdom were the more powerful: the Raja's son said that wealth
was most important, while the merchant's son declared for wisdom; the
discussion waxed hot and neither would yield his opinion. At last the
merchant's son declared; "It is of no use for us to argue like this,
let us put it to the test: let us both go to some far country and
take service with some master for a year, and try whether wealth or
wisdom is the more successful." The Prince agreed to this plan and
they fixed a day for starting

Then they both went home and collected what money they could lay hands
on and, when the time arrived, started off early one morning. After
they had travelled some distance the Prince began to think of how his
parents must be searching for him, for he had said nothing about his
going away; but the merchant's son comforted him by saying that he
had left word of their intentions at his home, and his relations would
tell the Raja; so they continued on their way, and after a time they
came to a certain country where the merchant's son proposed that they
should look for employment. But now that it had come to the point, the
prince did not like the idea of becoming a servant and he said that he
would live on the money which he had brought with him, and which would
last for a year or two. "You may do as you like" answered his friend
"but for my part I must look for work." So he went to a village and
found employment as a teacher in a school; his pupils gave him his
food and also some small wages, so that he had enough to live on,
without spending any of the money he had brought with him.

Meanwhile the Raja's son hired a house in the village and began
to lead a riotous life; in a very short time He had wasted all his
money on his evil companions and was reduced to absolute starvation;
for when his money came to an end, all his so-called friends deserted
him. Thin and wretched, he went to the merchant's son and asked him
either to take him back to his father's home or to find him work. His
friend agreed to find him some employment, and after a little enquiry
heard of a farmer who wanted a servant to take a bullock out to graze
and to fill a trough with water once a day. The prince thought that
he could easily manage that amount of work, so he went to the farmer
and engaged himself as his servant.

The terms of service were these:--If the prince threw up his work one
of his little fingers was to be cut off, but if the farmer dismissed
him while he was working well then the farmer was to lose a little
finger; and if the prince grazed the bullock and filled the trough
with water regularly, he was to get as much cooked rice as would
cover a plantain leaf, but if he did not do the work he was to get
only what would go on a tamarind leaf. The prince readily agreed to
these terms, for he thought that the work would not take him more than
an hour or two. But unhappily for him, things did not turn out as he
expected. On the first morning he took the bullock out to graze, but
the animal would not eat; whenever it saw any other cattle passing,
it would gallop off to join them, and when the prince had run after
it and brought it back, nothing would make it graze quietly; it
kept running away in one direction or another with the prince in
pursuit. So at last he had to bring it home and shut it up in the
cow-shed and even that he found difficult.

Then they set him to filling the trough, and he found that he could
not do that either, for the trough had a hole in the bottom and had
been set over the mouth of an old well; and as fast as the prince
poured the water in, it ran away, but he was too stupid to see what
was the matter and went on pouring till he was quite tired out; so as
he had not completed the tasks set him, he only got a tamarind leaf
full of rice for his supper; this went on every day and the prince
began to starve, but he was afraid to run away and tell his troubles
to the merchant's son, lest he should have his little finger cut off.

But the merchant's son had not forgotten his friend and began to
wonder why the Prince kept away from him. So one day he went to pay
him a visit and was horrified to find him looking so ill and starved;
when he heard how the prince was only getting a tamarind leaf full
of rice every day, because he could not perform the task set him, he
offered to change places with the Prince and sent him off to teach in
the school while he himself stayed with the farmer. The next morning
the merchant's son took the bullock out to graze and he also found
that the animal would not graze quietly but spent its time in chasing
the other cattle, so at noon he brought it home and set to work to
fill the trough; he soon found the hole in the bottom through which
the water escaped and stopped it up with a lump of clay and then he
easily filled the trough to the brim. Then in the afternoon he took
the bullock out again to graze and when he brought it back at sunset
he was given a plantain leaf full of rice; this meant more food than
he could possibly eat in a day.

He was determined that the bullock should not give him any more
trouble, so the next morning when he took it out to graze, he took with
him a thick rope and tethered the animal to a tree; this saved him
all the trouble of running after it, but it was clear that it would
not get enough to eat in that way, so he made up his mind to get rid
of it altogether, and when he took it out in the afternoon, he took
with him a small axe and drove the bullock to a place where a herd of
cattle were grazing and then knocked it on the head with the axe and
threw the body into a ravine near by. Then he hid the axe and ran off
to his master and told him that the bullock had started fighting with
another animal in the herd and had been pushed over the edge of the
ravine and killed by the fall. The farmer went out to see for himself
and when he found the dead body lying in the ravine he could not but
believe the story, and had no fault to find with his cunning servant.

A few days later, as the rice crop was ripe, the farmer told the
merchant's son to go to the fields to reap the rice. "How shall I
reap it?" asked he. "With a sickle," replied the farmer. "Then it
will be the the sickle and not I, that reaps it" "As you like,"
said the farmer, "you go along with the sickle, no doubt it knows
all about it;" so they got him a sickle and he went off to the
fields. When he got there, he noticed how bright the sickle looked,
and when he touched it, he found it quite hot from being carried
in the sun. "Dear, dear," said he, "I cannot let this sickle reap
the rice: it is so hot that it must have very bad fever; I will let
it rest in the shade until it gets better," so he laid it down in a
shady spot and began to stroll about. Presently up came the farmer,
and was very angry to find no work going on. "Did I send you out to
stroll about, or to start cutting the rice?" roared he. "To cut the
rice," answered the merchant's son, "but the sickle has fallen ill
with high fever and is resting in the shade; come and feel how hot
it is." "You are nothing but an idiot," answered the farmer. "You
are no good here; go back home and start a fire in the big house and
boil some water by the time I get back." The merchant's son was only
on the lookout for an excuse to annoy the farmer and the words used
by the farmer were ambiguous; so he went straight back to the farm
and set the biggest house on fire. The farmer saw the conflagration
and came rushing home and asked the merchant's son what on earth he
meant by doing such mischief. "I am only doing exactly what you told
me; nothing would induce me to disobey any order of yours, my worthy
master." The farmer had nothing more to say; his words would bear the
construction put upon them by the merchant's son, and he was afraid
to dismiss him lest he should have to lose his little finger; so he
made up his mind to get rid of this inconvenient servant in another
way, and the next day he called him and told him that he must send
word to his father-in-law of the unfortunate burning of the house,
and the merchant's son must carry the letter.

The latter accordingly set off with the letter, but on the road he
thought that it would be just as well to see what the letter was
really about; so he opened it and found that it contained a request
from the farmer to his father-in-law to kill the bearer of the letter
immediately on his arrival. The merchant's son at once tore this up
and wrote another letter in the farmer's name: saying that the bearer
of the letter was a most excellent servant and he wished him to marry
into the family; but that as he himself had no daughters he hoped that
his father-in-law would give him one of his daughters to wife. Armed
with this he proceeded on his journey. The father-in-law was rather
surprised at the contents of the letter and asked the merchant's
son if he knew what it was about; he protested complete ignorance:
the farmer had told him nothing, and as he was only a poor cowherd,
of course he could not read. This set suspicion at rest; the wedding
was at once arranged and duly took place, and the merchant's son
settled down to live with his wife's family.

After a time the farmer got news of what had happened, and when he
saw how the merchant's son had always been sharp enough to get the
better of him, he began to fear that in the end he would be made to
cut off his finger; so he sought safety in flight. He ran away from
his house and home and was never heard of more.

When news of this came to the ears of the merchant's son, he set
out to visit his old friend the Prince and found him still teaching
in the little village school. "What do you think now," he asked him,
"is wisdom or money the better. By my cleverness, I got the better of
that farmer; he had to give me more rice than I could eat. I killed his
bullock, I set fire to his house, and I got a wife without expending
a picc on my marriage; while you--you have spent all the money you
brought with you from home, and have met with nothing but starvation
and trouble; what good has your money done you?" The Prince had not
a word to answer.

Two or three days later the Prince proposed that they should go back to
their parents; his friend agreed but said that he must first inform his
wife's relations, so they went back to the village where the merchant's
son had married, and while they were staying there the Prince caught
sight of a Raja's daughter and fell violently in love with her.

Learning of the Prince's state of mind the merchant's son undertook
to arrange the match; so he sent his wife to the Raja's daughter with
orders to talk of nothing but the virtues and graces of the Prince
who was staying at their house. Her words had their due effect and
the Raja's daughter became so well disposed towards the Prince, that
when one day she met him, she also fell violently in love with him
and felt that she could not be happy unless she became his wife. So
the wedding duly took place, and then the Prince and the merchant's
son with their respective wives returned to their fathers' houses.

LXXXVII. The Goala and the Cow.

Once upon a time a young man of the Goala caste was going to his
wedding; he was riding along in a palki, with all his friends, to
the bride's house and as he was passing by a pool of water he heard a
voice saying, "Stop you happy bridegroom; you are happy, going to fetch
your bride; spare a thought for my misfortune and stay and pull me out
of this quagmire." Looking out he saw a cow stuck fast in the mud at
the edge of the pool, but he had no pity for it and harshly refused
to go to its help, for fear lest he should make his clothes muddy.

Then the cow cursed the Goala, saying, "Because you have refused to
help me in my extremity, this curse shall light on you, directly you
touch your bride you shall turn into a donkey." At these words the
Goala was filled with fear and telling the bearers to put down the
palki he alighted and ran and pulled the cow out of the mud; this done,
he begged her to withdraw the curse, but the cow declared that this
was impossible, what she had said was bound to come to pass. At these
words the Goala began to lament and threw himself at the feet of the
cow, beseeching her; at length the cow relented, and promised that
though the curse could not be withdrawn it should be mitigated and
it would be possible for his wife to restore him to human shape. So
the Goala had to take what comfort he could from this and returning
to the palki he told his friends what had passed. Much downcast the
procession continued its way, wondering what would be the upshot of
this adventure.

Arrived at the bride's house, they proceeded to celebrate the wedding;
but as the Goala touched the bride with his finger to apply the
vermilion mark to her forehead, he suddenly became a donkey. The
company were filled with dismay and the bride's parents declared that
they would never let their daughter go away with such a husband,
but the bride herself spoke up and said that as Thakur for some
reason had given her such a husband she would cleave to him, and
nothing that her relations said could shake her purpose; so when the
bridal party set out homewards, she went with them to her husband's
house. But there everyone laughed at her so much for having married
a donkey that she made up her mind to run away to another country;
so one day she packed up some provisions for the journey and set out,
driving the donkey before her.

She journeyed on and on till one day she happened to come to a tank
with a large well near it; she turned the donkey loose to graze on
the banks of the tank and sat down by the well to eat some of the
food which she had with her. In the fields below the tank were some
twenty ploughmen in the service of the Raja of that country, driving
their ploughs; and when it got past noon these men began to grumble,
because; no one had brought them their dinner; as it got later and
later they became more and more violent, and vowed that when anyone
did come they would give him a good beating for his laziness. At last
one of the maid-servants of the Raja was seen coming along, carrying
their food in a basket on her head and with her child running by her
side. The sight pacified the ploughmen and the maid-servant hastened
to set down the basket near them and then went off to the well to
draw some water for them.

Just as she was ready to let down the water-pot, a wedding procession
passed along the road with drums and music, making a fine show. The
maid could not keep her eyes off this, but at the same time did not
wish to keep the ploughmen waiting any longer; so, with her eyes on
the procession, she tied the well-rope, as she thought round the neck
of the water-pot, but really, without knowing it, she tied the rope
round the neck of her own little child and proceeded to lower him
into the well. When she pulled up the rope she found that she had
strangled her own child.

She was of course much distressed at this, but she was even more
afraid of what might be done to her and at once hit on a device to save
herself from the charge of murder. Taking the dead child in her arms
she ran to the ploughmen and scattered all the food she had brought
about the ground; then with the child still in her arms, she ran to
the Raja and complained to him that his ploughmen had assaulted her,
because she was late in taking them their dinner, had knocked the
basket of food all about the ground and had beaten her child to death;
she added that a strange woman was grazing a donkey near the place
and must have seen all that passed.

The Raja at once sent a Sipahi to fetch the ploughmen and when they
came before him he asked them what had happened, and bade them swear
before _Sing bonga_ whether they were guilty of the murder. The
ploughmen solemnly swore to speak the truth, and then told the Raja
exactly what had happened, how the woman had killed her child by
mistake and then falsely charged them with the murder. Then the
Raja asked them whether they had any witnesses, and they said that
there was no one of their own village present at the time, but that
a strange woman was grazing an ass on the banks of the tank, who
must have seen all that happened. Then the Raja sent two sipahis to
fetch the woman, telling them to treat her well and bring her along
gently. So the sipahis went to the woman and told her that the Raja
wanted her on very important business; she made no demur and went to
fetch her donkey. The sipahis advised her to leave it behind to graze,
but she said that wherever she went the donkey must go and drove it
along with her.

When she appeared before the Raja he explained to her what had
happened, and how the maid-servant told one story about the death
of the child and the ploughmen another, and he charged her to speak
the truth as to what she had seen. The Goala's bride answered that
she was ready to take an oath and to swear by her donkey: if she
spoke the truth the donkey would turn into a man, and if she lied
it would retain its shape. "If you take that oath," said the Raja,
"the case shall be decided accordingly." Then the Goala's wife began
to tell all that she had seen and how the ploughmen were angry because
their dinner was late, and how the maid-servant had gone to the well to
draw water and had strangled her child by mistake and had then knocked
over the basket and charged the ploughmen with the murder. "If I have
lied may Chando punish me and if I have spoken the truth may this ass
become a man;" so saying she laid her hand on the back of the animal
and it at once resumed its human shape.

This was sufficient to convince the Raja, who turned to the
maid-servant and reproached her with trying to ruin the ploughmen by
her false charge. She had no answer to make but took up the dead body
of the child and went out without a word.

Thus the Goala was restored to his original shape, but he and his
faithful wife did not return to their own relations; they took service
with a farmer of that country and after a time they saved money and
took some land and lived prosperously and well. From that time men
of the Goala caste have always been very careful to treat cattle well.

LXXXVIII. The Telltale Wife.

Once upon a time a man was setting out in his best clothes to attend
a village meeting. As he was passing at the back of the house his
maid-servant happened to throw a basket of cowdung on the manure heap
and some of it accidentally splashed his clothes. He thought that he
would be laughed at if he went to the meeting in dirty clothes so he
went back to change them; and he put the dirty cloth he took off in
an earthen pot and covered the mouth with leaves and hung it to the
roof of the room in which he and his wife slept.

Two or three days later his wife began to question him as to what
was in the pot hanging from the roof. At first he refused to tell
her; but every time she set eyes on it she renewed her questioning;
for a time he refused to gratify her curiosity, saying that no woman
could keep a secret, but she protested that she would tell no one;
her husband's secrets were her own; at last he pretended that his
patience was worn out and having made her promise never to tell a soul,
he said "I have killed a man, and to prevent the murder being traced
I cut off his head and hid it in that pot; mind you do not say a word
or my life will be forfeit."

For a time nothing more was said, but one day husband and wife had
a quarrel; high words and blows passed between them and at last the
woman ran out of the house, crying: "You have struck me, I shall let
it be known that you are a murderer." She went to the village headman
and told him what was hidden in the pot; the villagers assembled and
bound the supposed murderer with ropes and took him to the police. The
police officer came and took down the pot and found in it nothing but
a stained cloth. So he fined the headman for troubling him with false
information and went away. Then the man addressed his fellow-villagers
in these words "Listen to me: never tell a secret to a woman and be
careful in your conversation with them; they are sure to let out a
secret and one day will turn your accusers."

From that time we have learnt the lesson that anything which you tell
to a woman will become known.

LXXXIX. The Bridegroom Who Spoke in Riddles.

Once upon a time there were two brothers; the elder was named
Bhagrai and was married, but the younger, named Kora, was still a
bachelor. One day Bhagrai's wife asked her husband when he intended
to look out for a wife for Kora, for people would think it very mean
of them if they did not provide for his marriage. But to his wife's
astonishment Bhagrai flatly refused to have anything to do with the
matter. He said that Kora must find a wife for himself. His wife
protested that that was impossible as Kora had no money of his own,
but Bhagrai would not listen to her and refused even to give Kora
his share in the family property.

Bhagrai's cruel conduct was very distressing to his wife; and one day
as she was sitting picking the lice out of Kora's head, she began to
cry and Kora felt her tears dropping on to his back; he turned round
and asked his sister-in-law why she was crying. She said that she
could not tell him, as it would only make him unhappy, but he would
not be put off and said that she had no right to have any secrets
from him and at last she told him that Bhagrai had said that he must
arrange his own marriage without any help from them. At this cruel
news Kora began to cry too and falling on his sister-in-law's neck
he wept bitterly. Then he went and fetched his clothes and bow and
arrows and flute and what other little property he had, and told his
sister-in-law that he must go out into the world and seek his fortune,
for he would never get a wife by staying at home. So she tied up some
dried rice for him to eat by the way and let him go.

Kora set out and had not travelled far, before he fell in with an
old man who was travelling in the same direction as himself and they
agreed to continue their way together. After walking some miles, Kora
said "I have a proposal to make: let us take it in turns to carry each
other: then we shall neither of us get tired and shall do the journey
comfortably." The old man refused to have anything to do with such an
extraordinary arrangement: so on they went and by and bye came to a
tank which seemed a good place to rest and eat some food by. The old
man sat down at the steps leading down to the water, but Kora went
and sat on the bank where it was covered with rough grass. Presently
he called out "Friend, I do not like the look of this tank: to whom
does it belong?" The old man told him the name of the owner, "Then
why has he put no post in the middle of it?" This question amazed his
companion for there was the usual post sticking up in the middle of
the tank in front of them: he began to think that he had fallen in
with a lunatic: however he said nothing and they went on together:
and presently they passed a large herd of cow-buffaloes: looking at
them Kora said "Whose are these: why have they no horns?" "But they
have got horns: what on earth do you mean by saying that they have
not?" replied his companion, Kora however persisted "No, there is not
a horn among them." The old man began to lose his temper but they went
on and presently passed by a herd of cows, most of them with bells tied
round their necks. No sooner did Kora catch sight of them than he began
again "Whose can these cows be? Why have they not got bells on?" "Look
at the bells," said the old man "cannot you use your eyes?" "No," said
Kora, "I cannot see a bell among them." The old man did not think it
worth while to argue with him and at evening they reached the village
where he lived: and Kora asked to be allowed to stay with him for the
night. So they went to his house and sat down on a string bed in the
cow-shed while the women folk brought them out water to wash their
feet. After sitting awhile, Kora suddenly said "Father, why did you
not put up a king post when you were making this cow-shed?" Now at
that very moment he was leaning against the king post and the old man
was too puzzled and angry at his idiotic question to say anything: so
he got up and went into the house to tell his wife to put some extra
rice into the pot for their visitor. His wife and daughter at once
began asking him who their guest was: he said that he knew nothing
about him except that he was an absolute idiot. "What is the matter
with him," asked the daughter: "he looks quite sensible": then her
father began to tell her all the extraordinary things that Kora had
said: how he had proposed that they should carry each other in turn:
and had declared that there was no post in the middle of the tank: and
that the buffaloes had no horns and the cows no bells: and that there
was no king post to the cow house. His daughter listened attentively
and then said "I think it is you, father, who have been stupid and
not our guest: I understand quite well what he meant. I suppose that
when he proposed that you should carry each other, you had not been
doing much talking as you went along?" "That is so," said her father,
"we had not spoken for a long time:" "Then all he meant was that you
should chat as you went along and so make the way seem shorter: and as
to the tank, were there any trees on its banks?" "No, they were quite
bare." "Then that is what he meant when he talked about the post:
he meant that the tank should have had trees planted round it: and
as to the buffaloes and cows, there was doubtless no bull with either
herd." "I certainly did not notice one," said her father. "Then that is
what he was talking about: I think that it was very stupid of you not
to understand him." "Then what does he mean by the king post in the
cow house" asked the old man. "He meant that there was no cross beam
from wall to wall," "Then you don't think him a fool at all?" "No,
he seems to me very sensible." "Then perhaps you would like to have
him for your husband?" "That is for you and my mother to decide."

So the old man went off to his wife and asked her what she thought
about the match and they both agreed that it would be very suitable:
the girl understood Kora's riddles so well that they seemed made for
each other. So the next morning when Kora proposed to start off on
his journey again, the old man asked whether he would care to stay
with them and marry his daughter. Kora was delighted to find a wife so
soon, and readily agreed to work for five years in his father-in-law's
house to win his bride: so a day was fixed for the betrothal ceremony,
and thus Kora succeeded in arranging his own marriage.

XC. The Lazy Man.

Once upon a time three brothers lived together: the youngest of
them was named Kora and he was the laziest man alive: he was never
willing to do any work but at meal times he was always first on the
spot. His laziness began to drag the family down in the world, for
they could not afford to feed a man who did no work. His two elder
brothers were always scolding him but he would not mend his ways:
however the scolding annoyed him and one day he ran away from home.

He had become so poor that he had nothing on but a loin cloth: it
was the middle of winter and when the evening drew on he began to
shiver with cold: so he was very glad when he came to a village to
see a group of herdboys sitting round a fire in the village street,
roasting field rats. He went up to them and sat down by the fire to
warm himself. The herd boys gave him some of the rats to eat and when
they had finished their feast went off to their homes to sleep. It was
nice and warm by the fire and Kora was too lazy to go round the village
looking for some one who would take him in for the night: so he made
up his mind to go to sleep by the fire. He curled himself up beside it
and was about to take off his waist cloth to spread over himself as
a sheet when he found a bit of thread which he had tied up in one of
the corners of the cloth. "Why!" thought he "cloth is made of thread:
so this thread must be cloth! I will use it as a sheet." So he tied
one end of the thread round his big toe and wound the other end round
his ears and stretching himself out at full length soon fell asleep.

During the night the fire died down and a village dog which was on
the prowl came and coiled itself up on the warm ashes and also went
to sleep alongside Kora.

Now the headman of that village was a well-to-do man with much land
under cultivation and a number of servants, and as it was the time
when the paddy was being threshed he got up very early in the morning
to start the work betimes. As he walked up the village street he came
on the man and dog lying fast asleep side by side. He roused up Kora
and asked him who he was and whether he did not find it very cold,
lying out in the open. "No" answered Kora, "I don't find it cold:
this is my dog and he has eaten up all my cold: he will eat up the
cold of a lakh of people." The headman at once thought that a dog
that could do this would be a very useful animal to possess: he had
to spend a lot of money in providing clothes for his farm labourers
and yet they all suffered from the cold, while if he could get hold
of the dog he and all his household would be permanently warm: so he
asked Kora what price he set on the dog. Kora said that he would sell
it for fifty lakhs of rupees and no less: he would not bargain about
the matter: the headman might take it or leave it as he liked. The
headman agreed to the terms and taking Kora to his house paid him
over the money. Kora made no delay in setting off homewards and when
he arrived the first thing he did was to tell his brothers to find
him a wife as he had now enough money to pay all the expenses of his
marriage. When his brothers found that the lazy one of the family
had come home with such a fortune they gave him a very different
reception from what they used to before, and set to work to arrange
his marriage and the three brothers all lived happily ever after.

Meanwhile the headman who had bought the dog sent for his labourers and
told them of his luck in finding such a valuable animal. He bade them
tie it up at the door of the hut on the threshing floor in which they
slept: and in the morning to lead it round with them as they drove
the oxen that trod out the grain, and then they would none of them
feel cold. That night the labourers put the matter to the test but
although the dog was tied up by the door the men in the hut shivered
all night long as usual. Then in the morning they one after the other
tried leading the dog as they drove the oxen round the threshing floor
but it did not make them any warmer, so they soon got tired and tied
the dog up again. Presently their master came along and asked what
they had done with the dog and was told that the animal would not
eat up the cold at all. The headman would not believe that he had
been duped and began to lead the dog round to try for himself. Only
too soon he had to admit that it made no difference. So, in a rage
he caught up a stick and beat the poor dog to death. Thus he lost
his money and got well laughed at by all the village for his folly.

XCI. Another Lazy Man.

Once upon a time there was a man named Kora who was so lazy that his
brothers turned him out of the house and he had to go out into the
world to seek his fortune. At first he tried to get some other young
man of the village to keep him company on his travels but they all
refused to have anything to do with such a lazy fellow, so he had to
set out alone. However, he was resolved to have a companion of some
sort, so when he came to a place where a crab had been burrowing he
set to work and dug it out of the ground and took it along with him,
tied up in his cloth.

He travelled on for days and weeks until he came to a country which
was being devastated by a Rakhas who preyed on human beings, and the
Raja of the country had proclaimed that any one who could kill the
Rakhas should have one of his sisters in marriage and a large grant of
land. Kora however knew nothing of all this and that evening he camped
for the night under a tree on the outskirts of a village. Presently
the villagers came out and begged him to come and spend the night
in one of their houses, as it was impossible for a man to sleep
safely in the open by himself. "Do not trouble about me," said Kora,
"I am not alone: I have a companion and we two shall be quite safe
together." The villagers saw no one with him and could not understand
what he was talking about, but as he would not listen to them they
had to leave him to his fate.

Night came on and as usual Kora untied the crab from his cloth and
soon fell asleep. About midnight the Rakhas came prowling along and
seeing Kora sleeping alone made towards him. But the crab rushed at
the Rakhas and climbing up his body seized his neck with its claws
and slit the windpipe. Down fell the Rakhas and lay kicking on the
ground. The noise awoke Kora, who seized a big stone and dashed out
the brains of the Rakhas. He then cut off the tips of the ears and
tongue and claws and wrapped them up in his cloth and lay down to
sleep again with the crab in his bosom.

At dawn the chowkidar of the village, who was a Dome, came on his
rounds and found the Rakhas lying dead. He thought that it would be
easy for him to obtain the credit of having killed it: so he cut off
one of the legs and hurrying home told his wife and children to clear
out of the house at once: he had nothing more to do with them, as he
was going to marry the Raja's sister and become a great landowner. Then
he rushed out into the village, shouting out that he had killed the
Rakhas. The villagers all went to see the dead body and found it lying
near the tree under which they had left Kora to spend the night. They
were not quite convinced that the Dome's story was true and asked
Kora who had really killed the Rakhas. He declined to answer but asked
that he and the Dome might both be taken to the Raja, and then proof
would be forthcoming as to who was really entitled to the Reward.

So the villagers took up the dead body and carried it off to the Raja,
taking Kora and the Dome with them. The Raja asked what proof there
was as to who had killed the Rakhas: and first the Dome produced the
leg which he had cut off; but Kora unrolled his cloth and showed the
ears and tongue and claws of the Rakhas. It was at once seen that
the leg which the Dome had brought wanted the claws, so his fraud was
clearly proved and he was driven from the assembly with derision and
had to go and humbly make his peace with the wife whom he had turned
out of his house. But the nuptials of Kora and the Raja's sister
took place at once and they were given a fine palace to live in and
a large tract of country for their own.

Kora never allowed himself to be separated from his faithful crab and
this led to his life being saved a second time. A few nights after
he was married, Kora was lying asleep with the crab upon his breast,
when two snakes began to issue from the nostrils of his bride: their
purpose was to kill Kora but when they saw the watchful crab they
drew in their heads again. A few minutes later they again looked out:
then the crab went and hid under the chin of the Princess and when
the snakes put out their heads far enough it seized both of them with
its claws: the snakes wriggled and struggled until they came entirely
out of the nose of the princess and were dragged to the floor where
the crab strangled them. In the morning Kora awoke and saw what the
crab had done: he asked what he could do to show his gratitude to
his faithful friend, and the crab asked to be set free in some pond
which never dried up and that Kora would rescue it if any one ever
succeeded in catching it. So Kora chose a tank and set the crab free
and every day he used to go and bathe in that tank and the crab used
to come and meet him.

After living in luxury for a time Kora went with a grand procession
of horses and elephants to visit his industrious brothers who had
turned him out of their home for laziness, and he showed them that
he had chosen the better part, for they would never be able to keep
horses and elephants for all their industry: so he invited them to
come and live with him on his estate and when they had reaped that
year's crops they went with him.

XCII. The Widow's Son.

Once upon a time there was a poor woman whose husband died suddenly
from snake bite, leaving her with one little girl. At the time she
was expecting another child and every day she lamented the loss of
her husband and prayed to Chando that the child she should bear might
be a son: but fresh troubles came upon her, for when her husband's
brothers saw that she was with child they declared that she had been
unfaithful to her husband and had murdered him to conceal her shame:
and although they had no proof of this, they seized on all their dead
brother's property and land and left the widow nothing but the bare
house to live in.

But Chando had pity on her and when her time was full a boy was born
to her. She gave thanks to Chando and devoted herself to bringing up
the child. The boy grew up and learned to walk and talk and one day he
asked his mother where his father was. She told him that a snake had
bitten his father before he was born. Thereupon the boy embraced her
and told her not to cry as he would support her and take the place
of his father. The mother was filled with wonder and gratitude at
the boy's intelligence.

In answer to her daily prayers she met with kindness at all hands:
when she went out working her employers gave her extra wages: when
she went gleaning something extra was left for her, and if she had
to beg no one refused to give her alms, so in time she was able to
get together some household requisites and start keeping fowls and
pigs. By selling these she saved enough money to buy goats and sheep:
and in course of time was able to think of buying a cow.

By that time her son--whom she called Bhagraihad grown up to be a boy
and took an interest in all that went on: so he asked his mother how
he could tell when to buy a heifer. She said that if when the seller
was showing a cow to an intending purchaser the animal dropped dung,
it should be bought without hesitation, as such a cow was sure to take
kindly to its new home and to have plenty of calves: another equally
good sign was if the cow had nine teeth. Thereupon Bhagrai declared
that he would set out to buy a cow and be guided in his choice by
these signs and not come back till he found one. His mother thought
that he was too young to undertake such a business but at last yielded
to his entreaties. Then he tried to get some one in the village to go
with him on his expedition but no one of his own friends or relations
would go, so he had to arrange with a man of the blacksmith caste to
keep him company.

Early one morning they set out, enquiring as they went along whether
any one had a cow for sale. For a long time they were unsuccessful
but after passing right through the territories of one Raja, they at
length came to a village where they heard of a heifer for sale. As
they were examining it it dropped dung, and on inspection its mouth
showed nine teeth. Bhagrai at once declared that he must buy it
and would not listen to the blacksmith who tried to dissuade him
because, although the animal was full grown, it had had no calf and
was probably barren. Bhagrai however preferred to be guided by the
signs of which his mother had told him, and after a certain amount
of haggling bought the animal for five rupees. The money was paid
and he and the blacksmith set off homewards with the cow.

Night overtook them and they turned into a village and asked to be
allowed to sleep in the verandah of one of the houses: and permission
being given they tied the cow to a post and went to sleep. In the
middle of the night the owner of the house came and took away their
cow and tied an old and worthless one of his own in its place. On
waking in the morning Bhagrai and the blacksmith saw at once what
had happened and charged the owner of the house with the theft. He
vehemently denied all knowledge of the matter and after they had
quarrelled for a long time went to call the villagers to arbitrate
between them. But he took care to promise the headman and leading
villagers a bribe of five rupees if they decided the case in his
favour: so the result was a foregone conclusion and the arbitrators
told Bhagrai to take away the old worthless cow.

He however refused to accept the decision and said that he would go and
find two people to represent him on the panchayat. The villagers raised
no objection for they knew that he was a stranger, and thought that
they could easily convince any persons he might pick up. Bhagrai set
off towards a village he saw in the distance but lost his way in the
jungle, and as he was wandering about he came on two jackals. On seeing
him they started to run but he called to them to stop and telling
them all that had happened asked them to come to the panchayat. The
jackals answered that it was clear that the villagers had been bribed,
but they would come and do what was possible. They told him to bring
the villagers with both the cows to a big banyan tree outside the
village. All the villagers went out to meet the jackals and Bhagrai
stood up in the midst and began to explain his grievance.

Meanwhile the jackals sat quite still, seeming to take no interest
in what was going on. "A fine pair these are to have on a panchayat"
said the villagers to each other, "they are nearly asleep: they have
been up all night catching crabs and grasshoppers and now are too tired
to keep awake." "No," said one jackal, "we are not as sleepy as you
think: we are quite willing to take a part in deciding this dispute:
but the fact is that I and my wife have a quarrel and we want you
first to decide that for us and then we will take up the question of
the cow; if you villagers can settle our difference satisfactorily
we shall be able to conclude that you have given a fair judgement on
the complaint of this orphan boy."

The villagers told him to continue and he explained "I and my wife
always go about together: we eat at the same time and drink at the
same time and yet she drops dung twice a day while I do so only once:
what is the reason of this?" The villagers could think of no answer and
the jackal bade them ask his wife: so they laughed and asked whether
it was true that she dropped dung twice to the he-jackal's once. But
the jackal reproved them for their levity, wise men of old had said
that it was wrong to jest when men of weight met to decide a dispute;
so they became serious and the she-jackal answered "It is true that
I drop dung twice to his once: there is an order laid on me to do so:
I drop dung once at the same time that he does: that excrement falls
to the ground and stays there: but the second time the excrement falls
into the mouths of the ancestors of those men who take bribes and
do injustice to the widow and orphan and when such bribetakers reach
the next world they will also have to eat it. If however they confess
their sin and ask pardon of me they will be let off the punishment:
this is the reason why I have been ordered to drop dung twice." "Now
you have heard what she has to say" put in the he-jackal "what to you
think of the explanation? I hope that there are no such bribetakers
among you: if there are they had better confess at once."

Then all the villagers who had agreed to take a share of the bribe
and had helped to rob the boy of his cow confessed what they had done
and declared that the boy should have his cow again, and they fined
the thief five rupees. So Bhagrai and the blacksmith went gladly on
their way and the blacksmith soon told all his neighbours of the two
wonderful jackals who talked like men and had compelled the villagers
to restore the stolen cow. "Ah" said the boy's mother "they were not
jackals, they were Chando," When Bhagrai's uncles heard all this and
saw how he and his mother had prospered in spite of the loss of all
their property, they became frightened and gave back the land and
cattle which they had taken, without waiting for them to be claimed.

XCIII. The Boy Who Was Changed into a Dog.

Once upon a time there were seven brothers: the six eldest were
married, but the youngest was only a youth and looked after the
cattle. The six married brothers spent their life in hunting and
used often to be away from home for one or two months at a time. Now
all their six wives were witches and directly their husbands left
home the six women used to climb a peepul tree and ride away on it,
to eat men or do some other devilry. The youngest brother saw them
disappear every day and made up his mind to find out what they did. So
one morning he hid in a hollow in the trunk of the peepul tree and
waited till his sisters-in-law came and climbed up into the branches:
then the tree rose up and was carried through the air to the banks of
a large river, where the women climbed down and disappeared. After a
time they came back and climbed into the tree and rode on it back to
the place where it came from. But as they descended they saw their
brother-in-law hiding in the trunk and at first they tried to make
him promise not to tell what he had seen, but he swore that he would
let his brothers know all about it: so then they thought of killing
him, but in the end the eldest said that this was not necessary and
she fetched two iron nails and drove them into the soles of his feet
whereupon he at once became a dog. He could understand all that was
said but of course could not speak. He followed them home and they
treated him well and always gave him a regular helping at meals as
if he were a human being and did not merely throw him the scraps as
if he were a dog: nor would he have eaten them if they had.

A month afterwards the other brothers came home and asked if all had
gone well in their absence. Their wives said that all was well except
that the youngest brother had unfortunately disappeared without leaving
any trace. While they were talking the dog came up and fawned on the
brothers, so they asked where it had come from and the women said
that it had followed them home on the day that they were looking for
the missing boy: and they had kept it ever since. So matters rested:
the brothers searched high and low but could not find the missing
boy and so gave up the quest.

Now the Raja of that country had three daughters whom he had tried in
vain to get married: whenever a bridegroom was proposed to them they
declared that he was not to their liking and they would have nothing
to do with him. At last their father said that as they would not let
him choose husbands for them, they must make the choice themselves:
he proposed to assemble all the men in his kingdom on a certain day
and there and then they must take to themselves husbands.

So proclamation was made that all the men were to assemble outside
the palace and that three of them would receive the Raja's daughters
in marriage without having to pay any brideprice. On the fixed day
a great crowd collected and among others went the six brothers: and
the dog followed them. Then the three princesses were brought out
and three flies were caught: round one fly was tied a piece of white
thread for the eldest princess and round the second fly a red thread
for the second princess: and round the last fly a blue thread for
the youngest princess. Then the three princesses solemnly promised
that each would marry the man on whom the fly marked with her colour
settled, and the flies were let loose. The red fly and the blue fly
soon settled on two of the men sitting in the crowd but the white
fly flew high in the air and circled round and at last settled on
the dog which was sitting beside the six brothers.

At this the crowd laughed and jeered but the eldest princess said
that she must accept what fate had decreed and that she would marry
the dog. So the betrothal ceremony of the three princesses took place
at once, soon followed by their weddings. The husbands of the two
youngest princesses took their brides home, but the eldest princess
stayed in her father's house with her dog.

One day after its dinner the dog was lying on its side asleep and the
princess chanced to see the heads of the iron nails in its feet: "Ah,"
thought she, "that is why the poor dog limps." So she ran and fetched
a pair of pincers and pulled out the nails: no sooner had she done
so than the dog was restored to its human shape and the princess was
delighted to find that not only was he a man but also very handsome:
and they settled down to live happily together.

Some months later the six brothers resolved to go and visit the Raja,
so that the princess might not feel that the dog she had married had
no friends in the world. Off they set and when they reached the Raja's
palace they were amazed to find their younger brother and still more
so when they heard the story of all that had happened to him.

They immediately decided to take vengeance on their wives and when
they reached home gave orders for a large well to be dug: when it
was ready they told their wives to join in the consecration ceremony
which was to ensure a pure and plentiful supply of water: so the
six witches went to the well and while their attention was occupied,
their husbands pushed them all into the well and filled it up with
earth and that was the end of the witches.

XCIV. Birluri and Birbanta.

Birluri was of the Goala caste and Birbanta of the oilman's caste. And
this is the story of their fight.

Birluri was very rich, with great herds of cattle and buffaloes but
Birbanta's wealth consisted in tanks and ponds. Birluri used every
day to water his cattle at Birbanta's ponds: and this made Birbanta
very angry: he felt it an injustice that though Birluri was so rich
he would not dig his own ponds: so he sent word that Birluri must
stop watering his cattle or he would be killed. Birluri answered
the messengers that he was quite ready to fight Birbanta: for though
Birbanta had made the tanks, it was God who had made the water in them
and so he considered that his cattle had a perfect right to drink the
water. When Birbanta heard this he fell into a rage and vowed that
he would not let the cattle drink, but would kill every living thing
that went down to the water. From that day he let no one drink from
his tanks: when women went to draw water he used to smash their water
pots and put the rims round their necks like necklaces: all wild birds
and animals he shot: and the cattle and buffaloes he cut down with his
axe: and at last he proceeded to kill any human beings who went there.

When the Raja of the country heard this he was very angry and bade
his _sipahis_ search for some one strong enough to overcome and kill
Birbanta: and he promised as a reward the hand of one of his daughters
and half his kingdom. So the _sipahis_ made proclamation all through
the country and at last Birluri heard of it and volunteered to fight
Birbanta. Then the Raja fixed a day for the fight, so that all the
country might know and Birbanta also have due warning.

Both the combatants made ready for the fray: Birbanta was armed with
a sword and a shield like a cart wheel and was skilful at sword play,
while Birluri's weapon was the quarter-staff. The day arrived and
Birluri girded up his loins and set out, twirling his staff round
his head. Now his father and mother were both dead; but on the road
his mother met him in the guise of an old woman, so that he did not
recognise her. She greeted him and asked where he was going and when
she heard that it was to fight Birbanta she said "My son, you are very
strong: but if he asks for water do not give it him, for if you do,
he will assuredly kill you: but when he throws away his sword, do you
make haste and take it and slay him with it." So saying she went on her
way and when Birluri came within a _kos_ of the fighting place he began
to twirl his staff and he made such a cloud of dust that it became
dark as night and in the darkness the staff gleamed like lightning.

When Birbanta saw this he rose up and shouted "Here comes my enemy:
I will fight my best and we will see who will conquer" and when he saw
Birluri armed only with a quarter-staff he felt sure that he would
not be overcome by such a weapon: so he grasped his sword and took
his shield on his arm and went out to the fight The fray was fast
and furious: Birbanta hacked and hacked with his sword but Birluri
caught all the blows on his quarterstaff and took no injury. At
last the end of the staff was hacked off leaving a sharp point:
then Birluri transfixed Birbanta with the pointed end and Birbanta
faltered: again he thrust him through and Birbanta acknowledged
himself defeated, saying "My life is yours: let me drink some water
at your hands before you kill me." So Birluri agreed to a truce and
they stopped fighting. Then Birluri cut down a palm tree and dipped
it into Birbanta's tank and holding out the end to Birbanta told him
to suck it. Birbanta refused to take it and asked him to give him
water in his hands: but Birluri remembered his mother's warning and
refused. Then Birbanta in despair threw away his sword and shield
and Birluri snatched up the sword and smote off his head: and this
is the song of victory which Birluri sang.--

"Birbanta stopped the _ghat_ for the golden oxen--
The dust is raised up to heaven!
Birbanta sat by the _ghat_ of the oxen--
The lightning is flashing in the sky!
He has made an embankment: he has made a tank:
But the water he collected in it, has become his enemy!"

Then Birluri was taken to the Raja and married to one of the Raja's
daughters and given one half of the Raja's kingdom.

After a time Birluri told his wife that they must go back to his
home to look after the large herds of cattle which he had left behind
him. But his wife laughed at him and would not believe that he owned
so much property: then Birluri said that if she would not go with
him he would call the cattle to come to him: so he called them all by
name and the great herd came running to the Raja's palace and filled
the whole barn yard and as there was no room for them to stay there,
they went away into the jungle and became wild cattle.

XCV. The Killing of the Rakhas.

Once upon a time a certain country was ravaged by a Rakhas to such
an extent that there were only the Raja and a few ryots left. When
things came to this pass, the Raja saw that something must be done:
for he could not be left alone in the land. Ryots need a Raja and a
Raja needs ryots: if he had no ryots where was he to get money for
his support: and he repeated the verse of the poet Kalidas:

"When the jungle is destroyed, the deer are in trouble without jungle:
When the Raja is destroyed, the ryots are in trouble without their
When the good wife of the house is destroyed, good fortune flees away."

So thinking the Raja made a proclamation throughout all the land that
if any one could kill the Rakhas he would reward him with the hand of
one of his daughters and half his kingdom. This proclamation was read
out by the headman of a certain village to the assembled villagers
and among the crowd was a mischievous youth, named Jhalka, who when
he heard the proclamation called out that he could kill the Rakhas in
ten minutes. The villagers turned on him "Why don't you go and do so:
then you would marry the Raja's daughter and we should all bow down
to you." At the thought of this Jhalka began to skip about crying "I
will finish him off in no time." The headman heard him and took him
at his word and wrote to the Raja that in his village there was a man
who undertook to kill the Rakhas. When Jhalka heard this he hurried
to the headman and explained that he had only been joking. "I cannot
treat such things as a joke" answered the headman: "Don't you know
that this is a Raja's matter: to deal with Rajas is the same as to
deal with _bongas_: you may make a promise to the _bongas_ in jest,
but they will not let you off it on that plea. You are much too fond
of playing the fool."

Ten or twelve days later sipahis came from the Raja to fetch Jhalka:
he told them that he had only spoken in jest and did not want to go
to the Raja, but they took him away all the same.

Before he started he picked out a well-tempered battle axe and begged
his father to propitiate the _bongas_ and pray that he might be
saved from the Rakhas. When he was produced before the Raja, Jhalka
again tried to explain that there had been a mistake, but the Raja
told him that he would be taken at his word and must go and kill the
Rakhas. Then he saw that there was nothing left for him but to put
his trust in God: so he asked that he might be given two mirrors and
a large box and when these were brought he had the box taken to the
foot of a large banyan tree which grew by a ford in the river which
flowed by the hill in which the Rakhas lived: it was at this ford
that the Rakhas used to lie in wait for prey.

Left alone there Jhalka put one of the mirrors into the box and then
tightened his cloth and climbed the banyan tree with his battle axe
and the other mirror. He was not at all happy as he waited for the
Rakhas, thinking of all the people who had been killed as they passed
along the road below the tree: however he was determined to outwit
the Rakhas if he could. All night long he watched in vain but just at
dawn the Rakhas appeared. At the sight of him Jhalka shook so much
with fright that the branches of the tree swayed. The Rakhas smelt
that there was a human being about and looking up into the tree saw
the branches waving. "Ha," said he, "here is my breakfast."' Jhalka
retorted "Ha! here is another Rakhas to match those I have got"
"What are you talking about?" asked the Rakhas: "I am glad to have
met you at last" returned Jhalka. "Why?" asked the Rakhas, "and what
are you trembling for?" "I am trembling with rage: we shall now see
whether I am to eat you or you are to eat me."

"Come down and try."

"No, you come up here and try."

Jhalka would not leave the tree and the Rakhas would not climb it:
so they waited. At last the Rakhas asked "Who are you? I have seen a
thousand men like you" And Jhalka answered "Who are you? I have seen
a thousand like you." At this the Rakhas began to hesitate and wonder
whether Jhalka was really his equal in strength, so he changed the
subject and asked what the big box was. "That is the box into which
I put Rakhases like you when I catch them; I have got plenty more at
home." "How many are there in the box?" "Two or three."

The Rakhas asked to see them, but Jhalka would not leave the tree until
the Rakhas had sworn an oath to do him no harm; then he came down and
opened the box and made the Rakhas look into the mirror inside the box;
and he also held up the second mirror saying that there was another
Rakhas. The Rakhas was fascinated at the sight of his own reflection;
when he grinned or opened his mouth the reflection did the same; and
while he was amusing himself with making different grimaces Jhalka
suddenly cut him down with the battleaxe, and he fell down dead. Then
Jhalka cut off the ears and tongue and toes and hastened with them
to the Raja. When it was found that the Rakhas was really dead the
Raja assembled all his subjects and in their presence married Jhalka
to his daughter and made over to him half the kingdom and gave him
horses and elephants and half of everything in his palace.

XCVI. The Children and the Vultures.

Once upon a time all the women of a village went to the jungle to
gather _karla_ fruit; and one of them was pregnant. In the jungle she
felt that her time was come and she went aside without telling any
of her friends and gave birth to twin boys. The other women went on
gathering fruit and when they had filled their baskets and were on
their way home they noticed that one of their number was missing,
but as it was late they were afraid to go back and look for her,
and besides they felt sure that she must have been devoured by some
wild animal.

Meanwhile the mother of the twins began to call to her friends,
but they were far out of hearing; so she debated whether she should
carry home the two babes or her basket of _karla_ fruit; she did
not feel strong enough to carry both the infants in her arms and so
she decided to take the basket of fruit, especially as she would
probably have plenty more children, while the _karla_ fruit could
not be replaced. She covered the twins with leaves of the Asan tree
and went home.

But when her husband heard what had happened he was very angry,
and scolded her well; she could easily have thrown away the fruit
and carried home the children in the basket tinsead of taking so
much trouble about the _karla_ fruit, as if no one had ever seen
any before. He wanted to take a few friends and go and look for the
children at once; but his father and mother begged him not to risk his
life in the jungle at night; the woman had been a fool but that could
not be remedied; people must learn by experience; as the Hindu proverb
says "When your caste goes, wisdom comes." They could not allow the
breadwinner of the family to risk his life; though the roof and doors
of the house had gone, the walls remained; as long as the tree stood
new branches would grow; but if the tree fell there was no more hope;
so in the end the children were left where they were.

No sooner had the mother gone than a pair of king vultures swooped down
to make a meal of the children but they cried so pitifully that the
vultures had hot the heart to kill them but instead carried them up
to their nest and brought them food: and nurtured them. And when the
children began to walk they carried them down to the ground and when
they were big enough to take care of themselves they told them to go
into the neighbouring villages and beg; but they forbade them to go
towards the village in which their real parents lived. So every day
the two boys went out begging, and as they went from house to house,
they sang:--

"Our mother took away the _karla_ fruit
She covered us up with Asan leaves.
The pair of King vultures
Reared us.--Give us alms."

And people had pity on them and gave them enough to live on. One day
the two boys thought that they would go and see what the country was
like in the direction which had been forbidden to them; so they set
out singing their usual song, and when they came to the house where
their mother lived she heard them sing and knew that they must be her
children; so she called them and bathed them and oiled their bodies
and told them that she was their mother and they were very glad to
stay with her.

But when the children did not return, the vultures flew in search
of them and circled round and round in the air looking for them. The
mother saw them and knew what they wanted, so she took the children
into the house and hid them under a large basket. But the vultures flew
down to the house and tore a hole in the thatch and entered through it
and overturned the basket and seized the children. Then the father and
mother also caught hold of them and the vultures pulled and the parents
pulled until the children were torn in two and the vultures flew away
with the portions they had secured. The father and mother sorrowfully
burnt on a pyre the remains of the children that were left to them.

The vultures when they reached their nest were unwilling to eat the
flesh of the children they had reared, so they set fire to their nest;
but as the flames rose high, some juice spirted out from the burning
flesh on to the vultures and they tasted it and found it so good
that they pulled the rest of the flesh out of the flames and ate it,
and from that time vultures feed on human bodies.

XCVII. The Ferryman.

There was once a ferryman who plied a ferry across a big river, and he
had two wives. By the elder wife he had five sons and by the younger
only one. When he grew old he gave up work himself and left his sons
to manage the boats; but the step-brothers could not agree and were
always quarrelling. So the father gave one boat to the son of the
younger wife and told him to work it by himself at a separate crossing
higher up the river, while the five other brothers plied to old ferry.

It turned out that most passengers used to cross at the youngest
brother's ferry and as he had no one to share the profits with him,
his earnings were very large. Because of this he used to jeer at his
other brothers who were not so well off. This made them hate him more
than ever, and they resolved to be revenged; so one day when he was
alone in the boat they set it adrift down the river without any oars.

As he drifted helplessly down the river he saw a river snake, as
long as the river was broad, waiting for him with open mouth. He
thought that his last hour had come, but he seized a knife which was
in the boat and waited. When the stream brought him within reach,
the snake swallowed him, boat and all, and swam to the bank. When he
felt the snake climbing up the bank he began to cut his way out of its
stomach with his knife, and soon made a wound which killed the snake
and enabled him to make his way out and pull out the boat. Then he
looked about him and saw a large village near by; so he went towards
it to tell the villagers how he had killed the great snake. But when
he reached it he found it deserted; he went from house to house but
found no one. At last he came to a house in which there was one girl,
who told him that she was the only inhabitant left, as the great river
snake had eaten up all the other people. Then he told her how he had
killed the snake and took her to see its dead body. The village was
full of the wealth left by its former inhabitants; so he and the girl
decided to stay there, and there were such riches that they lived
like a Raja and Rani.

One morning his wife told him that she had had a dream, in which
she was warned that he must on no account go out towards the south
of the village; but he laughed at her, because he had up to that
time moved about wherever he liked without any harm. She begged him
to listen to her advice, because it was by her wisdom that she had
saved her life when every one else in the village had been killed,
so for a few days he obeyed her, but one morning he took a sword and
went off towards the south. He had not gone far when he came to a cow,
which had fallen into a pit, and it called to him. "Oh Brother, I have
fallen into great trouble; help me out and one day I will do the same
to you, if you ask my aid." So he took pity on the cow and pulled it
out. Going on a little further he came to a buffalo which had stuck
fast in a bog and it also called to him for help and promised to do
the like for him in case of need. So he pulled it out of the mud,
and went on his way. Presently he came to a well and from the depths
of the well a man who had fallen into it cried to him for help; so he
went and pulled him up; but no sooner had the man reached the surface
than he turned and pushed his rescuer down the well and ran away.

His wife waited and waited for his return and when he did not come,
she divined that he had gone towards the south in spite of her
warning. So she went to look for him and presently found him at the
bottom of the well. So she let down a rope and pulled him up and gave
him a scolding for his folly.

After this they thought it best to leave that country, so they embarked
on the boat and travelled back to his father's house.

XCVIII. Catching a Thief.

There was once a rich Raja; and in order to frighten away thieves
whenever he woke up at night he used to call out--

"What are you people saying? I know all about it:
You are digging the earth and throwing the earth away:
I know all about it: you are skulking there scraping a hole."

One night a gang of thieves really came and began to dig a hole
through the mud wall of the Raja's house. And while they were at work
the Raja woke up and called out as usual. The thieves thought that
they were discovered and bolted. The next morning the hole they had
been making was found, and the Raja ordered his sipahies to catch the
thieves. The head of all the thieves was a Bhuyan by caste and for
five rupees he would catch any thief you wanted. So the sipahies were
told to bring this Bhuyan and they went to a potter and asked. "Ho,
maker of pots, he who makes whole paddy into _china_: where does he
live?" And the potter answered. "He who heats pewter; his house is
over there." Following this direction they found the Bhuyan and he
caught the thieves for them.


XCIX. The Grasping Raja.

There was once a Raja who was very rich. He was a stern man and
overbearing and would brook no contradiction. Not one of his servants
or his subjects dared to question his orders; if they did so they got
nothing but abuse and blows. He was a grasping man too; if a cow or a
goat strayed into his herds he would return the animal if its owner
claimed in the same day; but he would not listen to any claim made
later. He was so proud that he thought that there was no one in the
world wiser than himself.

It happened that a certain man living in the kingdom of this Raja
lost a cow; one evening it did not come back to its stall from
the grazing-ground; so the next day he set out to search for it and
questioned every one he met. He soon got news that a cow like his had
been seen in the Raja's herd. So he went to look, and there, among
the Raja's cattle, he saw his own cow. He asked the cowherd to let him
take it away; but the cowherd refused to do so without a written order
from the Raja. So the owner went off to the Raja and claimed his cow;
but the Raja would not listen and gave him only abuse and turned him
out. Then he went to his friends and asked them to help him but they
were afraid to do anything and advised him to regard the cow as lost
for good.

So the unfortunate man took his way homeward very unhappily; on the way
he sat down by the bank of a stream and began to bewail his loss. As
he cried, Thakur took pity on him and sent a jackal to him. The jackal
came and asked why he was crying, and when it had heard the story of
the loss of the cow, it said "Cheer up! go back to the Raja and tell
him that you want a panchayat to settle the matter about the cow;
and that you intend to call one whether he agrees to abide by its
decision or no. If he agrees, come back quickly to me and I will
arrange to get back your cow for you." So off went the owner of the
cow to the Raja and told him that he wanted to call a panchayat. The
Raja made no objection and bade him call the neighbours together. The
poor man did so and then hurried off to the jackal and told it how
things had turned out. The jackal returned with him to the outskirts
of the city and then sent him to the Raja to say that the panchayat
must be held on the plain outside the city--for the jackal was afraid
of the dogs in the city.

When the Raja received this message it made him very angry, however he
went outside the city and met the panchayat and ordered them to get
to business quickly. Then the owner of the cow stood up and told his
story and the neighbours who had assembled called to him encouragingly,
but the jackal sat in the background and pretended to be asleep. When
the tale was finished, the Raja told the people who had assembled to
give their decision, but they were all so afraid of the Raja that not
one ventured to speak. As they kept silence the Raja turned to the
owner of the cow. "Well, where are the people who are going to judge
the case? No one here will say a word." "That is my judge," said the
man pointing to the jackal. "Why it is fast asleep; what sort of a
judge is that?" But just then the jackal shook itself and said. "I
have had a most remarkable dream." "There, he has been dreaming,
instead of listening to the case." exclaimed the Raja.

"O Raja don't be so scornful" said the jackal, "I am a cleverer judge
than you." "You, who are you? I have grown old in judging cases and
rinding out the truth; and you dare to talk to me like that!" "Well,"
retorted the jackal, "if you are so clever guess the meaning of my
dream; and if you cannot, give the man back his cow; if you can say
what it means, I will acknowledge that you are fit to be a Raja. This
is what I dreamt.--I saw three die in one place; one from sleepiness;
one from anger and one from greed. Tell me what were the three and
how did they come to be in one place."

This riddle puzzled every one, but the friends of the man who had
lost his cow saw their opportunity and began to call out to the Raja
to be quick and give the answer. The Raja made several guesses, but
the jackal each time said that he was wrong, and asserted that the
real answer would strike every one present as satisfactory. The Raja
was completely puzzled and then suggested that there was no coherency
in dreams: if the jackal had had some meaningless dream, no one could
guess it. "No," said the jackal, "you just now laughed at the idea that
any one should come to a panchayat and go to sleep; and what you said
was true; I would not really go to sleep on an occasion like this;
and I did not really dream. Now show that you are cleverer than I;
if you can, you keep the cow."

The Raja thought and thought in vain, and at last asked to be told the
answer to the puzzle. First the jackal made him write out a promise
to restore the cow and to pay twenty-five rupees to the panchayat;
and then it began:--"In a forest lived a wild elephant and every
night it wandered about grazing and in the day it returned to its
retreat in a certain hill. One dawn as it was on its way back after
a night's feeding, it felt so sleepy that it lay down where it was;
and it happened that its body blocked the entrance to a hole which
was a poisonous snake. When the snake wanted to come out and found
the way blocked, it got angry and in its rage bit the elephant and the
elephant died then and there. Presently a jackal came prowling by and
saw the elephant lying dead; it could not restrain itself from such a
feast and choosing a place where the skin was soft began to tear at
the flesh. Soon it made such a large hole that it got quite inside
the elephant and still went on eating. But when the sun grew strong,
the elephant's skin shrunk and closed the hole and the jackal could
not get out again and died miserably inside the elephant. The snake
too in its hole soon died from want of food and air. So the elephant
met its death through sleepiness and the snake through anger and the
jackal through greed. This is the answer to the puzzle, but Chando
prevented your guessing it, because you unjustly took the poor man's
cow and as a lesson to you that he is lord of all, of the poor and
weak as well as of Rajas and Princes."

When the jackal concluded all present cried out that the answer was
a perfect one; but the Raja said "I don't think much of that; I know
a lot of stories like that myself." However he had to give back the
cow and pay twenty-five rupees to the panchayat. In gratitude to the
jackal the owner of the cow bought a goat and gave it to the jackal
and then the jackal went away and was seen no more.

C. The Prince Who Would Not Marry.

There was once a Raja who in spite of having many wives was childless;
and his great desire was to have a son. He made many vows and performed
every ceremony that was recommended to him, but in vain. At last a
Jogi came to his kingdom and hearing of his case told him that if he
would pray to Thakur and give away to the poor one-fourth of all his
wealth, he should have a son.

The Raja followed the Jogi's advice, and in due time his youngest wife
bore him a son; a son so fair and so beautiful that there was no one
on earth to match him. When the boy grew up, they began to think about
his marriage and the Raja said that he would only marry him to a bride
as fair and as beautiful as himself. It did not matter whether she were
poor or rich, all that was needful was that she should be a match for
his son in looks. So messengers were sent out to all the surrounding
kingdoms to look for such a bride. They searched for years; nine years,
ten years passed and still no bride was found to match in looks the
Prince. After ten years had passed the Prince heard of this search and
he went to his father and announced that he did not wish to marry; and
that if he ever should wish to do so, he would find a wife for himself.

The Raja was very angry at this and said that the Prince wished to
bring him to shame; every one would say that the Raja was too mean
to arrange a marriage for his only son. But the Prince was obstinate
and persisted that he did not wish the Raja to take any steps in the
matter. At this the Raja grew more and more angry, until at last he
ordered the Prince to be taken to prison and kept there, until he
promised to marry any one whom his father chose.

Every day the warders asked whether he would yield and every day he
refused; and it is impossible to say how long he would have languished
in prison, had not the wife of the Parganna of the Bongas come one
night to the prison with two other bongas. They began to talk about
the Prince's hard case. The warders heard them talking, but could see
no one. The Bonga Parganna's wife proposed that they should provide
a _bonga_ bride for the Prince, for it was certain that no human
bride could be his match for beauty. The two bongas agreed that it
was a good idea but the Prince had declared that he would not marry
and that was a difficulty. "Let him see the bride I offer him and see
what happens" answered the old _Bonga's_ wife. So the next night when
the Prince was asleep a beautiful bonga maiden was brought to the
prison and when he awoke he saw her sitting by his side. He fell in
love with her at first sight and exchanging rings with her promised
that she should be his wife.

Then the warders, who had been watching, ran to the Raja and told him
that the Prince had agreed to marry. The Raja came and took the Prince
and his bride out of the prison, and the wedding was celebrated with
great rejoicings throughout the kingdom.

CI. The Prince Who Found Two Wives.

There was once a Raja who had an only son. When the Prince grew up the
courtiers proposed to the Raja that he should arrange for his son's
marriage; the Raja however wished to postpone it for a time. So the
courtiers used to laugh and say to the Prince "Wait a little and
we will find you a couple of wives;" the young man would answer,
"What is that? I can find them for myself. If you offered to find me
ten or twelve wives there would be something in it." The Raja heard
of his boasting like this and was very angry and said "Well if he is
so sure that he can find a wife for himself, let him do it;" and he
took no further steps to arrange for his son's marriage.

Now the Prince had a most beautiful voice and used also to play on
the one-stringed lute. He used often to sit up half the night singing
and playing to himself. One night as he sat singing, he heard a laugh
and looking round saw a beautiful _bonga_ girl. He asked who she was
and how she had come there, and she told him that she lived close
by and could not help coming to see who it was, who was singing so
beautifully. After that she used to visit the Prince every night,
but always disappeared before dawn. This went on for some weeks
and then the Prince asked her to stay and be his wife. She agreed,
provided he would first go to her home and see her relations. So
the next night he went with her; and found that her father was also
a Raja and very rich. He stayed there three or four days; while his
mysterious disappearance caused the greatest consternation at his own
home. However he returned quietly by night and was found sleeping as
usual in his bed one morning. Then he told his parents all that had
happened and how he had left his wife behind at her father's house.

Two or three days later the Prince fell very ill: every sort of remedy
was tried in vain. As he grew worse and worse, one day a messenger came
from his father-in-law and offered to cure him if he were removed to
his wife's house. So he was carried thither and when he arrived he
found that his wife was also very ill; but directly he was brought
to where she lay, at the mere sight of each other they both became
well again.

After some months the Prince and his wife set out to return to their
own home. They were benighted on the way; so they tied their horses
to a tree and prepared to camp under it. The Prince went to a bazar
to buy provisions and while there, was arrested on a false charge
and was sent to prison. The Princess waited and waited and at last
felt sure that something must have detained him against his will. She
would not leave the spot, and to make it less likely that she should
be molested, she dressed herself as a man.

Some days passed and the Prince did not return; then one morning an
old woman passing by came and asked for a light for her hookah, and
stayed talking for some time. The old woman was struck by the sweet
face and gentle voice of the stranger, and on her return told the
daughter of the Raja of that country that there was a strange young
man, who looked and talked very differently from any of the young men
of that neighbourhood. The Raja's daughter was curious to see him,
and the next morning she went with the old woman and talked with the
disguised Princess. Before she left she was deeply in love with him,
and directly she reached home she sent word to her father that she
had seen the man whom she must marry. "It is of no use to thwart
one's children," said the Raja and at once sent messengers to bring
the stranger to marry his daughter.

When the disguised Princess was brought before the Raja, she said
that she had no objection to being married provided that it was done
according to the custom of her own country, and that was that the
vermilion should be applied to the bride's forehead with a sword. The
Raja made no objection; so the Princess took her husband's sword and
put vermilion on it and then applied it to the bride's forehead; and
so the marriage was complete. But when the Princess was left alone
with her bride, she confessed that she was a woman and told her all
her history and how her husband had disappeared in the bazar.

Then the Raja's daughter went to her father and told him what had
happened and had enquiries made and speedily had the Prince released
from prison. Then the prince himself again put vermilion on the
forehead of the Raja's daughter, and a few days later set off home
with both his wives. This was the way in which he found two wives
for himself, as he had boasted that he would.

CII. The Unfaithful Wife.

Once upon a time there were two brothers and as their wives did not
get on well together, they lived separately. After a time it came
to the ears of the elder brother that the younger brother's wife
was carrying on an intrigue with a certain Jugi; so he made up his
mind to watch her movements. One night he saw a white figure leave
his brother's house and, following it quietly, he saw it go into the
Jugi's house, and creeping nearer, he heard his sister-in-law's voice
talking inside. He was much grieved at what he had seen, but could
not make up his mind to tell his brother.

One day the elder brother found that he had no milk in the house,
as all his cows had run dry; so he sent a servant to his brother's
house to ask for some milk; but the younger brother's wife declined
to give any, and sent word that her brother-in-law was quite rich
enough to buy milk cows if he wanted milk. The elder brother said
nothing at this rebuff, but after a time it happened that the younger
brother's cows all became dry, and he in his turn sent to his elder
brother for milk. The elder brother's wife was not disposed to give
it, but her husband bade her not bear malice and to send the milk.

After this the elder brother sent for the other and advised him to
watch his wife and see where she went to at night. So that night the
younger brother lay awake and watched; and in the middle of the night
saw his wife get up very quietly and leave the house. He followed her;
as the woman passed down the village street, some Mahommedans, who had
been sitting up smoking ganja, saw her and emboldened by the drug set
out to see who it was, who was wandering about so late at night. The
woman took refuge in a clump of bamboos and pulled down one of the
bamboos to conceal herself. The Mahommedans surrounded the clump but
when they saw the one bamboo which the woman held shaking, while all
the rest were still--for it was a windless night--they concluded that
it was an evil spirit that they were pursuing and ran away in a panic.

When they were gone, the woman came out from the bamboos and went on to
the Jugi's house. Her husband who had been watching all that happened
followed her: and having seen her enter the Jugi's house hastened
home and bolted his door from inside. Presently his wife returned
and found the door which she had left ajar, fastened; then she knew
that she was discovered. She was however full of resource; she began
to beg to be let her in, but her husband only showered abuse upon her
and bade her go back to the friend she had left. Then she took a large
stone and heaved it into a pool of water near the house. Her husband
heard the splash and concluded that she was drowning herself. He did
not want to get into trouble with the police, as would surely be the
case if his wife were found drowned, so he ran out of the house to the
pool of water to try and save her. Seizing this opportunity his wife
slipped into the house and in her turn locked the door from inside;
so that her husband had to spend the rest of the night out-of-doors.

He could not be kept out of the house permanently and the next day he
gave his wife a thrashing and turned her out. At evening however she
came back and sat outside in the courtyard, weeping and wailing. The
noise made her husband more angry than ever, and he shouted out to her
that if she did not keep quiet he would come and cut off her nose. She
kept on crying, and the Jugi heard her and sent an old woman to call
her to him. She declared that if she went her husband would know and be
the more angry with her, but she might go if the old woman would sit
in her place and keep on crying, so that her husband might believe
her to be still in the courtyard. The old woman agreed and began
to weep and wail, while the other went off to the Jugi. She wept to
such purpose that the husband at last could not restrain his anger,
and rushing out into the darkness with a knife, cut off the nose,
as he supposed, of his wife.

Presently the wife came back and found the old woman weeping in real
earnest over the loss of her nose. "Never mind, I'll find it and fix it
on for you," so saying she felt about for the nose till she found it,
clapped it on to the old woman's face and told her to hold it tight
and it would soon grow again. Then she sat down where she had sat
before and began to lament the cruelty of her husband in bringing a
false charge against her and challenged him to come out and see the
miracle which had occurred to indicate her innocence. She repeated
this so often that at last her husband began to wonder what she meant,
and took a lamp and went out to see. When he found her sitting on the
ground without a blemish on her face, although he had seen her with
his own eyes go to the Jugi's house, he could not doubt her virtue
and had to receive her back into the house.

Thus by her cunning the faithless wife escaped the punishment which
she deserved.

CIII. The Industrious Bride.

Once upon a time a party of three or four men went to a village to
see if a certain girl would make a suitable bride for the son of one
of their friends; and while they were talking to her, another young
woman came up. The visitors asked the first girl where her father
was and she told them that he had gone to "meet water."

Then they asked where her mother was, and she said that she had gone
"to make two men out of one." These answers puzzled the questioners,
and they did not know what more to say; as they stood silent the other
girl got up and went away remarking, "While I have been waiting here,
I might have carded a seer of cotton." The men who were looking for
a girl who would make a good wife, at once concluded that they had
found what they wanted: "How industrious she must be to talk like
that" thought they--"much better than this other girl who can only
give us incomprehensible answers." And before they left the village
they set everything in train for a match between their friend's son
and the girl who seemed so industrious.

When they got home and told their wives what they had done they
got well laughed at: their wives declared that it was quite easy to
understand what the first girl had meant: of course she meant that
her father had gone to reap thatching grass and her mother had gone
to thresh _dal_. The poor men only gaped with astonishment at this

However the marriage they had arranged duly took place, but the fact
was that the bride was entirely ignorant of how to clean and spin
cotton. It was not long before this was found out, for, in the spring,
when there was no work in the fields, her father-in-law set all the
women of the household to spinning cotton; and told them that they
and their husbands should have no new clothes until they had finished
their task. The bride, who had been so carefully chosen, tried to learn
how to spin by watching the others, but all in vain. The other women
laughed at her efforts and she protested that it was the fault of the
spinning wheel: it did not know her; her mother's spinning wheel knew
her well and she could spin capitally with that. They jeered at the
idea of a spinning wheel having eyes and being able to recognise its
owner; however one day the young woman went and fetched her mother's
spinning wheel and tried to spin with that. She got on no better than
before, and could only explain it by saying that the spinning wheel
had forgotten her.

Whatever the reason was, the other women all finished their spinning
and received their new clothes, while she had nothing to show. Then her
father-in-law scolded her and told her that it was too late to make
other arrangements and as she could not get any new clothes the best
thing for her to do would be to smear her body with _Gur_ and stick
raw cotton all over it. A _parrab_ soon came round and all the other
women got out their new clothes and went to see the fun. The clumsy
bride had no new clothes and she took her father-in-law's advice and
smeared her body with _gur_ and covered herself with raw cotton and
so went to the _parrab_.

Her husband was very angry that she should have taken her
father-in-law's jest in earnest, and when she came home he gave her
a good beating and turned her out of the house. And that was the end
of the "industrious" bride.

CIV. The Boy and His Fate.

There was once a Raja and Rani who had had three sons, but they had
all died when only three or four months old. Then a fourth son was
born, a fine handsome child; and he did not die in infancy but grew
up to boyhood. It was however fated that he should die when he was
sixteen years old and his parents knew this and when they saw him
coming happily home from his games of play, their eyes filled with
tears at the thought of the fate that hung over him.

One day the boy asked his father and mother why it was that they were
so sorrowful: and they told him how his three little brothers had died
and how they feared that he had but little longer to live. On hearing
this the boy proposed that he should be allowed to go away into a
far country, as perhaps by this means he might avoid his fate. His
father was glad to catch at the faintest hope and readily gave his
consent: so they supplied him with money and mounted him on a horse,
and off he set.

He travelled far and settled down in a place that pleased him. But
in a short time the messengers of death came to the Raja's palace to
take him away. When they did not find him, they followed in pursuit
along the road which he had taken; they wore the likeness of men and
soon traced out the Raja's son. They presented themselves to him and
said that they had come to take him home again. The prince said that
he was ready to go, but asked them to allow him to cook and eat his
rice before starting. They told him that he might do this if he were
quick about it: he promised to hurry, and set to his cooking: he put
sufficient rice into the pot to feed them all and when it was ready
he offered some to each of the messengers. They consulted together
as to whether they should eat it, but their appetites got the better
of their caution and they agreed to do so, and made a good meal. But
directly they had finished they began to debate what they should do;
they had eaten his rice and could no longer compass his death.

So they told him frankly that Chando had sent them to call him;
he was to die that night and they were to take away his spirit; but
they had made the mistake of eating at his hands and although they
must take him away, they would give him advice as to how he might
save his life: he was to take a thin piece of lamp-wick and when
Chando questioned him, he was to put it up his nose and make himself
sneeze. The prince promised to remember this, and that night they
took his spirit away to Chando, but when Chando began to question
him he made himself sneeze with the lamp-wick; thereupon Chando at
once wrote that he should live for sixty years more and ordered the
messengers to immediately restore his spirit to its body. Then the
prince hastened back to his father and mother, and told them that he
had broken through his fate and had a long life before him; and they
had better make arrangements for his marriage at once. This they did
and he lived to a ripe old age, as he had been promised.

CV. The Messengers of Death.

There was once a Brahman who had four sons born to him, but they
all died young; a fifth son however was born to him, who grew up
to boyhood. But it was fated that he too should die before reaching
manhood. One day while his father was away from home, the messengers of
death came to take him away. The Brahman's wife thought that they were
three friends or relations of her husband, who had come to pay a visit,
and gave them a hearty welcome. And when she asked who they were,
they also told her that they were connections of her husband. Then
she asked them to have some dinner and they said that they would eat,
provided that she used no salt in the cooking. She promised not to
do, but what she did was to scatter some salt over the bottom of the
dish. Then she cooked the rice and turned it into the dish and gave
it to them to eat. They ate but when they came to the bottom of the
dish they tasted the salt which had been underneath. Then the three
messengers said "She has got the better of us; we have eaten her salt
and can no longer deceive her; we must tell her why we have come."

So they told her that her son was to die that night and that Chando
had sent them to take away his spirit: all they could do was to
let her come too, and see the place to which her son's spirit was
going. The mother thought that this would be a consolation to her,
so she went with them. When they arrived in the spirit world they
told the Brahman's wife to wait for them by a certain house in which
dwelt her son's wife; and they took the boy to Chando. Presently they
brought him back to the house in which his wife dwelt and near which
his mother was waiting and she overheard the following conversation
between the boy and his wife. The wife said "Have you come for good
this time, or must you again go back to the world?"

"I have to go back once more."

"And how will you manage to return again here?"

"I shall ask for the dust of April and May and if it is not given
to me I shall cry myself to death; and if that fails, I shall cry
for a toy winnowing fan; and if they give me that, then I will cry
for an elephant and if that fails then on my wedding day there will
be two thorns in the rice they give me to eat and they will stick
in my throat and kill me. And if that does not come to pass, then,
when I return home after the wedding, a leopard will kill a cow and
I shall run out to chase the leopard and I shall run after it, till
I run hither to you."

"When you come back," said his wife, "bring me some of the vermilion
they use in the world" and the boy promised.

The messengers then took the Brahman's wife home, and shortly
afterwards the boy was born again. His mother had carefully guarded
the memory of all that she had heard in the other world; and when
the child asked for the dust and the winnowing fan and the elephant,
she at once gratified his desires. So the boy grew up, and his wedding
day arrived. His mother insisted on accompanying him to the bride's
house, and when the rice was brought for the bride and bridegroom
to eat together, she asked to be allowed to look at it first, and on
examining it pulled out the the two thorns; and then her son ate it
unharmed. But when the wedding party returned home and the ceremony
of introducing the bride to the house was being performed, word
was brought that a leopard had killed one of the cows; at once the
bridegroom ran out in pursuit; but his mother followed him and called
out, "My son, your wife told you to take her some of the vermilion of
this world; here is some that I have brought, take it with you." At
this her son stopped and asked her to explain what she meant; then
she told him all and he went no more in pursuit of the leopard:
so he stayed and grew up and lived to a good old age.

CVI. The Speaking Crab.

There was once a farmer who kept a labourer and a field woman to do
the work of the farm; and they were both very industrious and worked
as if they were working on their own account and not for a master.

Once at the time of transplanting rice, they were so busy that they
stayed in the fields all day and had their meals there and did not
go home till the evening. During this time it happened that the man
had unyoked his plough bullocks and taking his hoe began to dress the
embankment of the field, and as he dug, he dug out a very large crab;
so he plucked some leaves from the bushes and wrapped the crab in
them and fetching the yoke rope from the plough, he tied the bundle
up tightly with it and put it on the stump of a tree, intending to
take it home in the evening; but when he went home he forgot about it.

Now the crab was alive and in the middle of the night it began to
struggle to get out, but could not free itself. It happened that just
then the farmer was walking in the field to see that no one came to
steal his rice seedlings, and the crab began to sing:--

"This servant, this servant, father,
And this maidservant, this maidservant, father,
Caught me while digging the bank:
And in leaves, leaves, father,
With the yoke rope, yoke rope, father
Tied me and left me on the stump."

At this sound the farmer was very frightened, and puzzled also;
for he thought, "If this were a human being crying, every one in
the neighbourhood would have heard and woke up, but it seems that
I alone am able to hear the sound; who can it be who is talking
about my servants?" So he went back to bed and told no one. The next
morning when the labourer looked for his yoke ropes, he missed one;
and then he remembered that he had used it to tie up the crab; so he
went to the place and found his rope. When his master brought them
their breakfast that day and they had finished eating, the labourer
began to tell how he had lost one of the yoke ropes and had found
it again: and how he had used it for tying up the crab which he had
found. The master asked whether the crab was alive or dead; and the
labourer said that it was dead.

Then the master said "My man you have done a very foolish thing;
why did you tie it up alive? Last night I could not sleep for its
crying. Why did you imprison the innocent creature until it died?" And
he told them the song it had sung, and forbade them ever to cause
such pain to living creatures. He said "Kill them outright or you will
bring disgrace on me; when I heard the lament I thought it was a man,
but now I learn from you that it was a crab. I forbid you ever to do
the like again." And at the time of the Sohrai festival the farmer
called together all his household and sang them the song and explained
its meaning to them, and the men who heard it remember it to this day.

CVII. The Leopard Outwitted.

There was once a man-eating leopard, whose depredations became so
serious, that the whole neighbouring population decided to have a
great hunt and kill it. On the day fixed a great crowd of beaters
collected, and their drums made a noise as if the world were being
turned upside down.

When the leopard heard the shouting and the drumming, it started to
escape to another jungle, and as it was crossing a road it came on
a merchant driving a packbullock. The merchant tried to run away,
but the leopard stopped him and said "You must hide me or I will eat
you." The merchant continued to run, thinking that if he helped the
leopard it would surely eat him afterwards, but the leopard swore an
oath not to eat him if he would only hide it. So the merchant stopped
and took one of his sacks off the bullock and emptied it out and tied
up the leopard in it, and put it on the bullock and then drove on.

When they got out of hearing of the hunters the leopard asked to be
let out; but directly the sack was untied it said that it would devour
the merchant. The merchant said "You can of course eat me, but let us
consult an arbitrator as to whether it is fair." The leopard agreed
and as they were near a stream, the man asked the water whether it was
fair that he should be killed, after he had saved the leopard's life;
the water answered "Yes; you men wash all manner of filthy things
in me; let it eat you!" Then the leopard wanted to eat him, but the
merchant asked leave to take two more opinions; so he asked a tree;
but the tree said "Men cut me down; let the leopard eat you."

The merchant was very downcast to find everyone against him and
the leopard said, "Well, whom will you consult next? You have so
many friends;" so they went on and presently met a jackal and the
merchant said that he would appeal to him. The jackal considered for
some time and then said "I don't understand how you hid the leopard;
let me see how it was done; and then I shall be able to decide," The
merchant said "I hid him in this sack." "Really," said the jackal,
"show me exactly how you did it" So the leopard got into the sack
to show how he was hidden; then the jackal asked to be shown how
the leopard was carried out of danger; so the merchant tied up the
sack and put it on the bullock. "Now," said the jackal, "drive on,
and when we come to yonder ravine and I tell you to put the sack down,
do you knock in the head of the leopard with a stone." And the merchant
did so and when he had killed the leopard, he took it out of the sack
and the jackal ate its body.

CVIII. The Wind and the Sun.

Once the Wind and the Sun disputed as to which was the more
powerful. And while they were quarreling a man came by wrapped
in a shawl and wearing a big _pagri_. And they said "It is no good
quarrelling; let us put our power to the test and see who can deprive
this man of the shawl he has wrapped round him." Then the Wind asked
to be allowed to try first and said "You will see that I will blow
away the blanket in no time," and the Sun said, "All right, you go
first." So the Wind began to blow hard; but the man only wrapped
his shawl more tightly round him to prevent its being blown away and
fastened it round himself with his _pagri_; and though the Wind blew
fit to blow the man away, it could not snatch the shawl from him;
so it gave up and the Sun had a try; he rose in the sky and blazed
with full force and soon the man began to drip with sweat; and he took
off his shawl and hung it on the stick he carried over his shoulder
and the Wind had to admit defeat.

CIX. The Coldest Season.

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