Page images

united once more to the royal princess and obtained half the kingdom as a wedding gift.


had a




27.-A STORY OF CANNIBALISM. In ancient times there was married couple who family of

and one daughter. The young

lived as hunters and were experts in the use of the bow and arrow. Their sister had been given in marriage to a farmer in a distant village where she lived with her husband. After a long time she expressed a desire to see her parents and obtained her husbanl’s per nisz: 01 for the purpose.

When she came to her father's house she was asked to prepare food for the family and she did this very willingly. It happened one day that while she was cutting up greens (māni ā, ) she accidentally cut her finger so that the blood from the wound got mixed up with the vegetables which she cooked. Her brothers came back from the hunting field with a good bag of game which she cooked also. When the brothers fell to they found that the māni à surpassed in flavour all the dishes which had been served and they were all very eager to know what made the common vegetables taste so very sweet. They pressed their sister hard and at last'she told them the whole truth. The young men began to ponder how unspeakably sweet their sister's flesh must be if a s.nall particle of her blood had sufficed to impart so rich a flavour to the pot-herbs she had cooked for them. They made up their mind to kill her and eat her up. One day they proposed to their parents that they would escort her to her husband's home, and the necessary permission having been obtained they took her into a great forest. When it was night they placed their sister on a tree and they slept under it. The brothers got ready in the morning to shoot her. She knew what was passing in their mind and she sang, a song which ran thus :

“ Listen, o Karat fruit to a tale of woc,

There are seven brothers
Who want to kill their only sister
May all their arrows miss her."

The first six arrows aimed in succession by her six brothers went astray and she repeated the song each time. It was now the youngest brother's turn to shoot. He alone amongst the brothers was unwilling to take his sister's life, but he was bullied into conformity by his elder brothers who threatened to kill him. So with tears in his eyes he took up his bow and arrow and just then his sister sang :

« Were he to miss me

He would lose his life.
O Karat fruit to you I pray

That his aim may unerring prove.' The young man took no aim and wanted to miss but the arrow found its mark and his sister dropped dead.

The six brothers took out their knives and other cutting instruments and dressed the meat and all of them with the exception of the youngest brother, who was weeping in silence got ready to eat the cooked meat. On being asked to eat the youngest brother replied that he wanted to have his bath before eating and he went down to a river and there he caught fish and crabs and roasted them and brought them with him. When he came back he was called upon by his brothers to eat in their company. But he earnestly requested his brothers to allow him to eat at a little distance as was his wont. They allowed him to do so and he took the cooked meat to a place near ant-hill where he put it in a hole and proceeded to eat the crabs while his brothers were gnawing at the bones and to eat the fishes when they were munching the meat so as not to arouse suspicion. After this they all came back to their house and told their parents that they had seen their sister home. The deceased's husband now saw that it was a long time she had left his home and he set out to bring her back. On the way he saw a Karat tree standing on top of a little ant-hill. Needless to say that the tree had sprung from the meat which the woman's youngest brother had dumped into a hole at that very spot.

There was a fruit on the tree. The man felt tempted to pluck the fruit. He saw that it was so


near that he could easily pluck it. But as he drew nearer and nearer it rose higher and higher and eluded his grasp. He tried his utmost to get it but he did not succeed. At last he heard a voice which told him that he would only succeed in getting the fruit if the tree were cut down by his youngest brother-in-law whose name was Kundra. Then he went on to his father-in-law's house. His brother-in-law gave him water to wash his feet with but he did not take it. They offered him a seat but this he refused. They offered him food and drink but these also he rejected. At last on being pressed for an explanation he said that he would not accept anything unless and until he had secured the Rarāt fruit which could only be obtained if the tree were cut down by Kundra. Kundra was accordingly asked to comply with his request. He began to cut the tree and just then the strains of a song were heard :

“ With a tender hand, cut thou the tree, my brother dear ; Viently let it fall that no harm to me may come."

Kundra used his axe gently and when the tree had been felled he found his sister hidden away snugly in its hollow trunk. She went first to her father's house and after disclosing the whole secret she returned with her husband to her own house.

28.-A FLOWER NYMPH. In olden days there were two brothers who had a house to live in but were without any lands to cultivate. They lived on roots and fruits for which they went every day into the jungles. One day the elder brother went in search of water and he found a tank on the bank of which there was a Gurndāi tree with a single very lovely flower. He was so pleased with it that he plucked it and bro ught it home and kept it safely. Next day both the brothers went away as usual in search of edible roots and fruits. When they came back they saw to their surprise that their rice, pulse and carry were lying ready cooked by some mysterious agenoy. They ate the food and went to bed. Next day they went again into the jungles for roots and fruits and when they came back they found their dinner ready as before. Their curiosity was piqued and they resolved to find

out the mysterious cook. The elder brother bid himself in the house while the other man went out alone in search of roots and fruits. The elder brother kept close watch all day long but he left the house only for a short time when he heard the cry of a hawker of salt and tobacco. When he came back he found the dinner quite ready and the mystery remained unsolved. Next day the younger brother remained in the house to watch and the elder one went into the jungles. He hid himself in a heap of firewood and saw a nymph of surpassing beauty come forth from the Gurndāi flower. When she came near the heap of firewood in order to take some faggots the man seized her by the hand and made her promise to marry his elder brother. Thenceforth she remained as the elder brother's wife and she did all the cooking and household work. After some time she was enceinte and in due couree she gave birth to a son who was exceedingly well-favoured. One day when she went to fetch water the father was dancing the baby on his knees to the accompaniment of a song which ran" :

“ From the lovely Gurndii flower azt thou sprung
My darling child.
Thy body is redolent still
Of the sweet flower's blcom.

His wife heard the song and said :-“Till now have I lived as an outcaste, apart from my kind ; but to day my people claim me back and I can no longer live with you." So saying she immediately entered the. Gufndāi flower and vanished, The tree from which the flower had been pluoked now began to bear many flowers. The husband with his brother and son went to the tree and called out loudly to the nymph but in vain.


[ocr errors]

Once upon a time there lived in a certain jungle a happy couple of jackals. They had no lair; the female who was an expectant mother asked her husband, when her accouchement drew near, to prepare one for the safety of her young ones. “I shall attend to it to-morrow, my dear”, said the husband, “but in the meantime you must give me plenty of food and drink so


that I may pick up strength for the task ." His wife gave him all that he wanted; but he pottered about the whole day and came home in the evening and said :-“ Look here, my dear, I have gone far and near in search of a suitable site and have at last succeeded in finding one.

I will start the work to-morrow." His wife was very glad and she gave him plenty of food and drink and he left home next morning to start the work. He passed that day also in mere frivolity and returned in the evening and informed his wife that he had excavated the foundations but that the earth had yet to be removed. By such ingenious reports he beguiled his wife and obtained from her large quantities of food and drink from day to day. At last his wife delivered a litter of young jackals and she requested her husband to take them over to the lair. The jackal took her along with the young ones to a cave and told her that that was the lair which had taken him so long a time to construct. His wife saw it and said “Well, you have built a commodious mansion for us; but what if a tiger were to come in and oust us ?” “Don't trouble yourself ,” said her husband, “ I have got wit enough stored in seven barrels to render us immune against danger of any kind.” He added :-"How much of wit do you possess my dear?” She said that nature had endowed her with only a small quantity. “Oh! no matter ; I have quite enough ; let us live here,” he said. So they took up their abode in that cave. They had not been there long when a big tiger was seen coming towards the cave. The male took fright at the sight of the tiger and ran to his wife and informed her that a tiger was coming. She asked him to bring one of his seven barrels of wisdom into requisition. He replied that he had lost all the seven barrels through fear at the sight of the huge feline. Said his wife :

:Do what you can, so that we might be saved.” Said the husband : "I am going out. Beat the children soundly so that they may raise a loud out-cry.” After he departed his wife sat down at the door and said : “You greedy urchins, I have just fed you on the liver of seven tigers and still your hunger has not been appeased. Keep quiet and have patience. Another

« PreviousContinue »