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A Variant The Wandering Raja






Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once there was a Raja who was very prosperous; but his wife found
their life of wealth and ease monotonous, and she continually urged
him to travel into other countries and to see whether other modes
of life were pleasant or distressful; she pestered her husband so
much that at last he gave way. He put his kingdom in charge of his
father's sister and her husband and set off with his wife and his
two sons as an ordinary traveller.

After travelling some days they got tired of eating the parched rice
which they had brought with them and thought they would boil some rice
for their dinner. So the Rani went into a bazar to get cooking pots,
and a light for the fire. She went to the house of a rich merchant for
these, but he was attracted by her beauty and seized her and shut her
up and would not let her go back, but kept her as his wife. The Raja
and his sons soon got tired of waiting for her; he concluded that
the journey was merely a pretext of his wife's to escape from him,
as she had disappeared the first time that he let her out of his sight.

So he turned to go home and soon came to a river which had to be
crossed, he left his sons on the bank and went into the water to
see how deep it was and as he was wading in, a large fish came and
swallowed him. The fish swam away down stream and was caught in the
net of some fishermen. When they saw how big a fish they had caught,
they decided to take it to the Raja of that country. The Raja bought
it at a high price, but when it was cut open at the palace the man
it had swallowed was found alive inside; so the Raja of the country
appointed him one of his retainers.

Meanwhile the two boys had been found abandoned on the bank of the
river by a cowherd, who was too poor to bring them up, so he took
them also to the Raja; and they rejoiced to meet their father and
when they grew up, were also appointed retainers.

They had to travel all over the country on the Raja's business and it
happened that they one day came to the village where their mother was
and they met and recognised her; she told them how she had been seized
and confined and begged them to bring her husband to her. So the sons
fetched their father and the Rani told her husband how unhappy she was
and begged him to get her released, and he promised to ask the help
of his master. When the Raja of the country heard the story he took
pity on them and went with a body of soldiers and seized the wicked
merchant and ordered him to give up all his wealth and as the merchant
tried to conceal where some of his money was buried, the Raja cut
him down with his sword. He also laid a heavy fine on the villagers,
because they had not sent word to him of the capture of the Rani.

Then he took home the Raja who had been swallowed by the fish and his
wife and sons, and entertained them for some days, and then gave them
elephants and horses and men and all the merchant's property and sent
them to their own country. The uncle and aunt who had been appointed
Regents came out to meet them and escorted them home.

Two or three days after the aunt asked the Raja how he had got his
elephants and horses and money, and he said "They are the profits
of my wife's sin; I will not tell you the whole story for if you
heard it you also might be led astray; my wife induced me to travel
by false pretences. It is not good to follow the advice of a woman;
it is by mere chance that you see me alive to-day." His wife heard
what he said, and she went out and cut her throat from remorse;
and they went and burned her body.





Next: The Two Wives

Previous: The Charitable Raja



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