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Ramai And The Animals

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once there was a blacksmith who had five sons and the sons were always
quarrelling. Their father used to scold them, but they paid no heed;
so he got angry and one day he sent for them and said: "You waste
your time quarrelling. I have brought you up and have amassed wealth;
I should like to see what you are worth. I will put it to the test:
I will give you each one hundred rupees, and I will see how you employ
the money; if any of you puts it to profitable use, I will call him
my son; but if any of you squander it, I shall call him a girl." So
they went forth with the money and one bought buffaloes and one bought
horses and another cattle, each according to his judgement, and brought
them home. But the youngest son, who was named Ramai, soon after he
started, found some men killing a cat and he begged them not to kill
the cat, but let him have it and he bought it of them, and going on
he found some men killing a dog which they had caught stealing and
he bought it of them to save its life. By and bye he came to some men
hunting an otter and he asked what they were doing, and they said that
the otter ate the fish in a Raja's tank and so they were going to kill
it; and he asked them to catch it and sell it to him, and promised
to take it away where it could do no harm; and they did so. Then he
went on and came to some men who were killing a young black snake
and he saved that also, and then returned home with his four animals,
and he tethered the cat and the dog and the otter in the yard and he
put the snake into a pot with a lid on and hung it in the cow shed.

When his father saw Ramai's animals, he was very angry and jeered at
him and said that he had no more mind than a woman; and especially
he told him to throw away the snake at once, if he did not want it
killed. So Ramai took down the pot with the snake in it, and the snake
said: "Take me to my father and mother and they will reward you, and
when they ask what you would like, take nothing but the ring which
is on my father's hand: it is a magic ring and has the property that
it will give you whatever you ask."

So Ramai took the young snake to its home and its father and mother
were very grateful and asked what reward he would accept: and he said
he would take nothing but the ring, so they gave it to him. On the way
home he thought that he would test its virtues: so he bathed and spread
out a cloth and then prayed: "Oh ring, give me some luncheon," and
behold he saw a nice lunch heaped up in the middle of the cloth. He ate
it joyfully and went back home, and there he found that his father had
killed the other animals and he reproached him; but his father said:
"They were useless and were only eating their heads off, why should
not I kill them?" Ramai answered: "These were not useless, they were
most valuable animals, much better than those my brothers bought; if
you asked my brothers for a gold palace they could not make you one,
but I could do so at once, thanks to the snake, and I could marry a
princess and get anything else I want."

His father said that he would like to see him try: so Ramai asked
the ring for a gold palace and immediately one appeared in their
garden. Then his father was very repentant about having killed the
other animals. But Ramai's boast that he could marry a princess got
abroad and the Raja heard of it and as he was glad to have so rich
a son-in-law, he gave him his daughter in marriage. And with his
daughter the Raja sent elephants and horses, but Ramai sent them back
again, lest it should be said that he had become rich through the
bounty of the Raja; and by virtue of the ring they lived in wealthy
and prosperity.

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