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The Broken Friendship

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once upon a time there was a Raja and his Dewan and they each had
one son, and the two boys were great friends, and, when they grew old
enough, they took to hunting and when they became young men they were
so devoted to the sport that they spent their whole time in pursuit of
game; they followed every animal they could find until they killed it,
and they shot every bird in the town.

Their parents were much distressed at this, for they thought that
if their boys spent all their time together hunting they would grow
up unruly and ignorant; so they made up their minds that they must
separate the young men so that they would not be tempted to spend so
much time in sport, but would be able to learn something useful; they
scolded the youths and told them to give up their friendship and their
hunting, but this had no effect. Then the Raja told the villagers
that he would reward any one who would break up the friendship,
and the villagers tried their best but effected nothing.

There was however an old woman in the village who one day said,
"If the Raja gave me ten rupees I would soon put a stop to their
friendship." This came to the ears of the Raja and he exclaimed "What
is ten rupees to me! bring the old woman to me and I will give her
ten rupees, if she can put an end to this friendship." So the old
woman was brought trembling before the Raja and on being questioned
undertook to break up the friendship if she were properly rewarded;
and when this was promised she asked for two men to be given to her
and she took them to her house and there she made them sling a bed
on a pole, such as is used for carrying a man on a journey and she
hung curtains all round it and drew them close and inside, on an old
winnowing fan, they put some rotten manure from a dung hill.

Then she made the two men take up the bed and she fetched a drum
and she paraded all through the bazar beating the drum with the
bed following behind her. She told the two carriers not to answer
any questions as to what was in the bed. Thus they passed out of
the town and went in the direction in which the two young men had
gone hunting. When these heard the sound of the drum and saw the
two men carrying the bed they ran up to see what it was and told
the carriers to put It down that they might look inside; so the bed
was put on the ground and the Raja's son peeped inside the curtain,
but as he caught the smell he jumped back and the Dewan's son asked
what was the matter and he said "it stinks: it is dung." The Dewan's
son would not believe him and also looked to convince himself; then
they both asked what the meaning of this was: the old woman said
that she would explain the meaning of it but only to one of them,
and the one who had heard could tell the other.

So she made the carriers take away the bed and she called the Raja's
son aside saying "Come I will tell you what it means" then she put
her arms round the neck of the Raja's son and put her lips to his
ear and pretended to whisper to him, but really she said nothing;
then she let him go and followed the carriers. The Dewan's son at
once ran to his friend and asked what the old woman had told him; the
Raja's son answered "She told me nothing at all, she only pretended
to whisper." The Dewan's son would not believe this and pressed him
to tell, saying "We have been friends for so long and have had no
secrets from each other, why won't you tell me this? if you refuse
to tell me there is an end of our friendship," but the Raja's son
persisted that he had been told nothing and proposed that they should
go and ask the old woman if it were not so; but the Dewan's son said
that that was no good because the old woman and the Raja's son had
plainly made a plot to keep him in the dark. The quarrel grew hotter
and hotter, till at last they parted in anger and each went to his
own home and from that time their friendship was broken off.

And being separated they gave up hunting and took to useful
pursuits. Thus the old woman earned her reward from the Raja.

Next: A Story Told By A Hindu

Previous: The Extortionate Sentry

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