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The Poor Widow






Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once there was a poor widow who had two children; she lived by daily
labour and if she got no work any day, then that day they had to go
without food. One morning she went out to look for work and a rich
woman called her and asked if she wanted a job; she said "Yes, that
is what I am looking for," then the rich woman said "Stay here and
pick the lice out of my hair, and I will pay you your usual wages and
give you your dinner as well." So the poor widow agreed and spent the
day picking out the lice and at evening the rich woman brought out
a measure of rice to give her as her wages and, as she was measuring
it, she felt her head itch and she put up her hand and scratched and
pulled out a large louse.

Then she got very angry and scolded the widow and said that she would
pay her nothing as she had not done her work properly and she turned
her out. Then the widow was very unhappy for she had nothing to give
her starving children and she wished that she had stuck to her usual
work. When she got home and her children began to cry for food, she
remembered that she had seen some wild saru (vegetable) growing in
a certain place; so she took a basket and a sickle and telling her
children not to cry went out to gather it. It was dark and lonely
and she felt frightened but then she thought of her children and
went on and gathered the saru, and returned home crying because
she had nothing better to give her offspring. On the way she met an
old man who asked her why she was crying and she told him all her
story. Then he told her to take the herbs home and chop them all up
and to put some in every basket and pot she had and to cook the rest
for supper. So when she got home she did as she had been directed and
when she came to take the herbs which she had cooked out of the pot,
she found that they had turned into rice, and she and her children
ate it with joy. The next morning she found that every pot and basket
into which she had put the herbs was full of rice; and from that time
she prospered and bought goats and pigs and cattle and lived happily
ever after.

But no one knew where the old man came from, as she had forgotten to
ask him.





Next: The Monkey And The Girl

Previous: The Raja's Son And The Merchants Son



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