The Two Wives
Category: Part I.
Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas
There were once a Raja and his Dewan who had each one son, and the
two boys were great friends. Both had been married in their infancy
and when they grew up and heard that they had wives, they agreed to
go together and visit them. So they set out, and they arranged that
on account of the superior rank of the Raja's son they would go first
and visit his wife; and they also agreed that, as they were going to
a strange place, they would keep together day and night.
When they reached the house of the Prince's father-in-law they were
received with great honour and when night came they lay down with
their beds side by side. Presently the Prince's wife came to him
and began to rub his arms and legs, until she had soothed him off to
sleep. The Dewan's son pretended also to go fast asleep, but really
he was careful to keep awake, for he thought it safer to be on the
watch in a strange place.
His prudence was rewarded, for after a time he saw the Prince's wife
leave her sleeping husband and go out of the house.
The Dewan's son followed her and saw her enter the house of a Gosain
who lived on the outskirts of the village. He went near and listened at
the door. He heard the Gosain ask the young woman why she was so late
in coming, and her answer that she had been detained by the visit of
her husband. The Gosain reproached her for not having told him that
she was married, and she protested that she had known nothing about
it until her husband appeared. The Gosain said that she must choose
between him and her husband, and she answered that she would never
give him up. "Then" said the Gosain "if you really mean it, go and
bring me your husband's head." At this the Dewan's son hurried back
and lay down on his bed. Presently he saw the woman come with a sword
and cut off her husband's head. But when she took it to the Gosain,
he rose and beat her with his iron pincers and drove her out, swearing
that he would have nothing more to do with a woman who was so heartless
as to kill her own husband. Then the woman returned and placed the
severed head by her husband's body and raised a great outcry, that
her husband had been murdered. The people of the house came and at
first they charged the Dewan's son with the crime and were about to
put him to death; but he called the Gosain as a witness and the real
facts were proved by his evidence, and the murderess was hanged.
The Dewan's son would not allow the Prince's body to be burnt but
insisted on taking it with him, that it might be cremated at his own
home. So he took it on his back and carried it off.
He thought that, as he had come so far, it would be better to visit
his own wife before going home. So, when he reached the village where
his wife lived, he hid the Prince's body in a hollow tree and went
to his father-in-law's house.
That night when they had gone to bed, the Dewan's son saw that his
wife had something on her mind, so he resolved to watch her.
When she thought that he was asleep, he saw her rise and go out of the
house. He followed her to a shrine of Mahadeb; there she smeared the
ground with cowdung and worshipped the god and said "O Siva! I have
worshipped you for many days; now my husband has come to take me to
his house, and you must find another worshipper." The Mahadeb answered
"You have served me for many days; call hither your husband; as you
have worshipped me for so long, I will confer a boon on you." So she
went and called her husband and as he knew what had happened, he had
no hesitation in going with her to the shrine. There the Siv bade him
ask a boon, and he prayed that the Raja's son might be restored to
life, The Siv bade them bring the body and cover it with a wet cloth;
and when they had done so, the body began to breathe and presently
the Prince rose up alive and well. The Dewan's son told him all that
had happened and the next day they went home, taking with them the
wife of the Dewan's son, through whose virtue and piety the Prince
had been restored to life.
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