The Boy Who Was Changed Into A Dog





Once upon a time there were seven brothers: the six eldest were

married, but the youngest was only a youth and looked after the

cattle. The six married brothers spent their life in hunting and

used often to be away from home for one or two months at a time. Now

all their six wives were witches and directly their husbands left

home the six women used to climb a peepul tree and ride away on it,

to eat men or do some other devilry. The youngest brother saw them

disappear every day and made up his mind to find out what they did. So

one morning he hid in a hollow in the trunk of the peepul tree and

waited till his sisters-in-law came and climbed up into the branches:

then the tree rose up and was carried through the air to the banks of

a large river, where the women climbed down and disappeared. After a

time they came back and climbed into the tree and rode on it back to

the place where it came from. But as they descended they saw their

brother-in-law hiding in the trunk and at first they tried to make

him promise not to tell what he had seen, but he swore that he would

let his brothers know all about it: so then they thought of killing

him, but in the end the eldest said that this was not necessary and

she fetched two iron nails and drove them into the soles of his feet

whereupon he at once became a dog. He could understand all that was

said but of course could not speak. He followed them home and they

treated him well and always gave him a regular helping at meals as

if he were a human being and did not merely throw him the scraps as

if he were a dog: nor would he have eaten them if they had.



A month afterwards the other brothers came home and asked if all had

gone well in their absence. Their wives said that all was well except

that the youngest brother had unfortunately disappeared without leaving

any trace. While they were talking the dog came up and fawned on the

brothers, so they asked where it had come from and the women said

that it had followed them home on the day that they were looking for

the missing boy: and they had kept it ever since. So matters rested:

the brothers searched high and low but could not find the missing

boy and so gave up the quest.



Now the Raja of that country had three daughters whom he had tried in

vain to get married: whenever a bridegroom was proposed to them they

declared that he was not to their liking and they would have nothing

to do with him. At last their father said that as they would not let

him choose husbands for them, they must make the choice themselves:

he proposed to assemble all the men in his kingdom on a certain day

and there and then they must take to themselves husbands.



So proclamation was made that all the men were to assemble outside

the palace and that three of them would receive the Raja's daughters

in marriage without having to pay any brideprice. On the fixed day

a great crowd collected and among others went the six brothers: and

the dog followed them. Then the three princesses were brought out

and three flies were caught: round one fly was tied a piece of white

thread for the eldest princess and round the second fly a red thread

for the second princess: and round the last fly a blue thread for

the youngest princess. Then the three princesses solemnly promised

that each would marry the man on whom the fly marked with her colour

settled, and the flies were let loose. The red fly and the blue fly

soon settled on two of the men sitting in the crowd but the white

fly flew high in the air and circled round and at last settled on

the dog which was sitting beside the six brothers.



At this the crowd laughed and jeered but the eldest princess said

that she must accept what fate had decreed and that she would marry

the dog. So the betrothal ceremony of the three princesses took place

at once, soon followed by their weddings. The husbands of the two

youngest princesses took their brides home, but the eldest princess

stayed in her father's house with her dog.



One day after its dinner the dog was lying on its side asleep and the

princess chanced to see the heads of the iron nails in its feet: "Ah,"

thought she, "that is why the poor dog limps." So she ran and fetched

a pair of pincers and pulled out the nails: no sooner had she done

so than the dog was restored to its human shape and the princess was

delighted to find that not only was he a man but also very handsome:

and they settled down to live happily together.



Some months later the six brothers resolved to go and visit the Raja,

so that the princess might not feel that the dog she had married had

no friends in the world. Off they set and when they reached the Raja's

palace they were amazed to find their younger brother and still more

so when they heard the story of all that had happened to him.



They immediately decided to take vengeance on their wives and when

they reached home gave orders for a large well to be dug: when it

was ready they told their wives to join in the consecration ceremony

which was to ensure a pure and plentiful supply of water: so the

six witches went to the well and while their attention was occupied,

their husbands pushed them all into the well and filled it up with

earth and that was the end of the witches.





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