The Magic Bedstead





Once upon a time a carpenter made a bedstead, and when it was ready he

put it in his verandah. At night he heard the four legs of the bedstead

talking together and saying: "We will save the life of anyone who

sleeps on this bedstead and protect him from his enemies." When the

carpenter heard this, he decided not to part with the bed for less

than a hundred rupees. So next day he went out to try and get this

price for the bed, but people laughed at him and said that no one

could pay such a price but the Raja; so he went to the Raja and the

Raja asked why he wanted one hundred rupees for a bedstead that was

apparently worth only five or six annas. The carpenter answered that

the bed would protect its owner from all enemies; the Raja doubted at

first but as the man persisted in his story, he agreed to buy the bed,

but he stipulated that if he found the story about it not to be true,

he should take back his money.



One night the king lay awake on the bed and he heard the legs of the

bed talking, so he lay still and listened: and they said that the

Raja was in danger and that they must try to save him. So one leg

loosened itself from the bed and went away outside and it found a

tiger which had come to eat the Raja, and it beat the tiger to death,

and then came back and fixed itself into its place again. Soon a

second leg said that it would go outside; so it went and that leg met

a leopard and a bear and it beat them to death and returned. Then the

third leg said that it was its turn, and it went outside and it found

four burglars digging a hole through the wall of the palace, and it

set upon them and broke their legs and left them lying there. When

this one returned, the fourth leg went out and it heard a voice in

the sky saying: "The Raja is very cunning, I will send a snake which

shall hide in his shoe and when he puts the shoe on in the morning,

it will bite him and he will die." When this leg came back, each one

told the others what it had seen and done, and the Raja heard them and

lay awake till morning, and at dawn he called his servants and sent

them outside the palace and there they found the tiger and leopard

and bear lying dead, and the four thieves with their legs broken. Then

the Raja believed what the legs had said and he would not get up but

first ordered his servants to make a fire in the courtyard and he

had all his shoes thrown into the fire and then he got up.



After this the Raja ordered that great care was to be taken of the

bedstead and that anyone who sat on it should be put to death; and he

himself used not to sleep in it anymore but he kept it in his bedroom

that it might protect him.





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