The Pious Woman





There was once a very pious woman and her special virtue was that she

would not eat or drink on any day until she had first given alms to a

beggar. One day no beggar came to her house, so by noon she got tired

of waiting, and, tying in her cloth some parched rice, she went to the

place where the women drew water. When she got there she saw a Jugi

coming towards her, she greeted him and said that she had brought

dried rice for him. He said that omens had bidden him come to her

and that he came to grant her a boon: she might ask one favour and

it would be given her. The woman said: "Grant me this boon--to know

where our souls go after death, and to see at the time of death how

they escape, whether through the nose or the mouth, and where they

go to; and tell me when I shall die and where my soul will go to;

this I ask and no more." Then the Jugi answered, "Your prayer is

granted, but you must tell no one; if you do, the power will depart

from you." So saying he took from his bag something like a feather and

brushed her eyes with it and washed them with water. Then the woman's

eyes were opened and she saw spirits--bongas, bhuts, dains, churins,

and the souls of dead men; and the Jugi told her not to be afraid,

but not to speak to them lest men should think her mad; then he took

his leave, and she returned home. Now in the village lived a poor man

and his wife and they were much liked because they were industrious

and obedient; shortly afterwards this poor man died and the pious

woman saw men come with a palankin and take away the poor man's soul

with great ceremony. She was pleased at the sight and thought that

the souls of all men were taken away like this. But shortly afterwards

her father-in-law died. He had been a rich man, but harsh, and while

the family were mourning the pious woman saw four sipahis armed with

iron-shod staves and of fierce countenance come to the house and two

entered and took the father-in-law by the neck and thrust him forth;

they bound him and beat him, they knocked him down and as he could

not walk they dragged him away by his legs. The woman followed him to

the end of the garden and when she saw him being dragged away, she

screamed. When her husband's relatives saw her screaming and crying

they were angry and said that she must have killed her father-in-law

by witchcraft, for she did not sit by the corpse and cry but went to

the end of the garden. So after the body had been burnt they held

a council and questioned her and told her that they would hold her

to be a witch, if she could not explain. So she told them of the

power which the Jugi had conferred on her and of what she had seen,

and they believed her and acquitted her of the charge of witchcraft;

but from that time she lost her power and saw no more spirits.





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