The Raja's Son And The Merchants Son





Once upon a time the son of a Raja and the son of a merchant were great

friends; they neither of them had any taste for lessons but would play

truant from school and waste their time running about the town. The

Raja was much vexed at his son's behaviour; he wished him to grow up

a worthy successor to himself, and with this object did all he could

to break off his friendship with the merchant's son, as the two boys

only led each other into mischief; but all his efforts failed and at

last he offered a reward of one hundred rupees to any one who could

separate them. One of the Raja's concubines made up her mind to earn

the reward, and one day she met the two boys as they were going out to

bathe. The Raja's son was walking ahead and the merchant's son a little

way behind; the woman ran after the merchant's son and threw her arms

round him and putting her lips to his ear pretended to whisper to him

and then ran away. When they met at the river the Prince asked the

merchant's son what the woman had told him, his friend denied that

she had said anything but for all his protestations the Prince would

not believe this. They quarrelled about it for a long time and at

last the Prince went home in a rage and shut himself up in his room

and refused to eat or be comforted. His father sent to enquire what

was the matter with him and the Prince replied that food should not

pass his lips until the merchant's son had been put to death.



Thereupon the Raja sent for some soldiers and told them to devise

some means of killing the merchant's son. So they bound the youth

and showed him to the Prince and said that they would take him to the

jungle and kill and bury him there. They then led him off, but on the

road they caught a lamb and when they got to the jungle they killed

the lamb and steeped the clothes of the merchant's son in the blood

that they might have something to show to the Prince and then went

back leaving the boy in the jungle. They took the bloody cloth to

the Prince and told him to rise and eat, but when he saw the blood,

all his old friendship revived and he was filled with remorse and

could not eat for sorrow. Then the Raja told his soldiers to find out

some friend to comfort the Prince, and they told him that they would

soon set things straight and going off to the jungle brought back the

merchant's son and took him to the Prince; and the two youths forgot

their differences and were as friendly as before.



Time passed and one day the Prince proposed to his friend that they

should run away and seek their fortunes in the world. So they fixed

a day and stole away without telling anyone, and, as they had not

taken any money, they soon had to look about for employment. They

found work and the arrangement their masters made with them was this:

their wages were to be as much rice each day as would go on a leaf;

and if they threw up their work they were to forfeit one hand and

one ear; on the other hand if their masters discharged them so long

as they were willing to work for this wage the master was to lose one

hand and one ear. The merchant's son was cunning enough to turn this

agreement to his advantage, for every day he brought a large lotus

leaf to be rilled with rice; this gave him more than he could eat

and he soon grew fat and flourishing, but the Raja's son only took

an ordinary sal leaf to his master and the rice that he got on this

was not enough to keep him alive, so he soon wasted away and died.



Now the merchant's son had told his master that his name was Ujar:

one day his master said "Ujar, go and hoe that sugar cane and look

sharp about it." So Ujar went and instead of hoeing the ground dug

up all the sugar cane and piled it in a heap. When the master saw

his fine crop destroyed he was very angry and called the villagers

to punish Ujar, but when they questioned him, Ujar protested that

he was bound to obey his master's orders; he had been ordered to

hoe the sugar cane, not the ground, and he had done as he was told,

and so they had to let him off.



Another day a Hindu neighbour came to Ujar's master and asked him to

lend him his servant for a day. So Ujar went to the Hindu's house

and there was told to scrape and spin some hemp, but Ujar did not

understand the Hindu language and when he got the knife to scrape

the hemp with, he proceeded to chop it all up into little pieces;

when the Hindu saw what had happened he was very angry and called in

the neighbours, but Ujar protested that he had been told to cut the

hemp and had done so; and so he got off.



Ujar's master had an only child and one day he told Ujar to take the

child to a tank and give him a good washing, so Ujar took the child

to a tank and there proceeded to dash the child against a stone in

the way that washermen wash clothes; he knocked the child about until

he knocked the life out of him and then carefully washed him in the

tank and brought the body home and put it on the bed. Next morning

the father was surprised not to hear the child running about and,

going to look, found the dead body. The villagers assembled but Ujar

protested that his master had told him to wash the child thoroughly

and he had only obeyed orders; so they had to let him off again.



After this the master made up his mind to get rid of Ujar, but he

was in a fix: he could not dismiss him because of the agreement that

if he did not continue to employ him so long as he was willing to

serve for one leaf full of rice a day he was to lose a hand and an

ear. So he decided to kill him, but he was afraid to do so himself

for fear of being found out; so he decided to send Ujar to his

father-in-law's house and get them to do the job. He wrote a letter

to his father-in-law asking him to kill the bearer directly he arrived

before many people knew of his coming and this letter he gave to Ujar

to deliver.



On the way however Ujar had some misgivings and he opened the letter

and read it; thereupon he tore it in pieces and instead of it wrote a

letter to his master's father-in-law in which his master was made to

say that Ujar was a most valuable servant and they should give him

their youngest daughter in marriage as soon as possible. The fraud

was not found out and directly Ujar arrived he was married to the

youngest daughter of his master's father-in-law. A few days later the

master went to see how his plan had worked and was disgusted to find

Ujar not only alive but happily married.



So he thought that he would entice him into the jungle and kill him

there; with this object he one day invited Ujar to come out hunting

with him, but Ujar suspected what was up and took a hatchet with him;

and directly they got to the jungle he fell behind his master and

cut him down with his hatchet and then went home and told his wife's

relations that his master had got tired of hunting and had gone back

to his own home; no doubts were raised about his story and he lived

on happily with his wife till he died at a ripe old age.





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