A Story Told By A Hindu

: Part I.
: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once upon a time there was a Raja who had two sons and after their

father's death they divided the kingdom between them. The two brothers

were inveterate gamblers and spent their time playing cards with

each other; for a long time fortune was equal, but one day it turned

against the elder brother and he lost and lost until his money and his

jewelry, his horses and his elephants and every thing that he had,

had been won
by his younger brother. Then in desperation he staked

his share in the kingdom and that too he lost.

Then the younger brother sent drummers through the city to proclaim

that the whole kingdom was his; the shame of this was more than the

elder prince could bear, so he resolved to quit the country and he

told his wife of his intention and bade her stay behind. But his

faithful wife refused to be parted from him; she vowed that he had

married her not for one day nor for two but for good and all, and

that where he went, there she would go, and whatever troubles he met,

she would share. So he allowed her to come with him and the two set

off to foreign parts. After sometime their path led them through an

extensive jungle and after travelling through it for two days they

at last lost their way completely; their food gave out, they were

faint with starvation and torn with briars.

The prince urged his wife to return but she would not hear of it, so

they pushed on, supporting life on jungle fruits; sometimes the prince

would go far ahead, for his faithful wife could only travel slowly,

and then he would return and wait for her; at last he got tired of

leading her on and made up his mind to abandon her. At night they lay

down at the foot of a tree and the prince thought "If wild animals

would come and eat us it would be the best that could happen. I cannot

bear to see my wife suffer any more; although her flesh is torn with

thorns, she will not leave me. I will leave her here; may wild beasts

kill both her and me, but I cannot see her die before my eyes." So

thinking he got up quietly and went off as quickly as he could.

When the princess woke and found that she had been abandoned, she began

to weep and wept from dawn to noon without ceasing; at noon a being,

in the guise of an old woman appeared and asked her why she wept,

and comforted her and promised to lead her out of the wood and told

her that Chando had had compassion on her and would allow her to find

her husband again if they both lived.

So saying the old woman led the princess from the forest and showed

her the way to a great city where a Raja lived. The princess went

begging her way through the city to the Raja's palace and there they

engaged her as a servant.

Now her husband had also escaped from the jungle and sought employment

as a labourer but no one would give him work for more than a day

or two, and at last his search for work brought him to the city in

which the princess was; and there he was engaged as a groom in the

palace stables. The prince had changed his name and he had no chance

of knowing that his wife was in the palace, because she was confined

to the women's appartments; so some years passed without their having

news of each other.

At last one day the princess happened to go on to the roof and looking

down at the stables saw and thought she recognised her husband;

then she leaned over and listened till she heard his voice and at

that she was sure that it was he, so she hastened to the Raja and

begged to be allowed to meet her husband, and the Raja sent to call

the syce with the name which the princess had given but no one came,

for the prince would not reveal himself. Then the princess told their

story and how her husband had gambled away his half of the kingdom. The

Raja ordered any one with such a history to come forward, as his wife

was in the palace; but the prince did not reveal himself.

Then the princess said "Let all the syces cook rice and bring me a

bit of each man's cooking to taste." They did so, and when she tasted

the rice cooked by her husband, she at once said that it was his; her

husband was unable to deny it and admitted everything. Then they took

him away from his work in the stables and let him live with his wife.

After a time the Raja wrote to the younger brother asking whether

he would restore the half of the kingdom which he had won; and the

younger brother answered that he would gladly do so, if his brother

would sign an agreement never to gamble any more; it was with this

object in view and to teach him the folly of his ways that he had

dispossessed him. The elder brother gladly gave the required promise

and returned to his kingdom with his faithful wife and lived happily

ever afterwards.