The Two Wives

: Part I.
: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There were once a Raja and his Dewan who had each one son, and the

two boys were great friends. Both had been married in their infancy

and when they grew up and heard that they had wives, they agreed to

go together and visit them. So they set out, and they arranged that

on account of the superior rank of the Raja's son they would go first

and visit his wife; and they also agreed that, as they were going to

a strange pl
ce, they would keep together day and night.

When they reached the house of the Prince's father-in-law they were

received with great honour and when night came they lay down with

their beds side by side. Presently the Prince's wife came to him

and began to rub his arms and legs, until she had soothed him off to

sleep. The Dewan's son pretended also to go fast asleep, but really

he was careful to keep awake, for he thought it safer to be on the

watch in a strange place.

His prudence was rewarded, for after a time he saw the Prince's wife

leave her sleeping husband and go out of the house.

The Dewan's son followed her and saw her enter the house of a Gosain

who lived on the outskirts of the village. He went near and listened at

the door. He heard the Gosain ask the young woman why she was so late

in coming, and her answer that she had been detained by the visit of

her husband. The Gosain reproached her for not having told him that

she was married, and she protested that she had known nothing about

it until her husband appeared. The Gosain said that she must choose

between him and her husband, and she answered that she would never

give him up. "Then" said the Gosain "if you really mean it, go and

bring me your husband's head." At this the Dewan's son hurried back

and lay down on his bed. Presently he saw the woman come with a sword

and cut off her husband's head. But when she took it to the Gosain,

he rose and beat her with his iron pincers and drove her out, swearing

that he would have nothing more to do with a woman who was so heartless

as to kill her own husband. Then the woman returned and placed the

severed head by her husband's body and raised a great outcry, that

her husband had been murdered. The people of the house came and at

first they charged the Dewan's son with the crime and were about to

put him to death; but he called the Gosain as a witness and the real

facts were proved by his evidence, and the murderess was hanged.

The Dewan's son would not allow the Prince's body to be burnt but

insisted on taking it with him, that it might be cremated at his own

home. So he took it on his back and carried it off.

He thought that, as he had come so far, it would be better to visit

his own wife before going home. So, when he reached the village where

his wife lived, he hid the Prince's body in a hollow tree and went

to his father-in-law's house.

That night when they had gone to bed, the Dewan's son saw that his

wife had something on her mind, so he resolved to watch her.

When she thought that he was asleep, he saw her rise and go out of the

house. He followed her to a shrine of Mahadeb; there she smeared the

ground with cowdung and worshipped the god and said "O Siva! I have

worshipped you for many days; now my husband has come to take me to

his house, and you must find another worshipper." The Mahadeb answered

"You have served me for many days; call hither your husband; as you

have worshipped me for so long, I will confer a boon on you." So she

went and called her husband and as he knew what had happened, he had

no hesitation in going with her to the shrine. There the Siv bade him

ask a boon, and he prayed that the Raja's son might be restored to

life, The Siv bade them bring the body and cover it with a wet cloth;

and when they had done so, the body began to breathe and presently

the Prince rose up alive and well. The Dewan's son told him all that

had happened and the next day they went home, taking with them the

wife of the Dewan's son, through whose virtue and piety the Prince

had been restored to life.