The Wise Daughter-in-law

: Part I.
: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There was once a rich man who had seven sons, but one day his wife

died and after this the family fell into poverty. All their property

was sold and they lived by selling firewood in the bazar. At last the

wife of the eldest son said to her father-in-law. "I have a proposal

to make: Do you choose one of us to be head of the family whom all

shall obey; we cannot all be our own masters as at present." The old

man said "W
ll, I choose you," and he assembled the whole family and

made them promise to obey the wife of his eldest son.

Thereupon she told them that they must all go out into the fields

and bring her whatever they found. So the next day they went out

in different directions and the old man found some human excrement

and he thought "Well, my daughter-in-law told me to bring whatever

I found" so he wrapped it up in leaves and took it home; and his

daughter-in-law told him that he had done well and bade him hang

up the packet at the back of the house. A few days later he found

the slough of a snake and he took that home and his daughter-in-law

told to tie a clod of earth to it to prevent its being blown away,

and to throw it on to the roof of the house.

Some years after the Raja of the country was ill with cancer of the

face and none of the ojhas could cure him. At last one ojha said

that there was only one medicine which could effect a cure, but he

saw no chance of obtaining it and that was human excrement 12 years

old. Then the Raja sent messengers throughout the kingdom offering a

reward of 200 Rupees to any one who could supply excrement twelve years

old; and when a messenger came to the village where this family lived

the daughter-in-law produced the packet which the old man had brought

home and received the reward of 200 Rupees; and they were all delighted

at making so much money by what the old man had brought home in jest.

And again it happened that the son of a Raja was bathing and he left

his gold belt on the bank and a kite thought it was a snake and flew

off with it. The prince was much distressed at the loss but the Raja

told him not to grieve as the kite must have dropped it somewhere and

he would offer a reward of a thousand rupees for it. Now the kite had

soon found that the belt was not good to eat and seeing the snake's

skin which the old man had thrown on to the roof of the house, it

dropped the belt and flew off with the skin; and the daughter-in-law

picked up the belt and when criers came round offering a reward she

produced it and received the money. And they praised her wisdom and

by this means the family became rich again.