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The Wednesday And Thursday Story

from Deccan Nursery Tales





There was once upon a time a town called Atpat. In it there lived
a prince who had seven sons and seven daughters-in-law. Every day
there used to come to the prince's house two Brahmans, an uncle and a
nephew. But when they asked for alms the daughters-in-law sent word
that they were too busy to give them any. Some time afterwards the
prince lost all his riches and became very poor. The two Brahmans
again came to beg, but the elder daughter-in-law said to them,
"We are no longer busy, but we have nothing to give you. If we had,
we should give it to you." The youngest daughter-in-law, however,
was a clever little girl, and she thought to herself, "The Brahmans
will get very angry with us. When we had money, we gave them nothing;
and now we give them nothing because we have nothing to give." So she
fell at the elder Brahman's feet and said, "We have been very wicked
and have deserved to become poor. But please forgive us and tell me
how we may become rich as we were before." The elder Brahman said,
"Every Wednesday and every Thursday you must invite a Brahman to
dinner. And if you have no money to pay for the dinner, draw a pair
of cow's feet on your money-box. If you want grain for the dinner,
draw a pair of cow's feet on your corn-bin. Then worship the feet and
welcome the Brahmans. For you will find that you will have money in
your box and grain in your corn-bin. And in time you will all get as
rich as you were before." The little girl did what the Brahman told
her. And whenever she invited Brahmans to dinner, she drew the cow's
feet on the cash-box and on the corn-bin, and there was always money
and grain sufficient for the meal.

But some days later she fell asleep and dreamt that Budh [6] and
Brahaspati came to her bedside and said, "Little girl, little girl,
your husband has been made king over a great country. Go to him, and,
when you have found him, do not forget to worship us and to give feast
to the Brahmans." Then the little girl woke up and she told the other
six daughters-in-law. But they were jealous of her, and they became
very angry; and they kicked her so often and boxed her ears so hard
that she forgot all about drawing the cow's feet on her money-box and
on the corn-bin. So she never found any money in the box or any corn
in the bin. And every day they became poorer and poorer. First all the
men servants ran away, then the male members of the family left, and
at last the seven daughters-in-law were left alone in the house. They
were starving, but they did not know how to get any food. One day
they heard that a king in a neighbouring country wished to construct
a tank and was calling for labourers. So they decided to go to the
tank and work there just like common coolie women. Now who do you
think the king was? He was the youngest son of the prince of Atpat
and the husband of the youngest daughter-in-law. When the prince had
lost all his money, his youngest son left the house and set off on
a journey. As he travelled he came to a city, the king of which had
just died without leaving any children or relatives. His subjects
did not know how to choose a successor. At last they gave a garland
of flowers to a she-elephant and turned it loose. The elephant walked
straight to the prince's son and put the garland round his neck. The
townspeople were very angry. They snatched away the garland and drove
away the prince's son. They again gave the garland to the elephant,
but the elephant again put the garland round the neck of the prince's
son. The townspeople again snatched away the garland. But when the
elephant put it round the young man's neck for the third time, they
lifted him high in the air and declared him to be their king. At first
he was so pleased at being king that he forgot all about his poor
little wife. But one night Budh and Brahaspati appeared to him in a
dream and reminded him of her and told him how poor she was. But he
could not leave his kingdom to go and look for her. So he thought that
he would dig a tank and call together labourers from every quarter. And
every day he used to go to the tank and search among the labourers to
see if his wife was there. One day he recognised his wife and called
her to him. Then they told each other how Budh and Brahaspati had
appeared to each of them in a dream. And the king was so delighted at
finding his wife that he at once proclaimed her queen of the country.

So the little daughter-in-law was crowned queen, but she did not let
the other daughters-in-law who were also working at the tank know of
her good fortune. As queen, she gave a great feast to all the workers
on the tank. But in her own palace she took some wheat flour, and
she kneaded it into shapes resembling human feet and human fists. And
when the other daughters-in-law were with the crowd of workers eating
at the feast, she went up to them, and to each daughter-in-law who
had kicked her she gave a flour foot, and to each daughter-in-law
who had struck her with her hands she gave a flour fist. Then the
daughters-in-law recognised who the little queen was, and they fell at
her feet and begged for her forgiveness. So the little queen forgave
them and took them back with her into her husband's palace. And they
all lived together happily ever afterwards.





Next: The Friday Story

Previous: The Tuesday Story



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