The King And The Water-goddesses

: Deccan Nursery Tales

Once upon a time there was a town called Atpat. Over it there ruled

a king. One day he founded a new village, and close by he built a

village tank. But no matter how hard he tried he could not get it

filled with water. So he prayed to the water-goddesses to help him,

and the water-goddesses were pleased and said, "O King, O King,

sacrifice to us the eldest son of your daughter-in-law, and the

tank will fill with water.
The king heard it and went home very

troubled. He was ready to sacrifice his grandson; for though he loved

the boy, yet he knew that the life of one was less than the welfare of

many. But he knew that his daughter-in-law would never agree. At last

he thought of a trick. He went up to her and said, "Daughter-in-law,

it is a long time since you went to see your parents. You had better

go and pay them a visit and leave your eldest boy behind. I shall look

after him here." The daughter-in-law consented and went to visit her

parents, leaving her son behind. The king waited for a favourable

day and then bathed and anointed his grandson. He gave a feast in

his honour and covered his body with costly jewelry. He then took

him into the middle of the pond and made him lie down on a bed and

told him not to stir. The water-goddesses were pleased, and a great

mass of water suddenly rushed into the tank, and it was filled right

up to the brink. After a time the daughter-in-law came back from her

father's house and brought her brother with her. They asked where her

son was, but they could get no information. Whenever they asked the

king, he did nothing but say how the water had come into the tank,

and what a beautiful tank it was, and how happy it would make all

the villagers. At last the daughter-in-law guessed what had happened,

and when the seventh day of the bright half of the month of Shravan,

or August, came round, she and her brother went to the edge of the

tank and began to worship the water-goddesses. She took a cucumber

leaf, and on it she placed some curds and rice. Next she mixed

with them some butter and a farthing's worth of betel-nut. Then she

told her brother to pray, "O Goddess, Mother of All, if any one of

our family is drowned in the tank please give him back to us." He

did so and then threw the offering into the lake. Then they both

turned to go home. But as she was turning homewards, she felt some

one pull her by the legs. She looked down and saw that it was her

missing son. When she saw him she dragged him with all her might to

the bank, and then she and her brother walked home with him. When

the king heard that she was coming, together with her missing son,

he wondered greatly, and going to her he fell at her feet and said,

"O my daughter, I offered your son to the water-goddesses; how has

he come back again?" She said, "I worshipped the water-goddesses

and made offerings to them. Then my son came out of the water, and

I lifted him up and drew him to the shore." The king was overjoyed

and showed the greatest favour to his daughter-in-law. And she and

her little son lived happily ever afterwards.