The Saturday Story

: Deccan Nursery Tales

Once upon a time there was a town-called Atpat. In it there lived a

poor Brahman who had three daughters-in-law. He rose early even during

the rainy season, and every day immediately after his morning meal he

used to go to his field with his children and his daughters-in-law. One

first Saturday in Shravan he got up as usual and said to the youngest

of his daughters-in-law, "To-day is Saturday; you had better stay

at ho
e, and although there is very little in the house, you must

try to get some sort of a dinner ready. Go upstairs and scrape

together all the grain there is in the grain-jars and make bread

with it. For vegetables you had better gather grass and make some

chutney out of clover leaves." When the Brahman had left, his little

daughter-in-law followed his orders as best she could. There was in the

jar upstairs only grain for half an ordinary loaf. So she made tiny,

tiny loaves and prepared some vegetables out of grass and made some

clover chutney. Then she sat down to wait for the family's return

from the field. As she did so, Saturn came disguised as a beggar all

covered with sores, and cried, "O Lady! I am aching all over: give

me hot water to bathe in and oil to rub myself with, and then give me

something to eat." The little daughter-in-law felt very sorry for the

poor beggar. She went inside and got him a few drops of oil and warmed

some water for his bath, and then gave him one of the tiny loaves to

eat. The beggar ate it, and then gave her his blessing, saying, "You

will never want for anything." He then folded up the leaves from which

he had eaten, stuck them into a corner of the eaves, and disappeared.

Shortly afterwards the family came home and found a splendid dinner

waiting for them. They said to themselves, "Where did this all come

from? There was practically nothing in the house." Next Saturday

another daughter-in-law stayed at home. Again Saturn in the guise

of a beggar covered with sores came to the house. He asked as

before for hot water, oil, and food. But his daughter-in-law said,

"I have nothing to give you." The god pressed her, saying, "Give me a

little of anything that you have." But the daughter-in-law repeated,

"I have nothing." The god replied, "Very well, you will lose that

little you have." With this threat he disappeared. But, when the

daughter-in-law went upstairs to fetch grain for dinner, she could

find nothing in any of the jars. Shortly afterwards the family came

home, but there was no dinner for them. So they all got angry with

the daughter-in-law, and, although she told them about the beggar,

they scolded her harder than ever. A third Saturday came round, and

a third daughter-in-law remained at home. Again Saturn came, and the

third daughter-in-law behaved just as the second had done. She gave

the god neither hot water, oil, nor food. And the god told her that

she should lose the little she had. When the family came home there

was no dinner for them, and they scolded the third daughter-in-law

just as hard as they had scolded the second one.

The fourth Saturday it was once more the

turn of the youngest daughter-in-law. Again

Saturn came in the guise of a beggar covered

with sores and asked for hot water, oil, and

food. The little daughter-in-law gave them

as she had done before, and the god blessed

her, saying, "God will make you rich and

happy." Then he folded up the leaves from

which he had eaten and stuck them into a

corner of the eaves. When the little daughter-in-law

went upstairs, she saw any amount of

grain in the jars, and she prepared a splendid

dinner. So when the family came home they

were delighted. They could no longer restrain

their curiosity, and exclaimed, "Where did all

this food come from?" The little daughter-in-law

told them about the beggar covered with

sores and about his blessing. To test her

story, they looked for the folded leaves which

he had stuck into a corner of the roof. They

found them, but when they pulled them out

they were full of pearls and diamonds. Then

the old Brahman guessed that the beggar was

Saturn in disguise, and he also understood why,

when the other two daughters-in-law gave him

nothing and were cursed by him, there was

nothing for dinner. So they all knelt down

and prayed to Saturn, and the god forgave the

two-daughters-in-law who had given him

nothing. And he was more pleased than ever

with the little daughter-in-law who had befriended

him. And so they all lived happily

ever afterwards. And may Saturn be pleased

with us all as he was with the little daughter-in-law.