Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin.

Tales of laughter : a third fairy book online

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you can't use it either. Business is at a standstill unless we
make a bargain. Now, I promise to give you back your conch,
and never to interfere with your using it, on one condi-
tion, which is this whatever you get from it, I am to get
double."

" Never ! " cried the Farmer ; " that would be the old busi-
ness all over again ! "

" Not at all ! " replied the wily Money-lender ; " you will
have your share! Now, don't be a dog in the manger, for, if
you get all you want, what can it matter to you if / am rich
or poor ? "

At last, though it went sorely against the grain to be of
any benefit to a Money-lender, the Farmer was forced to yield,
and from that time, no matter what he gained by the power
of the conch, the Money-lender gained double. And the

[386] '



TALES OF LAUGHTER

knowledge that this was so, preyed upon the Farmer's mind
day and night, so that he had no satisfaction out of anything.

At last there came a very dry season so dry that the
Farmer's crops withered for want of rain. Then he blew his
conch, and wished for a well to water them, and lo! there
was the well, but the Money-lender had two\ two beautiful
new wells ! This was too much for any Farmer to stand ; and
our friend brooded over it, and brooded over it, till at last a
bright idea came into his head. He seized the conch, blew
it loudly, and cried out : " Oh, Ram ! I wish to be blind of
one eye ! " And so he was, in a twinkling, but the Money-
lender, of course, was blind of both, and in trying to steer his
way between the two new wells he fell into one, and was
drowned.

Now, this true story shows that a Farmer once got the
better of a Money-lender but only by losing one of his eyes.



[387]



How the Sun, the Moon, and the W^ind
Went Out to Dinner



NE day the Sun, the Moon, and the Wind went out to
dine with their uncle and aunt, the thunder and light-
ning. Their mother (one of the most distant stars
you see far up in the sky) waited alone for her children's
return.

Now both the Sun and the Wind were greedy and selfish.
They enjoyed the great feast that had been prepared for them,
without a thought of saving any of it to take home to their
mother; but the gentle Moon did not forget her. Of every
dainty dish that was brought round, she placed a small por-
tion under one of her beautiful long finger-nails, that the Star
might also have a share in the treat.

On their return, their mother, who had kept watch for them
all night long with her little bright eye, said : " Well, children,
what have you brought home for me?" Then the Sun (who
was the eldest) said : " I have brought nothing home for you.
I went out to enjoy myself with my friends, not to fetch a
dinner for my mother ! " And the Wind said : " Neither have
I brought anything home for you, mother. You could hardly
expect me to bring a collection of good things for you when
I merely went out for my own pleasure." But the Moon
said : " Mother, fetch a plate ; see what I have brought you."
And, shaking her hands, she showered down such a choice
dinner as never was seen before.

Then the Star turned to the Sun and spoke thus : " Because
you went out to amuse yourself with your friends, and feasted
and enjoyed yourself without any thought of your mother at
home, you shall be cursed. Henceforth, your rays shall ever

[388]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

be hot and scorching, and shall burn all that they touch. And
men shall hate you and cover their heads when you appear."

(And that is why the Sun is so hot to this day.)

Then she turned to the Wind and said : " You also, who
forgot your mother in the midst of your selfish pleasures, hear
your doom. You shall always blow in the hot, dry weather,
and shall parch and shrivel all living things. And men shall
detest and avoid you from this very time."

(And that is why the Wind in the hot weather is still so
disagreeable. )

But to the Moon she said : " Daughter, because you remem-
bered your mother, and kept for her a share in your own en-
joyment, from henceforth you shall be ever cool, and calm,
and bright. No noxious glare shall accompany your pure
rays, and men shall always call you ' blessed/ "

(And that is why the Moon's light is so soft, and cool, and
beautiful even to this day.)



389]



Singh Rajah and the Cunning Little
"Jackals



upon a time, in a great jungle, there lived a great
lion. He was rajah of all the country round, and every
day he used to leave his den, in the deepest shadow of
the rocks, and roar with a loud, angry voice; and when he
roared, the other animals in the jungle, who were all his sub-
jects, got very much frightened and ran here and there; and
Singh Rajah would pounce upon them and kill them, and
gobble them up for his dinner.

This went on for a long, long time until, at last, there were
no living creatures left in the jungle but two little jackals
a Rajah Jackal and a Ranee Jackal husband and wife.

A very hard time of it the poor little jackals had, running
this way and that to escape the terrible Singh Rajah; and
every day the little Ranee Jackal would say to her husband:
" I am afraid he will catch us to-day ; do you hear how he is
roaring? Oh, dear! oh, dear!" And he would answer her:
" Never fear ; I will take care of you. Let us run on a mile
or two. Come ; come quick, quick, quick ! " And they would
both run away as fast as they could.

After some time spent in this way, they found, however,
one fine day, that the lion was so close upon them that
they could not escape. Then the little Ranee Jackal said:
" Husband, husband, I feel much frightened. The Singh
Rajah is so angry he will certainly kill us at once. What
can we do ? " But he answered : " Cheer up ; we can save
ourselves yet. Come, and I'll show you how we may man-
age it."

So what did these cunning little jackals do but they went

[390]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

to the great lion's den ; and, when he saw them coming, he
began to roar and shake his mane, and he said : " You little
wretches, come and be eaten at once! I have had no dinner
for three whole days, and all that time I have been running
over hill and dale to find you. Ro-a-ar! Ro-a-ar! Come
and be eaten, I say ! " and he lashed his tail and gnashed his
teeth, and looked very terrible indeed. Then the Jackal Rajah,
creeping quite close up to him, said : " Oh, great Singh Rajah,
we all know you are our master, and we would have come at
your bidding long ago ; but, indeed, sir, there is a much bigger
rajah even than you in this jungle, and he tried to catch hold
of us and eat us up, and frightened us so much that we were
obliged to run away."

"What do you mean?" growled Singh Rajah. "There is
no king in this jungle but me ! " " Ah, sire," answered the
jackal, " in truth one would think so, for you are very dread-
ful. Your very voice is death. But it is as we say, for we,
with our own eyes, have seen one with whom you could not
compete whose equal you can no more be than we are yours
whose face is as flaming fire, his step as thunder, and his
power supreme." " It is impossible ! " interrupted the old
lion ; " but show me this rajah of whom you speak so much,
that I may destroy him instantly ! "

Then the little jackals ran on before him until they reached
a great well, and, pointing down to his own reflection in the
water, they said : " See, sire, there lives the terrible king of
whom we spoke." When Singh Rajah looked down the well
he became very angry, for he thought he saw another lion
there. He roared and shook his great mane, and the shadow
lion shook his and looked terribly defiant. At last, beside him-
self with rage at the violence of his opponent, Singh Rajah
sprang down to kill him at once, but no other lion was there
only the treacherous reflection and the sides of the well
were so steep that he could not get out again to punish the
two jackals, who peeped over the top. After struggling for
some time in the deep water, he sank to rise no more. And
the little jackals threw stones down upon him from above, and

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TALES OF LAUGHTER

danced round and round the well, singing : " Ao ! Ao ! Ao ! Ao !
The king of the forest is dead, is dead! We have killed the
great lion who would have killed us! Ao! Ao! Ao! Ao!
Ring-a-ting ding-a-ting ! Ring-a-ting ding-a-ting ! Ao !
Ao! Ao!"



[392]



Harisarman

rHERE was a certain Brahman in a certain village,
named Harisarman. He was poor and foolish and
in evil case for want of employment, and he had very
many children, that he might reap the fruit of his misdeeds
in a former life. He wandered about begging with his family,
and at last he reached a certain city, and entered the service
of a rich householder called Sthuladatta. His sons became
keepers of Sthuladatta's cows and other property, and his wife
a servant to him, and he himself lived near his house, per-
forming the duty of an attendant. One day there was a feast
on account of the marriage of the daughter of Sthuladatta,
largely attended by many friends of the bridegroom and
merry-makers. Harisarman hoped that he would be able to
fill himself up to the throat with ghee and flesh and other
dainties, and get the same for his family, in the house of his
patron. While he was anxiously expecting to be fed, no one
thought of him.

Then he was distressed at getting nothing to eat, and he
said to his wife at night : " It is owing to my poverty and
stupidity that I am treated with such disrespect here; so I
will pretend by means of an artifice to possess a knowledge
of magic, so that I may become an object of respect to this
Sthuladatta ; so, when you get an opportunity, tell him that I
possess magical knowledge." He said this to her, and after
turning the matter over in his mind, while people were asleep
he took away from the house of Sthuladatta a horse on which
his master's son-in-law rode. He placed it in concealment at
some distance, and in the morning the friends of the bride-
groom could not find the horse, though they searched in every
direction. Then, while Sthuladatta was distressed at the evil

[393]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

omen, and searching for the thieves who had carried off the
horse, the wife of Harisarman came and said to him : " My
husband is a wise man, skilled in astrology and magical sci-
ences ; he can get the horse back for you why do you not
ask him ? " When Sthuladatta heard that, he called Harisar-
man, who said, " Yesterday I was forgotten, but to-day, now
the horse is stolen, I am called to mind," and Sthuladatta then
propitiated the Brahman with these words, " I forgot you,
forgive me," and asked him to tell him who had taken away
their horse. Then Harisarman drew all kinds of pretended
diagrams, and said : " The horse has been placed by thieves
on the boundary line south from this place. It is concealed
there, and before it is carried off to a distance, as it will be
at close of day, go quickly and bring it." When they heard
that, many men ran and brought the horse quickly, praising
the discernment of Harisarman. Then Harisarman was hon-
ored by all men as a sage, and dwelt there in happiness, hon-
ored by Sthuladatta.

Now, as days went on, much treasure, both of gold and
jewels, had been stolen by a thief from the palace of the king.
As the thief was not known, the king quickly summoned
Harisarman on account of his reputation for knowledge of
magic. And he, when summoned, tried to gain time, and
said, " I will tell you to-morrow," and then he was placed in
a chamber by the king and carefully guarded. And he was
sad because he had pretended to have knowledge. Now, in
that palace there was a maid named Jihva (which means
Tongue), who, with the assistance of her brother, had stolen
that treasure from the interior of the palace. She, being
alarmed at Harisarman's knowledge, went at night and ap-
plied her ear to the door of that chamber in order to find out
what he was about. And Harisarman, who was alone inside,
was at that very moment blaming his own tongue, that had
made a vain assumption of knowledge. He said : " Oh, tongue,
what is this that you have done through your greediness?
Wicked one, you will soon receive punishment in full." When
Jihva heard this, she thought, in her terror, that she had been

[394]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

discovered by this wise man, and she managed to get in where
he was, and, falling at his feet, she said to the supposed
wizard : " Brahman, here I am, that Jihva whom you have
discovered to be the thief of the treasure, and after I took it
I buried it in the earth in a garden behind the palace, under
a pomegranate tree. So spare me, and receive the small quan-
tity of gold which is in my possession."

When Harisarman heard that, he said to her proudly : " De-
part, I know all this ; I know the past, present, and future, but
I will not denounce you, being a miserable creature that has
implored my protection. But whatever gold is in your pos-
session you must give back to me." When he said this to the
maid, she consented, and departed quickly. But Harisarman re-
flected in his astonishment : " Fate brings about, as if in sport,
things impossible ; for, when calamity was so near, who would
have thought chance would have brought us success? While
I was blaming my jihva, the thief Jihva suddenly flung herself
at my feet. Secret crimes manifest themselves by means of
fear." Thus thinking, he passed the night happily in the cham-
ber. And in the morning he brought the king, by some skilful
parade of pretended knowledge, into the garden and led him
up to the treasure, which was buried under the pomegranate
tree, and said that the thief had escaped with a part of it.
Then the king was pleased, and gave him the revenue of many
villages.

But the minister, named Devajnanin, whispered in the king's
ear : " How can a man possess such knowledge unattainable
by men without having studied the books of magic? You
may be certain that this is a specimen of the way he makes
a dishonest livelihood, by having a secret intelligence with
thieves. It will be much better to test him by some new arti-
fice." Then the king of his own accord brought a covered
pitcher into which he had thrown a frog, and said to Harisar-
man : " Brahman, if you can guess what there is in this pitcher,
I will do you great honor to-day." When the Brahman
Harisarman heard that, he thought that his last hour had come,
and he called to mind the pet name of " Froggie," which his

[395]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

father had given him in his childhood in sport; and, impelled
by luck, he called to himself by his pet name, lamenting his
hard fate, and suddenly called out : " This is a fine pitcher for
you, Froggie ; it will soon become the swift destroyer of your
helpless self." The people there, when they heard him say
that, raised a shout of applause, because his speech chimed in
so well with the object presented to him, and murmured : " Ah !
a great sage ; he knows even about the frog ! " Then the king,
thinking that this was all due to knowledge of divination, was
highly delighted, and gave Harisarman the revenue of more
villages, with gold, an umbrella, and state carriages of all
kinds. So Harisarman prospered in the world.



[396






It Is iuite True



J"JT7 r HAT a dreadful story ! " exclaimed a hen ; " it so

^r^r frightened me that I did not dare to sleep alone

* r in the hen-house all night. I was glad there were

so many of us." And she began to relate to the other hens

who were on the roosting-perch above, the story she had heard,

till their feathers stood on end, and even the cock let his comb

droop, it was so dreadful.

But we will begin at the beginning, and discover what really
had happened in the hen-house on the other side of the town.

One evening just before sunset the hens as usual went early
to roost, and among them was a pretty hen with white feathers
and short legs, who laid regularly such fine eggs that she was
very valuable, and much esteemed by all her relations.

As this hen was flying up in the hen-house to the roosting-
perch, she either pecked or scratched herself with her beak
till one of her feathers fell off.

" There goes another," she said good humoredly ; " how
beautiful I shall look if one falls off every time I scratch my-
self." This white hen was not only very much esteemed, but
also the merriest of all the hens in the hen-house.

But she forgot all about the fallen feather, and was soon
asleep.

It became quite dark. The hens were seated side by side
near each other on the perch, but one of them could not sleep,
for she had partly heard what the white hen said.

The wakeful hen stayed and thought, and then said to her
next neighbor : " Have you heard ? I name no one, but a hen
has plucked out all her feathers, and is not fit to be seen. If
I were the cock, I should despise her."

The gossiping hen soon after left the hen-house, and went

[397]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

to visit an owl who lived just opposite with her husband and
children. The owl families have very sharp ears, and they
heard every word that their neighbor the hen said, and the
little ones rolled their eyes about while the mother owl fanned
herself with her wings.

" To repeat just what you have been told is nothing," con-
tinued the hen, " but I really and truly heard what was said
with my own ears, and people must hear a great deal, even if
they do disapprove. It is about a hen who has forgotten what
was due to herself in her high position ; she has pulled out
all her feathers, and then allowed the world to see her in that
bare condition."

" Prenez garde aux enfants" said the owl father, " all this
is not fit for the children to hear."

" I will just fly over and tell my neighbor," said the mother
owl ; " she is a very highly esteemed owl, and worthy of our
acquaintance."

" Hu ! hu ! uhu ! " howled the children, as the mother flew
away and passed by her neighbors, the pigeons, who were in
the pigeon-house.

" Have you heard have you heard about the hen that has
plucked off all her feathers, and is going about quite bare?
She will freeze to death, if she is not dead already."

" Ooo ! Ooo ! " cooed the pigeons.

" I heard of it in the neighboring farm-yard," said another ;
" I have as good as seen it with my own eyes. The story is
really so improper that no one cares to relate it, but it is cer-
tainly true."

" We believe it, we believe every word," said the pigeons,
and they flew down cooing to the farm-yard, and exclaimed :

" Have you heard about the hen ? "

" The hen ! why, people now say there are two hens who
have plucked off all their feathers ; yet one of them is not like
the first, who did not wish to be seen, for she has positively
tried to attract the attention of everybody."

" It was a daring game ; however, they caught cold, and are
both dead from a fever."

[398]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

" Wake up ! wake up ! " crowed the cock as he flew out of
the hen-house to the palings. Sleep was still in his eyes, yet
he stood and crowed lustily.

" Listen," said the hen. " There is a cock in the next farm
who has unluckily lost three of his wives; they had plucked
off all their feathers, and died of cold."

" Go away ! " he exclaimed. " I will not hear it it is an
ugly story. Send it away ! "

" Send it away ! " hissed the bat, while the hens cackled and
the cock crowed.

" Send it away ! send it away ! " and so the story flew from
one farm-yard to another, until it came back at last to the
place where the original circumstance occurred.

" There are five hens," thus now ran the story, " who have
plucked off all their feathers, at least so they say ; and it made
the cock so unhappy that he became quite thin. And he has
pecked himself so dreadfully ever since from indignation and
shame that at last he has fallen down and died, covered with
blood. For these hens had not only disgraced his family, but
occasioned a great loss to his owner."

And the hen who had really lost the one feather naturally
could not recognize her own story, but she was a sensible,
worthy hen, and she said:

" I despise these cackling hens ; however, there shall be no
more tittle-tattle of this sort. When people have a secret
among themselves to gossip about in future, I will find it out,
and send it to the newspapers, so that it may travel through
the whole land and be heard of by everybody.

" This will just serve these cackling hens and their families
right."

And the newspapers took it up and so altered the wonderful
story that at the last " it was actually true " ONE LITTLE
FEATHER HAD BECOME FIVE HENS ! "

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN.



[399]



Manabozbo and his Toe

It .^ANABOZHO, the great wizard of the Indians, was

/i/f s powerful that he began to think there was noth-
J. *. ing he could not do. Very wonderful were many
of his feats, and he grew more conceited day by day. Now,
it chanced that one day he was walking about amusing him-
self by exercising his extraordinary powers, and at length he
came to an encampment where one of the first things he noticed
was a child lying in the sunshine, curled up with its toe in its
mouth.

Manabozho looked at the child for some time, and wondered
at its extraordinary posture.

" I have never seen a child before lie like that," said he
to himself, " but I could lie like it."

So saying, he put himself down beside the child, and, taking
his right foot in his hand, drew it toward his mouth. When
he had brought it as near as he could, it was yet a consider-
able distance away from his lips.

" I will try the left foot," said Manabozho. He did so, and
found that he was no better off; neither of his feet could he
get to his mouth. He curled and twisted, and bent his large
limbs, and gnashed his teeth in rage to find that he could not
get his toe to his mouth. All, however, was vain.

At length he rose, worn out with his exertions and passion,
and walked slowly away in a very ill humor, which was not
lessened by the sound of the child's laughter, for Manabozho's
efforts had awakened it.

" Ah, ah ! " said Manabozho, " shall I be mocked by a
child?"

He did not, however, revenge himself on his victor, but on
his way homeward, meeting a boy who did not treat him with
proper respect, he transformed him into a cedar-tree.

" At least," said Manabozho, " I can do something."

[400]






The Most Frugal of Men

ji MAN who was considered the most frugal of all the
f-m dwellers in a certain kingdom heard of another man
*J- JL who was the most frugal in the whole world. He
said to his son thereupon : " We, indeed, live upon little, but
if we were more frugal still, we might live upon nothing at
all. It will be well worth while for us to get instructions in
economy from the Most Frugal of Men." The son agreed,
and the two decided that the son should go and inquire
whether the master in economic science would take pupils.
An exchange of presents being a necessary preliminary to
closer intercourse, the father told the son to take the smallest
of coins, one farthing, and to buy a sheet of paper of the
cheapest sort. The boy, by bargaining, got two sheets of
paper for the farthing. The father put away one sheet, cut
the other sheet in halves, and on one half drew a picture of
a pig's head. This he put into a large covered basket, as if
it were the thing which it represented the usual gift sent in
token of great respect. The son took the basket, and after
a long journey reached the abode of the most frugal man in
the world.

Ihe master of the house was absent, but his son received
the traveler, learned his errand, and accepted the offering.
Having taken from the basket the picture of the pig's head,
he said courteously to his visitor : " I am sorry that we have
nothing in the house that is worthy to take the place of the
pig's head in your basket. I will, however, signify our
friendly reception of it by putting in four oranges for you to
take home with you."

Thereupon the young man, without having any oranges at
hand, made the motions necessary for putting the fruit into

[401]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

the basket. The son of the most frugal man in the kingdom
then took the basket and went to his father to tell of thrift
surpassing his own.

When the most frugal man in the *world returned home, his
son told him that a visitor had been there, having come from
a great distance to take lessons in economy. The father in-
quired what offering he brought as an introduction, and the
son showed the small outline of the pig's head on thin brown
paper. The father looked at it, and then asked his son what
he had sent as a return present. The son told him he had



Online LibraryKate Douglas Smith WigginTales of laughter : a third fairy book → online text (page 26 of 31)