Anthony R. (Anthony Reubens) Montalba.

Fairy tales from all nations online

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where the festivities and rejoicings in honour of the knight lasted
many weeks.

Vladimir also despatched messengers to his brother-in-law, Trewul, to
inform him of his marriage with the beautiful Milolika, and the
overthrow of their common enemy, the giant Tugarin. Dobrünä however
remained at the court of Vladimir, and performed many more great and
valiant deeds, which procured him great fame and honour, and rendered
great service to the monarch, and he became the most beloved and most
esteemed, both by prince and people, of all the knights in Vladimir's



There still exists a town famed for its splendour and richness, called
Ratnapura. In it there once dwelt two rogues, Siva and Madhava, who,
with the help of their confederates, contrived to make both rich and
poor of that place victims to their cunning and rapacity.

Once these two individuals met together to consult. "This town," they
said, "has so entirely been laid under contribution by us, that we can
have no reasonable hopes of any further success; let us, therefore, go
to Ujjayini, and settle ourselves down there. The house-priest of the
king, Sankar'aswarni by name, is considered a very rich man, and if,
by some contrivance, we could possess ourselves of his treasures, it
would be easy to curry favour with the charming and lovely women of
the Malavese. The Brahmins, without exception, call him avaricious and
miserly, for, though so rich that he measures his treasures by the
bushel, he begrudges every offering to their altars, and it is only on
compulsion he gives a portion of the dues. It is also well known that
he has a remarkably beautiful daughter, whom, if we once are able to
gain his confidence, one of us must receive as a wife from his own

After this, these two rogues, Siva and Madhava, having first matured
their plans and resolved upon the parts each individually was to play,
took their departure from the city of Ratnapura and soon arrived at

Madhava, disguised as a Rajput, remained with his followers in a small
village outside the city; but Siva, more versed in all the arts of
deceit, entered the town alone, garbed in the habit of a devout
penitent. He built a cell on an elevated place on the banks of the
Sipra, from whence he could be well observed, and here he laid on the
ground a deer-skin, a pot wherein to collect alms, some darbha-grass,
and some clay.

At the first dawn of morning he rubbed his whole body over with clay;
he then entered the river, and remained with his head for a
considerable time under the water; leaving the bath, he steadfastly
fixed his gaze on the sun, then, holding in his hand some kusa-grass,
he knelt before the image of a god, murmuring his prayers; he then
plucked holy flowers, which he sacrificed to Siva, and when his
offering was concluded he again began to pray, and remained long lost
in deepest devotion.

On the following day, in order to gather alms, he wandered through the
town, mute, as if dumb, leaning on a staff, and his only raiment
consisting of the small skin of a black gazelle. After having made his
collections at the houses of the Brahmins, he divided the gifts
received into three parts; the first he gave to the crows, the second
to the first person he met, and with the third he fed himself; then
slowly counting the beads of his rosary, with constant and fervent
prayers, he returned to his cell. The nights he devoted, apparently,
to deepest meditation, and to the solution of great religious and
philosophical questions.

Thus, by daily repeating these deceptions, he impressed on the
inhabitants so great an idea of his sanctity that he was universally
revered; and, when he passed, the people of Ujjayini reverentially
bowed and knelt before him, exclaiming, "This is, indeed, a holy

Meanwhile, his friend Madhava had, through his spies, received
intelligence of all these doings, and now, magnificently dressed like
a Rajput he also entered the city. He took up his abode in an adjacent
temple, and went to the banks of the Sipra to bathe in the river.
After having performed his ablutions, Madhava saw Siva, who, lost in
prayer, knelt before the image of the god. The former then, along with
his retinue, prostrated himself in reverence before the holy man; and
addressing the people around him, said, "There lives not on earth a
more devout penitent; more than once in my travels have I seen him,
when, as here, he has been visiting the sacred rivers and the holy
places of pilgrimage."

Though Siva had well observed and heard his companion, no feature
betrayed the fact; immoveably as before, he continued in his devotion.
Madhava soon after returned to his dwelling.

In the depth of night in a lonely place they again met, where, after
having well feasted, they consulted together upon their next
proceedings. At the dawn of morning Siva returned to his cell, and
Madhava commanded one of his companions at an early hour of the day as
follows: "Take these two robes of honour and present them to
Sankar'aswarni, the house-priest of the king, and address him
thus: - 'A Rajput named Madhava, treacherously assaulted, and by his
nearest relations driven from his empire, has, with the vast treasures
of his father, taken refuge in these realms, and is anxious to present
himself before the king and offer him the faithful and gratuitous
services of himself and his brave followers. He has therefore sent me
to thee, thou ocean of fame, to beg thy permission to visit him.'" As
Madhava had commanded him, the follower, holding the robes of honour
in his hands, waited at the house of the priest. Watching a favourable
opportunity when the priest was alone, he presented himself before
him, laid the presents at his feet, and delivered Madhava's message.
The priest, full of dignity, received them condescendingly, and
longing for some of the treasures to which the messenger had made no
slight allusions, he graciously acquiesced in the demand.

Madhava consequently went the following day at a proper hour to visit
the priest, accompanied by his followers, dressed like courtiers, in
magnificent robes, and with silver spears in their hands. A messenger
was sent in advance to announce them, and the priest receiving them
at the entrance of his house, most reverentially saluted them, and
gave them the very best welcome. Madhava after having passed a short
time in pleasant conversation, and made a favourable impression on the
priest, returned to his own dwelling.

The following day he again sent two robes of honour, and then
presented himself to the priest, saying: "We are anxious as early as
possible to enter the service of the king, for time hangs heavily on
our hands; let our sole recompense be the honour of attending him, for
we have sufficient treasures for all our wants."

When the priest had heard this, hoping to extract large sums from him,
he granted his request, and immediately went to the king, who, out of
esteem and love for his religious adviser, at once permitted the
introduction of the Rajput at court.

On the following day the priest formally introduced Madhava and his
followers to the king, who graciously, and with honours received them,
and at once appointed the former to fill a high station in the
household, for he was greatly pleased with his appearance, which in
everything resembled that of a high-born Rajput. Thus was Madhava
fairly installed at court, but every night he went secretly to Siva,
to consult with him about their plans. Once the avaricious priest
said to Madhava, who with his rich presents had shown him marked
attention: "Come and live in my house," and as he pressed him very
much, Madhava and his followers removed to the spacious dwelling of
the priest.

Madhava had procured a great quantity of ornaments and trinkets set
with false stones, wondrously well imitated; these he had inclosed in
a jewel-box, which, slightly opening it that the priest might learn
its contents, he begged him to deposit in his treasury. By this
artifice he entirely won his confidence, and being thus secure, he
feigned illness, and by abstaining for several days from taking any
food, at last grew so thin and emaciated, that he had every appearance
of being in a very alarming state of health. A few more days thus
passed away, and the illness seemed to make rapid progress, when in a
faint voice he thus addressed the priest, who was sitting at the side
of his bed: "The malady which is devouring my strength and energies
seems a retribution from the Gods for some of the sins my flesh has
committed; bring therefore to me, O wise and pious man, some
distinguished Brahmin to whom I may bequeath my treasures to insure my
salvation here and there; for what man, even of ordinary wisdom
would, when life is ebbing, set value on gold or jewels!"

Whereupon the priest answered: "I will do as thou wishest."

Out of gratitude, Madhava knelt down and kissed his feet. But whatever
Brahmin the priest brought to the sick man, not one pleased him; he
said an inward voice told him that their life was not pure enough,
their favour with Brahma not sufficient. When this had been several
times repeated, with the same result, one of the rogues, who was
standing by, suggested in a low tone of voice, "As not one of all
these Brahmins seems worthy of the benefits intended to be conferred;
the holy priest, Siva, so celebrated for his sanctity, who dwells on
the shores of the Sipra, might be sent for: perhaps he might find
favour with our master."

Madhava when appealed to, sighed heavily, and as if unable in his
agony to articulate, bowed his head by way of consent. The priest
forthwith rose and went to Siva, whom he found absorbed in deepest
meditation. After having walked round him without being observed, he
at last placed himself on the ground facing him. The impostor having
finished his long-protracted prayers, raised his eyes, when the
priest reverentially saluted him, and said: "Most holy man, if thou
wouldst permit me, I have a petition to make to thee; there lives at
my house a very rich Rajput, by name, Madhava, born in the south, and
lately arrived from thence. He is dying, and wishes for some holy
individual to whom he may give his riches; if it should please thee, I
think it is for thee he intends all his treasures, which consist in
ornaments and jewels of inestimable value."

Siva having attentively listened to this, thoughtfully and slowly
answered: "Brahmin, how should I, whose whole earthly striving and
longing is after immortal reward; whose only aspiration is heaven,
there to have my prayers and my privations recognised and approved;
whose meagre maintenance is derived from alms of the charitable; how
should I feel any wish or desire for earthly possessions?"

Whereupon the king's priest answered: "Say not so, noble and pious
man! Well you know the pleasure of the God towards the Brahmin-priest,
who in his own person is able to offer hospitality to the Gods and to
man; who within his own house can welcome and relieve the devout
pilgrim; who with rich contributions can assist in the embellishments
of their temples and the splendour of their service, and who by
taking a wife can extend his sphere of utility and philanthropy. Only
by the possession of treasures these things are achievable, therefore
it is laudable in man to strive after wealth. The father of a family
is the best of Brahmins."

To which Siva answered: "Whence should I take a wife? My poverty
prevents my alliance with any great family."

When the priest heard this he thought the treasures already his own,
and having found a favourable opportunity, he said to him: "I have an
unmarried daughter, her name is Vinyasvamini; she is most beautiful;
her I will give thee to wife. The treasure that will be thine through
the generosity of Madhava, I will guard and preserve for thee; choose,
therefore, the pleasures and the bliss of the married state."

Siva attentively and with inward pleasure listened to the words of the
priest, in which he saw their deep-laid scheme and their anxious
wishes brought into fulfilment, and with diffidence he answered:
"Brahmin, if by so doing I shall be able to please you and gain your
favour, I consent to it; and as regards the treasure, to you I leave
the whole and sole control and management thereof, as neither my
understanding nor inclination lies in that direction."

Rejoiced at this answer of Siva, the priest forthwith took him into
his house, assigned him a suite of apartments there, and announced to
Madhava his arrival and what he had done, for which the latter warmly
thanked him. Next the priest gave his unhappy daughter in marriage to
Siva, thus sacrificing her to his avarice; and on the third day after
the nuptials he led the bridegroom to Madhava, who now assumed a
faintness as if in the last gasp of dissolution. After a pause,
apparently rallying all his strength, he said: "In deepest humiliation
I salute thee, most holy man, and beg of thee to accept, as I am dying
and shall have no use for it, all that I possess of earthly wealth."
He then had the artfully imitated jewels brought from the priest's
treasury, and according to the sacred rites and customs on such
occasions, had them presented to Siva. The latter, in accepting them,
handed them over to the priest without even looking at them, saying,
"Of such things I understand nothing, but you know their value."

"I will take care of them, as agreed between us," answered the priest;
and again deposited the supposed treasure in its former place of
security. Siva, after having in solemn words pronounced his blessing
over Madhava, returned to the apartments of his wife.

The following day Madhava seemed already greatly recovered, and
ascribed this wonderful change to the influence of his gift and the
holiness of the man on whom he had bestowed it. In warmest terms, he
thanked the priest for his kind interference, and assured him of his
everlasting gratitude. With Siva he now openly allied himself,
praising him every where, and declaring that through his great powers
alone his life had been preserved.

After the lapse of a few days Siva said to the priest, "It is not
right that I thus should continue to live in thy house where I must be
of vast expense to thee; thou hadst better give me a sum, if only
corresponding with half the value of the gems, which you consider so

The priest, who in reality priced these jewels and ornaments at an
inestimable sum, a sum capable of purchasing an empire, was very glad
to assent to such a proposition; and with the idea of giving something
like the twentieth part of their value, he gave him all the money he
possessed. He then had documents drawn out, in which on both sides the
exchange of the properties was legally secured, for fear that Siva in
the course of time might repent of his bargain. They then separated,
Siva and his wife living in greatest joy and happiness, and soon they
were joined by Madhava, with whom the former now divided the treasures
of the priest.

After some years the priest wanted money to make some purchase, and
taking a part of the ornaments, he went to a goldsmith who had a stand
in the market to offer them for sale. This man, who was a great judge,
after narrowly examining them, cried out, full of astonishment - "The
man who has manufactured these must indeed be a great artisan; for
though of no intrinsic value, they are the finest and most wonderful
imitations that ever were worked out of such materials; for these
stones are nothing but glass, and the setting nothing but gilt metal."

Having heard this, the priest, breathless though full of despair, ran
back to his house, fetched the contents of the whole casket, and,
unwilling to believe, went from one merchant to the other to have his
treasure examined; but in every instance the answer was the
same - "Only glass and brass!" The priest, as if he had been struck by
lightning, fell senseless on the ground, and had to be carried home;
but early the following morning having recovered, he ran to Siva and
said to him, "Take back thy jewels, and return me my money."

This the other refused, alleging that the greater part of it had
already been expended, and the rest he had so invested as to be most
useful for his wife and children.

Thus disputing they both went before the king, on whom Madhava at the
time was in attendance. The priest in the following words made the
king acquainted with his case: "Behold, my gracious king, these
ornaments; they are all artfully manufactured out of valueless metal,
coloured pieces of glass and crystal. Without knowing this, and
believing them real, I have given Siva my whole fortune in exchange
for them, and he already has spent it."

To which Siva answered: "From my very childhood, mighty king, have I
lived in holy seclusion and devotion; from this seclusion the father
of my wife drew me forth, pressed and entreated me to accept the gift
of honour, with the value of which I was wholly ignorant; but he
assured me he was aware of its great pecuniary worth, and he would
guarantee it to me. On my accepting it, without even giving it a look,
I handed it over to him: he afterwards voluntarily purchased it from
me, giving me his own price, and in proof of this I adduce this
contract in his own handwriting: now, mighty ruler, judge between us;
I have in truth laid the case fairly before you."

Siva having thus concluded his defence, Madhava addressed himself to
the priest, saying: "Speak not derogatorily of this holy man, now your
son. Whatever the cause of your grievance, he is innocent, as you
yourself are good and upright; but I also owe an explanation to my
liege and master. In what way can I have committed myself? - neither
from you nor him have I taken or accepted the least benefit. The
fortune my father left me I had for years given into the custody of an
old and tried friend of our house; removing it from thence I presented
it, under the circumstances your majesty is aware of, to this Brahmin.
But if they had not been real gems, but only worthless metal and glass
as this worthy priest intimates, by what means was my restoration to
health so wonderfully wrought? That I gave it with pure and honest
intention, witness for me the all but miracle by which I was saved!"

Thus spoke Madhava without changing a feature; but the king and his
ministers laughed, and testified the good opinion they entertained for
him. They then pronounced the following judgment: - "Neither Siva nor
Madhava are in the least to blame, they are wholly innocent."

In sorrow and shame the priest went his way, robbed of his whole
fortune, and punished for his avarice and the heartless manner in
which he had sacrificed his daughter; though fortunately for her and
no thanks to her father, she found in Siva a good and affectionate

The two rogues altered their mode of life: thenceforward they walked
in the path of virtue and well-doing; and favoured by the king, whom
they faithfully served, they lived many years honoured, respected, and
happy in Ujjayini.


[Betschuanian, South Africa.]

Two brothers one day set out from their father's hut, to seek their
fortune. The name of the elder one was Maszilo, the younger one was
called Mazziloniane. After a few days' journeying they reached a
plain, from which branched two roads; the one led eastwards, the other
westwards. The first road was covered with the footmarks of cattle,
the other with the footmarks of dogs. Maszilo followed the latter
road, his brother went in the opposite direction.

After some days travelling Mazziloniane passed a hill which formerly
had been inhabited, and felt not a little astonished at beholding a
great quantity of earthen vessels, all of which were placed upside
down. In the hope of finding some treasure concealed under them, he
removed several, until he came to one of immense size. Mazziloniane,
gathering all his strength, gave it a violent push, but the vessel
remained immoveable. The young traveller now doubled his exertions,
but in vain. Twice he was obliged to fasten the girdle round his
loins, which through his exertions had burst; the vessel seemed as if
rooted to the ground. But all at once, as if by magic, it was upset by
a slight touch, and revealed to the youthful and trembling
Mazziloniane, a hideous and deformed giant.


"Why dost thou disturb me?" demanded the monster, in a voice of

Mazziloniane, having recovered from his first fright, observed with
horror that one of the legs of the giant was as thick as the stem of a
large tree, whilst the other was of an ordinary size.

"As a well-merited punishment for thy temerity in disturbing me, thou
shalt henceforth carry me about;" and so saying the monster jumped on
the shoulders of the unfortunate youth, who, unable to support such a
weight, fell prostrate on the ground. Recovering himself with
difficulty, he endeavoured to advance a few steps, and again he fell
to the earth, his strength now wholly failing him. But the sight of an
eland, which was swiftly passing by, presented to his mind the means
of delivery.

"Dear father," said he, with trembling voice, to the abortion,
"release me for a moment; the reason why I cannot carry you is that I
have nothing wherewith to fasten you to my back; give me a few moments
to kill the eland which has just passed by, and out of its hide I will
cut some thongs for that purpose."

His demand was granted, and with the dogs that had accompanied him he
disappeared from the plain. After he had run a considerable distance
he took refuge in a cavern. But the thick-legged monster, tired of
waiting, soon followed, and wherever he discovered a footmark of the
youth, he in a mocking voice cried out: -

"The pretty little footmark of my dear child, the pretty little
footmark of Mazziloniane."

The youth heard him approaching, and felt the ground tremble under his
steps. Seized with despair he left the cavern, and calling his dogs,
he set them on the enemy; stroking and encouraging them, he said -

"On! my brave dogs, kill him, devour him, but leave his thick leg for

The dogs obeyed the command of their master, and soon there was
nothing left but the deformed and shapeless leg, which now he
fearlessly approached, and with his axe cut into pieces, and, O
wonder! out of it came a herd of most beautiful cows, one of them
being as white as the driven snow; overjoyed he drove the cattle
before him, taking the road leading to his father's hut.

Meanwhile the other brother having got possession of a great number of
dogs, he also returned towards his home, and they both now met on the
same place where they so shortly before had separated. The younger
embracing the elder brother, offered him part of his herd, saying to
him: "As fortune has favoured me most, take what you like, but you
must leave me the white cow, for to no one else can she ever belong."

But Maszilo seemed to have placed his every desire upon this very
animal; regardless of all the rest, he begged and intreated his
brother to give up to him the possession thereof; but in vain were his
prayers. Having journeyed together for two days, on the third day they
came to a spring - "Let us tarry here," said Maszilo, "I am faint and
exhausted with thirst; let us dig a deep hole, and convey the water
into it, that it may get cool and fresh."

When they had dug the well, Maszilo went in search of a great flat
stone, and with it covered the hole to protect the water from being
heated by the rays of the sun; after the water had been sufficiently
cooled, Maszilo drank first. His brother was now going to do the same,
but the moment he bent himself over the well, Maszilo suddenly taking
him by the hair, forced his head under the water, and held it there
until he was suffocated; he then pushed the corpse into the hole, and
covered it over with the stone.

With drooping head, though now sole master of the herd, the murderer
proceeded on his journey, but hardly had he advanced a few steps, when
a little bird perched on the horn of the white cow, and in a mournful
tune sang: "Tsiri! tsiri! Maszilo killed Mazziloniane to get
possession of the white cow which the murdered brother so much loved."

Enraged, he killed the bird with a stone, but hardly had he
sufficiently recovered himself to proceed on his journey, when the
bird again came flying, placed itself on the same spot, and repeated
the same words; Maszilo again killed him with a stone, and then

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Online LibraryAnthony R. (Anthony Reubens) MontalbaFairy tales from all nations → online text (page 9 of 19)