Santal Folk Tales by of the Santal Mission | Annotated Tale

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King and His Inquisitive Queen, The

THERE was a certain king known by the name of Huntsman, on account of his expertness in the chase. One day when returning from the forest where he had been hunting he found a serpent and a lizard fighting on the path along which he was moving. As they were blocking the way he ordered them to stand aside and allow him to pass, but they gave no heed to what he said. King Huntsman then began to beat them with his staff. He killed the lizard, but the serpent fled, and so escaped.

               The serpent then went to Monsha, the king of the serpents, and complained of the treatment the lizard and himself had received at the hands of king Huntsman. The next day king Monsha went and met king Huntsman on his way home from the forest, and blocked his way so that he could not pass. King Huntsman being angry said, "Clear the way, and allow me to pass, or else I shall send an arrow into you. Why do you block my way?" King Monsha replied, "Why did you assault the lizard and the serpent, with intent to kill them both?" King Huntsman answered, "I ordered them to get out of my way, but they would not, I therefore assaulted them, and killed one. The other saved himself by flight." King Monsha hearing this explanation said, "Very good, the fault was theirs, not yours."

               King Huntsman then petitioned the king of the serpents to bestow upon him the gift of understanding the language of animals and insects. King Monsha acceded to his request, and gave him the gift he desired.

               A few days after this event King Huntsman went to the forest, and after hunting all day returned home in the evening Having washed his hands and feet, he sat down to his meal of boiled rice. When the rice was being served to the king a few grains fell on the ground, and a fly and an ant began to dispute as to who should carry them away. The fly said, "I will take them to my children." The ant replied, "No, I will take them to mine." Hearing the two talk thus, the king was amused, and began to smile. The queen, who was standing by, said to him, "Tell me what has made you laugh." On being thus addressed the king became greatly confused, for at the time the gift of understanding the language of animals and insects was bestowed upon him, King Monsha had forbidden him to make it known to any one. He had said, "If you tell this to any one, I shall eat you." Remembering this the king feared to answer the question put to him by the queen. He tried to deceive her by saying, "I did not laugh, you must have been mistaken." She would not, however, be thus put off, so the king was obliged to tell her that if he answered her question his life would be forfeited. The queen was inexorable, and said, "Whether you forfeit your life or not, you must tell me." The king then said, "Well, if it must be so, let us make ready to go to the bank of the Ganges. There I shall tell you, and when I have done so you must push me into the river, and then return home."

               The king armed himself, and the two set out for the river. When they had reached it, they sat down to rest under the shade of a tree. A flock of goats was grazing near to where they were seated, and the king's attention was arrested by a conversation which was being carried on between an old she-goat and a young he-goat. The former addressed the latter thus, "There is an island in the middle of the Ganges, and on that island there is a large quantity of good sweet grass. Get the grass for me, and I shall give you my daughter in marriage." The he-goat was not thus to be imposed upon. He angrily addressed his female friend as follows, "Do not think to make me like this foolish king, who vainly tries to please a woman. He has come here to lose his own life at the bidding of one. You tell me to go and bring you grass out of such a flood as this. I am no such fool. I do not care to die yet. There are many more quite as good as your daughter."

               The king understood what passed between them, and admitted to himself the truth of what the he-goat had said. After considering a short time he arose, and having made a rude sacrificial altar, said to the queen, "Kneel down, and do me obeisance, and I shall tell you what made me laugh." She knelt down, and the king struck off her head and burnt her body upon the altar. Returning home he performed her funeral ceremonies, after which he married another wife.

               He reigned prosperously for many years, and decided all disputes that were brought before him by animals or insects.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: King and His Inquisitive Queen, The
Tale Author/Editor: Campbell, A.
Book Title: Santal Folk Tales by of the Santal Mission
Book Author/Editor: Campbell, A.
Publisher: Santal Mission Press
Publication City: Pokhuria
Year of Publication: 1891
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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