Folklore of the Santal Parganas | Annotated Tale

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Wife Who Would Not Be Beaten, The

THERE was once a Raja's son who announced that he would marry no woman who would not allow him to beat her every morning and evening. The Raja's servants hunted high and low in vain for a bride who would consent to these terms, at long last, they found a maiden who agreed to be beaten morning and evening if the prince would marry her. So the wedding took place and for two or three days the prince hesitated to begin the beating; but one morning he got up and, taking a stick from the corner, went to his bride and told her that she must have her beating. "Wait a minute" said she "there is one thing I want to point out to you before you beat me. It is only on the strength of your father's position that you play the fine gentleman like this: your wealth is all your father's and it is on his wealth that you are relying. When you have earned something for yourself, and made a position for yourself, then I am willing that you should beat me and not before."

               The prince saw that what his bride said was true and held his hand. Then, in order to earn wealth for himself, he set out on a trading expedition, taking quantities of merchandise loaded in sacks; and he had a large band of retainers with him, mounted on horses and elephants, and altogether made a fine show. The princess sent one of her own servants with the prince and gave him secret instructions to watch his opportunity and if ever, when the prince was bathing, he should throw away a loin cloth, to take possession of it without the prince knowing anything about it and bring it to her. The prince journeyed on till he came to the country called Lutia.

               The Raja of Lutia was walking on the roof of his palace and he saw the cavalcade approaching, and he sent a sipahi to meet the prince and ask him this question, "Have you the secret of prosperity for ever or of prosperity for a day?" When this question was put to the prince he answered that he had the secret of prosperity for ever. When the Lutia Raja was told of this answer, he ordered his men to stop the prince's train; so they surrounded them and seized all the merchandise and the prince's retainers fled on their horses and elephants and left him alone and penniless. In his distress the prince was forced to take service with a rich Hindu, and he had nothing to live on but what his master chose to give him, and all he had to wear was a loin cloth like the poorest labourer.

               The only man who did not desert him was the servant whom the Princess had sent; and one day he saw that the prince had thrown away an old loin cloth while bathing; this he picked up and took home to his mistress, who put it away. When she heard all that had happened to her husband, she set out in her turn to the Lutia country and all she took with her was a mouse and a shawl. When she reached the Lutia country the Raja as before sent a messenger to ask whether she knew the secret of prosperity for ever or of prosperity for a day.

               She answered "prosperity for a day." Thereupon the Raja had her sent for and also all the retainers who had deserted the Prince and who had collected together in the neighbourhood. When they had all come the Raja said that he would now decide who should have all the wealth which had been taken from the prince: he produced a cat and said that the person towards whom the cat jumped should have all the wealth. So they all sat round the Raja and the Princess had her mouse hidden under her shawl and every now and then she kept uncovering its head and covering it up again. The cat soon caught sight of the mouse and, when the Raja let it go, it jumped straight to the Princess in hopes of catching the mouse. The Raja at once adjudged all the merchandise to her, and she loaded it on the horses and elephants and took it home accompanied by her husband's retainers.

               A few days afterwards her husband came home, having got tired of working as a servant, and, putting a bold face on it, he went up to her and said that now he was going to beat her; all the retainers who had accompanied him when he set out to trade and also the servant whom the princess had sent with him were present. Then, before them all, the princess took up the old loin cloth and asked him if he knew to whom it had belonged; at this reminder of his poverty the prince was dumb with shame. "Ask your retainers" continued the princess "to whom all the merchandise with which you set out now rightfully belongs, ask them whether it is yours or mine, and then say whether you will beat me."

               The prince had no answer to give her and after this lesson gave up all idea of beating his bride.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Wife Who Would Not Be Beaten, The
Tale Author/Editor: Bompas, Cecil Henry
Book Title: Folklore of the Santal Parganas
Book Author/Editor: Bompas, Cecil Henry
Publisher: David Nutt
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1909
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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