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C. F. F
THE TWO BROTHERS
NCE upon a time there
lived a King who had two young sons; they were good boys, and sat in school learning
all that kings' sons ought to know. But while they were still learning, the
Queen their mother died, and their father the King shortly after married again.
Of course the new wife was jealous of the two young Princes, and, as
stepmothers usually do, she soon began to ill-use the poor boys. First she gave
instead of wheaten cakes to eat, and then even
these were made without salt. After a time, the meal of which the cakes were made
was sour and full of weevils; so matters went on from bad to worse, until at
last she took to beating the poor young Princes, and when they cried, she
complained to the King of their disobedience and peevishness, so that he too
was angry, and beat them again.
At length the lads agreed
it was high time to seek some remedy.
'Let us go into the
world,' said the younger, 'and earn our own living.'
'Yes,' cried the elder,
'let us go at once, and never again eat bread under this roof.'
empty stomach don't away
it December or be it May"?'
So they ate their bread,
bad as it was, and afterwards, both mounting on one pony, they set out to seek
Having journeyed for some
time through a barren country, they dismounted under a large tree, and sat down
to rest. By chance a starling and a parrot, flying past, settled on the
branches of the tree, and began to dispute as to who should have the best
'I never heard of such
impertinence!' cried the starling, pushing and striving to get to the topmost
branch; 'why, I am so important a bird, that if any man eats me he will without doubt become Prime
'Make room for your
betters!' returned the parrot, hustling the starling away; 'why, if any man eats me,
he will without doubt become a King!'
Hearing these words, the
brothers instantly drew out their crossbows, and aiming at the same time, both
the birds fell dead at the selfsame moment. Now these two' brothers were so
fond of each other that neither would allow he had shot the parrot, for each
wanted the other to be the King, and even when the birds had been cooked and
were ready to eat, the two lads were still disputing over the matter. But at
last the younger said, 'Dearest brother, we are only wasting time. You are the
elder, and must take your right, since it was your fate to be born first.'
So the elder Prince ate
the parrot, and the younger Prince ate the starling; then they mounted their
pony and rode away. They had gone but a little way, however, when the elder
brother missed his whip, and thinking he had perhaps left it under the tree,
proposed to go back and find it.
'Not so,' said the
younger Prince, 'you are King, I am only Minister; therefore it is my place to
go and fetch the whip.'
'Be it as you wish,' replied
the elder, 'only take the pony, which will enable you to return quicker. In the
meantime I will go on foot to yonder town.'
The younger Prince
accordingly rode back to the tree, but the Snake-demon,  to whom it belonged, had
returned during the interval, and no sooner did the poor Prince set foot within
its shade than the horrid serpent flew at him and killed him.
Meanwhile, the elder
Prince, loitering along the road, arrived at last at the town, which he found
in a state of great commotion. The King had recently died, and though all the
inhabitants had marched past the sacred elephant in file, the animal had
not chosen to elect any one of them to the vacant throne by kneeling down and
saluting the favoured individual as he passed by, for in this manner Kings were
elected in that country. Therefore the people were in great consternation, and
orders had been issued that every stranger entering the gates of the city was
forthwith to be led before the sacred elephant. No sooner, therefore, had the elder
Prince set foot in the town than he was dragged unceremoniously–for there had
been many disappointments–before the over-particular animal. This time,
however, it had found what it wanted, for the very instant it caught sight of
the Prince it went down on its knees and began in a great hurry to salute him
with its trunk. So the Prince was immediately elected to the throne, amid
All this time the younger
Prince lay dead under the tree, so that the King his brother, after waiting and
searching for him in vain, gave him up for lost, and appointed another Prime
But it so happened that a
magician and his wife, who, being wise folk, were not afraid of the serpents
which dwelt in the tree, came to draw water at the spring which flowed from the
roots; and when the magician's wife saw the dead Prince lying there, so
handsome and young, she thought she had never seen anything so beautiful
before, and, taking pity on him, said to her husband, 'You are for ever talking
of your wisdom and power: prove it by bringing this dead lad to life!'
At first the magician
refused, but when his wife began to jeer at him, saying his vaunted power was
all pretence, he replied angrily, 'Very well; you shall see that although I
myself have no power to bring the dead back to life, I can force others to do
Whereupon he bade his
wife fill her brass drinking bowl at the spring, when, lo
and behold! every drop of the water flowed into the little vessel, and the
fountain was dry!
'Now,' said the magician,
'come away home, and you shall see what you will see.'
When the serpents found
their spring had dried up, they were terribly put out, for serpents are thirsty
creatures, and love water. They bore the drought for three days, but after that
they went in a body to the magician, and told him they would do whatever he
desired if he would only restore the water of their spring. This he promised to
do, if they in their turn restored the dead Prince to life; and when they
gladly performed this task, the magician emptied the brass bowl, all the water
flowed back into the spring, and the serpents drank and were happy.
The young Prince, on
coming back to life, fancied he had awakened from sleep, and fearing lest his
brother should be vexed at his delay, seized the whip, mounted the pony–which
all this time had been quietly grazing beside its master–and rode off. But in
his hurry and confusion he took the wrong road, and so arrived at last at a
different city from the one wherein his brother was king.
It was growing late in
the evening, and having no money in his pocket, the young Prince was at a loss
how to procure anything to eat; but seeing a good-natured-looking old woman
herding goats, he said to her, 'Mother, if you will give me something to eat
you may herd this pony of mine also, for it will be yours.'
To this the old woman
agreed, and the Prince went to live in her house, finding her very kind and
good-natured. But in the course of a day or two he noticed that his hostess
looked very sad, so he asked her what was the matter.
'The matter is this, my
son,' replied the old woman, tearfully; 'in this kingdom there lives an ogre,  which every day devours
a young man, a goat, and a wheaten cake–in
consideration of receiving which meal punctually, he leaves the other
inhabitants in peace. Therefore every day this meal has to be provided, and it
falls to the lot of every inhabitant in turn to prepare it, under pain of
death. It is my turn to-day. The cake I can make, the goat I have, but where is
the young man?'
'Why does not some one
kill the ogre?' asked the brave young Prince.
'Many have tried, but all
have failed, though the King has gone so far as to promise his daughter in
marriage, and half his kingdom, to a successful champion. And now it is my
turn, and I must die, for where shall I find a young man?' said the poor old
woman, weeping bitterly.
'Don't cry, Goody,'
returned the good-natured Prince; 'you have been very kind to me, and I will do
my best for you by making part of the ogre's dinner.'
And though the old woman
at first refused flatly to allow so handsome a young man to sacrifice himself
he laughed at her fears, and cheered her up so that she gave in.
'Only one thing I ask of
you, Goody,' quoth the Prince; 'make the wheaten cake as big as you can, and
give me the finest and fattest goat in your flock.'
This she promised to do,
and when everything was prepared, the Prince, leading the goat and carrying the
cake, went to the tree where the ogre came every evening to receive and devour
his accustomed meal. Having tied the goat to the tree, and laid the cake on the
ground, the Prince stepped outside the trench that was dug round the ogre's dining-room,
and waited. Presently the ogre, a very frightful monster indeed, appeared. Now
he generally ate the young man first, for as a rule the cakes and goats brought
to him were not appetising; but this evening, seeing the biggest cake and the
fattest goat he ever set eyes upon, he just went straight at them and began to
gobble them up. As he was finishing the last mouthful, and was looking about
for his man's flesh, the Prince sprang at him, sword in hand. Then ensued a
terrible contest. The ogre fought like an ogre, but in consequence of having
eaten the cake and the goat, one the biggest and the other the fattest that
ever was seen, he was not nearly so active as usual, and after a tremendous
battle the brave Prince was victorious, and laid his enemy at his feet.
Rejoicing at his success, the young man cut off the ogre's head, tied it up in
a handkerchief as a trophy, and then, being quite wearied out by the combat,
lay down to rest and fell fast asleep.
Now, every morning, a
scavenger came to the ogre's dining-room to clear away the remains of the last
night's feast, for the ogre was mighty fastidious, and could not bear the smell
of old bones; and this particular morning, when the scavenger saw only half the
quantity of bones, he was much astonished, and beginning to search for more,
found the young Prince hard by, fast asleep, with the ogre's head by his side.
'Ho! ho!' thought the
scavenger, 'this is a fine chance for me!'
So, lifting the Prince, who,
being dead tired, did not awake, he put him gently into a clay-pit close by,
and covered him up with clay. Then he took the ogre's head, and going to the
King, claimed half the kingdom and the Princess in marriage, as his reward for
slaying the ogre.
Although the King had his
suspicions that all was not fair, he was obliged to fulfil his promise as far
as giving part of his kingdom was concerned, but for the present he managed to
evade the dreadful necessity of giving his daughter in marriage to a scavenger,
by the excuse that the Princess was desirous of a year's delay. So the
Scavenger-king reigned over half the kingdom, and made great preparations for
his future marriage.
Meanwhile, some potters
coming to get clay from their pit were mightily astonished to find a handsome
young man, insensible, but still breathing, hidden away under the clay. Taking
him home, they handed him over to the care of their women, who soon brought him
round. On coming to himself, he learnt with surprise of the scavenger's victory
over the ogre, with which all the town was ringing. He understood how the
wicked wretch had stepped in and defrauded him, and having no witness but his
own word, saw it would be useless to dispute the point; therefore he gladly
accepted the potters' offer of teaching him their trade.
Thus the Prince sat at
the potters' wheel, and proved so clever, that ere long they became famous for
the beautiful patterns and excellent workmanship of their wares; so much so,
that the story of the handsome young potter who had been found in a clay-pit
soon became noised abroad; and although the Prince had wisely never breathed a
word of his adventures to any one, yet, when the news of his existence reached
the Scavenger-king's ears, he determined in some way or another to get rid of
the young man, lest the truth should leak out.
Now, just at this time,
the fleet of merchant vessels which annually came to the city with merchandise
and spices was detained in harbour by calms and contrary winds. So long were
they detained that the merchants feared lest they should be unable to return
within the year; and as this was a serious matter, the auguries were consulted.
They declared that until a human sacrifice was made the vessels would never
leave port. When this was reported to the Scavenger-king, he seized his
opportunity, and said, 'Be it so; but do not sacrifice a citizen. Give the
merchants that good-for-nothing potter-lad, who comes no one knows whence.'
The courtiers of course
lauded the kindness of the Scavenger-king to the skies, and the Prince was
handed over to the merchants, who, taking him on board their ships, prepared to
kill him. However, he begged and prayed them so hard to wait till evening, on
the chance of a breeze coming up, that they consented to wait till sunset.
Then, when none came, the Prince took a knife and made a tiny cut on his little
finger. As the first drop of blood flowed forth, the sails of the first ship
filled with wind, and she glided swiftly out of harbour; at the second drop,
the second ship did likewise, and so on till the whole fleet were sailing
before a strong breeze.
The merchants were
enchanted at having such a valuable possession as the Prince, who could thus
compel the winds, and took the very greatest care of him; before long he was a
great favourite with them all, for he was really an amiable young man. At
length they arrived at another city, which happened to be the very one where
the Prince's brother had been elected King by the elephant, and while the
merchants went into the town to transact business, they left the Prince to
watch over the vessels. Now, growing weary of watching, the Prince, to amuse
himself, began, with the clay on the shore beside him, to make a model from
memory of his father's palace. Growing interested in his work, he worked away
till he had made the most beautiful thing imaginable. There was the garden full
of flowers, the King on his throne, the courtiers sitting round,–even the
Princes learning in school, and the pigeons fluttering about the tower. When it
was quite finished, the poor young Prince could not help the tears coming into
his eyes, as he looked at it, and he sighed to think of past days.
Just at that very moment
the Prime Minister's daughter, surrounded by her women, happened to pass that
way. She looked at the beautiful model, and was wonderstruck, but when she saw
the handsome, sad young man who sat sighing beside it, she went straight home,
locked the doors, and refused to eat anything at all. Her father, fearing she
was ill, sent to inquire what was wrong, whereupon she sent him this reply:
'Tell my father I will neither eat nor drink until he marries me to the young
man who sits sighing on the sea-shore beside a king's palace made of clay.'
At first the Prime
Minister was very angry, but seeing his daughter was determined to starve
herself to death if she did not gain her point, he outwardly gave his consent;
privately, however, arranging with the merchants that immediately after the
marriage the bride and bridegroom were to go on board the ships, which were at
once to set sail, and that on the first opportunity the Prince was to be thrown
overboard, and the Princess brought back to her father.
So the marriage took
place, the ships sailed away, and a day or two afterwards the merchants pushed
the young man overboard as he was sitting on the prow. But it so happened that
a rope was hanging from the bride's window in the stern, and as the Prince
drifted by, he caught it and climbed up into her cabin unseen. She hid him in
her box, where he lay concealed, and when they brought her food, she refused to
eat, pretending grief, and saying, 'Leave it here; perhaps I may be hungry by
and by.' Then she shared the meal with her husband.
The merchants, thinking
they had managed everything beautifully, turned their ships round, and brought
the bride and her box back to her father, who, being much pleased, rewarded
His daughter also was quite
content, and having reached her own apartments, let her husband out of the box
and dressed him as a woman-servant, so that he could go about the palace quite
Now the Prince had of
course told his wife the whole story of his life, and when she in return had
related how the King of that country had been elected by the elephant, her
husband began to feel sure he had found his long-lost brother at last. Then he
laid a plan to make sure. Every day a bouquet of flowers was sent to the King
from the Minister's garden, so one evening the Prince, in his disguise, went up
to the gardener's daughter, who was cutting flowers, and said, 'I will teach
you a new fashion of arranging them, if you like.' Then, taking the flowers, he
tied them together just as his father's gardener used to do.
The next morning, when
the King saw the bouquet, he became quite pale, and turning to the gardener,
asked him who had arranged the flowers.
'I did, sire,' replied
the gardener, trembling with fear.
'You lie, knave!' cried
the King; 'but go, bring me just such another bouquet to-morrow, or your head
shall be the forfeit!'
That day the gardener's
daughter came weeping to the disguised Prince, and, telling him all, besought
him to make her another bouquet to save her father's life. The Prince willingly
consented, for he was now certain the King was his long-lost brother; and,
making a still more beautiful bouquet, concealed a paper, on which his name was
written, amidst the flowers.
When the King discovered
the paper he turned quite pale, and said to the gardener, 'I am now convinced
you never made this nosegay; but tell me the truth, and I will forgive you.'
Whereupon the gardener
fell on his knees and confessed that one of the women-servants in the Prime
Minister's palace had made it for his daughter. This surprised the King
immensely, and he determined to disguise himself and go with the gardener's
daughter to cut flowers in the Minister's garden, which he accordingly did; but
no sooner did the disguised young Prince behold his brother than he recognised
him, and wishing to see if power and wealth had made his brother forget their
youthful affection, he parried all questions as to where he had learnt to
arrange flowers, and replied by telling the story of his adventures, as far as
the eating of the starling and the parrot. Then he declared he was too tired to
proceed further that day, but would continue his story on the next. The King,
though greatly excited, was accordingly obliged to wait till the next evening,
when the Prince told of his fight with the demon and delivery by the potters.
Then once more he declared he was tired, and the King, who was on pins and
needles to hear more, had to wait yet another day; and so on until the seventh
day, when the Prince concluded his tale by relating his marriage with the Prime
Minister's daughter, and disguise as a woman.
Then the King fell on his
brother's neck and rejoiced greatly; the Minister also, when he heard what an
excellent marriage his daughter had made, was so pleased that he voluntarily
resigned his office in favour of his son-in-law. So what the parrot and the
starling had said came true, for the one brother was King, and the other Prime
The very first thing the
King did was to send ambassadors to the court of the king who owned the country
where the ogre had been killed, telling him the truth of the story, and saying
that his brother, being quite satisfied as Prime Minister, did not intend to
claim half the kingdom. At this, the king of that country was so delighted that
he begged the Minister Prince to accept of his daughter as a bride, to which
the Prince replied that he was already married, but that his brother the King
would gladly make her his wife.
there were immense rejoicings, but the Scavenger-king was put to death, as he
very well deserved.
 Jau kî roti, barley bread, is the poor man's food, as
opposed to gihûn kî rotî, wheaten bread, the rich
man's food. Barley bread is apt to produce flatulence.
 The saying is well known and runs thus–
mat jâo khâlî pet.
Hove mâgh yâ hove jeth.
nowhere on an empty stomach,
Be it winter or be it summer.
and salutary advice in a feverish country like India.
 Apparent allusion to the saying rendered
in the following verse–
nar totâ mârkar khâve per ke heth,
Kuchh sansâ man na dhare, woh hogâ râjâ jeth.
Jo mainâ ko mâr khâ, man men rakhe dhîr;
Kuchh chintâ man na kare, woh sadâ rahegâ wazîr.
Who kills a
parrot and eats him under a tree,
Should have no doubt in his mind, he will be a great king.
Who kills and eats a starling, let him be patient:
Let him not be troubled in his mind, he will be minister for life.
 The word was isdâr, which
represents the Persian izhdahâ, izhdâr, or izhdar,
a large serpent, python.
 The reference here is to the legend of the
safed hâthî or dhaulâ gaj, the white elephant.
He is the elephant-headed God Ganesa, and as such is, or rather was formerly,
kept by Râjâs as a pet, and fed to surfeit every Tuesday (Mangalwâr
) with sweet cakes (chûrîs ). After which he was taught to
go down on his knees to the Râjâ and swing his trunk to and fro,
and this was taken as a sign that he acknowledged his royalty. He was never
ridden except occasionally by the Râjâ himself. Two sayings, common
to the present day, illustrate these ideas–'Woh to
Mahârâjâ hai, dhaule gaj par sowâr: he is indeed
king, for he rides the white elephant.' And 'Mahârâjâ
dhaulâ gajpati ki dohâî: (I claim the) protection of the
great king, the lord of the white elephant.' The idea appears to be a very old
one, for Ælian (Hist. Anim. vol. iii. p. 46) quoting Megasthenes,
mentions the white elephant. See M'Crindle, India as described by
Megasthenes and Arrian, pp. 118, 119; Indian Antiquary, vol. vi. p.
333 and footnote.
 The lotâ, universal throughout
 In the original râkhas = the
Sanskrit râkshasa, translated ogre advisedly for the following
reasons:–The râkshasa (râkshas, an injury) is
universal in Hindu mythology as a superhuman malignant fiend inimical to man,
on whom he preys, and that is his character, too, throughout Indian folk-tales.
He is elaborately described in many an orthodox Indian legend, but very little
reading between the lines in these shows him to have been an alien enemy on the
borders of Aryan tribes. The really human character of the râkshasa
is abundantly evident from the stories about him and his doings. He occupies
almost exactly the position in Indian tales that the ogre does in European
story, and for the same reason, as he represents the memory of the savage tribes
along the old Aryan borders. The ogre, no doubt, is the Uighur Tâtar
magnified by fear into a malignant demon. For the râkshasa see the
Dictionaries of Dowson, Garrett, and Monier Williams, in verbo;
Muir's Sanskrit Texts, vol. ii., p. 420, etc.: and for the ogre see Panjab
Notes and Queries, vol. i., in verbo.
 The ogre's eating a goat is curious: cf.
the Sanskrit name ajagara, goat-eater, for the python (nowadays ajgar
), which corresponds to the izhdahâ or serpent-demon (see comm. 4).