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YASHPEH
International Folktales Collection

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Story No. 579


The Corpse of the Raja’s Son

Book Name:

Folklore of the Santal Parganas

Tradition: India

There was once a blacksmith named Chitru who had a very pretty wife; and the woman attracted the attention of the son of the Raja. Chitru suspected that his wife was unfaithful to him, and one night he pretended to go away from home, but really he lay in wait and surprised the prince visiting his wife; then he sprang out upon him and strangled him.

But when he found himself with the corpse of the prince on his hands, he began to wonder what he should do to avoid being convicted of the murder. At last he took up the corpse and carried it to the house of two dancing girls who lived in the village, and laid it down inside. Soon after the dancing girls woke up and saw the corpse lying in their room; they at once aroused their parents, and when they found that it was the corpse of the Prince, they were filled with consternation.

Now Chitru had a reputation for cunning, so they decided to send for him quietly and take his advice. When he came they begged him to save them; he pretended to be much surprised and puzzled and at last undertook to get them out of their difficulty, if they paid him one hundred rupees; they gladly paid him the money, and then he took up the corpse and carried it off and laid it down on the verandah of the house of a mahajan who lived near. Soon after some one came out of the house and found the corpse; at once they were all in consternation and sent for the clever Chitru to help them out of their difficulty.

Chitru refused to lift a finger unless he were paid two hundred rupees, and when he had got the money he took up the corpse and put it in a sitting position in a little patch of brinjals which a Koeri had planted by his front door. At dawn the Koeri came out and saw what he thought was a thief stealing his brinjals, and promptly threw a stone at the man. The corpse fell over, and when the Koeri went to see who it was he found the dead body of the Raja’s son. As it was daylight, he had no opportunity of making away with the body, so he was arrested and sent for trial. He was acquitted, because he had acted unwittingly, but he was too frightened of the Raja to stay any longer in the village and absconded as soon as he could.

Chitru, who was the real murderer, made his wife promise to keep silence by threats and was three hundred rupees the better for the business.

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