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Main > Indian folktales > Fairy tale "The Beetle and the Silken Thread"

The Beetle and the Silken Thread

Chapter I

The strange adventures related in the story of the Beetle and the Silken Thread took place in the town of Allahabad, "the City of God," so called because it is situated near the point of meeting of the two sacred rivers of India, the Ganges, which the Hindus lovingly call Mother Ganga because they believe its waters can wash away their sins, and the Jumna, which they consider scarcely less holy.

The ruler of Allahabad was a very selfish and hot-tempered Raja named Surya Pratap, signifying "Powerful as the Sun," who expected everybody to obey him without a moment's delay, and was ready to punish in a very cruel manner those who hesitated to do so. He would never listen to a word of explanation, or own that he had been mistaken, even when he knew full well that he was in the wrong. He had a mantri, that is to say, a chief vizier or officer, whom he greatly trusted, and really seemed to be fond of, for he liked to have him always near him. The vizier was called Dhairya-Sila, or "the Patient One," because he never lost his temper, no matter what provocation he received. He had a beautiful house, much money and many jewels, carriages to drive about in, noble horses to ride and many servants to wait upon him, all given to him by his master. But what he loved best of all was his faithful wife, Buddhi-Mati, or "the Sensible One," whom he had chosen for himself, and who would have died for him.

Many of the Raja's subjects were jealous of Dhairya-Sila, and constantly brought accusations against him, of none of which his master took any notice, except to punish those who tried to set him against his favourite. It really seemed as if nothing would ever bring harm to Dhairya-Sila; but he often told his wife that such good fortune was not likely to last, and that she must be prepared for a change before long.

It turned out that he was right. For one day Surya Pratap ordered him to do what he considered would be a shameful deed. He refused; telling his master that he was wrong to think of such a thing, and entreating him to give up his purpose.

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