The Brâhmiṇ Girl that Married a Tiger
In a certain village there lived an old Brâhmiṇ who had three sons and a daughter. The girl being the youngest was brought up most tenderly and became spoilt, and so whenever she saw a beautiful boy she would say to her parents that she must be wedded to him. Her parents were, therefore, much put about to devise excuses for taking her away from her youthful lovers. Thus passed on some years, till the girl was very nearly grown up, and then the parents, fearing that they would be driven out of their caste if they failed to dispose of her hand in marriage before she came to the years of maturity, began to be eager about finding a bridegroom for her.
Now near their village there lived a fierce tiger, that had attained to great proficiency in the art of magic, and had the power of assuming different forms. Having a great taste for Brâhmiṇ’s food, the tiger used now and then to frequent temples and other places of public refreshment in the shape of an old famished Brâhmiṇ in order to share the food prepared for the Brâhmiṇs. The tiger also wanted, if possible, a Brâhmiṇ wife to take to the woods, and there to make her cook his meals after her fashion. One day, when he was partaking of his meals in Brâhmiṇ shape at a satra, he heard the talk about the Brâhmiṇ girl who was always falling in love with every beautiful Brâhmiṇ boy.
Said he to himself, “Praised be the face that I saw first this morning. I shall assume the shape of a Brâhmiṇ boy, and appear as beautiful can be, and win the heart of the girl.”
Next morning he accordingly became in the form of a great Śâstrin (proficient in the Râmâyaṇa) and took his seat near the ghâṭ of the sacred river of the village. Scattering holy ashes profusely over his body he opened the Râmâyaṇa and began to read.
“The voice of the new Śâstrin is most enchanting. Let us go and hear him,” said some women among themselves, and sat down before him to hear him expound the great book. The girl for whom the tiger had assumed this shape came in due time to bathe at the river, and as soon as she saw the new Śâstrin fell in love with him, and bothered her old mother to speak to her father about him, so as not to lose her new lover.