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Main > Indian folktales > Fairy tale "The Jewelled Arrow"

The Jewelled Arrow

Chapter I

In the city of Vardhamana in India there lived a powerful king named Vira-Bhuja, who, as was the custom in his native land, had many wives, each of whom had several sons. Of all his wives this king loved best the one named Guna-Vara, and of all his sons her youngest-born, called Sringa-Bhuja, was his favourite. Guna-Vara was not only very beautiful but very good. She was so patient that nothing could make her angry, so unselfish that she always thought of others before herself, and so wise that she was able to understand how others were feeling, however different their natures were from her own.

Sringa-Bhuja, the son of Guna-Vara, resembled his mother in her beauty and her unselfishness; he was also very strong and very clever, whilst his brothers were quite unlike him. They wanted to have everything their own way, and they were very jealous indeed of their father's love for him. They were always trying to do him harm, and though they often quarrelled amongst themselves, they would band together to try and hurt him.

It was very much the same with the king's wives. They hated Guna-Vara, because their husband loved her more than he did them, and they constantly came to him with stories they had made up of the wicked things she had done. Amongst other things they told the king that Guna-Vara did not really love him but cared more for some one else than she did for him. The most bitter of all against her was the wife called Ayasolekha, who was cunning enough to know what sort of tale the king was likely to believe. The very fact that Vira-Bhuja loved Guna-Vara so deeply made him more ready to think that perhaps after all she did not return his affection, and he longed to find out the truth. So he in his turn made up a story, thinking by its means to find out how she felt for him. He therefore went one day to her private apartments, and having sent all her attendants away, he told her he had some very sad news for her which he had heard from his chief astrologer.

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