The Jewelled Arrow
The brothers, seeing the bird and anxious to shoot it for themselves, all began to clamour that they should be allowed to shoot again. Nobody made any objection, and Sringa-Bhuja stood aside, with the jewelled arrow in the bow, waiting to see what they would do, but feeling sure that he would be the one to kill the bird. Brother after brother tried, but the great creature still remained untouched, when a travelling mendicant stepped forward and cried aloud:
"That is no bird, but an evil magician who has taken that form to deceive you all. If he is not killed before he takes his own form again, he will bring misery and ruin upon this town and the surrounding country."
You know perhaps that mendicants or beggars in India are often holy men whose advice even kings are glad to listen to; so that, when everyone heard what this beggar said, there was great excitement and terror. For many were the stories told of the misfortunes Rakshas or evil magicians had brought on other cities. The brothers all wanted to try their luck once more, but the beggar checked them, saying:
"No, no. Where is your youngest brother Sringa-Bhuja? He alone will be able to save your homes, your wives and your children, from destruction,"
Then Sringa-Bhuja came forward; and as the sun flashed upon the jewels in the stolen arrow, revealing to the watching king that it was his own beloved son who had taken it, the young prince let it fly straight for the bird. It wounded but did not kill the crane, which flew off with the arrow sticking in its breast, the blood dripping from it in its flight, which became gradually slower and slower. At the sight of the bird going off with the precious jewelled arrow, the king was filled with rage, and sent orders that Sringa-Bhuja should be fetched to his presence immediately. But before the messengers reached him, he had started in pursuit of the bird, guided by the blood-drops on the ground.
5. Did the brothers show wisdom in the plot they laid against their brother?