The Magic Shoes and Staff
Far, far away in a town of India called Chinchini, where in days long gone by the ancient gods in whom the people believed are said sometimes to have appeared to those who called upon them for help, there lived three brothers of noble birth, who had never known what it was to want for food, or clothes, or a house to live in. Each was married to a wife he loved, and for many years they were all as happy as the day was long. Presently however a great misfortune in which they all shared befell their native country. There was no rain for many, many weeks; and this is a very serious thing in a hot country like India, because, when it does not rain for a long time, the ground becomes so parched and hard that nothing can grow in it. The sun is very much stronger in India than it is in England; and it sent forth its burning rays, drying up all the water in the tanks and changing what had been, a beautiful country, covered with green crops good for food, into a dreary desert, where neither men nor animals could get anything to eat. The result of this was that there was a terrible famine, in which hundreds of people and animals died, little children being the first to suffer.
Now the three brothers, who had none of them any children, got frightened at the state of things, and thought to themselves, "If we do not escape from this dreadful land, we shall die." They said to each other: "Let us flee away from here, and go somewhere where we are sure of being able to get plenty to eat and drink. We will not take our wives with us; they would only make things worse for us; let us leave them to look after themselves."
1. What do you think of the behaviour of the three brothers? Was there any excuse for their leaving their wives behind them?
2. Do you think the wives themselves can have been to blame in any way in the matter?
So the three wives were deserted, and had to manage as best they could without their husbands, who did not even trouble to wish them goodbye.