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The Soothsayer's Son

Thus a Soothsayer when on his death-bed wrote the horoscope of his second son, and bequeathed it to him as his only property, leaving the whole of his estate to his eldest son. The second son pondered over the horoscope, and fell into the following reflections:—

“Alas, am I born to this only in the world? The sayings of my father never failed. I have seen them prove true to the last word while he was living; and how has he fixed my horoscope! Janma parabhṛiti dâridryam! From my birth poverty! Nor is that my only fate. Daśa varshâṇi bandhanam: for ten years, imprisonment—a fate harder than poverty; and what comes next? Samudratîrê maraṇam: death on the sea-shore; which means that I must die away from home, far from friends and relatives on a sea-coast. The misery has reached its extreme height here. Now comes the funniest part of the horoscope, Kiñchit bhôgam bhavishyati—that I am to have some happiness afterwards! What this happiness is, is an enigma to me: To die first, to be happy for some time after! What happiness? Is it the happiness of this world? So it must be. For however clever one may be, he cannot foretell what may take place in the other world. Therefore it must be the happiness of this world; and how can that be possible after my death? It is impossible. I think my father has only meant this as a consoling conclusion to the series of calamities that he has prophesied. Three portions of his prophecy must prove true; the fourth and last is a mere comforting statement to bear patiently the calamities enumerated, and never to prove true. Therefore let me go to Bânâras, bathe in the holy Gaṅgâ, wash away my sins, and prepare myself for my end. Let me avoid sea-coasts, lest death meet me there in accordance with my father’s words. Come imprisonment: I am prepared for it for ten years.”

Thus thought he, and after all the funeral obsequies of his father were over, took leave of his elder brother, and started for Bânâras(Benares). He went by the middle of the Dakhaṇ(The Deccan), avoiding both the coasts, and went on journeying and journeying for weeks and months, till at last he reached the Vindhya mountains.

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