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Main > Indian folktales > Fairy tale "The Soothsayer's Son"

The Soothsayer's Son

He will squeeze them and gather water for drink! and the bread and sweetmeats shall form his food.” Having issued these orders the king of the rats, took leave of Gaṅgâdhara. They, in obedience to their king’s order, continued to supply provisions and water.

The Nâgarâja said:—“I sincerely condole with you in your calamity; the tiger-king also fully sympathises with you, and wants me to tell you so, as he cannot drag his huge body here as we have done with our small ones. The king of the rats has promised to do his best to provide you with food. We would now do what we can for your release. From this day we shall issue orders to our armies to oppress all the subjects of this kingdom. The percentage of death by snake-bite and tigers shall increase from this day. And day by day it shall continue to increase till your release. After eating what the rats bring you, you had better take your seat near the entrance of the kârâgṛiham. Owing to the many sudden deaths that will occur some people that walk over the prison may say, ‘How wicked the king has become. Were it not for his wickedness so many dreadful deaths by snake-bites could never occur.’ Whenever you hear people speaking so, you had better bawl out so as to be heard by them, ‘The wretched prince imprisoned me on the false charge of having killed his father, while it was a tiger that killed him. From that day these calamities have broken out in his dominions. If I were released I would save all by my powers of healing poisonous wounds and by incantations.’ Some one may report this to the king, and if he knows it, you will obtain your liberty.” Thus comforting his protector in trouble, he advised him to pluck up courage, and took leave of him. From that day tigers and serpents, acting under the special orders of their kings, united in killing as many persons and cattle as possible. Every day people were carried away by tigers or bitten by serpents. This havoc continued. Gaṅgâdhara went on roaring as loud he could that he would save those lives, had he only his liberty.

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