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

The Soothsayer's Son

While passing that desert he had to journey for a couple of days through a sandy plain, with no signs of life or vegetation. The little store of provision with which he was provided for a couple of days, at last was exhausted. The chombu(a small vessel), which he carried always full, replenishing it with the sweet water from the flowing rivulet or plenteous tank, he had exhausted in the heat of the desert. There was not a morsel in his hand to eat; nor a drop of water to drink. Turn his eyes wherever he might he found a vast desert, out of which he saw no means of escape. Still he thought within himself, “Surely my father’s prophecy never proved untrue. I must survive this calamity to find my death on some sea-coast.” So thought he, and this thought gave him strength of mind to walk fast and try to find a drop of water somewhere to slake his dry throat. At last he succeeded, or rather thought that he succeeded. Heaven threw in his way a ruined well. He thought that he could collect some water if he let down his chombu with the string that he always carried noosed to the neck of it. Accordingly he let it down; it went some way and stopped, and the following words came from the well, “Oh, relieve me! I am the king of tigers, dying here of hunger. For the last three days I have had nothing. Fortune has sent you here. If you assist me now you will find a sure help in me throughout your life. Do not think that I am a beast of prey. When you have become my deliverer I can never touch you. Pray, kindly lift me up.” Gaṅgâdhara, for that was the name of the Soothsayer’s second son, found himself in a very perplexing position. “Shall I take him out or not? If I take him out he may make me the first morsel of his hungry mouth. No; that he will not do. For my father’s prophecy never came untrue. I must die on a sea-coast and not by a tiger.” Thus thinking, he asked the tiger king to hold tight to the vessel, which he accordingly did, and he lifted him up slowly. The tiger reached the top of the well and felt himself on safe ground.

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