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The Soothsayer's Son

It is of no use to accuse either the goldsmith or the prince now. We are all the children of fate. We must obey her commands. Daśavarshâṇi Bandhanam. This is but the first day of my father’s prophecy. So far his statement is true. But how am I going to pass ten years here? Perhaps without anything to sustain life I may drag on my existence for a day or two. But how pass ten years? That cannot be, and I must die. Before death comes let me think of my faithful brute friends.”

So pondered Gaṅgâdhara in the dark cell underground, and at that moment thought of his three friends. The tiger-king, serpent-king, and rat-king assembled at once with their armies at a garden near the kârâgṛiham, and for a while did not know what to do. A common cause—how to reach their protector, who was now in the dark cell underneath—united them all. They held their council, and decided to make an underground passage from the inside of a ruined well to the kârâgṛiham. The rat râjâ issued an order at once to that effect to his army. They, with their nimble teeth, bored the ground a long way to the walls of the prison. After reaching it they found that their teeth could not work on the hard stones. The bandicoots were then specially ordered for the business; they, with their hard teeth, made a small slit in the wall for a rat to pass and repass without difficulty. Thus a passage was effected.

The rat râjâ entered first to condole with his protector on his misfortune. The king of the tigers sent word through the snake-king that he sympathised most sincerely with his sorrow, and that he was ready to render all help for his deliverance. He suggested a means for his escape also. The serpent râjâ went in, and gave Gaṅgâdhara hopes of delivery. The rat-king undertook to supply his protector with provisions. “Whatever sweetmeats or bread are prepared in any house, one and all of you must try to bring whatever you can to our benefactor. Whatever clothes you find hanging in a house, cut down, dip the pieces in water, and bring the wet bits to our benefactor.

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