I.The Three Calamities
From that time these four young men became the confidential advisers of king Alakesa in all important affairs of state, and, as night is the house of sins, they in turn kept a regular watch in the city of Alakapuri, each patrolling the streets during three hours of the night. Thus they continued to faithfully serve king Alakesa, till one night, the First Minister, when his watch was over, proceeded as usual, to see whether the royal bedchamber was properly guarded; after which he went to the temple of the goddess Kâlî, where he heard what seemed to him the voice of a woman, lamenting and sobbing in great distress. Concealing himself behind the vad-tree of the temple, he called out:—
“Who are you, poor woman? and why do you thus weep?”
At once the cries ceased, and a voice from the temple inquired:—
“Who art thou that thus questionest me?”
Then the minister knew that it was Kâlî herself who wept; so he threw himself on the ground, and, rising up, exclaimed:—
“O, my mother!—Kâlî!—Sambhavi!—Mahamayi! Why should you thus weep?” quoth Kâlî.
“What is the use of my revealing it to thee? Canst thou render any assistance?”
The minister said that, if he had but her favour, there was nothing he could not do. Then the goddess told him that a calamity was about to come upon the king, and fearing that such a good monarch was soon to disappear from the world, she wept.
The thought of such a misfortune caused the minister to tremble; he fell down before the goddess, and with tears streaming from his eyes besought her to save him. Kâlî was much gratified to observe his devotion to his master, and thus addressed him:—
“Know, then, that your king will be in danger of three calamities to-morrow, any one of which will be sufficient to cause his death. First of all, early in the morning, there will come to the palace several carts containing newly-reaped paddy grains. The king will be delighted at this, and immediately order a measure of the paddy to be shelled and cooked for his morning meal.