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Main > Tibet folktales > Fairy tale "Sunlight and Moonlight"

Sunlight and Moonlight

Above all else this Khan hated and feared strangers, because it had been foretold that one day he would lose his throne and crown to some lad from a strange land. And so he had made a law that any young man who entered his kingdom from another country would be seized at once by his soldiers and cast into a cave to be devoured by three fierce demon-bears.

At last, in some mysterious way, the Khan learned of two lads living with the hermit in his cave behind the red door in the cliff. He sent his soldiers at once to fetch them.

The old man noticed the Khan's soldiers coming across the desert and at once guessed why they were there. While the men were still far off, he ran quickly to the two boys and urged them to hide. Sunlight climbed into a barrel of mangos, crouching down until they covered him, and Moonlight hid in a sack of grain. When the soldiers pounded on the red door, the hermit allowed the soldiers to enter.

"Boys?" he said, in answer to their question. "I have no sons! I am an old man and have lived in this desert many a long year without wife or child to bear me company. You must be mistaken!"

The soliders roughly pushed the hermit.

"You had better not lie to the Khan's soldiers!" the captain threatened.

"I have told you no lie," replied the hermit, "but if you doubt my word, come in and see for yourselves."

With a growl and an oath, the captain seized the hermit by his long white beard and shook him.

"So you thought you would give us the trouble of searching!" said he. "We'll do no such thing! I know there is a boy here, and my orders are to fetch him, so bring him out at once - and hurry up with it!"

He raised his sword over the hermit's head, but before he could swing it down, Sunlight leaped out from his hiding place, and caught hold of the captain's arm.

"Oho!" said the captain to the lad. "So you are here, after all!"

The soldiers gathered around Sunlight, bound his hands behind his back, flung him on a horse and, without giving him a moment to bid farewell to the grief-stricken old hermit, rode away.

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