|India Folk Tales
The Charmed Ring
started his son in life with three hundred rupees, and bade him go to
another country and try his luck in trade. The son took the money and
departed. He had not gone far before he came across some herdsmen
quarrelling over a dog, that some of them wished to kill. "Please do
not kill the dog," pleaded the young and tender-hearted fellow; "I will
give you one hundred rupees for it." Then and there, of course, the
bargain was concluded, and the foolish fellow took the dog, and
continued his journey. He next met with some people fighting about a
cat. Some of them wanted to kill it, but others not. "Oh! please do not
kill it," said he; "I will give you one hundred rupees for it." Of
course they at once gave him the cat and took the money. He went on
till he reached a village, where some folk were quarrelling over a
snake that had just been caught. Some of them wished to kill it, but
others did not. "Please do not kill the snake," said he; "I will give
you one hundred rupees." Of course the people agreed, and were highly
What a fool the fellow was! What would he do now that
all his money was gone? What could he do except return to his father?
Accordingly he went home.
"You fool! You scamp!" exclaimed his
father when he had heard how his son had wasted all the money that had
been given to him. "Go and live in the stables and repent of your
folly. You shall never again enter my house."
So the young man
went and lived in the stables His bed was the grass spread for the
cattle, and his companions were the dog, the cat, and the snake, which
he had purchased so dearly. These creatures got very fond of him, and
would follow him about during the day, and sleep by him at night; the
cat used to sleep at his feet, the dog at his head, and the snake over
his body, with its head hanging on one side and its tail on the other.
day the snake in course of conversation said to its master, "I am the
son of Raja Indrasha. One day, when I had come out of the ground to
drink the air, some people seized me, and would have slain me had you
not most opportunely arrived to my rescue. I do not know how I shall
ever be able to repay you for your great kindness to me. Would that you
knew my father! How glad he would be to see his son's preserver!"
"Where does he live? I should like to see him, if possible," said the young man.
said!" continued the snake. "Do you see yonder mountain? At the bottom
of that mountain there is a sacred spring. If you will come with me and
dive into that spring, we shall both reach my father's country. Oh! how
glad he will be to see you! He will wish to reward you, too. But how
can be do that? However, you may be pleased to accept something at his
hand. If he asks you what you would like, you would, perhaps, do well
to reply, 'The ring on your right hand, and the famous pot and spoon
which you possess.' With these in your possession, you would never need
anything, for the ring is such that a man has only to speak to it, and
immediately a beautiful furnished mansion will be provided for him,
while the pot and the spoon will supply him with all manner of the
rarest and most delicious foods."
Attended by his three
companions the man walked to the well and prepared to jump in,
according to the snake's directions. "O master!" exclaimed the cat and
dog, when they saw what he was going to do. "What shall we do? Where
shall we go?"
"Wait for me here," he replied. "I am not going
far. I shall not be long away." On saying this, he dived into the water
and was lost to sight.
"Now what shall we do?" said the dog to the cat.
must remain here," replied the cat, "as our master ordered. Do not be
anxious about food. I will go to the people's houses and get plenty of
food for both of us." And so the cat did, and they both lived very
comfortably till their master came again and joined them.
young man and the snake reached their destination in safety; and
information of their arrival was sent to the Raja. His highness
commanded his son and the stranger to appear before him. But the snake
refused, saying that it could not go to its father till it was released
from this stranger, who had saved it from a most terrible death, and
whose slave it therefore was. Then the Raja went and embraced his son,
and saluting the stranger welcomed him to his dominions. The young man
stayed there a few days, during which he received the Raja's right-hand
ring, and the pot and spoon, in recognition of His Highness's gratitude
to him for having delivered his son. He then returned. On reaching the
top of the spring he found his friends, the dog and the cat, waiting
for him. They told one another all they had experienced since they had
last seen each other, and were all very glad. Afterwards they walked
together to the river side, where it was decided to try the powers of
the charmed ring and pot and spoon.
The merchant's son spoke to
the ring, and immediately a beautiful house and a lovely princess with
golden hair appeared. He spoke to the pot and spoon, also, and the most
delicious dishes of food were provided for them. So he married the
princess, and they lived very happily for several years, until one
morning the princess, while arranging her toilet, put the loose hairs
into a hollow bit of reed and threw them into the river that flowed
along under the window. The reed floated on the water for many miles,
and was at last picked up by the prince of that country, who curiously
opened it and saw the golden hair. On finding it the prince rushed off
to the palace, locked himself up in his room, and would not leave it.
He had fallen desperately in love with the woman whose hair be had
picked up, and refused to eat, or drink, or sleep, or move, till she
was brought to him. The king, his father, was in great distress about
the matter, and did not know what to do. He feared lest his son should
die and leave him without an heir: At last he determined to seek the
counsel of his aunt, who was an ogress. The old woman consented to help
him, and bade him not to be anxious, as she felt certain that she would
succeed in getting the beautiful woman for his son's wife.
assumed the shape of a bee and went along buzzing, and buzzing, and
buzzing. Her keen sense of smell soon brought her to the beautiful
princess, to whom she appeared as an old hag, holding in one hand a
stick by way of support. She introduced herself to the beautiful
princess and said, "I am your aunt, whom you have never seen before,
because I left the country just after your birth." She also embraced
and kissed the princess by way of adding force to her words. The
beautiful princess was thoroughly deceived. She returned the ogress's
embrace, and invited her to come and stay in the house as long as she
could, and treated her with such honour and attention, that the ogress
thought to herself, "I shall soon accomplish my errand." When she had
been in the house three days, she began to talk of the charmed ring,
and advised her to keep it instead of her husband, because the latter
was constantly out shooting and on other such-like expeditions, and
might lose it. Accordingly the beautiful princess asked her husband for
the ring, and he readily gave it to her.
The ogress waited
another day before she asked to see the precious thing. Doubting
nothing, the beautiful princess complied, when the ogress seized the
ring, and reassuming the form of a bee flew away with it to the palace,
where the prince was lying nearly on the point of death. "Rise up. Be
glad. Mourn no more," she said to him. "The woman for whom you yearn
will appear at your summons. See, here is the charm, whereby you may
bring her before you." The prince was almost mad with joy when he heard
these words, and was so desirous of seeing the beautiful princess, that
he immediately spoke to the ring, and the house with its fair occupant
descended in the midst of the palace garden. He at once entered the
building, and telling the beautiful princess of his intense love,
entreated her to be his wife. Seeing no escape from the difficulty, she
consented on the condition that he would wait one month for her.
the merchant's son had returned from hunting and was terribly
distressed not to find his house and wife. There was the place only,
just as he knew it before he had tried the charmed ring, which Raja
Indrasha had given him. He sat down and determined to put an end to
himself. Presently the cat and dog came up. They had gone away and
hidden themselves, when they saw the house and everything disappear. "O
master!?' they said, "stay your hand. Your trial is great, but it can
be remedied. Give us one month, and we will go and try to recover your
wife and house."
"Go," said he, "and may the great God aid your efforts. Bring back my wife, and I shall live."
the cat and dog started off at a run, and did not stop till they
reached the place whither their mistress and the house had been taken.
"We may have some difficulty here," said the cat. "Look, the king has
taken our master's wife and house for himself. You stay here. I will go
to the house and try to see her." So the dog sat down, and the cat
climbed up to the window of the room, wherein the beautiful princess
was sitting, and entered. The princess recognised the cat, and informed
it of all that had happened to her since she had left them.
"But is there no way of escape from the hands of these people?" she asked.
"Yes," replied the cat, "if you can tell me where the charmed ring is."
"The ring is in the stomach of the ogress," she said.
right," said the cat, "I will recover it. If we once get it, everything
is ours." Then the cat descended the wall of the house, and went and
laid down by a rat's hole and pretended she was dead. Now at that time
a great wedding chanced to be going on among the rat community of that
place, and all the rats of the neighbourhood were assembled in that one
particular mine by which the cat had lain down. The eldest son of the
king of the rats was about to be married. The cat got to know of this,
and at once conceived the idea of seizing the bridegroom and making him
render the necessary help. Consequently, when the procession poured
forth from the hole squealing and jumping in honour of the occasion, it
immediately spotted the bridegroom and pounced down on him. "Oh! let me
go, let me go," cried the terrified rat. "Oh! let him go," squealed all
the company. "It is his wedding day."
"No, no," replied the cat.
"Not unless you do something for me. Listen. The ogress, who lives in
that house with the prince and his wife, has swallowed a ring, which I
very much want. If you will procure it for me, I will allow the rat to
depart unharmed. If you do not, then your prince dies under my feet."
"Very well, we agree," said they all. "Nay, if we do not get the ring for you, devour us all."
was rather a bold offer. However, they accomplished the thing. At
midnight, when the ogress was sound asleep, one of the rats went to her
bedside, climbed up on her face, and, inserted its tail into her
throat; whereupon the ogress coughed violently, and the ring came out
and rolled on to the floor. The rat immediately seized the precious
thing and ran off with it to its king, who was very glad, and went at
once to the cat and released its son.
As soon as the cat
received the ring, she started back with the dog to go and tell their
master the good tidings. All seemed safe now. They had only to give the
ring to him, and he would speak to it, and the house and beautiful
princess would again be with them, and everything would go on as
happily as before. "How glad master will be!" they thought, and ran as
fast as their legs could carry them. Now, on the way they had to cross
a stream. The dog swam,, and the cat sat on its back. Now the dog was
jealous of the cat, so he asked for the ring, and threatened to throw
the cat into the water if it did not give it up; whereupon the cat gave
up the ring. Sorry moment, for the dog at once dropped it, and a fish
"Oh! what shall I do? what shall I do?" said the
dog. "What is done is done," replied the cat. "We must try to recover
it, and if we do not succeed we had better drown ourselves in this
stream. I have a plan. You go and kill a small lamb, and bring it here
"All right," said the dog, and at once ran off. He soon
came back with a dead lamb, and gave it to the cat. The cat got inside
the lamb and lay down, telling the dog to go away a little distance and
keep quiet. Not long after this a nadhar, a bird whose look can break
the bones of a fish, came and hovered over the lamb, and eventually
pounced down on it to carry it away. On this the cat came out and
jumped on to the bird, and threatened to kill it if it did not recover
the lost ring. This was most readily promised by the nadhar, who
immediately flew off to the king of the fishes, and ordered it to make
inquiries and to restore the ring. The king of the fishes did so, and
the ring was found and carried back to the cat.
"Come along now; I have got the ring," said the cat to the dog.
I will not," said the dog, unless you let me have the ring. I can carry
it as well as you. Let me have it or I will kill you." So the cat was
obliged to give up the ring. The careless dog very soon dropped it
again. This time it was picked up and carried off by a kite.
"See, see, there it goes--away to that big tree," the cat exclaimed.
"Oh! oh! what have I done?" cried the dog.
foolish thing, I knew it would be so," said the cat. "But stop your
barking, or you will frighten away the bird to some place where we
shall not be able to trace it."
The cat waited till it was quite
dark, and then climbed the tree, killed the kite, and recovered the
ring. "Come along," it said to the dog when it reached the ground. "We
must make haste now. We have been delayed. Our master will die from
grief and suspense. Come on."
The dog, now thoroughly ashamed of
itself, begged the cat's pardon for all the trouble it had given. It
was afraid to ask for the ring the third time, so they both reached
their sorrowing master in safety and gave him the precious charm. In a
moment his sorrow was turned into joy. He spoke to the ring, and his
beautiful wife and house reappeared, and he and everybody were as happy
as ever they could be.