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 The Soothsayer's Son 
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THE PRINCE TOOK it into his hands, examined it, and at once gave half the kingdom to Manikkasari, and then inquired about the murderer. "He is bathing in the river, and is of such and such appearance," was the reply. At once four armed soldiers flew to the river, and bound the poor Brahman hand and foot, while he, sitting in meditation, was without any knowledge of the fate that hung over him. They brought Gangazara to the presence of the prince, who turned his face away from the supposed murderer, and asked his soldiers to throw him into a dungeon. In a minute, without knowing the cause, the poor Brahman found himself in the dark dungeon.
      It was a dark cellar underground, built with strong stone walls, into which any criminal guilty of a capital offence was ushered to breathe his last there without food and drink. Such was the cellar into which Gangazara was thrust. What were his thoughts when he reached that place? "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. 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 Gangazara 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 dungeon, and for a while did not know what to do. They held their council, and decided to make an underground passage from the inside of a ruined well to the dungeon. The rat raja issued an order at once to that effect to his army. They, with their 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 re-pass without difficulty. Thus a passage was effected.
      The rat raja entered first to condole with his protector on his misfortune, and 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. He will squeeze them and gather water for drink! and the bread and sweetmeats shall form his food." Having issued these orders, the king of the rats took leave of Gangazara. They, in obedience to their king's order, continued to supply him with provisions and water.
      The snake-king said: "I sincerely condole with you in your calamity; the tiger-king also fully sympathises with you, and wants me to tell you so, as he cannot drag his huge body here as we have done with our small ones. The king of the rats has promised to do his best to provide you with food. We would now do what we can for your release. From this day we shall issue orders to our armies to oppress all the subjects of this kingdom. The deaths by snake-bite and tigers shall increase a hundredfold from this day, and day by day it shall continue to increase till your release. Whenever you hear people near you, you had better bawl out so as to be heard by them: 'The wretched prince imprisoned me on the false charge of having killed his father, while it was a tiger that killed him. From that day these calamities have broken out in his dominions. If I were released I would save all by my powers of healing poisonous wounds and by incantations.' Some one may report this to the king, and if he knows it, you will obtain your liberty." Thus comforting his protector in trouble, he advised him to pluck up courage, and took leave of him. From that day tigers and serpents, acting under the orders of their kings, united in killing as many persons and cattle as possible. Every day people were carried away by tigers or bitten by serpents. Thus passed months and years. Gangazara sat in the dark cellar, without the sun's light falling upon him, and feasted upon the breadcrumbs and sweetmeats that the rats so kindly supplied him with. These delicacies had completely changed his body into a red, stout, huge, unwieldy mass of flesh. Thus passed full ten years, as prophesied in the horoscope.
      Ten complete years rolled away in close imprisonment. On the last evening of the tenth year one of the serpents got into the bed-chamber of the princess and sucked her life. She breathed her last. She was the only daughter of the king. The king at once sent for all the snake-bite curers. He promised half his kingdom and his daughter's hand to him who would restore her to life. Now a servant of the king who had several times overheard Gangazara's cries, reported the matter to him. The king at once ordered the cell to be examined. There was the man sitting in it. How had he managed to live so long in the cell? Some whispered that he must be a divine being. Thus they discussed, while they brought Gangazara to the king.
      The king no sooner saw Gangazara than he fell on the ground. He was struck by the majesty and grandeur of his person. His ten years' imprisonment in the deep cell underground had given a sort of lustre to his body. His hair had first to be cut before his face could be seen. The king begged forgiveness for his former fault, and requested him to revive his daughter.
      "Bring me within an hour all the corpses of men and cattle, dying and dead, that remain unburnt or unburied within the range of your dominions; I shall revive them all," were the only words that Gangazara spoke.
      Cartloads of corpses of men and cattle began to come in every minute. Even graves, it is said, were broken open, and corpses buried a day or two before were taken out and sent for their revival. As soon as all were ready, Gangazara took a vessel full of water and sprinkled it over them all, thinking only of his snake-king and tiger-king. All rose up as if from deep slumber, and went to their respective homes. The princess, too, was restored to life. The joy of the king knew no bounds. He cursed the day on which he imprisoned him, blamed himself for having believed the word of a goldsmith, and offered him the hand of his daughter and the whole kingdom, instead of half, as he promised. Gangazara would not accept anything, but asked the king to assemble all his subjects in a wood near the town. "I shall there call in all the tigers and serpents, and give them a general order."
      When the whole town was assembled, just at the dusk of evening, Gangazara sat dumb for a moment, and thought upon the Tiger King and the Serpent King, who came with all their armies. People began to take to their heels at the sight of tigers. Gangazara assured them of safety, and stopped them.
      The grey light of the evening, the pumpkin colour of Gangazara, the holy ashes scattered lavishly over his body, the tigers and snakes humbling themselves at his feet, gave him the true majesty of the god Gangazara. For who else by a single word could thus command vast armies of tigers and serpents, said some among the people. "Care not for it; it may be by magic. That is not a great thing. That he revived cartloads of corpses shows him to be surely Gangazara," said others.
      "Why should you, my children, thus trouble these poor subjects of Ujjaini? Reply to me, and henceforth desist from your ravages." Thus said the Soothsayer's son, and the following reply came from the king of the tigers: "Why should this base king imprison your honour, believing the mere word of a goldsmith that your honour killed his father? All the hunters told him that his father was carried away by a tiger. I was the messenger of death sent to deal the blow on his neck. I did it, and gave the crown to your honour. The prince makes no inquiry, and at once imprisons your honour. How can we expect justice from such a stupid king as that? Unless he adopt a better standard of justice we will go on with our destruction."
      The king heard, cursed the day on which he believed in the word of a goldsmith, beat his head, tore his hair, wept and wailed for his crime, asked a thousand pardons, and swore to rule in a just way from that day. The serpent-king and tiger-king also promised to observe their oath as long as justice prevailed, and took their leave. The gold-smith fled for his life. He was caught by the soldiers of the king, and was pardoned by the generous Gangazara, whose voice now reigned supreme. All returned to their homes. The king again pressed Gangazara to accept the hand of his daughter. He agreed to do so, not then, but some time afterwards. He wished to go and see his elder brother first, and then to return and marry the princess. The king agreed; and Gangazara left the city that very day on his way home.
      It so happened that unwittingly he took a wrong road, and had to pass near a sea-coast. His elder brother was also on his way up to Benares by that very same route. They met and recognised each other, even at a distance. They flew into each other's arms. Both remained still for a time almost unconscious with joy. The pleasure of Gangazara was so great that he died of joy.
      The elder brother was a devout worshipper of Ganesa. That was a Friday, a day very sacred to that god. The elder brother took the corpse to the nearest Ganesa temple and called upon him. The god came, and asked him what he wanted. "My poor brother is dead and gone; and this is his corpse. Kindly keep it in your charge till I finish worshipping you. If I leave it anywhere else the devils may snatch it away when I am absent worshipping you; after finishing the rites I shall burn him." Thus said the elder brother, and, giving the corpse to the god Ganesa, he went to prepare himself for that deity's ceremonials. Ganesa made over the corpse to his Ganas, asking them to watch over it carefully. But instead of that they devoured it.
      The elder brother, after finishing the puja, demanded his brother's corpse of the god. The god called his Ganas, who came to the front blinking, and fearing the anger of their master. The god was greatly enraged. The elder brother was very angry. When the corpse was not forthcoming he cuttingly remarked, "Is this, after all, the return for my deep belief in you? You are unable even to return my brother's corpse." Ganesa was much ashamed at the remark. So he, by his divine power, gave him a living Gangazara instead of the dead corpse. Thus was the second son of the Soothsayer restored to life.
      The brothers had a long talk about each other's adventures. They both went to Ujjaini, where Gangazara married the princess, and succeeded to the throne of that kingdom. He reigned for a long time, conferring several benefits upon his brother. And so the horoscope was fully fulfilled.

      THE END.

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