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Raja Harichand’s Punishment
by [?]

So they wandered on; and as they went the Rání remembered an oil merchant, called Gangá Télí, a friend of theirs, and a great man, just like a Rájá. “Let us go to Gangá Télí, if we can walk as far as his house,” she said. “He will be good to us.” He lived a long way off. When they got to him, Gangá Télí knew them at once. “What has happened?” he said. “You were a great Rájá; why are you and the Rání so poor and dressed like fakírs?” “It is God’s will,” they answered. Gangá Télí did not think it worth while to notice them much now they were poor; so, though he did not send them away, he gave them a wretched room to live in, a wretched bed to lie on, and such bad food to eat that, hungry as they were, they could not touch it. “When we were rich,” they said to each other, “and came to stay with Gangá Télí, he received us like friends; he gave us beautiful rooms to live in, beautiful beds to lie on, and delicious food to eat. We cannot stay here.”

So they went away very sorrowful, and wandered for a whole week, and all the time they had no food, till they came to another country whose Rájá, Rájá Bhoj, was one of their friends. Rájá Bhoj received them very kindly. “What has brought you to this state? How is it you are so poor?” he said. “What has happened to you?” “It is God’s will,” they answered. Rájá Bhoj gave them a beautiful room to live in, and told his servants to cook for them the very nicest dinner they could. This the servants did, and they brought the dinner into Rájá Harichand’s room, and set it before him and left him. Then he and the Rání put some of the food on their plates; but before they could eat anything, the food both in the dishes and on their plates became full of maggots. So they could not eat it. They felt greatly humbled. However, they said nothing, but worshipped God; and they buried all the food in a hole they dug in the floor of their room.

Now the daughter of Rájá Bhoj had left her gold necklace hanging on the wall of the room in which were Rájá Harichand and the Rání Báhan. At night when Rájá Harichand was asleep, the Rání saw a crack come in the wall and the necklace go of itself into the crack; then the wall joined together as before. She at once woke her husband, and told him what she had seen. “We had better go away quickly,” she said. “The necklace will not be found to-morrow, and Rájá Bhoj will think we are thieves. It will be useless breaking the wall open to find it.” The Rájá got up at once, and they set out again. Rájá Bhoj, when the necklace was not found, thought Rájá Harichand and the Rání Báhan had stolen it.

They wandered on till they came to a country belonging to another friend, called Rájá Nal, but they were ashamed to go to his palace. The three weeks were now nearly over, only two more days were left. So the Rání said, “In two days we shall be able to eat. Go into the jungle and cut grass, and sell it in the bazar. We shall thus get a few pice and be able to buy a little food.” The Rájá went out to the jungle, but he had to break and pull up the grass with his hands. He worked half the day, and then sold the grass in the bazar for a few pice. They were able to buy food, and worshipped God and cooked it; and as the three weeks were now over they were allowed to eat it.

They stayed in Rájá Nal’s country, and lived in a little house they hired in the bazar. Rájá Harichand went out every day to the jungle for grass, which he pulled up or broke off with his hands, and then sold in the bazar for a few pice. The Rání saved a pice or two whenever she could, and at the end of two years they were rich enough to buy a hook such as grass-cutters use. The Rájá could now cut more grass, and soon the Rání was able to buy some pretty-coloured silks in the bazar.