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Raja Harichand’s Punishment
by [?]

Her husband went daily to cut grass, and she sat at home making head-collars with the silks for horses. Four years after they had bought the hook, she had four of these head-collars ready, and she took them up to Rájá Nal’s palace to sell. It was the first time she had gone there, for she and her husband were ashamed to see Rájá Nal. Their fakírs’ dresses had become rags, and they had only been able to get wretched common clothes in their place, for they were miserably poor.

“What beautiful head-collars these are!” said Rájá Nal’s coachmen and grooms; and they took them to show to their Rájá. As soon as he saw them he said, “Where did you get these head-collars? Who is it that wishes to sell them?” for he knew that only one woman could make such head-collars, and that woman was the Rání Báhan. “A very poor woman brought them here just now,” they answered. “Bring her to me,” said Rájá Nal. So the servants brought him Rání Báhan, and when she saw the Rájá she burst into tears. “What has brought you to this state? Why are you so poor?” said Rájá Nal. “It is God’s will,” she answered. “Where is your husband?” he asked. “He is cutting grass in the jungle,” she said. Rájá Nal called his servants and said, “Go into the jungle, and there you will see a man cutting grass. Bring him to me.” When Rájá Harichand saw Rájá Nal’s servants coming to him, he was very much frightened; but the servants took him and brought him to the palace. As soon as Rájá Nal saw his old friend, he seized his hands, and burst out crying. “Rájá,” he said, “what has brought you to this state?” “It is God’s will,” said Rájá Harichand.

Rájá Nal was very good to them. He gave them a palace to live in, and servants to wait on them; beautiful clothes to wear, and good food to eat. He went with them to the palace to see that everything was as it should be for them. “To-day,” he said to the Rání, “I shall dine with your husband, and you must give me a dinner cooked just as you used to cook one for me when I went to see you in your own country.” “Good, I will give it you,” said the Rání; but she was quite frightened, for she thought, “The Rájá is so kind, and everything is so comfortable for us, that I am sure something dreadful will happen.” However, she prepared the dinner, and told the servants how to cook it and serve it; but first she worshipped God, and entreated him to have mercy on her and her husband. The dinner was very good, and nothing evil happened to any one. They lived in the palace Rájá Nal gave them for four and a half years.

Meanwhile the farmers in Rájá Harichand’s country had all these years gone on ploughing and turning up the land, although not a drop of rain had fallen all that time, and the earth was hard and dry. Now just when the Rájá and Rání had lived in Rájá Nal’s palace for four and a half years Mahádeo was walking through Rájá Harichand’s country. He saw the farmers digging up the ground, and said, “What is the good of your digging and turning up the ground? Not a drop of rain is going to fall.” “No,” said the farmers, “but if we did not go on ploughing and digging, we should forget how to do our work.” They did not know they were talking to Mahádeo, for he looked like a man. “That is true,” said Mahádeo, and he thought, “The farmers speak the truth; and if I go on neglecting to blow on my horn, I shall forget how to blow on it at all.” So he took his deer’s horn, which was just like those some yogís use, and blew on it. Now when Rájá Harichand had chosen the twelve years’ famine, God had said, “Rain shall not fall on Rájá Harichand’s country till Mahádeo blows his horn in it.” Mahádeo had quite forgotten this decree; so he blew on his horn, although only ten and a half years’ famine had gone by. The moment he blew, down came the rain, and the whole country at once became as it had been before the famine began; and moreover, the moment it rained, everything in Rájá Harichand’s palace became what it was before the angels entered it. All the men and women came to life again; so did all the animals; and the gold and silver were no longer charcoal, but once more gold and silver. God was not angry with Mahádeo for forgetting that he said the famine should last for twelve years, and that the rain should fall when Mahádeo blew on his horn in Rájá Harichand’s country. “If it pleased Mahádeo to blow on his horn,” said God, “it does not matter that eighteen months of famine were still to last.” As soon as they heard the rain had fallen, all the ryots who had gone to other countries on account of the famine returned to Rájá Harichand’s country.