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The Upright King
by [?]

There was a great Mahárájá whose name was Harchand Rájá, and he had an only son called Mánikchand. He was very rich and had a great deal of money, and he also had a very large garden full of lovely flowers and fruits which he prized greatly. Every morning before he bathed he used to give some poor fakír two pounds and a half of gold. Now Harchand Mahárájá used to pray a great deal to God, and God was very fond of him, so he said one day, “To see if Harchand Mahárájá really loves me, I will make him very poor for twelve years.” And at night God came down in the shape of a great boar, and ate up everything that was in Harchand Mahárájá’s garden. The boar then ran away into the jungle. Next morning the gardener got up and looked out into the garden, and what was his astonishment when he saw it was all spoilt. Nothing was left in it; it was not a garden any more. He went quickly to the Mahárájá and said, “Oh, master! oh, Mahárájá! your garden is quite spoilt. Last night a boar came and ate up everything in it.” “Nonsense,” said the Mahárájá, who would not believe him. “It is quite true,” said the gardener; “you can come and see for yourself.” So the Rájá got up at once and put on his clothes, and went into the garden, and found it all empty. He went back to the house very melancholy. Then as usual he gave a fakír his two pounds and a half of gold. After breakfast he went out hunting. The boar which had run away into the wood changed himself into a very old fakír, who shook from old age. As Harchand Mahárájá passed, the old fakír held out his hand, saying, “Please give me a few pice, I am so poor and hungry.” The Mahárájá said, “Come to my palace and I will give you two pounds and a half of gold.” “Oh, no,” said the fakír, “surely you would never give me so much as that.” “Yes, I will,” said the Mahárájá. “Every morning before I bathe I give a fakír two pounds and a half of gold.” “Nonsense,” said the fakír, “you don’t give away your money in that way.” “Really, I do,” said the Mahárájá, “and I promise to give you two pounds and a half of gold.” So the fakír followed Harchand Mahárájá home, and when they reached the palace, the Mahárájá told his treasurer to give the old fakír two pounds and a half of gold. The treasurer went into the treasury, but all the Mahárájá’s gold and silver and jewels had become charcoal! The treasurer came out again to the Mahárájá saying, “Oh, Mahárájá, all your gold and silver and jewels are turned into charcoal!” “Oh, nonsense,” said the Mahárájá. “Come and see, Mahárájá,” said the treasurer, who was in a great fright. The Mahárájá went into his treasury, and was quite sad at the sight of the charcoal. “Alas!” he said, “God has made me very poor, but still I must give this fakír his money.” So he went to the fakír and said, “All my gold and silver and jewels are turned into charcoal; but I will sell my wife, and my boy, and myself, and then I will give you the money I promised you.” And he went and fetched his wife and son, and left his palace, his houses, servants, and possessions.

He then went to a merchant, who bought from him his Mahárání, who was called Hírálí, that is, the diamond lady, for she was very beautiful, and her face shone like a diamond. Her hands were very small, and so were her feet. The merchant gave the Mahárájá a pound of gold for the Mahárání. Next, Harchand Mahárájá went to a cowherd and sold him his son Mánikchand. The cowherd gave him for the boy half a pound of gold. Then he went to a dom, that is, a man of a very low caste, who kept a tank into which it was his business to throw the bodies of those who died. If it was a dead man or woman, the dom took one rupee, if it was a dead child he was only paid eight annas. To this dom Harchand sold himself for a pound of gold, and he gave the two pounds and a half of gold to the fakír, who then went home. The dom said, “Will you stay by the tank for a few days while I go home and do my other work, which is weaving baskets? If any one brings you a dead body you must throw it into the water. If it is the body of a man or woman, take one rupee in payment; if it is a dead child, take eight annas; and if the bearers have got no money, take a bit of cloth. Don’t forget.” And the dom went away, leaving Harchand sitting by the tank.