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The Upright King
by [?]

Well, Harchand Mahárájá sat for some days by the tank, and when any one brought him dead bodies he threw them into it. For a dead man or woman he took one rupee, for a dead child eight annas, and if the bearers had no money to give him, he took some cloth. Some time had passed, and Mánikchand, the Mahárájá’s son, died; so Hírálí Rání went to the cowherd to ask him for her dead child. The cowherd gave him to her, and she took him to the tank. Harchand Mahárájá was sitting by the tank, and when Hírálí Mahárání saw him she said, “I know that man is my husband, so he will not take any money for throwing his child into the water.” So she went up to him and said, “Will you throw this child into the tank for me?” “Yes, I will,” said Harchand Mahárájá; “only first give me eight annas.” “You surely won’t take any money for throwing your own son into the tank?” said the Mahárání. “You must pay me,” said Harchand Mahárájá, “for I must obey the dom’s orders. If you have no money, give me a piece of cloth.” So the Mahárání tore off a great piece of her sárí and gave it him, and the Mahárájá took his son and threw him into the tank. As he threw him in he cried out to the king of the fishes, who was an alligator, “Take great care of this body.” The king of fishes said, “I will.” Then the Mahárání went back to the merchant.

And the Mahárájá caught a fish, and cooked it, and laid it by the tank, saying, “I will go and bathe and then I will eat it.” So he took off his clothes and went into the tank to bathe, and when he had bathed he put on fresh clothes, and as he took hold of his fish to eat it, it slipped back alive into the water, although it had been dead and cooked. The Mahárájá sat down by the tank again, very sad. He said, “For twelve years I have found it hard to get anything to eat; how long will God keep me without food?” God was very pleased with Harchand for being so patient, for he had never complained.

Some days later God came down to earth in the shape of a man, and with him he took an angel to be his Wazír. The Wazír said to God, “Come this way and let us see who it is sitting by the tank.” “No,” said God, “I am too tired, I can go no further.” “Do come,” said the Wazír; “I want so much to go.” God said, “Well, let us go.” Then they walked on till they came to the place where Harchand Mahárájá was sitting, and God said to him, “Would you like to have your wife, and your son, and your kingdom back again?” “Yes, I should,” said the Mahárájá; “but how can I get them?” “Tell me truly,” said God, “would you like to have your kingdom back again?” “Indeed I should,” said the Mahárájá. Then Mánikchand’s body, which had never sunk to the bottom of the tank like the other bodies, but had always floated on the water, rose up out of the water, and Mánikchand was alive once more. The father and son embraced each other. “Now,” said God, “let us go to the dom.” Harchand Mahárájá agreed, and they went to the dom and asked him how much he would take for Harchand Mahárájá. The dom said, “I gave one pound of gold for him, and I will take two pounds.” So they paid down the two pounds of gold. Then they went to the merchant and said to him, “How much will you take for Hírálí Rání?” The merchant said, “I gave a pound of gold for her; I will take four pounds.” So they paid down the four pounds of gold, took Hírálí Rání, and went to the cowherd. “How much will you take for Mánikchand?” said they to him. “I gave half a pound of gold for him,” answered the cowherd; “I will take one pound.” So they paid down the pound of gold, and Harchand Mahárájá went home to his palace, taking with him Hírálí Rání and Mánikchand, after thanking the strange man for his goodness to them. When they reached the palace, the garden was in splendid beauty; the charcoal was turned back into gold, and silver, and jewels; the servants were in waiting as usual, and they went into the palace and lived happily for evermore.