A Strange Request

One day a king was shooting in a jungle, when he came across a, faqir.

“Salam ! ” said he. “Can I do anything for you ? ”

“No, thank you,” replied the faqir. ” Can I do anything for you ?”

“Yes,” said the king. “I want a wife exactly like myself in appearance and height.”

“Alas ! ” said the faqir, “you have asked a hard thing; nevertheless I can do it for you. But be warned; the woman will prove unfaithful.”

“Never mind,” said His Majesty. “If you can grant me this request, please do so.”

On this the faqir arose, and flourishing an axe, clave the king’s head in two, and then buried the body.

“God,” cried he, “hear my prayer, and cause the king to appear again and a woman exactly like him in height and appearance.”

The prayer was heard. The king rose again, and after him a woman like him.

In a little while His Majesty had a special palace built for his new wife in the jungle, and went to live with her there as often as he could. But, alas! The woman proved faithless, as the faqir had said. One day, when the king was absent, she noticed one of the wazirs passing by.

He was a young and handsome fellow, and the woman immediately fell in love with him. She beckoned to him to come to her, and he went. In this way they often met, and became very much attached to one another. One morning they were nearly discovered. The king happened to reach the place when everybody thought he was far away. Therefore they decided to arrange so as to preclude every possibility of discovery. Their plan was to contract with a potter called Kital to dig a subterranean passage from the city to the palace, in order that the wazir might come and go just as he liked. This was done privately, and for a time all went well. At length, however, their wickedness was found out.

The wazir prepared a great feast, and invited the king to grace the company with his presence. The king accepted, and went. The woman also was present, but in disguise. However, His Majesty recognized her.

“Is it a dream ? ” thought he. “No, it is she. I will make a little mark on her clothes, whereby I shall be able to tell on my return whether I am deceived or not.”

So presently he just touched the corner of her wrap with a little turmeric, and then passed on as if nothing had happened. On reaching his palace at night he found the woman there waiting for him, and the stain was on her wrap.

“Adulteress ! ” he cried, and drew his sword; and with one stroke he severed her head from her body.

On the following morning he resigned his throne and became a faqir.

~ Folk Tales of Kashmir, Trubner & Co. Ludgate Hill, 1888.


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