Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Magic Fiddle


The Magic Fiddle [Hindu Tales Retold]

The Magic Fiddle [Hindu Tales Retold]

IN India there once lived a sister and seven brothers. The brothers were all married, and their wives were older and stronger than the sister, but nevertheless this one poor little girl had all the cooking, cleaning, and serving to do for all seven brothers and all their seven wives as well. 

Even this would not have been so hard to endure if they had been kind to her. But her brothers cared nothing for her, for she was only a girl; and her brothers' wives hated her all the more, because she worked so hard for them and yet never complained. 

" Why cannot the stupid thing say something, at least, w r hen I slap her?" cried the oldest wife. 

“Isn't it vexing," sighed the second wife, "to have to endure such patience? I am fairly sick from it." 

Then the third wife, the big, fat one, burst into tears, and sobbed, "You don't know what I suffer at her hands! Why, just this morning, when I pinched her for letting my rice get cold, all she could do was to smile and say, 'I am so sorry.' Why, you have no idea how nervous I am getting from such things."

So one and all decided that they really could not stand her any more, and would have to find some way to get rid of her before they all became ill because of her and her ways. 

"Couldn't we push her into the well?" asked wife number four. 

“Better put a cobra into her bed, to bite her," said the fifth wife. 

"No, that wouldn't do, for it might bite us," said number six. 

Then little number seven, with the big, big eyes, squealed, "Oh, I know! I know what to do! We must set the Bonga on her."

The Magic Fiddle [Hindu Tales Retold]

"Oh, yes, the Bonga!" they all cried.

 Then someone said, "Ssh! Ssh!" and all else was spoken in whispers. 

That noon when the little sister went to the well to draw water it dried up before her eyes. "Oh, what evil thing have I done, that the water should dry up before my eyes?" she cried. 

No sooner had she said this than the water slowly began to rise again. When it had risen to her ankles she tried to fill her pitcher, but it would not go under the water. 

Then she cried to her brothers, "Oh, my brothers, the water rises to my ankles; still, my brothers, the pitcher will not fill!" 

The water continued to rise until it was even with her knees, when she began to wail again, "Oh, my brothers, the water rises to my knees; still, my brothers, the pitcher will not fill!" 

The water continued to rise, and when it reached her neck she cried, "Oh, my brothers, the water rises to my neck; still, my brothers, the pitcher will not fill!" 

The water kept on rising and rising and rising, until it was over her head, and then she called again, "Oh, my brothers, the water measures a man's height; now, my brothers, the pitcher begins to fill." 

The pitcher filled with water and sank, and with it sank the little sister, and was drowned. Then the Bonga changed her into a Bonga like himself, and carried her off. 

A tall bamboo growing near a spring now became her home. The bamboo grew and grew, until it was much larger than any of the others around the spring. A Yogi saw it, and said to himself, "I'll cut down that huge bamboo and make a fine fiddle of it." 

So he started to cut it with his ax, close to the root, but the bamboo called out, 'Don't cut me at the root! Cut higher up!" 

The Magic Fiddle [Hindu Tales Retold]

He started to cut the bamboo near the top, but the top cried out, "Don't cut me near the top! Cut lower down!" 

Again he tried to cut near the root, but the root cried out, "Don't cut me near the root! Cut higher!" 

At that the Yogi became angry and cut the tree down near the root and made a fine fiddle out of it. It was a wonderful fiddle, and when any one played on it all who heard the music said, 'That sounds just like a girl singing!" and all who heard it longed to hear it again. 

The Yogi went from village to village playing, and everywhere people came in crowds to hear the wonderful fiddle that sounded just like a girl singing. They came to hear it once, and they came to hear it twice, gladly paying any price the fiddler asked, for the music was sweet to their ears.

At last the Yogi became very rich, and very vain, for he thought the people gave so much money to hear his playing instead of the singing voice. In fact, it made him angry to see how much the people loved the wonderful fiddle, and he became most unkind to it, though it, alone, had made his fortune. 

One evening he was playing before the palace of a Prince. The music became sadder and more beautiful than usual, and the singing voice in the fiddle seemed to say, "O Prince, save me from this unkind Yogi!" 

Of course no one but the Prince heard and understood the words, but he at once knew that the fiddle must be a magic one so he called the Yogi into the palace. 

The Magic Fiddle [Hindu Tales Retold]

"What makes this wonderful music, friend Yogi?" asked the Prince. "Is it the cunning of your hand, or is there some magic in the fiddle?” 

The Yogi bowed very low, and answered, 'I hate to admit it, dear Prince, but I must say that the wonderful music is all in my hand. This fiddle is really a very poor affair, and it takes great skill to make any music sound sweet upon it." 

"You are very sure of that?" asked the Prince. 

"Most noble Prince, take from me all that I own if I am not telling you the truth. Really, the fiddle is scarcely worth carrying about at all, but I've nothing better." 

The Magic Fiddle [Hindu Tales Retold]

"Then, my most wonderful Yogi, let me present you with my finest fiddle. What music we shall now hear! But just leave the old fiddle here with me, since it is so poor a one." 

"O best of Princes, how kind you are! But I really couldn't part with that old fiddle, even if it is so worthless, I have carried it so long and am so used to it. I'll take both." 

Just then the Prince heard, very plainly, a soft, sweet song coming from the fiddle. No one was touching the strings, but the song was sweet- ness itself, and seemed to say, "Oh, save me, save me, kind Prince!"

So he said to the Yogi, "If the music is really in your hand, as you say it is, then you are better off with the fine new fiddle I have given you. If, as I believe, you are lying to me, and the music is really in this magic fiddle which you so despise, then I have the right to take anything of yours that I wish, for you just said that I might if you lied to me. Whatever you do, and wherever you go, this old fiddle will stay here with me." 

The Magic Fiddle [Hindu Tales Retold]

The Yogi turned and ran away as fast as he could, taking, of course, the new fiddle, but he never again earned any money by playing, for now no one cared to hear him. 

The Prince took the magic fiddle to his own chamber and stood it in a safe place. In the morning, when he awakened, he found a bowl of steaming rice beside his bed. It was really the best rice he ever had tasted, but he wondered how it came there. That evening, when he returned, there sat another bowl of rice, and also a large dish of sweetmeats. "Someone certainly is my friend," he thought, "but who can it be?" 

The Magic Fiddle [Hindu Tales Retold]

In the morning, when he found his breakfast all ready for him and steaming hot, he determined to watch and see who was so kind to him. He watched and listened all day, but nothing happened until the sun was beginning to sink. Then he heard a soft rustling near him. The top of the fiddle lifted, and out slipped a beautiful girl. She quickly cooked rice and prepared sweetmeats, set them under the head of his bed, and was just slipping back into the fiddle again when he sprang out and caught her. 

"Now you won't have to live in that fiddle any longer and be a Bonga. You shall be my Princess," he said. 

Then how glad she was! 'T was worth being drowned and then living in a bamboo and finally in a fiddle, to have, at last, so kind a husband and so beautiful a home.

The Magic Fiddle [Hindu Tales Retold]