The Younger Brother - Mallie
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Legends of Ceylon
0NCE upon a time there lived a villager and his wife, who had two sons and a daughter.
The elder son was sent to school and his parents thought a lot of him; while the younger son was neglected and received no instruction.
One day the villager called his elder son to him and said:
" You have been many years at school ; can you read this letter to me?"
But his son could not read the letter, for he had neglected his lessons and spent allhis time in play.
The younger son, however, who had never been sent to school, but who had taught himself with the help of his brother's books and slate, with very little difficulty read the letter to his father.
The letter was from a kind fairy, warning them that a dreadful monster intended to steal away their little daughter.
You may be sure that after this, they took the greatest care of ManikÚ, as the villager's beautiful daughter was called. In spite of all their care, however, ManikÚ was stolen away one dark night by the dreadful monster. And her parents were inconsolable.
One day the elder brother went to his mother and said:
"Mother, make me a hamper of rice-cakes, and let me go in search of my sister."
And off he went with the hamper when ready.
Now, after he had trudged for some miles he came upon a great stone placed at the crossing of four roads. On the stone was written the names of the places to, which the four roads led, and near to the stone was an Ambalam or Rest-house, and by it a cool *chatty of clear water, at which weary travellers could quench their thirst. *chatty - Earthen vessel.
The villager's son entered the Ambalam, and, opening his hamper, ate the rice-cakes his mother had made, quenched his thirst at the chatty of clear water, and laid himself down to sleep.
It was morning before he awoke, and, admitting to himself that his search had been in vain, he journeyed homewards.
He had gone but a little way when he met his younger brother.
" Hello he exclaimed, " whither away ?
" Why? In search of our sister, of course," his brother replied.
" And do you expect to find her when I have failed? " the elder brother demanded.
" I'll not return home without ManikÚ," said the younger brother, and in anger they parted, and went their different ways.
It was not long before the younger brother came to the four cross roads, and read the inscription cut into the great stone that lay there.
"The road on your immediate right," so ran the inscription, "leads through the three kingdoms of the three wise Kings to the abode of the most wicked and dreadful of monsters the fairy world has ever known."
" My elder brother could not have seen this," thought the younger brother, and he lost no time in taking that road.
It led him through dense forests into the kingdoms of the three wise Kings.
The three wise Kings were brothers, and loved one another dearly.
They each in turn asked the traveller whither he was bound, and learning on what a kind but dangerous mission he was bent, and that a brave heart was about all he took with him to help on his way, they promised to reward him if he met with success, by giving him a beautiful Princess, and an elephant loaded with wealth and jewels, which would keep him rich to the end of his days.
Thanking the three wise Kings for their kindness, the villager's son continued his way.
At last he came upon a great stone building in which a beautiful girl sat weeping alone.
And as he came nearer he recognized her, for she was ManikÚ, his darling sister.
At first she was overjoyed at seeing him, but presently she trembled at the thought of the wicked monster's return. She felt so sure that the monster would kill her brother and eat him up, that she just begged and implored of her brother to go away.
This her brother pretended to do; but he really hid himself just outside the stone room in which his sister sat.
And while he lay hidden the dreadful monster returned, and, sniffing about his stone house, he accused ManikÚ of having some one hidden somewhere.
" I smell human flesh," he said, "and I am hungry."
He tramped about the place searching here and there, and fussing and furning, while ManikÚ busied herself preparing a meal for him.
" Bah! " he said, " do you think rice cakes will satisfy me when I've smelt human flesh ? "
" I shall not rest to-night till I get what I want, and if I don't find it here I shall go out in search of it."
" Are you not frightened of the poisonous snakes, of all the creeping things and of the wild beasts outside ? " asked ManikÚ. Won't you wait till the morning dawns ? "
" Ha! Ha! Ha! " laughed the dreadful monster, "you don't know that I have a charmed life. Nothing can possibly harm me as long as my spirit lies hidden in the kernel of a fruit which grows on the top of an *uga-rassÚ tree, by the shores of the Indigo Sea." *Uga-rassÚ Throat Sweet. A small plum coloured fruit, containing four stones. Not unlike a plum in taste.
"Crocodiles guard the tree night and day, and it bears just that one fruit. Were mortal to pluck the fruit and throw it into the sea that moment my life would end, but not till then."
This was good news to ManikÚ's brother hiding outside.
Quick as a thought he rushed away, till he came to the Indigo Sea.
There he found the uga rassÚ tree, and only a few baby crocodiles guarding it.
Their mother had gone in search of food for them, and would soon return.
The villager's son lost no time in climbing the thorny tree, which pricked him as he climbed, but up he had to go, for the fruit grew at the very top.
At last he reached and plucked the fruit, and placing it safely in his belt, down he slowly climbed.
When he reached the bottom he ran down to the sea shore, and, standing on a rock, he threw the fruit far into the sea. . . .
On his return he found ManikÚ trying to revive the dreadful monster, who had fallen in a heap on the doorstep of his stone house.
He was dead, of course, and when they had buried him in a great pit they found near by, they left the great stone house, which was really only a huge cave converted by the dreadful monster into a monster dwelling house, and journeyed back to their own dear home.
On the way back they had to pass through the kingdorns of the three wise Kings.
And what a procession they made. There were the hree beautiful Princesses, the elephants loaded with riches of all kinds, and there were the Princesses' maids and servant men.
As they neared home their parents heard the tinkling of the elephants' bells long before news reached them that the procession was bringing their own dear children home.
Ah ! how happy they were that day ! Now, while the younger brother had been searching for his sister, the elder brother had spent his time in digging a great pit. He was far from pleased that his brother had succeeded where he had failed.
" Come and see what I have done," he said. " Brave and successful as you have been, I doubt you could have done as much."
So they all went to the mouth of the pit, the old villager, his wife, their daughter, their sons, and the three beautiful Princesses. And. while they looked into the deep pit, which seemed as if it had no bottom to it, the elder brother pushed the younger brother in.
There he lay dead at the bottom of the pit, smashed and bruised, with all his bones broken.
But listen! The daughters of the three wise Kings knew three wonderful secrets.
One could lift at will any weight from any depth, by shutting her eyes and wishing three times.
The second could mend broken bones and heal all bruises by just clapping her hands and wishing three times.
The third knew the most wonderful secret of all. She knew how to give life to anyone who had once possessed it, by placing a kiss lightly on the eyes and lips of the person and wishing with each kiss.
So the three beautiful Princesses, daughters of the three wise Kings, brought the younger brother out of the pit, healed him and gave him life.
And the youngest Princess married him.
The elder brother was sorry for what'he had done, so he was forgiven, and they all lived happily ever after.
||Aline van Dort |
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