Of the Maiden Ssuwarandari
When the Son of the Chan was carrying off Ssidi, as formerly, Ssidi related the following tale:—
“A long while ago, there was in the very centre of a certain kingdom an old pagoda, in which stood the image of Choschim Bodissadoh (a Mongolian idol), formed of clay. Near unto this pagoda stood a small house, in which a beautiful maiden resided with her aged parents. But at the mouth of the river, which ran thereby, dwelt a poor man, who maintained himself by selling fruit, which he carried in an ark upon the river.
“Now it happened once, that as he was returning home he was benighted in the neighbourhood of the pagoda. He listened at the door of the house in which the two old people dwelt, and heard the old woman say unto her husband, ‘We are both grown exceedingly old; could we now but provide for our daughter, it would be well.’
“‘That we have lived so long happily together,’ said the old man, ‘we are indebted to the talisman of our daughter. Let us, however, offer up sacrifice to Bodissadoh, and inquire of him to what condition we shall dedicate our daughter—to the spiritual or to the worldly. To-morrow, at the earliest dawn, we will therefore lay our offering before the Burchan.’
“‘Now know I what to do,’ said the listener; so in the night-time he betook himself to the pagoda, made an opening in the back of the idol, and concealed himself therein. When on the following morning the two old people and the daughter drew nigh and made their offering, the father bowed himself to the earth and spake as follows:—
“‘Deified Bodissadoh! shall this maiden be devoted to a spiritual or worldly life? If she is to be devoted to a worldly life, vouchsafe to point out now or hereafter, in a dream or vision, to whom we shall give her to wife.’
“Then he who was concealed in the image exclaimed, ‘It is better that thy daughter be devoted to a worldly life. Therefore, give her to wife to the first man who presents himself at thy door in the morning.’
“The old people were greatly rejoiced when they heard these words; and they bowed themselves again and again down to the earth, and walked around the idol.
“On the following morning the man stepped out of the idol and knocked at the door of the aged couple. The old woman went out, and when she saw that it was a man, she turned back again, and said to her husband, ‘The words of the Burchan are fulfilled; the man has arrived.’
“‘Give him entrance!’ said the old man. The man came in accordingly, and was welcomed with food and drink; and when they had told him all that the idol had said, he took the maiden with the talisman to wife.
“When he was wandering forth and drew nigh unto his dwelling, he thought unto himself, ‘I have with cunning obtained the daughter of the two old people. Now I will place the maiden in the ark, and conceal the ark in the sand.’
“So he concealed the ark, and went and said unto the people, ‘Though I have ever acted properly, still it has never availed me yet. I will therefore now seek to obtain liberal gifts through my prayers.’ Thus spake he, and after repeating the Zoka-prayers (part of the Calmuc ritual), he obtained food and gifts, and said, ‘To-morrow I will again wander around, repeat the appointed Zoka-prayers, and seek food again.’
“In the meanwhile it happened that the son of the Chan and two of his companions, with bows and arrows in their hands, who were following a tiger, passed by unnoticed, and arrived at the sand-heap of the maiden Ssuwarandari. ‘Let us shoot at that heap!’ cried they. Thus spake they, and shot accordingly, and lost their arrows in the sand. As they were looking after the arrows, they found the ark, opened it, and drew out the maiden with the talisman.
“‘Who art thou, maiden?’ inquired they. ‘I am the daughter of Lu.’ The Chan’s son said, ‘Come with me, and be my wife.’ And the maiden said, ‘I cannot go unless another is placed in the ark instead of me.’ So they all said, ‘Let us put in the tiger.’ And when the tiger was placed in the ark, the Chan’s son took away with him the maiden, and the talisman with her.
“In the meanwhile the beggar ended his prayers; and when he had done so, he thought unto himself, ‘If I take the talisman, slay the maiden, and sell the talisman, of a surety I shall become rich indeed.’ Thus thinking he drew nigh unto the sand-heap, drew forth the ark, carried it home with him, and said unto his wife, who he thought was within the ark, ‘I shall pass this night in repeating the Zoka-prayers.’ He threw off his upper garment. And when he had done so, he lifted off the cover of the ark, and said, ‘Maiden, be not alarmed!’ When he was thus speaking, he beheld the tiger.
“When some persons went into the chamber on the following morning, they found a tiger with his tusks and claws covered with blood, and the body of the beggar torn into pieces.
“And the wife of the Chan gave birth to three sons, and lived in the enjoyment of plenty of all things. But the ministers and the people murmured, and said, ‘It was not well of the Chan that he drew forth his wife out of the earth. Although the wife of the Chan has given birth to the sons of the Chan, still she is but a low-born creature.’ Thus spoke they, and the wife of the Chan received little joy therefrom. ‘I have borne three sons,’ said she, ‘and yet am noways regarded; I will therefore return home to my parents.’
“She left the palace on the night of the full moon, and reached the neighbourhood of her parents at noontide. Where there had formerly been nothing to be seen she saw a multitude of workmen busily employed, and among them a man having authority, who prepared meat and drink for them. ‘Who art thou, maiden?’ inquired this man. ‘I come far from hence,’ replied the wife of the Chan; ‘but my parents formerly resided upon this mountain, and I have come hither to seek them.’
“At these words the young man said, ‘Thou art then their daughter?’ and he received for answer, ‘I am their daughter.’
“‘I am their son,’ said he. ‘I have been told that I had a sister older than myself. Art thou she? Sit thee down, partake of this meat and this drink, and we will then go together unto our parents.’
“When the wife of the Chan arrived at the summit of the mountain, she found in the place where the old pagoda stood a number of splendid buildings, with golden towers full of bells. And the hut of her parents was changed into a lordly mansion. ‘All this,’ said her brother, ‘belongs to us, since you took your departure. Our parents lived here in health and peace.’
“In the palace there were horses and mules, and costly furniture in abundance. The father and mother were seated on rich pillows of silk, and gave their daughter welcome, saying, ‘Thou art still well and happy. That thou hast returned home before we depart from this life is of a surety very good.’
“After various inquiries had been made on both sides, relative to what had transpired during the separation of the parties, the old parents said, ‘Let us make these things known unto the Chan and his ministers.’
“So the Chan and his ministers were loaded with presents, and three nights afterwards they were welcomed with meat and drink of the best. But the Chan said, ‘Ye have spoken falsely, the wife of the Chan had no parents.’ Now the Chan departed with his retinue, and his wife said, ‘I will stop one more night with my parents, and then I will return unto you.’
“On the following morning the wife of the Chan found herself on a hard bed, without pillows or coverlets. ‘What is this?’ exclaimed she; ‘was I not this night with my father and mother—and did I not retire to sleep on a bed of silk?’
“And when she rose up she beheld the ruined hut of her parents. Her father and mother were dead, and their bones mouldered; their heads lay upon a stone. Weeping loudly, she said unto herself, ‘I will now look after the pagoda.’ But she saw nothing but the ruins of the pagoda and of the Burchan. ‘A godly providence,’ exclaimed she, ‘has resuscitated my parents. Now since the Chan and the ministers will be pacified, I will return home again.’
“On her arrival in the kingdom of her husband, the ministers and the people came forth to meet her, and walked around her. ‘This wife of the Chan,’ cried they, ‘is descended from noble parents, has borne noble sons, and is herself welcome, pleasant, and charming.’ Thus speaking, they accompanied the wife of the Chan to the palace.”
“Her merits must have been great.” Thus spake the Son of the Chan.
“Ruler of Destiny, thou hast spoken words! Ssarwala missdood jakzang!” Thus spake Ssidi, and burst from the sack through the air.
Thus Ssidi’s eleventh relation treats of the Maiden Ssuwarandari.
Notes: Contains 13 folktales from the Orient.
Author: Charles John Tibbitts
Publisher: W. W. Gibbings, London