Friday, May 25, 2007

The Two Faithful Servants

There lived a sweetmeat seller in a village. She was a widow, and had only one son, who was known as lazybones, for he did no work at all. One day as lazybones sat at home, doing nothing while his mother was at the market, he saw a man leading a dog and a cat by a string. "What are you going to do with the two animals? asked lazybones from the window.
"Going to drown them in the river, " replied the stranger.
"Why would you be so cruel?" asked lazybones.
"I am the king's cook," explained the stranger, " and these two rascals came into the kitchen and ate up the king's breakfast."
"Please sell them to me, " begged lazybones. "I will promise to see that they do not come to your kitchen again."
"What will you give me?" asked the stranger.
Now the old widow was so poor that the only thing of value in her house was a basket of rice. " A basket of rice, " said lazybones. The man took away the rice, leaving the dog and the cat. When the old widow came back and learn t that the basket of rice had been given away in exchange for the animals, she said with tears, "Oh, lazybones, lazybones, you will not work, yet you have given away the little spare rice that we had." Lazybones felt so sorry for his mother that he promised to look for work the next day.

That night the cat said to the dog. "Friend, lazybones saved us from death, and we must save him from work in return."
"Agreed," replied the dog, "but how shall we do it?"
The cat explained that in the middle of the sea there lived a prince in a golden palace, and he had a wishing-ruby. " If only we could get that ruby and give it to our master lazybones, " said the cat.
"Jump on my back," said the dog, "and we will go and get the ruby."
So with the car on his back, the dog swam to the place in the middle of the sea. The dog and the cat stole up the palace stairs. "Keep guard on these stairs, " instructed the cat, " while I search the prince's bed-chamber for the ruby."
The cat entered the chamber of the sleeping prince, and searched high and low, but could not find the ruby. However, he found a mouse. "Sure, Cat," pleaded the mouse, "do not kill me, but let me go. I will help you to find anything you want in this room."
"I want the wishing-ruby," replied the cat.
"I will get it for you, " promised the mouse, " for I know that the prince keeps it in his mouth." When the cat set him free, the mouse climbed on to the sleeping prince, and tickled the prince's nose with his tail. The prince gave a loud sneeze, and the ruby was thrown out of the mouth. The cat seized it, and ran to the waiting dog, who swam back to the shore with the cat on his back. They then went to their master, lazybones, and after waking him, gave the ring to him saying, "Master, there is no need for you to find work in the morning."
When morning came, lazybones said to his mother, "Mother, do not worry any more, for I am going to marry the king's daughter."
The mother said, "lazybones, don't be silly."
"Mother, "said lazybones, "please go to the palace, and ask for the hand of the princess in marriage for me." The mother refused at first, but lazybones told her about the ruby and assured her that all would be well. The mother went to the king, and asked for the hand of the princess for her son.
"What cay your son do?" asked the king.
"He can do everything," replied the proud mother.
"All right, " said the king. "Ask your son to build a bridge of gold and a bridge of silver from your house to my palace. If he can do that, he gets my daughter, but if he cannot do that, I will burn him and you alive. Mind you, woman, the bridges must be finished tomorrow at sunrise." Of course that was an easy thing for lazybones, and the next morning at sunrise, he gave a rub to his ruby and wished for the bridges to be ready.
The king at that moment looked out of his window, and saw the gleaming bridges. "My daughter is a lucky woman, " said the king to himself. So lazybones married the princess, and became the crown prince. He and his Princess lived in a gold house, his mother in another gold house, and the dog and the cat were given a little gold house of their own.
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This story was taken from the book Burmese Folk-tales by Maung Htin Aung

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