Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/51

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The Voice of the Stone of Destiny. 39

Siberia, the ruler of the town has grown old, and is desirous of retiring. He has a bird which is let fly and chooses a woman. She is immediately accepted as prince and in- stalled in the place of the old man.^ In a Kurdish vi'drchen a special bird called " the bird of dominion " is fetched, it is not said whence, for the purpose of the divination.'"'

An animal of some kind is, in fact, the agent in most of these tales. A Buddhist tale from Cambodia tells us that, the royal family having become extinct, it was the custom to ask the royal family of another kingdom to furnish a king. The council of mandarins determined to take this course. Under the advice of an old astrologer horses were harnessed to the carriage — we must under- stand, no doubt, the royal carriage — and then allowed to go in any direction they pleased, without a driver. This is described as consulting the horses. The first day the horses re-entered the palace. The next day they drew the carriage in the direction of a neighbouring kingdom. Twice, thrice the carriage was turned back ; but the horses persisted in drawing it again in the same direction. It was accordingly decided to demand a prince from that kingdom."

In the East, however, as might be expected^ it is usually the royal animal, the elephant, which thus confers the kingdom. I have already cited one great collection of Indian tales. There is another, only second to the Jdtaka in extent, the Kathd Sarit Sdgara, or Ocean of the Streams of Story, translated a few years ago by Dr. Tawney. It contains a mdrchen, perhaps derived from that older and more famous collection, the Panchatantra, of a man who retired with his wife to the forest, to practise austerities.

• Ibid., vol. iv. (1872), p. 143.

^ Prym und Socin, Kitrdische Sammlungen, Erste Abteil. (St. Petersburg, 1887); iibersetz., p. 143.

^ Leclere, Cambodge, Contes et Legendes (Paris, 1895), p. 16. "Tousceux qui etaient presents a ce conseil . . deciderent qu'on consulterait immediate- ment les chevaux."