Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/224

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194 King Midas ajid his Ass's Ears.

and then returned to Gilgit." A couple of Chili trees spring from the hole, and a shepherd cuts a branch to make a flute. This repeats the fatal words, and the Ra himself, to his perplexity and sorrow, hears the news. He questions the servant, who can give no answer till he traces the wood out of which the flute was made. He tells the story to the great amusement of the Ra, and thus saves his life.^s

In the version recorded by myself from the lips of a jungle man in Mirzapur, the Raja has two horns growing from his forehead, a secret known only to his barber. He feels compelled to disclose it, and whispers it into a tamarind-tree. The tree is blown down in a storm, and the Raja gives the wood to his musician to make a drum, which, when beaten, says, — " There are horns on the head of the Raja." When the Raja hears this he dismisses the musician ; but, when he beats it himself, the result is the same. He reflects, — " If I dash the drum on the ground and smash it to pieces, some greater trouble may befall me. It is better that I should become a Fakir." So he starts on his wanderings. One day, as he sits under a tree, he hears two thieves quarrelling over the division of some plunder which they had gained- When they go their way, servants appear who spread carpets, and they are followed by a number of fairies who ask the Raja to play his drum for them while they dance. This gratifies the fairies, who, when the dance is over, ask the Raja who he is and how he got the horns. When they hear his story they lift the horns from his head and fix one on the head of each of the thieves, who are forthwith turned into Rakshasas or demons. The story ends with the moral, — " Never confide a secret to a person who wins your confidence by flattery." ^•*

^*Ghulam Muhammad, Festivals and Folklore of Gilgit, in Mctnoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. i. (1905), No. vii., pp. 113 et seq. "^^ North Indian Notes and Queries, vol. iii. , p. 104.