The Panchatantra (Purnabhadra's Recension of 1199 CE)/Book 3/The Snake in the Prince's Belly

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In a certain city dwelt a king whose name was Godlike. He had a son who wasted daily in every limb because of a snake that used his belly as a home instead of an ant-hill. So the prince became dejected and went to another country. In a city of that country he begged alms, spending his time in a great temple.

Now in that city was a king named Gift, who had two daughters in early womanhood. One of these bowed daily at her father's feet with the greeting: "Victory, O King," while the other said: "Your deserts, O King."

At this the king grew angry, and said: "See, counselors. This young lady speaks malevolently. Give her to some foreigner. Let her have her own deserts." To this the counselors agreed, and gave the princess, with very few maid-servants, to the prince who made his home in the temple.

And she was delighted, accepted her husband like a god, and went with him to a far country. There by the edge of a tank in a distant city she left the prince to look after the house while she went with her maids to buy butter, oil, salt, rice, and other supplies. When her shopping was done, she returned and found the prince with his head resting on an ant-hill. And from his mouth issued the head of a hooded snake, taking the air. Likewise another snake crawled from the ant-hill, also to take the air.

When these two saw each other, their eyes grew red with anger, and the ant-hill snake said: "You villain! How can you torment in this way a prince who is so perfectly handsome?" And the snake in the prince's mouth said: "Villain yourself! How can you bemire those two pots full of gold?" In this fashion each laid bare the other's weakness.

Then the ant-hill snake continued: "You villain! Doesn't anybody know the simple remedy of drinking black mustard and so destroying you?" And the belly-snake retorted: "And doesn't anybody know the simple way to destroy you, by pouring in hot water?"

Now the princess, hiding behind a branch, overheard their conversation, and did just as they suggested. So she made her husband sound and well, and acquired vast wealth. When she returned to her own country, she was highly honored by father, mother, and relatives, and lived happily. For she had her deserts.

"And that is why I say:

Be quick with mutual defense, . . . .

and the rest of it."

Now Foe-Crusher, having heard their advice, agreed. But Red-Eye, perceiving that the matter was decided, continued his remarks with a quiet sneer: "Alas! Alas! Our lord the king has been wickedly done to death by you gentlemen. For the proverb says:

Where honor is withheld or paid
Mistakenly, 'tis clear
Three things have unrestricted course:
Famine, and death, and fear.

And again:

It argues utter want of sense
To pardon obvious offense:
The carpenter upon his head
Took wife and him who fouled his bed."

"How was that?" asked the counselors, and Red-Eye told the story of