Then the king went back to the sissoo tree, put the goblin on his shoulder, and started. And the goblin spoke to him again: “O King, why do you go to such pains in this cemetery at night? Do you not see the home of the ghosts, full of dreadful creatures, terrible in the night, wrapped in darkness as in smoke? Why do you work so hard and grow weary for the sake of that monk? Well, to amuse the journey, listen to a puzzle which I will tell you.”
The Four Scientific Suitors. To which should the girl be given?
In the Avanti country is a city built by the gods at the beginning of time, adorned with wonderful wealth and opportunities for enjoyment. In the earliest age it was called Lotus City, then Pleasure City,
One day the king went with her to the sacred Ganges river and prayed to Shiva that he might have children. And after long prayer he heard a voice from heaven, for Shiva was at last pleased with his devotion: “O King, there shall be born to you a brave son to continue your dynasty, and a daughter more beautiful than the nymphs of heaven.”
When he heard the heavenly voice, the king was delighted at the fulfilment of his wishes, and went back to his city with the queen. And first Queen Lotus bore a son called Brave, and then a daughter named Grace who put the god of love to shame.
When the girl grew up, the king sought for a suitable husband for her, and invited all the neighbouring princes by letter, but not one of them seemed good enough for her. So the king tenderly said to his daughter: “My dear, I do not see a husband worthy of you, so I will summon all the kings hither, and you shall choose.” But the princess said: “My dear father, such a choice would be very embarrassing. I would rather not. Just marry me to any good-looking young man, who understands a single science from beginning to end. I wish nothing more nor less than that.”
Now while the king was looking for such a husband, four brave, good-looking, scientific men from the south heard of the matter and came to him. And when they had been hospitably received, each explained his own science to the king.
The first said: “I am a working-man, and my name is Five-cloth. I make five splendid suits of clothes a day. One I give to some god and one to a Brahman. One I wear myself, and one I shall give to my wife when I have one. The fifth I sell, to buy food and things. This is my science. Pray give me Grace.”
The second said: “I am a farmer, and my name is Linguist. I understand the cries of all beasts and birds. Pray give me the princess.”
The third said: “I am a strong-armed soldier, and my name is Swordsman. I have no rival on earth in the science of swordsmanship. O King, pray give me your daughter.”
The fourth said: “O King, I am a Brahman, and my name is Life. I possess a wonderful science. For if dead creatures are brought to me, I can quickly restore them to life. Let your daughter find a husband in a man who has such heroic skill.”
When they had spoken, and the king had seen that they all had wonderful garments and personal beauty, he and his daughter swung in doubt.
When the goblin had told this story, he said to the king: “Remember the curse I mentioned, and tell me to which of them the girl should be given.”
And the king said to the goblin: “Sir, you are merely trying to gain time by making me break silence. There is no puzzle about that. How could a warrior’s daughter be given to a working-man, a weaver? Or to a farmer, either? And as to his knowledge of the speech of beasts and birds, of what practical use is it? And what good is a Brahman who neglects his own affairs and turns magician, despising real courage? Of course she should be given to the warrior Swordsman who had some manhood with his science.”
When the goblin heard this, he escaped by magic from the king’s shoulder, and disappeared. And the king followed him as before. Discouragement never enters the brave heart of a resolute man.