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Tale of Spring and Summer

2006-07-13 23:25

  Once upon a time, there was a king who had two Queens. The elder Queen was wicked and very jealous of the younger Queen. The younger Queen had two healthy little boys whereas her three sons were thin and sickly. She fed them all sorts of food but they remained as thin as ever.

  One day, the king had gone hunting. He was gone for several days. The elder Queen said to the younger, “Come Sister, let me comb your hair.” As she ran her fingers through the younger Queen's hair, she pressed a tiny gold pin into her skull. At once the younger Queen became a long-tailed parrot, which flew away screeching.

  The elder Queen now declared that she had caught a skin infection, which could be cured only by soaking in the blood of the two young princes. The king was away and who could oppose her? The two boys were sent for execution.

  Now, it so happened that the younger Queen had been very kind to the executioner, so he could not bear to kill her sons. He dressed the two boys in rags and told them to run away. Then he killed a rabbit and collected its blood in a pan. This he took to the elder Queen along with the boy's clothes. The Queen was delighted that her rival and her sons would pose no problem.

  The two boys whose names were Spring and Summer wandered about in the forest. Summer felt weak with thirst and fell down. Spring consoled him saying, “Brother, wait here. I will fetch some water for you.”

  Spring ran through the forest till he came to a clear blue lake. Delighting he took a drink of water and then started to collect water for his brother.

  Now, it so happened that the king of a nearby kingdom had died and there was no one to his place. The council of Ministers released the royal elephant saying they would crown whosoever the elephant will pick onto his back.

  The royal elephant raced through streets, gardens, orchards and fields. Finally it came to the forest. As soon as it saw Spring at the lake it lifted him onto its back. Trumpeting gleefully, it went back to its kingdom carrying the weeping boy who was now crowned king.

  Summer was so tired that he fell asleep. A wise old sage was passing by. He was charmed by the handsome young boy and took him along to his hermitage.

  Thus Spring became a king and ruled wisely. Summer grew up as a hermit boy and learnt all the wisdom in the ancient texts from his foster father.

  What happened to the younger Queen who became a parrot? She flew over seven kingdoms till she reached a land where lived a Princess. The Princess kept her as a pet.

  One day the parrot sang to the Princess, “O Princess, who will you marry?”

  “You tell me lovely parrot, who should I marry?”

  “You should marry the Prince who can bring the shining jewel from the white elephant's head.”

  “Where lives the white elephant?”

  “In the sea of honey.”

  At once messengers were dispatched to many, many kingdoms. They beat a drum and announced that their Princess would marry the Prince who could fetch the jewel from the elephant's head at the sea of honey.

  Many Princes set off to win the jewel. When they came to the sea of honey, they were afraid for the waves were huge and of sticky brown honey. Those who tried to swim in the sea drowned instantly.

  When king Spring heard of the death of so many Princes, he was very angry. He attacked the Princess's kingdom and made her a prisoner.

  The old sage in the forest called Summer and said, “The time has come for you to venture into the world. Take these royal clothes and this golden trident. Go to the sea of honey and fetch the jewel from the elephant's head. Then go to the kingdom of the Princess with a parrot.”

  Summer put on the rich clothes and looked just like a king. Bowing to the sage, he went on his way. He was not at all afraid when he saw the sea of honey. He struck the water with his trident and lo! The water parted and there was the white elephant with the jewel on his head.

  Riding the elephant, Summer reached the kingdom of the princess. He struck a huge gong at the castle gates. At once, king Spring came to see who was calling the Princess. The two brothers recognized each other. How happy they were! Embracing each other, they wept tears of joy.

  King Spring now married Summer to the Princess. One day, the princess was stroking the parrot's head when her fingers touched the little gold pin. She drew it out and the parrot transformed into the younger Queen.

  Now the mother was together with her sons, each of whom was ruling a kingdom. They lived together happily even after.

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