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Tibetan Folk Tales, by A.L. Shelton, [1925], at

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Story of the Prince's Friend

A man without jewels in the mountain has no need to fear the robbers.
                                 Tibetan Proverb.

AWAY, away up in the mountains was a village, and in the village lived a very wise king and his only son. Near by flowed a river; up above was a big pond from which came the water that irrigated their fields, and above the pond, in a crevice from which flowed the water, lived two big frogs, who belonged to the lower regions. To these frogs, every year, some person had to be sacrificed or the supply of water was cut off by them as they sat in the crevice, through which the supply came. Each family in turn had paid its tax of a child, until now it was the turn of the king to furnish the yearly sacrifice. So the old king began to think and wonder which had better go--he or his son--each one thinking he should be the one. The father said, "I'm an old man, and if I go and get eaten up it doesn't matter, for I wouldn't live much longer anyway. So, my son, when I'm gone you must be a good ruler and govern the people wisely."

The prince said to his father, "This will never

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do; you are a good king to these people and you can get another wife and have more sons, so don't say any more about it, for I'm going."

One morning he started for the place. All the people went with him a little way and felt very bad to see him leave them and his father. After a while all of them returned home except one friend of his childhood, who still went on with him, crying and grieving. The prince now turned to him and said, "You must go back and be a good son to your father and care for him when he is old." But his friend replied, "When I was a child and poor you cared for me, fed me and clothed me, now you must not go and let those frogs eat you up. I'll go in your place."

The prince would hear of no such plan, however, and as his friend refused to return, they both went on together and arrived at the mouth of the gorge where they saw one green frog and one yellow frog sitting together talking. The yellow one said to the green one, "Here comes the prince and his friend, and if they are wise they would take a clod and kill us, then they would have all the water they needed, and whenever they wished they could vomit gold and jewels. But they don't understand frog talk, so they don't know what we are saying." But the king's son did understand, for in those days all kings and their sons understood what the animals said. So he told his friend and they each got a club, killed and ate the frogs, and plenty of water came through the crevices.

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"Well," the friend said, "now these frogs are eaten and out of the way, let's go home."

But the prince said, "No, it would be better if we go to a far country, as the people think we are eaten by those frogs, and if we return now, they will think we are ghosts and fear us exceedingly."

So they crossed the mountain and went down on the other side, where they came to a wine shop kept by a woman and her daughter, and went in.

"Bring out your wine," they said, "we wish to buy some. How much do you ask for it?" When brought they vomited a few jewels which they gave as pay for it.

The two women, when they saw how they got their money for the wine, said, "Drink some more, drink some more," thinking that if they got them real drunk they would throw up a lot of gold. They were soon very sick sure enough and threw up gold and jewels all over the room, and the woman and the girl got more than enough to make them wealthy.

When they began to sober up, they feared they had thrown up a lot of jewels, but were a bit ashamed to ask about it, as they weren't sure what they had done.

So they went on, coming to a big plain where a lot of children were playing. They were quarreling over something, each claiming it to be his. The travelers asked what they were quarreling about and the children replied, "We found a hat and whoever puts it on can't be seen, for he turns into a ghost, and we all want it."

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The prince's friend said, "You needn't quarrel over that; you children all go down there and race up here to me; the one who gets to me first may have the hat. I will hold it."

Soon they came racing back, but the man put the hat on his head and when they arrived they could not find him or the hat, though they searched everywhere and finally had to go home without it. When they were gone the man removed the hat and put it in his bosom. He and the prince then went on and came to a place where a lot of monkeys were quarreling, and when they asked what they were fussing about, they answered: "We found a pair of boots, and whoever puts them on has only to wish where he wants to go and he will be there at once, so we all want them."

The prince's friend said, "Well, don't quarrel; give them to me and you all go and run a race, and the one who wins can have them. In the meantime, I'll hold the boots."

As soon as they were gone he jerked the hat out of his gown, put it on his head, and when they got back he wasn't to be seen. They hunted every place, but could not find him, and finally went away without their boots.

Then the prince and his friend put on a boot each, and the prince wished to find a place where the king was dead, where they wanted a new ruler; and they both went to sleep. Next morning they awakened to find themselves in the midst of a great hollow tree, and around it was a crowd of men who that day were to choose a new king.

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While they stood there they prayed that the god of the sky would throw down a tsamba torma from the clouds and hit whoever was to be the king. So down it came, but instead of hitting any of them it hit the big tree. "This won't do at all," they said, "we haven't any such custom as having a tree for a king." But an old man was there who said, "Let's see if some one isn't in the tree." They looked and found the prince and his friend inside. But the people were not at all pleased.

"This will not do at all," they said, "we don't know these men, we don't know their fathers and mothers and they are probably bad men. We won't have them now, but to-morrow we will have another test and whoever can vomit the most valuable things, he shall be king."

The next day one drank a lot of milk and threw up white every place he went, another ate some-thing green and threw up green, and others different things. The prince vomited gold and said, "You see, I am to be king." The friend of the prince vomited jewels, and said, "You see, I am to be the prime minister." So they were made king and prime minister of the country.

The prince found a beautiful girl, whom he took to be his queen. Now the prince had two houses, one very high on the mountains and another in the city, and every day the queen went up to this high house for a little while, but he did not know she went there. However, his friend did, and wondered and wondered why she went up to that house every day. "Somebody or something

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must be in there that she wants to see," he thought. So he put on his magic hat and went along behind her when she started for the mountain. She went in through an open door, up a flight of stairs, through another door, and up another flight, and so on for five stories, until she reached the top of the house, which was beautifully fixed with rugs and hangings. She took off her everyday clothes and bathed and perfumed and gowned herself in silks and satins and lit incense. The prince's friend was sitting by, in-visible of course! After two or three hours a beautiful bird flew down from heaven. The queen lighted a piece of incense and went before the bird with it, as it had perched itself on a rock near her on the top of the house. It really was the son of a god, disguised as a bird, with only feathers or bird's clothing on the outside. She fixed food for him, and he stepped out of his bird gown, and as he held her hands he said to her, "Your husband was chosen by the gods to be the king; is he a good or a bad ruler?"

The queen answered, "I'm very young, and whether he is good or bad I'm unable to say."

Then they said good-by and she asked him to come again to-morrow morning. So he flew away in his bird gown and she donned her everyday clothes and went back to the palace.

Next morning it was the same thing, the minister of the king accompanying her, invisible again.

The god said to her, "I'm coming to-morrow in

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the king's palace as a bird and see for myself whether the king is good and wise and whether or not he is handsome."

Next day, before the queen came, the prime minister told the king all about his lady, that she went to this high house on the mountain every day to meet the son of a god, and that he had put on his invisible hat and gone along and had seen them, while they could not see him, and he knew all about it.

"So to-morrow," he said, "you make a big fire of charcoal on a 'hopan' and take a sword and kill him."

They were all sitting around a big fire next morning, the king, the prime minister and the court, when the bird came hopping up the stairs into the midst of them. The minister had on his hat and couldn't be seen; he grabbed the bird by the tail, threw some fire on him and the king took his big sword to kill him, when the queen caught his arm and would not allow him to do it. The fire burned the bird on the back and wings a bit and he flew very quietly into heaven again. The next day the queen went again to the high castle, and dressed once more in her beautiful clothes, and again the minister went. She waited a long time and felt dreadfully sad about the whole affair, but that day the bird did not come. One day after this he came flying down very slowly, for he was covered with burns and felt very ill. The queen took his hand and cried over him.

"You need not cry," he said, "the king is a very

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good and handsome man, but it is very queer he should throw fire all over me. I am very sick these days with all these burns and can not fly very well, and will only come once a month to see you, not every day." And he flew slowly away.

The queen went back to her king and began to love him better, because the son of the god came only once a month to see her.

The prime minister one day put on his magic hat and his boots and wished himself back where he had drunk wine in the inn with the woman and her daughter. On the way he passed the door of a small lamasery and slipped up and looked in, where he saw two old men, caretakers of the place, drawing a donkey on a piece of paper; as they turned the paper over one of the men turned into a donkey, got up and rolled over and ran all over the lamasery, braying in a dreadful manner. It seemed that the drawing turned one way, changed the man into a donkey, and turned over, changed him back into a man. When the old man was tired of his queer piece of paper and the tricks it did, he rolled it up and put it behind the big idol. The prince's friend, who had his magic hat on so that the old priest could not see him, slipped in and stole the paper, then went on to the wine shop and said, "I want to pay you for the wine you gave us; here is five tenths of an ounce of silver, and I will give you a paper, which, if you turn it over, it will bring you plenty of gold." They said they would be very glad to have it if they could get hold of wealth that easily. So he gave them the

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paper, and as soon as they turned it over, they both turned into donkeys. Then he led them to the king who used them to carry wood and dirt to fix his houses, and they were half starved and were very bad off indeed. After working and carrying for three years they were very ill and their backs were terribly sore.

One day the king saw them with the tears rolling down their faces, and he asked, "What is the matter with these donkeys; why are they crying? Turn them out and don't make them work so hard;" but the minister had the paper and turned them back by turning the paper over and they returned to their homes. Then he told the king he had punished them for the way they had been treated so long ago.

Next: Twenty-Four: How the Raven Saved the Hunter