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

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The Wily Poor Man

When the man is gone--the woman has no leader--when the rooster is dead the donkey has to bray.
                                 Tibetan Proverb.

ONCE upon a time, in the center of a great wide plain in a mountainous country, was a Hläkäng in which was a statue of Chenrezik, the god with a thousand arms. Near the temple was a small house, and in this house lived two old people who had a daughter whose name was "Ceering Droma," which meant Golden Goddess of Mercy. The parents thought it was about time that the girl should marry, so they said to each other, "To-morrow we will go to the Hläkäng, take some gifts for the god, kotow before him and cast lots as we ask about her marriage."

About a half-day's journey away there lived a poor man who brought up peaches and walnuts to sell. He happened to be near the window and heard these old people talking about going to the temple; so the next day as soon as the doors were open, he slipped in and hid in the great god. The old people came, worshiping the god, and saying, "Great and merciful Chenrezik, we have many things and only one daughter, and as we are very old and may die and leave them, it's for you to tell

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us what is best to do. We leave it all in your hands. Is it better for our daughter to become a nun or to be married? When we lie down to-night to sleep will you speak to us in a dream or will you speak to us here, now? Help us to think aright and know your meaning."

The fellow that was hiding in the god spoke through his nostrils and said, "There will be a man come to you in the morning, you must give her to him."

The old people thought this was very wonderful that the god had really spoken and they could be in no doubt as to what he meant. After they were gone the man slipped out of the temple, and on the next morning early, there he was kneeling at the old people's door. The woman saw him and called to her husband, "Here he is, the god told us he would come." So she led him in, had him sit in the place of honor and put fine food before him. They gave him the daughter for his wife, gave him a handful of turquoise stones and asked him to be very kind to her. He said he would, and took his wife and his peach box and started home. As he neared home he began to think of the lies he had told the old people, saying he was rich and had a fine house and plenty to eat, and he knew there would be nothing to eat at all. So he thought he would go on ahead and see what could be done. He took his box off of his back, put his wife and the turquoises in it and set it down in the sand and covered it all up, then went home and borrowed all the things he could, good food,

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good cushions and rugs. He told his neighbors they must not tell he was poor, because that day he had gotten him a wife and she wasn't to know it. It took him about four or five days to get this done, and all this time his wife sat there in the box in the sand.

One day there were three kings going along the road with their servants, their bows and arrows and a tiger, all out for a good time. They thought they would stop and shoot at the mark. They aimed at the pile of sand, and, ping! the arrow hit the box. They dug the thing out and found the girl and the turquoises all covered up in the sand.

The king said, "Who are you?"

She answered, "I'm the daughter of the king of the lower regions."

The king said, "Will you be my wife?"

She said that she wouldn't mind, only somebody would have to sit in the box. He said that the tiger would do, so they put him in the box and covered it all with sand as she had been covered.

After her husband had fixed his house he stole down to where he had buried his box, dug it out and carried it home on his back. He thought, "This woman will be afraid of me by now. I'll open the box and see if she is ready to be obedient." (He had already told his neighbors that if they heard them fighting a little they needn't come over and interfere.) He fixed the bed ready for his wife, opened the box and the tiger jumped out at him, tore his clothes and nearly frightened him to death. He began to yell for his neighbors

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in a loud voice, but he had shut and locked the outside gate so that his wife couldn't get out if she tried to. His neighbors heard the noise and laughed saying he had just got a wife and they were already fighting. So they waited until the next morning to go over, and when they went in there sat a big tiger with his mouth all covered with blood. As soon as he saw them, he ran away into the forest, and all they could find was a few little bones.

In the meantime the girl had married a king and had much gold and riches. But the people in the kingdom and the head-men of the cities did not approve, and said, "This woman came out of the ground and has no lineage, and this, her son, who will be our king and rule over us, will have no ancestors." When the queen heard this murmuring she thought the best thing she could do was to go back to her father and mother and stay there, but decided to wait till the fifteenth, when the moon was full. So she ran away, and as she neared her home, or where her home used to be, she found in its place a palace, and where the old building had stood there was a great temple covered with golden minarets with bells everywhere, which rang sweetly when the wind blew. There was a man in her father's house, and she asked him whose house this was. He spoke her father's and mother's name, so she went into the house to rest. She found the lower story full of horses, mules and cows, and she knew these people must be very wealthy. When she got into

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the guest room there sat her father and mother on cushions and fine rugs. She bowed down before them and said, "I have come home. I'm so glad you are here and not dead, for all my husband's people say that I have no lineage and am not fit to be the mother of the future king. Now, if only they could come to see you and find out how rich and great you are they might change their minds."

Her father and mother said, "Tell them to come over and see us, if they don't believe you have parents and a rich home."

So they invited the king, who came with fifty of his head-men. They stayed about three days and were treated royally by the old couple, and changed their opinion when they saw her family and their wealth. The king and his men returned, and she said she would stay a few days longer with her father and mother. That night as she lay down to sleep she was cold and couldn't get warm, and as she had always had plenty of rugs and things, she couldn't understand it, and got up to see what was the matter. She was sleeping on the ground and her pillow was a rock, and she found when she got up that she had dreamed all of this, for she found her father and mother were nothing but bones. She had started to run away again, and falling asleep by the wayside dreamed all this about them. So she thought the best thing she could do was to go back to the king.

Next: Forty-Four: The Quarrel of the Five Friends