Young Folks' Treasury: Myths and Legendary Heroes HTML version

There was in a certain village, a certain Brahman named Harisarman. He was poor and
foolish and unhappy for want of employment, and he had very many children. He
wandered about begging with his family, and at last he reached a certain city, and entered
the service of a rich householder called Sthuladatta. His sons became keepers of
Sthuladatta's cows and other property, and his wife a servant to him, and he himself lived
near his house, performing the duty of an attendant. One day there was a feast on account
of the marriage of the daughter of Sthuladatta, largely attended by many friends of the
bridegroom and merry-makers. Harisarman hoped that he would be able to fill himself up
to the throat with oil and flesh and other dainties, and get the same for his family, in the
house of his patron. While he was anxiously expecting to be fed, no one thought of him.
Then he was distressed at getting nothing to eat, and he said to his wife at night: "It is
owing to my poverty and stupidity that I am treated with such disrespect here; so I will
pretend by means of an artifice to possess a knowledge of magic, so that I may become
an object of respect to this Sthuladatta; so, when you get an opportunity, tell him that I
possess magical knowledge." He said this to her, and after turning the matter over in his
mind, while people were asleep he took away from the house of Sthuladatta a horse on
which his master's son-in-law rode. He placed it in concealment at some distance, and in
the morning the friends of the bridegroom could not find the horse, though they searched
in every direction. Then, while Sthuladatta was distressed at the evil omen, and searching
for the thieves who had carried off the horse, the wife of Harisarman came and said to
him: "My husband is a wise man, skilled in astrology and magical [pg 104] sciences; he can get
the horse back for you—why do you not ask him?" When Sthuladatta heard that, he
called Harisarman, who said, "Yesterday I was forgotten, but to-day, now the horse is
stolen, I am called to mind;" and Sthuladatta then propitiated the Brahman with these
words: "I forgot you, forgive me," and asked him to tell him who had taken away their
horse. Then Harisarman drew all kinds of pretended diagrams, and said: "The horse has
been placed by thieves on the boundary line south from this place. It is concealed there,
and before it is carried off to a distance, as it will be at close of day, go quickly and bring
it." When they heard that, many men ran and brought the horse quickly, praising the
discernment of Harisarman. Then Harisarman was honored by all men as a sage, and
dwelt there in happiness, honored by Sthuladatta.
Now, as days went on, much treasure, both of gold and jewels, had been stolen by a thief
from the palace of the King. As the thief was not known, the King quickly summoned
Harisarman on account of his reputation for knowledge of magic. And he, when
summoned, tried to gain time, and said: "I will tell you to-morrow," and then he was
placed in a chamber by the King and carefully guarded. And he was sad because he had
pretended to have knowledge. Now, in that palace there was a maid named Jihva (which
means Tongue), who, with the assistance of her brother, had stolen that treasure from the
interior of the palace. She, being alarmed at Harisarman's knowledge, went at night and
applied her ear to the door of that chamber in order to find out what he was about. And
Harisarman, who was alone inside, was at that very moment blaming his own tongue, that
had made a vain assumption of knowledge. He said: "Oh, tongue, what is this that you