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the_poor_widow.

Folklore of the Santal Parganas by Cecil Henry Bompas.
Age Rating 8 to 10.

Start of Story

Once there was a poor widow who had two children; she lived by daily labour and if she got no work any day, then that day they had to go without food. One morning she went out to look for work and a rich woman called her and asked if she wanted a job; she said "Yes, that is what I am looking for," then the rich woman said "Stay here and pick the lice out of my hair, and I will pay you your usual wages and give you your dinner as well." So the poor widow agreed and spent the day picking out the lice and at evening the rich woman brought out a measure of rice to give her as her wages and, as she was measuring it, she felt her head itch and she put up her hand and scratched and pulled out a large louse.



Then she got very angry and scolded the widow and said that she would pay her nothing as she had not done her work properly and she turned her out. Then the widow was very unhappy for she had nothing to give her starving children and she wished that she had stuck to her usual work. When she got home and her children began to cry for food, she remembered that she had seen some wild _saru_ (vegetable) growing in a certain place; so she took a basket and a sickle and telling her children not to cry went out to gather it. It was dark and lonely and she felt frightened but then she thought of her children and went on and gathered the _saru_, and returned home crying because she had nothing better to give her offspring. On the way she met an old man who asked her why she was crying and she told him all her story. Then he told her to take the herbs home and chop them all up and to put some in every basket and pot she had and to cook the rest for supper. So when she got home she did as she had been directed and when she came to take the herbs which she had cooked out of the pot, she found that they had turned into rice, and she and her children ate it with joy. The next morning she found that every pot and basket into which she had put the herbs was full of rice; and from that time she prospered and bought goats and pigs and cattle and lived happily ever after. But no one knew where the old man came from, as she had forgotten to ask him.



the end

       



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