Bedtime Stories in English - Soothsayer By Chance

 Soothsayer By Chance

In the olden days, there were two friends named Bhum and Goom. They would not do any useful work, but they never harmed anybody. In fact, they were good-natured boys, but without any aim in life. "Come, let us go on a journey across the country," one-day Bhum proposed. Goom agreed. They walked a whole day and by late in the evening, felt quite tired. They sat down under a roadside tree and looked vacantly in all directions. Their eyes fell on a bull that had got loose and was grazing on someone's vegetable garden. "Hey Goom, let us do one good thing in life. Let us save the vegetables from the bull," said Bhum. "That is a good idea," said Goom. Both led the bull to a lonely place and tied it to a guava tree. Then they walked into the village and sought shelter in an inn. In the evening they heard a commotion. The village landlord's favorite bull was missing. Several people had gathered in front of the inn and were discussing it. Bhum came near them and said in a whisper, "Why don't you consult a good soothsayer?" "We don't have any soothsayer in this part of the land," said the landlord.

Bhum laughed. "You have one, at least temporarily. He is my master. Goom, just now taking rest inside the inn," he informed them. The landlord felt encouraged. He requested Goom to tell him about his missing bull. Goom drew some lines on the floor, muttered some abracadabra, and gravely said, "Go west, Near a pond, there is a vegetable garden. A furlong away to its east, you will find a crooked guava tree. The bull can be found there." A number of villagers ran to the spot and discovered the bull. The landlord was deeply impressed. He paid them a handsome reward. "Gentlemen, kindly do not propose to pay me anything for my hospitality. I am lucky to have guests like you," said the innkeeper. Then he informed them that a gold casket of his had been stolen a week ago, Would they care to trace it? "Now it is right. We will surely find it out for you in the morning. The sun always helps us in our occult practice," said Goom. The innkeeper treated the two guests to a very special dinner. The two friends retired into their room. "Now what?" asked Goom in despair. "We must escape long before it is dawn!" said Bhum with a sigh. "Destiny is responsible for all this!" commented Goom. Suddenly a young servant of the innkeeper burst into their room and fell at Goom's feet. "My name is Destiny. You are right. I stole the casket. It is lying buried behind the inn under the tamarind tree. Once my master knows that I am the thief, he will thrash my skin off me!" said the young man whose name happened to be Destiny.

"Hm!" said Goom. "One who would take to stealing should have a thicker skin which cannot be taken off easily. Of course, we knew that the casket was lying under the tamarind tree. We will restore it to your master. But we will not expose you provided you promise never to steal again." "I promise!" said the servant. The two friends asked him to leave them. They looked at each other with great satisfaction. "Bhum, we have done another good deed. We have made the chap give up stealing," said Goom. "Right," Bhum agreed. The casket was found in the morning. The innkeeper was so happy that he would not let his guests depart! Meanwhile, every villager was heard singing the glory of Goom and Bhum. Now, the king's minister was passing through the village. He heard about the gifted young men and met them. "Our king is facing a problem. Please come to the capital. I am sure, you can help him out of his difficulty," he said. Before they had put forth an apology, the minister had pushed them into his spacious carriage. On their arrival in the capital, they learned what the king's problem was. The king was a great believer in astrology and he patronized a number of astrologers. He had a wealthy friend who was a ship owner and who visited the kingdom once every year, sailing from the island of Java. The shipowner had sent an iron trunk, securely locked, to the king. He had challenged the king to find out what it contained, through the help of his astrologers.

If he succeeded, the shipowner will give away his ship, with all the merchandise it contained, to the king. If the king failed, the kingdom should become the ship owner's property. The astrologers had been unable to say what the trunk contained. Consequently, they had all been imprisoned. Now it was for Goom and Bhum to prove their knowledge! "We will try at sunrise, tomorrow, Your Majesty," they told the king. "Very well. But if you fail, you will go the way of the astrologers. And before I lose my kingdom, all of you shall lose your heads!" said the king, sulking under humiliation. The two friends escaped from the royal guest house at midnight. "Where to go? In the morning the king's horsemen will catch us in whatever direction we go!" said Goom. "Right. We are not safe on the land. Let us enter the sea and find shelter in one of the ships about to leave the shore," proposed Bhum. The two friends entered the water and advanced towards a ship that was nearby. They overheard some conversation. A little girl was asking, "Grandpa, what does the trunk really contain?" "Go to sleep, little one, let us see whether the king succeeds in finding it out!" said the affectionate voice of an elderly man. "Grandpa, unless you tell me, I will keep on pestering you, I will not go to sleep," insisted the child. "Very well, but keep it a secret. It contains a brass box. The brass box contains a silver box. That contains a gold box. Inside that is to be found a bottle of perfume," replied the elderly man.

Bhum and Goom returned to their guest house. In the morning, in the royal court packed to capacity, they announced their finding. The shipowner looked surprised. The box was opened and what Goom and Bhum had said was found to be correct. The king got the ship, but he made a gift of it to Goom and Bhum. Then he requested them to remain in his court as his court soothsayers. "Your Majesty!" said Goom, "I am sorry to inform you that we have forfeited our occult knowledge. It had been said that the day we solve the king's problem, our life's mission would be accomplished!" "I see! You have made a sacrifice for me!" said the king. "What reward do you expect for that?" "Your Majesty, let the ship be restored to its owner and let the astrologers who are rotting in jail be set free!" said Goom. "I see, you are extremely good-natured boys!" exclaimed the king. He heaped a fortune on them. The shipowner did not lag behind. He too gave them a lot of money. "Now we must live decently and be really useful to the society," Bhum whispered to Goom when both set out for their village, with a cartload of gifts following them.

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