Bedtime Stories in English - Water Demon And The Rope

 Water Demon And The Rope

In a small village lived a farmer who had a son named Ukum. Once two distant, relatives of the villager, on their way home from a pilgrimage, took shelter in the farmer's house. "Can we pass a day or two here?" asked one of them. "Consider this as your home and be here as long as you like," said the kind-hearted farmer out of courtesy. "Can I take this mat out to spread it on the verandah and relax?" asked the second relative. "Consider everything in this house as yours and use anything you like," said the farmer. It so happened that while the relatives were there, the farmer fell ill. The two relatives, no doubt, served him well and tried to cure him, but the farmer died. After the funeral rites of the farmer were over, the two men told Ukum, "Now that the house and everything in it belong to us, what do you propose to do?" Ukum was an extremely innocent boy. He had heard what his father had told the guests. That is why he could not dispute their claim. But he asked innocently, "Indeed, where do I go? Is there nothing I can take with me?" Ukum was holding in his hand a long rope rolled into a ball that his father had made. "Well, we are not unkind. You can take whatever you have in your hand!" said one of the guests. "And so far as your stay is concerned, why don't you build a hut on the ghoul's tank?" proposed the other man.

Now, the so-called ghoul's tank was a very large tank outside the village. Nobody went near it because it was considered cursed. So many people who had entered it over the years had disappeared. It was believed that the ghoul lived in the tank and he devoured those who dared to touch the water of the tank. "All right," said Ukum and without a word more he left his home and walked over to the tank. He sat down under a tree and thought over the prospect of building a hut. Suddenly he saw a squirrel. He was an expert at preparing traps with rope. He soon caught the squirrel and kept it in a small cage he made with sticks and twigs. Next, he caught a hare and kept it in another cage. Quite close to the tank was a cave. In the cave lived a bear. Ukum toyed the idea of catching the bear but did not dare to attempt it. He occupied a deserted house near the tank and raised a shade on the brink of the water so that he could sit under it and catch fish. The shade's reflection on the water surprised the water demon who lived in the bottom of the tank. It is he who dragged away those who entered the water. He asked his son, a young demon, to find out who built the hut. The young demon surfaced on the water and asked Ukum, "What are you doing?" Ukum was preparing to hurl one end of the rope, with a knot, into the lake and pluck a lily. He said, "You appeared on time. Otherwise, you would have perished. I was going to pull the whole tank with my rope and throw it to the other side of the hill. But I won't do it now if you satisfy me." The young demon disappeared and told his father about the unexpected danger they were about to face

The old demon seriously thought over it and said, "It is not safe to let such a dangerous man live. But unless he touches the water, I cannot kill him. Go and challenge the man to compete with you in climbing the tree. Once he reaches to the top branch, throw him into the tank." The young demon challenged Ukum to climb the tree, saying, "Let us see who can climb to the highest branch!" "I have no zeal for such childish things. But you can play with my youngest brother!" said Ukum. Then he released the squirrel onto the tree. The young demon climbed the tree, but how can he keep pace with the squirrel? The squirrel reached the topmost branch of the tree. Yet, when the young demon tried to throw it into the water by shaking the branch, it clung onto the branch. The young demon plunged into the water and reported this to his father that it was not possible to shake even the stranger's youngest brother off the tree. "Hm!" said the old demon gravely, "Do another thing. Challenge him to a running race around the tank. Suddenly give him a push and throw him into the water!" The young demon went back and proposed the race. But Ukum said, "How do I care to run with you! But if you so wish, you can try your stamina with my younger brother." Ukum then released the hare. The young demon ran with it, but how can he surpass a hare at running? Disappointed, he reached his father in one dive and told him about his failure "Hm," said the demon. "Go and challenge him to wrestle. When he is a bit tired, throw him into the water."  The young demon challenged Ukum to wrestle.

"Wrestling? With a weakling like you? Well, first go and try your might with my brother, immediately younger to me, who lives in the cave yonder," said Ukum. As soon as the young demon entered the cave, the bear caught him in its iron grasp and threw him out after giving him a few terrible shakes. The young demon managed to get up with difficulty and plunged into the tank and reported his humiliation to his father, weeping. The demon now understood that he was really facing a great danger. "Go and ask him what will satisfy him. Better take some of the gold I have," said the demon. Ukum looked at the gold and said, "This much would not do. Bring more." The next time the young demon brought all the gold they had. Happily, Ukum carried them into his hut. That very day the two relatives met him and said, "The villagers are harassing us, saying that we have usurped your house." Suddenly their eyes fell on the heap of gold. "What is this? How did you get this?" they asked. "By the virtue of this rope," said Ukum. "Please take back your house and everything in it, but give us this rope," they proposed. Ukum agreed and returned to his home with all his gold. So far as the relatives are concerned, we do not know what happened to them when they tried to throw the rope into the tank the same as Ukum, since nobody heard of them afterward.

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