Fairy Tale For Kids - Clever Governess And The Wicked Hunchback

 Clever Governess And The Wicked Hunchback

The King of Swan Island had a daughter named Indu. She was entrusted to the care of a special governess who was both wise and intelligent. The royal child always spent her time in the garden, learning from her governess all about the various trees and birds she saw there. One day, Indu saw a lizard. Her governess then told her a story about lizards. Prior to the Deluge, the lizards had grown to the size of hills. Mother Earth went to the creator and complained that she could not carry the weight of these lizards. The Creator reduced the size of the lizards. Indu listened to this strange story, caught hold of the lizard, went to her father, and threw it in his lap, out of playfulness. The King who was in deep thought started and then grew angry. The innocent child laughed gleefully, and said, "O father, you are afraid of this tiny lizard. What would you have done if it was a huge one, as in days of old?" "You shall remain unmarried till the lizard grows to your size! That is what I will do!" the King said still angry with the poor child. "Do not say so, sir," the courtiers protested. "She did it out of innocence. You should not take her so seriously." "My word is the law!" the King growled, becoming angrier. The governess came to know of this. She embraced the child and wept, saying, "O my darling, you will never be married."

"Don't weep, auntie!" the child said to her. "The lizard will grow big." "Remember the creator's curse, my dear," the governess said. "It won't grow any larger." So, every day, innocent Indu would pray secretly to the creator, "O Lord! Revoke your curse! Let the lizard grow as big as I!" Maybe, the creator did concede to her request, or this lizard was different from other lizards, for the lizard bean to grow an inch every day until finally, it was the size of a crocodile. The person who was most glad of this was the King himself. One day the minister broached the subject of Indu's marriage to the King and asked him what he intended to do about it. "Take out the heart of the lizard which has been reared by the Princess. The one who will be able to identify the animal to which the heart belonged shall wed the princess. Make this known in all the countries." The lizard was put to death. Its heart was taken out and put into a glass jar. The day of Indu's wedding was decided upon and a proclamation to that effect was sent out everywhere. The governess felt that it was an utterly foolish idea. "The fool has done it again!" she said to herself. "His anger is silly and so is his affection. Now, who on earth can find out that this heart belonged to a lizard. Poor girl, she is not destined for marriage!"

The wedding day drew near. Guests were arriving, every day, from various countries. The governess saw each one of the princes, and said to herself, "Ah, he is not fit to wipe her shoes!" And then the Prince of the Parrot Island arrived. He was like the full moon in the sky, a fine, good-looking, gentle, and cultured boy, born to marry Indu, as it were! She returned to the palace and sent for one of the four hunchbacks that were among the palace servants. "Listen carefully, you!" she said to the hunchback when he came. "The selection of the Prince consort will take place tomorrow. The suitors will be shown the heart inside the glass jar and the one who will guess correctly which animal the heart belonged to will wed the Princess. Now, I want you to go to the guest house tonight, meet the Prince of the Parrot Island alone, and inform him that the heart in the jar belonged to a lizard. After you carry out this job I shall give you a handsome present. If, on the contrary, you inform this secret to anyone else you will lose your head!" The hunchback nodded his head, but he neither went to the guest house that night nor did he meet the Prince of the Parrot Island. The hunchback wanted to make better use of the secret which was entrusted to him and to marry the Princess himself. So, instead of going to the guest house, he went home and slept peacefully. The next day, all the guests were invited to the palace.

To them, the King said, "See this heart. The one who can find out the animal to which this heart belonged shall not only marry my daughter, but he shall have half my kingdom." The guests began to guess at random. They exhausted the list of animals. But none mentioned any creature smaller than a dog, though some mentioned creatures as big as an elephant. After everyone had his turn, the hunchback stepped forward, and asked the King, "My lord, will I get the Princess and half the kingdom if I can guess the animal to which this heart belonged. "My word is irrevocable!" said the King boastfully. "Go ahead." "That thing there is the heart of a lizard!" said the hunchback triumphantly. There was a loud peal of laughter from the people assembled there. "He is right!" the King announced solemnly. "It is the heart of a lizard. As I said, my word is irrevocable. The hunchback shall marry my daughter." 

At once the hunchback was taken away and decorated and dressed for a bridegroom. Then followed a magnificent feast, with entertainments. The other three hunchbacks, who were also servants in the palace, entertained the guests with their antics. Then they approached their lucky comrade and said to him, "We rejoice in your luck, friend. Now that you are going to marry the princess and become the King, give us good gifts!" At this the bridegroom got wild. He got up from his seat at the table, kicked the erstwhile companions, and shouted, "Getaway, you hunchbacked devils!" The Princess who witnessed this pitied the poor fellows, and whispered into her maid's ear, "Take those three fellows to my chamber. I shall go there presently and give them gifts." Soon the feast was over and the Princess went upstairs to her chamber where the hunchbacks were awaiting her. Indu locked the door and began to empty her boxes in order to find some suitable gifts for them. As she was engaged thus, there was a knock at the door.

"Who is it?" she asked. In reply, she heard the voices of her father and the bridegroom. Indu had to hide the hunchbacks. She signed to them to get into her boxes, closed the lids over them, and locked the boxes. Then she went to open the door. The King and the hunchback stepped inside. They stayed there for a long while. The King told her at length how their family had been renowned for its truthfulness, how right it was for a daughter to obey her father without question, and how dutiful a woman should be to her husband whoever he be. He then went on to mention that quite a few crowned heads were hunchbacks. He went on lecturing her till sunset, then he departed with the bridegroom in order to inspect the wedding preparations. The wedding itself was to take place at midnight. Princess Indu closed the door behind them and unlocked her boxes only to find the three hunchbacks dead from suffocation. She sent for her governess and told her everything. The governess went out of the palace and found a strong limbed woodcutter. "My man," she said to him, "I shall give you ten gold coins if you can pick up a sack at the palace, carry it to the sea, and dump it into it. After you finish the job you will get twenty more." Thirty gold coins was a large amount to the woodcutter, so he readily agreed.

The governess returned to the palace with the woodcutter. In the Princess' chamber, he was shown a sack. He put it on his head and went to the sea. Having thrown it in the water, he came back for the rest of the amount. What was his surprise when he saw the sack again in the same place! "This sack is tricky," the governess said to the woodcutter. "See how it fooled you to come back. Be careful so that it will not fool you again." This time the woodcutter went far out into the sea before he dumped the sack into it. And yet, he found the sack where it was when he came back. The woodcutter was mad with anger. The third time he took the sack to the sea, he did not throw it away as before. He opened the sack and found the dead hunchback in it. "You think you can fool me by pretending to be dead, eh?" said the woodcutter. He cut up the hunchback with his hand axe and threw the bits into the water. He took the empty sack and came back to the palace. As he came on to the staircase that led up to the chamber of the Princess he saw another person going up the steps ahead of him. It was the hunchbacked bridegroom. "Burn me, if he hasn't fooled me again!" the woodcutter exclaimed. He rushed up the stairs, caught hold of the bridegroom, and strangled him to death with his powerful hands. Then he pushed him into the sack, took it away, and burned the thing to ashes.

He scattered the ashes in the sea and came back very late in the night. "Madam," he said to the governess, "what a job I had getting rid of that sack!" "Why are you so late?" she asked him. "Madam," replied the woodcutter, "the hunchback fooled me thrice. The fourth time I saw him again coming up the stairs. Dressed like a bridegroom he was too! I got tired of him and burnt him to ashes and threw the ashes in the sea!" When they heard what the woodcutter said, both the governess and the Princess were beside themselves with joy. They gave him a full sack of coins. The woodcutter bowed to them thankfully and departed. It was nearly midnight and the King was wondering what had happened to the bridegroom, when the governess went to him and said, "Sir, an unfortunate thing happened. The bridegroom was coming up the staircase when he slipped, fell, broke his neck, and died I wanted to avoid commotion, so I got him cremated secretly. I submit to Your Highness that the wedding need not be canceled because of this mishap. For, among our guests, there is the Prince of the Parrot Island who will make an admirable match for our dear Indu!" The King took the tip and married his daughter Indu to the Prince. No one was sorry for this mysterious change of bridegrooms and the wedding was a great success.  

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