Fairy tales for kids - Haunted Field

 Haunted Field

The prince of an ancient kingdom was going through the forest in disguise to check his people's issues. All of a sudden he fell into a deep pit, which was the residence of a demon. The demon angered by the prince rose to kill him. But the prince raised his sword fearlessly to fight. The demon was surprised by the bravery of the prince and spoke, "O Brave Prince! I will release you on one condition. You must answer my question, if not you will be killed." The prince agreed to it. The demon started telling a story. In a certain village, there was a very wealthy landlord who had extensive fields. But he died childlessly, and his relations divided up his lands among themselves. Among the fields which had belonged to the deceased gentleman, there was one which had lain fallow for ages and ages. It was called the haunted field.

Several peasants tried to cultivate it but they all utterly failed in their efforts. When anyone entered the field with a plough and a pair of oxen, the animals soon got terrified and scampered away. Some devils dwelt in the field and scared everyone who tried to cultivate it. When the landlord's estate was divided up no one knew what to do with the haunted field. No one would have it. At last, the relations thought of a destitute girl who was distantly related to the deceased. This girl, who was not yet married, lived all by herself in a shaggy hut, earning her livelihood by spinning and growing a few vegetables. "Let poor Grace have the field," the relations said. "It will help her to find a husband. After all, she has to be given a share, you know!" The idea was unanimously accepted. One of the relations was asked to convey this glad news to her. Now, Grace was already betrothed to a young man who was as poor as herself. With the intention of earning money, he had gone to foreign places and he returned that very day. Victor was his name. When Victor stepped into her hut, Grace was busy spinning. She was very glad to see him again. He lifted a heavy bundle from his shoulder and set it on the floor. He showed her all the money and gold he had brought, and said, "Grace, we have enough to start a life together. I can work very hard and we shall have enough for ourselves as well as the children that would be coming." 

Grace agreed to become his wife. At that very moment, the relation came there, saying, "Very lucky girl you are, Grace. We have allotted to you a portion of the old man's estate. It is the big field at the foot of the hills. Only, it has to be brought under the plough!" Hearing this Grace burst into tears. She knew that they had taken all good fields and left the haunted field to her. Victor was surprised to see her in tears. When she told him about the haunted field, he said, "Don't fret, my dear! I am not going to be scared of devils. I am going to cultivate it. See if I don't !" He spent all his money and bought with it a plough, a pair of good oxen, and all the other implements necessary for cultivation. In the season, when everyone went out to till the fields, he too went to the haunted field with his plough and oxen. But as soon as he started to plough the field which was overgrown with wild plants, he heard frightful shouts. Both the oxen were so scared that they went mad, snapped the ropes and began to run wildly. Victor tried to restrain them but he was dragged along the ground, his head struck against a large stone, and he began to bleed. Grace's heart jumped when she saw her husband come home bruised and bleeding. "Oh, why did you enter that accursed field at all?" she wailed in anguish.

"Didn't I warn you to leave it alone? Now all the money has gone up in smoke!" "Do you think the devils did this to me?" Victor asked his wife. "Not at all! I got hurt trying to restrain the foolish oxen. And I am not going to let that field alone either, I shall cultivate it yet!" Victor was as good as his word. Every day, before dawn, he went to the field and ploughed it with a spade and a crowbar. He was at it until it was dark. He worked as no one else could have done, but he was a single man and could cultivate only a meagre fraction of the field. But he did raise a crop on the tract he had cultivated and brought home the produce. The devils who haunted the field tried their best to frighten him, but he just ignored them. Grace had offered to work on the field but she was already with the child and he turned down her assistance. And poor Grace would be on tenterhooks each evening until he came home.

"We have enough grain to see us through till the next harvest," Victor said. "I shall raise a still better crop next time." He toiled in this fashion for three years. Each year the crop was better, but still only a very small part of the field was cultivated, for Victor had no one to assist him, not even oxen. During these years, Grace had two children. One day, Victor was turning the soil in his field when he became aware of someone standing near him. "How strange," this person said, "that you cultivate without even a pair of oxen! Are you not merely wasting your effort?" Victor looked up and saw a dark and tall man standing nearby. He thought it was one of the devils and went on with his work. "Why don't you speak?" the dark one persisted. "If you tell me what you want, I may be able to help you." Victor stood up, approached the dark person and told him what came of his efforts to cultivate the field without a pair of oxen. 

"I know who you are," he added. "I don't need your help. Get out of my field!" "You are not wrong in your guess about me," the dark man said, laughing. "But I am not a devil haunting your field. Look at the hill there. That is where I dwell. I am called the Deity of the Hill. I have watched you for a long time and I want to live the life of a toiler. We will cultivate the entire field!" "How can I have you for help?" Victor asked. "Are you afraid?" the other one taunted. "No!" said Victor. I shall engage you. You must behave like a human being with my wife and children. The moment you play any pranks upon them out you go! You can work for me if you agree to this." The Deity of the Hill agreed and they started to work together. Victor bought another pair of oxen and the entire field was ploughed up. The fellow Hill seemed to have inexhaustible strength. He could work continuously for several hours without getting the least bit tired. The field yielded a big harvest that year and everyone envied Victor. One day, Grace had to pay a visit to an ailing relation and she left her children in Hill's charge. Victor had gone to the other end of the village on some business. When he returned he heard his children shrieking in mortal fear. He dashed inside and saw his children hiding in a corner and yelling for fear, while Hill was rolling with laughter. 

"What are you doing to them, you brute?" Victor asked. "Oh, I am entertaining them!" was Hill's reply. "No, dad!" the children complained. "He is frightening us by making his head like that of a sheep, an eagle and a lion!" Victor told his children that they need not be afraid. He turned to his assistant and said, "Get out! Let me not see your face again!" He dragged Hill out. Hill allowed himself to be dragged out, but when once he came out he asked his master, "Why should I go away?" "Because you frightened my kids," Victor replied. "I told you at the very outset, that you would be sent away if you played any pranks upon them." "You think you can cultivate the field without my help?" Hill asked insolently. "I shall cultivate as much as I can," Victor said. "But keep you I won't anymore." "Supposing I refuse to be sent away?" Hill asked. "You know who I am, don't you?" Victor did not wait till the other finished. He attacked him viciously. They fought for a long time and at last Victor got the better of his man. As he sat upon his chest and gave him vicious kicks, the other started laughing boisterously. "You laugh, do you?" Victor asked, kicking him. "Have you not had enough?" "Enough, enough!" Hill shouted. "Let me get up now!"

But Hill began to laugh when he was on his legs again. "I've never seen anyone like you," he said. "I quit your service. You can carry on by yourself. But if you have any trouble with the devils in the field just shout for me and I'll deal with them!" Victor was not troubled with devils anymore. His field was recognised as the best field around, and he lived happily with his wife and children. Having finished the narration, the demon said, "O Prince, what made the Deity of the Hill become a servant under Victor? Why did he suddenly pick up a quarrel with his master? And how could an ordinary human being like Victor get the better of a deity? If you want to be released from here start speaking now!" "The deity of the Hill engaged himself as a servant to Victor only with the intention of keeping the devils of the field under control. Victor did prosper with his help. But the deity wanted to find out whether Victor cared more for this prosperity than for his wife and children. But Victor stood that test very well. He was prepared not only to let his servant go but even to fight him when he refused to go, though he knew full well that he would be losing thereby. The deity accepted defeat. Actually, Victor did not defeat him." The Prince's answer brought a smile to the demon's face and he let the prince go to help his subjects.

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