Fairy Tales For Kids - Third Time Lucky

 Third Time Lucky

This is the story of Mahesh, a young lad who lived with his father, a widower, in a village not many miles from Surat. Mahesh was a capable worker and it was mainly his efforts, that gave them a good income from their farm land. But his father was both arrogant and selfish, with never a kind word for his son, only abuse and perpetual grumbling. In the same village was a girl named Tulasi, who although not very beautiful, was popular with everyone for her happy disposition and kindness. Mahesh and Tulasi had been sweethearts ever since they were small children, so it was not surprising when Mahesh announced his intention of marrying Tulasi. Tulasi's parents readily agreed to the marriage, but Mahesh's father refused to even consider such a betrothal. "Utter nonsense," he shouted in his temper. "Why should I have another mouth to feed? Wait until you have saved sufficient money to support a wife." Mahesh refused to be downcast and thought. "I keep our farm going and get virtually no pay. So the only thing to do is leave home and earn good pay elsewhere, then I can marry Tulasi." After confiding his plans to Tulasi, Mahesh packed a few clothes into a bundle and quietly stole out of the house late at night. Walking through a forest the following morning, he met a very old woman, bent nearly double carrying a bundle of wood on her head.

"Wait a moment, Mother," he said, catching hold of the bundle of wood. "Let me carry it, I am young and the weight is nothing to me." As Mahesh walked alongside the old woman, she kept on asking questions as to where he was going, and what he was going to do. In the end Mahesh found himself telling the old woman about his disagreeable father and his plans to go to the city and earn sufficient money in order to marry. The old woman shook her finger under his nose. "The city is full of wicked temptations." she cackled. "You come and work for me and at the end of a year I will give you a very valuable gift." She seemed a nice old woman, so for a year Mahesh worked hard at her cottage, growing vegetables, cutting wood and tending to her cattle. At the end of the year the old woman said, "You have worked hard and deserve a good gift." With that she disappeared into the stable, and led out an ordinary looking donkey, "Here you are," she cried. "Here is my gift." Mahesh looked dubiously at the donkey, and his heart sank at the thought of having to look after this animal, when he should be busy earning money. The old woman, seeing the look on his face, burst out laughing. "This is no ordinary donkey. Just you pull his ears and see what happens." Mahesh thought he had better humor the old woman, so he took hold of the donkey's ears and gave them a good pull. To his amazement the donkey opened its mouth and out showered gold and silver coins.

Mahesh was overjoyed at his good fortune, and after thanking the old woman set out for home with his wonderful donkey. On the way home he decided to stay at an inn for the night. It was a disreputable looking inn, and the woman and her son who owned the place were a formidable looking pair. But at least it was somewhere to sleep, so after stabling his donkey and eating the poor food put before him, Mahesh went to bed. The following morning, the woman asked for payment, so Mahesh went to the stable and pulled his donkey's ears. Quickly pocketing the coins that came out of the donkey's mouth, Mahesh hurried back to pay the woman. Unknown to Mahesh, the woman's son saw what happened in the stable, and as soon as Mahesh's back was turned, the son took the magical donkey and tethered another donkey in its place. Mahesh, having paid the inn keeper, took the donkey, never dreaming it was not his animal, and resumed his journey homewards. As Mahesh reached home, his father rushed out of the house. "Where have you been, you rascal?" he shouted. "Everything is all right father," said Mahesh brightly. "I have earned this magical donkey, Every time you pull its ears, gold and silver coins come out of its mouth. "A likely tale," replied the father grumblingly, but already his mind was conjuring up ideas of easy money. Striding up to the donkey, he grabbed both its ears and gave a vicious tug. This donkey did not like having its ears pulled, and giving an angry snort, reared around and sent the father flying with a well judged kick from both its hind legs. 

The father lay on the ground groaning and rubbing his abdomen, whilst Mahesh just stood open mouthed in amazement that the magic had not worked. Father suddenly concluded he had been murderously attacked, and staggering to his feet, he grabbed a stout stick, but Mahesh did not wait to explain. Taking to his heels, he ran as fast as his legs would carry him, until he was well out of sight. Wandering along the road, Mahesh felt that fate had been extremely cruel. In the same forest that he met the old woman, he saw an old carpenter struggling with some heavy planks of sawn timber. "Let me help you," he said to the carpenter, and picking up the planks, easily balanced them on his shoulders. As they walked along the road, Mahesh poured out his tale of woe. The carpenter said, "Never give up hope, my son. You come and work for me and at the end of a year I will give you a gift to treasure." So for a year Mahesh worked hard for the carpenter, who presented him with an ornate brass plate. "It is no ordinary plate," he said, with a broad grin. "Just rub it with the palm of your hand, and it will be filled with whatever food you wish to eat." Mahesh wondered if this could be true, so sitting on the ground, he rubbed the plate, thinking of all the choicest food he enjoyed eating, and in a twinkling the plate was overflowing with food. Later, with the plate clutched in his hands, Mahesh hurried on his way home, anxious to show his father how successful he had been.

On his way, he came to the very inn he had spent a night before. Walking into the inn, he asked the woman for a night's lodging. The woman said grudgingly, "You can stay here, but times are hard, and there is no food to eat." Mahesh grinned. "My plate will supply all the food we need." The woman and her son gazed in astonishment as Mahesh rubbed the plate and it became full of succulent food. When everything had been eaten, Mahesh washed his plate and put it under his pillow before going to sleep. But in the dead of the night, the son crept into the room and stealthily stole the plate, sliding a similar looking plate back under the pillow. The following morning, Mahesh went on home, carrying what he thought was the magical plate. As soon as he arrived home, his father started abusing him, but taking no notice, Mahesh put his plate on the table, and quickly told his father all about the food they could enjoy for evermore. The father seemed impressed, and talking aloud of all the food he enjoyed, began rubbing the plate.

He rubbed and he rubbed, but no food appeared. Then he lost his temper, banged the plate and threw it at Mahesh's head. Mahesh didn't linger. He was off as fast as he could go, and as he ran, it dawned on him that those people in the inn, must have tricked him over the donkey and the plate. Mile after mile he walked, pondering all the way how he could get back his donkey and plate from the woman and her son, at the inn. Coming to a stream, he was surprised to see a very aged man trying to chop down a big tree with feeble blows of an axe. Mahesh asked, "Why are you trying to chop down that tree?" The aged man, mopped his brow. "I want it to fall across the stream, so that people can get from one side to the other, without having to wade through the water." Mahesh rolled up his sleeves, and taking the axe from the man said, "You rest while I chop down the tree." In a few minutes Mahesh, plying the axe with vigor, toppled the tree across the stream.

"Well done," shouted the aged man excitedly. "For your labor I will give you a worthy present." Picking up the axe, the man chopped off a short sturdy branch, and handing it to Mahesh said, "This is no ordinary piece of wood. Just tell it, and it will belabor your enemies in no uncertain way." Grasping his weapon, Mahesh hurried to the inn. Without knocking, he walked straight in and confronted the woman and her son. "Where is my donkey and my plate?" he demanded, waving his stick under their noses. "Don't you threaten us," retorted the son, with a menacing look. "The donkey and the plate belong to us now." Mahesh told the stick to beat the pair of them. At which the stick flew out of his hand, and whacked the woman and her son unmercifully, until they cried out in terror. "Stop it! Stop it! You can have your donkey and plate." As soon as Mahesh called to his stick to stop beating the couple, the woman and her son lost no time in producing the donkey and the plate. Now Mahesh astride his magical donkey, and clutching the magical plate and stick, rode home triumphantly. His stick would make his father see reason, and with the money and food a plenty, he could marry his sweet Tulasi.        

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