The Panchatantra – Story 63

THE DEMON OUT-WITTED

There was a king called Bhadrasena in a certain city. He had a lovely daughter called Ratnavati. A demon fell in love with that princess, and every day, at dusk, went and harassed her and tried to carry her off. But the princess had no affection for this demon lover and drew a magic circle round her which the demon could not enter. But every day the demon kept on repeating his attempt to abduct her. One day, when he appeared as usual at dusk, the princess remarked to her lady-in-waiting, “The dusk demon is persistent. I am wondering how I can escape from him. I can escape from any other.” The demon, who heard this, thought to himself: “So there is another demon called “Dusk Demon” trying to abduct her. What wonder ? Seeing her beauty I am not the only demon who will be stricken by it, and will try to abduct her. Her remarks show that there is a more formidable demon from whom she despairs of escaping. I shall lie in wait in the stable taking the form of a horse and see what this Dusk Demon is like and tackle him. He must be soon coming as it is dusk.” So he took the form of a horse and remained in the stable along with the other horses. 

Presently a thief came to steal a horse from the stables. He pitched upon this demon horse as the strongest and most attractive horse of the lot. He took it out of the stable and put the bit in its mouth and rode off. The demon galloped away thinking, “Ah, this is that Dusk Demon come to kill me. How to escape from the fellow ? The princess’ problem has become mine.” The thief was wonder-struck at the terrific speed of the horse and tried to lessen it by applying the bit. But the demon horse only galloped faster. The thief said to himself; “This cannot be a real horse. I have never seen a horse in my life which will gallop faster after applying the bit firmly. It must be a demon who has taken the shape of a horse. How to escape from it ?” When they came to a banyan tree the thief jumped up and got between the branches, leaving the demon horse. He was glad at having escaped from the demon. The demon was also glad at having escaped from him. 

But a monkey, who was on a higher branch overhanging the branch where the thief was, was a friend of the demon and said to it: ‘Why, you are a demon and the eater of men. This is a man and your natural food. Why did you allow him to ride you instead of eating him up?”. The demon assumed its demoniacal form and was preparing itself to eat the thief. The thief, however, was enraged by the monkey’s remark and caught the monkey’s tail which was hanging down and pulled it hard, making the monkey squeeze in a fork of the tree and bit the tail and began to chew it. The monkey closed its eyes, and its face was writhed with pain. The demon saw the monkey’s face and fled without a second thought, crying out, “Judging by the expression of your face, O monkey, this Dusk Demon is a terrible fellow, who can give the utmost pain if he chooses. Let me run away and escape before he catches me and chews me up. 

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