Available in PDF, epub, and Kindle ebook. This book has 171 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1894.
Tales of the Punjab: Folklore of India is a collection of 43 folk-tales from the Punjab region of India. Written by Flora Annie Steel, it was first published in 1894. Stories include: The King of the Crocodiles; Little Anklebone; The Close Alliance; The Two Brothers; The Jackal and the Iguana; The Death and Burial of Poor Hen-Sparrow; Princess Pepperina; Peasie and Beansir; The Jackal and the Partridge; The Snake-woman and King Ali Mardan; The Wonderful Ring; The Jackal and the Pea-hen; The Grain of Corn; The Farmer and the Money-lender, and many more.
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Once upon a time a soldier died, leaving a widow and one son. They were dreadfully poor, and at last matters became so bad that they had nothing left in the house to eat.
'Mother,' said the son, 'give me four shillings, and I will go seek my fortune in the wide world.'
'Alas!' answered the mother, 'and where am I, who haven't a farthing wherewith to buy bread, to find four shillings?'
'There is that old coat of my father's,' returned the lad; 'look in the pocket—perchance there is something there.'
So she looked, and behold! there were six shillings hidden away at the very bottom of the pocket!
'More than I bargained for,' quoth the lad, laughing.' See, mother, these two shillings are for you; you can live on that till I return, the rest will pay my way until I find my fortune.'
So he set off to find his fortune, and on the way he saw a tigress, licking her paw, and moaning mournfully. He was just about to run away from the terrible creature, when she called to him faintly, saying, 'Good lad, if you will take out this thorn for me, I shall be for ever grateful.'
'Not I!' answered the lad. 'Why, if I begin to pull it out, and it pains you, you will kill me with a pat of your paw.'
'No, no!' cried the tigress, 'I will turn my face to this tree, and when the pain comes I will pat it.'
To this the soldier's son agreed; so he pulled out the thorn, and when the pain came the tigress gave the tree such a blow that the trunk split all to pieces. Then she turned towards the soldier's son, and said gratefully, 'Take this box as a reward, my son, but do not open it until you have travelled nine miles'
So the soldier's son thanked the tigress, and set off with the box to find his fortune. Now when he had gone five miles, he felt certain that the box weighed more than it had at first, and every step he took it seemed to grow heavier and heavier. He tried to struggle on— though it was all he could do to carry the box—until he had gone about eight miles and a quarter, when his patience gave way. 'I believe that tigress was a witch, and is playing off her tricks upon me,' he cried, 'but I will stand this nonsense no longer. Lie there, you wretched old box!—heaven knows what is in you, and I don't care.'
So saying, he flung the box down on the ground: it burst open with the shock, and out stepped a little old man. He was only one span high, but his beard was a span and a quarter long, and trailed upon the ground.
The little mannikin immediately began to stamp about and scold the lad roundly for letting the box down so violently.
'Upon my word!' quoth the soldier's son, scarcely able to restrain a smile at the ridiculous little figure, 'but you are weighty for your size, old gentleman! And what may your name be?'
'Sir Buzz!' snapped the one-span mannikin, still stamping about in a great rage.
'Upon my word!' quoth the soldier's son once more, 'if you are all the box contained, I am glad I didn't trouble to carry it farther.'
'That's not polite,' snarled the mannikin; 'perhaps if you had carried it the full nine miles you might have found something better; but that's neither here nor there. I'm good enough for you, at any rate, and will serve you faithfully according to my mistress's orders.'
'Serve me!—then I wish to goodness you'd serve me with some dinner, for I am mighty hungry! Here are four shillings to pay for it.'
No sooner had the soldier's son said this and given the money, than with a whiz! boom! bing! like a big bee, Sir Buzz flew through the air to a confectioner's shop in the nearest town. There he stood, the one-span mannikin, with the span and a quarter beard trailing on the ground, just by the big preserving pan, and cried in ever so loud a voice, 'Ho! ho! Sir Confectioner, bring me sweets!'
The confectioner looked round the shop, and out of the door, and down the street, but could see no one, for tiny Sir Buzz was quite hidden by the preserving pan. Then the mannikin called out louder still, 'Ho! ho! Sir Confectioner, bring me sweets!' And when the confectioner looked in vain for his customer, Sir Buzz grew angry, and ran and pinched him on the legs, and kicked him on the foot, saying, 'Impudent knave! do you mean to say you can't see me? Why, I was standing by the preserving pan all the time!'
The confectioner apologised humbly, and hurried away to bring out his best sweets for his irritable little customer. Then Sir Buzz chose about a hundredweight of them, and said, 'Quick, tie them up in something and give them into my hand; I'll carry them home.'
'They will be a good weight, sir,' smiled the confectioner.
'What business is that of yours, I should like to know?' snapped Sir Buzz. 'Just you do as you're told, and here is your money.' So saying he jingled the four shillings in his pocket.
'As you please, sir,' replied the man cheerfully, as he tied up the sweets into a huge bundle and placed it on the little mannikin's outstretched hand, fully expecting him to sink under the weight; when lo! with a boom! bing! he whizzed off with the money still in his pocket.
He alighted at a corn-chandler's shop, and, standing behind a basket of flour, called out at the top of his voice, 'Ho! ho! Sir Chandler, bring me flour!'
And when the corn-chandler looked round the shop, and out of the window, and down the street, without seeing anybody, the one-span mannikin, with his beard trailing on the ground, cried again louder than before, 'Ho! ho! Sir Chandler, bring me flour!'
End of excerpt.