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The Peacock Maiden


For a thousand miles the Lantsang River flows, rolling to the south, bringing down a hundred thousand grains of glittering gold over the years and leaving a thousand and ten stories along its banks, among which is....


In Monbanja, a land of perennial green, there once lived a king named Bahkeladir. His granaries overflowed with the fruits of good harvests and his palace was beyond compare for splendor and richness, but he had no children. Both he and his queen Machena longed for a son, for an heir to succeed to the throne and complete their happiness.

And then, one morning in early spring, their wish was fulfilled. The people rushed excitedly about, talking of a strange happening. A man-child crawled out from the foot of a huge white elephant and then disappeared without a trace. Right at this moment, the queen gave birth to a healthy son which the king named Chaushutun, after a prince famous for his bravery, hoping that his son, too, would grow into a strong and brave man.

With each passing day Chaushutun grew taller and stronger. He diligently studied the arts of peace and war, becoming well versed in the arts and proficient with all weapons. His intelligence was astonishing, and his strength excelled all other men.

One day he peered into a well and by the dim light beheld a strange object in it. The wise old men said that the great King Bahmo had left a wonderful treasure there, which men for many generations had tried in vain to obtain. Chaushutun ordered the well be drained, and when this was done he descended into the well to examine it more closely. The object was a magic bow. So powerful was it that he who owned it could defeat an entire enemy army. No one but Chaushutun had the strength to bend the huge bow. He could draw it taut till it was as round as the full moon, and every arrow from it hit the target clean and sure.

One day as an evil bird of prodigious size was arrogantly wheeling overhead in the clouds, a black fish clasped in its beak, an arrow from Chaushutun's bow pierced it. The fish fell from its beak into a river, and the bird, mortally wounded, plunged down into the forests below.

Sixteen times the breezes of autumn fanned the paddy fields into a swaying, burning gold. Chaushutun was now a brave, handsome lad, with deep, clear eyes that sparkled with life. His face was more lovely than the legendary Dewawo's, and his voice was like the chiming of bells, soft and musical to the ear.

When the maidens saw him their mouths and eyes opened wide in admiration and they longed to toss the embroidered pouch of courtship at him, offer him the slit-bamboo stool reserved for their dear ones, and give him love nuts. His parents grew increasingly concerned about his marriage, and time and again urged him to marry a girl of noble birth.

The treacherous minister Mahashena, eager to increase his influence over the throne, offered his daughter. But it was of no use. Of the many beautiful but empty-headed daughters of nobles, not one could win Chaushutun's heart. His one wish was to find himself a girl as capable as she was beautiful, who could be his faithful companion for life.

One day, with his magic bow and sword, and mounted on his wonder horse, Chaushutun rode away, over vast fields, over range after range of mountains and through thick forests, to search for a girl after his heart. On the way he fell in with an old hunter named Gohagen and the two became firm friends. Together they hunted the wild boar and the flame-speckled deer, and shared the same fire. As they ate their fill of savory venison they talked of many interesting things. One of the stories Gohagen told the prince was this:

Not many years ago, Bahna, the God of Waters, with a magic weapon captured the son of Bahun, king of all fish-eating birds. In revenge the bird king caught the God of Waters while he was visiting the ocean's surface in the guise of a black fish. And just as the bird king was exulting high in the skies an arrow suddenly struck him, making him release the black fish, which fell down into a river, right into the net old Gohagen had spread. The black fish pleaded to be set free and promised to come to Gohagen's aid whenever he needed help. The kind-hearted Gohagen set the fish free.

"I admired the bowman whose arrow brought down that fish! I have always hoped that some day I will meet him," concluded Gohagen.

"That unknown bowman probably wants to meet you even more," Chaushutun added with a smile. So they talked through the night, like old, intimate friends.

Chaushutun looked up and sighed. "Ah, bright star!" he said. "Herald of dawn! So high, yet so easily seen. Now why is a beautiful and talented maid born among men so difficult to find?"

"Love never disappoints pure hearts. The steadfast and true will bring the deep-seated spring water to the surface," Gohagen chuckled knowingly.

Chaushutun nodded. He would remember that saying.

"And not far from here," the old hunter went on, "is Lake Langsna with its jade-green waters as clear as a polished mirror. And every seven days, seven peacock maidens extraordinarily fair to see bathe there. They are as fair as resplendent flowers, and the youngest outshines them all. When you see her, you will see the beauty of the legendary Nandiowala and you will know what wisdom and cleverness really mean. Come, let us go and see."

Chaushutun rose eagerly. They mounted their swift horses and soon were at the lake. They hid themselves on the lake's edge and waited.


The weather at noon was warm and mild, and the limpid waters of the lake mirrored the many-colored clouds which sailed gently across the sky, fanned by a soft fragrant breeze.

Suddenly, from out of the skies seven colorful peacocks flew down and alighted on the shore. Quickly the peacock cloaks were shed, and seven graceful maidens appeared, who, laughing merrily, plunged into the lake.

Chaushutun and Gohagen gazed, fascinated. After a while the peacock maidens rose from the water and, donning their peacock cloaks, began to dance. Chaushutun was enchanted by the youngest, the seventh sister, Namarona. Oh, how she danced! But all too soon the dancers turned back into peacocks, rose high into the air and flew away towards the west, and became seven tiny specks on the horizon, with Chaushutun gazing longingly after them.

"Don't be so sad!" said Gohagen. "They'll come back again in another seven days."

"Seven days! And then only a few moments! How can I stop them leaving?"

"Let us go and ask the hermit Palasi. He might know."

They went and found Palasi in his forest home. Smilingly he looked Chaushutun over. He shook his head at first, but finally gave a nod, and summoning an otter, told Chaushutun to follow it. The otter led them to the side of Lake Langsna, where it plunged in.

The waters immediately divided into two, leaving a wide, dry path. Along this came Bahna, the God of Waters himself, who greeted Chaushutun as his savior, and led them into his magnificent palace. Only then did Gohagen realize that the bowman who had shot down the evil bird Bahun was no other than his companion. After revealing all the secrets of a magic hook he had, the God of Waters lent it to Chaushutun and escorted them back to the shore. The two friends resumed their hiding place and waited.

The longed-for day arrived. The sun hung in mid-heaven and Chaushutun and Gohagen saw on the horizon a flash as of seven glittering diamonds, which came straight towards them. As they drew nearer, the dazzling orbs of light became seven peacocks, and after alighting, they again became seven beautiful maidens, who dived into the lake. Chaushutun's eyes carefully sought out and marked the youngest maiden. He had watched where she hung her peacock cloak and then, while the maidens splashed and frolicked in the lake, he quietly took out his magic hook, brought down the maiden's garment and gently drew it to his hiding place.

The maidens finished their bathing. What was their panic when they discovered that seventh sister's garment was not to be found!

Namarona began to cry, and her sisters comforted her, saying, "We will carry you home between us."

Chaushutun was frightened when he heard this, and called out, "No! Don't go!" He was going to say "Here is your garment!" but Gohagen clapped his hand over his mouth.

The peacock maidens were startled when they heard a man's voice, and took to their wings, leaving Namarona behind. She quickly darted into some thick bushes and hid herself.

After a long while when everything remained silent and motionless, she came out cautiously and began to look for her peacock garment.

"Tee-hee-hee! Tee-hee-hee!" something chattered high in the trees. It was only an impertinent squirrel.

"O squirrel, have you seen my garment?"

"Tee-hee-hee! Tee-hee-hee!" The squirrel only laughed.

"Oh, don't laugh! Can't you see I am looking frantically for my peacock cloak? I'm sure you know where it is! Won't you tell me?"

The squirrel, whiskers twitching, waved his bushy tail and pointed to the spot where Chaushutun was hiding, and then vanished into the leafy branches.

"Who could be there?" she asked herself. She looked up. There was a falcon wheeling overhead. "Could it be a bird who took my cloak?"

Swish! Chaushutun let fly an arrow and the falcon hurtled down, with an arrow through its heart. It dropped to the ground beside Namarona. She picked it up and looked about her, astonished. Still she could see no one.

"O maiden," a voice called softly, "did the arrow fly true?"

Namarona turned and saw Chaushutun, but it was too late to run and hide. It seemed a long, long while before she could find her voice. "Yes, right through the heart," she answered, in her soft, musical voice.

The two of them gazed at one another, speechless with enchantment.

Then Namarona spoke again, her face red with a rosy blush, "May I ask if my elder brother has seen my peacock cloak?"

"Oh why, O maiden, are you not at home, but here in this wilderness, looking for a peacock cloak?"

"My six sisters and I came to swim in Lake Langsna. I hung my cloak on yonder flowering bough, but it has vanished."

"I can see no houses near or far. Can you be the fairy Nandiowala from heaven, beautiful maid?"

"King Chaudekasali of Mongwudoongpan is my father. I am Namarona, his seventh daughter. You, elder brother, must surely be the handsome Bahmo or Bahna, the God of Waters. The mortal world cannot breed so handsome a youth."

"No, I am Chaushutun, son of King Bahkeladir of Monbanja. Though a thousand miles away, I sensed the fragrance of the flowers blossoming here, and came. Do not tell me the fresh flower before me belongs to another."

"My elder brother is so eloquent. He is a lovebird reciting his moving lines before me! There is no divine lotus here with a thousand petals, nor a flower so sweet that its perfume can spread even a hundred miles. The flower here showed little promise as a bud, and the poor blossom which resulted can only droop in shame. No one has ever come to water it, or caress it. Why should anyone stoop to pluck it?"

"A precious stone needs the cunning hand of a craftsman. O maiden, why are you not wearing the ring of some loved one?"

"What, I, a mere pebble in the wilderness! Who would deceive himself into thinking it a jewel! Or who would want to cast a precious ring away in the wilderness!"

As they were speaking, Namarona's six sisters appeared, anxiously looking for their little lost sister. They saw her and were about to swoop down and snatch her away when Gohagen shot an arrow into the air and flourished the magic hook at them, at which they took fright and fled.

"Fear not, lovely maid," Chaushutun comforted her, for she too was frightened. "He who protects me is my friend Gohagen, a most kind-hearted man." And then he added, shyly, "My store of food is but half eaten; my bed but half occupied. The fiery comet flies lonely across heaven. Ah, why has it no companion?"

"Alas, the sun only rises when the moon must set. People of different worlds cannot live together. Were it otherwise, my humble, poor self would gladly be a handmaid and wash dishes and feed swine for a lonely man."

"Ah, strong wine needs no fortifying! Wound not my heart further!" Chaushutun thought he could see a gleam of hope and went on more boldly. "I have journeyed a thousand miles across land and water to come here, and waited seven long nights and days to see you. I beg you to accompany me back to my home, to live with me."

"Water flows out from a jar easily but to scoop it back is hard," she answered. In truth, she had already lost her heart to this handsome youth, but she was not to be won too easily. "To go with you to your home would be enchanting, but what of your parents, the king and queen? What of your court and your people? They may not be pleased. And then how will I lift my head to eat my food? My eyes will never be dry."

"It cannot be that they will not be pleased! My parents love me well and will equally love what is mine. Your beauty equals that of Nandiowala and will shine throughout the land. All my people will be proud and happy to see you as the prince's consort."

"But my parents! They will miss me and will be sad."

"My home be yours," said Chaushutun, taking a golden ring off his finger eagerly. "Oh, lovely maid! Accept this and gladden my heart!"

He slipped it on her unresisting finger, and she gave him a jewel from her breast, saying, "In this you can always see your loved one."

No sooner had the two plighted their troth than two lotus blooms flowering on a single stem rose to the surface of the lake. The lovers thanked the hunter Gohagen and left Chaushutun's wonder horse in his care as a parting gift, and asked him to return the magic hook to its owner.

"And is it not time you returned my peacock cloak?" asked Namarona, her eyes full of laughter.

He pulled her cloak out of the bushes and gave it back to her. She put it on and, holding Chaushutun's hand tightly, spread out her dazzling wings. They rose into the air and in a flash went to his home in Monbanja.


The romantic way by which their young prince found his love set everyone buzzing with excitement. All agreed it was enchanting to have such a consort, as lovely as a fairy, for their prince. All. that is, save that treacherous minister Mahashena. He was furious because his daughter was rejected, and was determined to have his revenge. He openly opposed the marriage and tried to convince the king that Namarona was a witch. Meanwhile he secretly sent messengers to the king of the neighboring country of Mongshugang-Nakema, extolling the virtues and beauty of Namarona and exhorting him to send his army to abduct her for himself, promising to do all he could to help such an invading army.

At first the king Bahkeladir was reluctant to accept an unknown maiden as his son's bride, but he finally gave his consent when he saw how greatly his son loved Namarona. The queen and Namarona, however, liked each other from their first meeting and were soon fast friends. So, since nearly every noble approved, an auspicious day was chosen and preparations were started to celebrate the marriage.

Now the king of the neighboring country of Mongshugang-Nakema was a wicked tyrant, and a sensual and greedy bully. When he received the traitor Mahashena's glowing report of Namarona, he immediately assembled his army and invaded Monbanja.

It was on the very night of the wedding that the dispatch from the frontier came, informing the king that the country had been invaded. Everything was thrown into confusion. Chaushutun consulted his wise Namarona and decided that he would beg the king to let him lead the army against the invaders. The king agreed, and Chaushutun and the army departed. Soon after he had gone, the traitor minister brought a false report about the fighting, asserting that the prince's army was being driven back and that defeat seemed certain. King Bahkeladir was numbed with despair. Like a vanquished quail, he was deaf and blind to everything.

At night he had a terrible dream, so terrible that he could not forget it. He woke up shuddering and summoned all his lords and asked them to interpret this hideous nightmare. When he described it, the head priest, who was in league with the faithless minister, immediately interpreted it as the work of a witch who would betray the city.

"A witch! Where?" asked the king helplessly.

"Within the palace walls. But your humble servant dare not say more."

"In a time like this you must speak out and fear nothing," the king ordered.

Three times the head priest begged the king's pardon, as if he were reluctant to speak for fear of offending the king. Finally he spoke. "It is no other than Namarona," he said. "It is the prince's consort who has brought disaster upon us. If we do not rid ourselves of her, I fear for the consequences."

The king was greatly alarmed and did not know what to do.

Mahashena was pleased to see the king's consternation and seized the opportunity to pour more poison in his ears about Namarona. "Within seven days is the Day of Sacrifice. Let Namarona be seized and stripped of all her possessions and be executed on that day!" he proclaimed on behalf of the witless king.

The queen broke the dreadful news to Namarona and hid the peacock cloak, hoping to find some way for her to escape. Poor Namarona pleaded with the king, but he was adamant.

"Die bravely for our country and my son's sake!" was his reply.

Namarona was heart-broken. She wept and wept, longing for Chaushutun to come back and save her from this awful fate.

Chaushutun had driven the enemy back, and was even now leading his army triumphantly home, but he was still far away when the Day of Sacrifice came.

Namarona was taken to the execution ground, her rich robes in tatters. She had already a plan for escape, but, at the thought of having to leave Chaushutun, she wept profusely.

As she was led past the king and queen, she turned and begged them to listen to her last plea. "Hear me, O king and queen," she cried. Let me once more put on my peacock cloak and dance for you before we part forever!"

King Bahkeladir's heart softened and he granted her this last wish. The queen brought her the peacock cloak, the guards loosened her bonds, and Namarona put it on.

Slowly she began to dance. She was lovely to watch, the colors on the cloak flashing as she swayed. Even the stony-hearted executioner stood entranced as though his souls was cleansed and purified by the young maid's dance, and the crowds forgot they were there to watch an execution and only knew they were watching a lovely dancer. Slowly Namarona transformed herself into a peacock and rose into the air. The faithless minister shouted to the king to order the executioner to seize her, but it was already too late. She was out of reach, and soon out of sight.

"See, my lords," he shouted again in a fury. "See! She was a witch. She flew away!"

He had barely finished speaking when a warrior galloped up and ran to the king. He had brought the news of the victory. The king was still in a daze and asked again and again what news he brought.

"The prince, your son, leading your majesty's army, has routed the enemy. Our banners fly victorious!" the soldier repeated.

The king looked at the treacherous minister, who bowed his head. Everything was now clear to him. The next minute the whole populace rose and with joyous shouts welcomed their victorious army returning, with Chaushutun at their head. The court musician sang a song of welcome:

Sweet is the juice of the coconut!
Strong the shell that guards it!
We people of Monbanja live happily,
With Chaushutun the hero as our protector.

"The honor belongs to the beautiful Namarona," said Chaushutun smilingly. "It was her strategy that defeated the enemy. Come, let us ask her to accept the honor."

The king turned pale. How could he have been so foolish and done such wrong to an innocent person! How more than foolish to mistake the bad for the good!

The head priest and minister, fearful of Chaushutun's vengeance, hunched their shoulders and stole away as best they could, while the people and the soldiers bowed their heads and wept as they thought of Namarona, their princess who was as lovely as the fairy Nandiowala.

Prince Chaushutun was startled at the hush which fell after he had spoken.

"What is this?" he cried, alarmed. "What is this?" What has happened?"

The king and queen, their hearts heavy with grief, forced themselves to tell the truth. The blow fell like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, or the hiss of water on red embers. Chaushutun staggered and dropped to the ground.

Only half conscious, he murmured her name repeatedly. He took out the jewel she had given him at their betrothal, and looked into it. Yes, as she said, he could see her in it, with the hermit Palasi, her cheeks wet with tears. It was like a physical pain in his heart and he fell back again in a swoon.

When he came to he was in a cold anger. First, though, he was determined to find her again. Heedless of all pleas, he mounted his fiery steed and galloped to Lake Langsna, stopping neither day nor night. On and on, he spurred his horse, searching for his beloved Namarona.


Namarona, so cruelly wronged, had left her bridal home with a heavy heart. As she winged her way home to Mongwudoongpan she thought of her loving parents and her sisters, whom she had not seen for some time. Her faith in Chaushutun's love for her was unshaken, and she knew he would not rest till he found her again. But this made her heart more heavy, for the way to her was fraught with danger. She flew over Lake Langsna and, meeting the hermit Palasi, she took off her armlet and spoke to him.

"Please give this to Chaushutun," she said, for she was sure he would seek for her there. "Tell him that if he wears it, his days will pass as though I were still by his side. But he must not try to follow me! It is too dangerous. Tell him he must not look for me!" And she turned and flew off, weeping as if her heart would break.

Chaushutun pressed on over fertile fields, through thick forests and over many tall ranges. His faithful mount was exhausted, and died. But Chaushutun hurried on by foot, gulping a hasty drink when he passed a stream and getting what game he could. It was only when he was dropping with fatigue that he paused briefly. Day after weary day he labored till he came to Lake Langsna. Thinking back to the happy meeting with Namarona, he wept bitterly. So bitterly did he cry that the hermit Palasi took compassion on him and, going up to Chaushutun, gave him Namarona's armlet. At the sight of the armlet he wept all the more grievously and became all the more determined to find her.

"From here to Namarona's home is a long and difficult road, over impassable rivers and vast stretches of shifting sands. There are unpredictable perils, man-crushing mountains and giant man-eating birds awaiting you. And should you by chance reach Mongwudoongpan, her father, the king, would still doubt your worth as your father doubted hers."

"I must go on!" Chaushutun vowed. "If I do not find her again I do not want to return. Without her I cannot live!"

Palasi was deeply moved to see such love, and such determination. He decided he would help, and called up a monkey to guide Chaushutun to Namarona's home.

The monkey led the way, on their trying and seemingly endless journey, till one day they reached the Namienkalikagan, the river which ran white-hot, enough to melt metal. Chaushutun tested the seething waters with his sword. No sooner did the blade touch the water than the tip dissolved.

Upriver and down he searched, but no ford or bridge could he find. There was no way over unless he could fly. He stood on the bank, gazing across the river with impatient eyes. Suddenly a huge black python rose out of the water, its head on one bank and its tail on the other, like a long, narrow bridge. The nimble-witted monkey quickly ran over the snake to the other side, closely followed by Chaushutun. When they were across, the snake disappeared again.

On and on Chaushutun and the monkey pushed westwards till they reached the cloud-piercing peaks, the Three Fighting Sentinels. These were three mountains which crashed against one another continuously. Chaushutun fitted an arrow to his magic bow and aimed at a crack. Swish flew the arrow, breaking a temporary passage through the shifting mountains. Monkey and man sped through this opening. Even as they reached the other side, the mountains crashed together again.

And after a long, long way they reached a vast open space swept by sandstorms and flying stones. All day they had to battle with the whirling stones till at last they reached a huge tree which blotted out the sun. Tired and exhausted, they climbed up into its branches and rested, unaware that this was the home of the giant man-eating birds. A sudden blast of wind woke Chaushutun out of his exhausted stupor. It was the bird and his mate returning to their nest. The male bird could forecast events to come in the east and the female in the west.

"Your prediction was not very accurate, was it?" the female said derisively to her mate. "I thought you said that Chaushutun would be here today! There's no sign of him that I can see."

"But according to my knowledge, he has crossed the Namienkalikagan and passed through the Three Fighting Sentinels safely. He should be here today. I am still hopeful of having my dainty morsel," the male said petulantly. Then he strained his great head. "Gawk," he croaked, "I can smell a living human!"

"Gawk! I too," cried the female. "Come! Let us go down and see."

The two giant birds flopped to the ground, sniffing now east, now west, craning their ugly necks in every direction. Chaushutun, alarmed, clutched his sword, prepared to do battle with them. The birds discovered the monkey and devoured him. They found nothing else and flapped back to their aerie.

"Oho! A monkey! That's your man from the east, is it?" said the female. "Anyway, I'm going to sleep now. Tomorrow the King of Mongwudoongpan is going to hold a ceremony to welcome and bless his seventh princess who has just returned from Monbanja. Seven huge elephants, a hundred head of buffaloes, and a hundred fat pigs are going to be butchered. Let us go there, and have our fill of bone and blood."

Soon the great birds were asleep and Chaushutun relaxed with a sigh of relief. "Tomorrow they're going to fly to my dear one's home, are they!" he thought. "If only I could steal a ride on one of them! What care I for danger if I can see her again." The thought of her made him brave. He gripped his good sword firmly and quietly climbed into the nest. He hacked off a huge feather, as big and round as a man, and stealthily crept into its hollow stump. "Now the bird will take me to Mongwudoongpan!" he thought triumphantly.


Next morning the huge birds took wing, soaring swiftly through the skies, with Chaushutun safely hidden, and soon reaching the kingdom of Mongwudoongpan. The bird landed, and preened its feathers, shaking Chaushutun out. He quickly made his way towards the palace. As he drew near he saw an elderly woman resting in the shade of a pavilion.

He was about to ask for news of Namarona when he saw a troop of beautiful maidens dressed in bright robes on their way to fetch water. So he said, "May I ask you, honored matron, why so many maids fetch water together?"

"Young man," replied the old lady, "don't you know that the seventh princess has come back from Monbanja and the king has ordered a great feast to pray for a blessing on her? These girls are now fetching water for the princess."

"Oh," said Chaushutun. He asked nothing more, but watched the maids fill their pails and depart one after the other till only one was left beside the well.

It was Namarona's personal maid, a clever young girl. She had filled her pails when she saw the handsome stranger staring intently at her. She thought him handsome and, pretending she was unable to lift the pails, called to him for help, hoping thus to enter into conversation with him. Chaushutun gladly helped her, and as he bent over the pails he quickly slipped the armlet Namarona had give him into one of them.

"Just as the flower which stands by the clear waters is always beautiful," he said, "so I dare presume the mistress whom you serve is most lovely. Will you present my blessings to her? May her tears be washed away and may her smile appear again!"

The maid blushed. It seemed an unusual compliment to send. She looked more closely at this strange youth and replied, "From where does my elder brother come? He speaks so eloquently, it could be the speech of a golden cockatoo from some foreign skies!"

"Yes," Chaushutun answered, "it is from foreign skies that I have come. But eloquence I have none. The only fluency which comes to my tongue is to echo your mistress's name. Take her my message, I beg you, take it swiftly."

The girl still wanted to know what lay behind his mysterious word, but she knew her princess was waiting, and had to go.

Never for one moment did Namarona forget Chaushutun. In front of her was clean green grass and fresh bright flowers, but she only wanted to see her loved one. She saw the bees busily visiting the flowers, and she felt all the more lonely and sad. When the morning mists lifted and the dew dried, her sorrow still lay heavy on her heart. She only longed to be with him again, to live together happily. On this day when her father was holding the great ceremony to bless her, she fervently hoped that the clear water showered on her would wash away all her misfortunes and bring the day of her happy reunion with Chaushutun nearer.

Her maid returned and poured the water over her. Something struck her arm. She stifled a cry as she saw what lay on the ground.

"What startles the princess?" asked her maid.

"Is it a dream? What do I see! There on the ground lies my armlet. How did it get there?"

"Your eyes do not deceive you. Indeed, it is the princess's armlet that lies there."

"I can see a fire balloon floating, but I cannot see the person who lit the fire! I can see an embroidered love pouch in front of me, but, alas, where is he who dropped it!"

"Princess, why do you talk of fire balloons and love pouches while I bathe you?"

"Girl, you must tell me where this armlet came from."

"Is it not possible I scooped it up with the water?"

"No! No! I beg you, tell me, who gave it to you?"

The serving maid was puzzled. What strange business was this? She told Namarona everything: how she went to fetch water and met a young man, and how he spoke strangely to her.

Namarona sprang to her feet and ran, barefooted, to the king and queen, her eyes bright and shining. "My husband is here!" she cried breathlessly.

Chaushutun had wandered on after the maid servant left, and then he was apprehended and brought before the king. The king looked doubtfully at Chaushutun. Was this youth worthy of his daughter's love? He could not believe that Chaushutun had reached his kingdom merely by courage and love and without a magic peacock cloak. And so quickly too!

Chaushutun begged the king to pardon him for the wrongs that his daughter had suffered, and swore that he loved her with all his heart. The king could almost believe him, but he was determined to test him. He proposed two conditions which Chaushutun must fulfil. If he failed, he was to leave without seeing the princess.

As the first test, Chaushutun had to destroy, with his bow, a gigantic boulder hindering the smooth flow of the river and causing frequent floods which destroyed many thousands of farms. No one had ever been able to do anything to alleviate this curse.

Chaushutun, before ten thousand pairs of watchful eyes, fitted an arrow to his magic bow and drew it taut with all his might. Swish flew the arrow and immediately there was a tremendous rumble like thunder. The huge boulder crumbled and was swept swiftly away by the current, amidst a roar of cheers from the crowd. The king was satisfied with the first test.

The second condition was this: The seven princesses had to enter a darkened room and each show a finger through a hole in the wall. If Chaushutun could identify Namarona's finger, then the king would be satisfied that he loved her.

The night was black as pitch, and Chaushutun outside the darkened room had great difficulty in finding any fingers at all. Unexpectedly, however, a firefly hovered in the air and then gently alighted on one particular finger. Without a moment's hesitation Chaushutun seized the finger, feeling it could be no other than Namarona's.

"He has succeeded! That is her finger!" the king exclaimed, all doubts gone. "Come, and we will celebrate their reunion!"

A few days later, Chaushutun and Namarona prepared to go. They bade everyone of Mongwudoongpan farewell and left for Monbanja on a flying horse and a flying elephant, given to them by the king.

King Bahkeladir and Queen Machena were still mourning their sorrows when their tears turned to joy. Elaborate ceremonies and feasts were held to celebrate the young couple's return. The traitor minister, fearing to meet his just reward, had left with his rejected daughter for the neighboring country of Mongshugang-Nakema.

Chaushutun and Namarona lived long and happily together. Namarona's peacock dance, now a symbol of peace and happiness, became famous throughout the land of the Tais and is danced to this very day.


Folk Tales from China. Peking 1958, p. 16 ff. (AT 400, AT 400*, China, Tai)




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