Literature / The King Who Would Be Stronger Than Fate
The King Who Would Be Stronger Than Fate
is an Indian Fairy Tale
, collected by Andrew Lang
and included by him in The Brown Fairy Book
A king has a beautiful daughter and loves hunting. One day, chasing a white stag, he becomes very lost and stumbles on a hermit, who, after being pressed, tells him that his daughter is fated to marry a slave-girl's son. He immediately treats with the king who owns her, and having been given both the woman and her son, takes them to the wilderness, where he kills the woman and abandons the baby.
A poor widow, without any family, lives in that wilderness. She supports herself with her goats, but wonders what she will do if she becomes ill or injured. One day, her best nanny goat does not yield a drop of milk. After this happens again and again, she follows it one day and finds the baby and his dead mother. She buries the woman and takes in the baby to help her in old age. He grows up into a brave, beautiful, and industrious young man.
One day, he finds a peddler's donkey eating their cabbages, so he beats it, defending himself to his neighbor. The neighbor exaggerates, claiming he has threatened the peddlar, and the king, who had been the peddlar in disguise, has him arrested on the pretence that even a poor peddlar could have justice in his lands. He realizes who he is, because his mother is too old, and then says that he can be pardoned if he enrols in the army, because he looks to be a good soldier and needs some discipline. Once in, he is sent on many dangerous missions, which he survives. Then the king tries to have him poisoned, but a dog eats some of his food first, alerting him. Finally, the king sends him off with a message, to a governor — whose wife the princess is visiting.
The young man arrives with the message and is told the governor is resting, and will receive him in the evening. He himself goes to sleep in the garden. The princess does not like the custom of sleeping during the day, and pretends to do so, so that her ladies will sleep, and she can wander as she pleases. She comes upon the young man and is much taken with his looks, and steals the message to find it orders his execution. She alters it to say that they should marry at once. The governor, being the king's most faithful servant, carries out the wedding at once.
The king is much distressed, but stops fighting fate. He receives his son-in-law, who becomes his heir after he dies.
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