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Tibetan Folk Tales, by A.L. Shelton, [1925], at

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Story of a Juggler's Tricks

If you fight in the morning do not talk about it in the evening.
                                  Tibetan Proverb.

ONCE upon a time, in a great city, lived a king who ruled over many, many people. In this city dwelt a powerful juggler who could make them cry or laugh, at his will. The king sent for him one day and said, "I have heard you can do wonderful things, that there is nothing beyond your ability [though he doubted it], and I want you to change my heart."

"Oh," said the juggler, "I have done this to the people, but I don't dare do this to you."

The king said, "You need not fear, just so you do not make me poor for the rest of my life. I will give you a paper agreeing not to punish you if you so wish." So he gave the paper to the juggler, returned to his home and forgot he had given such a promise.

One day the king heard that in his big hay field on the side of the mountain were a lot of people with horses and cattle, that there were all classes of men cutting his grass, and he had not given them permission to do so.

He called one of his head-men and said, "There

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are a lot of people cutting my grass and I want you to go and see who it is and what they are doing it for, without my consent." The head-man went, and when he arrived at the field saw a golden throne, a silver throne, servants and men and so much grandeur that he was afraid to ask the ones in command what it all meant, so slipped around and asked a servant who these grand people were and what they were doing. The servant said that they were the king and his son of the lower regions, and the reason he was there now was because he was on his way up to heaven and had just stopped on the road. The head-man returned and reported to the king, who said, "Well, if this is the king of the lower regions I must go and take him some gifts." So he got his presents ready, went and presented them and asked, "If you are the king of the lower regions, why are you come to earth?" The king of the lower regions answered, "I am dwelling in the dark and live where the roots of the fig trees grow; the top is in the light where the gods par-take of the fruit, while I am the owner of the trees and tend to the roots and make the trees produce the fruit, but I never get any of it. So I am going up to ask the gods about it."

The king of men on earth said, "I am glad you have come, we used to be neighbors and exchange gifts; in fact, we are somewhat related. I have a very nice daughter and you have your son, let me have him as a husband for my daughter."

The king of the lower regions answered, "I

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have only three sons and this is the youngest, and I am much pleased with him and love him very much, but if you want him for your daughter, I will give him to you, as heretofore there has been a custom of this kind between kings such as we."

So he gave him his son and said, "I am going up to heaven now to see what the gods are going to do about all this fruit, and you watch the heavens and see whether we have any trouble or not."

The king of men took the son and returned to his palace, and in two or three days began to watch the skies. The heavens in a little while became as black as iron, dead men and hands and arms and legs and heads began to fall. He exclaimed, "Ah, I guess they are fighting sure enough."

One day a head that looked exactly like the king of the lower regions fell down, so he was quite sure that it was the king's head, and he thought he had better take it and burn it before his son-in-law found it, because he would be grieved. So he went off to burn it and his son-in-law saw the fire, and, calling one of the servants, who was a half-witted girl, asked what the big fire meant and all that smoke. She said, "Oh, you know your father's head fell down from heaven some time ago and they are burning it now."

When the son heard this, he gave a great cry and tried to rush to the fire, but they held him, though he finally broke away and ran and threw himself in the flames and perished.

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In a few days here came the king himself down from heaven, for it had not been his head at all that had fallen. He went to camp in the same place in the hay field, where the king of men went to see him again and asked how the fight had ended. He answered, "We fought a little while, but one of the older gods intervened and fixed it up between us. They have acknowledged my right to part of the fruit, as the roots of the trees are in my kingdom. Why did not you bring my son out with you to see me?"

And the king of men said, "Well, dead men and a lot of things fell down from the sky and a head just like yours fell on top of my palace, and we took it and burned it. When your son found it out he ran and jumped in the fire and killed himself."

When the king of the lower regions heard this his face grew black as thunder and he said fear-fully, "I am not dead, my body is here, and you are responsible for my son, and your life must pay for his life." The king of earth fell on his knees and began to beg for his life, saying, "I will give my kingdom, all my land and gold and all I have, if you do not ask me to pay my life for your son's life." So he yielded up all his goods until he had nothing left and kotowed over and over again.

"Well," said the king of the lower regions, "you need not kotow any more, just look up." When he looked, nothing was there but the old juggler sitting on a bench smiling at him.

The king was as angry as he could be when he

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saw him, knowing he had been the victim of a trick, but remembered he had given the juggler a letter promising not to punish him for anything he would do. He swallowed his anger as best he could, took his servants and went back into his palace.

Next: Thirty-Three: How the Wolf, the Fox and the Rabbit Committed a Crime