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
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
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! 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
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
"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,
"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
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
Prince Chaushutun was startled at the hush which fell after he had spoken.
"What is this?" he cried, alarmed. "What is this?" What has
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, 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
"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
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
"Your eyes do not deceive you. Indeed, it is the princess's armlet that lies
"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
"Princess, why do you talk of fire balloons and love pouches while I bathe
"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
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
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)