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THE KING OF THE CROCODILES
 ONCE upon a time a farmer went out to look at his fields by the side of the river, and found to his dismay
that all his young green wheat had been trodden down, and nearly destroyed, by a number of crocodiles, which
were lying lazily amid the crops like great logs of wood. He flew into a great rage, bidding them go back to
the water, but they only laughed at him.
Every day the same thing occurred,—every day the farmer found the crocodiles lying in his young wheat,
until one morning he completely lost his temper, and, when they refused to budge, began throwing stones at
them. At this they rushed on him fiercely, and he, quaking with fear, fell on his knees, begging them not to
 "We will hurt neither you nor your young wheat," said the biggest crocodile, "if you will give us your
daughter in marriage; but if not, we will eat you for throwing stones at us."
The farmer, thinking of nothing but saving his own life, promised what the crocodiles required of him; but
when, on his return home, he told his wife what he had done, she was very much vexed, for their daughter was
as beautiful as the moon, and her betrothal into a very rich family had already taken place. So his wife
persuaded the farmer to disregard the promise made to the crocodiles, and proceed with his daughter's marriage
as if nothing had happened; but when the wedding-day drew near the bridegroom died, and there was an end to
that business. The farmer's daughter, however, was so beautiful that she was very soon asked in marriage
again, but this time her suitor fell sick of a lingering illness; in short, so many misfortunes occurred to
all concerned, that at last even the farmer's wife acknowledged the crocodiles must have something to do with
the bad luck. By her advice the farmer went down to the river bank to try to induce the crocodiles to release
him from his promise, but they would hear of no excuse, threatening fearful punishments if the agreement were
not fulfilled at once.
So the farmer returned home to his wife very sorrowful; she, however, was determined to resist to the
uttermost, and refused to give up her daughter.
The very next day the poor girl fell down and broke her leg. Then the mother said, "These demons of crocodiles
will certainly kill us all!—better to marry our daughter to a strange house than see her die."
 Accordingly, the farmer went down to the river and informed the crocodiles they might send the bridal
procession to fetch the bride as soon as they chose.
The next day a number of female crocodiles came to the bride's house with trays full of beautiful clothes, and
henna for staining the bride's hands. They behaved with the utmost politeness, and carried out
all the proper ceremonies with the greatest precision. Nevertheless the beautiful bride wept, saying, "Oh,
mother! are you marrying me into the river? I shall be drowned!"
In due course the bridal procession arrived, and all the village was wonderstruck at the magnificence of the
arrangements. Never was there such a retinue of crocodiles, some playing instruments of music, others bearing
trays upon trays full of sweetmeats, garments, and jewels, and all dressed in the richest of stuffs. In the
middle, a perfect blaze of gold and gems, sat the King of the Crocodiles.
The sight of so much magnificence somewhat comforted the beautiful bride, nevertheless she wept bitterly when
she was put into the gorgeous bride's palanquin and borne off to the river bank. Arrived at the edge of the
stream, the crocodiles dragged the poor girl out, and forced her into the water, despite her struggles, for,
thinking she was going to be drowned, she screamed with terror; but lo and behold! no sooner had her feet
touched the water than it divided before her, and, rising up on either side, showed a path leading to the
bottom of the river, down which the bridal party disappeared, leaving the bride's father, who had accompanied
her so far, upon
 the bank, very much astonished at the marvellous sight.
Some months passed by without further news of the crocodiles. The farmer's wife wept because she had lost her
daughter, declaring that the girl was really drowned, and her husband's fine story about the stream dividing
was a mere invention.
Now when the King of the Crocodiles was on the point of leaving with his bride, he had given a piece of brick
to her father, with these words: "If ever you want to see your daughter, go down to the river, throw this
brick as far as you can into the stream, and you will see what you will see!"
Remembering this, the farmer said to his wife, "Since you are so distressed, I will go myself and see if my
daughter be alive or dead."
Then he went to the river bank, taking the brick, and threw it ever so far into the stream. Immediately the
waters rolled back from before his feet, leaving a dry path to the bottom of the river. It looked so inviting,
spread with clean sand, and bordered by flowers, that the farmer hastened along it without the least
hesitation, until he came to a magnificent palace, with a golden roof, and shining, glittering diamond walls.
Lofty trees and gay gardens surrounded it, and a sentry paced up and down before the gateway.
"Whose palace is this?" asked the farmer of the sentry, who replied that it belonged to the King of the
"My daughter has at least a splendid house to live in!" thought the farmer; "I only wish her husband were half
 Then, turning to the sentry, he asked if his daughter were within.
"Your daughter!" returned the sentry, "what should she do here?"
"She married the King of the Crocodiles, and I want to see her."
At this the sentry burst out laughing. "A likely story, indeed!" he cried; "what! my master
married to your daughter! Ha! ha! ha!"
Now the farmer's daughter was sitting beside an open window in the palace, waiting for her husband to return
from hunting. She was as happy as the day was long, for you must know that in his own river-kingdom the King
of the Crocodiles was the handsomest young Prince anybody ever set eyes upon; it was only when he went on
shore that he assumed the form of a crocodile. So what with her magnificent palace and splendid young Prince,
the farmer's daughter had been too happy even to think of her old home; but now, hearing a strange voice
speaking to the sentry, her memory awakened, and she recognised her father's tones. Looking out, she saw him
there, standing in his poor clothes, in the glittering court; she longed to run and fling her arms round his
neck, but dared not disobey her husband, who had forbidden her to go out of, or to let any one into the palace
without his permission. So all she could do was to lean out of the window, and call to him, saying, "Oh,
dearest father! I am here! Only wait till my husband, the King of the Crocodiles, returns, and I will ask him
to let you in. I dare not without his leave."
The father, though overjoyed to find his daughter
 alive, did not wonder she was afraid of her terrible husband, so he waited patiently.
In a short time a troop of horsemen entered the court. Every man was dressed from head to foot in armour made
of glittering silver plates, but in the centre of all rode a Prince clad in gold—bright burnished gold,
from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet,—the handsomest, most gallant young Prince that ever
Then the poor farmer fell at the gold-clad horseman's feet, and cried, "O King! cherish me! for I am a poor
man whose daughter was carried off by the dreadful King of the Crocodiles!"
Then the gold-clad horseman smiled, saying, "I am the King of the Crocodiles! Your daughter is a
good, obedient wife, and will be very glad to see you."
After this there were great rejoicings and merrymakings, but when a few days had passed away in feasting, the
farmer became restless, and begged to be allowed to take his daughter home with him for a short visit, in
order to convince his wife the girl was well and happy. But the Crocodile King refused, saying, "Not so! but
if you like I will give you a house and land here; then you can dwell with us."
The farmer said he must first ask his wife, and returned home, taking several bricks with him, to throw into
the river and make the stream divide.
His wife would not at first agree to live in the Crocodile Kingdom, but she consented to go there on a visit,
and afterwards became so fond of the
 beautiful river country that she was constantly going to see her daughter the Queen; till at length the old
couple never returned to shore, but lived altogether in Crocodile Kingdom with their son-in-law, the King of