A Generous Poor Girl Marries a King

Once upon a time, in a far away village, there lived a mother and a daughter. They were extremely poor and lived hand to mouth. Everyday the mother went to work as a wage laborer, working in other people’s farms. The daughter would stay back, looking after the house. The two of them survived on the kindness of their neighbors.

One day when the mother was away, a monk came entreating alms. Although they were poor, the pious daughter searched for something to offer. She found some rice in the attic. She offered them all to the monk saying that her mother would scold her when she finds out. The monk rejected the offer but the pious daughter insisted the monk to take the rice.

The mother returned home in the evening, tired and hungry. “Daughter, today I couldn’t find any work. We have some rice in the attic, please cook it for us,” asked the mother as she sat down.

“Mother, I am sorry, I offered the rice to a monk who came entreating alms today,” said the daughter.

The mother was furious.

“You acted pious and gave all our rice when we have none to eat!”

The angry mother scolded her and drove her out of the house.

“Go away, wherever you like, stupid girl! I don’t want to see your face ever again!”

The heartbroken daughter walked away from the house. Wandering alone, she reached a high mountain where a monk lived. Coincidentally, he was the same monk to whom she had offered the rice. She greeted him and asked for his help. The monk granted the girl’s request and allowed her to stay with him.

The monk had a cat and a rooster. The two animals were jealous of the girl, thinking that they would

get less when there were more people.

“Let’s put out the fire,” suggested the cat, thinking that the girl wouldn’t be able to find fire in the


In the morning the girl could not make fire as water was poured in the hearth. The monk asked her

to get it from a hermit who lived far from them. The girl agreed and left.

When she walked, a flower bloomed in every step she took.

When she reached the place of the hermit, he asked for fire but he told her that he will give it only if

she walked three times around his abode. “Jump three times in every corner and I will give you fire.”

The girl agreed. Many flowers bloomed aroud the hermit’s house, turning the entire place into a beautiful heaven. The happy hermit gave her fire.

Next day, on seeing the unusual sight around the hermit’s house, two hunters were surprised for they had never seen flowers like that in the past.

“It has become a wonderful place. Can we take some flowers?” pleaded the hunters. The hermit declined their request.

“If not, at least tell us from where you got the flowers,” requested the hunters.

The hermit narrated the entire story.

The two hunters went back and reported it to their king who immediately went to meet the girl.

“Monk, give me the girl. I will make her my queen,” said the king.

“A girl from the forest won’t suit a king like you,” replied the monk.

The king said that there was no difference, and the monk finally gave away the girl.

“Take these, you might need them later,” said the monk, giving her three grains of wheat.

The girl married the king in a grand ceremony. And three happy years quickly passed. Then one day, the king wanted to visit the girl’s parents.

“Tomorrow, I want to visit your parents. I still remember you come from the mountains and you must have your father and mother,” the king said.

She was worried for she had neither parents nor home. At once she remembered the grains. She prayed and threw them up in the air. Immediately a white bird flew down to her.

“My girl, how can I help you?” asked the bird. The girl narrated the story to the bird. “Don’t worry, I will help you. Tomorrow, follow the direction of my flight. Sleep wherever I stop and everything will be alright.”

The next day the girl took the king and his long retinue on the journey towards her home. She followed the bird’s direction.

After three days the group reached a massive palace. The girl’s father was a man of great power and he greeted the group with great hospitality. There were days and nights of merrymaking and festivities. Food and wine were plenty for all.

“Please be nice to my daughter,” said the girl’s father.

“I promise I will take care of her and treat her well,” responded the king.

After a week, the king requested that he wanted to leave. The girl’s father agreed but asked them not to visit him any more. The king agreed and left the palace happily.

From an overlooking hill in the distance, the girl looked back to see if her parents were for real. To her sadness, she noticed everything disappear into thin air. She secretly cried, even wishing if it were real . But she knew it was the gift of the monk who had saved her. She went to the king’s palace and lived happily ever after.

Ngawang Phuntsho

He is the author of ‘The Cuckoo and the Pigeon, and Other stories’ a collection of folktales from Bhutan, and ‘Thus, I heard’. His books can be found in bookstores in Thimphu.