Nagoba, the Snake-King
Once upon a time there was a town called Atpat. In it there lived a Brahman who had seven little daughters-in-law. In the fulness of time the month of Shravan came and with it Nagpanchmi Day . In honour of the festival, one little daughter-in-law went to her grandpapa’s house, another went to her great grandpapa’s house, another went to her father’s house, until at last only the youngest daughter-in-law remained behind. Her father and mother were dead, and she had no uncles and no aunts and no little brothers or sisters. So the poor little daughter-in-law felt very sad and sat down and cried in a corner. Then she remembered that it was Nagpanchmi Day, and that it was a festival in honour of Nagoba, the great snake-king. So she prayed under her breath, “Please, please, snake-king, come and pretend that you have been sent to fetch me to my father’s house!” And the great snake-king heard the prayer and felt quite sorry for the poor little daughter-in-law who was crying in the corner. He assumed the guise of a Brahman and came to the house where the little daughter-in-law was, and said that he had been sent to fetch her to her father’s house. Her father-in-law was very much astonished. For he wondered why, if the new-comer really was a relative of the little daughter-in-law, he had never paid him a visit before. At last he asked the little daughter-in-law who the new-comer was. She did not know in the least. But she was so overjoyed that some one should have come for her that she at once answered, “He is my mother’s brother.” Her father-in-law believed her and sent her off in the care of Nagoba, the snake-king. Still disguised as a Brahman, he took her to the entrance of his underground palace and there he told her who he was. He then reassumed his true appearance, and, expanding the mighty hood behind his head, he seated the little girl on it and took her down to his splendid dwelling-house beneath the earth. In the central hall he presented her to the snake-queen and to all the snake-princes, and told them that in no circumstances whatever were they to bite the little daughter-in-law.