Told in November, 1891. (In a variant of this story, also collected by Sir Lucas King, the traveller pays a thousand rupees thrice for a sight of one of the lady's hands, and then buys a melon field to support himself by selling the melons. A buffoon named Khalik advises him to give away melons in the name of Allah to any who ask, and afterwards plays the part of the Thag in the story given in full)
It is said that a certain person travelled in pursuit of his trade from one part of India to another, and by trade and by barter had gathered together seven hundred rupees. On his way home he happened to pass through a certain city, where he put up for the night near the palace of a princess famed for her matchless beauty. The traveller was very desirous of seeing her, and loitered in the city for that purpose. He made the acquaintance of an attendant of the princess, to whom he disclosed his longing. The attendant told him that the princess would show a finger for a hundred rupees, and he consented to the terms. The princess showed the five fingers of one hand and two fingers of the other, and took from the traveller all the money he had gathered with so much suffering and difficulty.
After the traveller had lost his seven hundred rupees, he repented of what he had done, and lamented the past before he went to sleep. In the morning a certain man, seeing his grievous state, asked him the reason of his sorrow, took pity on him, and gave him a plot of land. He advised him to sow melons in it and, when they became ripe, to give them away in the name of "Hramzada Thag" (thag=the thief). The traveller did as he was advised, and, when nearly all the melons had been distributed, Hramzada Thag appeared and asked the traveller what he could do for him. The traveller told what had befallen him, and the Thag took him towards the royal palace.
On the way they met a shepherd, from whom they bought a lamb for a rupee. When they reached the palace they began to kill the lamb with the wrong side of the knife. The lamb complained loudly, and so did the Thag and the traveller. The princess, who saw all from the palace, ordered her attendant to kill the lamb for them, as they both seemed to be idiots. The attendant obeyed the order, and returned. The pair then began to take off the lamb's skin, the Thag pulling one way and the traveller the other, and again they disputed noisily. A second time the princess sent her attendant, who did for them what they could not do themselves, and returned. Then they lighted a fire, and put a cooking pot on it upside down, with large pieces of meat on the top. Then they complained noisily that the meat would not cook. A third time the attendant came, and cooked the meat for them.
Next they started trying to break the cooking pot in order to get out the cooked meat. The attendant, who was still there, took the meat out, put it in a bowl, and gave it to them to eat. They then said that they never ate their food from their own hands, but were accustomed to eat from the hands of their wives. That night they were on a journey ; if any woman would come and give them their food, well and good ; otherwise they must lie down hungry. The princess's heart softened for these idiots, and she called her attendant and ordered her to bring them and all their belongings into the royal palace. They were brought in, and the princess fed one, and her attendant the other. As they were without bed clothes, and the season was wintry, the princess invited them to sleep in a corner of the palace. Again they began to make a disturbance, and the princess thought that if their voices reached the sultan's ears he would certainly order them to be killed. She asked them why they were making such a noise, and they replied that they were accustomed to lying on warm beds and on account of the cold could not sleep. The princess therefore gave part of her bed to the one, and her attendant part to the other.
After a while the Thag got up and said that he was going to cry the bang (call for prayer). The attendant begged him not to do so, but he replied that if he were not allowed to call out the bang he would have to give away a thousand rupees for his failure. The princess was therefore obliged to give him that sum, and then drove them out.
The Thag gave 700 rupees to the traveller, and took 300 for himself. The story ends.
Source: Sir Lucas King., Sherani Folktales
Picture Credits: Shereen Musavi