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"Certainly, certainly, O King," and began to search everywhere for Nandanbaneshwar. Now in Atpat there lived a poor woman who had one son. On hearing the orders of the king, he said to her, "Mother, Mother, give me some bread, for I am going out to kill the king's enemy." The old woman said, "Do not be silly; you are only a poor boy, and people will laugh at you. Here, take this bit of bread and go and eat it behind a tree." The boy said, "Very well," and took the bread. But, after taking it, he joined the other villagers and went at their head to seek out and kill Nandanbaneshwar. But when evening fell they had not yet met Nandanbaneshwar, so all the villagers returned home. And when the king heard of their ill-success he was greatly grieved. But the old woman's son stayed in a wood outside the village. And lo and behold! just about midnight the serpent-maidens from Patala[1] and the wood-nymphs came close to where he was and began to worship Mahalaxmi. The boy was at first terribly frightened, but at last he plucked up courage enough to ask, "Ladies, ladies, what<refs>


  1. For serpent-maidens of Patâla see note to Story XX.