Folklore of the Santal Parganas
by Cecil Henry Bompas
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

CIX. The Coldest Season.

One winter day a bear and a tiger began to dispute as to which is the coldest season of the year; the bear said July and August, which is the rainy season, and the tiger said December and January, which is the winter season. They argued and argued but could not convince each other; for the bear with his long coat did not feel the cold of winter but when he got soaked through in the rain he felt chilly.

At last they saw a man coming that way and called on him to decide—"but have a care"—said the tiger—"if you give an opinion favourable to the bear, I will eat you;" and the bear said "If you side with the tiger, I will eat you." At this the man was terror stricken but an idea struck him and he made the tiger and the bear promise not to eat him if he gave a fair decision and then he said "It is not the winter which is the coldest, nor the rainy season which is the coldest, but windy weather; if there is no wind no one feels the cold much either in the winter or in the rainy season." And the tiger and the bear said "You are right, we never thought of that" and they let him go.


Part II.

To a people living in the jungles the wild animals are much more than animals are to us. To the man who makes a clearing in the forest, life is largely a struggle against the beasts of prey and the animals who graze down the crops. It is but natural that he should credit them with feelings and intelligence similar to those of human beings, and that they should seem to him suitable characters around which to weave stories.

These stories are likely to be particularly current among a people occupying a forest country, and for this reason are less likely to appear in collections made among the inhabitants of towns. It is a strange coincidence and presumably only a coincidence that Story 118, 'The Hyena outwitted' is known in a precisely similar form among the Kaffirs of South Africa.

CX. The Jackal and the Crow.

Once upon a time a crow and a jackal became bosom friends and they agreed that the crow should support the jackal in the hot weather and the jackal support the crow in the rainy season. By-and-bye the jackal got discontented with the arrangement, and vowed that it would not go on supporting an animal of another species, but would take some opportunity of eating it up. But he did not let this appear, and one day he invited the crow to a feast and gave him as many frogs and grasshoppers as he could eat and treated him well and they parted very affectionately.

Then a few days later the crow invited the jackal to dinner in return; and when the jackal arrived the crow led him to an ant-hill and showed him a hollow gourd which he had filled with live mice and said "Here is your dinner." The jackal could not get his nose into the hole of the gourd so, to get at the mice, he had to break it. And the mice ran all over the place and the jackal jumped about here and there trying to catch them. At this sight the crow stood and laughed; and the jackal said to himself "Very well, my friend, you invited me here to have a laugh at me; wait till I have finished with the mice; then it will be your turn."

So when he had caught all the mice he could, he declared that he had had as much as he could eat and would like to go and sleep off his meal. As they said farewell and were salaaming to each other, the jackal pounced on the crow and ate him up; not a bone or a claw was left. Then the jackal began to skip with joy and sang:—

"I ate a gourdful of mice And by the side of the ant-hill I ate the crow: Hurrah!"

And singing thus he went skipping homewards; and on the way he met a fowl and called to it to get out of the way or he would eat it,—singing:—

"I ate a gourdful of mice And by the side of the ant-hill I ate the crow:—Hurrah!"

And as the fowl did not move he ate it up; then he skipped on and came to a goat and he sang his verse and told it to get out of the way and as it did not, he ate it; and in the same way he met and killed a sheep and a cow and he ate the liver and lungs of the cow; and then he killed a buffalo and ate its liver and lungs; and by this time he was as full as he could hold. Then he came to a pool of water and he called to it to get out of the way or he would drink it up and as it did not move, he drank it dry. Then he came to a post and said "Get out of my way or I will jump over you"—

"I ate a gourdful of mice And by the side of the ant-hill I ate the crow—Hurrah!"

And so saying he tried to jump over it; but he was so full of what he had eaten and drunk that he leaped short and fell on the point of the stake and was transfixed, so that he died.

CXI. The Tiger Cub and the Calf.

A Tigress and a Cow used to graze in a dense jungle, and they were both with young. They became great friends and agreed that they would marry their children to each other. In the course of time the tigress gave birth to a she-cub and the cow to a bull-calf. They kept the young ones in the same place and used to go and graze together, and then return at the same time to suckle their young. On their way back they used to drink at a certain river, the tigress up the stream and the cow lower down. One day it happened that the cow got first to the river and drank at the upper drinking place, and the tigress drank lower down. And the froth from the cow's mouth floated down the stream and the tigress tasted it and found it nice, and this made her think that the flesh of the cow must also be good; so she resolved to eat the cow one day. The cow saw what was in the mind of the tigress and she left some of her milk in a bowl, and said to her calf: "The tigress has resolved to eat me; watch this milk and when you see it turn red like blood, you will know that I have been killed;" then she went off to graze with the tigress.

The two youngsters always used to play together very happily but that day the calf would not play but kept going to look at the bowl of milk; and the tigress cub asked the reason. The calf told her what his mother had said; then the tigress cub said that if this happened she would never suck from her mother again and it would be better for them both to run away. So the two kept going to look at the bowl of milk, and about midday they saw that it had changed to blood and they both began to weep. Shortly after, the tigress came back, and flies were clustered round her mouth because of the blood on it. The tigress told her daughter to come and suck, but she said that she would wait till the cow came and then she and the calf could have their meal together as usual; at this the tigress frowned terribly and the cub was frightened, so she said, "Very well, mother, I will suck, but first go and wash your mouth; why are the flies clustered round it?" So the tigress went off but she did not wash, she only ate some more of the cow. While she was away, the calf and the cub ran off to another jungle, and when the tigress came back, she searched for them with horrid roarings and could not find them, and if she had found them she would have killed them.

CXII. The Jackal and the Chickens.

Once upon a time a jackal and a hen were great friends and regarded each other as brother and sister; and they agreed to have a feast to celebrate their friendship; so they both brewed rice beer and they first drank at the jackal's house and then went to the hen's house; and there they drank so much that the hen got blind drunk, and while she lay intoxicated the jackal ate her up. The jackal found the flesh so nice that he made up his mind to eat the hen's chickens too; so the next day he went to their house and found them all crying "Cheep, cheep," and he asked what was the matter; they said that they had lost their mother; he told them to cheer up and asked where they slept; they told him 'on the shelf in the wall'.

Then he went away; but the chickens saw that he meant to come and eat them at night, so they did not go to sleep on the shelf but filled it with razors and knives and when the jackal came at night and felt about the shelf he got badly cut and ran away screaming.

But a few day later he paid another visit to the chickens, and condoled with them on the loss of their mother and again asked where they slept, and they told him, 'in the fireplace.' Directly the jackal was gone, they filled the stove with live embers and covered them up with ashes; and went to sleep themselves inside a drum. At night the jackal came and put his paws into the fireplace; but he only scraped the hot embers up against his belly and got burnt; this made him scream and the chickens burst out laughing. The jackal heard them and said "You have got me burnt; now I am going to eat you." They said, "Yes, uncle, but please eat us outside the house; you did not eat our mother in her own house; take us to yonder flat rock."

So the jackal took up the drum but when he got to the rock he accidentally let it fall and it broke and the chickens ran away in all directions; but the chicken that had been at the bottom of the drum had got covered with the droppings of the others and could not fly away; so the jackal thought "Well it is the will of heaven that I should have only one chicken; it is doubtless for the best!" The chicken said to the jackal, "I see that you will eat me, but you cannot eat me in this state; wash me clean first."

So the jackal took the chicken to a pool and washed it; then the chicken asked to be allowed to get a little dry; but the jackal said that if it got dry it would fly away. "Then," said the chicken, "rub me dry with your snout and I will myself tell you when I am ready to be eaten;" so the jackal rubbed it dry and then proceeded to eat it; but directly the jackal got it in his mouth it voided there, so the jackal spat it out and it flew away.

The jackal thought that it had gone into a hole in a white ant-hill, but really it had hidden elsewhere; however the jackal felt for it in the hole and then tried in vain to scrape the hole larger; as he could not get into the hole he determined to sit and wait till hunger or suffocation forced the chicken to come out. So he sat and watched, and he sat so long that the white ants ate off his hind quarters; at last he gave up and went off to the rice fields to look for fish and crabs. There he saw an old woman catching fish, and he asked to be allowed to help her. So the old woman sat on the bank and the jackal jumped and twisted about in the water and presently he caught a potha fish which he ate; but as the jackal had no hind quarters the fish passed through him none the worse. Soon the jackal caught the same fish over again, and he laughed at the old woman because she had caught none. She told him that he was catching the same fish over and over again, and when he would not believe her she told him to mark with a thorn the next one which he caught; he did so and then found that he really was catching and eating the same fish over and over again.

At this he was much upset and asked what he should do. The old woman advised him to go to a cobbler and get patched up; so he went and killed a fowl and took it to a cobbler and offered it to him if he would put him to rights; so the cobbler sewed on a leather patch with a long leather tail which rapped on the ground as the jackal went along. Then the jackal went to a village to steal fowls and he danced along with his tail tapping, and sang:

"Now the Moghul cavalry are coming And the Koenda Rajas. Run away or they will utterly destroy you."

And when the villagers heard this they all ran away and the jackal entered the village and killed as many fowls as he wanted.

A few days later he went again to the village and frightened away the villagers as before; but one old woman was too feeble to run away and she hid in a pig sty, and one fowl that the jackal chased, ran into this sty and the jackal followed it, and when he saw the old woman, he told her to catch the fowl for him or he would knock her teeth out; but she told him to catch it himself; so he caught and ate it. Then he said to the old woman. Say "Toyo" (jackal) and she said "Toyo;" then he took a currypounder and knocked all her teeth out and told her again to say "Toyo;" but as she had no teeth she said "Hoyo;" this amused the jackal immensely and he went away laughing.

When the villagers returned, the old woman told them that it was only a jackal who had attacked the village, so they decided to kill him; but one man said "You won't be able to catch him; let us make an image of this old woman and cover it with birdlime and set it up at the end of the village street; he will stop and abuse her, and we shall know where he is." So they did this, and the next morning, when the jackal came singing along the road, they hid inside their houses. When the jackal reached the village, he saw the figure of the old woman with its arms stretched out, and he said to it, "What are you blocking my road for? get out of the way; I knocked your teeth out yesterday: arn't you afraid? Get out of the way or I will kick you out."

As the figure did not move he gave it a kick and his leg was caught in the birdlime; then he said, "Let me go, you old hag, or I will give you a slap." Then he gave it a slap and his front paw was stuck fast; then he slapped at it with his other paw and that stuck; then he tried to bite the figure and his jaws got caught also; and when he was thus helpless the villagers came out and beat him to death and that was the end of the jackal.

CXIII. The Jackal Punished.

Once a hen and a jackal were great friends, and they decided to have a feast and each brewed beer for the occasion; the hen brewed with rice, and maize and millet and the jackal brewed with lizards, locusts, frogs and fish. And when the brew was ready, they first went to the jackal's house, but the hen could not touch his beer, it smelt so bad and the jackal drank it all; then they went to the hen's house and her beer was very nice and they both drank till the hen got very drunk and began to stagger about; and the jackal made up his mind that the hen must be very nice to eat, as her beer was so good to drink and when he saw her drunk he was delighted and sang:

"Fowl, do not graze in the field! The jackal laughs to see you. Paddy bird, do not fish in the pond! You pecked a piece of sedge thinking it was a frog's leg! Do not drink rice beer, O fowl! The jackal laughs to see you.

And so saying he gobbled her up; and her chickens cried at the sight. Then the jackal resolved to eat the chickens also, so he came back the next day, and asked them where they slept and they said "In the hearth." But when the jackal had gone, the chickens planned how they should save their lives.

Their mother had laid an egg and as there was no one to hatch it now, they said, "Egg, you must lie in the fireplace and blind the jackal;" and they said to the paddy husker, "You must stand by the door and when the jackal runs out you must knock him down;" and they told the paddy mortar to wait on the roof over the door and fall and crush the jackal. So they put the egg among the hot ashes in the fireplace and they themselves sat in a cupboard with axes ready; and when the jackal came he went to the fireplace and scratched out the ashes; and the egg burst and spirted into his eyes and blinded him and as he ran out of the door the paddy husker knocked him over; and as he crawled away the paddy mortar fell on him from the roof and crushed him; then the chickens ran out and chopped him to pieces with their axes and revenged the death of their mother.

CXIV. The Tigers and the Cat.

In former days tigers and cats were friends and used to hunt together and share the game they caught; and they did not eat the game raw but used to cook it as men do.

One day some tigers and a cat had killed a deer and they had no fire with which to cook it; then the tigers said to the cat "You are small, go and beg a light from yonder village." But the cat said that he was afraid to go; however they urged him saying "You have a thin tail and plump feet; you can bring it in a trice." So, as they all insisted on his going, he at last consented; and said "Well, I will go; but don't expect me to be very quick; if I get a good opportunity for fetching the fire, I will come back soon." They said "All right, go and run off with a small fire-brand and we will meet you outside the village."

So the cat went off and coming to a house, went inside to pull a firebrand from the hearth. On the fire some milk was boiling; and the cat thought "This smells very nice, I will have a taste of it" and he found it so nice that he made up his mind to drink it all, before he took away the fire-brand. But in order to lap the milk he had to put his feet on the fireplace, and it was so hot that he burnt his feet and had to get down; so then he sat down and waited till the fire went out and the hearth grew cool, and then he lapped up the milk and ran off with a piece of smouldering wood.

Meanwhile the tigers had got tired of waiting and had eaten the deer raw; and they were very angry at being made to eat raw flesh and swore that they would eat the cat too. When they saw the cat bringing the fire they ran to meet him and abused him and cried out "You have made us eat raw flesh; we will eat you too, dung and all" On hearing this threat the cat ran back to the village in fear of his life; and the tigers followed in pursuit; but when they got near the village, the village dogs all ran out barking and the tigers were frightened and turned back and the cat was saved. From that day tigers and leopards have eaten raw flesh; and cats bury their excrement, because of what the tigers had said.

Every day the tigers went to the village in search of the cat; but when the dogs barked they slunk away; for the tigers were very frightened at the sight of the dogs' curly tails; they thought that the tails were nooses and that they would be strangled by them. One day one of the tigers met a jackal and called to him "Nephew, listen to me; a cat made us eat raw flesh and has escaped into this village and I want to catch it, but the dogs come barking at me. I don't mind that, but I am very frightened of their nooses. Now, you are very like a dog, cannot you go and tell them not to use their nooses." The jackal answered, "Uncle, you are quite mistaken; what you see are their tails, not nooses; they will not strangle you with them." So the tiger took courage and the next day went to the village to hunt for the cat, but he could not find it. And when the dogs barked he got angry and caught and killed one of them; and from that time tigers and leopards eat dogs.

CXV. The Elephant and the Ants.

In the days of old there was a great deal more jungle than there is now, and wild elephants were very numerous; once upon a time a red ant and a black ant were burrowing in the ground, when a wild elephant appeared and said "Why are you burrowing here; I will trample all your work to pieces;" the ants answered "Why do you talk like this; do not despise us because we are small; perhaps we are better than you in some ways;" The elephant said "Do not talk nonsense: there is nothing at which you could beat me; I am in all ways the largest and most powerful animal on the face of the earth." Then the ants said "Well, let us run a race and see who will win, unless you win we will not admit that you are supreme." At this the elephant got into a rage and shouted; "Well, come we will start at once," and it set off to run with all its might and when it got tired it looked down at the ground and there were two ants. So it started off again and when it stopped and looked down, there on the ground were two ants; so it ran on again, but wherever it stopped it saw the ants, and at last it ran so far that it dropped down dead from exhaustion.

Now it is a saying that ants are more numerous in this world than any other kind of living creature; and what happened was that the two ants never ran at all, but stayed where they were; but whenever the elephant looked at the ground, it saw some ants running about and thought that they were the first two, and so ran itself to death.

This story teaches us not to despise the poor man, because one day he may have an opportunity to put us to shame.

From this story of the elephant we should learn this lesson; the Creator knows why He made some animals big and some small and why He made some men fools; so we should neither bully nor cheat men who happen to be born stupid.

CXVI. A Fox and His Wife.

Once upon a time there were a fox and his wife who lived in a hole with their five little ones. Every evening the two foxes used to make their way to a bazar to feed on the scraps thrown away by the bazar people; and every night on their way home the following conversation passed between them. The fox would say to his wife, "Come tell me how much wit you have," and she would answer him by, "Only so much as would fill a small vegetable basket." Then she in her turn would ask "And how much wit have you?" "As much as would load twelve buffaloes."

One night as they were on their way home as usual, the two suddenly found themselves face to face with a tiger, who greeted them by saying "At last my friends, I have got you."

At this the fox for all his wit, could not utter a word but crouched down and shook with fright. Mrs Fox however was not at all inclined to give way to despair. She saluted the tiger and said "Ah, uncle, do not eat us up just now; I and my husband have a dispute and we want you to settle it for us." The tiger was mollified by being addressed by so respectful a name as uncle, and answered in a gentler voice "Well, my niece, tell me what is the point and I will decide it for you."

"It is this," went on Mrs. Fox, "we have five children and we wish to divide them between us but we cannot decide how to do so; I say that I will take three and leave him two; while he wants to take three and leave me two. We came out to look for some man to settle the dispute but have not met one: and now providentially you have appeared before us like a god; no doubt you will be able to make the division for us." The tiger reflected that if he managed things well, he would be able to eat not only the two foxes but their young ones as well, so he graciously agreed to make the division.

The foxes then invited him to come back with them to the hole in which they lived, and when they reached it, Mr. Fox bolted into it saying that he was going to bring out the children. As however he did not come out again, Mrs. Fox said that it was clear that he could not manage the children by himself, and she would go and help; and thereupon proceeded to back into the hole, keeping her face turned towards the tiger.

Seeing her disappearing the tiger thought to seize her, but as she kept her eyes on him he could only say "Hullo, what is the matter? Why are you going in backwards?" "Oh, uncle," replied Mrs. Fox, "how could I turn my back on so great a personage as you?" and with that she disappeared. Presently the tiger heard the two foxes calling out from inside "Goodbye, uncle, you can go away now; we have arranged how to divide the children ourselves." Then he saw how he had been fooled and flew into a terrible rage and tried to squeeze his way into the hole; but it was much too small and at last he had to go away baffled: and so the foxes were saved by Mrs. Fox's wit.

CXVII. The Jackal and the Crocodiles.

Once upon a time there was a Raja who had an only son. As the boy grew up his father sent him to a school to learn to read and write. One day on his way back from school, the boy sat down by the road side to rest, and placed his school books on the ground by his side. Suddenly a jackal came along and snatched up the bundle of books and ran away with it; and though the boy ran after it, he failed to catch the jackal and had to go and tell his father how he had lost his school books. The Raja told him not to mind, as it was a very good omen and meant that he would grow up as clever as a jackal; and so the matter ended as far as the boy was concerned; and his father bought him a new set of books.

But the jackal ran off to the side of a tank and taking a book from the bundle sat down and began to read it aloud. He kept on saying over and over again "Ibor, obor, iakoro sotro" "Ibor obor iakoro sotro."

Hearing the noise a crocodile who lived in the tank poked his head out of the water and began "Well, nephew, what is that you are repeating?" "I am only reading a book, uncle."

"What, nephew, do you know how to read and write?"

"Yes, certainly I do," answered the jackal.

"In that case," returned the crocodile "would you mind teaching my five children?" The jackal was quite willing to be their master, but a difficulty struck the crocodile; the jackal lived on high land, and the little crocodiles could not go so far from the water. The jackal at once suggested a way out of the difficulty: "Let the crocodile dig a little pool near where the jackal lived and put the children into it. Then the jackal could take the little crocodiles out of it when he was giving them their lessons and put them back again when they had finished." So it was arranged, and in two or three days the crocodile dug the pool and the jackal began the lessons.

Each morning the jackal took the five little crocodiles out of the water and told them to repeat after him what he said, and then he began "Ibor obor iakoro sotro" "Ibor obor iakoro sotro." But try as they might the little crocodiles could not pronounce the words properly; then the jackal lost his temper and cuffed them soundly. In spite of this they still showed no signs of improvement, till at last the jackal made up his mind that he could not go on with such unsatisfactory pupils, and that the best thing he could do would be to eat them up one at a time. So the next morning he addressed the little crocodiles, "I see that you can't learn, when I take you in class all together: in future I will have you up one at a time and teach you like that." So he took one out of the water and began to teach it; but the little crocodile could not pronounce its words properly, so in a very short time the jackal got angry and gobbled it up. The next day he took out another, which soon met the same fate as its brother; and so things went on till the jackal had eaten four out of the five.

When there was only one left, the crocodile came to see how the lessons were getting on. The sight of him put the jackal in a terrible fright; but he answered the crocodile that the children were making very fair progress. "Well, I want to see them. Come along and let us have a look at them."

This was awkward for the jackal, but his wits did not desert him; he ran on ahead to the pool and going into the water, caught the one little crocodile which remained, and held it up, saying "See here is one." Then he popped it under the water and brought it up again and said "See, here's another" and this he did five times and persuaded the crocodile that he had seen his five children.

The crocodile pretended to be satisfied but he was not quite easy in his mind and would have preferred to see all the five little ones at once. However, he said nothing, but made up his mind to watch the jackal; so the next day he hid himself and waited to see what happened. He saw the jackal take the little crocodile out of the water and begin the lesson—"Ibor obor iakoro." Then when the unfortunate pupil still failed to pronounce the words, the jackal began to give it cuffs and blows. At this sight the crocodile ran forward and caught the jackal, crying out "Show me my other four little ones; is this the way you treat my children?" The jackal had no answer to give and the crocodile soon put an end to his life and took back his one remaining child to the tank where he lived.

CXVIII. The Bullfrog and the Crab.

There was a Raja who had no head and there was a Tiger who had no tail. One day they met in a nullah. "Here's a fine dinner for me" said the Tiger. "Here's a fine dinner for me!" said the Raja. At this retort the Tiger's courage oozed away; and he did not dare to go any nearer; but he called out "Well, if I am to be your dinner, come and catch me:" and the Raja called out "If I am to be your dinner, come and catch me." So they stood challenging each other, but neither took a step forward. Then the Tiger became abusive and called out, "What have you done with your head?" The Raja retorted "What is a tiger without a tail? You also are short of a member. I may have no head but I have more legs than you." The Tiger could think of no retort to make to this and so said "Come, don't let us quarrel any more; let us be friends; I live near here, where do you live?"

"My home is also near here."

"Then we are neighbours: there is no reason why we should be enemies."

"Who knows what you are at?" answered the Raja: "for you are pretending that you cannot see aright, but it is quite true that we are neighbours." "You are right," said the other, "I admit that I did wrong, and I bow down before you." So they saluted each other and the Tiger said "Let's have a song to show what good friends we are: and he sang (to the rice planting tune):

"The Frog King and the Frog Queen Sat at their front door. The Frog King's marriage is going on: Look, my master! The Frog King and the Frog Queen! The Frog King's marriage is going on."

CXIX. The Hyaena Outwitted.

Once upon a time there was a great tiger who lived in a forest; and all the other animals that lived in the forest treated him as their Raja, down to the very birds. They all felt safe under his protection, because he was so much feared that no men dared hunt in that forest. One day it happened that this Raja tiger killed a man and made such a enormous meal on the flesh, that he got very bad indigestion. The pain grew worse and worse, till he felt sure that his last hour was come.

In his agony he sent for a hyaena and offered to make him his dewan, if only he would call all the other animals of the forest to come and pay a farewell visit to their lord. The hyaena readily agreed but thought it would be better to send another messenger, while he stayed by the tiger to see that all the animals duly presented themselves. Just then a crow flew overhead; so they called him and deputed him to summon all the animals.

The crow flew off and in a short time all the animals assembled before the tiger and paid their respects to him and expressed wishes for his speedy recovery;—all except the jackals. They had been summoned along with the others; but somehow they paid no attention and only remembered about it in the afternoon. Then they were very frightened as to what would be the consequence of their remissness; but one chief jackal stood up and told them not to fear, as he would contrive a way of getting the better of the hyaena. There was nothing else to be done, so they had to put what trust they could in their chief and follow him to the Tiger.

On his way the chief jackal picked up a few roots, and took them with him. When they reached the place where the suffering monarch lay, the hyaena at once began to abuse them for being late, and the Tiger also angrily asked why they had not come before; then the chief jackal began humbly "O Maharaja, we were duly summoned; your messenger is not to blame; but we reflected that it was useless merely to go and look at you when you were so ill: that could do you no good; so we bestirred ourselves to try and find some medicine that would cure you. We have searched the length and breadth of the jungle and have found all that is necessary, except one thing and that we have failed to find." "Tell me what it is," said the hyaena, "and I will at once despatch all these animals to look for it and it will surely be found." "Yes," echoed the tiger, "what is it?" "Maharaja," said the jackal, "when you take these medicines, you must lie down on the fresh skin of a hyaena, which has been flayed alive; but the only hyaena we can find in the forest is your dewan" "The world can well bear the loss of one hyaena," said the Tiger: "take him and skin him." At these words all the animals set upon the hyaena and flayed him alive; and the tiger lay down on the skin and took the medicines brought by the jackal; and as he was not seriously ill, his pain soon began to pass away.

"That is a lesson to the hyaena not to scold us and get us into trouble," said the jackal, as he went home.

CXX. The Crow and the Egret.

A crow and a white egret once made their nests in the same tree, and when the nestlings began to grow up the crow saw how pretty and white the young egrets were, and thought them much nicer than her own black young ones. So one day when the egret was away, the crow changed the nestlings and brought the little white egrets, to her own nest. When the mother egret returned and found the ugly little black crows in her own nest, it did not take her long to see what had happened and she at once taxed the crow with the theft. The crow denied all knowledge of the matter and a fine quarrel ensued.

Quarrelling led to nothing and they agreed to refer the dispute to the decision of a money-lender, whose house stood by the tree in which the two nests were. The crow, as the less shy of the two, flew down and asked the money-lender to come out and settle their dispute. The first question the money-lender asked was what they were going to give him. The egret promised to catch him a fine rohu fish, which was what she was accustomed to eat, but the crow said that she would give him a golden necklace. The money-lender said that the fees must be brought first before he heard the case, so the egret flew off and caught a big fish, but the crow went to where a Raja was bathing and carried off the gold chain which the Raja had left on the bank of the river. The money-lender then gave his decision, which was in favour of the party who had given him the most valuable present; he decided that the young birds must stay where they were. "But," protested the egret "how have my white nestlings become black?" "That is quite natural" answered the money-lender, "a white cow may have a black or brown calf: why should not you have black young ones?" And so saying he drove them away.

The poor egret was not at all content with this unjust decision, and was about to renew the quarrel, when a jackal came racing by; it had just made its escape from some hunters. "Where are you off to so fast, uncle?" called out the egret. "I am in arrears with my rent and am hurrying to pay it to the Raja," answered the jackal. "Stay and listen to my grievance," begged the egret, and she told the jackal all that had happened and how the money-lender had let himself be bribed by the gold necklace. The jackal was very indignant, "A man who could give a decision like that would call a buffalo, a bullock or a pig, a sheep. It is no decision at all; I cannot stop now, but I will come back to-morrow and decide the matter for you and before doing so, I will stuff the mouth of that unjust judge with filth." So saying the jackal hurried off.

The money-lender heard all that passed and was filled with shame at having earned the contempt of the jackal; he feared more disgrace on the morrow, so he at once called the crow and made her return the egret's nestlings, and the next morning when the jackal came back it found that everything had been settled to the satisfaction of the egret.

CXXI. The Jackal and the Hare.

A jackal and a hare were sworn friends. One day they planned to have a dinner of rice cooked with milk. So the hare crouched down under a bush which grew by the side of a road leading to a busy market; and the jackal stayed watching a little way off. Presently some men came along, taking rice to sell at the market. When they saw the hare by the side of the road, they put down their baskets of rice and ran to catch the hare. He led them a long chase, and then escaped. Meanwhile the jackal carried off as much of the unguarded rice as he wanted. By the same trick they got hold of milk, and firewood, and a cooking pot, and some leaf plates; Thus they had everything necessary for the meal except fire.

So the jackal ran off to a village and went to the house of a poor old woman who was pounding dried plum fruit into meal, and asked her for a light "Go into the house and take a brand from the fire yourself" said the old woman: "No" said the jackal "you go and get it; and I will pound your meal for you, while you are away." So the old woman went into the house; and while she was away the jackal put filth into the mortar and covered it up with meal. Then he took away the lighted brand, and after he had gone the old woman found that all her meal was spoilt.

Then the jackal cooked their rice and milk and when it was ready, they began to discuss which should first go and bathe, before they began to eat. At last the jackal went off; he hurried over his bath and came back as quickly as possible. Then the hare went, and he spent a long time having a thorough bath. While the hare was away, the jackal ate as much of the rice as he wanted and then filled the pot with filth and covered it over with rice. When the hare came back, they debated which should help the rice. At last they agreed that the hare should do so; but when the hare had taken out a little rice he found the pot full of filth. "So it is for this that I took all the trouble to get the provisions for our meal" cried the hare; and threw the contents of the pot over the jackal and drove him away.

The jackal went off and made a drum, and every day he sat in the sun beneath a bank and played the drum. The hare heard the sound and one day he went to the jackal and asked to be allowed to play the drum. The jackal handed it over but the hare beat it and shook it so vigorously that at last it was smashed to pieces. Then the hare ran away.

CXXII. The Brave Jackal.

Once upon a time a he-goat ran away for fear of being slaughtered and took refuge in a leopard's cave. When the leopard came back to the cave the goat called out "Hum Pakpak," and the leopard ran away in a fright. Presently it met a jackal and called out "Ah! my sister's son, some fearful animal has occupied my house!" "What is it like, uncle?" asked the jackal "It has a wisp of hemp tied to its chin," answered the leopard: "I am not afraid, uncle," boasted the jackal, "I have eaten many animals like that, bones and all." So they tied their tails together and went back to the leopard's cave. When the two drew near the goat stood up: and the leopard said "This morning he called out something dreadful at me." At this they both fled, and in their struggles to separate all the hair on the jackal's tail was scraped off and the jackal called out "Alas, alas! Uncle, you have scraped off all my skin!"

CXXIII. The Jackal and the Leopards.

Once upon a time a leopard and a leopardess were living with their cubs; and when the parents were away a jackal used to go to the cubs and say "If you won't pay up the paddy you owe, give me something on account." And the cubs gave him all the meat which their parents had brought; and as this happened every day the cubs began to starve. The leopard asked why they looked so thin although he brought them lots of game and the cubs explained that they had to give up all their food to the jackal from whom he had borrowed paddy. So the leopard lay in wait and when the jackal came again to beg of the cubs he chased him. The jackal ran away and hid in a crack in the ground; the leopard tried to follow and got stuck in the crack and was squeezed to death. The jackal came out and kicked the dead body, crying "I see you lying in wait for me."

Now the jackal wore silk shoes and a silk dhoti and he went back to the leopard's family and asked who would look after them now the leopard was dead. They said that they would live with him; so the jackal stayed there and they all went hunting deer. The jackal lay in wait and the leopards drove the game to him. But when the deer came out, the jackal was too frightened to attack them and climbed to the top of an ant-hill to be out of the way. So when the leopards came up they found that the jackal had killed nothing. But the jackal only complained that they had not driven the deer in the right direction. So the next day the leopardess lay in wait and the jackal and the cubs beat the jungle; when they came up they found that the leopardess had killed a fine deer. "Now," said the jackal "let me first offer the game as a sacrifice to the spirit of our dead leopard;" so saying he tried to bite a hole in the deer but the skin was too tough. So he made the leopardess tear the skin and then he pushed inside the carcase and ate up all the entrails. When he had had as much as he could eat he came out and let the leopards begin their meal.

Another day they wished to cross a flooded river. The young leopards offered to carry the jackal over on their shoulders but the jackal was too proud to allow this. So the leopards all jumped across the stream safely but when the jackal tried he fell into the middle of the water and was carried away down stream. Lower down a crocodile was lying on the bank sunning itself "Pull me out, pull me out!" called the jackal "and I will bring you some fat venison." So the crocodile pulled him out. "Now open your mouth and shut your eyes" said the jackal and when the crocodile obeyed he popped a large stone into its jaws and ran away. This made the crocodile very angry and it vowed to be revenged.

The jackal used to go every day to a certain tank to drink: and to reach the water he used to sit on the root of an arjun tree which projected from the bank. The crocodile observed this habit and one day lay in wait under the water by the arjun tree and when the jackal came to drink caught him by the leg. The jackal did not lose his presence of mind but called out "What a fool of a crocodile to catch hold of the root of the tree instead of my leg." On hearing this the crocodile let go its hold and the jackal laughed and ran away.

Every day the jackal used to lie in the sun on the top of a stack of straw. The crocodile found this out and buried itself in the straw and waited for the jackal. That day it happened that the jackal found a sheep-bell and tied it round his neck so that it tinkled as he ran. When it heard the bell the crocodile said "What a bother! I am waiting for the jackal and here comes a sheep tinkling its bell." The jackal heard the crocodile's exclamation and so detected the trick; he at once went and fetched a light and set fire to the heap of straw and the crocodile was burnt to death.

CXXIV. The Fool and His Dinner.

A man once went to visit his mother-in-law and for dinner they gave him rice with a relish made of young bamboo shoots. The man liked it extremely and thought that it was meat, but he saw no pieces of meat; so he asked his mother-in-law what it was made of; and behind him was a door made of bamboos: so the mother-in-law said, "I have cooked that which is behind you;" and he looked round and saw the door; so he resolved to carry off the door, as it made such good eating, and in the middle of the night he took it off the hinges and ran away with it. In the morning the door was missed and the mother-in-law guessed what had happened and had a hearty laugh.

Meanwhile the man went home with the door and chopped it up and gave the pieces to his wife to cook; the wife said that it was useless to cook dry chips but he insisted and said that her mother had made a beautiful dish of them. So they were cooked and the man sat down to eat; but they were all hard and tasteless; then he scolded his wife and she told him to cook them himself if he was not pleased; so he cooked some himself and the result was the same; and his wife laughed at him and when the villagers heard of it they nicknamed him "Silly", and used to call the name after him when they met him.

CXXV. The Stingy Daughter.

Once a man went to visit his married daughter: he intended to arrive in time for dinner; so though he passed some edible herbs on the way he did not stop to eat them.

When he arrived he was duly welcomed and after some conversation he told his daughter that he must return the same day; she said "All right, but wait till it gets hot." (The father understood this to be a metaphorical way of saying "Wait till the dinner is cooked.") But the daughter was determined not to cook the rice while her father was there: so they sat talking and when the sun was high the daughter went into the yard and felt the ground with her foot and finding it scorching she said "Now father, it is time for you to be going: it has got hot" Then the old man understood that she was not going to give him his dinner. So he took his stick and got up to go.

Now the son-in-law was a great hunter and that day he had killed and brought home a peacock; as he was leaving, the father said "My daughter, if your husband ever brings home a peacock I advise you to cook it with mowah oil cake; that makes it taste very nice." So directly her father had gone, the woman set to work and cooked the peacock with mowah oil cake; but when her husband and children began to eat it they found it horribly bitter and she herself tasted it and found it uneatable; then she told them that her father had made fun of her and made her spoil all the meat. Her husband asked whether she had cooked rice for her father; and when she said "No" he said that this was the way in which he had punished her; he had had nothing to eat and so he had prevented their having any either; she should entertain all visitors and especially her father. So they threw away the meat and had no dinner.

CXXVI. The Backwards and Forwards Dance.

There was once a Santal who owed money to a money-lender: the lender went to dun him every day but as he had nothing to pay with he used to hide in the jungle and as he had no warm clothes he used to light a fire to warm himself by; and when the fire was low he would sit near it and when it blazed up he would move back from it. When the money-lender asked the man's wife where he was, she always replied "He is dancing the 'Backwards and Forwards' dance." The money-lender got curious about this; and said that he would like to learn the dance. So one evening the Santal met him and offered to teach him the dance but, he said he must be paid and what would the money-lender give? The money-lender said that he would give any thing that was asked; so the Santal called two witnesses and before them the money-lender promised that if the Santal taught him the dance he would let him off his debt.

The next morning the Santal took the money-lender to the jungle and told him to take off his clothes as they would dance with only loin cloths on; then he lit a heap of straw and they sat by it warming themselves; and he purposely made only a small fire at first. Then the money-lender asked when they were going to begin to dance but the Santal said "Let us warm ourselves first, I am very cold," so saying he piled on more straw and as the fire blazed up they moved away from it; and when it sank they drew nearer again. While this was going on the two witnesses came up and the money-lender began to object that he was not being taught to dance; but the Santal said, "What more do you want; don't you keep moving backwards and forwards in front of the fire? This is the 'Backwards and Forwards' dance." Seeing how he had been tricked the money-lender was much upset and he appealed to the witnesses, but they decided against him; and he went home crying and lost his money.

CXXVII. The Deaf Family.

Formerly Santals were very stupid and much afraid of Hindus; and once a Santal was ploughing at a place where two roads met and a Hindu came along and asked him, in Hindi, where the two roads went to; now the Santal did not understand Hindi and was also deaf and he thought that the Hindu said "These two bullocks are mine,"—and he answered "When did I take your bullocks?" The Hindu sat down and repeated his question; but the Santal did not understand and continued to assert that the bullocks were his and were named Rice eater and Jaituk[2] and had formed part of his wife's dowry; the Hindu kept on asking about the roads and at last the Santal got frightened and thought "perhaps my father-in-law took the bullocks from this man and at any rate he will beat me and take them by force"; so he unyoked his bullocks and handed them over to the stranger; and the Hindu when he found out what was meant went off with them as fast as he could.

Soon after the Santal's mother brought him out his dinner and he told her what had happened about the bullocks! And she also was deaf and thought that he was complaining that the rice had no salt in it; so she answered, "Your wife gave it to me like this; I cannot say whether she put salt into it; come, eat it up." After he had eaten his dinner the old woman took the dishes home; and she found her husband cutting out a rice pounder; and she told him how their son had scolded her because there was no salt in the rice; and the husband was also deaf and he thought that she wanted to know what he was making and he answered crossly "It may be a rice pounder and it may be a rice mortar." And as often as she repeated her story he made this answer and told her not to worry him. Then she went to her daughter-in-law who was also deaf and sat spinning in the verandah; and she scolded her for not putting salt in the rice; and she answered "Who knows what I am spinning; the thread may be all knotty, but still I reel it up." And this is the end of the story. Thus the man lost his bullocks through cross questions and crooked answers; and as the whole family talked like that they soon became poor.

CXXVIII. The Father-in-Law's Visit.

A man once went to visit his married daughter in the month of October and he went round the fields with his son-in-law to see how his crop was growing. At each rice field they came to, the father-in-law said "You have not dammed up the outlets" and the son-in-law said "Yes, I have; the water is standing in the fields all right," and could not understand what the old man meant. The next day they both set off to visit some friends at a distance; and the son-in-law carried his shoes in his hand except when they came to a river when he always put them on; and when they were going along in the sun he carried his umbrella under his arm, but when they came to any shady trees he put it up; and he did the same on the way back. The old man was very astounded at this but made no remark. On reaching the house however he told his daughter that he was sorry that her husband was a mad man and told her what had happened. His daughter said, "No, father, he is not mad: he has a very good reason; he does not wear his shoes on dry ground because he can see where he is going; but in a river you cannot see what is under-foot; there may be sharp stones or thorns and so he puts on his shoes then; and he puts up his umbrella under trees lest falling branches should hit him or the droppings of birds fall on him, but in the open he can see that there is nothing to hurt him."

Her father admitted that these were good reasons and he had been foolish not to understand them; he then took his leave.

And in the following January he visited them again; and when he saw their stock of rice he asked how much they had, and the son-in-law said that there was only what he saw. "But," said the old man, "When I saw your fields you had a very fine crop coming on." "The crop was good," answered the son-in-law "but I owed rice to the money-lender and I have had to pay that back and I have had to pay my rent and this is all that I have left." "Ah!" said the father-in-law, "when I saw your fields I told you that you had not dammed up the outlets; by outlets I meant these drains; as water flows away through an outlet so has your wealth flowed away to money-lenders and landlords; is not this so?" And the son-in-law admitted that he was right and that his words had had a meaning.

CXXIX. Ramai and Somai.

Once two poor men named Ramai and Somai came to a village and took some waste land from the headman, and ploughed it and sowed millet; and their plough was only drawn by cows and their ploughshare was very small, what is called a "stumpy share;" and when they had sowed a little the rains came on; and Somai gave up cultivation and took to fishing and for a time he made very good profits by catching and selling fish; and he did not trouble even to reap the millet he had sown; he laughed at Ramai who was toiling away clearing more land and sowing maize and rice. He used to go and look at him and tell him that he would never get a crop while he had nothing better than a "stumpy" plough; it would probably break to pieces one day and then he would be helpless; he had much better take to fishing which gave quick and easy returns. Ramai made no answer, but when the rains were over there was no more fishing to be done; and Somai was left to starve and had to go from village to village begging. But Ramai reaped his millet and lived on that till his maize was ripe and then his maize supported him until his rice was ripe and he always had plenty to eat; and to show his despite for Somai, after he had had a good dinner, he would come out in front of his house and call out "What of the stumpy share now?" Every day after eating he would come out and say "At first I worked hard and suffered hunger but now I am eating in happiness; and you were happy then but now you are starving."

CXXX. The Two Brothers.

There were once two brothers who were constantly quarrelling and one afternoon after a heated quarrel the younger brother asked the villagers to come and judge between them. The villagers agreed to meet the next morning. At cockcrow the next day the elder brother went to the other's house and woke him up and said "Brother, this is a bad business; you have called in the villagers and they will certainly fine us both for quarrelling; it would be much better for us to save the money and spend it on a pig; then we and our families could have a feast." "I quite agree," said the younger brother, "but now I have summoned the villagers, what can be done? If I merely tell them to go away, they will never come again when I summon them."

The elder brother said, "I have a plan; when they come they will ask how the quarrel began and what abusive words I used; and then you must tell them that that is a point which they have to decide; and then they will be able to do nothing and will go away." The younger brother agreed to this and when the villagers came and asked what the quarrel was about he said, "Don't you know what the quarrel was? That was the very matter I wanted you to decide; if you don't know, how can you judge about it?" And this answer he repeated to all their questioning; then they got angry and said that he was mocking them; and they declined to give any decision, but said that the brothers must give them dinner as they had detained them so long; but the brothers flatly declined to do so as no decision had been given, and the villagers went away grumbling, while the brothers bought a pig with the money they had saved and had a jolly feast and as they ate the elder brother said: "See what a good plan mine was; but for it we should now have been feasting others at our expense."

CXXXI. The Three Fools.

Once upon a time three men were sitting at the foot of a tamarind tree and a stranger came up to them with a bunch of plantains on his shoulder and he put the plantains on the ground in front of them and bowed and went away. Thereupon the three men began to quarrel as to who was to have the plantains; each said that they were his because it was to him that the man had bowed. So they started calling each other "Fool" and after quarrelling for some time one said "Well, yes, I admit that I am a great fool" and the other two asked why he thought himself a fool and he said "Well one day my wife went to the jungle with the other village women to get firewood and left our baby in my charge; as she was a long time coming back the child became hungry and began to cry; I walked him about but he would not stop crying; I tried to feed him with rice and with rice water and with Gur and with cow's milk but he would not eat or stop crying; I was in despair when his mother came back and took him up and gave him the breast and the child was quiet at once.

Seeing this I said to my wife "Human milk must be sweeter than anything else." My wife said "Who can say whether it is nice; we all drink it when we are infants; but when we grow up we cannot say what it is like." Then I said that I would try what it was like and I sucked her breast and found that it was much sweeter than cow's milk; after that I formed the habit and used to drink her milk every day; and as I left none for the child it died soon afterwards of starvation; this shows what a fool I am."

Then one of the other men said "But I am a bigger fool than you." And they asked him in what way; and he said "I was married and was very much in love with my wife; once when she had gone on a visit to her father's I went to fetch her home; and she was got up in all her finery, with her hair well dressed and vermilion on her forehead and red arta on her feet. On our way home it began to rain and we took shelter in a village; and when the shower was over we went on; and we came to a river which was in flood from the rain; the water was up to a man's armpits and I decided to carry my wife across so that the arta on her feet might not get washed off. So I took her on my shoulder and to prevent her feet getting wet I held her feet uppermost and as her head was under water when I got across I found that she had been drowned; and if I had not been such a fool she would not have been killed."

Then the third man said "And I also am a fool. I had quarrelled with my own family so I lived with my wife in a house alone at the end of the village and we had no children. Now I was very fond of smoking; and one night I wanted a light for my hookah but there was none in the house; so I started to go and ask for a light from some neighbour; but as it was very dark I did not like to leave my wife all alone: nor did I like to send her out alone to ask for the light; so at last I took my hookah in my hand and set my wife astride on my shoulder and went round from house to house like that, asking for a light; and all the villagers laughed like anything; so I am a fool." Then they agreed that they were all three fools and had better divide the plantains equally among them and go home; and that is what they did.

CXXXII. The Cure for Laziness.

There was once a man who lived happily with his wife, but she was very lazy; when work in the fields was at its height she would pretend to be ill. In June and July, she would begin to moan as if in pain, and when every one else had gone off to work she would eat any rice that they had left over; or if there were none, would cook some for herself; Her father-in-law decided to call in some ojhas to examine her and if they could not cure her, then to send her back to her father: so he called in two ojhas and told them to do their best, as he did not want the woman's relations to complain that she had not been properly treated.

So the first ojha felt her pulse and smiled and said nothing, and the second ojha felt her pulse and smiled and said nothing, and when the father-in-law asked them if they knew what was the matter, they answered that the illness was very serious and medicines must be applied; the father-in-law said "Yes; but you must get the medicines or tell me exactly what is wanted and I will arrange for it;" this conversation took place before the woman; the ojhas said "Very well, we will do what you want but before applying the medicine we shall have to do some incantations;" the father-in-law answered "Do whatever is necessary to make a good job of it. Don't spare anything; try and get everything ready by to-morrow: for we are in great difficulty; I do not like to leave the patient alone in the house and yet I cannot spare anyone to look after her;" the ojhas promised and got up and went out with the father-in-law, and in the village street they told him that laziness was all that was the matter with the woman, but that they knew a medicine which would cure her; so they went to the jungle and dug up two very big tubers of the tirra plant, as big as pumpkins, and in the evening they went to the man's house and told him that they had found the medicine, and that the whole household was to come to the cross roads at the end of the village very early the next morning with the patient and they would exorcise the disease and apply remedies.

At cockcrow the next morning the two ojhas brought the two tubers and put them down at the end of the village street, and then went to the house where the sick woman lived and awoke the inmates, and they borrowed a pot of water and some vermilion and an old winnowing fan and then they all went to the place where the tubers had been left, and the ojhas made the patient sit on the winnowing fan facing the east and painted her with vermilion; then they waved pig's dung round her head and tied the two tubers round her neck and told her to walk up and down the village street three times; and that would remove the spell that was on her. So the woman began to walk up the village street and every one laughed at her and the children ran after her and smacked her and jumped and shouted for joy and the ojhas called out to her "You must not take off the tubers until you are cured."

The woman walked up and down twice, but then she was so ashamed at being laughed at that she threw away the tubers and ran off home; then they all laughed the more; and followed her to the house, and the ojhas asked whether she was cured that she had taken off the remedies they had applied; she only smiled in answer and they told her to take care because if she ever got ill again they would apply the same remedy; but from that day the woman completely recovered and did her fair share of all the work.

CXXXIII. The Brahman's Powers.

A long time ago a Brahman came from the west and did many wonders to the astonishment of those who saw him. He came to a certain village and at first put up in an old bamboo hut; there he sat motionless for three or four days and so far as anyone could see ate and drank nothing. The villagers said that he must eat during the night, so four men arranged to watch him continuously; two by day and two by night; but though they watched they could not detect him eating or drinking. Then the villagers collected and began to question him and as his answers seemed worthy of credit they began to bring him offerings of milk; one day he asked to be supplied with coolies that he might rebuild the hut in which he had taken up his abode; so coolies were brought and he made them collect bricks and prepare mortar and at the end of the day's work they asked to be paid; then the Brahman wrapped himself in his cloth and repeated some mantras, whereupon pice fell tinkling down from his body and with them he paid the coolies; and so it was every day until the house was finished. All this was a source of great wonder to those who saw it.

CXXXIV. Ram's Wife.

It is a custom among us Santals that husband and wife do not mention each other's names; and even if a husband sometimes mentions his wife's name in a case of urgent necessity, the wife will never speak her husband's; in the same way a man may not mention the name of his younger brother's wife or of his wife's elder sister; women again may not use the name of their younger sister's husband or their husband's elder brother. Our forefathers have said that if any one breaks this rule his children will be born deaf or dumb; we believe this and fear to break through the custom.

There was once a man named Ram who was ploughing his field; when he got to the end he found that he had not brought the seed with him; so he called out to his wife, pretending however that he was speaking to his daughter "Seed, daughter, seed!" And she called back "What do you want it for? Are you going to sow it?" (eram = will you sow) and every time he called, she answered "Eram?" At this he lost his temper and ran up to the house and asked what she meant by speaking his name, when he told her to bring out the seed for sowing; and thereupon he proceeded to give her a good thrashing. His wife said to him "Your name is the same as the word for 'sow,' it is a very fine name you have got." At this Ram laughed and asked how he could help having the name which his father and mother had given him. At this she giggled. "Then why are you hurt by it? You had better in future take out the seed corn with you and then you won't have to call to me; if you do I shall answer you as I did to-day."

To the present day people do not use the forbidden words; or if compelled to they spit on the ground first; even Christian converts do not like to infringe the rule if many people are present and usually speak of a person with a forbidden name as the father, or mother of such and such a child.

CXXXV. Palo.

There was once a man named Dhuju, and he had sons named Ret Mongla, Saru Sama and Chapat champa; and their wives were named Chibo, Porbet and Palo.

One rainy season the family was busy with the ploughing: Ret Mongla used to take the plough cattle out to get some grazing before the sun rose; and his two brothers took the ploughs to the fields a little later and the old father used to look on and tell them what to do. It was their practice when they wanted to attract each other's attention to call out: "Ho!" and not "Ya!" or "Brother." One day it had been arranged that they should sow gundli in a field; but when the eldest brother arrived at the place with the bullocks ready to plough he found that his two brothers had not turned up with the ploughs; so he began to call "Pal, ho!" (Pal = plough share).

Now just then the wife of the youngest brother, Palo, had gone towards that field to throw away the sweepings of the cowshed and she thought Ret Mongla was calling her name; this surprised her and made her very angry; and she made up her mind to pay him back and then if she were scolded for not paying proper respect to her husband's eldest brother to explain that he had insulted her first. So that morning when she took out their breakfast to the men working in the field, she pretended to be in great hurry, and putting down her basket near the place where the three brothers were ploughing, called out to them: "Come, stop ploughing," and then with scarcely an interval: "Look sharp and come and eat; or if you don't I will take your breakfast away again." So the brothers stopped their work and ate their breakfasts.

But when Palo had gone back and they were sitting having a chew of tobacco, the eldest brother began: "Did you notice how that girl behaved to me just now; she spoke to me in a most rude way as if I were not a person to whom she owed respect." The other two said that they had noticed it themselves, and her husband Chapat Champa said that he would punish her for it when he got home. Directly he got to the house he began scolding her and she made no answer, but that night when they were alone together she told him that what she had done was because Ret Mongla had insulted her by calling her by name. The next day her mother-in-law took her to task but Palo gave the same explanation.

Then Ret Mongla's mother went to him and asked him whether there was any truth in this counter-charge; he saw at once what had happened and explained that he had never called out his sister-in-law by name; he had called out for the plough; "Pal ho! Pal ho!" because his brothers had not got the ploughs ready; when Palo understood what a mistake she had made, she was covered with confusion and they brought water and she washed Ret Mongla's feet as she had done on the day of her marriage, and they salaamed to each other and peace was restored. But if the mistake had not been explained Palo would have been turned out of the family.

CXXXVI. The Women's Sacrifice.

This is a story of the old days when the Santals both men and women were very stupid. Once upon a time the men of a certain village had fixed a day for sacrificing a bullock; but the very day before the sacrifice was to take place, the Raja's sipahis came to the village and carried off all the men to do five days forced labour at the Raja's capital. The women thus left alone suffered the greatest anxiety; they thought it quite possible that their husbands and fathers would never be allowed to return or even be put to death; so they met in conclave and decided that the best thing they could do would be to carry out the sacrifice which the men had intended to make and which had been interrupted so unexpectedly.

So they made haste to wash their clothes and bathe, and by way of purification they fasted that evening and slept on the bare ground. Then at dawn they made ready everything wanted for the sacrifice and went to the jungle with the bullock that was to be the victim. There at the foot of a sal tree they scraped a piece of ground bare and smeared it with cow dung; then they put little heaps of rice at the four corners of a square and marked the place with vermilion; then they sprinkled water over the bullock and led it up to the square.

But here their difficulties began for none of them knew what incantations the men said on such an occasion; they wasted a lot of time each urging the other to begin, at last the wife of the headman plucked up courage and started an invocation like this: "We sacrifice this bullock to you; grant that our husbands may return; let not the Raja sacrifice them but grant them a speedy return." Having got as far as this she wanted the other women to take a turn, but they said that her invocation was capital and quite sufficient; and they had better get on to the sacrifice at once. Easier said than done; they none of them knew how to do it; as they all hung back the headman's wife scolded them roundly and bade them take the axe and kill the beast; then they all asked where they were to strike the animal: "Where its life resides," said the headman's wife. "Where is that," asked the women. "Watch and see what part of it moves," answered she, "and strike there." So they looked and presently the bullock moved its tail: "That's where its life is," shouted they; so three or four of them caught hold of the rope round the animal's neck and one woman seized the axe and struck two blows at the root of the animal's tail. She did it no harm but the pain of the blow made the bullock pass water. "See the blood flowing," cried the women, and eagerly caught the stream in a vessel; then the sacrificer dealt another blow which made the bullock jump and struggle until it broke loose and galloped off. The women followed in pursuit and chased it through a field of cotton; the bullock knocked off many of the ripe cotton pods and these the women thought were lumps of fat fallen from the wounded bullock, so they took them home and ate them; such fools were the women in those days.

CXXXVII. The Thief's Son.

Once upon a time a goat strayed into the house of a certain man who promptly killed it and hid the body. At evening the owner of the goat missed it and came in search of it. He asked the man who had killed it whether he had seen it, but the latter put on an innocent air and declared that he knew nothing about it but he invited the owner of the missing animal to look into the goat house and see if it had accidentally got mixed up with the other goats. The search was of course in vain.

Directly the owner had gone the thief brought out the body and skinned and cut it up, and every one in the house ate his fill of flesh. Before they went to sleep the thief told his sons to be careful not to go near any of the other boys when they were grazing the cattle next day, lest they should smell that they had been eating meat.

Next morning the thief's son took his goats out to graze and was careful not to go near any of the other boys who were tending cattle; whenever they approached him he moved away. At last they asked him what was the matter; and he told them that they must keep at a distance lest they should smell what he had been eating. "What have you eaten?" The simpleton replied that he had been eating goat's flesh and that there was still some in the house. The cowherds at once ran off and told the owner of the lost goat. The news soon spread and the villagers caught the man who had killed the goat and searched his house and found the flesh of the goat. Then they fined him one rupee four annas and made him give another goat in exchange for the one he had stolen.

CXXXVIII. The Divorce.

There was once a man who had reason to suspect his wife's faithfulness. He first tried threatening and scolding her; but this had no good effect, for far from being ashamed she only gave him back harder words than she received. So he set to work to find some way of divorcing her without making a scandal. One day when he came home with a fine basket of fish which he had caught he found that his father-in-law had come to pay them a visit. As he cleaned the fish he grumbled at the thought that his wife would of course give all the best of them to her father; at last an idea struck him. As he handed over the fish to his wife he told her to be careful not to give her father the heads of the mangri fish nor the dust of tobacco, as it was very wrong to give either of those things to a visitor. "Very well," she answered; but to herself she thought "What does he mean by forbidding me to do these things? I shall take care to give my father nothing but the heads of the fish" for her pleasure was to thwart her husband. So when the evening meal was ready she filled a separate plate for her father with nothing but the fish heads. As her husband heard the old man munching and crunching the bones he smiled to himself at the success of the plot. When his father was about to leave he asked for some tobacco, and the woman brought him only tobacco dust which she had carefully collected out of the bottom of the bag. The old gentleman went off without a word but very disappointed with his treatment.

A few days later the woman went to visit her father's house, and then he at once asked her what she meant by treating him as she had done. "I am sorry," said she: "I did it to spite my husband; he went out of his way to tell me not to give you the heads of the fish and the dust of tobacco, and so I picked out nothing but heads for you and gave you all the tobacco dust I could collect because I was so angry with him." From this her father easily understood that husband and wife were not getting on well together.

Time passed and one day her mother went to visit the troublesome wife. As she was leaving, her daughter asked whether there was any special reason for her coming. Her mother admitted that she had come hoping to borrow a little oil to rub on the cattle at the coming Sohrae festival, but as her son-in-law was not there she did not like to mention it and would not like to take any without his consent. "O never mind him!" said the woman and insisted on her mother taking away a pot—not of cheap mowah or mustard oil,—but of ghee.

Now a little girl saw her do this and the tale was soon all over the village; but the undutiful wife never said a word about it to her husband, and it was only after some days that he heard from others of his wife's extravagance. When it did reach his ears he seized the opportunity and at once drove her out of the house, and when a panchayat was called insisted on divorcing her for wasting his substance behind his back. No one could deny that the reason was a good one and so the panchayat had to allow the divorce. Thus he got rid of his wife without letting his real reason for doing so be known.

CXXXIX. The Father and the Father-in-Law.

There was once a Raja who had five sons and his only daughter was married to a neighbouring Raja.

In the course of time this Raja fell into poverty; all his horses and cattle died and his lands were sold. At last they had even to sell their household utensils and clothes for food. They had only cups and dishes made of gourds to use and the Raja's wife and sons had to go and work as day labourers in order to get food to eat. At last one day the Raja made up his mind to go and visit his married daughter and ask her husband's family to give him a brass cup (bati) that he might have something suitable to drink out of. Off he went and when he reached the house he was welcomed very politely by his daughter's father-in-law and given a seat and water to wash his feet, and a hookah was produced and then the following conversation began.

"Where have you come from, father of my daughter-in-law?"

"I have walked from home, father of my son-in-law?"

"You come here so often that you make me quite frightened! How is it? Is it well with you and yours? with body and skin? Would it not be well for us to exchange news?"

"Yes indeed; for how can you know how I am getting on if I do not tell you. By your kind enquiries my life has grown as big as a mountain, my bosom is as broad as a mat, and my beard has become as long as a buffalo horn."

"And I also, father of my daughter-in-law, am delighted at your coming and enquiring about me; otherwise I should wonder where you had settled down, and be thinking that you did not know the way relations should behave to each other; at present, I am glad to say, the seed left after sowing, the living who have been left behind by death, by your favour and the goodness of God, are all doing well. Is it not a proverb. 'The eye won't walk, but the ear will go and come back in no time.' Now the ear is the visitor and so far as it has looked our friends up, it is well with all, so far as I know."

The other answered; "Then I understand that by the goodness of God, all is very well with you all, O father of my son-in-law. That is what we want, that it may be well with us, body and soul."

"Life is our wealth; life is great wealth. So long as life lasts wealth will come. Even if there is nothing in the house, we can work and earn wealth, but if life goes where shall we obtain it?"

The visitor answered "That is true; and we have been suffering much from the 'standing' disease; (i.e. hunger) I have tried to get medicine to cure it in vain; the Doctors know of none. I should be greatly obliged if you could give me some medicine for it."

"The very same disease has overflowed this part of the country" was the reply:—at this they both laughed; and the visitor resumed,—

"Don't they say 'we asked after them and they did not ask anything about us in return;'? it is right now for me to ask how you are getting on" and so saying he proceeded in his turn to put the same questions and to receive the same answers.

Then they went out and bathed and came back and had some curds and rice and sat for a while smoking their hookahs. Then a goat was killed and cooked and they had a grand feast. But the Raja did not forget about the bati, and he took his daughter aside and told her to sound her mother-in-law about it. She brought back a message that if he wanted anything he should ask for it himself. So he went very shamefacedly to his host and told him that be must he leaving: "Well, good-bye, are you sure you only came to pay us a visit and had no other object?" The Raja seized the opening that this reply gave him and said "Yes, I had something in my mind; we are so poor now that we have not even a brass cup to drink out of, and I hoped that you would give me one of yours."

"My dear Sir, you say that you have gourds to drink but of: we have not even that; we have to go down to the stream and drink out of our hands; I certainly cannot give you a bati." At this rebuff the poor Raja got up and went away feeling very angry at the manner in which he had been treated.

When he reached home the Raja vowed that he would not even live in the neighbourhood of such faithless friends so he went with all his family to a far country. In their new home his luck changed and he prospered so much that in a few years he became the Raja of the country.

Meanwhile the other Raja—the father-in-law,—fell into such poverty that he and his family had to beg for their living.

The first Raja heard about this and made a plan to attract them to the place where he lived. He ordered a great tank to be dug and promised the workers one pice for each basket of earth they removed. This liberal wage attracted labourers from all sides; they came in such numbers that they looked like ants working and among them came the father-in-law and his family and asked the Raja for work. The Raja recognised them at once though they did not know him; at first the sight of their distress pleased him but then he reflected that if he cherished anger Chando would be angry with him, so he decided to treat them well and invited them to his palace. The poor creatures thought that they were probably doomed for sacrifice but could only do as they were bid. Great was their amazement when they were well fed and entertained and when they learnt who their benefactor was they burst into tears; and the Raja pointed out to them how wrong it was to laugh at the poor, because wealth might all fly away as theirs had done.

CXL. The Reproof.

A poor man once went to visit his daughter's father-in-law who was very rich. The rich man was proud of his wealth and looked down on poverty; so he made no special entertainment for his visitor and only gave him rice and dal for his dinner. When they went out to bathe he stood on the bank of the tank and began to boast. "I made this tank; all the land over there belongs to me; all those buffaloes and cattle you see, belong to me; I have so many that I have to keep two men to milk them."

The visitor said nothing at the time but that afternoon as host and guest sat smoking together they saw a beggar standing in front of the house. The sun was very powerful and the ground was so hot that the beggar kept shifting from one foot to another as he stood out in the sun. Then the poor visitor spoke up and said "It is strange that when you made such a nice house you made the roof without eaves." "Where are your eyes? Cannot you see the eaves?" asked the host in astonishment. The other answered "I see that you have made a house as high as a hill but if it had any eaves, surely that poor beggar there would not be standing out in the sun; and this morning you must have been mistaken in saying that that tank was yours for otherwise you would have given me fish for dinner; and I think that they were only rocks and tufts of grass which you pointed out to me as your flocks and herds for otherwise you would have offered me some milk or curds." And the rich man was ashamed and had no answer to make.

CXLI. Enigmas.

Once upon a time a man and his son went on a visit to the son's father-in-law. They were welcomed in a friendly way; but the father-in-law was much put out at the unexpected visit as he had nothing ready for the entertainment of his guest. He took an opportunity to go into the house and said to one of his daughters-in-law. "Now, my girl, fill the little river and the big river while I am away; and polish the big axe and the little axe and dig out five or six channels, and put hobbles on these relations who have come to visit us and bar them Into the cow house. I am going to bathe and will come back with a pot full of the water of dry land, then we will finish off these friends."

The two visitors outside overheard this strange talk and began to wonder what it meant. They did not like the talk about axes and digging channels, it sounded as if their host meant to kill them as a sacrifice and bury their bodies in a river bed; rich men had been known to do such things. With this thought in their minds they got up and began to run away as fast as their legs could carry them. But when the young woman saw what they were doing she ran after them and called them back.

They reluctantly stopped to hear what she had to say; and when she came up they reproached her for not having warned them of the fate in store for them. But she only laughed at their folly and explained that what her father-in-law meant was that she should wash their feet and give them a seat in the cow house; and make ready two pots of rice beer and polish the big and little brass basins and make five or six leaf cups and he would bring back some liquor and they would all have a drink. At this explanation they had a hearty laugh and went back to the house.

CXLII. The Too Particular Wife.

There was once a man with a large tumour on his forehead and his wife was so ashamed of it that she would never go about with him anywhere for fear of being laughed at. One day she went with a party of friends to see the Charak Puja. Her husband wished to go with her but she flatly declined to allow him.

So when she had gone he went to a friend's house and borrowed a complete set of new clothes and a large pagri. When he had rigged himself out in these he could hardly be recognised; but his forehead with the tumour was quite visible. Then he too went off to the fair and found his wife busy dancing. After watching her for some time he borrowed one of the drums and began to play for the dancers; and in particular he played and danced just in front of his wife.

When he saw that his wife was preparing to go home he started off ahead, got rid of his fine clothes and took the cattle out to graze. Presently he went back to the house and asked his wife whether she had enjoyed the fun. "You should have come to see it for yourself," said she.

"But you would not let me! Otherwise I should have gone."

"Yes," answered his wife, "I was ashamed of the lump on your forehead but other people do not seem to mind, for there was a man there with a lump just like yours who was playing the drum and taking a leading part in the fun and no one seemed to laugh at him: so in future I shall not mind going about with you."

CXLIII. The Paharia Socialists.

Formerly before the Santals came into the country the four taluqs of Sankara, Chiptiam, Sulunga and Dhaka formed the Paharia Raj and the whole country was dense jungle. Then the Santals came and cleared the jungle, and brought the land under cultivation. The Paharia Raja of Gando was named Somar Singh and he paid tribute to the Burdwan Raja.

Once ten or twelve Paharias went to Burdwan to pay the annual tribute. After they had paid in the money the Raja gave them a feast and a room to sleep in and sent them one bed. The Paharias had a discussion as to who should sleep on the bed and in order to avoid any ill-feeling about it they decided that they would all sleep on the ground and put their feet on the bed and then they could feel that they had all an equal share of it. This they did and in the morning the Burdwan Raja came in and found them all lying in this strange position and was very much amused. He explained that he had sent the bed for the use of the chief man among them and asked whether they had no distinctions of rank. "Yes" they said "we have in our own villages; but here we are in a foreign land and as we do not all belong to one village who is to decide which is the chief among us. Away from home we are all equal."

CXLIV. How a Tiger Was Killed.

In the days when the Santals lived in the jungle country there was once a man who had a patch of maize by the bank of a stream; and to watch his crop he had put up a platform in his field. Now one day he stole a goat and killed it; he did not take it home nor tell his family; he took it to the maize patch with some firewood and fire and a knife and a hatchet; and he hoisted all these on to his platform and lit a fire in the bottom of an earthen pot and cut up the goat and began to cook and eat the flesh. And a tiger smelt the flesh and came and sat down under the platform.

As the man ate he threw down the bones and as he threw them the tiger caught them in its mouth; and after a time the man noticed that he did not hear the bones strike the ground; so he looked down quietly and saw the tiger; then he was very frightened for he thought that when he could no longer keep the tiger quiet by throwing down bits of meat, the tiger would spring up unto the platform and eat him.

At last a thought struck him and he drew the head of his hatchet off the handle and put it in the fire till it became red-hot; and meanwhile he kept the tiger quiet by throwing down pieces of meat. Then when the axe head was ready he picked it out of the fire and threw it down; the tiger caught it as it fell and roared aloud with pain; its tongue and palate and throat were so burnt that it died.

Thus the man saved himself from the tiger and whether the story be true or no, it is known to all Santals.

CXLV. The Goala's Daughter.

There was once a man of the Goala caste who had an only daughter and she grew up and was married, but had no child; and after twenty years of married life she gave up all hope of having any. This misfortune preyed on her mind and she fell into a melancholy. Her parents asked her why she was always weeping and all the answer she would give was "My sorrow is that I have never worn clothes of 'Dusty cloth' and that is a sorrow which you cannot cure." But her father and mother determined to do what they could for their daughter and sent servants with money into all the bazars to buy "Dusty cloth". The shopkeepers had never heard of such an article so they bought some cloth of any sort they could get and brought it to the Goala; when he offered it to his daughter she thanked him and begged him not to waste his money:

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse