Folklore of the Kolhan



The Kolhan forms the western half of the district of Singhbhum in Chota Nagpur. The Hos or Larka Hos who form the bulk of the inhabitants are a branch of the Mundas of the Chota Nagpur Plateau. They are one of those Kolarian tribes of which the Santals are perhaps the best known. I have collected some of the Folklore stories current among them, the recollection of which would, however, appear to be dying out.

The Rev. A. Campbell of the Free Church of Scotland, Santal Mission, has printed a volume of Santal Folk Tales collected by him in Manbhum, a neighbouring district to Singhbhum. As might be expected there is considerable resemblance between those Santal Tales and the ones now reproduced. I have heard some of Mr. Campbell's Santal stories told by Hos precisely as he relates them, and there are many incidents common to both collections. On the other hand there is no resemblance between these Kolarian tales, and the Bengal stories published by Rev. Lal Behari De. In the latter I only notice one incident which appears in the Kolhan stories, the bringing together of two lovers through a long hair floating down a stream, but in Bengal it is the lady's hair that floats to her lover, while in the Kolhan it is always the long hair of the hero which inspires love in the heart of the Raja's daughter.

The stories may be divided into two groups, the animal stories in which the principal characters are animals, for the most part denizens of the jungles, and the stories which deal with a settled state of Society with Rajas, priests and members of the different Hindu castes following their usual occupations. It is interesting, but perhaps scarcely profitable, to try and deduce from the latter some hints of the previous history of the Hos, who, as we know them, are a strongly democratic race, with a well developed tribal system. They look on themselves as the owners, of the soil and are unwilling to admit the claims of any overlord.

I have made no attempt to put the following stories into a literary dress; I merely bring them as a few stones to the hands of the builders who build the structure of comparative mythology.

(1)--The River Snake.

Once upon a time a certain woman had been on a visit to a distant village. As she was going home she reached the bank of a flooded river. She tried to wade across but soon found that the water was too deep and the current too strong. She looked about but could see no signs of a boat or any means of crossing. It began to grow dark and the woman was in great distress at the thought that she would not be able to reach her home.

While she thus stood in doubt, suddenly out of the river came a great snake an said to her: "Woman, what will you give me if I ferry you across the river?" She answered: "Snake, I have nothing to give you." The snake said I cannot take you across the river unless you promise to give me something. Now the woman at the time was pregnant and not knowing what else to do, she promised that when her child was born, if it were a daughter she would marry her to the river snake and if it were a son that, when the boy grew up he should become the "juri" or "name friend" of the snake. The woman swore to do this with an oath and then the snake took her on his back and bore her safely across the flooded stream. The woman safely reached her home and in a little time a daughter was born to her. Years passed away and the woman forgot all about the snake and her oath. One day she went to the river to fetch water and the snake came out of the stream and said to her: "Woman, where is the wife whom you promised to me?" The woman then remembered her oath and going back to her house she returned to the river with her daughter. When the girl came to the bank of the river the snake seized her and drew her underneath the water and her mother saw her no more. The girl lived with the snake at the bottom of the river and in the course of years bore him four snake sons.

Afterwards the girl remembered her home and one day she went to visit her mother. Her brothers when they came home were astonished to see her and said: "Sister, we thought that you were drowned in the river." She answered: "No, I was not drowned, but I am married and have children." The brothers said: "Where is this brother-in-law of ours?" Their sister said: "Go to the river and call him." So they went to the river and called and the snake came up out of the water and went to their house with them. Then they welcomed the snake and gave him great quantities of rice beer to drink. After drinking this the snake became sleepy and coiling himself in great coils went to sleep. Then the brothers who did not like a snake brother-in-law took their axes and cut off the head of the snake while he slept, and afterwards their sister lived in their house.

(2)--The Sons of the Tigress.

Once upon a time a cow and a tigress lived in a jungle and were great friends, they were never separated. Now in those days tigers did not eat flesh, but grazed like cattle, so the tigress never thought of doing any harm to her friend the cow. The tigress had given birth to two men children who were growing up fine and sturdy lads. One afternoon the cow and the tigress went down to a stream to drink, the cow went into the stream and drank and the tigress drank lower down. The cow fouled the water of the stream and the tigress tasting the water found it sweet and thought if the cow can make the water so sweet how sweet the flesh of the cow must be. So on the way back from the stream the tigress suddenly sprang on the cow and killed her and ate her up, leaving nothing but the bones. When she got home her sons asked her where the cow was, but the tigress said that she did not know and that the cow must have deserted them, but afterwards the boys found the bones of the cow and they guessed what had happened. Then they thought, if our mother has killed her friend the cow, she will surely kill and eat us next. So when the tigress was asleep they killed her with axes. Then they ran away and after going for many days through the jungle they reached a city and they found all the people in great distress because a tiger was devastating the kingdom and killing all the inhabitants and no one could kill the tiger. The Raja of the city made a a proclamation that any one who could kill the tiger should have half the kingdom and his daughter in marriage. The two boys being the sons of a tigress were able by their knowledge of tiger ways to kill the tiger. So they were given half the kingdom and the elder of them married the king's daughter and they lived happily ever after.

(3)--The Tiger's Marriage.

Once upon a time there lived a Raja who had one son and many daughters. One day the Raja went into the jungle to cut grass. He cut a great deal of grass and tied it up in a big bundle and then he found that he had cut so much that it was more than he could carry. As he was wondering what he should do a tiger came by that way and seeing the Raja in difficulties asked what he could do to help him. The Raja explained that he had cut a bundle of grass which was too heavy to carry. The tiger said that he would carry the grass if he were rewarded for it: the Raja asked him what reward he wanted. The tiger said that he wished for one of the Raja's daughters in marriage. The Raja reflected that he had many daughters and agreed to the proposition. Thereupon the grass was placed on the tiger's back and he carried it to the Raja's palace. Now the Raja was ashamed to give his daughter openly to the tiger so he told the tiger to wait by the water hole, and sending for one of his daughters bade her go and fetch water; the girl went to the water hole where the tiger was waiting and was carried off by the tiger. But the Raja's son missed his sister and went in search of her. After searching some time he came to a cave in the jungle and looking in he was the tiger finishing the remains of the girl whom he had killed. Then the Raja's son ran home as quickly as he could, and told the Raja what he had seen.

The next day the tiger came openly to the Raja's palace and asked to see the Raja. He was taken to the Raja and treated politely. Then the tiger said to the Raja: "I am sorry to say that the wife whom you gave me has died, so you must give me another." [4] The Raja said he would think about the matter and invited the tiger to stay at the palace. So the tiger was given a good bed, and quickly went to sleep. In the night the Raja's son boiled some large vessels of water and poured the scalding water over the sleeping tiger and killed him. And in this way the tiger died.

(4)--The Jackal and His Neighbours.

Once upon a time a jackal killed a kid in a village and taking it to a little distance began to enjoy a good meal. But the crows who always make a noise about other people's business, gathered in a tree over his head and made a great cawing, so the villagers went to see what was the matter and beat the jackal severely and deprived him of his feast. On this account the jackal was very angry with the crows and determined to be revenged.

Shortly afterwards a great storm came on with wind and heavy rain and all the birds and animals were in danger of being drowned. Then the jackal pretended to be sorry for the crows and invited them all to come and take shelter in his house. But when the jackal had got them safely into his house he killed and ate them all; all except one nilkanth bird which he decided to keep for his breakfast the next day, so he tied the nilkanth bird, on to his tail and went away from that part of the country. But the nilkanth bird pecked and pecked at the jackal's tail until it not only pecked itself loose but hurt the tail so much that it became festered and swollen.

As the jackal went along with his swollen tail he met a potter going to market with earthern pots for sale. Then the jackal put on a bullying air and said that he was a sipahi of the Raja, and one pot of those being taken to market must be given to him; at first the potter refused, but being frightened he in the end gave one to the jackal.

Into this the jackal pressed the matter which had accumulated in his swollen tail and covered it over with leaves. Going on, the jackal met a boy tending goats, he told the boy that he had arranged with the boy's father to buy one of the goats in exchange for a pot of ghee, the boy believed this and took the chatty with its contents from the jackal and gave him a fine goat.

The jackal went off to his home in triumph with the goat.

His friends and neighbours were very jealous when they saw that he had so fine a goat and waiting till his back was turned, they killed and ate the goat, and then they filled the skin with stones and gravel so that it might seem that the whole goat was still there. The jackal found out what his neighbours had done, and he took the goat skin to a muchi and got the muchi to make it into a drum. Then he went to the banks of a deep river and began to play the drum. All the other jackals collected round and were lost in admiration of the tone of the drum. They wanted to know where so beautiful a drum was got, the first jackal said that there were many drums as good at the bottom of the river, and if they tied stones round their necks and jumped in they would find them. So the other jackals in their anxiety to get such drums jumped into the river and were drowned, and the jackal was revenged on all his enemies.

(5)--The Jackal and the Tigers.

Once upon a time a pair of tigers lived in a jungle with their two cubs, and every day the two tigers used to go out hunting deer and other animals that they might bring home food for the cubs. Near the jungle lived a jackal, and he found it very hard to get enough to live upon; however, one day he came upon the tiger's den when the father and mother tiger were out hunting, and there he saw the two tiger cubs with a large piece of venison which their parents had brought them. Then the jackal put on a swaggering air and began to abuse the tiger cubs for having so much venison, saying: "I am the sipahi of the Raja and the Raja has demanded venison and none can be found, while low people like you have a fine piece like this: give it at once or I will take it and report against you to the Raja." Then the tiger cubs were frightened and gave up the venison and the jackal went off gleefully and ate it. The next day the jackal came again and in the same way took off more meat. The jackal continued taking their meal from the tiger cubs every day till the cubs became very thin: the father tiger determined to find out why this was, so he hid himself in the bushes and watched: he saw the jackal come and take away the meat from the cubs. Then he was very angry and ran after the jackal to kill him and the jackal ran away very fast and the tiger ran after as fast as he could: at last the jackal ran into a cleft between two rocks and the tiger running after him stuck fast between the two rocks and could not come out and so was starved to death. But the jackal being smaller ran out on the other side.

Then the jackal went back to the tiger's den and told the tigress that her husband had been caught by the Raja and thrown into prison for interfering with his sipahi. The tigress and her cubs were very unhappy at this news for they thought that they would starve. Then the jackal comforted them and told them not to be afraid as he would stay with them and protect them, and help them with their hunting. So the next day they all four went hunting. They arranged that the jackal should wait at a certain place, while the tigers beat the jungle and drove the game towards him. The jackal had boasted about the amount of game that he could catch and when a herd of deer broke by him he tried to seize one but they easily escaped: then the jackal was ashamed but in order not to be detected he lay down and pretended that he had been suddenly taken very ill. And when the tigers came up they were sorry for him and forgave him for catching no game. The next day it was arranged that the tigress should be in wait and the jackal and the two young tigers should beat: the tigress soon killed a fine deer. When the others came up the tigers wanted to eat it at once, but the jackal would not let them and said that they must go to a little distance while he did puja to make the food wholesome. The tigers obeyed and under pretence of doing puja the jackal ate up all the tit bits and then allowed the tigers to come and eat the rest. This happened daily and the jackal lived in comfort all his days.

(6)--The Wild Buffaloes.

There was once a man so poor that he had no land, no plough and no plough cattle: all that he had was a pair of fine goats. This man determined to plough with the goats, so he made a little plough and yoked the goats to it, and with it he ploughed a piece of barren upland. Having ploughed he had no seed paddy to sow; he went to try and borrow some paddy from the neighbours, but they would lend him nothing. Then he went and begged some paddy chaff, and a neighbour readily gave him some. The man took the chaff and sowed it as if it had been seed. Wonderful to relate from this chaff grew up the finest crop of paddy that ever was seen. Day by day the man went and watched with joy his paddy grow and ripen. One morning when he went to see it he was horrified to find that in the night wild buffaloes had come and eaten and destroyed the whole crop. Having now no other resource the man determined to follow the wild buffaloes into the jungle: he readily tracked them and came to a large open space where every night the wild buffaloes used to sleep. As it was very dirty he made a broom of twigs and brushed the place clean. At nightfall he heard the buffaloes coming back and he went and hid in a hollow tree. When the buffaloes saw how clean their sleeping place had been made they were very pleased and wondered who had done it. The next morning the buffaloes all went away into the jungle to graze, and the man came out of his hollow tree and again swept up the place: the buffaloes on their return saw that the place had again been swept and decided to leave one of their number to watch and see who did this. They left a buffalo who was lame to watch: when the day got hot however the lame buffalo went to sleep, and the man then came out of his tree and swept up the place and hid himself again without being discovered. So the next day the buffaloes left a blind one behind.

The blind buffalo was of very acute hearing and he heard the man come out and sweep the place and return to the tree: so when the other buffaloes came back he told them of the man's hiding place. The buffaloes made him come out and arranged that they would provide for him if he would stay with them and sweep their sleeping place daily. The next day the buffaloes lay in wait for a band of merchants who were travelling through the forest and suddenly charging down upon them put the merchants to flight: they fled leaving behind them all their goods and provisions: these the buffaloes took on their horns and carried to the man, and in this way they from time to time supplied him with all he needed. As he was alone all day they gave him a pair of horns, and said that wherever he was if he blew on the horns all the buffaloes in the forest would come to his assistance. But one day when he was bathing he put the horns down on the bank of the stream and crows flew away with them and he did not care to tell the buffaloes that he had lost them.

One day he went to bathe in the river and after bathing he sat and combed his hair on the bank. Now his hair was so long that it reached to his knees. One of his long hairs came out and so he took it and splitting open a loa fruit he coiled the hair inside and closed the fruit up and then set it to float down the river. A long way down the stream a Raja's daughter happened to be bathing and the loafruit floated past her: she caught hold of it and when she opened it she found the long hair inside. At once she went to her father and vowed that she would marry no one except the man to whom the long hair belonged. As nothing would alter her determination the Raja sent men up the river to search for the owner of the long hair. One of them found the man at the home of the buffaloes and brought him to the Raja. He was at once married with great grandeur to the princess and promised the succession to the kingdom. So our hero began to live in great luxury. One day as he was standing in the courtyard of the palace some crows flew overhead and dropped the pair of horns that he had lost. He picked them up and boasted that if he blew on them the whole town would be at once destroyed. The bystanders laughed at him, whereupon he got angry and blew on the horns. Then there was a great noise and an enormous herd of wild buff aloes was seen rushing down to destroy the town. However before they could do any damage he ran out and assured them that he was unhurt; at this the buffaloes were pacified; then all the straw and grain in the palace was brought out and given to the buffaloes to eat: after eating all they wanted they went back into the jungle, all except one pair which stayed behind in the palace; and from this pair are descended all the tame buffaloes which we see to-day.

(7)--The Grateful Cow.

Once upon a time there were two brothers who were very poor and lived only by begging and gleaning. One day at harvest time they went out to glean. On their way they came to a stream with muddy banks and in the mud a cow had stuck fast and was unable to get out. The young brother proposed that they should help it out, but the elder brother objected saying that they might be accused of theft: the younger brother persisted and so they pulled the cow out of the mud. The cow followed them home and shortly afterwards produced a calf. In a few years the cow and her descendants multiplied in a marvellous manner so that the brothers became rich by selling the milk and ghi. They became so rich that the elder brother was able to marry; he lived at home with his wife and the younger brother lived in the jungle grazing the cattle. The elder brother's son used every day to take out his uncle's dinner to the jungle. This was not really necessary for the cow used to supply her master with all sorts of dainties to eat, so the younger brother, when his nephew brought out the rice used to give the boy some of the sweetmeats with which the cow supplied him, but he charged him not to tell his parents about this nor to take any home. But one day the boy hid some of the sweetmeats in his cloth and took them home and showed them to his mother. His mother had never seen such sweetmeats before and was convinced that her brother-in-law wished to poison her son. So she took the sweetmeats away and the next day she herself took out the dinner to her brother-in-law and after he had eaten it she said that she would comb his hair and pick out the lice from it; so he put his head on her lap and as she combed his hair in a soothing way he went off to sleep. When he was asleep the woman took out a knife and cut off his head. Then she got up and leaving the head and body lying at the place went home. But the cow had seen what occurred and with her horns she pushed the head along until it joined the neck: whereupon the man immediately came to life again and learned what had happened to him. So he drove off all the cattle to a distant part of the jungle and began to live there.

Every day he milked his large herd of cows and got a great quantity of milk; he asked his friend the cow what he was to do with it and she told him to pour it into a hole in the ground at the foot of a pipal tree Every day he poured the milk into the hole and one day as he was doing so out of the hole came a large snake and thanked him for his kindness in supplying the milk and asked him what reward he would wish to receive in return. Acting on a hint from the cow the man said that he would like to have all the milk back again. Whereupon the snake vomited up all the milk which it had drunk and died on the spot. But the milk mingled with poison fell over the man and imported to his body a glorious and shining appearance, so that he seemed to be made of fire.

After this the man used every day to go and bathe in a river, and each day when he bathed he threw one of his hairs into the water: and his hairs were very long. Lower down the river a princess used to bathe and one day she saw one of the hairs come floating down and vowed that she would marry no one but the owner of the hair. So the father of the princess sent a Brahman up the river to look for the man with the long hair. The Brahman was a very thin man with his ribs showing through his skin. After some days he found our hero and was amazed at his shining appearance. He told him that a princess wished to marry him: he was invited to stay some days; he did so, living on the milk from the herd of cows and in a short time became very fat. The cow told the man to take a basket and creep into the hole from which the snake had come he did so and at the bottom he found a heap of gold and silver: he filled his basket with this and came back and gave it all to the Brahman, and told him to go home and inform his master that he would come in a few days and marry his daughter. When the Raja saw the gold and silver and how fat the Brahman had got he was very pleased to think what a son-in-law he was getting. In a few days the cow said that it was time to start and as he had no other conveyance he set out riding on the cow. When they reached the boundary of the Raja's kingdom the man woke up one morning and found that a great retinue of elephants and horses and palkis and sipahis had appeared during the night. This was owing to the magic of the cow. So the man mounted an elephant and went in state to the Raja and married his daughter with great ceremony. After staying some days he decided to return home and started off with his wife and grand retinue. When they reached the boundary of the kingdom all the elephants and horses and palkisand sipahis vanished into air, and the princess found that she and her husband had nothing but an old cow to ride upon. At this she was very unhappy but she was ashamed to go back to her father, so she went on with her husband and helped to tend the cows in the jungle.

One morning they woke up and found that in the night a grand palace had sprung up fitted with wealth of every kind, this was the last gift of the cow which soon afterwards died. Thus the man became a Raja and founded a kingdom and he gave a rupee to every one who would come and settle in his kingdom. Many people came and among others his brother and sister-in-law who had fallen into great proverty. When they saw their brother they were afraid and thought that they would be killed, but he forgave them and gave them clothes and land and they all lived happily ever after.

(8)--The Belbati Princess.

Once upon a time there were seven brothers the youngest of whom bore the name of Lita. The six elder brothers were all married but Lita refused to marry and when questioned he said that he would not marry any one but the Belbati Princess. His sisters-in-law laughed very much at the idea that he would marry a princess and worried him so much that at length he decided to set out in search of the Belbati princess. So one day he started off and after some time came to a jungle in which was sitting a holy muni. Lita went to him and asked if he knew where he would find the Belbati-princess. The muni said that he did not know but that a day's journey farther on was another muni who might be able to tell him. So Lita travelled on for a day and found another muni who was in the midst of performing a three month's spell of fasting and meditation. Lita had to wait till the munireturned to thoughts of this world and then made his enquiry. The muni said that he did not know but that three days' journey farther on was another muni who might be able to help him. So Lita went on and found the third muni who was in the midst of a six months' fast. When this muni came to himself and heard what Lita wanted he said that he would be very glad to help him. The Belbati princess was at the time imprisoned in the biggest bel fruit growing on a bel tree which was guarded by Rakshasas. If he went and plucked this fruit he would secure the princess, but if he took any but the biggest fruit he would be ruined.

Lita promised to bear this in mind and then the muni changed him into a biti bird and told him the direction in which to fly. Lita flew off and soon came to the tree, which was covered with fruit; he was very frightened when he saw the Rakshasas there, so in a great hurry he went and bit off the first fruit that he came to; but this was not the biggest on the tree and the Rakshasas immediately fell upon him and ate him up. The muni, when Lita did not come back, knew that something must have happened to him so he sent a crow to see what was the matter. The crow came back and said that one belfruit had been picked but that he could not see Lita. Then the munisent the crow to bring him the droppings of the Rakshasas. The crow did so and from the droppings the muni restored Lita to life. The muni reproved Lita for his failure and told him that if he wished to make a second attempt he must remember his behest to pick only the biggest bel fruit. Lita promised and the muni turned him into a parroquet. In this form Lita again flew to the bel tree and picked the biggest fruit on the tree. When the Rakshasas saw the parrot making off with the fruit they pursued him in fury; but the muniturned the parrot into a fly so small that the Rakshasas could not see it, so they had to give up the chase.

When they had departed Lita recovered his own form and went to the muni with the bel fruit and asked what more was to be done in order to find the princess. The muni said that the princess was inside the fruit; that Lita was to take it to a certain well and very gently break it open against the edge of the well. Lita hurried off to the well and in his anxiety to see the princess he knocked the fruit with all his force and split it suddenly in two. The result of this was that the princess burst out of the fruit in such a blaze of light that Lita fell down dead. When the princess saw that her brightness had killed her lover she was very distressed and taking his body on her lap she wept over him. While she was doing so a girl of the Kamar caste came by and asked what was the matter. The princess said: "My lover is dead, if you will draw water from the well I will revive him by giving him to drink," but the Kamar girl at once formed a wicked plan. She said that she could not reach the water in the well. Then said the princess: "Do you hold this dead body while I draw the water." "No," said the Kamar girl, "I see you mean to run away leaving me with the dead body and I shall get into trouble." Then said the princess: "If you do not believe me take off my fine clothes and keep them as a pledge." Then the princess let the Kamar girl take off all her jewellery and her beautiful dress and went to draw water from the well. But the Kamar girl followed her and as the princess leant over the edge she pushed her in, so that she was drowned. Then the Kamar girl drew water from the well and went back to Lita and poured some into his mouth, and directly the water touched his lips he came back to life, and as the Kamar girl had put on the dress and jewellery of the Belbati princess he thought that she was the bride for whom he had sought. So he took her home to his brothers' house and married her.

After a time Lita and his brothers went to hunt in the jungle; it was very hot and Lita grew very thirsty; he found himself near the well at which he had broken the bel fruit and went to it for water. Looking down he saw floating on the water a beautiful flower; he was so pleased with it that he picked it and took it home to his Kamar wife; but when she saw it she was very displeased and cut it up into pieces and threw the pieces out of the house. Lita was sorry and noticed shortly afterwards that at the place where the pieces of the flower had been thrown a small bel tree was sprouting. He had this planted in his garden and carefully watered. It grew well and after a time it produced ripe fruit. One day Lita ordered his horse, and as it was being brought it broke loose and run away into the garden: as it ran under the bel tree one of the bel fruits fell on to the saddle and stayed there. When the syce caught the horse he saw this and took the fruit home with him. When he went to cut open the fruit he found inside it a beautiful woman; he kept the woman in his house. At this time the Kamar woman fell ill and was like to die. Lita was very distressed at the thought of losing his Belbati princess. At last the Kamarin said that she was being bewitched by the girl who was living in the syce's house and that one or other of them must die. Lita at once ordered the girl to be taken into the jungle and killed. Four Ghasis took her away and put her to death. Her last request to them was that they should cut off her hands and feet and put them at the four sides of her grave. This they did. After the death of the girl the Kamar wife recovered her health.

After a time Lita again went hunting and at nightfall came to the place where the girl had been put to death. There he found standing a fine palace. He went in but the only living creatures he saw were two birds who seemed to live there; he lay down on a bed and went to sleep. While he slept the birds sat by him and began talking. One told the other the story of the search for the Belbati princess and how the Kamar girl had thrown her into the well and taken her place. When Lita heard this he awoke and was very unhappy. The birds told him that once a year the Belbati princess visited the palace in which he was; her next visit would be in six months. So Lita stayed there and at the end of the six months he hid behind the door to await the princess. She came and as she passed through the door he caught her by the hand, but she wrenched herself away and fled. Lita was very depressed but the birds told him to be more careful the next time. So he waited a year and when the princess was expected he hid himself: the princess came and seeing no one entered the palace and went to sleep. While she slept Lita secured her. They were married and lived happily ever after, and the wicked Kamar girl was put to death.

(9)--The Bread Tree.

There once was a boy who lived with his mother and was engaged all day in tending cattle. Every morning when he started his mother gave him two pieces of bread called "hunger bread" and "stuffing bread,"--one to satisfy hunger with and the other to over-eat oneself on. One day the boy could not eat all his bread and he left the piece that remained over on a rock. When he went back the next day he was surprised to see that from the piece of bread a tree had grown which bore loaves of bread instead of fruit. After that the boy no longer took bread from his mother, but lived on the fruit of his tree.

One day he had climbed his tree to pick a loaf when an old woman came by with a bag over her shoulder and saying that she was very poor begged for a piece of bread. The old woman was really a Rakshasi. The boy was kindhearted and told her that he would throw her down a loaf, but the old woman objected that it would get dirty if it fell on the ground. Then he told her to hold out her cloth and he would throw it into that: but she said that she could not see well enough to catch the loaf: he must come down and give it to her: so the boy came down to give her the loaf and when the Rakshasi had him on the ground, she seized him and put him in her bag and went off with him.

After going some way she came to a pool of water and as she was rather thirsty from carrying such a burden, she put down her bag and went to drink. Opportunely some travellers came by and hearing the boy's shouts let him out of the bag. The boy filled the bag with stones and tied it up as before and made the best of his way home. The old Rakshasi went off with the heavy bag and when she got to her abode told her daughter with whom she lived that she had captured a fine dinner but when the daughter opened the bag she found in it nothing but stones: at this she was very angry and abused her mother: then the old woman said that the boy had escaped on the road: so the next day she went back to the place where the boy was tending cattle and by the same trick she caught him and put him in her bag and this time went straight home. She made him over to her daughter and went out to collect fire wood with which to cook him. The boy being left alone with the daughter began to ask how he was to be killed; she said that his head was to be pounded in a Dhenki. He pretended not to understand and asked how that was to be done. The girl not understanding such stupidity put her head under the striker of the Dhenki to show him what would happen. Then the boy at once pounded her head in the Dhenki and killed her: he then put on her clothes and cut her body up in pieces ready for cooking. When the old woman came back with the fire wood she was pleased to find that her daughter, as she thought, had got every thing ready; and the meal was soon cooked and eaten. After the old woman had thus made a hearty meal off the remains of her own daughter she felt sleepy and took a nap. While she slept the boy struck her on the head with a large stone and killed her; thus he saved his life and took all the property of the old Rakshasi and lived happily ever after.

(10)--The Origin of Sabai Grass (Ischaemum Angustifolium).

Once upon a time there were six brothers who lived with their sister. The brothers used to spend their days in the jungle hunting while the sister minded the house and cooked the dinner against their return.

One day while the brothers were hunting the girl went to cut herbs to cook with the dinner: as she was doing so she chanced to cut her finger and some drops of blood fell on the herbs, which were put in the pot. When the brothers came home to dinner they noticed how very sweet the food was and asked the reason. The girl said that she was afraid that it must be because some drops of her blood had fallen on it. Then the brothers took counsel together and agreed that if a few drops of her blood were so sweet, she must be very nice to eat. So they agreed to murder her and eat her. But the youngest brother named Lita, though he did not dare to oppose his elders, was sorry for the decision. The next day when the brothers came from the jungle they brought with them a beautiful flower of seven colours and gave it to their sister. She was delighted with it: she had never seen so beautiful a flower before and wanted to know where it grew and whether were others like it. They said that if she liked to come with them they would take her to the tree on which the flowers grew and she could pick as many as she liked. So the next morning she gladly went with them and they took her to the tree with the seven-coloured flowers. She climbed the tree to pick the flowers and when she was up in the tree they shot arrows at her to kill her; but though they shot many arrows they could not kill her. Then they compelled Lita to shoot and he with his first arrow killed his sister.

Then they cut up the body of the girl ready for cooking and sent Lita to a well to fetch water in which to cook the flesh. Lita went to the well and overcome with sorrow sat down and wept. As he wept a large frog came to the surface of the water and asked him what was the matter; he said that he had been made to kill his sister and that now they were going to cook her flesh. The frog told him to be comforted and gave him a large rohu fish. Lita took this back and when his brothers told him to cook the food, he hid the pieces of his sister's body and cooked the rohu fish. The brothers ate this thinking that it was their sister. Then they went on into the jungle hunting. After going a short way Lita said that he had forgotten to recover his arrow and that he must go back and fetch it. He went back to the place, and taking his sister's body buried it and building a hut near, spent the days in weeping over the grave. After he had spent some time thus the girl appeared alive out of the ground. Lita was overjoyed and he and his sister remained happily in the jungle.

One day a Raja hunting in the jungle passed that way and seeing the girl at once fell in love with her and took her away and married her. Lita he also took with him and made him ruler of half the kingdom.

In honour of his marriage the Raja resolved to construct an enormous tank: and people came from far and near to work at it. Among others came Lita's five elder brothers, who had fallen into great poverty, owing to their wickedness. When their sister saw them she forgave them and sending for them bestowed on them food and clothing. But they were so ashamed and repentent that they could only kneel on the ground and beat the earth with their hands. As they continued to do so the earth opened and swallowed them up: only their hair stuck out of the ground and that became sabai grass, and this was the origin of all the sabai grass which exists.

(11)--The Faithless Sister.

Once upon a time there was a man who had a son and daughter: he used to cultivate his land and his son and daughter used to take his dinner to him. One day the man went to plough and while ploughing he stuck the spear which he had brought with him into the ground. As the man ploughed a tiger came and waited an opportunity to spring upon the man: but from whichever side the tiger approached, the spear which was stuck in the ground bent its point towards the tiger and so protected its master. Just then the boy and girl came along with their father's dinner. The baffled tiger was hiding in some bushes by the field. As the children went along they saw a paddy bird on the ground. The boy of course had his bow and bird arrows with him and he shot an arrow at the paddy bird: he missed the bird, but it happened that the tiger was just in the line of fire; the arrow pierced the eye of the tiger and killed it instantaneously. When the girl saw the tiger lying dead she said that it was clear that their father had enticed them there in order that the tiger might kill them when they brought him his dinner: clearly the only way for them to save their lives was to leave their home at once. The boy agreed; drawing his arrow from the tiger's head and taking the tiger's eyes with him, he went away with his sister as fast as they could run. After going some little distance they met in the way two tigers. The boy threw at the tiger the eyes of the first tiger which he had brought with him. The tigers at once fell down dead, but from the body of one proceeded, a hare, and from the body of the other, two dogs which peaceably followed the boy and his sister. Having escaped to a distance they lived in the jungle happily for some time with their three animal friends. One day the hare said that he would like to have a spear, so the boy went with him to a blacksmith and got a spear made. As they were returning they met in the way a giant Rakshasa who wished to devour them, but the hare holding the spear kept jumping in and out of the giant's mouth with such speed that the Rakshasawas dumbfounded and surrendered at discretion, promising to be a faithful servant to them henceforth. With the help of the Rakshasathey had great success in hunting. The boy with the hare and the two dogs used to beat the jungle and drive the game towards the Rakshasawho caught it in his mouth. One day they thus caught a monkey, whose life they spared and who joined their band. The monkey took a large drum and caught in it a nest of wild bees, which he preserved.

One day while the others were away a Raja who was hunting in the jungle found the girl sitting alone and at once fell in love with her and wanted to marry her. The girl said that she was willing but that she was sure that her brother would never consent. The only thing was to kill her brother and the Raja could never do that as the faithful animals would protect him. At last the girl consented to try and compass her brother's death. To this end she became very melancholy and seemed to pine away: her brother asked what was the matter and she said that she would never recover unless he could fetch her a certain flower which grew in the midst of a certain lake. Now this lake swarmed with gigantic fish and poisonous snakes. But the brother, never daunted, went to the lake and began to swim out to the centre where the flower grew. Before he got half way there one of the gigantic fish swallowed him up. The Rakshasa however saw this and set to work to drink the lake up: he soon drank the lake dry and not only caught the big fish but also was able to gather the flower that had grown in the lake. They then cut open the fish and took the boy unharmed from its belly. The Rakshasa then vomited up the water he had swallowed and filled up the lake again. Meanwhile the Raja thinking that the boy had died, carried off his sister. But the boy setting out with the hare and the dogs and the Rakshasa and the monkey proceeded to attack the Raja's capital and recover his sister. The monkey opened his drum and the bees issued forth and attacked the Raja's army so that it fled. The Raja had to capitulate and give the boy half his kingdom and his own daughter in marriage, then peace was declared and the animals all disappeared into the jungle and our hero lived happily ever after.

(12)--The Cruel Sisters-in-Law.

Once upon a time there lived six brothers who had one sister. The brothers were all married and their wives hated their sister-in-law. It happened that the brothers all went away to trade in a far country and her sisters-in-law took the opportunity to illtreat the girl. They said "If you do not obey us and do what we tell you we will kill you." The girl said that she would obey their behests to the best of her ability. They said "Then go to the well and bring this earthen pot back full of water." The khalsi had a large hole in the bottom so that as fast as it was filled the water ran out. The girl took the pot to the well and sitting down began to weep over her fate. As she wept a large frog rose out of the water and asked her what was the matter. She said "My last hour has come. If I cannot fill this pot with water I shall be killed and it has a hole in the bottom." The frog said, "Be comforted, I will cure that: I will sit on the hole and stop it up with my body and you will be able to fill it." This it did and the girl took the water back to the house. The sisters-in-law were very angry but could say nothing so they set her another task. They told her to go the jungle and bring home a full bundle of sticks: but she was not to take any rope with which to tie them. The girl collected a large quantity of sticks and then sat down and cried because she was unable to carry them home: as she cried a large snake came up and asked what was the matter. The girl told him, whereupon the snake said that he would curl himself round the sticks and serve as a rope. This he did and the girl was able to carry the sticks home on her head. Defeated in this attempt the sisters-in-law the next day told the girl to go to a field of pulse which had been sown the day before and bring back all the grain by the evening. The girl went to the field and picked up a few grains but it had been sown broadcast and the girl soon saw that the task was hopeless: she sat down and cried and as she cried a flock of pigeons flew to her and asked her what was the matter: she said that she could not pick up all the grain in the field. They said that that was easily managed, and the pigeons spreading over the field soon picked up all the grain and put it into the girl's basket, so that by evening she returned with the basket full. The sisters-in-law were more than ever enraged. They gave her a pot and told her that she must go to the jungle and bring it back full of bear's milk. The girl went to the jungle and being very frightened sat down and began to cry: a large she bear came by and asked what was the matter. The girl explained and the she bear, sorry for her distress willingly allowed herself to be milked without doing the girl any harm. The sisters-in-law then resolved to make a more direct attempt on the girl's life. They took her into the jungle and told her to climb a certain tree and pick them the fruit. The tree had a tall smooth trunk and the girl had to climb the tree by driving pegs into the trunk. When she reached the branches the sisters-in-law pulled the pegs out of the tree and went home leaving the girl to starve. Night came on and the girl stayed in the tree: it so happened that that day the six brothers were returning home and being benighted stopped to sleep under that very tree. The girl thought that they were dacoits and stayed still. She could not help crying in her despair and a warm tear fell on the face of one the brothers sleeping below and woke him up. He looked, up and recognized his sister. The brothers soon rescued her and when they heard of the cruelty of their wives they went home and put them all to death.

(13)--The False Rani.

Once upon a time a Raja who had just married was returning with his bride to his kingdom. It was hot weather and a long journey and as they passed through a jungle the Raja and all his men went down to a stream to drink leaving the bride sitting in her palki. As the bride thus sat all alone she was frightened at seeing a she-bear come up. The bear asked the bride who she was and where she was going. When she heard, she thought that she would like to share so agreeable a fate, so by threats she made the Rani get out of her palki and give her all her fine clothes and jewellery and go away into the jungle. The bear dressing herself in the Rani's clothes, got into the palki, and when the men came back they took up the palki and went on their way without noticing any change, nor did the Raja detect the fraud: he took the bear to his palace and installed her as his wife. Meanwhile the real bride had picked up the walking stick of the Raja and a cloth which he had left on the road when he went to the stream, and ran into the jungle. She made her way to the house of a Ghasi woman who lived by the Raja's palace with her daughters. The daughters earned a living by selling flowers and one day one daughter, as she sold the Raja a garland, told him that his real bride was living in their house. The Raja was very distressed and at once went to see his bride and was satisfied of her identity when she produced his stick and cloth. The real Rani refused to go to his palace until the she bear had been put to death. Thereupon the Raja gave instructions to his followers and sent word to the palace that he was dead. The officers and servants at the palace then prepared a big pit and lit a large fire in it: they then sent for the she bear and told her that she must perform the funeral ceremonies of her husband. They made her take off her fine clothes and told her to kneel down by the burning pit and make salaam to it. As she was doing so they pushed her into the pit and she was burned to death. Then the Raja brought home his real bride in triumph. But from that time bears attack men when they get the chance.

(14)--The Jackal and the Kite.

Once upon a time a jackal and a kite agreed to join forces and get their food together. In pursuance of their plan they sent word to a prosperous village that a Raja with his army was marching that way and intended the next day to loot the village. The next morning the jackal took an empty kalsi and marched towards the village drumming on the kalsi with all his might, and the kite flew along overhead screaming as loud as he could. The villagers thought that the Raja's army was approaching and fled into the jungle. The jackal and the kite began to feast on all the good things that had been left in the houses. There was however one old woman who was too infirm to run away with the other inhabitants: and had hid herself inside her house. When she saw that no army came but only a jackal and a kite she crawled away into the jungle and told her friends. They came back, and surrounding the village, caught the jackal: they began to beat the jackal with sticks to kill it: the jackal uttered no sound and pretended that it did not mind being beaten: after a time it began to jeer at its captors and told them that they could never kill it by beating. The asked how it could be killed and it said by burning. So they tied a bunch of old cloths on to its tail and poured oil over them and set them on fire: the jackal ran off with the burning bundle at the end of its tail and jumping on to the nearest house set fire to the thatch: the fire spread and the whole village was burnt down. The jackal then ran to a tank and jumping into the water extinguished its blazing tail. But if you look you will see that all jackals have a burnt tip to their tail to this day.

(15)--The Sons of the Raban Raja.

There was a Raja who used to bathe daily at a certain tank. In the tank was a great fish: as the Raja washed his mouth this fish used daily to swallow the rinsings of his mouth. In consequence of this the fish after a time gave birth to two human children. As the two boys grew up they used to go into the village near the tank and play with the other children. One day however, a man beat them and drove them away from the other children jeering at them because they had no father. Much disturbed at this they went to the fish and asked whether it was true that they had no father. The fish told them that their father was the Raban Raja. The two boys resolved to go in search of the Raban Raja: they set out and after a time met a man and asked him if he knew the Raban Raja. The man asked why they wished to know. They said that they were his sons. Then the man at once killed them because the Raban Raja was an enemy of his country. From the place where the bodies of the dead boys lay, two large bamboos grew up. When the bamboos had grown very big, a Jogi came by that way and cut them down, making from them two flutes. These flutes produced such beautiful music that every one was charmed and the fame of the Jogi spread far and wide: so when in his wanderings the Jogi reached the kingdom of the Raban Raja the Raja sent for him and the Jogi came to the palace with his two bamboo flutes. When the flutes were brought into the presence of the Raja they burst open and from them appeared the two boys. When the Raja heard their history he recognized them as his sons, and sent the Jogi away with large rewards.

(16)--The Potter's Son.

Once upon a time there was a Kumhar whose wife was about to have a child. As they were very poor the pair resolved that if the child should prove to be a boy they would abandon it, but if it were a girl they would bring it up. When the child was born it was found to be a son, so the Kumhar took it into the jungle and left it there. There it was found by a tiger and tigress whose cubs had just died and who determined to bring up the man-child as their own. They accordingly fed it and looked after it; the boy grew up strong and healthy. When he got big, the tiger went to a blacksmith and had made for him a bow and arrows of iron with which he used to hunt. When the boy became a young man the tiger decided that his marriage must be arranged for. So he went to the capital of a neighbouring Raja, and when the Raja's daughter came to a tank to bathe, the tiger seized her and carried her off into the jungle, where she was married to the Kumhar's son. The princess was very pleased with her new husband, but found the life with the tigers in the jungle very irksome. She constantly begged her husband to run away, until at last he agreed. One day when the tigers were at a distance they started off and soon arrived at the palace of the princess' father. Leaving her husband by the palace tank, the princess went ahead to see how matters stood and to prepare a welcome for her husband. He being left alone decided to bathe in the tank. Now a dhoba was there washing the palace clothes, and seeing a stranger he concluded that it was a thief come to steal the clothes. He accordingly killed him and then in fear threw the body into the water. When the princess returned she was distressed to find no sign of her husband but his iron bow and arrows. Search was made everywhere and the tank was netted but no trace could be discovered of her missing spouse.

Shortly afterwards a Ghasi girl came to catch chingris in the tank, and while doing so suddenly laid hold of a large fish. In great delight she took it home. When she came to cut it up she found inside the belly of the fish a living child. Pleased with its appearance she decided to adopt it. She put it in a basket, and tying the basket under her cloth pretended to be pregnant, and shortly afterwards announced that she had given birth to a child. The boy grew with marvellous rapidity.

Meanwhile the father of the widowed princess insisted that she should marry again. But she was faithful to the memory of her husband and declared that she would only marry the man who could draw the iron bow. Many suitors came but they all failed to draw the bow. At length the reputed son of the Ghasi woman came and pulling the bow with ease announced himself as the true husband of the princess with whom he lived happily ever after.

(17)--The Wonderful Cowherd.

Once upon a time there was a Raja who had seven daughters. The seven princesses used to bathe daily in a tank and when they bathed they used to put the scrapings from their bodies in a hole in the ground. From this hole there grew a tree, and the eldest princess announced that she would marry the man who could tell her what had caused the tree to grow; many suitors came and made guesses but none divined the truth; heir father was anxious that she should be married, and insisted on every one in the kingdom being questioned. At last a miserable, poverty stricken and sickly cowherd was asked; he had always grazed his cattle on the banks of the tank and had often seen the princesses bathing so he knew from what the tree had spring. The princess being bound by her oath had to marry the miserable cowherd and go and live with him in his hut.

All day long the cowherd used to be groaning in sickness and misery; but at night he used to come out of his skin and appear as a beautiful and shining man; in this form he used to go and play and dance in the moonlight in the court yard of the Raja's palace. One night the princess's maid-servant saw her master return and creep into his ugly skin; she told her mistress who resolved to keep watch the next night; when she saw her husband assume his shining form and go out of the house leaving his ugly skin lying on the ground, she took the skin and burnt it in the fire. Immediately her husband came rushing back declaring that he was suffering the agonies of burning; but the skin was burnt and the former cowherd retained his glorious and shining appearance; and on the application of oil the pain of the burning ceased. The princess then began to live with pleasure in the company of so glorious a husband, who however only went out of the house at night as his body was too bright for ordinary eyes to look upon.

It began however to be whispered about among the neighbours that a shining being was to be seen at the princess's house and the rumour eventually reached the ears of the Raja. The Raja sent a messenger to see who the being was, but when the messenger saw the shining man he was blinded and driven out of his senses and returned to the Raja in a state of madness. Two or three other messengers successively met the same fate. At length the Raja resolved to go himself; when he saw the shining form of his son-in-law he fell down in a faint; the princess's husband ran and lifted up the Raja in his arms and revived him. After this the former cowherd became only bearably bright, and being recognized as the heir to the kingdom went to live with his wife in the Raja palace.

(18)--The Strong Prince.

There was once a king who, though he had two wives, had no son. He was very anxious to have a son and heir and went away into the midst of the hills and jungles and there began a course of worship and sacrifices. His prayers were heard and while he was away it was found that both his wives were pregnant. In due time the senior Rani gave birth to a son and sent a Brahman to the king with the welcome news. The Brahman was a very holy man and he had to pray and bathe so often that he made very slow progress on his journey. A day or two later the younger Rani also gave birth to a son and she sent a low caste Ghasi to give the news to the Raja. The Ghasi travelled straight ahead and reached the Raja some time before the holy Brahman. On hearing the news that the younger Rani had given birth to a son the Raja had at once declared that this boy should be his heir. He was therefore much put out when the Brahman arrived with the news that the senior Rani had given birth to a son first.

The Raja returned home and entering the palace saw the senior Rani sleeping with her babe beside her. The boy had sore eyes and the Raja, declaring that the child bore no resemblance to himself said that it was not his son and that the Rani had been unfaithful to him.

The Rani indignantly denied the accusation and said that if the two brothers fought her son would prove his parentage. Accordingly the two boys were set to wrestle with each other. The struggle was an even one. As they swayed to and fro it happened that the elder boy caught hold of the Raja and pulled him to the ground. This incensed the Raja more than ever and he ordered the senior Rani to leave the kingdom with her child. On the road by which they had to pass the Raja stationed a mast elephant in order that they might be killed, but when in due course the elephant attacked them the boy caught hold of it and threw it to a distance of four kos. After this feat the prince and his mother journeyed to another kingdom. There they took up their quarters near the ground where the Raja's palwanswrestled. The prince went to wrestle with them and easily overcame the most renowned palwans. In many ways he showed his strength. One day he went to a mahajan's shop and the Mahajan instead of serving him promptly kept him waiting. In indignation the boy took up the entire building and threw it to a distance; hearing of these feats the Raja of the country sent for him and took him into his service; but here also he caused trouble. He insisted on being treated with deference. Going up to the highest officials he would tell them not to twist their moustaches at him, and knock them down. On the throne in the palace when the Raja was absent a pair of the Raja's shoes was placed and every one who passed by had to salaam to these. This our hero flatly refused to do. In fact he became such a nuisance that he was promised that he would be given his pay regularly if he would only stay away from the palace. After this he spent his days in idleness and by night he used to go to the shore and disport himself in the sea.

One night the goddess Kali came to the Raja's palace and knocked at the gate: but no one would come to open it. Just then the prince came back from bathing in the sea. Seeing him, Kali Ma, said that she was so hungry that she must eat him, though she had intended to eat the people in the palace. She, however, promised him that though eaten he should be born again. The boy agreed to form a meal for the goddess on these terms and was accordingly eaten. Afterwards gaining admission to the palace Kali Ma ate up everyone in it except the Raja's daughter. Then our hero was born again and marrying the Raja's daughter succeeded to the kingdom, and lived happily ever after.

(19)--The Prince Who Became King of the Jackals.

Once upon a time there lived a Raja whose son formed a great friendship with a barber. For some reason the Raja quarrelled with his son and ordered him to leave the kingdom. Accordingly the prince departed to a far country in company with his friend, the barber. In order to earn a living the barber opened a school and the prince took service with a mahajan. They were in such straits that the prince had to submit to very hard terms, it was arranged that his wages were to be one leaf-plate full of rice a day: and that if he threw up the service he was to lose a piece of his skin a span long. After a short time the prince who had been brought up in luxury found the work so hard and the food so scanty that he resolved to leave the mahajan: but before he went he had to submit to a piece of skin being cut off, in terms of the agreement. The prince then went to the barber and told him how ill he had fared. The barber vowed that he should be avenged. So he went and offered himself as a servant to the mahajan: he was engaged and it was agreed that whichever party first proposed to terminate the contract should lose a piece of skin a span long. The barber worked so badly and ate so much that one day the mahajan in a fit of rage ordered him to leave the place and in consequence forfeited a piece of his skin.

Having repaid the mahajan in his own coin the prince and the barber left those parts and journeyed to the land of the king of the jackals. They found the king of the jackals asleep in front of his cave. While he still slept the barber shaved all the hair off his tail. Then the two friends hid in the cave, drawing a cart in front of the entrance. When the jackal awoke and found that he had been shaved he concluded that there were bongas (spirits) about; and ran away in terror. After going a short distance he met a bear who asked where he was going in such a hurry. The king of the jackals said that some bongas had taken possession of his cave and shaved off his hair. The bear agreed to go back with the jackal and see if he could exorcise the spirits. Going to the cave the bear climbed on to the cart to offer a sacrifice. As he sat there the barber caught hold of his tail and held on to it while the prince began to stab the bear with a knife. The bear howled and groaned but could not get away. The king of the jackals who was looking on was delighted, for he concluded that the bongas had taken possession of the bear who would learn who they were and how they were to be exorcised. At last the bear broke free and ran away: the jackal ran after him and asked him what the bongas had told him: but the bear only said 'ugh' 'ugh' and ran into the jungle. Then the jackal met a tiger and telling his story persuaded the tiger also to try his hand at exorcising the spirits. The tiger was treated in the same way as the bear had been and ran off without giving the jackal any information.

Then the king of the jackals resolved to try himself and mounted on to the cart. But the barber stabbed him through the bamboos and killed him. Then the prince succeeded to the kingdom of the jackals, and not only so, but replaced the piece of skin which he had forfeited to the mahajan by a piece of the skin of the dead jackal.

(20)--The Prince and the Mangoes.

Once upon a time there was a Raja who had seven wives but no children. In hope of issue he retired to the jungle and began a course of prayers and sacrifices. While he was so engaged a Brahman came to him and told him to take a stick and with it knock down seven mangoes from a neighbouring tree, and catch them before they reached the ground: he promised that if the Ranis ate these mangoes they would bear children. The Raja did as he was directed and took the mangoes home and gave one to each of his wives.

The youngest Rani happened at the time to be sweeping out a room and so she put her mango in a niche in the wall. Just then a neighbour sent a mongoose, who was her servant, to ask for a light. While the Rani was fetching a firebrand from the hearth the mongoose saw the mango and climbing up nibbled part of it without being seen. After this the Rani ate the mango. In due time the seven Ranis each gave birth to a son: but the son of the youngest Rani was the most beautiful with a face like a mongoose. The eldest Rani was jealous of the beauty of the youngest Rani's son so one day she sent the youngest Rani to fetch some water: and during her absence took up the mongoose boy and putting a stone and a broom in its place took the child away and buried it in the pit from which the potters dig their earth. When the Raja heard that his youngest wife had given birth to nothing but a stone and a broom he was very angry and turned her out of the palace.

Meanwhile a potter had found the mongoose boy still alive and had taken him to his home. There the child grew up and became a strong boy. One day he asked the potter to make him an earthenware horse. On this horse he used to ride about, for directly he mounted it, it was endowed with life. One day the mongoose boy took his earthenware horse to water it at a tank near the palace and there his six brothers saw it and insisted that they also should have earthenware horses to ride. Horses were accordingly made for them but when they mounted, the horses would not budge an inch. Enraged at this the princes complained to their mothers. The Ranis at once suspected the identity of the potter's boy and told their sons to kill him.

So one day when the young princes met him at the tank they killed the mongoose boy and buried his body. At the place where the body was buried there grew up a bamboo of extraordinary size and a bush with sweet and beautiful flowers: many people tried to cut down the big bamboo and to pluck the beautiful flowers but every arm that was raised to do so was restrained by some unseen power. Eventually the news of this portent reached the ears of the Raja who went to see what was happening. When the Raja trid to pluck a flower he succeeded at the first attempt. The Raja then cut down the bamboo and out of it stepped the mongoose boy who told of the illtreatment which he had received at the hands of the six Ranis and their sons. The Raja wished him to come to the palace but he insisted that his mother should first be sent for. This was at once done.

Then the Raja had a wide and deep well dug and announced that a Puja was to be performed at the opening of the well. To the ceremony came the six Ranis and their sons. As they all knelt at the edge of the well doing puja the Raja had them pushed into it, so that they were all drowned. Thus the wicked were punished and the mongoose boy eventually succeeded to his father's kingdom.

(21)--The Prince and the Tigress.

Once upon a time there was a Raja who had seven sons. One day a tigress came to the palace and asked the Raja to allow one of his sons to be her servant and look after her cattle. The Raja consented and ordered his eldest son to go with the tigress. The young man took his axe and bow and arrows and went with the tigress to her cave. When he got there he asked where were the cattle which he was to tend. The tigress pointed out to him all the bears which were roaming in the jungle and said that they were her cattle. By the cave stood a large rock and the tigress told the prince to take his axe and cut it in two. The prince tried, but the rock only turned the edge of his axe and he quite failed to cut it. The tigress being thus satisfied that the prince had no superhuman powers sprang upon him and killed him and devoured his body. Then she went back to the Raja and said that she had too much work to be done, that she wished him to give her a second son. The Raja agreed, but this prince met the same fate as the first; and in succession, all the sons of the Raja, except the youngest, went with the tigress and were devoured by her. At last the youngest son went with the tigress: when bidden to cut the rock in two, he easily accomplished the task. Then the tigress knew that she had met her master and ran into her cave. Looking into the cave, the prince saw the bones of his dead brothers. Gathering the bones together, he prayed for fire to burn them, and fire fell from above and burned the bones.

Then he climbed a tree in order to be out of the reach of the tigress, and the tigress came and sat at the foot of the tree so that he could not descend. Then he prayed again and wind arose and wafted him away and set him down by a house where lived an old man and his wife. The tigress followed in pursuit, but the aged couple hid the prince and assured the tigress that he had not been seen; so the tigress returned disappointed. The prince stayed with the old people and worked on their land. One day as he was ploughing, the tigress came and killed one of the bullocks that were drawing the plough. The prince at once ran to the house to fetch his bow and arrow that he might kill the tigress. When he returned, he found that several tigers were sucking the blood of the bullock and with them a wild boar. He shot an arrow which wounded the boar. The boar maddened by the pain turned on the tigers and killed them all; including the tigress which had killed the Raja's sons.

The prince then being no longer in danger from the tigress returned to his father's palace.

(22)--The Cunning Potter.

Once upon a time there lived at the gate of a Raja's palace a Potter who had a pretty wife. The Raja fell in love with the Potter's wife and schemed to get rid of the husband. He could not bring himself to commit a cold blooded murder, but he tried to accomplish his object indirectly by setting the Potter impossible tasks which he was to accomplish on pain of death. The Raja accordingly sent for the Potter and ordered him to bring him the heads of twenty-four jackals.

The Potter went away to the jungle and began to dig a large hole in the side of a hill. A jackal presently came by and stopped to ask why he was digging the hole. The Potter said that it was going to rain fire from heaven, and that every one who had not such a shelter would be burnt. At this the jackal became very frightened; the Potter thereupon said that he was so sorry for them that he would allow the jackal and his friends to share the hole which he was digging. The jackal gratefully ran away and returned with a number of other jackals. They all went into the hole and the Potter closed the entrance. After a time the Potter looked out and said that the fire was over; he then stationed himself at the mouth of the hole and as the jackals came out he cut off their heads with a knife; in this away he beheaded twenty-three jackals; but the last jackal saw what was happening and dodged the knife and escaped. The Potter took the twenty-three heads to the Raja; but the Raja pretended to be angry and said that if the Potter did not at once procure a twenty-fourth head, he would be beheaded himself. The Potter took a pot of gurand went to a pool of water which lay in the direction in which the twenty-fourth jackal had fled. Smearing his body all over with gur, he lay down by the water and pretended to be dead. Presently the jackal which had escaped passed that way with a friend. Seeing the body the second jackal proposed at once to go and eat it; but the first jackal warned the other that there was probably some plot and related how twenty-three of his friends had lost their lives at the hands of this very Potter. But the second jackal would not listen to advice and going to the supposed corpse smelt it and then began to lick it; finding the taste of the gur very pleasant it set to work to lick the body all over beginning at the feet; it licked the feet and then the legs, when it reached his waist it was within reach of his hand and the Potter stabbed it with his knife and took the head to the Raja.

Foiled in this design, the Raja next ordered the Potter to bring him a jar of tiger's milk. Taking some loaves of bread, the Potter went into the jungle and soon found a cave in which was a pair of tiger cubs whose parents were away hunting. The Potter told the cubs that he was their uncle and gave them the bread to eat; they liked the taste of the bread very much. Then the Potter hid himself in a tree near the cave. Presently the tigress came back but her cubs refused to suck her milk as usual, the tigress asked the reason of this and the cubs said that their uncle had come and fed them with something nicer than milk and they were no longer hungry. They then pointed out the Potter in the tree and the tigress wanted to know what he had given her cubs to eat. He told her that it was bread: the tigress said that she would like to try some herself, whereupon the potter replied that he would give her some if she would first give him some of her milk. The tigress agreed and also consented that her legs should be tied while she was being milked in order that she might not be able to harm the potter. The tigress having been milked, the Potter gave her a loaf of bread and then ran away as fast as he could.

Finding that he would not be able to get rid of the Potter by any such devices, the Raja then persuaded the faithless wife to put the Potter to death. She accordingly set up an idol in her house and prayed daily to this that her husband might become blind and die. One day the Potter overheard her prayers: the next day he hid behind the idol and when the woman came and prayed he answered from behind the idol that her prayer was granted and that in two days her husband would become blind. Accordingly, two days later the Potter pretended to become blind. Then the woman sent word to the Raja that her husband was blind and that they had nothing to fear from him. The Raja accordingly came one night to visit the woman, and the Potter killed them both with an axe. He buried the body of his wife, but he was in great trouble as to how to dispose of the body of the Raja: for he knew that there would be a hue and cry when the disappearance of the Raja was discovered. At last he decided to put the body in a field of brinjals belonging to a neighbour. Towards morning, the owner of the field came to see that his property was all right, and seeing some one among the brinjals, thought that it was a thief. He accordingly hit the supposed thief on the head; and when he came to examine the body, he was shocked to find that he had, as he thought, killed the Raja. In great distress he went to consult his friend, the Potter; the Potter advised him to put the body among the buffaloes belonging to a Goala. At dawn the Goala came to look at his buffaloes and seeing the body of the Raja thought that it was a thief stealing the milk of the buffaloes: catching up a club, he inflicted a blow which caused the body to fall over. When the Goala, found that the body was that of the Raja and that he had apparently killed him, he was in great fear and went to his friend, the Potter, for advice. It was finally decided to dispose of the body by putting it down a well. The next day great search was made for the missing Raja and the body was found in the well by a Brahman. Preparations were made for the obsequies and a funeral pyre erected. The Potter saw his opportunity and digging a hole in the ground under the pyre hid himself in it. When the body had been cremated and the mourners were still collected at the spot, the Potter began to speak from the hole in which he was concealed: the bystanders thought that they heard the voice of the Raja declaring that the Potter had always been his true friend and that he desired that he should be given half the kingdom and the hand of his daughter in marriage. The supposed wishes of the late Raja were obeyed and the Potter lived in luxury for the rest of his life.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Folklore of the Santal Parganas by Cecil Henry Bompas