Folklore of the Santal Parganas


Part I
Page 2

XCI. Another Lazy Man.

Once upon a time there was a man named Kora who was so lazy that his brothers turned him out of the house and he had to go out into the world to seek his fortune. At first he tried to get some other young man of the village to keep him company on his travels but they all refused to have anything to do with such a lazy fellow, so he had to set out alone. However, he was resolved to have a companion of some sort, so when he came to a place where a crab had been burrowing he set to work and dug it out of the ground and took it along with him, tied up in his cloth.

He travelled on for days and weeks until he came to a country which was being devastated by a Rakhas who preyed on human beings, and the Raja of the country had proclaimed that any one who could kill the Rakhas should have one of his sisters in marriage and a large grant of land. Kora however knew nothing of all this and that evening he camped for the night under a tree on the outskirts of a village. Presently the villagers came out and begged him to come and spend the night in one of their houses, as it was impossible for a man to sleep safely in the open by himself. "Do not trouble about me," said Kora, "I am not alone: I have a companion and we two shall be quite safe together." The villagers saw no one with him and could not understand what he was talking about, but as he would not listen to them they had to leave him to his fate.

Night came on and as usual Kora untied the crab from his cloth and soon fell asleep. About midnight the Rakhas came prowling along and seeing Kora sleeping alone made towards him. But the crab rushed at the Rakhas and climbing up his body seized his neck with its claws and slit the windpipe. Down fell the Rakhas and lay kicking on the ground. The noise awoke Kora, who seized a big stone and dashed out the brains of the Rakhas. He then cut off the tips of the ears and tongue and claws and wrapped them up in his cloth and lay down to sleep again with the crab in his bosom.

At dawn the chowkidar of the village, who was a Dome, came on his rounds and found the Rakhas lying dead. He thought that it would be easy for him to obtain the credit of having killed it: so he cut off one of the legs and hurrying home told his wife and children to clear out of the house at once: he had nothing more to do with them, as he was going to marry the Raja's sister and become a great landowner. Then he rushed out into the village, shouting out that he had killed the Rakhas. The villagers all went to see the dead body and found it lying near the tree under which they had left Kora to spend the night. They were not quite convinced that the Dome's story was true and asked Kora who had really killed the Rakhas. He declined to answer but asked that he and the Dome might both be taken to the Raja, and then proof would be forthcoming as to who was really entitled to the Reward.

So the villagers took up the dead body and carried it off to the Raja, taking Kora and the Dome with them. The Raja asked what proof there was as to who had killed the Rakhas: and first the Dome produced the leg which he had cut off; but Kora unrolled his cloth and showed the ears and tongue and claws of the Rakhas. It was at once seen that the leg which the Dome had brought wanted the claws, so his fraud was clearly proved and he was driven from the assembly with derision and had to go and humbly make his peace with the wife whom he had turned out of his house. But the nuptials of Kora and the Raja's sister took place at once and they were given a fine palace to live in and a large tract of country for their own.

Kora never allowed himself to be separated from his faithful crab and this led to his life being saved a second time. A few nights after he was married, Kora was lying asleep with the crab upon his breast, when two snakes began to issue from the nostrils of his bride: their purpose was to kill Kora but when they saw the watchful crab they drew in their heads again. A few minutes later they again looked out: then the crab went and hid under the chin of the Princess and when the snakes put out their heads far enough it seized both of them with its claws: the snakes wriggled and struggled until they came entirely out of the nose of the princess and were dragged to the floor where the crab strangled them. In the morning Kora awoke and saw what the crab had done: he asked what he could do to show his gratitude to his faithful friend, and the crab asked to be set free in some pond which never dried up and that Kora would rescue it if any one ever succeeded in catching it. So Kora chose a tank and set the crab free and every day he used to go and bathe in that tank and the crab used to come and meet him.

After living in luxury for a time Kora went with a grand procession of horses and elephants to visit his industrious brothers who had turned him out of their home for laziness, and he showed them that he had chosen the better part, for they would never be able to keep horses and elephants for all their industry: so he invited them to come and live with him on his estate and when they had reaped that year's crops they went with him.

XCII. The Widow's Son.

Once upon a time there was a poor woman whose husband died suddenly from snake bite, leaving her with one little girl. At the time she was expecting another child and every day she lamented the loss of her husband and prayed to Chando that the child she should bear might be a son: but fresh troubles came upon her, for when her husband's brothers saw that she was with child they declared that she had been unfaithful to her husband and had murdered him to conceal her shame: and although they had no proof of this, they seized on all their dead brother's property and land and left the widow nothing but the bare house to live in.

But Chando had pity on her and when her time was full a boy was born to her. She gave thanks to Chando and devoted herself to bringing up the child. The boy grew up and learned to walk and talk and one day he asked his mother where his father was. She told him that a snake had bitten his father before he was born. Thereupon the boy embraced her and told her not to cry as he would support her and take the place of his father. The mother was filled with wonder and gratitude at the boy's intelligence.

In answer to her daily prayers she met with kindness at all hands: when she went out working her employers gave her extra wages: when she went gleaning something extra was left for her, and if she had to beg no one refused to give her alms, so in time she was able to get together some household requisites and start keeping fowls and pigs. By selling these she saved enough money to buy goats and sheep: and in course of time was able to think of buying a cow.

By that time her son--whom she called Bhagraihad grown up to be a boy and took an interest in all that went on: so he asked his mother how he could tell when to buy a heifer. She said that if when the seller was showing a cow to an intending purchaser the animal dropped dung, it should be bought without hesitation, as such a cow was sure to take kindly to its new home and to have plenty of calves: another equally good sign was if the cow had nine teeth. Thereupon Bhagrai declared that he would set out to buy a cow and be guided in his choice by these signs and not come back till he found one. His mother thought that he was too young to undertake such a business but at last yielded to his entreaties. Then he tried to get some one in the village to go with him on his expedition but no one of his own friends or relations would go, so he had to arrange with a man of the blacksmith caste to keep him company.

Early one morning they set out, enquiring as they went along whether any one had a cow for sale. For a long time they were unsuccessful but after passing right through the territories of one Raja, they at length came to a village where they heard of a heifer for sale. As they were examining it it dropped dung, and on inspection its mouth showed nine teeth. Bhagrai at once declared that he must buy it and would not listen to the blacksmith who tried to dissuade him because, although the animal was full grown, it had had no calf and was probably barren. Bhagrai however preferred to be guided by the signs of which his mother had told him, and after a certain amount of haggling bought the animal for five rupees. The money was paid and he and the blacksmith set off homewards with the cow.

Night overtook them and they turned into a village and asked to be allowed to sleep in the verandah of one of the houses: and permission being given they tied the cow to a post and went to sleep. In the middle of the night the owner of the house came and took away their cow and tied an old and worthless one of his own in its place. On waking in the morning Bhagrai and the blacksmith saw at once what had happened and charged the owner of the house with the theft. He vehemently denied all knowledge of the matter and after they had quarrelled for a long time went to call the villagers to arbitrate between them. But he took care to promise the headman and leading villagers a bribe of five rupees if they decided the case in his favour: so the result was a foregone conclusion and the arbitrators told Bhagrai to take away the old worthless cow.

He however refused to accept the decision and said that he would go and find two people to represent him on the panchayat. The villagers raised no objection for they knew that he was a stranger, and thought that they could easily convince any persons he might pick up. Bhagrai set off towards a village he saw in the distance but lost his way in the jungle, and as he was wandering about he came on two jackals. On seeing him they started to run but he called to them to stop and telling them all that had happened asked them to come to the panchayat. The jackals answered that it was clear that the villagers had been bribed, but they would come and do what was possible. They told him to bring the villagers with both the cows to a big banyan tree outside the village. All the villagers went out to meet the jackals and Bhagrai stood up in the midst and began to explain his grievance.

Meanwhile the jackals sat quite still, seeming to take no interest in what was going on. "A fine pair these are to have on a panchayat" said the villagers to each other, "they are nearly asleep: they have been up all night catching crabs and grasshoppers and now are too tired to keep awake." "No," said one jackal, "we are not as sleepy as you think: we are quite willing to take a part in deciding this dispute: but the fact is that I and my wife have a quarrel and we want you first to decide that for us and then we will take up the question of the cow; if you villagers can settle our difference satisfactorily we shall be able to conclude that you have given a fair judgement on the complaint of this orphan boy."

The villagers told him to continue and he explained "I and my wife always go about together: we eat at the same time and drink at the same time and yet she drops dung twice a day while I do so only once: what is the reason of this?" The villagers could think of no answer and the jackal bade them ask his wife: so they laughed and asked whether it was true that she dropped dung twice to the he-jackal's once. But the jackal reproved them for their levity, wise men of old had said that it was wrong to jest when men of weight met to decide a dispute; so they became serious and the she-jackal answered "It is true that I drop dung twice to his once: there is an order laid on me to do so: I drop dung once at the same time that he does: that excrement falls to the ground and stays there: but the second time the excrement falls into the mouths of the ancestors of those men who take bribes and do injustice to the widow and orphan and when such bribetakers reach the next world they will also have to eat it. If however they confess their sin and ask pardon of me they will be let off the punishment: this is the reason why I have been ordered to drop dung twice." "Now you have heard what she has to say" put in the he-jackal "what to you think of the explanation? I hope that there are no such bribetakers among you: if there are they had better confess at once."

Then all the villagers who had agreed to take a share of the bribe and had helped to rob the boy of his cow confessed what they had done and declared that the boy should have his cow again, and they fined the thief five rupees. So Bhagrai and the blacksmith went gladly on their way and the blacksmith soon told all his neighbours of the two wonderful jackals who talked like men and had compelled the villagers to restore the stolen cow. "Ah" said the boy's mother "they were not jackals, they were Chando," When Bhagrai's uncles heard all this and saw how he and his mother had prospered in spite of the loss of all their property, they became frightened and gave back the land and cattle which they had taken, without waiting for them to be claimed.

XCIII. The Boy Who Was Changed into a Dog.

Once upon a time there were seven brothers: the six eldest were married, but the youngest was only a youth and looked after the cattle. The six married brothers spent their life in hunting and used often to be away from home for one or two months at a time. Now all their six wives were witches and directly their husbands left home the six women used to climb a peepul tree and ride away on it, to eat men or do some other devilry. The youngest brother saw them disappear every day and made up his mind to find out what they did. So one morning he hid in a hollow in the trunk of the peepul tree and waited till his sisters-in-law came and climbed up into the branches: then the tree rose up and was carried through the air to the banks of a large river, where the women climbed down and disappeared. After a time they came back and climbed into the tree and rode on it back to the place where it came from. But as they descended they saw their brother-in-law hiding in the trunk and at first they tried to make him promise not to tell what he had seen, but he swore that he would let his brothers know all about it: so then they thought of killing him, but in the end the eldest said that this was not necessary and she fetched two iron nails and drove them into the soles of his feet whereupon he at once became a dog. He could understand all that was said but of course could not speak. He followed them home and they treated him well and always gave him a regular helping at meals as if he were a human being and did not merely throw him the scraps as if he were a dog: nor would he have eaten them if they had.

A month afterwards the other brothers came home and asked if all had gone well in their absence. Their wives said that all was well except that the youngest brother had unfortunately disappeared without leaving any trace. While they were talking the dog came up and fawned on the brothers, so they asked where it had come from and the women said that it had followed them home on the day that they were looking for the missing boy: and they had kept it ever since. So matters rested: the brothers searched high and low but could not find the missing boy and so gave up the quest.

Now the Raja of that country had three daughters whom he had tried in vain to get married: whenever a bridegroom was proposed to them they declared that he was not to their liking and they would have nothing to do with him. At last their father said that as they would not let him choose husbands for them, they must make the choice themselves: he proposed to assemble all the men in his kingdom on a certain day and there and then they must take to themselves husbands.

So proclamation was made that all the men were to assemble outside the palace and that three of them would receive the Raja's daughters in marriage without having to pay any brideprice. On the fixed day a great crowd collected and among others went the six brothers: and the dog followed them. Then the three princesses were brought out and three flies were caught: round one fly was tied a piece of white thread for the eldest princess and round the second fly a red thread for the second princess: and round the last fly a blue thread for the youngest princess. Then the three princesses solemnly promised that each would marry the man on whom the fly marked with her colour settled, and the flies were let loose. The red fly and the blue fly soon settled on two of the men sitting in the crowd but the white fly flew high in the air and circled round and at last settled on the dog which was sitting beside the six brothers.

At this the crowd laughed and jeered but the eldest princess said that she must accept what fate had decreed and that she would marry the dog. So the betrothal ceremony of the three princesses took place at once, soon followed by their weddings. The husbands of the two youngest princesses took their brides home, but the eldest princess stayed in her father's house with her dog.

One day after its dinner the dog was lying on its side asleep and the princess chanced to see the heads of the iron nails in its feet: "Ah," thought she, "that is why the poor dog limps." So she ran and fetched a pair of pincers and pulled out the nails: no sooner had she done so than the dog was restored to its human shape and the princess was delighted to find that not only was he a man but also very handsome: and they settled down to live happily together.

Some months later the six brothers resolved to go and visit the Raja, so that the princess might not feel that the dog she had married had no friends in the world. Off they set and when they reached the Raja's palace they were amazed to find their younger brother and still more so when they heard the story of all that had happened to him.

They immediately decided to take vengeance on their wives and when they reached home gave orders for a large well to be dug: when it was ready they told their wives to join in the consecration ceremony which was to ensure a pure and plentiful supply of water: so the six witches went to the well and while their attention was occupied, their husbands pushed them all into the well and filled it up with earth and that was the end of the witches.

XCIV. Birluri and Birbanta.

Birluri was of the Goala caste and Birbanta of the oilman's caste. And this is the story of their fight.

Birluri was very rich, with great herds of cattle and buffaloes but Birbanta's wealth consisted in tanks and ponds. Birluri used every day to water his cattle at Birbanta's ponds: and this made Birbanta very angry: he felt it an injustice that though Birluri was so rich he would not dig his own ponds: so he sent word that Birluri must stop watering his cattle or he would be killed. Birluri answered the messengers that he was quite ready to fight Birbanta: for though Birbanta had made the tanks, it was God who had made the water in them and so he considered that his cattle had a perfect right to drink the water. When Birbanta heard this he fell into a rage and vowed that he would not let the cattle drink, but would kill every living thing that went down to the water. From that day he let no one drink from his tanks: when women went to draw water he used to smash their water pots and put the rims round their necks like necklaces: all wild birds and animals he shot: and the cattle and buffaloes he cut down with his axe: and at last he proceeded to kill any human beings who went there.

When the Raja of the country heard this he was very angry and bade his sipahis search for some one strong enough to overcome and kill Birbanta: and he promised as a reward the hand of one of his daughters and half his kingdom. So the sipahis made proclamation all through the country and at last Birluri heard of it and volunteered to fight Birbanta. Then the Raja fixed a day for the fight, so that all the country might know and Birbanta also have due warning.

Both the combatants made ready for the fray: Birbanta was armed with a sword and a shield like a cart wheel and was skilful at sword play, while Birluri's weapon was the quarter-staff. The day arrived and Birluri girded up his loins and set out, twirling his staff round his head. Now his father and mother were both dead; but on the road his mother met him in the guise of an old woman, so that he did not recognise her. She greeted him and asked where he was going and when she heard that it was to fight Birbanta she said "My son, you are very strong: but if he asks for water do not give it him, for if you do, he will assuredly kill you: but when he throws away his sword, do you make haste and take it and slay him with it." So saying she went on her way and when Birluri came within a kos of the fighting place he began to twirl his staff and he made such a cloud of dust that it became dark as night and in the darkness the staff gleamed like lightning.

When Birbanta saw this he rose up and shouted "Here comes my enemy: I will fight my best and we will see who will conquer" and when he saw Birluri armed only with a quarter-staff he felt sure that he would not be overcome by such a weapon: so he grasped his sword and took his shield on his arm and went out to the fight The fray was fast and furious: Birbanta hacked and hacked with his sword but Birluri caught all the blows on his quarterstaff and took no injury. At last the end of the staff was hacked off leaving a sharp point: then Birluri transfixed Birbanta with the pointed end and Birbanta faltered: again he thrust him through and Birbanta acknowledged himself defeated, saying "My life is yours: let me drink some water at your hands before you kill me." So Birluri agreed to a truce and they stopped fighting. Then Birluri cut down a palm tree and dipped it into Birbanta's tank and holding out the end to Birbanta told him to suck it. Birbanta refused to take it and asked him to give him water in his hands: but Birluri remembered his mother's warning and refused. Then Birbanta in despair threw away his sword and shield and Birluri snatched up the sword and smote off his head: and this is the song of victory which Birluri sang.--

"Birbanta stopped the ghat for the golden oxen-- The dust is raised up to heaven! Birbanta sat by the ghat of the oxen-- The lightning is flashing in the sky! He has made an embankment: he has made a tank: But the water he collected in it, has become his enemy!"

Then Birluri was taken to the Raja and married to one of the Raja's daughters and given one half of the Raja's kingdom.

After a time Birluri told his wife that they must go back to his home to look after the large herds of cattle which he had left behind him. But his wife laughed at him and would not believe that he owned so much property: then Birluri said that if she would not go with him he would call the cattle to come to him: so he called them all by name and the great herd came running to the Raja's palace and filled the whole barn yard and as there was no room for them to stay there, they went away into the jungle and became wild cattle.

XCV. The Killing of the Rakhas.

Once upon a time a certain country was ravaged by a Rakhas to such an extent that there were only the Raja and a few ryots left. When things came to this pass, the Raja saw that something must be done: for he could not be left alone in the land. Ryots need a Raja and a Raja needs ryots: if he had no ryots where was he to get money for his support: and he repeated the verse of the poet Kalidas:

"When the jungle is destroyed, the deer are in trouble without jungle: When the Raja is destroyed, the ryots are in trouble without their Raja: When the good wife of the house is destroyed, good fortune flees away."

So thinking the Raja made a proclamation throughout all the land that if any one could kill the Rakhas he would reward him with the hand of one of his daughters and half his kingdom. This proclamation was read out by the headman of a certain village to the assembled villagers and among the crowd was a mischievous youth, named Jhalka, who when he heard the proclamation called out that he could kill the Rakhas in ten minutes. The villagers turned on him "Why don't you go and do so: then you would marry the Raja's daughter and we should all bow down to you." At the thought of this Jhalka began to skip about crying "I will finish him off in no time." The headman heard him and took him at his word and wrote to the Raja that in his village there was a man who undertook to kill the Rakhas. When Jhalka heard this he hurried to the headman and explained that he had only been joking. "I cannot treat such things as a joke" answered the headman: "Don't you know that this is a Raja's matter: to deal with Rajas is the same as to deal with bongas: you may make a promise to the bongas in jest, but they will not let you off it on that plea. You are much too fond of playing the fool."

Ten or twelve days later sipahis came from the Raja to fetch Jhalka: he told them that he had only spoken in jest and did not want to go to the Raja, but they took him away all the same.

Before he started he picked out a well-tempered battle axe and begged his father to propitiate the bongas and pray that he might be saved from the Rakhas. When he was produced before the Raja, Jhalka again tried to explain that there had been a mistake, but the Raja told him that he would be taken at his word and must go and kill the Rakhas. Then he saw that there was nothing left for him but to put his trust in God: so he asked that he might be given two mirrors and a large box and when these were brought he had the box taken to the foot of a large banyan tree which grew by a ford in the river which flowed by the hill in which the Rakhas lived: it was at this ford that the Rakhas used to lie in wait for prey.

Left alone there Jhalka put one of the mirrors into the box and then tightened his cloth and climbed the banyan tree with his battle axe and the other mirror. He was not at all happy as he waited for the Rakhas, thinking of all the people who had been killed as they passed along the road below the tree: however he was determined to outwit the Rakhas if he could. All night long he watched in vain but just at dawn the Rakhas appeared. At the sight of him Jhalka shook so much with fright that the branches of the tree swayed. The Rakhas smelt that there was a human being about and looking up into the tree saw the branches waving. "Ha," said he, "here is my breakfast."' Jhalka retorted "Ha! here is another Rakhas to match those I have got" "What are you talking about?" asked the Rakhas: "I am glad to have met you at last" returned Jhalka. "Why?" asked the Rakhas, "and what are you trembling for?" "I am trembling with rage: we shall now see whether I am to eat you or you are to eat me."

"Come down and try."

"No, you come up here and try."

Jhalka would not leave the tree and the Rakhas would not climb it: so they waited. At last the Rakhas asked "Who are you? I have seen a thousand men like you" And Jhalka answered "Who are you? I have seen a thousand like you." At this the Rakhas began to hesitate and wonder whether Jhalka was really his equal in strength, so he changed the subject and asked what the big box was. "That is the box into which I put Rakhases like you when I catch them; I have got plenty more at home." "How many are there in the box?" "Two or three."

The Rakhas asked to see them, but Jhalka would not leave the tree until the Rakhas had sworn an oath to do him no harm; then he came down and opened the box and made the Rakhas look into the mirror inside the box; and he also held up the second mirror saying that there was another Rakhas. The Rakhas was fascinated at the sight of his own reflection; when he grinned or opened his mouth the reflection did the same; and while he was amusing himself with making different grimaces Jhalka suddenly cut him down with the battleaxe, and he fell down dead. Then Jhalka cut off the ears and tongue and toes and hastened with them to the Raja. When it was found that the Rakhas was really dead the Raja assembled all his subjects and in their presence married Jhalka to his daughter and made over to him half the kingdom and gave him horses and elephants and half of everything in his palace.

XCVI. The Children and the Vultures.

Once upon a time all the women of a village went to the jungle to gather karla fruit; and one of them was pregnant. In the jungle she felt that her time was come and she went aside without telling any of her friends and gave birth to twin boys. The other women went on gathering fruit and when they had filled their baskets and were on their way home they noticed that one of their number was missing, but as it was late they were afraid to go back and look for her, and besides they felt sure that she must have been devoured by some wild animal.

Meanwhile the mother of the twins began to call to her friends, but they were far out of hearing; so she debated whether she should carry home the two babes or her basket of karla fruit; she did not feel strong enough to carry both the infants in her arms and so she decided to take the basket of fruit, especially as she would probably have plenty more children, while the karla fruit could not be replaced. She covered the twins with leaves of the Asan tree and went home.

But when her husband heard what had happened he was very angry, and scolded her well; she could easily have thrown away the fruit and carried home the children in the basket tinsead of taking so much trouble about the karla fruit, as if no one had ever seen any before. He wanted to take a few friends and go and look for the children at once; but his father and mother begged him not to risk his life in the jungle at night; the woman had been a fool but that could not be remedied; people must learn by experience; as the Hindu proverb says "When your caste goes, wisdom comes." They could not allow the breadwinner of the family to risk his life; though the roof and doors of the house had gone, the walls remained; as long as the tree stood new branches would grow; but if the tree fell there was no more hope; so in the end the children were left where they were.

No sooner had the mother gone than a pair of king vultures swooped down to make a meal of the children but they cried so pitifully that the vultures had hot the heart to kill them but instead carried them up to their nest and brought them food: and nurtured them. And when the children began to walk they carried them down to the ground and when they were big enough to take care of themselves they told them to go into the neighbouring villages and beg; but they forbade them to go towards the village in which their real parents lived. So every day the two boys went out begging, and as they went from house to house, they sang:--

"Our mother took away the karla fruit She covered us up with Asan leaves. The pair of King vultures Reared us.--Give us alms."

And people had pity on them and gave them enough to live on. One day the two boys thought that they would go and see what the country was like in the direction which had been forbidden to them; so they set out singing their usual song, and when they came to the house where their mother lived she heard them sing and knew that they must be her children; so she called them and bathed them and oiled their bodies and told them that she was their mother and they were very glad to stay with her.

But when the children did not return, the vultures flew in search of them and circled round and round in the air looking for them. The mother saw them and knew what they wanted, so she took the children into the house and hid them under a large basket. But the vultures flew down to the house and tore a hole in the thatch and entered through it and overturned the basket and seized the children. Then the father and mother also caught hold of them and the vultures pulled and the parents pulled until the children were torn in two and the vultures flew away with the portions they had secured. The father and mother sorrowfully burnt on a pyre the remains of the children that were left to them.

The vultures when they reached their nest were unwilling to eat the flesh of the children they had reared, so they set fire to their nest; but as the flames rose high, some juice spirted out from the burning flesh on to the vultures and they tasted it and found it so good that they pulled the rest of the flesh out of the flames and ate it, and from that time vultures feed on human bodies.

XCVII. The Ferryman.

There was once a ferryman who plied a ferry across a big river, and he had two wives. By the elder wife he had five sons and by the younger only one. When he grew old he gave up work himself and left his sons to manage the boats; but the step-brothers could not agree and were always quarrelling. So the father gave one boat to the son of the younger wife and told him to work it by himself at a separate crossing higher up the river, while the five other brothers plied to old ferry.

It turned out that most passengers used to cross at the youngest brother's ferry and as he had no one to share the profits with him, his earnings were very large. Because of this he used to jeer at his other brothers who were not so well off. This made them hate him more than ever, and they resolved to be revenged; so one day when he was alone in the boat they set it adrift down the river without any oars.

As he drifted helplessly down the river he saw a river snake, as long as the river was broad, waiting for him with open mouth. He thought that his last hour had come, but he seized a knife which was in the boat and waited. When the stream brought him within reach, the snake swallowed him, boat and all, and swam to the bank. When he felt the snake climbing up the bank he began to cut his way out of its stomach with his knife, and soon made a wound which killed the snake and enabled him to make his way out and pull out the boat. Then he looked about him and saw a large village near by; so he went towards it to tell the villagers how he had killed the great snake. But when he reached it he found it deserted; he went from house to house but found no one. At last he came to a house in which there was one girl, who told him that she was the only inhabitant left, as the great river snake had eaten up all the other people. Then he told her how he had killed the snake and took her to see its dead body. The village was full of the wealth left by its former inhabitants; so he and the girl decided to stay there, and there were such riches that they lived like a Raja and Rani.

One morning his wife told him that she had had a dream, in which she was warned that he must on no account go out towards the south of the village; but he laughed at her, because he had up to that time moved about wherever he liked without any harm. She begged him to listen to her advice, because it was by her wisdom that she had saved her life when every one else in the village had been killed, so for a few days he obeyed her, but one morning he took a sword and went off towards the south. He had not gone far when he came to a cow, which had fallen into a pit, and it called to him. "Oh Brother, I have fallen into great trouble; help me out and one day I will do the same to you, if you ask my aid." So he took pity on the cow and pulled it out. Going on a little further he came to a buffalo which had stuck fast in a bog and it also called to him for help and promised to do the like for him in case of need. So he pulled it out of the mud, and went on his way. Presently he came to a well and from the depths of the well a man who had fallen into it cried to him for help; so he went and pulled him up; but no sooner had the man reached the surface than he turned and pushed his rescuer down the well and ran away.

His wife waited and waited for his return and when he did not come, she divined that he had gone towards the south in spite of her warning. So she went to look for him and presently found him at the bottom of the well. So she let down a rope and pulled him up and gave him a scolding for his folly.

After this they thought it best to leave that country, so they embarked on the boat and travelled back to his father's house.

XCVIII. Catching a Thief.

There was once a rich Raja; and in order to frighten away thieves whenever he woke up at night he used to call out--

"What are you people saying? I know all about it: You are digging the earth and throwing the earth away: I know all about it: you are skulking there scraping a hole."

One night a gang of thieves really came and began to dig a hole through the mud wall of the Raja's house. And while they were at work the Raja woke up and called out as usual. The thieves thought that they were discovered and bolted. The next morning the hole they had been making was found, and the Raja ordered his sipahies to catch the thieves. The head of all the thieves was a Bhuyan by caste and for five rupees he would catch any thief you wanted. So the sipahies were told to bring this Bhuyan and they went to a potter and asked. "Ho, maker of pots, he who makes whole paddy into china: where does he live?" And the potter answered. "He who heats pewter; his house is over there." Following this direction they found the Bhuyan and he caught the thieves for them.


XCIX. The Grasping Raja.

There was once a Raja who was very rich. He was a stern man and overbearing and would brook no contradiction. Not one of his servants or his subjects dared to question his orders; if they did so they got nothing but abuse and blows. He was a grasping man too; if a cow or a goat strayed into his herds he would return the animal if its owner claimed in the same day; but he would not listen to any claim made later. He was so proud that he thought that there was no one in the world wiser than himself.

It happened that a certain man living in the kingdom of this Raja lost a cow; one evening it did not come back to its stall from the grazing-ground; so the next day he set out to search for it and questioned every one he met. He soon got news that a cow like his had been seen in the Raja's herd. So he went to look, and there, among the Raja's cattle, he saw his own cow. He asked the cowherd to let him take it away; but the cowherd refused to do so without a written order from the Raja. So the owner went off to the Raja and claimed his cow; but the Raja would not listen and gave him only abuse and turned him out. Then he went to his friends and asked them to help him but they were afraid to do anything and advised him to regard the cow as lost for good.

So the unfortunate man took his way homeward very unhappily; on the way he sat down by the bank of a stream and began to bewail his loss. As he cried, Thakur took pity on him and sent a jackal to him. The jackal came and asked why he was crying, and when it had heard the story of the loss of the cow, it said "Cheer up! go back to the Raja and tell him that you want a panchayat to settle the matter about the cow; and that you intend to call one whether he agrees to abide by its decision or no. If he agrees, come back quickly to me and I will arrange to get back your cow for you." So off went the owner of the cow to the Raja and told him that he wanted to call a panchayat. The Raja made no objection and bade him call the neighbours together. The poor man did so and then hurried off to the jackal and told it how things had turned out. The jackal returned with him to the outskirts of the city and then sent him to the Raja to say that the panchayat must be held on the plain outside the city--for the jackal was afraid of the dogs in the city.

When the Raja received this message it made him very angry, however he went outside the city and met the panchayat and ordered them to get to business quickly. Then the owner of the cow stood up and told his story and the neighbours who had assembled called to him encouragingly, but the jackal sat in the background and pretended to be asleep. When the tale was finished, the Raja told the people who had assembled to give their decision, but they were all so afraid of the Raja that not one ventured to speak. As they kept silence the Raja turned to the owner of the cow. "Well, where are the people who are going to judge the case? No one here will say a word." "That is my judge," said the man pointing to the jackal. "Why it is fast asleep; what sort of a judge is that?" But just then the jackal shook itself and said. "I have had a most remarkable dream." "There, he has been dreaming, instead of listening to the case." exclaimed the Raja.

"O Raja don't be so scornful" said the jackal, "I am a cleverer judge than you." "You, who are you? I have grown old in judging cases and rinding out the truth; and you dare to talk to me like that!" "Well," retorted the jackal, "if you are so clever guess the meaning of my dream; and if you cannot, give the man back his cow; if you can say what it means, I will acknowledge that you are fit to be a Raja. This is what I dreamt.--I saw three die in one place; one from sleepiness; one from anger and one from greed. Tell me what were the three and how did they come to be in one place."

This riddle puzzled every one, but the friends of the man who had lost his cow saw their opportunity and began to call out to the Raja to be quick and give the answer. The Raja made several guesses, but the jackal each time said that he was wrong, and asserted that the real answer would strike every one present as satisfactory. The Raja was completely puzzled and then suggested that there was no coherency in dreams: if the jackal had had some meaningless dream, no one could guess it. "No," said the jackal, "you just now laughed at the idea that any one should come to a panchayat and go to sleep; and what you said was true; I would not really go to sleep on an occasion like this; and I did not really dream. Now show that you are cleverer than I; if you can, you keep the cow."

The Raja thought and thought in vain, and at last asked to be told the answer to the puzzle. First the jackal made him write out a promise to restore the cow and to pay twenty-five rupees to the panchayat; and then it began:--"In a forest lived a wild elephant and every night it wandered about grazing and in the day it returned to its retreat in a certain hill. One dawn as it was on its way back after a night's feeding, it felt so sleepy that it lay down where it was; and it happened that its body blocked the entrance to a hole which was a poisonous snake. When the snake wanted to come out and found the way blocked, it got angry and in its rage bit the elephant and the elephant died then and there. Presently a jackal came prowling by and saw the elephant lying dead; it could not restrain itself from such a feast and choosing a place where the skin was soft began to tear at the flesh. Soon it made such a large hole that it got quite inside the elephant and still went on eating. But when the sun grew strong, the elephant's skin shrunk and closed the hole and the jackal could not get out again and died miserably inside the elephant. The snake too in its hole soon died from want of food and air. So the elephant met its death through sleepiness and the snake through anger and the jackal through greed. This is the answer to the puzzle, but Chando prevented your guessing it, because you unjustly took the poor man's cow and as a lesson to you that he is lord of all, of the poor and weak as well as of Rajas and Princes."

When the jackal concluded all present cried out that the answer was a perfect one; but the Raja said "I don't think much of that; I know a lot of stories like that myself." However he had to give back the cow and pay twenty-five rupees to the panchayat. In gratitude to the jackal the owner of the cow bought a goat and gave it to the jackal and then the jackal went away and was seen no more.

C. The Prince Who Would Not Marry.

There was once a Raja who in spite of having many wives was childless; and his great desire was to have a son. He made many vows and performed every ceremony that was recommended to him, but in vain. At last a Jogi came to his kingdom and hearing of his case told him that if he would pray to Thakur and give away to the poor one-fourth of all his wealth, he should have a son.

The Raja followed the Jogi's advice, and in due time his youngest wife bore him a son; a son so fair and so beautiful that there was no one on earth to match him. When the boy grew up, they began to think about his marriage and the Raja said that he would only marry him to a bride as fair and as beautiful as himself. It did not matter whether she were poor or rich, all that was needful was that she should be a match for his son in looks. So messengers were sent out to all the surrounding kingdoms to look for such a bride. They searched for years; nine years, ten years passed and still no bride was found to match in looks the Prince. After ten years had passed the Prince heard of this search and he went to his father and announced that he did not wish to marry; and that if he ever should wish to do so, he would find a wife for himself.

The Raja was very angry at this and said that the Prince wished to bring him to shame; every one would say that the Raja was too mean to arrange a marriage for his only son. But the Prince was obstinate and persisted that he did not wish the Raja to take any steps in the matter. At this the Raja grew more and more angry, until at last he ordered the Prince to be taken to prison and kept there, until he promised to marry any one whom his father chose.

Every day the warders asked whether he would yield and every day he refused; and it is impossible to say how long he would have languished in prison, had not the wife of the Parganna of the Bongas come one night to the prison with two other bongas. They began to talk about the Prince's hard case. The warders heard them talking, but could see no one. The Bonga Parganna's wife proposed that they should provide a bonga bride for the Prince, for it was certain that no human bride could be his match for beauty. The two bongas agreed that it was a good idea but the Prince had declared that he would not marry and that was a difficulty. "Let him see the bride I offer him and see what happens" answered the old Bonga's wife. So the next night when the Prince was asleep a beautiful bonga maiden was brought to the prison and when he awoke he saw her sitting by his side. He fell in love with her at first sight and exchanging rings with her promised that she should be his wife.

Then the warders, who had been watching, ran to the Raja and told him that the Prince had agreed to marry. The Raja came and took the Prince and his bride out of the prison, and the wedding was celebrated with great rejoicings throughout the kingdom.

CI. The Prince Who Found Two Wives.

There was once a Raja who had an only son. When the Prince grew up the courtiers proposed to the Raja that he should arrange for his son's marriage; the Raja however wished to postpone it for a time. So the courtiers used to laugh and say to the Prince "Wait a little and we will find you a couple of wives;" the young man would answer, "What is that? I can find them for myself. If you offered to find me ten or twelve wives there would be something in it." The Raja heard of his boasting like this and was very angry and said "Well if he is so sure that he can find a wife for himself, let him do it;" and he took no further steps to arrange for his son's marriage.

Now the Prince had a most beautiful voice and used also to play on the one-stringed lute. He used often to sit up half the night singing and playing to himself. One night as he sat singing, he heard a laugh and looking round saw a beautiful bonga girl. He asked who she was and how she had come there, and she told him that she lived close by and could not help coming to see who it was, who was singing so beautifully. After that she used to visit the Prince every night, but always disappeared before dawn. This went on for some weeks and then the Prince asked her to stay and be his wife. She agreed, provided he would first go to her home and see her relations. So the next night he went with her; and found that her father was also a Raja and very rich. He stayed there three or four days; while his mysterious disappearance caused the greatest consternation at his own home. However he returned quietly by night and was found sleeping as usual in his bed one morning. Then he told his parents all that had happened and how he had left his wife behind at her father's house.

Two or three days later the Prince fell very ill: every sort of remedy was tried in vain. As he grew worse and worse, one day a messenger came from his father-in-law and offered to cure him if he were removed to his wife's house. So he was carried thither and when he arrived he found that his wife was also very ill; but directly he was brought to where she lay, at the mere sight of each other they both became well again.

After some months the Prince and his wife set out to return to their own home. They were benighted on the way; so they tied their horses to a tree and prepared to camp under it. The Prince went to a bazar to buy provisions and while there, was arrested on a false charge and was sent to prison. The Princess waited and waited and at last felt sure that something must have detained him against his will. She would not leave the spot, and to make it less likely that she should be molested, she dressed herself as a man.

Some days passed and the Prince did not return; then one morning an old woman passing by came and asked for a light for her hookah, and stayed talking for some time. The old woman was struck by the sweet face and gentle voice of the stranger, and on her return told the daughter of the Raja of that country that there was a strange young man, who looked and talked very differently from any of the young men of that neighbourhood. The Raja's daughter was curious to see him, and the next morning she went with the old woman and talked with the disguised Princess. Before she left she was deeply in love with him, and directly she reached home she sent word to her father that she had seen the man whom she must marry. "It is of no use to thwart one's children," said the Raja and at once sent messengers to bring the stranger to marry his daughter.

When the disguised Princess was brought before the Raja, she said that she had no objection to being married provided that it was done according to the custom of her own country, and that was that the vermilion should be applied to the bride's forehead with a sword. The Raja made no objection; so the Princess took her husband's sword and put vermilion on it and then applied it to the bride's forehead; and so the marriage was complete. But when the Princess was left alone with her bride, she confessed that she was a woman and told her all her history and how her husband had disappeared in the bazar.

Then the Raja's daughter went to her father and told him what had happened and had enquiries made and speedily had the Prince released from prison. Then the prince himself again put vermilion on the forehead of the Raja's daughter, and a few days later set off home with both his wives. This was the way in which he found two wives for himself, as he had boasted that he would.

CII. The Unfaithful Wife.

Once upon a time there were two brothers and as their wives did not get on well together, they lived separately. After a time it came to the ears of the elder brother that the younger brother's wife was carrying on an intrigue with a certain Jugi; so he made up his mind to watch her movements. One night he saw a white figure leave his brother's house and, following it quietly, he saw it go into the Jugi's house, and creeping nearer, he heard his sister-in-law's voice talking inside. He was much grieved at what he had seen, but could not make up his mind to tell his brother.

One day the elder brother found that he had no milk in the house, as all his cows had run dry; so he sent a servant to his brother's house to ask for some milk; but the younger brother's wife declined to give any, and sent word that her brother-in-law was quite rich enough to buy milk cows if he wanted milk. The elder brother said nothing at this rebuff, but after a time it happened that the younger brother's cows all became dry, and he in his turn sent to his elder brother for milk. The elder brother's wife was not disposed to give it, but her husband bade her not bear malice and to send the milk.

After this the elder brother sent for the other and advised him to watch his wife and see where she went to at night. So that night the younger brother lay awake and watched; and in the middle of the night saw his wife get up very quietly and leave the house. He followed her; as the woman passed down the village street, some Mahommedans, who had been sitting up smoking ganja, saw her and emboldened by the drug set out to see who it was, who was wandering about so late at night. The woman took refuge in a clump of bamboos and pulled down one of the bamboos to conceal herself. The Mahommedans surrounded the clump but when they saw the one bamboo which the woman held shaking, while all the rest were still--for it was a windless night--they concluded that it was an evil spirit that they were pursuing and ran away in a panic.

When they were gone, the woman came out from the bamboos and went on to the Jugi's house. Her husband who had been watching all that happened followed her: and having seen her enter the Jugi's house hastened home and bolted his door from inside. Presently his wife returned and found the door which she had left ajar, fastened; then she knew that she was discovered. She was however full of resource; she began to beg to be let her in, but her husband only showered abuse upon her and bade her go back to the friend she had left. Then she took a large stone and heaved it into a pool of water near the house. Her husband heard the splash and concluded that she was drowning herself. He did not want to get into trouble with the police, as would surely be the case if his wife were found drowned, so he ran out of the house to the pool of water to try and save her. Seizing this opportunity his wife slipped into the house and in her turn locked the door from inside; so that her husband had to spend the rest of the night out-of-doors.

He could not be kept out of the house permanently and the next day he gave his wife a thrashing and turned her out. At evening however she came back and sat outside in the courtyard, weeping and wailing. The noise made her husband more angry than ever, and he shouted out to her that if she did not keep quiet he would come and cut off her nose. She kept on crying, and the Jugi heard her and sent an old woman to call her to him. She declared that if she went her husband would know and be the more angry with her, but she might go if the old woman would sit in her place and keep on crying, so that her husband might believe her to be still in the courtyard. The old woman agreed and began to weep and wail, while the other went off to the Jugi. She wept to such purpose that the husband at last could not restrain his anger, and rushing out into the darkness with a knife, cut off the nose, as he supposed, of his wife.

Presently the wife came back and found the old woman weeping in real earnest over the loss of her nose. "Never mind, I'll find it and fix it on for you," so saying she felt about for the nose till she found it, clapped it on to the old woman's face and told her to hold it tight and it would soon grow again. Then she sat down where she had sat before and began to lament the cruelty of her husband in bringing a false charge against her and challenged him to come out and see the miracle which had occurred to indicate her innocence. She repeated this so often that at last her husband began to wonder what she meant, and took a lamp and went out to see. When he found her sitting on the ground without a blemish on her face, although he had seen her with his own eyes go to the Jugi's house, he could not doubt her virtue and had to receive her back into the house.

Thus by her cunning the faithless wife escaped the punishment which she deserved.

CIII. The Industrious Bride.

Once upon a time a party of three or four men went to a village to see if a certain girl would make a suitable bride for the son of one of their friends; and while they were talking to her, another young woman came up. The visitors asked the first girl where her father was and she told them that he had gone to "meet water."

Then they asked where her mother was, and she said that she had gone "to make two men out of one." These answers puzzled the questioners, and they did not know what more to say; as they stood silent the other girl got up and went away remarking, "While I have been waiting here, I might have carded a seer of cotton." The men who were looking for a girl who would make a good wife, at once concluded that they had found what they wanted: "How industrious she must be to talk like that" thought they--"much better than this other girl who can only give us incomprehensible answers." And before they left the village they set everything in train for a match between their friend's son and the girl who seemed so industrious.

When they got home and told their wives what they had done they got well laughed at: their wives declared that it was quite easy to understand what the first girl had meant: of course she meant that her father had gone to reap thatching grass and her mother had gone to thresh dal. The poor men only gaped with astonishment at this explanation.

However the marriage they had arranged duly took place, but the fact was that the bride was entirely ignorant of how to clean and spin cotton. It was not long before this was found out, for, in the spring, when there was no work in the fields, her father-in-law set all the women of the household to spinning cotton; and told them that they and their husbands should have no new clothes until they had finished their task. The bride, who had been so carefully chosen, tried to learn how to spin by watching the others, but all in vain. The other women laughed at her efforts and she protested that it was the fault of the spinning wheel: it did not know her; her mother's spinning wheel knew her well and she could spin capitally with that. They jeered at the idea of a spinning wheel having eyes and being able to recognise its owner; however one day the young woman went and fetched her mother's spinning wheel and tried to spin with that. She got on no better than before, and could only explain it by saying that the spinning wheel had forgotten her.

Whatever the reason was, the other women all finished their spinning and received their new clothes, while she had nothing to show. Then her father-in-law scolded her and told her that it was too late to make other arrangements and as she could not get any new clothes the best thing for her to do would be to smear her body with Gur and stick raw cotton all over it. A parrab soon came round and all the other women got out their new clothes and went to see the fun. The clumsy bride had no new clothes and she took her father-in-law's advice and smeared her body with gur and covered herself with raw cotton and so went to the parrab.

Her husband was very angry that she should have taken her father-in-law's jest in earnest, and when she came home he gave her a good beating and turned her out of the house. And that was the end of the "industrious" bride.

CIV. The Boy and His Fate.

There was once a Raja and Rani who had had three sons, but they had all died when only three or four months old. Then a fourth son was born, a fine handsome child; and he did not die in infancy but grew up to boyhood. It was however fated that he should die when he was sixteen years old and his parents knew this and when they saw him coming happily home from his games of play, their eyes filled with tears at the thought of the fate that hung over him.

One day the boy asked his father and mother why it was that they were so sorrowful: and they told him how his three little brothers had died and how they feared that he had but little longer to live. On hearing this the boy proposed that he should be allowed to go away into a far country, as perhaps by this means he might avoid his fate. His father was glad to catch at the faintest hope and readily gave his consent: so they supplied him with money and mounted him on a horse, and off he set.

He travelled far and settled down in a place that pleased him. But in a short time the messengers of death came to the Raja's palace to take him away. When they did not find him, they followed in pursuit along the road which he had taken; they wore the likeness of men and soon traced out the Raja's son. They presented themselves to him and said that they had come to take him home again. The prince said that he was ready to go, but asked them to allow him to cook and eat his rice before starting. They told him that he might do this if he were quick about it: he promised to hurry, and set to his cooking: he put sufficient rice into the pot to feed them all and when it was ready he offered some to each of the messengers. They consulted together as to whether they should eat it, but their appetites got the better of their caution and they agreed to do so, and made a good meal. But directly they had finished they began to debate what they should do; they had eaten his rice and could no longer compass his death.

So they told him frankly that Chando had sent them to call him; he was to die that night and they were to take away his spirit; but they had made the mistake of eating at his hands and although they must take him away, they would give him advice as to how he might save his life: he was to take a thin piece of lamp-wick and when Chando questioned him, he was to put it up his nose and make himself sneeze. The prince promised to remember this, and that night they took his spirit away to Chando, but when Chando began to question him he made himself sneeze with the lamp-wick; thereupon Chando at once wrote that he should live for sixty years more and ordered the messengers to immediately restore his spirit to its body. Then the prince hastened back to his father and mother, and told them that he had broken through his fate and had a long life before him; and they had better make arrangements for his marriage at once. This they did and he lived to a ripe old age, as he had been promised.

CV. The Messengers of Death.

There was once a Brahman who had four sons born to him, but they all died young; a fifth son however was born to him, who grew up to boyhood. But it was fated that he too should die before reaching manhood. One day while his father was away from home, the messengers of death came to take him away. The Brahman's wife thought that they were three friends or relations of her husband, who had come to pay a visit, and gave them a hearty welcome. And when she asked who they were, they also told her that they were connections of her husband. Then she asked them to have some dinner and they said that they would eat, provided that she used no salt in the cooking. She promised not to do, but what she did was to scatter some salt over the bottom of the dish. Then she cooked the rice and turned it into the dish and gave it to them to eat. They ate but when they came to the bottom of the dish they tasted the salt which had been underneath. Then the three messengers said "She has got the better of us; we have eaten her salt and can no longer deceive her; we must tell her why we have come."

So they told her that her son was to die that night and that Chando had sent them to take away his spirit: all they could do was to let her come too, and see the place to which her son's spirit was going. The mother thought that this would be a consolation to her, so she went with them. When they arrived in the spirit world they told the Brahman's wife to wait for them by a certain house in which dwelt her son's wife; and they took the boy to Chando. Presently they brought him back to the house in which his wife dwelt and near which his mother was waiting and she overheard the following conversation between the boy and his wife. The wife said "Have you come for good this time, or must you again go back to the world?"

"I have to go back once more."

"And how will you manage to return again here?"

"I shall ask for the dust of April and May and if it is not given to me I shall cry myself to death; and if that fails, I shall cry for a toy winnowing fan; and if they give me that, then I will cry for an elephant and if that fails then on my wedding day there will be two thorns in the rice they give me to eat and they will stick in my throat and kill me. And if that does not come to pass, then, when I return home after the wedding, a leopard will kill a cow and I shall run out to chase the leopard and I shall run after it, till I run hither to you."

"When you come back," said his wife, "bring me some of the vermilion they use in the world" and the boy promised.

The messengers then took the Brahman's wife home, and shortly afterwards the boy was born again. His mother had carefully guarded the memory of all that she had heard in the other world; and when the child asked for the dust and the winnowing fan and the elephant, she at once gratified his desires. So the boy grew up, and his wedding day arrived. His mother insisted on accompanying him to the bride's house, and when the rice was brought for the bride and bridegroom to eat together, she asked to be allowed to look at it first, and on examining it pulled out the the two thorns; and then her son ate it unharmed. But when the wedding party returned home and the ceremony of introducing the bride to the house was being performed, word was brought that a leopard had killed one of the cows; at once the bridegroom ran out in pursuit; but his mother followed him and called out, "My son, your wife told you to take her some of the vermilion of this world; here is some that I have brought, take it with you." At this her son stopped and asked her to explain what she meant; then she told him all and he went no more in pursuit of the leopard: so he stayed and grew up and lived to a good old age.

CVI. The Speaking Crab.

There was once a farmer who kept a labourer and a field woman to do the work of the farm; and they were both very industrious and worked as if they were working on their own account and not for a master.

Once at the time of transplanting rice, they were so busy that they stayed in the fields all day and had their meals there and did not go home till the evening. During this time it happened that the man had unyoked his plough bullocks and taking his hoe began to dress the embankment of the field, and as he dug, he dug out a very large crab; so he plucked some leaves from the bushes and wrapped the crab in them and fetching the yoke rope from the plough, he tied the bundle up tightly with it and put it on the stump of a tree, intending to take it home in the evening; but when he went home he forgot about it.

Now the crab was alive and in the middle of the night it began to struggle to get out, but could not free itself. It happened that just then the farmer was walking in the field to see that no one came to steal his rice seedlings, and the crab began to sing:--

"This servant, this servant, father, And this maidservant, this maidservant, father, Caught me while digging the bank: And in leaves, leaves, father, With the yoke rope, yoke rope, father Tied me and left me on the stump."

At this sound the farmer was very frightened, and puzzled also; for he thought, "If this were a human being crying, every one in the neighbourhood would have heard and woke up, but it seems that I alone am able to hear the sound; who can it be who is talking about my servants?" So he went back to bed and told no one. The next morning when the labourer looked for his yoke ropes, he missed one; and then he remembered that he had used it to tie up the crab; so he went to the place and found his rope. When his master brought them their breakfast that day and they had finished eating, the labourer began to tell how he had lost one of the yoke ropes and had found it again: and how he had used it for tying up the crab which he had found. The master asked whether the crab was alive or dead; and the labourer said that it was dead.

Then the master said "My man you have done a very foolish thing; why did you tie it up alive? Last night I could not sleep for its crying. Why did you imprison the innocent creature until it died?" And he told them the song it had sung, and forbade them ever to cause such pain to living creatures. He said "Kill them outright or you will bring disgrace on me; when I heard the lament I thought it was a man, but now I learn from you that it was a crab. I forbid you ever to do the like again." And at the time of the Sohrai festival the farmer called together all his household and sang them the song and explained its meaning to them, and the men who heard it remember it to this day.

CVII. The Leopard Outwitted.

There was once a man-eating leopard, whose depredations became so serious, that the whole neighbouring population decided to have a great hunt and kill it. On the day fixed a great crowd of beaters collected, and their drums made a noise as if the world were being turned upside down.

When the leopard heard the shouting and the drumming, it started to escape to another jungle, and as it was crossing a road it came on a merchant driving a packbullock. The merchant tried to run away, but the leopard stopped him and said "You must hide me or I will eat you." The merchant continued to run, thinking that if he helped the leopard it would surely eat him afterwards, but the leopard swore an oath not to eat him if he would only hide it. So the merchant stopped and took one of his sacks off the bullock and emptied it out and tied up the leopard in it, and put it on the bullock and then drove on.

When they got out of hearing of the hunters the leopard asked to be let out; but directly the sack was untied it said that it would devour the merchant. The merchant said "You can of course eat me, but let us consult an arbitrator as to whether it is fair." The leopard agreed and as they were near a stream, the man asked the water whether it was fair that he should be killed, after he had saved the leopard's life; the water answered "Yes; you men wash all manner of filthy things in me; let it eat you!" Then the leopard wanted to eat him, but the merchant asked leave to take two more opinions; so he asked a tree; but the tree said "Men cut me down; let the leopard eat you."

The merchant was very downcast to find everyone against him and the leopard said, "Well, whom will you consult next? You have so many friends;" so they went on and presently met a jackal and the merchant said that he would appeal to him. The jackal considered for some time and then said "I don't understand how you hid the leopard; let me see how it was done; and then I shall be able to decide," The merchant said "I hid him in this sack." "Really," said the jackal, "show me exactly how you did it" So the leopard got into the sack to show how he was hidden; then the jackal asked to be shown how the leopard was carried out of danger; so the merchant tied up the sack and put it on the bullock. "Now," said the jackal, "drive on, and when we come to yonder ravine and I tell you to put the sack down, do you knock in the head of the leopard with a stone." And the merchant did so and when he had killed the leopard, he took it out of the sack and the jackal ate its body.

CVIII. The Wind and the Sun.

Once the Wind and the Sun disputed as to which was the more powerful. And while they were quarreling a man came by wrapped in a shawl and wearing a big pagri. And they said "It is no good quarrelling; let us put our power to the test and see who can deprive this man of the shawl he has wrapped round him." Then the Wind asked to be allowed to try first and said "You will see that I will blow away the blanket in no time," and the Sun said, "All right, you go first." So the Wind began to blow hard; but the man only wrapped his shawl more tightly round him to prevent its being blown away and fastened it round himself with his pagri; and though the Wind blew fit to blow the man away, it could not snatch the shawl from him; so it gave up and the Sun had a try; he rose in the sky and blazed with full force and soon the man began to drip with sweat; and he took off his shawl and hung it on the stick he carried over his shoulder and the Wind had to admit defeat.

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.