Myths Connected With Mongol Religion



CXXIV. The Fool and His Dinner.

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

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

CXXV. The Stingy Daughter.

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

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

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

CXXVI. The Backwards and Forwards Dance.

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

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

CXXVII. The Deaf Family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

CXXIX. Ramai and Somai.

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

CXXX. The Two Brothers.

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

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

CXXXI. The Three Fools.

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

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

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

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

CXXXII. The Cure for Laziness.

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

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

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

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

CXXXIII. The Brahman's Powers.

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

CXXXIV. Ram's Wife.

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

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

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

CXXXV. Palo.

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

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

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

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

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

CXXXVI. The Women's Sacrifice.

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

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

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

CXXXVII. The Thief's Son.

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

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

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

CXXXVIII. The Divorce.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CXL. The Reproof.

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

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

CXLI. Enigmas.

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

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

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

CXLII. The Too Particular Wife.

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

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

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

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

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

CXLIII. The Paharia Socialists.

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

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

CXLIV. How a Tiger Was Killed.

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

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

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

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

CXLV. The Goala's Daughter.

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

"You do not understand" said she--"what I mean by "Dusty cloth." God has not given it to me and no one else can; what I mean by 'Dusty cloth' is the cloth of a mother made dusty by the feet of her child." Then her father and mother understood and wept with her, saying that they would do what man could do but this was in the hands of God; and they sang:--

"Whatever the child of another may suffer, we care not: But our own child, we will take into our lap, even when it is covered with dust."

CXLVI. The Brahman's Clothes.

There was once a Brahman who had two wives; like many Brahmans he lived by begging and was very clever at wheedling money out of people. One day the fancy took him to go to the market place dressed only in a small loin cloth such as the poorest labourers wear and see how people treated him. So he set out but on the road and in the market place and in the village no one salaamed to him or made way to him and when he begged no one gave him alms. He soon got tired of this and hastened home and putting on his best pagri and coat and dhoti went back to the market place. This time every one who met him on the road salaamed low to him and made way for him and every shopkeeper to whom he went gave him alms: and the people in the village who had refused before gladly made offerings to him. The Brahman went home smiling to himself and took off his clothes and put them in a heap and prostrated himself before them three or four times, saying each time. "O source of wealth: O source of wealth! it is clothes that are honoured in this world and nothing else."

CXLVII. The Winning of a Bride.

Formerly this country was all jungle; and when the jungle was first cleared the crops were very luxuriant; and the Santals had large herds of cattle, for there was much grazing; so they had milk and curds in quantities and ghee was as common as water; but now milk and curds are not to be had. In those days the Santals spent their time in amusements and did not trouble about amassing wealth, but they were timid and were much oppressed by their Rajas who looted any man who showed signs of wealth. Well, in those days the winters were very cold and there used to be heavy frost at nights. And there was a man who had seven grown-up daughters and no son; and at the time of threshing the paddy he had to undergo much hardship because he had no son to work for him; he had to sleep on the threshing floor and to get up very early to let out the cattle; and as the hoar frost lay two inches deep he found it bitterly cold.

In those days the villagers had a common threshing floor; and one day this man was talking to a friend and he jestingly asked whether he would spend a night naked on the threshing floor; and the friend said that he would if there were sufficient inducement but certainly not for nothing. Then the father of the seven daughters said "If you or any one else will spend a night naked on the threshing floor I will give him my eldest daughter in marriage without charging any bride price."--for he wanted a son-in-law to help him in his work. A common servant in the employ of the village headman heard him and said "I will accept the offer;" the man had not bargained for such an undesirable match but he could not go back from his word; so he agreed and said that he would choose a night; and he waited till it was very cold and windy and then told the headman's servant to sleep out that night. The servant spent the night on the threshing floor without any clothes in spite of the frost and won his bride.