Cecil Henry Bompas.

Folklore of the Santal Parganas online

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Raja sent his second wife to live in a separate house. The Mongoose
boy could talk like any man but he never grew bigger than an ordinary
mongoose and his name was Lelsing.

One day the Raja called all his sons to him and said that he wished,
before he died, to divide his property among them. But the sons said
that they had rather he did not do so then; they wished to go abroad
and see the world, and if he would give each of them some capital to
start, with, they would go abroad and trade and even if they did not
make much profit they would have the advantage of seeing the world.

So the Raja gave his six sons twenty rupees each to start business
with; but when Lelsing also asked for some money, his brothers jeered
at him and declared that he certainly could not go with them, for
he would only get eaten up by some dog. Lelsing made no answer at
the time but afterwards he went to his father alone and begged again
for some money. At last the Raja, though he scarcely believed that
Lelsing would really go out trading, gave him ten rupees.

The six brothers made everything ready and one morning set out on
their travels, without saying anything to Lelsing. But Lelsing saw them
start and followed after them, and as the brothers were resting in the
middle of the day they looked back and saw Lelsing galloping along to
overtake them. So they all travelled together for three or four days,
till they came to a great jungle and camped on its outskirts. There
they debated how long they should stay away from home and they decided
that they would trade for six months and then go back.

The next morning they entered the jungle, and as they travelled through
it, the six brothers managed to give Lelsing the slip, so that when
they came out of the forest they found themselves at Nilam bazar, but
Lelsing after wandering about for some time came out at Sujan bazar.

The six brothers bought sun-horses at Nilam bazar, and began to
trade. But Lelsing at Sujan bazar looked about for someone who would
engage him as a servant. No one would employ a mongoose, and Lelsing
was in despair, for he had very little money. At last he began to
enquire whether anyone would sell him a cheap horse, and learnt that
the horse market was at Nilam bazar; so he went to Nilam bazar and
there found his brothers trading, but he did not make himself known
to them. He tried to buy a horse but they were all too highly priced
for him, so at last he had to be content with buying a donkey for
three rupees and some articles to trade with.

When the six months expired, the brothers went home; and a little after
them came Lelsing, leading his donkey, his brothers laughed at him
but the Raja did not laugh; and Lelsing showed his father and mother
what profits he had made by his trading, which his brothers declined
to do. The Raja was pleased with Lelsing for this and declared that,
in spite of his shape, he was a man and a Raja. It only made his
brothers more angry with him to hear Lelsing praised.

Two or three years later there was a famine in the land. Lelsing
foresaw it and he dug a large hole in the floor of his house and buried
in it all the grain on which he could lay his hand. The famine grew
severe, but Lelsing and his mother always had enough to eat from their
private store. But his brothers were starving and their children cried
from want of food. Lelsing had pity on them and sent his mother with
some rice for them to eat. The Raja and his sons were amazed that
Lelsing should have rice to give away, and they went to his house
to see how much he had; but they found the house apparently empty,
for they did not know of the store buried in the ground. Puzzled
and jealous the brothers made up their minds to burn down Lelsing's
house. So one night they set fire to it, and it was burnt to ashes:
the store buried in the ground was however uninjured.

Lelsing put the ashes of his house into sacks and, loading them on
his donkey, set out to sell them. As he found no buyers, he rested for
the night under a tree by the road side. Presently a band of merchants
with well loaded pack-bullocks came to the place. "You must not camp
here" called out Lelsing to them "I have two sacks of gold coin here
and you may take an opportunity to steal them. If you are honest men,
you will go to a distance." So the merchants camped a little way off,
but in the middle of the night they came and carried off Lelsing's
sacks, leaving two of their own in their place, and hurried on their
way. In the morning Lelsing made haste to carry home the sacks which
had been changed, and when he came to open them he found them full
of rice and rupees. He sent his mother to borrow a measure from his
brothers with which to measure the rupees; and when he returned it,
he sent it to them full of rupees.

His brothers came running to know where he had found so much money. "I
got it by selling the ashes of my house" said Lelsing "and it is a
pity that I had only one house; if I had had more houses, I should
have had more ashes, and should have got more money still." On hearing
this the brothers at once made up their mind to burn their own houses,
and take the ashes for sale. But when they did so and took the ashes
for sale from village to village they were only laughed at for their
pains, and in the end had to throw away the ashes and come back empty
handed. They were very angry at the trick which Lelsing had played
on them and decided to kill him and his mother; but when they went
to the house to do the murder, Lelsing happened to be away from home
and so they were only able to kill his mother.

When Lelsing came home he found his mother lying dead. He placed the
body on his donkey and carried it off to burn it on the banks of the
Ganges. As he went, he saw a large herd of pack bullocks coming along
the road. He quickly propped the body of his mother against a tree
which grew by the road and himself climbed into its branches, and when
the bullocks came up he began to call out "Take care, take care: you
will have my sick mother trampled to death." But the drivers were too
far behind to hear what he said. When they came up, he climbed down
from the tree and charged them with having allowed their bullocks to
kill his mother. The drivers had no wish to face a charge of murder;
and in the end, to secure their release, they made over to Lelsing
all their bullocks, with the merchandise which they were carrying.

Lelsing threw his mother's corpse into some bushes, and drove the
laden bullocks home. Naturally his brothers wanted to know where he
had got such wealth from, and he explained that it was by selling
the dead body of his mother and he was sorry that he had only one
to dispose of. At once his brothers went and killed all their wives,
and took the corpses away to sell; but no one would buy and they had
to return disappointed.

Another trick that Lelsing played his brothers was this: he used to
mix rupees in the food he gave his donkey, and these passed out in
the droppings; and Lelsing took care that his brothers should know of
it. They found no rupees in the dung of their horses, and consulted
Lelsing as to the reason why. He told them that if they gave their
horses a blow with an axe while they ate their grain, they would
find rupees in the dung. The brothers did as they were advised,
but the only result was that they killed all their horses.

More and more angry, the brothers resolved to kill Lelsing by guile. So
they went to him and said that they had found a wife for him, and
would take him to be married. When the procession was ready, Lelsing
got into a palki. His brothers made the doors of the palki fast and
carried him off towards a deep river, into which they meant to throw
him, palki and all.

When they reached the river, they put the palki down and went to
look for a suitably deep pool. Lelsing found that he was outwitted,
and began to weep and wail. Just then a shepherd came by, driving a
flock of sheep and asked what was the matter. Lelsing cried out that
they were going to marry him against his will, but that anyone who
would take his place in the palki could marry his bride. The shepherd
thought that this would be a great opportunity to get a wife without
spending any money on the marriage, and readily changed places with
Lelsing, who drove away the flock of sheep. The brothers soon came
back and, picking up the paiki, threw it into the river and went home,
thinking that they had at last got rid of Lelsing.

But four or five days later Lelsing appeared, driving a large flock of
sheep. His brothers asked him, in amazement where he had come from,
"You threw me" said Lelsing "into a shallow pool of the river where
there were only sheep, but in the deeper parts there are cattle
and buffaloes as well. I can take you to fetch some of them if you
like. You take your palkis to the bank of the river, - for I cannot
carry you all - and then shut yourselves inside and I will push you
into the water." So the brothers took their palkis to the river side
and shut themselves in, and each called out "Let me have the deepest
place, brother." Then Lelsing pushed them in one by one and they were
all drowned. Then he went home rejoicing at the revenge which he had
taken for their ill treatment of him.




LXVIII. The Stolen Treasure.

Once upon a time three jars full of money were stolen from a Raja's
palace. As all search was fruitless the Raja at last gave notice that,
whoever could find them, should receive one half of the money. The
offer brought all the _jans_ and _ojhas_ in the country to try their
hand, but not one of them could find the treasure.

The fact was that the money had been stolen by two of the Raja's own
servants and it fell to the duty of these same two men to entertain
the _ojhas_ who came to try and find the money. Thus they were able
to keep watch and see whether any of them got on the right track.

Not far from the Raja's city lived a certain tricky fellow. From his
boyhood he had always been up to strange pranks, and he had married
the daughter of a rich village headman. At the time that the Raja's
money was stolen his wife was on a visit to her father, and after
she had been some time away, he went to fetch her home. However, on
his way, he stopped to have a flirtation with a girl he knew in the
village and the result was that he did not get to his father-in-law's
house till long after dark. As he stood outside he heard his wife's
relations talking inside, and from their conversation he learnt that
they had killed a capon for supper, and that there was enough for
each of them to have three slices of capon and five pieces of the
vegetable which was cooked with it.

Having learnt this he opened the door and went in. The household
was amazed at his arriving so late at night but he explained that he
had dreamt that they had killed a capon and were having a feast: and
that there was enough for them each to have three slices of capon and
five pieces of vegetable, so he had come to have a share. At this his
father-in-law could do nothing but have another fowl killed and give
him supper; he was naturally astonished at the Trickster's powers of
dreaming and insisted that he must certainly go and try his luck at
finding the Raja's stolen money.

The Trickster was taken aback at this, but there was no getting
out of it; so the next morning he set out with his father-in-law to
the Raja's palace. When they arrived they were placed in charge of
the two guilty servants, who offered them refreshments of curds and
parched rice. As he was washing his hands after eating, the Trickster
ejaculated, "Find or fail I have at any rate had a square meal,"
Now the two servants were named Find and Fail and when they heard
what the Trickster said, they thought he was speaking of them, and
had by some magic already found out that they were the thieves.

This threw them into consternation, and they took the Trickster aside
and begged him not to tell the Raja that they were the thieves. He
asked where they had put the money, and they told him that they had
hidden it in the sand by the river. Then he promised not to reveal
their guilt, if they would show him where to find the money when
the time came. They gladly promised and took him to the Raja. The
Trickster pretended to read an incantation over some mustard seed,
and then taking a bamboo went along tapping the ground with it. He
refused to have a crowd with him, because they would spoil the spell,
but Find and Fail followed behind him and showed him where to go. So he
soon found the jars of money and took them to the Raja, who according
to his promise gave him half their contents.




LXIX. Dukhu and His Bonga Wife.

Once upon a time there was a man named Bhagrit who had two sons named
Lukhu and Dukhu; and Lukhu used to work in the fields, while Dukhu
herded the buffaloes. In summer Dukhu used to take his buffaloes to
drink and rest at a pool in the bed of a dry river.

Now in the pool lived a _bonga_ girl and she fell in love with
Dukhu. So one day as he was sitting on the bank she appeared to
him in the guise of a human maiden. She went up to him and began to
talk, and soon they became great friends and agreed to meet at the
same place every day. As the girl was beautiful Dukhu fell deeply in
love with her and resolved to marry her, not knowing that she was a
_bonga_. One day the _bonga_-girl asked Dukhu to come home with her to
dinner, as he had stayed too late to go to his own house; but he said
he was too shy to do so, as her parents knew nothing about him. The
_bonga_-girl said "Oh no, I have told my people all about our love,
but if you won't come with me, stay here till I fetch you some rice;
it is too late for you to go home now; by the time you come back, the
buffaloes will have wandered off for their afternoon grazing." So Dukhu
agreed to wait while she brought the rice, and she got up and moved
away and disappeared behind some bushes, but a minute later Dukhu saw
her come smiling towards him with a pot of rice on her head; though
how she had fetched it so quickly he could not make out. She came to
him and put it down and told him to wash his hands and come and eat
his dinner. Dukhu asked her whether she had had her own dinner and she
said that she would go back and have that later. Then he proposed that
she should eat part of what she had brought; and she said that she
would do so, if he did not want it all. Dukhu resolved to test her,
for it would be a proof of true love, if she ate what he left over. So
after eating half the rice he said that he was satisfied and when she
found that Dukhu would eat no more she took what was left; then he was
satisfied that she really loved him and they began to talk of getting
married, and he told her that there would be no difficulty about it,
as his elder brother Lukhu was already married.

Then Dukhu asked the _bonga_ to take him to her house to see her
parents, so one day she led him into the pool and as he went in, the
water never came above his ankles; and somehow they passed along a
broad road until they came to the _bonga_ girl's house, and this was
full of tigers and leopards and snakes. At the sight of them Dukhu was
too frightened to speak; the _bonga_ said that she would not let them
touch him and offered him a large coiled-up snake to sit on; but he
would not sit down till she came and sat by his side. Then the _bonga_
father and mother asked their daughter whether this was her husband,
and when she said "yes" they came and made obeisance to him.

After they had had their dinner she took him back and he knew that
she was a _bonga_; but still he could not give her up. After this
the _bonga_ girl brought Dukhu his dinner every day on the bank of
the river, and he never went home for his midday-meal at all. His
brother's wife asked him why he did not come home and he said that
he did not get hungry and was content with some buffalo's milk; but
she did not believe him and resolved to watch and see who brought
him his dinner, but though she went and watched every day she only
saw him sitting alone, and the _bonga_ girl was invisible to her. But
one day she saw him disappear into the pool, and come out again.

When she told this at home, Dukhu's father, Bhagrit, got very angry
and decided to find out who made Dukhu disappear into the pool. He
resolved to bale out the water and find out what was at the bottom. So
he sent for men with baling baskets and began to divide off the water
with dams, but out of the water a voice was heard, singing; -


"Do not dam the water, father,
Do not dam the water, father,
Your daughter-in-law, the Ginduri fish is dying."


At this sound the workmen were frightened and stopped; but Bhagrit
made them go on, saying that whatever happened should be on his
head. And when the dams were finished, they began to bale out the
water; thereupon a voice sang: -


"Do not bale the water, father,
Do not bale the water, father.
Your daughter-in-law, the Ginduri fish is dying."


But they paid no attention and baled the water dry, and at the bottom
of the pool they found an enormous fish, for the _bonga_ girl had
turned into a fish. And they went to kill it, but the fish sang: -


"Do not hit me, father,
Do not hit me, father,
Your daughter-in-law, the Ginduri fish is dying."


Nevertheless they killed it and dragged it on to the bank. Then they
began to cut it up, and as they did so, it sang: -


"Do not cut me, father,
Do not cut me, father,
Your daughter-in-law, the Ginduri fish, is dying."


Nevertheless they cut it up, and Bhagrit divided the pieces among the
workmen, but they were too frightened to take any and preferred to
take the smaller fishes as their share. So he told Lukhu's wife to take
up the pieces and wash them: and as she did so the song was heard: -


"Do not wash me, sister,
Do not wash me, sister,
The Ginduri fish is dying."


And she was very frightened, but her father made her wash them and
then they took home the pieces and lit a fire and ground spices and
turmeric and heated oil and made ready to cook the fish. Then the
fish sang again: -


"Do not cook me, sister,
Do not cook me, sister,
The Ginduri fish, sister, is dying.'


But she nevertheless put the pieces into the pot to boil, when lo and
behold, out of the pot jumped the pretty _bonga_ girl. Then Bhagrit
said to his neighbours. - "You see by my persistence I have got a
daughter-in-law" - and she was duly married to Dukhu. At the wedding
the _bonga_ girl said "Listen, Father and all of you: I tell you and
I tell my husband - however much we quarrel let not my husband strike
me on the head, let him beat me on the body, I shall not mind; but
on the day that he hits me on the head: I shall depart for good."

After the marriage the family became very prosperous and their
crops flourished and every one liked the _bonga_ girl; but between
her and her husband there were constant quarrels and their friends
could not stop them. One day it happened that Dukhu smacked her
on the head. Then the _bonga_ girl began to cry and called her
father-in-law and mother-in-law and said "Father, listen, the father
of your grandson has turned me out, you must do your work yourselves
to-day;" then she took her child on her hip and left the house; and
they ran after her and begged her to return, but she would not heed;
and they tried to snatch the child from her but she would not give
it up, and went away and was seen no more.




LXX. The Monkey Husband.

One very hot day some children were bathing in a pool, when a Hanuman
monkey snatched up the cloth which one of the girls had left on the
bank and ran up a tree with it. When the children came out of the water
and went to take up their clothes, they found one missing, and looking
about, they saw the monkey in the tree with it. They begged the Hanuman
to give it back, but the monkey only said - "I will not give it unless
its owner consents to marry me." - Then they began to throw sticks
and stones at him but he climbed to the top of the tree out of the way.

Then they ran and told the parents of the girl whose cloth had been
stolen; and they called their neighbours and went with bows and arrows
and threatened to shoot the monkey if he did not give up the cloth,
but he still said that he would not, unless the girl would marry
him. Then they shot all their arrows at him but not one of them hit
him; then the neighbours said. "This child is fated to belong to the
monkey and that is why we cannot hit him." Then the girl's father
and mother began to cry and sang: -


"Give the girl her cloth,
Her silk cloth, monkey boy,"


and he answered


"If she consents to marry me I will give it:
If she consents I will put it in her hand."


And as he did not listen to the father and mother, her father's
younger brother and his wife sang the same song, but in vain; and
then the girl herself begged for it, and thereupon the monkey let
down one end of the cloth to her; and when she caught hold of it,
he pulled her up into the tree, and there made her put on her cloth
and ran off with her on his back.

The girl was quite willing to go with him and called out as she was
carried away: "Never mind, father and mother, I am going away." The
Hanuman took her to a cave in the mountains and they lived on
fruit, - mangoes or jack or whatever fruit was in season. The monkey
climbed the trees and shook the fruit down; but if the girl saw by
the marks of teeth that the monkey had bitten off any fruit, instead
of only shaking it down, she would not eat it, and pretended that
she had had enough; for she would not eat the leavings of the monkey.

At last the girl got tired of having only fruit to eat; and demanded
rice. So the monkey took her to a bazar, and leaving her on the
outskirts of the village under a tree, he went and stole some pots from
a potter and rice and salt and turmeric and pulse and sweetmeats from
other shops, and brought them to the girl. Then she collected sticks
and lit a fire and cooked a meal; and the monkey liked the cooked
food, and asked her to cook for him every day. So they stayed there
several days. Then the girl asked for more clothes and the monkey
tried to steal them too, but the shopkeepers were on the watch and
drove him away.

The girl soon got tired of sleeping under a tree so they went back
to the cave and the monkey gathered mangoes and jackfruit and told
her to go and sell them in the market and then she would be able to
buy cloth. But when she had sold the fruit, she stayed in the village
and took service with a well-to-do shopkeeper, and never returned to
the monkey. The monkey watched for her and searched for her in vain,
and returned sorrowfully to his hill; but the girl stayed on in the
village and eventually married one of the villagers.




LXXI. Lakhan and the Wild Buffaloes.

Once upon a time there was the only son of a widow, who used to tend
the sheep and goats of a Raja and his name was Lakhan. One day he
harnessed one of the goats to a plough and ploughed up a piece of high
land and sowed hemp there. The crop grew finely, but one night a herd
of wild buffaloes came and ate it all up; at this Lakhan resolved to
pursue the buffaloes and shoot them.

His mother did all she could to dissuade him but he made up a bundle
of provisions, and set off on his journey with a stick, and a bow
and arrows, and a flute made of the castor oil plant. He tracked the
buffaloes for some days and one evening he came to the house of an
old witch (hutibudhi) and he went up to it and asked the witch if he
might sleep there. She answered "My house is rough and dirty, but
you can choose a corner to sleep in; I can give you nothing more,
as I have not a morsel of food in the house." "Then," said he,
"I must go to bed hungry" and he lay down supperless.

In the middle of the night the witch began to gnaw at Lakhan's bow
and he heard her gnawing and called out "What are you munching? Give
me at bit," but she answered that it was only a little pulse which
she had gleaned from the fields and she had finished it. So Lakhan
said no more; but during the night the witch bit his bow to pieces
and when he saw this in the morning, he was very unhappy; for it was
useless to find the bison, if he had nothing to shoot them with.

So he went home and had an iron bow and arrows made by a blacksmith,
and then started off again. As before he came to the witch's house
and arranged to sleep there; and in the night the witch tried to



Online LibraryCecil Henry BompasFolklore of the Santal Parganas → online text (page 15 of 34)