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Story Of A Lizard A Tiger And A Lame Man






Source: Santal Folk Tales

Once upon a time in a certain jungle, a lizard and a tiger were
fighting, and a lame man, who was tending goats near by, saw them. The
tiger being beaten by the lizard was ashamed to own it, and coming to
the lame man said, "Tell me which of us won." The lame man being in
great fear lest the tiger should eat him, said, "You won." On another
occasion the lizard was compelled to flee, and took refuge in an
ant hill. The tiger pursued him, but not being able to get him out,
sat down to watch.

The lizard seeing his opportunity, crept stealthily up to his
inveterate enemy, and climbing up his tail, fixed his teeth into his
haunch, and held firmly on. The tiger felt the pain of the lizard's
bite, but could not reach him to knock him off, so he ran to the lame
man, and said, "Release me from this lizard." When he had caused the
lizard to let go his grip, the tiger said, "Oh lame man, which of us
won in the encounter?" The poor man in great fear said, "You won."

The same scene was enacted daily for many days. The tiger always came
to the lame man and said, "Knock off this lizard," and after he had
done so, would say, "Which of us won?" The lame man invariably replied,
"You won." This had happened so often that the lame man began to feel
annoyed at having to tell a lie every day to please the tiger. So one
day after an ignominious flight on the part of the tiger, he being,
as usual, requested to give his opinion as to who won, said, "The
lizard had the best of it." On hearing this the tiger became angry,
and said, "I shall eat you, my fine fellow, because you say the lizard
defeated me. Tell me where you sleep." The poor lame man on hearing
the tiger threaten him thus, trembled with fear, and was silent. But
the tiger pressed him. He said, "Tell at once, for I shall certainly
devour you." The lame man replied, "I sleep in the wall press." When
night fell, the tiger set off to eat the lame man, but after searching
in the wall press failed to find him. In the morning the lame man
led his goats out to graze, and again met the tiger, who addressed
him as follows, "You are a great cheat. I did not find you in the
wall press last night." The lame man replied, "How is it you did not
find me? I was sleeping there." "No," said the tiger, "you were not,
you have deceived me. Now, tell me truly where you sleep." "I sleep
on a rafter," said the lame man. About midnight the tiger went again
in search of him to eat him, but did not find him on the rafter, so
he returned home. In the morning the lame man as usual led his goats
out to graze, and again encountered the tiger, who said to him, "How
now! Where do you sleep? I could not find you last night." The lame
man rejoined, "That is strange, I was there all the same." The tiger
said, "You are a consummate liar. Now tell me plainly where you sleep
at night, for I shall without doubt eat you." The lame man replied,
"I sleep in the fire-place." Again the tiger went at night, but could
not find him. Next morning he met the lame man, and said to him,
"No more tricks, tell me where you sleep." He, thrown off his guard,
said, "In the gongo." [4]

The tiger then withdrew to his den to wait till night came on, and
the lame man, cursing his indiscretion, with a heavy heart, drove his
goats homewards. Having made his charge safe for the night, he sat down
feeling very miserable. He refused the food that was set before him,
and continued bewailing his hard lot. In the hope of inducing him to
eat, they gave him some mohwa wrapped in a sal leaf. This also failed
to tempt him to eat; but he carried it with him when he crept into the
gongo to sleep. At night the tiger came and lifting up the gongo felt
it heavy, and said, "Well, are you inside?" He replied, "Yes, I am." So
the tiger carried off the gongo with the lame man in it. By the time
the tiger had gone a considerable distance, the lame man became hungry
and said within himself, "I shall have to die in the end, but in the
meantime I will appease my hunger." So he opened his small parcel of
mohwa, and the dry leaf crackled as he did so. The noise frightened the
tiger and he said, "What is it you are opening?" The lame man replied,
"It is yesterday's lizard." "Hold! hold!" exclaimed the tiger, "Do
not let him out yet, let me get clear away first." The lame man said,
"Not so, I will not wait, but will let him out at once." The tiger
being terrified at the prospect of again meeting his mortal enemy,
the redoubtable lizard, threw down the gongo and fled, calling out,
"I will not eat you. You have got the lizard with you."

In this way the lame man by means of the lizard saved his life.





Next: The Story Of A Simpleton

Previous: The Story Of A Tiger



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