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The Backwards And Forwards Dance






Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

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.





Next: The Deaf Family

Previous: The Stingy Daughter



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