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The Boy Who Was Changed Into A Dog

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

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.

Next: Birluri And Birbanta

Previous: The Widow's Son

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