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The Clever Deceiver


Source: Aino Folktales

A long, long time ago there was a rascal, who went to the mountains to
fetch wood. As he did not know how to amuse himself, he climbed to the
top of a very thick pine-tree. Having munched some rice he stuck it
about the branches of the tree, so as to make it look like birds' dung.
Then he went back to the village, to the house of the chief, and spoke
thus to him: "I have found a place where a beautiful peacock has its
nest. Let us go there together! Being such a poor man, I feel myself
unworthy of going too near the divine bird. You, being a rich man,
should take the peacock. It will be a great treasure for you. Let us

So the chief went there with him. When the chief looked, there truly
were many traces of birds' dung near the top of the tall pine-tree. He
thought the peacock was there. So he said: "I do not know how to climb
trees. Though you are a poor man you do know how to do so. So go and get
the peacock, and I will reward you well. Go and get the divine peacock!"
So the poor man climbed the tree. When he was half way up it, he said:
"Oh! sir, your house seems to be on fire." The chief was much
frightened. Owing to his being frightened, he was about to run home.
Then the rascal spoke thus: "By this time your house is quite burnt
down. There is no use in your running there." The rich man thought he
would go anywhere to die; so he went towards the mountains. After he had
gone a short way, he thought thus: "You should go and see even the
traces of your burnt house." So he went down there. When he looked, he
found that his house was not burnt at all. He was very angry, and wanted
to kill that rascal. Then the rascal came down. The chief commanded his
servants, saying: "You fellows! this man is not only poor, but a very
badly behaved deceiver. Put him into a mat, and roll him up in it
without killing him. Then throw him into the river. Do this!" Thus spoke
the chief.

The servants put the rascal into the mat, and tied it round tight. Then
two of them carried him between them on a pole to the river-bank. They
went to the river. The rascal spoke thus: "Though I am a very bad man, I
have some very precious treasures. Do you go and fetch them. If you do
so, it can be arranged about their being given to you. Afterwards you
can throw me into the river." Hearing this, the two servants went off to
the rascal's house.

Meanwhile a blind old man came along from somewhere or other. His foot
struck against something wrapped up in a mat. Astonished at this, he
tapped it with his stick. Then the rascal said: "Blind man! If you will
do as I tell you, the gods will give you eyes, and you will be able to
see. So do so. If you will untie me and do as I tell you, I will pray to
the gods, and your eyes will be opened." The blind old man was very
glad. He untied the mat, and let the rascal out. Then the rascal saw
that, though the man was old and blind, he was dressed very much like a
god. The rascal said: "Take off your clothes and become naked, whereupon
your eyes will quickly be opened." This being so, the blind old man took
off his clothes. Then the rascal put him naked into the mat, and tied it
round tight. Then he went off with the clothes, and hid.

Shortly afterwards, the two men came, and said: "You rascal! you are
truly a deceiver. So, though you possess no treasures, you possess
plenty of deceit. So now we shall fling you into the water." The blind
old man said: "I am a blind old man. I am not that rascal. Please do
not kill me!" But he was forthwith flung into the river. Afterwards the
two men went home to their master's house.

Afterwards the rascal put on the blind old man's beautiful clothes. Then
he went to the chief's house and said: "My appearance of misbehaviour
was not real. The goddess who lives in the river was very much in love
with me. So she wanted to take and marry my spirit after I should have
been killed by being thrown into the river. So my misdeeds are all her
doing. Though I went to that goddess, I felt unworthy to become her
husband, because I am a poor man. I have arranged so that you, who are
the chief of the village, should go and have her, and I have come to
tell you so. That being so, I am in these beautiful clothes because I
come from the goddess." Thus he spoke. As the chief of the village saw
that the rascal was dressed in nothing but the best clothes, and thought
that he was speaking the truth, he said: "It will be well for me to be
tied up in a mat, and flung into the river." Therefore this was done,
just as had been done with the rascal, and he was drowned in the water.

After that, the rascal became the chief, and dwelt in the drowned
chief's house. Thus very bad men lived in ancient times also. So it is
said.--(Translated literally. Told by Ishanashte, 18th July, 1886.)

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