Out in the sky the great dark clouds are massing; I look far out into the pregnant night, Where I can hear a solemn booming gun And catch the gleaming of a random light, That tells me that the ship I seek is passing, passing. My tear... Read more of Ships That Pass In The Night at Martin Luther King.caInformational Site Network Informational

The Ferryman

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There was once a ferryman who plied a ferry across a big river, and he
had two wives. By the elder wife he had five sons and by the younger
only one. When he grew old he gave up work himself and left his sons
to manage the boats; but the step-brothers could not agree and were
always quarrelling. So the father gave one boat to the son of the
younger wife and told him to work it by himself at a separate crossing
higher up the river, while the five other brothers plied to old ferry.

It turned out that most passengers used to cross at the youngest
brother's ferry and as he had no one to share the profits with him,
his earnings were very large. Because of this he used to jeer at his
other brothers who were not so well off. This made them hate him more
than ever, and they resolved to be revenged; so one day when he was
alone in the boat they set it adrift down the river without any oars.

As he drifted helplessly down the river he saw a river snake, as
long as the river was broad, waiting for him with open mouth. He
thought that his last hour had come, but he seized a knife which was
in the boat and waited. When the stream brought him within reach,
the snake swallowed him, boat and all, and swam to the bank. When he
felt the snake climbing up the bank he began to cut his way out of its
stomach with his knife, and soon made a wound which killed the snake
and enabled him to make his way out and pull out the boat. Then he
looked about him and saw a large village near by; so he went towards
it to tell the villagers how he had killed the great snake. But when
he reached it he found it deserted; he went from house to house but
found no one. At last he came to a house in which there was one girl,
who told him that she was the only inhabitant left, as the great river
snake had eaten up all the other people. Then he told her how he had
killed the snake and took her to see its dead body. The village was
full of the wealth left by its former inhabitants; so he and the girl
decided to stay there, and there were such riches that they lived
like a Raja and Rani.

One morning his wife told him that she had had a dream, in which
she was warned that he must on no account go out towards the south
of the village; but he laughed at her, because he had up to that
time moved about wherever he liked without any harm. She begged him
to listen to her advice, because it was by her wisdom that she had
saved her life when every one else in the village had been killed,
so for a few days he obeyed her, but one morning he took a sword and
went off towards the south. He had not gone far when he came to a cow,
which had fallen into a pit, and it called to him. "Oh Brother, I have
fallen into great trouble; help me out and one day I will do the same
to you, if you ask my aid." So he took pity on the cow and pulled it
out. Going on a little further he came to a buffalo which had stuck
fast in a bog and it also called to him for help and promised to do
the like for him in case of need. So he pulled it out of the mud,
and went on his way. Presently he came to a well and from the depths
of the well a man who had fallen into it cried to him for help; so he
went and pulled him up; but no sooner had the man reached the surface
than he turned and pushed his rescuer down the well and ran away.

His wife waited and waited for his return and when he did not come,
she divined that he had gone towards the south in spite of her
warning. So she went to look for him and presently found him at the
bottom of the well. So she let down a rope and pulled him up and gave
him a scolding for his folly.

After this they thought it best to leave that country, so they embarked
on the boat and travelled back to his father's house.

Next: Catching A Thief

Previous: The Children And The Vultures

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