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The Herd Boy And The Witches

Category: Part VI.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once upon a time a cowherd lost a calf and while looking for it he
was benighted in the jungle; for he was afraid to go home lest he
should be scolded for losing the calf. He had with him his bow and
arrows and flute and a stick but still he was afraid to stay the
night in the jungle; so he made up his mind to go to the jahirthan
as More Turuiko would protect him there; so he went to the jahir
than and climbed a tree in which a spirit abode; he took his bow
and arrows up with him but he was too frightened to go to sleep.

About supper time he saw a number of women who were witches collect
from all sides at the jahir than: at this sight he was more
frightened than ever; the witches then called up the bongas and
they also summoned two tigers; then they danced the lagre dance and
they combed the hair of the two tigers. Then they also called More
Turniko and when they came, one bonga said "I smell a man" and More
Turniko scolded him saying "Faith, you smelt nothing until we came;
and directly we come you say you smell a man; it must be us you smell";
and the chief of the bongas agreed that it must be all right. Then
while the women were dancing the boy took his bow and shot the two
tigers, and the tigers enraged by their wounds fell on the witches
and killed them all; and then they died themselves; and as they were
dying they roared terribly so that the people in the villages near
heard them. When it grew light the boy climbed down and drawing the
arrows from the bodies of the tigers went home.

Then the people asked him where he had spent the night and he said
that he was benighted while looking for his calf and as he heard tigers
roaring near the jahir than he was frightened and had stayed in the
jungle. They told him that when the tigers began to roar the calf
had come running home by itself and this was good news to the herd
boy. Then he found that all the children in the village were crying for
their mothers and the men were asking what had become of their wives;
then the herdboy said that in the night he had seen some women going in
the direction of the jahir than but he had not seen them come back
and they had better go and look there. So the villagers went off and
found their wives lying dead by the jahir than and the two tigers
also dead; and they knew that the women must have been witches to go
there at night; so they wept over them and burned the bodies. And a
long time afterwards the boy told them all that he had seen and done;
and they admitted that he had done right in destroying the witches
and that it would be well if all witches met the same fate.

This story whether true or not is told to this day.

Next: The Man-tiger

Previous: Ramjit Bonga

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