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The Killing Of The Tiger

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

They say that there was a time when all living things had a common
speech and animals and men could understand each other, and in those
days there was a man-eating tiger which infested a jungle through
which a highroad ran; it preyed on people passing along the road
till no one ventured to travel, and as the country was so unsafe, the
people went in a body to the Raja and told him of the ravages of the
tiger and asked him to send a force of soldiers to hunt and shoot it.

So the Raja called together all his soldiers and promised to give half
his kingdom to any one of them who would kill the tiger, but not one
of them was brave enough to make the attempt; they said that their
business was to fight men and not tigers and leopards; then the Raja
extended his offer to all his subjects and the petitioners went home
to consult about it; and the news was published that the Raja would
give half his kingdom to the slayer of the tiger.

Now there was a poor man who was a very brave shikari of big game,
and cunning into the bargain, and he offered to go and kill the
tiger. They questioned him carefully, and when they saw that he was in
earnest they took him to the Raja to hear from the Raja's lips what
his reward should be; and the Raja promised him half his kingdom,
and wrote a bond to that effect, for he thought that the tiger would
surely kill the man. Then the shikari said that he would start the
next morning and return the next day either with the dead tiger or
with bits of its ears and claws to show that he had killed it. The
Raja told the people to watch carefully and see that the shikari did
not cheat by taking the claws and ears of a tiger with him.

The next morning the shikari started off and all he took with him was
a looking-glass and three pictures of a tiger drawn on three pieces
of paper and a hatchet; he went to the road which the tiger frequented
and climbed a banyan tree and spent the night in it. The tiger did not
pass by at all that night but in the morning it appeared and called
out "Who is up in the tree?" The shikari said "It is I." "Come down
quickly," said the tiger, "I have been looking for you." "Wait a
minute," answered the shikari, "I have been looking for you also."

"What for?" said the tiger: "Tell me first why you are looking for me,"
said the man: "To eat you," answered the tiger; then the man said,
"Well I have been hunting for you to catch you and take you away. I
have caught three or four like you and if you don't believe me, let me
get down and I will show you". The tiger got into a fright and said:
"Come down and show me." So the shikari climbed down and uncovered
his looking glass and told the tiger to look and he reflected in the
glass the pictures of the tigers which he had brought and said, "Now
I am going to catch you and put you in here also." The tiger asked
why he was to be caught and the shikari said that it was because he
had made the road unsafe by killing travellers; then the tiger begged
and prayed to be let off and promised that he would never kill any
travellers again. At last the shikari said that he would let him go,
if he would allow him to cut off his claws and the tips of his ears
and the tip of his tongue as a pledge of his good faith. The tiger
said, "Well, you may cut off one claw from each foot and the very
tip of my ears and tongue." So the shikari cut them off with his
hatchet and, after again warning the tiger, went back home; and then
presented himself with all his friends before the Raja and the Raja
gave him the promised reward, But the tiger's tongue festered and,
after roaring with pain for a whole day, it died.

Next: The Dream

Previous: The Tiger's Bride

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