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The Lazy Man

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once upon a time three brothers lived together: the youngest of
them was named Kora and he was the laziest man alive: he was never
willing to do any work but at meal times he was always first on the
spot. His laziness began to drag the family down in the world, for
they could not afford to feed a man who did no work. His two elder
brothers were always scolding him but he would not mend his ways:
however the scolding annoyed him and one day he ran away from home.

He had become so poor that he had nothing on but a loin cloth: it
was the middle of winter and when the evening drew on he began to
shiver with cold: so he was very glad when he came to a village to
see a group of herdboys sitting round a fire in the village street,
roasting field rats. He went up to them and sat down by the fire to
warm himself. The herd boys gave him some of the rats to eat and when
they had finished their feast went off to their homes to sleep. It was
nice and warm by the fire and Kora was too lazy to go round the village
looking for some one who would take him in for the night: so he made
up his mind to go to sleep by the fire. He curled himself up beside it
and was about to take off his waist cloth to spread over himself as
a sheet when he found a bit of thread which he had tied up in one of
the corners of the cloth. "Why!" thought he "cloth is made of thread:
so this thread must be cloth! I will use it as a sheet." So he tied
one end of the thread round his big toe and wound the other end round
his ears and stretching himself out at full length soon fell asleep.

During the night the fire died down and a village dog which was on
the prowl came and coiled itself up on the warm ashes and also went
to sleep alongside Kora.

Now the headman of that village was a well-to-do man with much land
under cultivation and a number of servants, and as it was the time
when the paddy was being threshed he got up very early in the morning
to start the work betimes. As he walked up the village street he came
on the man and dog lying fast asleep side by side. He roused up Kora
and asked him who he was and whether he did not find it very cold,
lying out in the open. "No" answered Kora, "I don't find it cold:
this is my dog and he has eaten up all my cold: he will eat up the
cold of a lakh of people." The headman at once thought that a dog
that could do this would be a very useful animal to possess: he had
to spend a lot of money in providing clothes for his farm labourers
and yet they all suffered from the cold, while if he could get hold
of the dog he and all his household would be permanently warm: so he
asked Kora what price he set on the dog. Kora said that he would sell
it for fifty lakhs of rupees and no less: he would not bargain about
the matter: the headman might take it or leave it as he liked. The
headman agreed to the terms and taking Kora to his house paid him
over the money. Kora made no delay in setting off homewards and when
he arrived the first thing he did was to tell his brothers to find
him a wife as he had now enough money to pay all the expenses of his
marriage. When his brothers found that the lazy one of the family
had come home with such a fortune they gave him a very different
reception from what they used to before, and set to work to arrange
his marriage and the three brothers all lived happily ever after.

Meanwhile the headman who had bought the dog sent for his labourers and
told them of his luck in finding such a valuable animal. He bade them
tie it up at the door of the hut on the threshing floor in which they
slept: and in the morning to lead it round with them as they drove
the oxen that trod out the grain, and then they would none of them
feel cold. That night the labourers put the matter to the test but
although the dog was tied up by the door the men in the hut shivered
all night long as usual. Then in the morning they one after the other
tried leading the dog as they drove the oxen round the threshing floor
but it did not make them any warmer, so they soon got tired and tied
the dog up again. Presently their master came along and asked what
they had done with the dog and was told that the animal would not
eat up the cold at all. The headman would not believe that he had
been duped and began to lead the dog round to try for himself. Only
too soon he had to admit that it made no difference. So, in a rage
he caught up a stick and beat the poor dog to death. Thus he lost
his money and got well laughed at by all the village for his folly.

Next: Another Lazy Man

Previous: The Bridegroom Who Spoke In Riddles

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