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The Leopard Outwitted

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There was once a man-eating leopard, whose depredations became so
serious, that the whole neighbouring population decided to have a
great hunt and kill it. On the day fixed a great crowd of beaters
collected, and their drums made a noise as if the world were being
turned upside down.

When the leopard heard the shouting and the drumming, it started to
escape to another jungle, and as it was crossing a road it came on
a merchant driving a packbullock. The merchant tried to run away,
but the leopard stopped him and said "You must hide me or I will eat
you." The merchant continued to run, thinking that if he helped the
leopard it would surely eat him afterwards, but the leopard swore an
oath not to eat him if he would only hide it. So the merchant stopped
and took one of his sacks off the bullock and emptied it out and tied
up the leopard in it, and put it on the bullock and then drove on.

When they got out of hearing of the hunters the leopard asked to be
let out; but directly the sack was untied it said that it would devour
the merchant. The merchant said "You can of course eat me, but let us
consult an arbitrator as to whether it is fair." The leopard agreed
and as they were near a stream, the man asked the water whether it was
fair that he should be killed, after he had saved the leopard's life;
the water answered "Yes; you men wash all manner of filthy things
in me; let it eat you!" Then the leopard wanted to eat him, but the
merchant asked leave to take two more opinions; so he asked a tree;
but the tree said "Men cut me down; let the leopard eat you."

The merchant was very downcast to find everyone against him and
the leopard said, "Well, whom will you consult next? You have so
many friends;" so they went on and presently met a jackal and the
merchant said that he would appeal to him. The jackal considered for
some time and then said "I don't understand how you hid the leopard;
let me see how it was done; and then I shall be able to decide," The
merchant said "I hid him in this sack." "Really," said the jackal,
"show me exactly how you did it" So the leopard got into the sack
to show how he was hidden; then the jackal asked to be shown how
the leopard was carried out of danger; so the merchant tied up the
sack and put it on the bullock. "Now," said the jackal, "drive on,
and when we come to yonder ravine and I tell you to put the sack down,
do you knock in the head of the leopard with a stone." And the merchant
did so and when he had killed the leopard, he took it out of the sack
and the jackal ate its body.

Next: The Wind And The Sun

Previous: The Speaking Crab

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