The Raibar And The Leopard
Category: Part I.
Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas
Once upon a time a Raibar was going backwards and forwards between
two families arranging a marriage and part of the road which he used
to travel ran through a forest.
One day as he was going to the bride's house he took a sack with
him intending to try and get the loan of some Indian corn from the
bride's relations; but as he was passing through the piece of jungle
he suddenly met a leopard; he was terribly frightened but collecting
his wits he addressed the animal thus "Leopard; I beg you not to eat
me; I am engaged on a work of great merit, I am making two men out
of one." This address amazed the leopard and he at once asked the
raibar whether he could make him into two, and promised that if
he could his life should be spared. The raibar answered readily
"Seeing that in pursuit of my profession I have made two men out of
one all over the country, of course I can make you into two leopards
if I try; all you have to do is to get into this sack and keep quiet;
if you utter a sound you will spoil the charm."
"Well," said the leopard, "I will try and see; I undertake to keep
quite quiet, and if you are successful I promise to tell the whole race
of leopards to spare the lives of raibars." So saying the leopard
jumped into the sack and allowed the man to tie him up tightly in
it. No sooner was this done than the raibar took the sack on his
head and carried it to the bank of a river and having given it two
or three hearty whacks with his stick threw it into the water. The
sack went floating down the stream and it happened that lower down a
leopardess sat watching the water and when she saw the sack coming
along she thought that it was a dead cow floating down. So when it
came near she jumped into the water and pulled it ashore.
She then proceeded to tear open the sack, when out jumped the first
leopard; he soon explained how he came to be in the sack, and declared
that the raibar's promise had been fulfilled and that she was his
destined mate. The leopardess agreed and the two set to work to tell
all the other leopards what had happened and what a kindness the
raibar had done them; and so it came to pass that to the present
day leopards never interfere with raibars when they are going about
arranging a marriage; no one ever heard of one being injured.
Meanwhile the raibar went on his way rejoicing at having rid himself
of the leopard. But the next year, while engaged on the business of
another marriage, the raibar was passing through the same jungle
when he came face to face with the very leopard that he thought he
had safely disposed of; he at once took to his heels, but the leopard
called out to him not to be afraid and to wait, as he had something
to say to him. So the raibar stopped and the leopard asked whether
he did not recognise him; the raibar stoutly denied all knowledge
of him. "Well," said the leopard "I am the leopard of whom you made
two out of one, and to show my gratitude I will give you any reward
you like; would you like a cow or a deer or any other animal? I will
kill you one and bring it to you."
When the raibar saw the turn that things had taken he thought that
he had better take advantage of it, so he asked for a good large
nilgai. The leopard told him to come to a certain tree at noon the
next day and he would find the animal there. So they separated and the
next day at noon the raibar went to the tree and found a fine nilgai
waiting for him, which he and his friends took home and ate with joy.
Next: The Ungrateful Snake
Previous: A Story Told By A Hindu