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The Story Of A Simpleton

Source: Santal Folk Tales

There was once a certain simpleton who had never seen a horse, but
had heard that there was such an animal, and that men rode on his
back. His curiosity was greatly excited, and he went here and there
searching for a horse, so that he might ride on its back. On his way
he fell in with a wag, and asked him, what horses were like, where
they could be found, and whence were they produced. The wag replied,
"They are very large, they are to be had at the weekly market,
and they are hatched from eggs." He then asked, "What is the price
of the eggs?" The other replied, "Price! They are cheap, one pice
each." So one day he went to the market and bought four eggs which he
saw exposed for sale, and brought them home with him. He then made
preparations for a lengthened absence from his house, and started
for the jungle, taking with him rice, a cooking pot and fire, to
get the eggs hatched. Having reached the jungle, he placed the eggs
to hatch in what turned out to be a tiger's den, and then went some
distance off and sat down. After a short time he went to have a look
at the eggs, and found one was missing. He was greatly distressed, at
having as he fancied lost his horse, and cried out, "It has hatched,
and run away somewhere. But what has happened, has happened. What
can I do? I'll look out for the next one when it hatches." He then
went to cook his rice, and returning after some time missed another
of the eggs. He was very much grieved over the loss of the two eggs,
and mourning his misfortune, cried, "Where have the two gone, after
they came out of the shell? There still, however, remain two eggs." So
saying, he returned to finish his cooking. After a few minutes'
interval, he went to have a look at the eggs, and saw that another had
disappeared; only one remained. His grief at the loss of three horses,
was intense. He cried out, "Oh! where shall I find them? Three horses
have been hatched, and they have all run away." He then went to where
his cooking had been performed, and quickly ate his rice, and returned
in all haste to look at his egg. It too was gone. On seeing this,
his sorrow and disappointment were acute. He bemoaned his ill luck
as follows, "After all the trouble I was at to procure my eggs, they
have all hatched, and the horses are lost. But what is, must be. I
shall relieve my mind by taking a chew of tobacco." After putting the
tobacco into his mouth he noticed the tiger's den, and said, "It is
in here, the horses have gone." So he went and broke from a tree a
long stick with which he tried to poke his horses out. For some time
his labours met with no reward, but at last he succeeded in forcing
the tiger out of his den. Just as he was coming out, the simpleton
by some chance or other got astride of his back, and called out,
"At last I have found a horse." His delight was boundless. But the
tiger would not go in the direction of his rider's house, but kept
going further into the jungle. The simpleton then struck him about the
head and ears saying, "As ghur ghur, as ghur ghur;" [5] nevertheless
the tiger plunged deeper into the jungle. At last he bolted into a
thicket of trailing plants, where he unseated the simpleton. The tiger
having got rid of his rider fled. Afterwards he met a jackal who said
to him, "Where away, in such hot haste?" "Uh!" he said, "how much
of it can I tell you! I have been greatly harassed, and distressed
by As ghur ghur. It was with great difficulty I succeeded in giving
him the slip, and now I am fleeing for dear life." The jackal said,
"Come along and shew him to me, and I shall soon eat him up." The
tiger replied, "Oh dear! no. I cannot go. If he finds me again he
will do for me altogether." "Nonsense," said the jackal, "lead me to
where he is, and I shall devour him." The tiger was persuaded, and
led the way, and the jackal followed. After some little time they met
a bear, who said, "Where are you two going?" The jackal gave answer,
"This person has somewhere seen As ghur ghur and I am saying to him,
'Take me to where he is, and I shall eat him,' but he will not push
ahead." Then the bear said, "Come let us all go together, and I shall
eat him up." The tiger said, "I will go no further." The jackal then
said, "Listen to me, I will put you upon a plan. Let us hold on by
each other's tails, in this way you will have no cause to fear any
evil." This suggestion pleased them well, and they cried out, "Yes,
let us do that. You have hit upon a first rate expedient." Then the
bear took hold of the tiger's tail, and the jackal that of the bear,
and in this way they pursued their journey. But just as they drew near
the thicket in which the simpleton had been left, the tiger exclaimed,
"Look there, he is coming towards us," and being terribly frightened,
fled at his utmost speed dragging the bear and jackal after him tearing
the skin from off their bodies on the rough stones and gravel. At
length the jackal cried out, "Hold on uncle, hold on uncle, you have
rubbed all the skin off my body." But he would not halt, but kept
dashing on through wood and brake, dragging them after him, until the
bear's tail broke, and the jackal was released. His body by this time
was all raw flesh, and he was swollen into a round mass. However,
he managed to pick himself up, and run for his life.

Afterwards they met in with a pack of wild dogs who said,
"Hulloo! what's up, that you are fleeing in such a plight?" They
replied, "We are fleeing from As ghur ghur." "Where is he?" said they,
"We will eat him." The tiger said, "There just in front of you, where
you see the dark spot in the forest." So they went in the direction
indicated, and while they were yet some distance off, they saw the
simpleton standing in the shade of the trees. He also saw them, and
being afraid hid himself in a hollow tree. On coming up to the tree
in which he was, they surrounded it, and one of their number essayed
to poke him out of his hiding place with his tail. The simpleton,
however, taking hold of it twisted it round his hands, and pulled
with all his might. The pain caused by his tail being pulled, caused
the wild dog to grin. On seeing this, one of his companions said,
"Oh! Brother, wherefore do you grin." He said, "I have got hold of
him, and I am smiling with pleasure." The simpleton from within
the tree continued to pull, till the tail of the wild dog broke,
and he fell to the ground with a thud. The others on looking at him
noticed that he had lost his tail. So they all became panic stricken,
and fled from the place with all possible speed.

The simpleton took up his residence in that part of the jungle in
which the above occurred. He is said to be the ancestor of the Bir
hors, or jungle Santals.

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