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The Story Of Big Tusk The Wild Boar






Source: The Sa'-zada Tales

'Twas the tenth night of what might be called the Sa'-zada convention,
and Black Panther was making the iron bars of his cage jingle in their
sockets with his full-voiced roar. Shoulders spread, and head low to
the floor, his white fangs showing, he called "Waugh, waugh! Waw-houk!
Come, Comrades. Ganesh, One-tusked Lord of the Jungles, Muskwa and
Mooswa; you, Sher Abi, eater of Water-men; even little Magh; come all
of you and listen to the lies of a Swine." Then he laughed: "Che-hough,
che-hough! the lying tales of Jungli Soor."

"Ugh, ugh!" grunted Grey Boar, angrily, as he slipped up the graveled
walk to the front of Leopard's cage. "In my land there is a saying of
the Men-kind, that 'A lie can hide like a Panther; if it be a bad lie,
that it is as difficult to come face to face with as Black Panther.'"

By this time the animals had all gathered, and Sa'-zada opening The
Book, spoke:

"This is Wild Boar's night. I am sure he will tell us something
interesting."

"A lie is often amusing," declared Magh.

"That may be so," retorted Boar, "for even Sa'-zada has said that you
are the funniest Animal in the Park."

"But why should we listen to Soor's squeaky tales?" snarled Bagh; "when
he gets excited his voice puts me on edge."

"Well," interrupted Sa'-zada, "these meetings are so that each animal
may have a chance to tell us what good there is in him."

"Then why should Soor waste our time?" queried Magh. "Even he will know
no good of himself."

"I don't know about that," answered Sa'-zada. "I think every animal is
for some good purpose, and we can tell better after we have heard
Boar's story."

"Here are two of us, O Sa'-zada," said Grey Boar. "I, who am from
Burma, know of the way of my kind in that land, and Big Tusk, who is
also here, being my Comrade, is from Nagpore, in India, and can tell
you how we are persecuted in the North. If I am all bad, can anyone say
why it is? I am not an eater of Bhainsa, Men's Buffalo, like Bagh and
Pardus; neither am I, nor any of my Kind, known as Man-killers. Even in
Hathi's family have there been Man-killers--the Rogue Hathi."

"But it is said in the Jungles that you sometimes kill Bakri, the
Men's Sheep," declared Magh.

"All a lie!" answered Grey Boar. "We are not animals of the Kill;
neither do we wreck the villages of the Men, as does Hathi, nor drive
the rice-growers from their lands--lest they be eaten--as do Bagh and
Pardus."

"But you eat their jowari and rice," asserted Panther.

"A little of it at times, perhaps, but only a little. Our food is of
the Jungles, and how are we to know just what has been grown by the
Men, and what has grown of itself? And in my land, which was Aracan in
Burma, but for me and my people the Men could not live."

"In what manner, O Benefactor of the Oppressed?" asked Magh, mockingly.

"Because of Python, and Cobra, and Karait, and Deboia, and the other
small Dealers of Death," answered Grey Boar, sturdily. "We roam the
Jungles, and when these Snakes, that are surely evil, rise in our
paths, we trample them, and tear them with our tusks----"

"And eat them, I know, cha-hau, cha-hau!" laughed Hyena, smacking his
watering lips.

"Yes," affirmed Grey Boar. "Are not we, alone, of all Animals for this
work? When Cobra strikes, and fetches home, does not even Hathi, or
Arna, or mighty Raj Bagh, die quickly? But not so with us. I can turn
my cheek, thus, to King Cobra, (and he held his big grizzled head
sideways), and when I feel the soft pat of his cold nose against my fat
jaw, I seize him by the neck, and in a minute one of the worst enemies
of Man is dead."

"What says King Cobra, then--Cobra and the others--crawling
destroyers?" asked Magh, maliciously.

"This is Boar's story," interrupted Mooswa, seeing that Sa'-zada looked
angry at the interruption.

"As I was saying," continued Grey Boar, "Cobra and his cousins kill
more of the Men-kind, many times over, than all the other Jungle
Dwellers put together. Think of that, Comrades--even when we are
searching the Jungles on every side for these evil Poisoners; so if it
were not for us, what would become of the Men? Yet in a hot time of
little Jungle food, if we but eat a small share from their fields, the
Men revile us. Also, there is cause for fear at times in this labor
that is ours. Once I remember I had a tight squeeze----"

"Going through a fence into a jowari field, I suppose," prompted Magh.

"I did not have my tail cut off for stealing cocoa-nuts," sneered Grey
Boar. "The tight squeeze was from Python; and do you know that to this
day I am half a head longer than I was before our slim Friend twisted
about my body. But I got his head in my strong jaws just as I was near
dead."

"Perhaps you would not have managed it if he had not squeezed you out
long," said Pardus.

"What I say," continued Boar, "is, that we are not the Evil Kind that
is in the mouth of everyone. Cobra crawls into the houses of the Men,
and for fear of their evil Gods they feed him; and one day in anger he
strikes to Kill. That is surely wrong. But we live in houses of our own
make."

"Certainly that is a lie," interrupted Magh. "Thou art a wanderer in
the Jungle, a dweller in caves, even as Pard the Panther."

"You are wrong, Little One," declared Hathi, "for I have seen Boar's
house. It's a sort of grass hauda."

"Yes," affirmed Wild Boar; "it is all of my own making, and of grass,
to be sure. For days and days at a time, I do nothing but cut the
strong elephant grass, and the big ferns, and the sweet bowlchie, and
pile it up into a house. Then I burrow under it, and the rain beats it
down over my back, and soon I have a nice, clean, waterproof nest. I am
not a homeless vagabond like Magh and her wandering tribe----"

"And that's just it," broke in Big Tusk, the Nagpore Boar. "We, who are
quiet and orderly in our manner of life, living in houses of our own
building, as Grey Boar has said, are hunted and killed by the
White-faced ones as a matter of sport. What think you of that,
Sa'-zada--killed just for our tusks--for a pair of teeth?"

"It is likewise so with me, my narrow-faced Brother," whispered Hathi.
"Many of my kind are slain for their tusks; I, who have lived amongst
the Men, know that."

Continued Big Tusk: "Yes, this is so; I have been in many a run in the
corries of Nagpore. You see, I learned the game from my Mother when I
was but a 'Squeaker,' for be it to the credit of the White ones, they
kill not the Sows with their sharp spears."

"Was that pig-sticking?" asked Sa'-zada.

"It was," declared Big Tusk; "and my Mother, who was in charge of a
Sounder of at least thirty Pigs, knew all about this game. We'd be
feeding in the sweet bowlchie grass, or in a thur khet, when suddenly
I'd hear her say, 'Waugh! Ung-h-gh!' which meant, 'Danger! lie low.'
Then, watching, we'd see those of the Black-kind here, and there, and
all over, with flags in their hands to drive the Pigs certain ways, and
to show the Sahibs which way we went. Mother would always make us lie
still until the very last minute; but almost always, sooner or later,
the Sahibs would come galloping on their horses right in amongst us.
'Ugh-ugh-ugh-ugh!' Mother would call to us, and this meant, 'Run for
it, but keep to cover'; and away we'd go, from sun khet to dol
field, and then into shur grass, from Sirsee Bund to Hirdee Bund, or
into the tall, thick bowlchie. Now the trouble was this way: Mother was
so big and strong that the Sahibs on their ponies always galloped
after, thinking her a Boar. Even the Black Men with the flags would
cry, 'Hong! Hong! Burra dant wallah!' which means in their speech, 'A
Boar of big tusks.' Many a time I've heard Mother chuckle over the run
she'd given the Horsemen, for we'd lie up in the grass, and listen to
the White-faced ones, the Sahibs, curse the Black Men most heartily for
their foolishness in calling Mother a big-tusked Boar. It was all done
to save the Tuskers, for while the Sahibs were chasing Mother, many an
old chap has saved having a spear thrust through him by clearing off to
some other bund."

"You did have a good schooling," remarked Gidar, the Jackal. "But did
the Sahibs never spear any of your young Brothers?"

"No; as I have said, it was only a big-tusked one they cared for. But
to me it seemed such a cruel thing, even when I was young; killing us
with the sharp spears--for, more than once I've heard the scream of a
Boar as he was stabbed to death."

"But what were you doing in the dol grass, you and your big Mother?"
asked Bagh. "Were not you eating the grain of the poor villagers? I
remember in my time, when I was a free Lord of the Jungles, that a poor
old ryot (farmer) had a little field--a new field it was--just in the
edge of the Jungle. I also remember it was raji he grew in it, and he
prayed to me as though I were one of his Hindoo Gods, asking me to keep
close watch over his field, and to kill all the Pigs, and the Chital,
and Black Buck that might come there to destroy his raji. Even, to
give me a liking for the place, that I might mark it down in my line of
hunt, he tied an old Cow there for my first Kill. I was the making of
that Man," declared Bagh, sitting down and smoothing his big coarse
mustache with his velvet paw--"the making of him, for he had a splendid
crop of raji, and I, why I must have killed a dozen Pigs in and about
his field."

"Oh, dear me!" cried Magh. "Sugared peanuts! Every Jungle Dweller is
growing into a benefactor of the Men; even Pig is a much abused,
innocent chap; and here's Bagh a protector of the poor ryot."

"But what were you doing in the dol field, Grunter?" queried Cobra;
"that's what Bagh wants to know."

"Looking for Snakes," answered Boar, sulkily. "But what if we did eat a
trifle of the grain; was that excuse for the Sahibs killing us? With
their Horses did they not beat down and destroy more than we did? And
have not the people of the land, the Black-kind, taken more from us in
the way of food than we ever did from their fields? Many a time have
they been saved from starvation by the meat of my tribe. And yet,
through it all, we get nothing but a bad name, and that just because we
stick up for our rights. Bagh talks about keeping us from the Man's
field; that is just like him--it is either a false tale or he ate
'Squeakers'--little Pigs that couldn't protect themselves. Would he
tackle Me? Not a bit of it! If he did I'd soon put different colored
stripes on his jacket--red stripes. He's a big, sneaking coward, that's
what Bagh is. Why, I've seen him sitting with his back against a rock,
afraid to move, while six Jungle Dogs snapped at his very nose--waiting
for him to get up that they might fight him from all sides. Ugh, ugh! a
fine Lord of the Jungle! a sneak, to eat little Pigs!

"But I did more than keep a raji field for a poor villager; I saved
his life, and from Bagh, too. I don't know that he had ever given me to
eat willingly, or even made pooja to me, but I was coming up out of
his thur field one evening, and he was fair in my path, with one of
those foolish ringed sticks in his hand. 'Ugh!' I said, meaning, 'Get
out of the way,' but he only stood there.

"This made me cross, and I thought he was disputing the road with me,
for I am not like Bagh, the Lord of the Jungle, who slinks to one side.
Then I spoke again to the man, 'Ugh, ugh, wungh!' meaning that I was
about to charge. All the time I was coming closer to him on the path.
Then I saw what it was; my friend, Stripes the Tiger, was crouched just
beyond the Man, lashing the grass with his long, silly tail.

"Now as I had made up my mind to charge something that was in my path,
and as the sight of Bagh in his evil temper drew my anger toward him, I
drove full at his yellow throat. Just one rip of my tusks, and with a
howl like a starved Jackal he cleared for the Jungle. He meant to eat
that Man, you see."

"Now we are getting at the truth of the matter," cried Magh, gleefully.
"When these Jungle thieves fall out, we get to know them fairly well."

"But tell us more of this hunting of your kind with the spears, O
brother of the Big Tusks," pleaded Hathi. "It does seem an unjust
thing."

"Well," continued the Seoni Boar, "as I have said, while in my Mother's
keeping, she taught me much of the ways of the Boar Hunters. Many a run
from the Spear Men I've been in. But while I was small, and had not
tusks, of course I was allowed to go, even when they came full upon the
top of us; but in a few years my tusks grew, and each run became harder
and more difficult to get away from. Besides, early in the Cold Time,
at the time the Men call Christmas, we Boars all went off by ourselves,
and left the Sows and Squeakers in peace; and, while I think of it,
I've no doubt it was at this time that Bagh killed so many of my people
in the raji fields. Had there been a big Tusker or two there, Tiger
would have been busy looking for Chital or Sambhur.

"Well, through being away from my Mother this way, and mixing with the
other Boars, I got to be quite capable of taking care of myself; and,
as I lived year after year, finally the Black Men, Ugh! also the
White-faced ones, gave to me the name of the Seoni Boar. So, with the
more knowledge I gained with my years of being, the more I required it,
for the closer they hunted me.


PEOPLE."]

"Strange how it is that every Jungle Dweller's hand is against the Pig.
I declare here, before all you Comrades, that more than once I have
been lying dog-oh, close hid in the bowlchie, when a screech-voiced
Peacock has commenced to cry, 'Aih-ou, aih-ou!' as plain as you like,
'Here he is, here he is!' and down on my heels would come the Spear Men
on their rushing Ponies. But I soon learned to take to the
Scrub-Jungle, knowing that the ponies would not follow me. But even
there in the Jungle I've been hunted by the Black-kind; and then it was
the same way, enemies afoot, and enemies overhead. Langur, a
fool-cousin of Magh's there, many a time has betrayed my hiding-place
to the hunt Man. 'Che-che-che, wow, wow!' over my head the silly
thieves would chatter and well the Huntsmen would know that I had gone
that way.

"Once when I was started out of the Seoni Bund, and was making with
full speed through the dol khet, a meddlesome white Dog came chasing
after me, snapping at my heels, and crying, 'Bah, ki-yi, bah, ki-yi!'
Well I knew that as long as that noise kept up, I might as well be
running out in the open in full view, so I checked my pace a little,
and the Dog, with more pluck than good sense, laid me by the ear. With
one rip of my tusk sideways, I cast him open from end to end. But such
matters take some time, and check one when the run is close, and
before I could take to cover again, a Pony was fair on top of me.

"I jinked, as only a Boar who has been in many a run knows how. My jink
was so sudden that the rider, seeking to spear me under his Pony's
neck, came a full cropper in the black cotton-earth. Ugh-huh-huh! it
makes me laugh now when I think of it. Of course I hadn't time to laugh
then, for I had no sooner jinked clear of his spear than I saw coming
up on the other side, the longest one of the Men-kind that was ever in
the Jungle, and what with his spear he seemed like a tree. At once I
remembered what my Mother had told me to do if ever a Spear-hunter got
full on top of me. 'Into the horse's legs,' the old Dame had said;
'that's your only hope.' I must say that I charged Bagh that other time
with greater joy than I slashed into that long Sahib's Pony.

"Of course, the Hunter thought I was going to run for it, so when I
jinked short about and ripped his Pony's foreleg the full length of my
nose, he was taken quite off his guard.

"It seemed as though part of the Jungle had fallen on me, for Pony and
Huntman came down like ripe fruit off the Mowha tree. I got one rip at
the Man's leg, and thought I'd made a fine cut, but I learned
afterward, after they'd caught me, of course, that it was his boot-leg
I had ripped----"



"Oh, Sa'-zada, I believe the Seoni Boar is the best liar we've struck
yet," said Magh.

"Not so," declared the Keeper, "this tale of the pig-sticking is a true
tale, for it is written in The Book."

"I only tell that which is true," declared Big Tusk, the Seoni Boar.
"And before I had got to the Scrub-Jungle, I had a spear driven into my
shoulder from another Sahib, but I put my teeth through the giver's
foot as I knocked his pony over from the side. It was a rare fight that
day, but I got away at last."

"How were you caught?" queried Magh.

"Oh, that was long afterwards, and happened because of Bagh's evil
ways. The Huntman had spread a big net in the Jungle to take Bagh, who
had slain a Woman; and in the drive, not knowing of this evil thing, I
came full into the net, and got so tangled up that I could not move.
When the White Hunter saw that it was I, the Seoni Boar, he said, 'Let
us take him alive, for he has given us mighty sport and fought well.'
So they made a cage and I was forced into it from the net."

"Is that all?" asked Magh.

"Yes," replied Boar.

"Well," continued the Orang-Outang, "from your own account you appear
to be a very fine fellow. I can't understand why all the Jungle
Dwellers, even the Men-kind, connect your name with everything that's
evil. I doubt if one of them could speak as well for himself, were he
allowed to tell his own story."

"As I have said before," commented Sa'-zada, "it's hardly fair to give
an animal a bad name without knowing all about him, and Boar's stories
have all been true, I know. But it's late now, so each one away to his
cage or corral, and sleep."





Next: The Stories Of Oohoo The Wolf And Sher Abi The Crocodile

Previous: The Story Of Unt The Camel



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