The Backwards And Forwards Dance

There was once a Santal who owed money to a money-lender: the lender

went to dun him every day but as he had nothing to pay with he used

to hide in the jungle and as he had no warm clothes he used to light a

fire to warm himself by; and when the fire was low he would sit near it

and when it blazed up he would move back from it. When the money-lender

asked the man's wife where he was, she always replied "He is dancing

the 'Backwards and Forwards' dance." The money-lender got curious

about this; and said that he would like to learn the dance. So one

evening the Santal met him and offered to teach him the dance but,

he said he must be paid and what would the money-lender give? The

money-lender said that he would give any thing that was asked; so the

Santal called two witnesses and before them the money-lender promised

that if the Santal taught him the dance he would let him off his debt.

The next morning the Santal took the money-lender to the jungle and

told him to take off his clothes as they would dance with only loin

cloths on; then he lit a heap of straw and they sat by it warming

themselves; and he purposely made only a small fire at first. Then

the money-lender asked when they were going to begin to dance but the

Santal said "Let us warm ourselves first, I am very cold," so saying he

piled on more straw and as the fire blazed up they moved away from it;

and when it sank they drew nearer again. While this was going on the

two witnesses came up and the money-lender began to object that he was

not being taught to dance; but the Santal said, "What more do you want;

don't you keep moving backwards and forwards in front of the fire? This

is the 'Backwards and Forwards' dance." Seeing how he had been tricked

the money-lender was much upset and he appealed to the witnesses, but

they decided against him; and he went home crying and lost his money.

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