The Story Of A Tiger

: Santal Folk Tales

A certain man had charge of a number of cattle. One day he took them

to graze near a quagmire, and leaving them there went in search of

jungle fruits. It so happened that one of the bullocks was browsing

on the edge of the quagmire when a tiger came creeping stealthily up,

and sprang upon it, but somehow or other missed his mark, and fell

into the quagmire and there stuck fast. When the herd come to drive

his cattle ho
e, he found the tiger fast in the mud, and called a

large number of people to come and see him. The tiger addressed those

who came to gaze upon him as follows, "Oh men, pull me out. I am in

great straits." They replied, "We will not pull you out even to save

your life. You are a ravenous animal." The tiger said, "I will not eat

you." So they pulled him out. When he was again on dry land, he said,

"I will devour you, for it is my nature to do so." They replied,

"Will you really eat us?" "Yes, I will," said the tiger. "Well,"

they rejoined, "if you will devour us, what can we do to prevent

you? But let us first ask the opinion of some others as to whether

it is right for you to eat us or not." So they requested the opinion

of all the trees in the forest, and each said, "Human beings are all

bad." On asking the Mohwa tree, it replied, "Men are not good. Behold

every year I give them my flowers to eat, and my fruit from which

to make oil. In the hot weather I give them shade, and on leaving,

when they have rested, they give me a parting slash with their axes,

therefore it is right to eat these people, as they return evil for

good." So said all the trees.

From this forest they went to another in which they found a cow to whom

they said, "We are come to ask your opinion on a certain matter about

which we are at variance. This tiger was up to the neck in a quagmire,

and we pulled him out. Now he wishes to return evil for good. Is it

right for him to do so?" The cow replied, "Yes, yes, I have heard what

you have got to say. You human beings are not the correct thing. Behold

me, how much I have contributed to the health and comfort of my master,

yet he does not recognize my merit. Now that I am old, he has turned

me out, and should I improve a little in condition, he will say, 'I

will take this cow to the market and sell it. I will at least get a few

pence for it.' Behold, when a man is well to do, he has many friends,

but when he is poor, no one knows him. Verily, you are worthy to be

devoured." The tiger then said to the men, "Well, have you heard all

this? Are you convinced?" They said, "Hold on, let us ask one person

more." So as they walked along they saw a jackal and called to him, "Oh

uncle, stand still." The jackal said, "No I cannot wait, my companions,

who are on their way to see the swinging festival, are far ahead of me,

and I am hurrying to overtake them." They said to him, "Wait a little

and settle this matter for us. We pulled this tiger out of a quagmire,

and now he wishes to devour us." The jackal then said to the tiger,

"Is this true? I cannot believe that a famed individual like yourself

would be fool enough to jump into a quagmire. Come, shew me the place,

and how it happened." So the tiger led him to the quagmire, and said,

"This is the place from which I sprang, and this is how I did it,"

and he leaped into the quagmire. The jackal turning to the men, said,

"What are you staring at? Pelt him with stones." So they all set to

and stoned the tiger to death.