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Story of a Lizard, a Tiger, and a Lame Man

ONCE upon a time in a certain jungle, a lizard and a tiger were fighting, and a lame man, who was tending goats near by, saw them. The tiger being beaten by the lizard was ashamed to own it, and coming to the lame man said, "Tell me which of us won." The lame man being in great fear lest the tiger should eat him, said, "You won." On another occasion the lizard was compelled to flee, and took refuge in an ant hill. The tiger pursued him, but not being able to get him out, sat down to watch.

               The lizard seeing his opportunity, crept stealthily up to his inveterate enemy, and climbing up his tail, fixed his teeth into his haunch, and held firmly on. The tiger felt the pain of the lizard's bite, but could not reach him to knock him off, so he ran to the lame man, and said, "Release me from this lizard." When he had caused the lizard to let go his grip, the tiger said, "Oh lame man, which of us won in the encounter?" The poor man in great fear said, "You won."

               The same scene was enacted daily for many days. The tiger always came to the lame man and said, "Knock off this lizard," and after he had done so, would say, "Which of us won?" The lame man invariably replied, "You won." This had happened so often that the lame man began to feel annoyed at having to tell a lie every day to please the tiger. So one day after an ignominious flight on the part of the tiger, he being, as usual, requested to give his opinion as to who won, said, "The lizard had the best of it." On hearing this the tiger became angry, and said, "I shall eat you, my fine fellow, because you say the lizard defeated me. Tell me where you sleep." The poor lame man on hearing the tiger threaten him thus, trembled with fear, and was silent. But the tiger pressed him. He said, "Tell at once, for I shall certainly devour you." The lame man replied, "I sleep in the wall press." When night fell, the tiger set off to eat the lame man, but after searching in the wall press failed to find him. In the morning the lame man led his goats out to graze, and again met the tiger, who addressed him as follows, "You are a great cheat. I did not find you in the wall press last night." The lame man replied, "How is it you did not find me? I was sleeping there." "No," said the tiger, "you were not, you have deceived me. Now, tell me truly where you sleep." "I sleep on a rafter," said the lame man. About midnight the tiger went again in search of him to eat him, but did not find him on the rafter, so he returned home. In the morning the lame man as usual led his goats out to graze, and again encountered the tiger, who said to him, "How now! Where do you sleep? I could not find you last night." The lame man rejoined, "That is strange, I was there all the same." The tiger said, "You are a consummate liar. Now tell me plainly where you sleep at night, for I shall without doubt eat you." The lame man replied, "I sleep in the fire-place." Again the tiger went at night, but could not find him. Next morning he met the lame man, and said to him, "No more tricks, tell me where you sleep." He, thrown off his guard, said, "In the gongo." [1]

               The tiger then withdrew to his den to wait till night came on, and the lame man, cursing his indiscretion, with a heavy heart, drove his goats homewards. Having made his charge safe for the night, he sat down feeling very miserable. He refused the food that was set before him, and continued bewailing his hard lot. In the hope of inducing him to eat, they gave him some mohwa wrapped in a sal leaf. This also failed to tempt him to eat; but he carried it with him when he crept into the gongo to sleep. At night the tiger came and lifting up the gongo felt it heavy, and said, "Well, are you inside?" He replied, "Yes, I am." So the tiger carried off the gongo with the lame man in it. By the time the tiger had gone a considerable distance, the lame man became hungry and said within himself, "I shall have to die in the end, but in the meantime I will appease my hunger." So he opened his small parcel of mohwa, and the dry leaf crackled as he did so. The noise frightened the tiger and he said, "What is it you are opening?" The lame man replied, "It is yesterday's lizard." "Hold! hold!" exclaimed the tiger, "Do not let him out yet, let me get clear away first." The lame man said, "Not so, I will not wait, but will let him out at once." The tiger being terrified at the prospect of again meeting his mortal enemy, the redoubtable lizard, threw down the gongo and fled, calling out, "I will not eat you. You have got the lizard with you."

               In this way the lame man by means of the lizard saved his life.



[1] Covering for the head and shoulders made of leaves pinned together, worn as a protection from the rain by women, while planting rice.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Story of a Lizard, a Tiger, and a Lame Man
Tale Author/Editor: Campbell, A.
Book Title: Santal Folk Tales by of the Santal Mission
Book Author/Editor: Campbell, A.
Publisher: Santal Mission Press
Publication City: Pokhuria
Year of Publication: 1891
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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