Santal Folk Tales by of the Santal Mission | Annotated Tale

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Story of a Simpleton, The

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;" [1] 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.



[1] Said to bullocks when ploughing to cause them to turn at the end of a furrow.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Story of a Simpleton, The
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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