Santal: The Jackal and the Leopards

This story is part of the Santal Folklore unit. Story source: Folklore of the Santal Parganas by Cecil Henry Bompas (1909).

The Jackal and the Leopards

Once upon a time, a leopard and a leopardess were living with their cubs, and when the parents were away, a jackal used to go to the cubs and say, “If you won’t pay up the paddy you owe, give me something on account.” And the cubs gave him all the meat which their parents had brought, and as this happened every day, the cubs began to starve.

The leopard asked why they looked so thin although he brought them lots of game, and the cubs explained that they had to give up all their food to the jackal from whom he had borrowed paddy.

So the leopard lay in wait, and when the jackal came again to beg of the cubs, he chased him. The jackal ran away and hid in a crack in the ground; the leopard tried to follow, and got stuck in the crack, and was squeezed to death.

The jackal came out and kicked the dead body, crying, “I see you lying in wait for me.”

Now the jackal wore silk shoes and a silk dhoti, and he went back to the leopard’s family and asked who would look after them now the leopard was dead. They said that they would live with him, so the jackal stayed there, and they all went hunting deer.

The jackal lay in wait, and the leopards drove the game to him. But when the deer came out, the jackal was too frightened to attack them and climbed to the top of an ant-hill to be out of the way.

So when the leopards came up, they found that the jackal had killed nothing. But the jackal only complained that they had not driven the deer in the right direction.

So the next day, the leopardess lay in wait, and the jackal and the cubs beat the jungle; when they came up, they found that the leopardess had killed a fine deer.

“Now,” said the jackal, “let me first offer the game as a sacrifice to the spirit of our dead leopard.”

So saying, he tried to bite a hole in the deer, but the skin was too tough. So he made the leopardess tear the skin, and then he pushed inside the carcass and ate up all the entrails. When he had had as much as he could eat, he came out and let the leopards begin their meal.

Another day they wished to cross a flooded river. The young leopards offered to carry the jackal over on their shoulders, but the jackal was too proud to allow this. So the leopards all jumped across the stream safely, but when the jackal tried, he fell into the middle of the water and was carried away down stream.

Lower down a crocodile was lying on the bank, sunning itself.

“Pull me out, pull me out!” called the jackal; “and I will bring you some fat venison.”

So the crocodile pulled him out.

“Now open your mouth and shut your eyes,” said the jackal, and when the crocodile obeyed, he popped a large stone into its jaws and ran away. This made the crocodile very angry, and it vowed to be revenged.

The jackal used to go every day to a certain tank to drink, and to reach the water, he used to sit on the root of an arjun tree which projected from the bank.

The crocodile observed this habit and, one day, lay in wait under the water by the arjun tree and ,when the jackal came to drink, caught him by the leg.

The jackal did not lose his presence of mind but called out, “What a fool of a crocodile to catch hold of the root of the tree instead of my leg.”

On hearing this, the crocodile let go its hold, and the jackal laughed and ran away.

Every day the jackal used to lie in the sun on the top of a stack of straw. The crocodile found this out, and buried itself in the straw, and waited for the jackal.

That day it happened that the jackal found a sheep-bell and tied it round his neck so that it tinkled as he ran. When it heard the bell, the crocodile said, “What a bother! I am waiting for the jackal, and here comes a sheep tinkling its bell.”

The jackal heard the crocodile’s exclamation and so detected the trick; he at once went and fetched a light and set fire to the heap of straw, and the crocodile was burnt to death.


(800 words)




No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments for Google accounts; you can also contact me at laura-gibbs@ou.edu.