Saturday, June 28, 2014

Santal: The Tiger Cub and the Calf

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

The Tiger Cub and the Calf

A Tigress and a Cow used to graze in a dense jungle, and they were both with young. They became great friends and agreed that they would marry their children to each other.

In the course of time, the tigress gave birth to a she-cub and the cow to a bull-calf. They kept the young ones in the same place and used to go and graze together, and then return at the same time to suckle their young. On their way back they used to drink at a certain river, the tigress up the stream and the cow lower down.

One day it happened that the cow got first to the river and drank at the upper drinking place, and the tigress drank lower down. And the froth from the cow’s mouth floated down the stream, and the tigress tasted it and found it nice, and this made her think that the flesh of the cow must also be good, so she resolved to eat the cow one day.

The cow saw what was in the mind of the tigress, and she left some of her milk in a bowl, and said to her calf: “The tigress has resolved to eat me; watch this milk, and when you see it turn red like blood, you will know that I have been killed;” then she went off to graze with the tigress.

The two youngsters always used to play together very happily, but that day the calf would not play but kept going to look at the bowl of milk, and the tigress cub asked the reason. The calf told her what his mother had said; then the tigress cub said that if this happened, she would never suck from her mother again, and it would be better for them both to run away.

So the two kept going to look at the bowl of milk, and about midday they saw that it had changed to blood, and they both began to weep.

Shortly after, the tigress came back, and flies were clustered round her mouth because of the blood on it. The tigress told her daughter to come and suck, but she said that she would wait till the cow came, and then she and the calf could have their meal together as usual; at this, the tigress frowned terribly, and the cub was frightened, so she said, “Very well, mother, I will suck, but first go and wash your mouth; why are the flies clustered round it?”

So the tigress went off, but she did not wash; she only ate some more of the cow. While she was away, the calf and the cub ran off to another jungle, and when the tigress came back, she searched for them with horrid roarings and could not find them, and if she had found them, she would have killed them.




(500 words)








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