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Folklore of the Santal Parganas by Cecil Henry Bompas.
Start of Story
Age Rating 8 to 10.
There was once a boy who used always to cheat when playing _Kati_
(pitch and toss) and for this the village boys with whom he played used
to quarrel with him, saying "Fatherless orphan, why do you cheat?" So
one day he asked his mother why they called him that name and whether
his father was really dead. "He is alive" said she "but a long time
ago a rhinoceros carried him off on its horn." Then the boy vowed
that he would go in search of his father and made his mother put him
up provisions for the journey; and he started off taking with him an
iron bow and a big bundle of arrows.
He journeyed on all day and at nightfall he came to a village; there he
went up to the house of an old woman to ask for a bed. He stood at the
threshhold and called out to her "Grannie, grannie, open the door." "I
have no son, and no grandchildren to call me grannie," grumbled the
old woman and went to open the door to see who was there, and when she
opened the door and saw him, she said "Ho, you are my grandson." "Yes,"
answered he, "I am your grandchild." So she called him inside and gave
him a bed to sleep on. The old woman was called Hutibudi; and she and
the boy sat up late talking together and then they lay down to sleep;
but in the middle of the night he heard the old woman crunching away
trying to bite his bow to pieces. He asked her what she was eating:
"Some pulse I got from the village headman," "Give me a little to
try" he begged. "I am sorry my child, I have finished it all." But
really she had none to give, however she only hurt her jaws biting
so that she began to groan with pain: "What are you groaning for,
Grannie?" said the boy; "Because I have toothache" she answered: and
in truth her cheeks were badly swollen. Then he told her that a good
cure for toothache was to bite on a white stone and she believed him
and the next morning got a piece of white quartz and began to bite on
it; but this only broke her teeth and made her mouth bleed so that the
pain was worse than before: then the boy jeered at her and said. "Did
you think, Grannie, that you could bite my iron bow and arrows?"
So saying he left her and continued the search for his father and
his road led him to a dense jungle which seemed to have no end, and
in the middle of the jungle he came to a lake and he sat down by it
to eat what was left of the provisions he had brought: as he sat,
he suddenly saw some cow-bison coming down to the lake: at this he
caught up his bow and arrows in a hurry and climbed up a tall _sal_
tree: from the tree he watched the bison go down to the water to drink
and then go back into the jungle. And after them tigers and bears
came down to the water: the sight of them frightened him and he sang:--
"Drink your fill, tiger,
I shall not shoot you.
I shall shoot the giant rhinceros."
and they drank and went away. Then various kinds of birds came and
after them a great herd of rhinceroses and among them was one which
had the dried up body of the boy's father stuck on its horn. The boy
was rather frightened and sang
"Drink your fill, rhinceroses,
I shall not shoot you
I shall shoot the giant rhinceros."
and when the giant rhinceros with the body of his father stooped its
head to drink from the lake, he put an arrow through it and it turned
a somersault and fell over dead: while all the other rhinceroses
turned tail and ran away. Then the boy climbed down from the tree and
pulled the dead body of his father off the horn of the dead animal and
laid it down at the foot of a tree and began to weep over it. As he
wept a man suddenly stood before him and asked what was the matter,
and when he heard, said "Cry no more: take a cloth and wet it in the
lake and cover your father's body with it: and then whip the body
with a _meral_ twig and he will come to life." So saying the stranger
suddenly disappeared; and the boy obeyed his instructions and behold
his father sat up alive and rubbing his eyes said "I must have been
asleep a very long time." Then his son explained to him all that had
happened and gave him some food and took him home.