The Thief’s Son
A Santhal Pargana Tale
translated by Cecil Henry Bompas
Once upon a time a goat strayed into the house of a certain man who
promptly killed it and hid the body. At evening the owner of the goat
missed it and came in search of it. He asked the man who had killed it
whether he had seen it, but the latter put on an innocent air and
declared that he knew nothing about it but he invited the owner of the
missing animal to look into the goat house and see if it had
accidentally got mixed up with the other goats. The search was of
course in vain.
Directly the owner had gone the thief brought out the body and
skinned and cut it up, and every one in the house ate his fill of
flesh. Before they went to sleep the thief told his sons to be careful
not to go near any of the other boys when they were grazing the cattle
next day, lest they should smell that they had been eating meat.
Next morning the thief’s son took his goats out to graze and
was careful not to go near any of the other boys who were tending
cattle; whenever they approached him he moved away. At last they asked
him what was the matter; and he told them that they must keep at a
distance lest they should smell what he had been eating. “What
have you eaten?” The simpleton replied that
he had been eating goat’s flesh and that there was still some in
the house. The cowherds at once ran off and told the owner of the lost
goat. The news soon spread and the villagers caught the man who had
killed the goat and searched his house and found the flesh of the goat.
Then they fined him one rupee four annas and made him give another goat
in exchange for the one he had stolen.