How a Tiger Was Killed

A Santhal Pargana Tale

translated by Cecil Henry Bompas

In the days when the Santals lived in the jungle country there was once a man who had a patch of maize by the bank of a stream; and to watch his crop he had put up a platform in his field. Now one day he stole a goat and killed it; he did not take it home nor tell his family; he took it to the maize patch with some firewood and fire and a knife and a hatchet; and he hoisted all these on to his platform and lit a fire in the bottom of an earthen pot and cut up the goat and began to cook and eat the flesh. And a tiger smelt the flesh and came and sat down under the platform.

As the man ate he threw down the bones and as he threw them the tiger caught them in its mouth; and after a time the man noticed that he did not hear the bones strike the ground; so he looked down quietly and saw the tiger; then he was very frightened for he thought that when he could no longer keep the tiger quiet by throwing down bits of meat, the tiger would spring up unto the platform and eat him.

At last a thought struck him and he drew the head of his hatchet off the handle and put it in the fire till it became red-hot; and meanwhile he kept the tiger quiet by throwing down pieces of meat. Then when the axe head was ready he picked it out of the fire and threw it down; the tiger caught it as it fell and roared aloud with pain; its tongue and palate and throat were so burnt that it died.

Thus the man saved himself from the tiger and whether the story be true or no, it is known to all Santals.