THERE was once a king of the Bhuyans and near his palace was a village of Santals; he was a kind ruler and both Santals and Bhuyans were very happy under his sway. But when he died, he was succeeded by his son, who was a very severe master and soon fell out with the Santals. If he found any cattle or buffaloes grazing anywhere near his crops, he had the cowherds beaten severely: so that no one dared to take the cattle in that direction.
The Santals were very angry at this and longed to get even with the Raja; they planned to turn the cattle into the Raja's crops at night when no one could see them or catch them, but in the end their courage failed them.
One year after the rice had been cut, but before the millet crop was gathered, the youths and maidens of the Santal village had a dance and danced all night till nearly morning; then they agreed that it was not worth while to go to bed and they had better take the cattle out to graze at once.
After grazing their fill, the cattle all collected at the midday resting place and the cowherds were so sleepy after their night's dancing, that they fell fast asleep on the bare ground. After a time the buffaloes began to move again and seeing a nice field of millet belonging to the Raja soon made their way to it and grazed the whole field down. The Raja happened to pass that way and was filled with wrath at the sight; he at once ordered his sipahis to go and beat the cowherds within an inch of their lives and so the sipahis ran to the place with sticks. Their approach roused the sleeping cowherds who jumped up and ran off home as hard as they could; all but the servant of the village paramanik (assistant headman) he did not run away but went to drive the cattle out of the field; he knew that this was his duty to his master and he was resolved to do his duty even at the cost of his life.
As all the other boys had got away the sipahis turned their attention to him, but as they aimed blows at him with the sticks, he caught the blows on his arms and the sticks shivered to atoms without harming him; so then they went to kick him but a great cibei snake came rustling up behind them; so they saw it was no use to contend with him and desisted: whereupon he drove all the village cattle home in triumph.
The sipahis reported to the Raja how the cowherds had all made good their escape, and how the paramanik's herd boy had driven off the cattle. Then the Raja told them to go that afternoon at the time the cattle were brought home for the night and wait at the end of the village street and then give the cowherds the thrashing they deserved; The sipahis did as they were ordered and that evening waited for the returning herd boys; and caught them as they came home and thrashed them within an inch of their lives. The others were all left senseless on the ground: but the sipahis did not dare to lay hands on the paramanik's herd boy, he drove the cattle back into the village, and told the villagers what had been done to their sons. So the villagers went out with beds and carried the wounded boys home; then they assembled and resolved to go and punish the Raja, so they went to him and asked what he meant by killing their children. "Dear me," said the Raja, "are they really dead?" "Well, if not not quite dead, they are very ill," was the answer. "I am sorry," said the Raja: "I admit that I have done wrong, but if you will forgive me this time, I will undertake to cure them in a minute and make them as well as ever; go and fetch them here."
So the Santals went off to fetch the wounded cowherds and carried them to the Raja, all lying senseless on beds and put them down before him. While they were away the Raja had told his sipahis to grind some good hot chilis; and when the cowherds were brought to him he told the sipahis to thrust the chili paste up their noses; this was done and the smarting soon made the cowherds jump up and run away in a very lively fashion, and that was the way the Raja kept his word and cured them.