|India Folk Tales
Pride Goeth Before A Fall
a certain village there lived ten cloth merchants, who always went
about together. Once upon a time they had travelled far afield, and
were returning home with a great deal of money which they had obtained
by selling their wares. Now there happened to be a dense forest near
their village, and this they reached early one morning. In it there
lived three notorious robbers, of whose existence the traders had never
heard, and while they were still in the middle of it the robbers stood
before them, with swords and cudgels in their hands, and ordered them
to lay down all they had. The traders had no weapons with them, and so,
though they were many more in number, they had to submit them-selves to
the robbers, who took away everything from them, even the very clothes
they wore, and gave to each only a small loin-cloth a span in breadth
and a cubit in length.
The idea that they had conquered ten men
and plundered all their property, now took possession of the robbers'
minds. They seated themselves like three monarches before the men they
had plundered, and ordered them to dance to them before returning home.
The merchants now mourned their fate. They had lost all they had,
except their loincloth, and still the robbers were not satisfied, but
ordered them to dance.
There was, among the ten merchants, one
who was very clever. He pondered over . calamity that had come upon him
and his friends, the dance they would have to perform, and the
magnificent manner in which the three robbers had seated themselves on
the grass. At the same time he observed that these last had placed
their weapons on the ground, in the assurance of having thoroughly
cowed the traders, who were now commencing to dance. So he took the
lead in the dance, and, as a song is always sung by the leader on such
occasions, to which the rest keep time with hands and feet, he thus
began to sing:
'We are enty men,
They are erith men:
If each erith man,
Surround eno men
Eno man remains.
Ta, tai, tom, tadingana."
robbers were all uneducated, and thought that the leader was merely
singing a song as usual. So it was in one sense; for the leader
commenced from a distance, and had sung the song over twice before he
and his companions commenced to approach the robbers. They had
understood his meaning, because they had been trained in trade.
When two traders discuss the price of an article in the presence of a purchaser, they use a riddling sort of language.
"What is the price of this cloth?" one trader will ask another.
"Enty rupees," another will reply, meaning "ten rupees."
there is no possibility of the purchaser knowing what is meant unless
he be acquainted with trade language. By the rules of this secret
language erith means "three" enty means "ten," and eno means "one." So
the leader by his song meant to hint to his fellow-traders that they
were ten men, the robbers only three, that if three pounced upon each
of the robbers, nine of them could hold them down, while the remaining
one bound the robbers' hands and feet.
thieves, glorying in their victory, and little understanding the
meaning of the song and the intentions of the dancers, were proudly
seated chewing betel and tobacco. Meanwhile the song was sung a third
time. Ta tai tom had left the lips of the singer; and, before tadingana
was out of them, the traders separated into parties of three, and each
party pounced upon a thief. The remaining one--the leader himself--tore
up into long narrow strips a large piece of cloth, six cubits long, and
tied the hands and feet of the robbers. These were entirely humbled
now, and rolled on the ground like three bags of rice!
ten traders now took back all their property, and armed themselves with
the swords and cudgels of their enemies; and when they reached their
village, they often amused their friends and relatives by relating