Old Deccan Days/The Blind Man, the Deaf Man, and the Donkey
THE BLIND MAN, THE DEAF MAN, AND THE DONKEY.
A BLIND Man and a Deaf Man once entered into partnership. The Deaf Man was to see for the Blind Man, and the Blind Man was to hear for the Deaf Man.
One day both went to a nautch together. The Deaf Man said, 'The dancing is very good, but the music is not worth listening to;' and the Blind Man said, 'On the contrary, I think the music very good, but the dancing is not worth looking at.'
After this they went together for a walk in the jungle, and there they found a Dhobee's donkey that had strayed away from its owner, and a great big chattee (such as Dhobees boil clothes in), which the donkey was carrying with him.
The Deaf Man said to the Blind Man, 'Brother, here are a donkey and a Dhobee's great big chattee, with nobody to own them! Let us take them with us, they may be useful to us some day.'—'Very well,' said the Blind Man, 'we will take them with us.' So the Blind Man and the Deaf Man went on their way, taking the donkey and the great big chattee with them. A little further on they came to an ants' nest, and the Deaf Man said to the Blind Man, 'Here are a number of very fine black ants, much larger than any I ever saw before. Let us take some of them home to show our friends.'—'Very well,' answered the Blind Man, 'we will take them as a present to our friends.' So the Deaf Man took a silver snuff-box out of his pocket, and put four or five of the finest black ants into it; which done, they continued their journey.
But before they had gone very far, a terrible storm came on. It thundered and lightened, and rained, and blew with such fury that it seemed as if the whole heavens and earth were at war. 'Oh dear! oh dear!' cried the Deaf Man, 'how dreadful this lightning is; let us make haste and get to some place of shelter.' 'I don't see that it's dreadful at all,' answered the Blind Man, 'but the thunder is very terrible; we had better certainly seek some place of shelter.'
Now, not far from them was a lofty building, which looked exactly like a fine temple. The Deaf Man saw it, and he and the Blind Man resolved to spend the night there; and, having reached the place, they went in and shut the door, taking the donkey and the great big chattee with them. But this building, which they mistook for a temple, was in truth no temple at all, but the house of a very powerful Rakshas; and hardly had the Blind Man, the Deaf Man, and the donkey got inside, and fastened the door, than the Rakshas, who had been out, returned home. To his surprise he found the door fastened, and heard people moving about inside his house. 'Ho! ho!' cried he to himself, 'some men have got in here, have they? I'll soon make mince-meat of them!' So he began to roar in a voice louder than the thunder, crying, 'Let me into my house this minute, you wretches! let me in, let me in, I say!' and to kick the door and batter it with his great fists. But though his voice was very powerful, his appearance was still more alarming, insomuch that the Deaf Man, who was peeping at him through a chink in the wall, felt so frightened that he did not know what to do. But the Blind Man was very brave (because he couldn't see), and went up to the door, and called out, 'Who are you? and what do you mean by coming battering at the door in this way, and at this time of night?'
'I'm a Rakshas,' answered the Rakshas angrily, 'and this is my house. Let me in this instant, or I'll kill you!' All this time the Deaf Man, who was watching the Rakshas, was shivering and shaking in a terrible fright, but the Blind Man was very brave (because he couldn't see), and he called out again, 'Oh, you're a Rakshas, are you? Well, if you're Rakshas, I'm Bakshas; and Bakshas is as good as Rakshas.'—'Bakshas!' roared the Rakshas. 'Bakshas! Bakshas! What nonsense is this? There is no such creature as a Bakshas!'—'Go away,' replied the Blind Man, 'and don't dare to make any further disturbance, lest I punish you with a vengeance; for know that I am Bakshas! and Bakshas is Rakshas' father.'—'My father?' answered the Rakshas. 'Heavens and earth! Bakshas! and my father? I never heard such an extraordinary thing in my life. You my father, and in there? I never knew my father was called Bakshas!'
'Yes,' replied the Blind Man; 'go away instantly, I command you, for I am your father Bakshas.'—'Very well,' answered the Rakshas (for he began to get puzzled and frightened), 'but, if you are my father, let me first see your face.' (For he thought, 'Perhaps they are deceiving me.') The Blind Man and the Deaf Man didn't know what to do! but at last they opened the door—a very tiny chink—and poked the donkey's nose out. When the Rakshas saw it he thought to himself, 'Bless me, what a terribly ugly face my father Bakshas has!' He then called out, 'O father Bakshas, you have a very big fierce face; but people have sometimes very big heads and very little bodies. Pray let me see you, body as well as head, before I go away.' Then the Blind Man and the Deaf Man rolled the great big Dhobee's chattee with a thundering noise past the chink in the door, and the Rakshas, who was watching attentively, was very much surprised when he saw this great black thing rolling along the floor, and he thought, 'In truth, my father Bakshas has a very big body as well as a big head. He's big enough to eat me up altogether I'd better go away.' But still he could not help being a little doubtful, so he cried, 'O Bakshas, father Bakshas! you have indeed got a very big head and a very big body; but do, before I go away, let me hear you scream' (for all Rakshas scream fearfully). Then the cunning Deaf Man (who was getting less frightened) pulled the silver snuff-box out of his pocket, and took the black ants out of it, and put one black ant in the donkey's right ear, and another black ant in the donkey's left ear, and another, and another. The ants pinched the poor donkey's ears dreadfully, and the donkey was so hurt and frightened, he began to bellow as loud as he could, 'Eh augh! eh augh! eh augh! augh! augh;' and at this terrible noise the Rakshas fled away in a great fright, saying, 'Enough, enough, father Bakshas, the sound of your voice would make your most refractory children obedient.' And no sooner had he gone, than the Deaf Man took the ants out of the donkey's ears, and he and the Blind Man spent the rest of the night in peace and comfort.
Next morning the Deaf Man woke the Blind Man early, saying, 'Awake, brother, awake; here we are indeed in luck! the whole floor is covered with heaps of gold and silver and precious stones.' And so it was; for the Rakshas owned a vast amount of treasure, and the whole house was full of it. 'That is a good thing,' said the Blind Man. 'Show me where it is, and I will help you to collect it.' So they collected as much treasure as possible, and made four great bundles of it. The Blind Man took one great bundle, the Deaf Man took another; and putting the other two great bundles on the donkey, they started off to return home. But the Rakshas whom they had frightened away the night before had not gone very far off, and was waiting to see what his father Bakshas might look like by daylight. He saw the door of his house open, and watched attentively, when out walked—only a Blind Man, a Deaf Man, and a donkey, who were all three laden with large bundles of his treasure! The Blind Man carried one bundle, the Deaf Man carried another bundle, and two bundles were on the donkey.
The Rakshas was extremely angry, and immediately called six of his friends to help him kill the Blind Man, the Deaf Man, and the donkey, and recover the treasure.
The Deaf Man saw them coming (seven great Rakshas, with hair a yard long, and tusks like an elephant's), and 'was dreadfully frightened; but the Blind Man was very brave (because he couldn't see), and said, 'Brother, why do you lag behind in that way?'—'Oh!' answered the Deaf Man, 'there are seven great Rakshas with tusks like an elephant's coming to kill us; what can we do?' 'Let us hide the treasure in the bushes,' said the Blind Man; 'and do you lead me to a tree; then I will climb up first, and you shall climb up afterwards, and so we shall be out of their way.' The Deaf Man thought this good advice, so he pushed the donkey and the bundles of treasure into the bushes, and led the Blind Man to a high supari tree that grew close by; but he was a very cunning man, this Deaf Man, and instead of letting the Blind Man climb up first and following him, he got up first and let the Blind Man clamber after, so that he was further out of harm's way than his friend.
When the Rakshas arrived at the place and saw them both perched out of reach in the supari-tree, he said to his friends, 'Let us get on each other's shoulders; we shall then be high enough to pull them down.' So one Rakshas stooped down, and the second got on his shoulders, and the third on his, and the fourth on his, and the fifth on his, and the sixth on his, and the seventh and last Rakshas (who had invited all the others) was just climbing up, when the Deaf Man (who was looking over the Blind Man's shoulder) got so frightened, that in his alarm he caught hold of his friend's arm, crying, 'They're coming! they're coming!' The Blind Man was not in a very secure position, and was sitting at his ease, not knowing how close the Rakshas were. The consequence was, that when the Deaf Man gave him this unexpected push, he lost his balance and tumbled down on the neck of the seventh Rakshas, who was just then climbing up. The Blind Man had no idea where he was, but thought he had got on to the branch of some other tree; and stretching out his hand for something to catch hold of, caught hold of the Rakshas' two great ears, and pinched them very hard in his surprise and fright. The Rakshas couldn't think what it was that had come tumbling down upon him; and, the weight of the Blind Man upsetting his balance, down he also fell to the ground, knocking down in their turn the sixth, fifth, fourth, third, second, and first Rakshas, who all rolled one over another, and lay in a confused heap together at the foot of the tree. Meanwhile the Blind Man called out to his friend, 'Where am I? what has happened? Where am I? where am I?' The Deaf Man (who was safe up in the tree) answered, 'Well done, brother! never fear! never fear! You 're all right, only hold on tight. I'm coming down to help you.' But he had not the least intention of leaving his place of safety. However, he continued to call out, 'Never mind, brother, hold on as tight as you can. I'm coming, I'm coming,' and the more he called out, the harder the Blind Man pinched the Rakshas' ears, which he mistook for some kind of palm-branches. The six other Rakshas, who had succeeded, after a good deal of kicking, in extricating themselves from their unpleasant position, thought they had had quite enough of helping their friend, and ran away as fast as they could; and the seventh, thinking from their going that the danger must be greater than he imagined, and being moreover very much afraid of the mysterious creature that sat on his shoulders, put his hands to the back of his ears and pushed off the Blind Man (as a man would brush away a mosquito); and then, without staying to see who or what he was, followed his six companions as fast as he could.
As soon as all the Rakshas were out of sight, the Deaf Man came down from the tree, and picking up the Blind Man, embraced him, saying, 'I could not have done better myself. You have frightened away all our enemies, but you see I came to help you as fast as possible.' He then dragged the donkey and the bundles of treasure out of the bushes, gave the Blind Man one bundle to carry, took the second himself, and put the remaining two on the donkey, as before. This done, the whole party set off to return home. But when they had got nearly out of the jungle the Deaf Man said to the Blind Man, 'We are now close to the village; but if we take all this treasure home with us, we shall run great risk of being robbed. I think our best plan would be to divide it equally, then you shall take care of your half, and I will take care of mine, and each one can hide his share here in the jungle, or wherever pleases him best.'—'Very well,' said the Blind Man, 'do you divide what we have in the bundles into two equal portions, keeping one-half yourself, and giving me the other.' But the cunning Deaf Man had no intention of giving up half of the treasure to the Blind Man, so he first took his own bundle of treasure and hid it in the bushes, and then he took the two bundles off the donkey, and hid them in the bushes; and he took a good deal of treasure out of the Blind Man's bundle, which he also hid. Then, taking the small quantity that remained, he divided it into two equal portions, and placing half before the Blind Man, and half in front of himself, said, 'There, brother, is your share to do what you please with.' The Blind Man put out his hand, but when he felt what a very little heap of treasure it was, he got very angry, and cried, 'This is not fair, you are deceiving me; you have kept almost all the treasure for yourself, and only given me a very little.'—'Oh dear! oh dear! how can you think so?' answered the Deaf Man; 'but if you will not believe me, feel for yourself. See, my heap of treasure is no larger than yours.' The Blind Man put out his hands again to feel how much his friend had kept; but in front of the Deaf Man lay only a very small heap, no larger than what he had himself received. At this he got very cross, and said, 'Come, come, this won't do. You think you can cheat me in this way because I'm blind; but I'm not so stupid as all that. I carried a great bundle of treasure; you carried a great bundle of treasure; and there were two great bundles on the donkey. Do you mean to pretend that all that made no more treasure than these two little heaps? No, indeed, I know better.'—'Stuff and nonsense!' answered the Deaf Man. 'You are trying to take me in,' continued the other, 'and I won't be taken in by you.'—'No, I'm not,' said the Deaf Man. 'Yes, you are,' said the Blind Man; and so they went on bickering, scolding, growling, contradicting, until the Blind Man got so enraged that he gave the Deaf Man a tremendous box on the ear. The blow was so violent that it made the Deaf Man hear! The Deaf Man, very angry, gave his neighbour in return so hard a blow in the face, that it opened the Blind Man's eyes!
So the Deaf Man could hear as well as see! and the Blind Man could see as well as hear! This astonished them both so much that they became good friends at once. The Deaf Man confessed to having hidden the bulk of the treasure, which he thereupon dragged forth from its place of concealment, and having divided it equally, they went home and enjoyed themselves.
- Musical and dancing entertainment.
- Areca Catechu, the Betel-nut Palm.