Sunday, January 1, 2017

THE STORY OF THE SEVEN SIMPLETONS(Elementary-Intermediate level)

There were, once upon a time, seven simpletons. And once they were going down the road, and meeting a puddle, were in great distress as to how they should cross it. And the eldest said "I will go first, and you all follow, holding one another's loin cloths." So they held one another's cloths and crawled through the puddle on their hands and knees, getting very muddy and dirty in doing so. But when they had fairly got across, the elder set to work to count; and, as he failed to count himself, behold, there was one missing. Then the next brother counted; and, as he, too, found one missing, they each in turn counted. And so it became clear that one was lost; and there they stood debating this deplorable business. Just then a wily Brahmin came up, and asked what the matter was. And they told him that they had been seven, but that in crossing the puddle, one of them had been lost. On which, the Brahmin, quickly counting them, found that they were still seven, and, judging them to be simpletons, said to them "My sons, if you will come to my house and work for me, I will find you the missing man." To which with one accord they agreed.
Then the Brahmin split a betelnut into seven pieces and put them into the hand of the eldest. "Now count them," said he, "and tell me how many there be." And he counted and found that there were seven. "Now take each man a piece," said the Brahmin, and, behold, to each piece there was a man. So in great joy and peace of mind they went to the Brahmin's house to work.
And then, one day, he sent the seven simpletons out into the garden to weed the vegetables, and with them he sent his only son, saying "If the lad is lazy and falls behind, shove him along and make him work."
So they all went into the garden and began cutting the weeds with their knives; and presently the boy fell into the rear. On which they said "There is that Brahmin boy fallen behind. Did not his father say that we were to push him along? What is to be done now? But the elder brother said, "Do? Why, do as we were told." On which each of them hit him with his weeding knife, so that presently he died. And when the weeding was quite finished, they went and told the Brahmin, saying "You told us to shove him along, and as we had our knives in our hands, we hurt him so that he died." But the Brahmin was speechless, for they had but done as they were told.
Another day he told them to go and plough. "Take your ploughs up above the great simul tree," he said. So they rose in the early morning, and, taking ploughs, cattle and ropes, went to the great simul tree. And some stayed below and bound the ploughs and cattle with the ropes, and others climbed the tree and hauled. But the ropes broke and the cattle were killed and the ploughs were smashed. And then they went and told the Brahmin that they had tried to plough above the simul tree and had failed. "And what of the cattle?" said he, "Oh! They fell down and were killed," they replied. So, in despair, he bought other cattle and sent them out to plough afresh.
And when the harvest was ripe, they reaped the paddy and, tying it in sheaves, brought it home and asked where they were to put it. And the Brahmin said "Put it where my old woman tells you to put it." So they went and asked the Brahmin's wife. But she was very busy, and only cried "Oh, bother you and your paddy! Put it on my head!" On this, they all took their sheaves, and heaped them on the old woman, so that she died. And when the Brahmin came from his work and asked for his old woman, they said they had buried her in the paddy, as she told them to. On which, being at his wit's end, he bade them go and bury her. On this, they tied the corpse on a bamboo sledge and bumped it along through the bamboo-clump, so that it got knocked off by the way.
And when they came to some fallow land, they dug a grave, and then began looking about for the corpse. Now there was an old woman hard by herding cattle. "Cunning old wretch!" said they, "she is afraid of being buried, and is pretending to be somebody else." So they got hold of her, and, in spite of her struggles, buried her.
And the Brahmin, in fear of what they might do next, began to contrive means to get rid of them. So he said "Today, my sons, we will go and cut down the great simul tree." So they took their axes and, going to the simul tree, began hewing with a will, and when the tree was tottering to its fall, the Brahmin said to them "If the tree falls down, it will be broken. Run under it and catch it!" And when they did so, the Brahmin gave the last strokes, and the tree fell on the seven simpletons and killed them. And that's all!

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