The Three Dancing Goats “fTT^HIS evening I am going to tell you the JL tale of the three dancing goats, ” began Baba Trinco as he squatted on the floor and greeted us with his broad smile. ” Once upon a time it happened that a hardworking young peasant was lucky enough to possess three dancing goats. He was lucky because they brought him all he desired a little comfort for his widowed mother, and a pretty wife. ” He and his mother lived in a little bamboo hut and had a small plot of grazing land. Their entire wealth consisted of a couple of cows. When a year of drought came they were in great rouble, so that one morning the widowed mother with tears in her eyes said to her son: ” ‘ Sindhu, we shall have to get rid of the two cows. So go to the market-town and sell them/ ” The thought of selling the cows they loved so much distressed the boy.
It was a pity that they had not enough fodder; but what could they do? “So Sindhu set out with the two cows and The Three Dancing Goats said to himself that he was not going to sell them to a butcher and that he would beg their purchaser to take great care of them. ” Before coming to the market town he met an old woman who was also going to market to ell her three goats. Both Sindhu and the woman rested under a tree and both plucked leaves from it to feed their pets. ” The old woman looked at the boy compassionately as he was feeding the cows, and said: Tell me, my lad, what is troubling you I know it is not a good time for the peasants/ What can I do? I have to sell the two cows we love so much/ murmured Sindhu. ” The old woman asked him all sorts of questions and at last came close and said : My dear lad, I like you and admire your love for your cows. Let me have them and I promise they shall be well cared for. You take my three goats/ ” ‘
Nonsense/ replied Sindhu. ‘ What can we do with your goats, my dear woman? We must have grain for our own meals, and how can I feed your goats? ‘ ” ‘ But these goats are much better than money, and they will some day bring fortune to you/ the old woman said in a solemn voice. 24 The Three Dancing Goats “Then she drew a little bamboo flute from her willow basket and began to play. Would you believe it? The three goats began to dance to the tune ! They were lovely goats from the Himalayan region, quite different from the ones we see in the plains. They had long hair, long flapping ears and round noses.
The old woman called them Chdpu. 44 Sindhu was greatly amused at the performance of the dancing goats, and he believed what the old woman said about them. They might not bring him a fortune, but he would certainly be able to earn a few pennies every day by entertaining the village folk. Thus he argued in his own mind and accepted the offer. “‘Be content with what you have got, my son/ the old woman said gently; ‘here is the flute and there are my beloved goats. God bless you all/ Then she took Sindhu’s two cows and went her way. “And Sindhu? Wasn’t he pleased with the bargain!
He played the flute and the goats danced to the tune. Joyfully he made his way along the path across the meadow in order to reach home as quickly as he could. ” But when his mother saw what he had brought back, she was unhappy. Sindhu played the flute and the three goats danced as merrily The Three Dancing Goats as ever, but it only made her sad. She thought her son had been cheated by the wicked marketfolk or perhaps he had lost his senses. Are you sure you have not been cheated, my son? ‘ she cried. ‘We have hardly enough food to keep ourselves from starvation. What will you do with these silly goats? ” ‘ Don’t be afraid, Mother,’ implored Sindhu. ‘ 1 am neither mad nor light-headed. The dear old woman who exchanged these wonderful goats for our cows told me that they would some day bring us luck. And I believe her. If they do not bring in a few pennies for our livelihood, they will certainly fetch a handsome price from our landlord. ‘ ” Now Sindhu’s landlord lived close to the village. His daughter, a girl of great beauty, soon heard of the dancing goats and wanted her father to summon the peasant for her entertainment. ” So one day Sindhu took his flute and goats and went to the landowner’s house.
He played his flute as well as he possibly could and the three dancing goats danced as merrily as ever. Their lovely long ears flapped in rhythm and the movements of their limbs were very graceful. It was an enchanting performance. ” The landowner’s daughter offered to buy The Three Dancing Goats one of the goats and asked what price Sindhu wanted for it. ” ‘ It cannot be purchased with money, dear lady/ declared Sindhu, adding that if she really wanted one of his precious pets she would have to pay a visit to his widowed mother and take her a barrel of foodstuffs. For he lived and aboured for his mother’s happiness and comfort. ” The girl was so eager to have a goat that she agreed to go to the peasant’s hut with a barrel of foodstuffs. Sindhu and his mother were very happy to welcome this beautiful daughter of their landlord in their humble cottage, and the girl was delighted to own a dancing goat. ” A few days later another summons came from the landowner, and Sindhu went with his flute and the two remaining goats. ” The girl came out and said : ‘ You see, dear lad, I have not been able to make my goat dance at all. I have had expert musicians from the Temple to play for him, but he won’t dance.
Our village soothsayer says the goat will never dance without a companion. Will you let me have another goat? ‘ ” Sindhu was delighted both for the sake of his mother and for himself; also he was enchanted by the beauty of the girl. The Three Dancing Goats *’ ‘ Of course, you can have another of my pets, but this time I would ask for that gold ring you wear, as well as a barrel of foodstuffs/ replied Sindhu very politely. ” The girl was pleased, and without hesitation took off her favourite ring and gave it to Sindhu. By the time he returned home a barrel of foodstuffs had reached his mother. “
But, again, after a few days, one of the girl’s maids brought a message from her, saying that her goats still refused to dance and no longer responded to the sound of music, so that she was very sad. ” Sindhu went to see her and took his third goat with him. She was on the doorstep of her house waiting for him. She said : ‘ What am I to do now? The village priest says that my goats will dance if you will give me the third goat; but I hate to ask you for it, as it is the only pet left to you/ ” ‘ My dear lady/ Sindhu said humbly, ‘ I would willingly part with my last goat if it would make you happy.
But let me play my flute and see them dance once again/ “So he played the flute and the three goats danced merrily to the tune. As soon as the music ceased, the girl exclaimed gleefully: ” * Now I know, my dear lad ! Now I see ! It 28 The Three Dancing Goats was the magic of the flute that made the goats dance ! Will you let me have the flute as well as the third goat? ‘ ” Sindhu looked at her for a moment and said : ‘ Yes, I will gladly give them to you, my charming lady; but now that you have discovered my secret, I would ask you to tell me the meaning of the three different coloured stones set in the old ring you gave me. When I know that secret I shall only ask for a barrel of foodstuffs in exchange for my last goat and my magic flute/ “The girl was rather embarrassed, and hesitated for a little while. ‘ Can this peasant aspire to marry me? ‘ she wondered. ‘Why is he curious to know the meaning of those three stones? Anyhow, I am not the girl to give up a thing once I have set my mind on it. I must have the goat and the flute/ So ran her thoughts. ” ‘Yes/ she said in a whisper, ‘ I will tell you the meaning. There are three strange strands of hair hidden among my black silken tresses.
One is pure white, the colour of a diamond; one is dark red, the colour of a ruby; and one is bright green, the colour of an emerald. So in my ring there are three stones of similar colours. But all this is secret, dear lad/ 29 The Three Dancing Goats ” ‘ I understand, beautiful lady/ said Sindhu. ‘ Here is my flute and there is my goat. I take my leave and hope you will now be happy with the three dancing goats/ ” Before he returned home a barrel of foodstuffs had reached his mother. But she was still very distressed. All this time they had lived on the foodstuffs Sindhu received in exchange or the goats, but what would happen to them when this supply of foodstuffs was finished? ” Sindhu had no such worry. He believed in the words of the old lady who had taken his cows in exchange for the goats. The three dancing goats would bring him luck. ” Meanwhile, Sindhu worked as a labourer on his landowner’s farm. He was happy because he could thus catch just a moment’s glimpse of the landowner’s daughter. ” Then one day it came to pass that the landowner announced his intention of finding a suitable bridegroom for his lovely daughter, and made it known that whoever could name three trands of hair hidden among her black silken tresses should have her for bride. ” It was a curious way of finding a bridegroom, wasn’t it? ” Many young men from all parts of the 30 The Three Dancing Goats country came to try their luck, but not one of them could make the right guess. “Sindhu had heard about this strange offer and wondered if he should take this opportunity of marrying the girl he loved so much. But would the landowner allow his daughter to be married to a peasant? Perhaps the girl herself would dislike being the wife of a poor farm labourer. ” These thoughts tormented and angered im. Poor Sindhu! But, one day as he was watching the dance of the three goats, his mind was made up. The thought of that old woman who had given him the goats awakened in him a strange hope of success. ” Presently he met a handsome but very gaily dressed young man on the village high road. M;lt; What’s the best way to go to the manorhouse? ‘ said he as he saw Sindhu passing by. It’s a long way from here, far across the meadows. I will show you the way, sir, if you like/ Sindhu answered politely. ” As they were walking along, Sindhu muttered aloud to himself and sighed : ‘ Alas ! I am ust a poor peasant, otherwise I would certainly have won the hand of our landowner’s daughter. ‘ 3* The Three Dancing Goats M * What ! ‘ exclaimed the young man. ‘ What are you saying? Are you mad? ‘ No, sir, I am not mad. I happen to know the secret of those three strange strands of hair. But of what use is that to me? ‘ replied Sindhu. Tell me what they are, my good fellow, and I will reward you well,’ said the young man impatiently. “Sindhu answered haltingly: ‘You see, master, I can’t tell you the secret unless I am brought into the presence of the girl. . . . How can I enter the house? ‘ The young man suggested that he would find a rich livery for Sindhu, who should enter the house as his servant. ” So they returned to the village, and the young man ordered a beautiful livery with a silk turban. And Sindhu looked very attractive in this gay attire. ” Once on the village high road, they found a conveyance, and within a short time arrived at the manor-house. ” The hall was crowded with a number of suitors, all trying to guess the riddle. The girl sat by her father on a raised platform. She was dressed simply; her beauty, grace and charm did not require the refinements of luxury.