Simla Village Tales; Or, Folk Tales from the Himalayas


Produced by Jeroen Hellingman and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at for Project Gutenberg (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.) SIMLA VILLAGE TALES OR, FOLK TALES FROM THE HIMALAYAS BY ALICE ELIZABETH DRACOTT LONDON JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W. 1906 TO THE ONE I LOVE BEST. PREFACE In introducing "Simla Village Tales" to my readers, I wish to acknowledge gratefully the valuable assistance given me by my sister Mabel Baldwin, who, when I was obliged to leave India suddenly owing to nervous breakdown after the terrible earthquake which visited the Punjaub in April 1905, kindly undertook to complete, from the same sources where I had got them, my collection of folk-tales. Twenty excellent stories contributed by her include "Tabaristan," "The Priest and the Barber," "The Fourth Wife is Wisest," and "Abul Hussain." Of the down-country tales my husband kindly contributed "Anar Pari," "The Dog Temple," "The Beautiful Milkmaid," and "The Enchanted Bird, Music, and Stream." Both my sister and my husband can speak the language fluently, and as the former has resided many years in the Punjaub, I am confident that her translations are as literal as my own. All the tales were taken down in pencil, just as they were told, and as nearly as possible in the words of the narrators, who were village women belonging to the agricultural class of Hindus in the Simla district. I must add a word of thanks to Mr Hallam Murray for his invaluable assistance with the illustrations. In one or two instances I was asked if I would allow a Paharee man, well versed in local folk-lore, to relate a few stories to me; but, for obvious reasons, I was obliged to decline the offer, for many Simla Village tales related to me by women, and not included in this book, were grotesquely unfit for publication. The typical Paharee woman is, as a rule, extremely good-looking, and a born flirt; she has a pleasant, gay manner, and can always see a joke; people who wish to chaff her discover an adept at repartee. The "Simla Village Woman," whose photograph is reproduced, is a very good type. I found her most gentle and lovable. Her little boy, and last surviving child, has died since the photograph was taken last year, yet the young mother bears all her griefs with a fortitude which is really remarkable. Himalayan folk-lore, with its beauty, wit, and mysticism, is a most fascinating study, and makes one grieve to think that the day is fast approaching when the honest rugged hill-folk of Northern India will lose their fireside tales under the influence of modern civilisation.

Alice Dracott

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