Hucca (“Crazy”) was the last of three brothers. Whatever his real name, the nickname Hucca stuck to him because he was crazy. He didn't mind being called that. He was a simpleton and didn't know how to keep secrets or tell lies. Actually, certain mischievous people in town would tell him scandalous things when they wanted the whole town to know. They would tell him in great secrecy, “Hucca, don't tell this to anyone. Remember?” And Hucca would tell everyone and his brother the very secret in a loud whisper, ending with, “Remember, don't tell this to anyone.”
His parents died and left behind a great deal of wealth. The two elder brothers, who were married, divided up the property between them and thought Hucca wouldn't mind living with one of them. But he made a row.
“I'm also my father's son. Give me a portion of the property!” he screamed.
The brothers said, “All right, then, what do you want?”
Decisions were a problem for Hucca. After much shilly-shallying he said, “Give me a bull.”
The brothers had an old good-for-nothing bull. They happily gave it to him. Now Hucca believed he was on his own, even though he lived and ate with his brothers. He began to spend time with his beloved bull in a backyard shed. He would massage it, groom it, graze it, walk it to the river, and wash it. He would nurse it and tend it like a baby. He would talk to it all day. If the bull shook its head, flapped its ears to ward off flies, or shook its tail, he would read meanings into it and talk about it. If it was hungry and licked his face, he would beam and tell every passerby, “A jewel, this bull. Look how loving it is!”
He named it Prince of Bulls. He would worry about it like a mother and say all day, “Our Prince didn't drink enough water today.…He didn't move his tail at all.…He didn't bellow like every day.…Something's wrong, I'm sure.”
The old bull didn't understand a word he said. Once Hucca held its tail and twisted it, saying, “My prince, why aren't you moving your tail?” And the bull kicked him for all it was worth. Hucca lost interest in the animal at once.
When, one day, he heard that his brothers had sold two of their cows because they needed money, Hucca thought that he could sell his bull too. He set out at once for the town nearby. It was not even the day of the fair. His bull was a doddering old animal. Who would want it? For days, he would stand in the sun with his bull till evening and then drag it home.
On one of these trips, he heard a dry summer tree creak and rustle in the wind. Grk! Grk! it seemed to say.
Hucca listened attentively.
“O tree sir, are you talking to me?”
“You want to know how much I want for my bull?”
“Grk! Grk!” said the tree.
“Look, it's a fine bull. I can't sell it for less than twenty-five rupees.”
“You want it? All right, you can have it, if you give me the money.”
“Tomorrow? You'll have the money tomorrow?”
“All right. Who's born with money in hand? I'll come and collect it tomorrow,” said Hucca, who tied the bull to the tree and went home.
As they sat down to dinner, the brothers asked him, “What happened to your bull, Hucca?”
“I sold it.”
“For how much?”
Our brother is smart, they thought, he has sold the old good-for-nothing for twenty-five.
“Where's the money?”
“He said he'd give it to me tomorrow,” said Hucca. They thought, “Maybe he has really sold it.”
Next morning, Hucca went back to the tree. The bull wasn't there. Some butchers had found it unattended and driven it home.
Hucca said to the tree, “Tree, Tree, give me my money.”
Today too the old tree made its “Grk! Grk!” sounds.
“What? What did you say? Tomorrow? You mustn't let me down tomorrow. You shouldn't say, ‘Tomorrow and the day after.’ It isn't good business, see? It's all right this once. I won't stand for it tomorrow,” said Hucca firmly and went home.
When the brothers asked him again about the money, he said, “He didn't have it in hand today. Tomorrow, he said. Positive.”
“But tell us to whom you sold it,” insisted the brothers.
“Remember the old tree on the road? I sold the bull to that tree.”
“When will you learn?” despaired the brothers. But Hucca explained.
“Poor fellow, he wanted the bull very much. He pleaded and pleaded till my heart melted. So I gave it to him. But if he doesn't give me the money tomorrow, I'll teach him a lesson. Just wait and see.”
They didn't pursue the matter. They were saved the trouble of burying an old decrepit bull. Good riddance, they said to themselves.
Next day Hucca went to the tree, axe in hand.
“Will you give me my twenty-five rupees today?”
“Grk! Grk!” went the tree.
“I won't have your Grk! Grk! anymore. You give me my twenty-five or you'll have to get twenty-five strokes of my axe. What do you say?”
Hucca was furious. He began to swing his axe into the trunk of the tree, counting “One, two, three.…” It was a dry old tree. Before he axed it eight or ten times, it broke and fell with a great crash.
Some robbers had used the bole of the old tree to hide their loot of silver and gold. When it crashed, all of it spilled out of the old tree's belly. “That's my boy!” said Hucca and bundled up as much of it as he could and ran home to his brothers, who had just sat down to a meal. He poured it all onto their dinner plates.
The brothers were amazed and thrilled at the same time at the sight of such dazzling treasure.
“Hucca, where, where did you get this?” they stammered.
“I told you, didn't I, that I sold my bull to that tree. It didn't give me rupees, but it gave me gold and silver instead. It still has a lot more in its stomach,” said Hucca.
“Then let's go!” said they, and ran with him to the place. Sure enough, just as Hucca had said, there was a heap of silver and gold, vessels, coins, and jewelry. They scraped it clean, tied it in bundles, and gave a small one to Hucca to carry.
“Hucca, you must keep this a secret. Don't tell people about our finding gold and silver, do you hear?” they warned Hucca, who said, “No, I won't.”
But, as the three brothers were hurrying home, they ran into the village priest, who was returning from out of town. He, of course, asked the brothers, “What are you carrying on your heads? Seems heavy.” The eldest brother said, “O nothing, really. The usual millet and things.”
Hucca corrected him at once. “Brother, how can you lie even to our priest? Look, sir, we are carrying real gold and silver. Lots and lots of it. You can see if you wish.”
And he untied a bundle and showed him the fabulous treasure. The priest slobbered at the mouth at what he saw. “Yes, yes, real gold, real silver!” he spluttered as he began to transfer handfuls into his own satchel. Hucca wouldn't stand for this liberty and flew into a rage. Crying “ Bhappare! you greedy Brahmin!” he struck the crown of the poor man's shaven head with the staff in his hand. The priest collapsed and died on the spot, with the name of Lord Hari on his lips.
The brothers felt wretched at this turn of events, scolded Hucca, and hastily threw the dead body in a nearby pit before they left. But they took care to return that very night without Hucca's knowledge, removed the body, and buried it elsewhere. They also threw a dead he-goat in the pit. After a couple of days, the villagers started gossiping and inquiring about the missing priest. When Hucca heard of it, he said, “O yes. I know. I hit him with this staff. He died on the spot, poor fellow, and we threw him into a pit. I can show you.”
The villagers said, “Where? Where is the body?”
“I'll show you,” said Hucca, and took them to the pit by the roadside and got down into it himself. He shouted from below, “Didn't our priest have a beard?”
“Yes, he did,” they said.
“Didn't our priest have two curved horns on his head?”
The people were puzzled. So they went into the pit to examine the body, only to find a dead goat's carcass.
“This Hucca is a moron and we are even greater morons for following him here,” they muttered to themselves and left, feeling utterly foolish.
From then on, whenever Hucca told people that the old tree gave him and his brothers gold and silver, no one believed him. They only laughed at him.
Types and Motifs
Type AT 1643 Ind., Fools Who Sell Objects to Find Treasure + AT 1600, The Fool as Murderer. Another numskull tale, pan-Indian, which combines two tales in a series. In the first, the fool's naiveté allows him unexpectedly to come into a fortune. In the second, his clever brothers discredit him by a trick. Similar tales are told about foolish wives who cannot keep secrets, as in AT 1381, The Talkative Wife and the Discovered Treasure.
In this genre, a person (the fool) confounds the human and the nonhuman, treats the bull as a baby and undertakes to bargain with a tree. In another genre of tales, say the märchen tales of magic, it would be perfectly proper to do so. In No. 20, “Flute of Joy, Flute of Sorrow,” seven cows suckle and protect a boy. In No. 51, “The Princess of Seven Jasmines,” a snake has a migraine and asks the hero to go in quest of a remedy. Obviously, the genre determines what is common sense and what is not. What is folly in one genre is magic in another. The willing suspension of disbelief is called forth by some genres and dispelled by others. In one, the same motif makes you laugh; in another, it thrills you. Genres specialize in certain aesthetic effects and emotions.
[AT 1643, The Broken Image + AT 1600, The Fool as Murderer.]