Book One:

*1 -- The Story of the Tiger and the Traveller*
*2 -- The Story of the Jackal, Deer, and Crow*
*3 -- The Story of the Vulture, the Cat, and the Birds*
*4 -- The Story of the Dead Game and the Jackal*
*5 -- The Prince and the Wife of the Merchant's Son*
*6 -- The Story of the Old Jackal and the Elephant*

"Sans way or wealth, wise friends their purpose gain—
The Mouse, Crow, Deer, and Tortoise make this plain."
"However was that?" asked the Princes.

Vishnu-Sarman replied:—

"On the banks of the Godavery there stood a large silk-cotton-tree,/1/ and thither at night, from all quarters and regions, the birds came to roost. Now once, when the night was just spent, and his Radiance the Moon,/2/ Lover of the white lotus, was about to retire behind the western hills, a Crow/3/ who perched there, 'Light o' Leap' by name, upon awakening, saw to his great wonder a fowler approaching—a second God of Death./4/ The sight set him reflecting, as he flew off uneasily to follow up the man's movements, and he began to think what mischief this ill-omened apparition foretold.

"For a thousand thoughts of sorrow, and a hundred things of dread,
By the wise unheeded, trouble day by day the foolish head."
And yet in this life it must be that
"Of the day's impending dangers, Sickness, Death, and Misery,
One will be; the wise man waking, ponders which that one will be."
Presently the fowler fixed a net, scattered grains of rice about, and withdrew to hide. At this moment "Speckle-neck," King of the Pigeons, chanced to be passing through the sky with his Court, and caught sight of the rice-grains. Thereupon the King of the Pigeons asked of his rice-loving followers, 'How can there possibly be rice-grains lying here in an unfrequented forest? We will see into it, of course, but We like not the look of it—love of rice may ruin us, as the Traveller was ruined.
"All out of longing for a golden bangle,/5/
The Tiger, in the mud, the man did mangle."
"How did that happen?" asked the Pigeons.


The Story of the Tiger and the Traveller

"Thus," replied Speckle-neck: "I was pecking about one day in the Deccan forest, and saw an old tiger/6/ sitting newly bathed on the bank of a pool, like a Brahman, and with holy kuskus-grass/7/ in his paws.

'Ho! ho! ye travellers,' he kept calling out, 'take this golden bangle!'

Presently a covetous fellow passed by and heard him.

'Ah!' thought he, 'this is a bit of luck—but I must not risk my neck for it either.

"Good things come not out of bad things; wisely leave a longed-for ill.
Nectar being mixed with poison serves no purpose but to kill."
'But all gain is got by risk, so I will see into it at least;' then he called out, 'Where is thy bangle?'

The Tiger stretched forth his paw and exhibited it.

'Hem!' said the Traveller, 'can I trust such a fierce brute as thou art?'

'Listen,' replied the Tiger, 'once, in the days of my cub-hood, I know I was very wicked. I killed cows, Brahmans, and men/8/ without number—and I lost my wife and children for it—and haven't kith or kin left. But lately I met a virtuous man who counselled me to practise the duty of almsgiving—and, as thou seest, I am strict at ablutions and alms. Besides, I am old, and my nails and fangs are gone—so who would mistrust me? and I have so far conquered selfishness, that I keep the golden bangle for whoso comes. Thou seemest poor! I will give it thee. Is it not said,

'Give to poor men, son of Kûnti/9/—on the wealthy waste not wealth;
Good are simples for the sick man, good for nought to him in health.'
'Wade over the pool, therefore, and take the bangle.'

Thereupon the covetous Traveller determined to trust him, and waded into the pool, where he soon found himself plunged in mud, and unable to move.

'Ho! ho!' says the Tiger, 'art thou stuck in a slough? stay, I will fetch thee out!'

So saying he approached the wretched man and seized him—who meanwhile bitterly reflected—

'Be his Scripture-learning wondrous, yet the cheat will be a cheat;
Be her pasture ne'er so bitter, yet the cow's milk will be sweet.'
And on that verse, too—
'Trust not water, trust not weapons; trust not clawed nor horned things;
Neither give thy soul to women, nor thy life to Sons of Kings.'/10/
And those others—
'Look! the Moon, the silver roamer, from whose splendor darkness flies
With his starry cohorts marching, like a crowned king through the skies.
All the grandeur, all the glory, vanish in the Dragon's jaw;/11/
What is written on the forehead, that will be, and nothing more.'
Here his meditations were cut short by the Tiger devouring him. "And that," said Speckle-neck, "is why we counselled caution."

"Why, yes!" said a certain pigeon, with some presumption, "but you've read the verse—

'Counsel in danger; of it
Unwarned, be nothing begun.
But nobody asks a Prophet
Shall the risk of a dinner be run?'
Hearing that, the Pigeons settled at once; for we know that
"Avarice begetteth anger; blind desires from her begin;
A right fruitful mother is she of a countless spawn of sin.'
And again,
'Can a golden Deer have being?/12/ yet for such the Hero pined:—
When the cloud of danger hovers, then its shadow dims the mind.'
Presently they were caught in the net. Thereat, indeed, they all began to abuse the pigeon by whose suggestion they had been ensnared. It is the old tale!
"Be second and not first!—the share's the same
If all go well. If not, the Head's to blame."
And we should remember that
"Passion will be Slave or Mistress: follow her, she brings to woe;
Lead her, 'tis the way to Fortune. Choose the path that thou wilt go."
When King Speckle-neck heard their reproaches, he said, "No, no! it is no fault of his.
'When the time of trouble cometh, friends may ofttimes irk us most:
For the calf at milking-hour the mother's leg is tying-post.'
'And in disaster, dismay is a coward's quality; let us rather rely on fortitude, and devise some remedy. How saith the sage?
"In good fortune not elated, in ill-fortune not dismayed,
Ever eloquent in council, never in the fight affrayed—
Proudly emulous of honor, steadfastly on wisdom set;
Perfect virtues in the nature of a noble soul are met.
Whoso hath them, gem and glory of the three wide worlds/13/ is he;
Happy mother she that bore him, she who nursed him on her knee."
"Let us do this now directly," continued the King: "at one moment and with one will, rising under the net, let us fly off with it: for indeed
'Small things wax exceeding mighty, being cunningly combined:—
Furious elephants are fastened with a rope of grass-blades twined.'
"And it is written, you know,
'Let the household hold together, though the house be ne'er so small;
Strip the rice-husk from the rice-grain, and it groweth not at all.'
Having pondered this advice, the Pigeons adopted it; and flew away with the net. At first the fowler, who was at a distance, hoped to recover them, but as they passed out of sight with the snare about them he gave up the pursuit. Perceiving this, the Pigeons said,

"What is the next thing to be done, O King?"

"A friend of mine," said Speckle-neck, "lives near in a beautiful forest on the Gundaki. Golden-skin is his name—the King of the Mice/14/—he is the one to cut these bonds."

Resolving to have recourse to him, they directed their flight to the hole of Golden-skin—a prudent monarch, who dreaded danger so much that he had made himself a palace with a hundred outlets, and lived always in it. Sitting there he heard the descent of the pigeons, and remained silent and alarmed.

"Friend Golden-skin," cried the King, "have you no welcome for us?"

"Ah, my friend!" said the Mouse-king, rushing out on recognizing the voice, "is it thou art come, Speckle-neck! how delightful!—But what is this?" exclaimed he, regarding the entangled net.

"That," said King Speckle-neck, "is the effect of some wrong-doing in a former life—

'Sickness, anguish, bonds, and woe
Spring from wrongs wrought long ago,'/15/
Golden-skin, without replying, ran at once to the net, and began to gnaw the strings that held Speckle-neck.

"Nay! friend, not so," said the King, "cut me first these meshes from my followers, and afterwards thou shalt sever mine."

"I am little," answered Golden-skin, "and my teeth are weak—how can I gnaw so much? No! no! I will nibble your strings as long as my teeth last, and afterwards do my best for the others. To preserve dependents by sacrificing oneself is nowhere enjoined by wise moralists; on the contrary—

'Keep wealth for want, but spend it for thy wife,
And wife, and wealth, and all to guard thy life.'
"Friend," replied King Speckle-neck, "that may be the rule of policy, but I am one that can by no means bear to witness the distress of those who depend on me, for—
'Death, that must come, comes nobly when we give
Our wealth, and life, and all, to make men live.'
And you know the verse,
'Friend, art thou faithful? guard mine honor so!
And let the earthy rotting body go.'"
When King Golden-skin heard this answer his heart was charmed, and his fur bristled up for pure pleasure. "Nobly spoken, friend," said he, "nobly spoken! with such a tenderness for those that look to thee, the Sovereignty of the Three Worlds might be fitly thine." So saying he set himself to cut all their bonds. This done, and the pigeons extricated, the King of the Mice gave them his formal welcome. "But, your Majesty," he said, "this capture in the net was a work of destiny; you must not blame yourself as you did, and suspect a former fault. Is it not written—
'Floating on his fearless pinions, lost amid the noon-day skies,
Even thence the Eagle's vision kens the carcase where it lies;
But the hour that comes to all things comes unto the Lord of Air,
And he rushes, madly blinded, to his ruin in the snare.'"
With this correction Golden-skin proceeded to perform the duties of hospitality, and afterwards, embracing and dismissing them, the pigeons left for such destination as they fancied, and the King of the Mice retired again into his hole.

Now Light o' Leap, the Crow, had been a spectator of the whole transaction, and wondered at it so much that at last he called out, "Ho! Golden-skin, thou very laudable Prince, let me too be a friend of thine, and give me thy friendship."

"Who art thou?" said Golden-skin, who heard him, but would not come out of his hole.

"I am the Crow Light o' Leap," replied the other.

"How can I possibly be on good terms with thee?" answered Golden-skin with a laugh; "have you never read—

'When Food is friends with Feeder, look for Woe,
The Jackal ate the Deer, but for the Crow.'
"No! how was that?"

"I will tell thee," replied Golden-skin:—



The Story of the Jackal, Deer, and Crow

"Far away in Behar there is a forest called Champak-Grove,/16/ and in it had long lived in much affection a Deer and a Crow. The Deer, roaming unrestrained, happy and fat of carcase, was one day descried by a Jackal. 'Ho! ho!' thought the Jackal on observing him, 'if I could but get this soft meat for a meal! It might be—if I can only win his confidence,' Thus reflecting he approached, and saluted him.

'Health be to thee, friend Deer!'

'Who art thou?' said the Deer.

'I'm Small-wit, the Jackal,' replied the other. 'I live in the wood here, as the dead do, without a friend; but now that I have met with such a friend as thou, I feel as if I were beginning life again with plenty of relations. Consider me your faithful servant.'

'Very well,' said the Deer; and then, as the glorious King of Day, whose diadem is the light, had withdrawn himself, the two went together to the residence of the Deer. In that same spot, on a branch of Champak, dwelt the Crow Sharp-sense, an old friend of the Deer. Seeing them approach together, the Crow said,

'Who is this number two, friend Deer?'

'It is a Jackal,' answered the Deer, 'that desires our acquaintance.'

'You should not become friendly to a stranger without reason,' said Sharp-sense. 'Don't you know?'

"To folks by no one known house-room deny:—
The Vulture housed the Cat, and thence did die."
'No! how was that?' said both.

'In this wise,' answered the Crow.



The Story of the Vulture, the Cat, and the Birds

"On the banks of the Ganges there is a cliff called Vulture-Crag, and thereupon grew a great fig-tree./17/ It was hollow, and within its shelter lived an old Vulture, named Grey-pate, whose hard fortune it was to have lost both eyes and talons. The birds that roosted in the tree made subscriptions from their own store, out of sheer pity for the poor fellow, and by that means he managed to live. One day, when the old birds were gone, Long-ear, the Cat, came there to get a meal of the nestlings; and they, alarmed at perceiving him, set up a chirruping that roused Grey-pate.

'Who comes there?' croaked Grey-pate.

"Now Long-ear, on espying the Vulture, thought himself undone; but as flight was impossible, he resolved to trust his destiny and approach.

'My lord,' said he, 'I have the honor to salute thee.'

'Who is it?' said the Vulture.

'I am a Cat.'

'Be off, Cat, or I shall slay thee,' said the Vulture.

'I am ready to die if I deserve death,' answered the Cat; 'but let what I have to say be heard.'

'Wherefore, then, comest thou?' said the Vulture.

'I live,' began Long-ear, 'on the Ganges, bathing, and eating no flesh, practising the moon-penance,/18/ like a Bramacharya./19/ The birds that resort thither constantly praise your worship to me as one wholly given to the study of morality, and worthy of all trust; and so I came here to learn law from thee, Sir, who art so deep gone in learning and in years. Dost thou, then, so read the law of strangers as to be ready to slay a guest? What say the books about the householder?—

'Bar thy door not to the stranger, be he friend or be he foe,
For the tree will shade the woodman while his axe doth lay it low.'
And if means fail, what there is should be given with kind words, as—
'Greeting fair, and room to rest in; fire, and water from the well—
Simple gifts—are given freely in the house where good men dwell,'—
and without respect of person—
'Young, or bent with many winters; rich, or poor, whate'er thy guest,
Honor him for thine own honor—better is he than the best,'
Else comes the rebuke—
'Pity them that ask thy pity: who art thou to stint thy hoard,
When the holy moon shines equal on the leper and the lord!'
And that other, too,
'When thy gate is roughly fastened, and the asker turns away,
Thence he bears thy good deeds with him, and his sins on thee doth lay.'
For verily,
'In the house the husband ruleth, men the Brahmans "master" call;
Agni is the Twice-born Master/20/—but the guest is lord of all.'
"To these weighty words Grey-pate answered,

'Yes! but cats like meat, and there are young birds here, and therefore I said, go.'

'Sir,' said the Cat (and as he spoke he touched the ground, and then his two ears, and called on Krishna/21/ to witness to his words), 'I that have overcome passion, and practised the moon-penance, know the Scriptures; and howsoever they contend, in this primal duty of abstaining from injury they are unanimous. Which of them sayeth not—

'He who does and thinks no wrong—
He who suffers, being strong—
He whose harmlessness men know—
Unto Swerga such doth go.'/22/
"And so, winning the old Vulture's confidence, Long-ear, the Cat, entered the hollow tree and lived there. And day after day he stole away some of the nestlings, and brought them down to the hollow to devour. Meantime the parent birds, whose little ones were being eaten, made an inquiry after them in all quarters; and the Cat, discovering this fact, slipped out from the hollow, and made his escape. Afterwards, when the birds came to look closely, they found the bones of their young ones in the hollow of the tree where Grey-pate lived; and the birds at once concluded that their nestlings had been killed and eaten by the old Vulture, whom they accordingly executed. That is my story, and why I warned you against unknown acquaintances."

"Sir," said the Jackal, with some warmth, "on the first day of your encountering the Deer you also were of unknown family and character: how is it, then, that your friendship with him grows daily greater? True, I am only Small-wit, the Jackal, but what says the saw?—

"In the land where no wise men are, men of little wit are lords;
And the castor-oil's a tree, where no tree else its shade affords."/23/
The Deer is my friend; condescend, sir, to be my friend also."

'Oh!' broke in the Deer, 'why so much talking? We'll all live together, and be friendly and happy—

'Foe is friend, and friend is foe,
As our actions make them so.'
"Very good," said Sharp-sense; "as you will;" and in the morning each started early for his own feeding-ground (returning at night). One day the Jackal drew the Deer aside, and whispered, 'Deer, in one corner of this wood there is a field full of sweet young wheat; come and let me show you.' The Deer accompanied him, and found the field, and afterwards went every day there to eat the green corn, till at last the owner of the ground spied him and set a snare. The Deer came again very shortly, and was caught in it, and (after vainly struggling) exclaimed, 'I am fast in the net, and it will be a net of death to me if no friend comes to rescue me!' Presently Small-wit, the Jackal, who had been lurking near, made his appearance, and standing still, he said to himself, with a chuckle, 'O ho! my scheme bears fruit! When he is cut up, his bones, and gristle, and blood, will fall to my share and make me some beautiful dinners,' The Deer, here catching sight of him, exclaimed with rapture, 'Ah, friend, this is excellent! Do but gnaw these strings, and I shall be at liberty. How charming to realize the saying!—
'That friend only is the true friend who is near when trouble comes;
That man only is the brave man who can bear the battle-drums;
Words are wind; deed proveth promise: he who helps at need is kin;
And the leal wife is loving though the husband lose or win.'
And is it not written—
'Friend and kinsman—more their meaning than the idle-hearted mind.
Many a friend can prove unfriendly, many a kinsman less than kind:
He who shares his comrade's portion, be he beggar, be he lord,
Comes as truly, comes as duly, to the battle as the board—
Stands before the king to succor, follows to the pile to sigh—
He is friend, and he is kinsman—less would make the name a lie.'
"Small-wit answered nothing, but betook himself to examining the snare very closely.

'This will certainly hold,' muttered he; then, turning to the Deer, he said, 'Good friend, these strings, you see, are made of sinew, and to-day is a fast-day, so that I cannot possibly bite them. To-morrow morning, if you still desire it, I shall be happy to serve you.'

When he was gone, the Crow, who had missed the Deer upon returning that evening, and had sought for him everywhere, discovered him; and seeing his sad plight, exclaimed—

'How came this about, my friend?'

'This came,' replied the Deer, 'through disregarding a friend's advice.'

'Where is that rascal Small-wit?' asked the Crow.

'He is waiting somewhere by,' said the Deer, 'to taste my flesh.'

'Well,' sighed the Crow, 'I warned you; but it is as in the true verse—

'Stars gleam, lamps flicker, friends foretell of fate;
The fated sees, knows, hears them—all too late.'
And then, with a deeper sigh, he exclaimed,'Ah, traitor Jackal, what an ill deed hast thou done! Smooth-tongued knave—alas!—and in the face of the monition too—
'Absent, flatterers' tongues are daggers—present, softer than the silk;
Shun them! 'tis a jar of poison hidden under harmless milk;
Shun them when they promise little! Shun them when they promise much!
For, enkindled, charcoal burneth—cold, it doth defile the touch.'
When the day broke, the Crow (who was still there) saw the master of the field approaching with his club in his hand.

'Now, friend Deer,' said Sharp-sense on perceiving him, 'do thou cause thyself to seem like one dead: puff thy belly up with wind, stiffen thy legs out, and lie very still. I will make a show of pecking thine eyes out with my beak; and whensoever I utter a croak, then spring to thy feet and betake thee to flight.'

The Deer thereon placed himself exactly as the Crow suggested, and was very soon espied by the husbandman, whose eyes opened with joy at the sight.

'Aha!' said he, 'the fellow has died of himself,' and so speaking, he released the Deer from the snare, and proceeded to gather and lay aside his nets. At that instant Sharp-sense uttered a loud croak, and the Deer sprang up and made off. And the club which the husbandman flung after him in a rage struck Small-wit, the Jackal (who was close by), and killed him. Is it not said, indeed?—

'In years, or moons, or half-moons three,
Or in three days—suddenly,
Knaves are shent—true men go free.'
"Thou seest, then," said Golden-skin, "there can be no friendship between food and feeder."

"I should hardly," replied the Crow, "get a large breakfast out of your worship; but as to that indeed you have nothing to fear from me. I am not often angry, and if I were, you know—

'Anger comes to noble natures, but leaves there no strife or storm:
Plunge a lighted torch beneath it, and the ocean grows not warm.'
"Then, also, thou art such a gad-about," objected the King.

"Maybe," answered Light o' Leap; "but I am bent on winning thy friendship, and I will die at thy door of fasting if thou grantest it not. Let us be friends! for

'Noble hearts are golden vases—close the bond true metals make;
Easily the smith may weld them, harder far it is to break.
Evil hearts are earthen vessels—at a touch they crack a-twain,
And what craftsman's ready cunning can unite the shards again?'
And then, too,
'Good men's friendships may be broken, yet abide they friends at heart;
Snap the stem of Luxmee's lotus, and its fibres will not part.'
"Good sir," said the King of the Mice, "your conversation is as pleasing as pearl necklets or oil of sandal-wood/24/ in hot weather. Be it as you will"—and thereon King Golden-skin made a treaty with the Crow, and after gratifying him with the best of his store reëntered his hole. The Crow returned to his accustomed perch:—and thenceforward the time passed in mutual presents of food, in polite inquiries, and the most unrestrained talk. One day Light o' Leap thus accosted Golden-skin:—

"This is a poor place, your Majesty, for a Crow to get a living in. I should like to leave it and go elsewhere."

"Whither wouldst thou go?" replied the King; they say,

'One foot goes, and one foot stands,
When the wise man leaves his lands.'
"And they say, too," answered the Crow,
'Over-love of home were weakness; wheresoever the hero come,
Stalwart arm and steadfast spirit find or win for him a home.
Little recks the awless lion where his hunting jungles lie—
When he enters it be certain that a royal prey shall die,'
"I know an excellent jungle now."

"Which is that?" asked the Mouse-king.

"In the Nerbudda woods, by Camphor-water," replied the Crow. "There is an old and valued friend of mine lives there—Slow-toes his name is, a very virtuous Tortoise; he will regale me with fish and good things."

"Why should I stay behind," said Golden-skin, "if thou goest? Take me also."

Accordingly, the two set forth together, enjoying charming converse upon the road. Slow-toes perceived Light o' Leap a long way off, and hastened to do him the guest-rites, extending them to the Mouse upon Light o' Leap's introduction.

"Good Slow-toes," said he, "this is Golden-skin, King of the Mice—pay all honor to him—he is burdened with virtues—a very jewel-mine of kindnesses. I don't know if the Prince of all the Serpents,/25/ with his two thousand tongues, could rightly repeat them." So speaking, he told the story of Speckle-neck. Thereupon Slow-toes made a profound obeisance to Golden-skin, and said, "How came your Majesty, may I ask, to retire to an unfrequented forest?"

"I will tell you," said the King. "You must know that in the town of Champaka there is a college for the devotees. Unto this resorted daily a beggar-priest, named Chudakarna, whose custom was to place his begging-dish upon the shelf, with such alms in it as he had not eaten, and go to sleep by it; and I, so soon as he slept, used to jump up, and devour the meal. One day a great friend of his, named Vinakarna, also a mendicant, came to visit him; and observed that while conversing, he kept striking the ground with a split cane, to frighten me. 'Why don't you listen?' said Vinakarna. 'I am listening!' replied the other; 'but this plaguy mouse is always eating the meal out of my begging-dish,' Vinakarna looked at the shelf and remarked, 'However can a mouse jump as high as this? There must be a reason, though there seems none. I guess the cause—the fellow is well off and fat,' With these words Vinakarna snatched up a shovel, discovered my retreat, and took away all my hoard of provisions. After that I lost strength daily, had scarcely energy enough to get my dinner, and, in fact, crept about so wretchedly, that when Chudakarna saw me he fell to quoting—

'Very feeble folk are poor folk; money lost takes wit away:—
All their doings fail like runnels, wasting through the summer day.'
"Yes!" I thought, "he is right, and so are the sayings—
'Wealth is friends, home, father, brother—title to respect and fame;
Yea, and wealth is held for wisdom—that it should be so is shame,'

'Home is empty to the childless; hearts to them who friends deplore:—
Earth unto the idle-minded; and the three worlds to the poor.'

'I can stay here no longer; and to tell my distress to another is out of the question—altogether out of the question!—
'Say the sages, nine things name not: Age, domestic joys and woes,
Counsel, sickness, shame, alms, penance; neither Poverty disclose.
Better for the proud of spirit, death, than life with losses told;
Fire consents to be extinguished, but submits not to be cold.'
'Verily he was wise, methought also, who wrote—
'As Age doth banish beauty,
As moonlight dies in gloom,
As Slavery's menial duty
Is Honor's certain tomb;
As Hari's name and Hara's/26/
Spoken, charm sin away,
So Poverty can surely
A hundred virtues slay.'
'And as to sustaining myself on another man's bread, that,' I mused, 'would be but a second door of death. Say not the books the same?—
'Half-known knowledge, present pleasure purchased with a future woe,
And to taste the salt of service/27/—greater griefs no man can know.'
'And herein, also—
'All existence is not equal, and all living is not life;
Sick men live; and he who, banished, pines for children, home, and wife;
And the craven-hearted eater of another's leavings lives,
And the wretched captive waiting for the word of doom survives;
But they bear an anguished body, and they draw a deadly breath,
And life cometh to them only on the happy day of death.'
Yet, after all these reflections, I was covetous enough to make one more attempt on Chudakarna's meal, and got a blow from the split cane for my pains. 'Just so,' I said to myself, 'the soul and organs of the discontented want keeping in subjection. I must be done with discontent:—
'Golden gift, serene Contentment! have thou that, and all is had;
Thrust thy slipper on, and think thee that the earth is leather-clad.'

'All is known, digested, tested; nothing new is left to learn
When the soul, serene, reliant, Hope's delusive dreams can spurn.'

'And the sorry task of seeking favor is numbered in the miseries of life—
'Hast thou never watched, a-waiting till the great man's door unbarred?
Didst thou never linger parting, saying many a last sad word?
Spak'st thou never word of folly, one light thing thou wouldst recall?
Rare and noble hath thy life been! fair thy fortune did befall!'
'No!' exclaimed I, 'I will do none of these; but, by retiring into the quiet and untrodden forest, I will show my discernment of real good and ill. The holy Books counsel it—
'True Religion!—'tis not blindly prating what the priest may prate,
But to love, as God hath loved them, all things, be they small or great;
And true bliss is when a sane mind doth a healthy body fill;
And true knowledge is the knowing what is good and what is ill.'
"So came I to the forest, where, by good fortune and this good friend, I met much kindness; and by the same good fortune have encountered you, Sir, whose friendliness is as Heaven to me. Ah! Sir Tortoise,
'Poisonous though the tree of life be, two fair blossoms grow thereon:
One, the company of good men; and sweet songs of Poet's, one.'
"King!" said Slow-toes, "your error was getting too much, without giving. Give, says the sage—
'Give, and it shall swell thy getting; give, and thou shalt safer keep:
Pierce the tank-wall; or it yieldeth, when the water waxes deep.'
And he is very hard upon money-grubbing: as thus—
'When the miser hides his treasure in the earth, he doeth well;
For he opens up a passage that his soul may sink to hell.'
And thus—
'He whose coins are kept for counting, not to barter nor to give,
Breathe he like a blacksmith's bellows,/28/ yet in truth he doth not live.'
It hath been well written, indeed,
'Gifts, bestowed with words of kindness, making giving doubly dear:—
Wisdom, deep, complete, benignant, of all arrogancy clear;
Valor, never yet forgetful of sweet Mercy's pleading prayer;
Wealth, and scorn of wealth to spend it—oh! but these be virtues rare!'
"Frugal one may be," continued Slow-toes; "but not a niggard like the Jackal—
'The Jackal-knave, that starved his spirit so,
And died of saving, by a broken bow.'
"Did he, indeed," said Golden-skin; "and how was that?"

"I will tell you," answered Slow-toes:—



The Story of the Dead Game and the Jackal

"In a town called 'Well-to-Dwell' there lived a mighty hunter, whose name was 'Grim-face.' Feeling a desire one day for a little venison, he took his bow, and went into the woods; where he soon killed a deer. As he was carrying the deer home, he came upon a wild boar of prodigious proportions. Laying the deer upon the earth, he fixed and discharged an arrow and struck the boar, which instantly rushed upon him with a roar louder than the last thunder,/29/ and ripped the hunter up. He fell like a tree cut by the axe, and lay dead along with the boar, and a snake also, which had been crushed by the feet of the combatants. Not long afterwards, there came that way, in his prowl for food, a Jackal, named 'Howl o' Nights,' and cast eyes on the hunter, the deer, the boar, and the snake lying dead together. 'Aha!' said he,' what luck! Here's a grand dinner got ready for me! Good fortune can come, I see, as well as ill fortune. Let me think:—the man will be fine pickings for a month; the deer with the boar will last two more; the snake will do for to-morrow; and, as I am very particularly hungry, I will treat myself now to this bit of meat on the bow-horn,' So saying, he began to gnaw it asunder, and the bow-string slipping, the bow sprang back, and resolved Howl o' Nights into the five elements/30/ by death. That is my story," continued Slow-toes, "and its application is for the wise:—

'Sentences of studied wisdom, nought avail they unapplied;
Though the blind man hold a lantern, yet his footsteps stray aside.'
The secret of success, indeed, is a free, contented, and yet enterprising mind. How say the books thereon?—
'Wouldst thou know whose happy dwelling Fortune entereth unknown?
His, who careless of her favor, standeth fearless in his own;
His, who for the vague to-morrow barters not the sure to-day—
Master of himself, and sternly steadfast to the rightful way:
Very mindful of past service, valiant, faithful, true of heart—
Unto such comes Lakshmi/31/ smiling—comes, and will not lightly part.'
"What indeed," continued Slow-toes, "is wealth, that we should prize it, or grieve to lose it?—
'Be not haughty, being wealthy; droop not, having lost thine all;
Fate doth play with mortal fortunes as a girl doth toss her ball.'
It is unstable by nature. We are told—
'Worldly friendships, fair but fleeting, shadows of the clouds at noon
Women, youth, new corn,/32/ and riches—these be pleasures passing soon.'
And it is idle to be anxious; the Master of Life knows how to sustain it. Is it not written?—
'For thy bread be not o'er thoughtful—God for all hath taken thought:
When the babe is born, the sweet milk to the mother's breast is brought.
He who gave the swan her silver, and the hawk her plumes of pride,
And his purples to the peacock—He will verily provide.'
"Yes, verily," said Slow-toes, "wealth is bad to handle, and better left alone; there is no truer saying than this—
'Though for good ends, waste not on wealth a minute;
Mud may be wiped, but wise men plunge not in it.'
Hearing the wisdom of these monitions, Light o' Leap broke out, 'Good Slow-toes! thou art a wise protector of those that come to thee; thy learning comforts my enlightened friend, as elephants drag elephants from the mire.' And thus, on the best of terms, wandering where they pleased for food, the three lived there together.

One day it chanced that a Deer named Dapple-back,/33/ who had seen some cause of alarm in the forest, came suddenly upon the three in his flight. Thinking the danger imminent, Slow-toes dropped into the water, King Golden-skin slipped into his hole, and Light o' Leap flew up into the top of a high tree. Thence he looked all round to a great distance, but could discover nothing. So they all came back again, and sat down together. Slow-toes welcomed the Deer.

'Good Deer,' said he, 'may grass and water never fail thee at thy need. Gratify us by residing here, and consider this forest thine own.'

'Indeed,' answered Dapple-back, 'I came hither for your protection, flying from a hunter; and to live with you in friendship is my greatest desire.'

'Then the thing is settled,' observed Golden-skin.

'Yes! yes!' said Light o' Leap, 'make yourself altogether at home!'

So the Deer, charmed at his reception, ate grass and drank water, and laid himself down in the shade of a Banyan-tree to talk. Who does not know?—

'Brunettes, and the Banyan's shadow,
Well-springs, and a brick-built wall.
Are all alike cool in the summer,
And warm in the winter—all.'
'What made thee alarmed, friend Deer?' began Slow-toes. 'Do hunters ever come to this unfrequented forest?'

'I have heard,' replied Dapple-back, 'that the Prince of the Kalinga country, Rukmangada, is coming here. He is even now encamped on the Cheenab River, on his march to subjugate the borders; and the hunters have been heard to say that he will halt to-morrow by this very lake of "Camphor-water." Don't you think, as it is dangerous to stay, that we ought to resolve on something?'

'I shall certainly go to another pool,' exclaimed Slow-toes.

'It would be better,' answered the Crow and Deer together.

'Yes!' remarked the King of the Mice, after a minute's thought; 'but how is Slow-toes to get across the country in time? Animals like our amphibious host are best in the water; on land he might suffer from his own design, like the merchant's son—

'The merchant's son laid plans for gains,
And saw his wife kissed for his pains.'
'How came that about?' asked all. "I'll tell you," answered Golden-skin.


The Prince and the Wife of the Merchant's Son

"In the country of Kanouj there was a King named Virasena, and he made his son viceroy of a city called Virapoora. The Prince was rich, handsome, and in the bloom of youth. Passing through the streets of his city one day, he observed a very lovely woman, whose name was Lávanyavati—i.e., the Beautiful—the wife of a merchant's son. On reaching his palace, full of her charms and of passionate admiration for them, he despatched a message to her, and a letter, by a female attendant:—who wonders at it?—

'Ah! the gleaming, glancing arrows of a lovely woman's eye!
Feathered with her jetty lashes, perilous they pass us by:—
Loosed at venture from the black bows of her arching brow they part,
All too penetrant and deadly for an undefended heart.'
Now Lávanyavati, from the moment she saw the Prince, was hit with the same weapon of love that wounded him; but upon hearing the message of the attendant, she refused with dignity to receive his letter.

'I am my husband's,' she said,'and that is my honor; for—

'Beautiful the Koíl/34/ seemeth for the sweetness of his song,
Beautiful the world esteemeth pious souls for patience strong;
Homely features lack not favor when true wisdom they reveal,
And a wife is fair and honored while her heart is firm and leal.'
What the lord of my life enjoins, that I do.'

'Is such my answer?' asked the attendant.

'It is,' said Lávanyavati.

Upon the messenger reporting her reply to the Prince, he was in despair.

'The God of the five shafts/35/ has hit me,' he exclaimed, 'and only her presence will cure my wound.'

'We must make her husband bring her, then,' said the messenger.

'That can never be,' replied the Prince.

'It can,' replied the messenger—

'Fraud may achieve what force would never try:—
The Jackal killed the Elephant thereby.'
'How was that?' asked the Prince. The Slave related:—


The Story of the Old Jackal and the Elephant

"In the forest of Brahma/36/ lived an Elephant, whose name was 'White-front.' The Jackals knew him, and said among themselves, 'If this great brute would but die, there would be four months' food for us, and plenty, out of his carcase.' With that an old Jackal stood up, and pledged himself to compass the death of the Elephant by his own wit. Accordingly, he sought for 'White-front,' and, going up to him, he made the reverential prostration of the eight members,/37/ gravely saluting him.

'Divine creature,' said he, 'vouchsafe me the regard of one look.'

'Who art thou?' grunted the Elephant, 'and whence comest thou?'

'I am only a Jackal,' said the other; 'but the beasts of the forest are convinced that it is not expedient to live without a king, and they have met in full council, and despatched me to acquaint your Royal Highness that on you, endowed with so many lordly qualities, their choice has fallen for a sovereign over the forest here; for—

'Who is just, and strong, and wise?
Who is true to social ties?
He is formed for Emperies.'
Let your Majesty, therefore, repair thither at once, that the moment of fortunate conjunction/38/ may not escape us.' So saying he led the way, followed at a great pace by White-front, who was eager to commence his reign.

"Presently the Jackal brought him upon a deep slough, into which he plunged heavily before he could stop himself.

'Good master Jackal,' cried the Elephant,'what's to do now? I am up to my belly in this quagmire.'

'Perhaps your Majesty,' said the Jackal, with an impudent laugh, 'will condescend to take hold of the tip of my brush with your trunk, and so get out.'

'Then White-front, the Elephant, knew that he had been deceived; and thus he sank in the slime, and was devoured by the Jackals. Hence,' continued the attendant, 'is why I suggested stratagem to your Highness.'

Shortly afterwards, by the Slave's advice, the Prince sent for the merchant's son (whose name was Charudatta), and appointed him to be near his person; and one day, with the same design, when he was just come from the bath, and had on his jewels, he summoned Charudatta, and said—

"I have a vow to keep to Gauri/39/—bring hither to me every evening for a month some lady of good family, that I may do honor to her, according to my vow; and begin to-day."

Charudatta in due course brought a lady of quality, and, having introduced her, retired to watch the interview. The Prince, without even approaching his fair visitor, made her the most respectful obeisances, and dismissed her with gifts of ornaments, sandal-wood, and perfumes, under the protection of a guard. This made Charudatta confident, and longing to get some of these princely presents he brought his own wife next evening. When the Prince recognized the charming Lávanyavati—the joy of his soul—he sprang to meet her, and kissed and caressed her without the least restraint. At sight of this the miserable Charudatta stood transfixed with despair—the very picture of wretchedness'——

'And you too, Slow-toes—but where is he gone?' abruptly asked King Golden-skin.

Now Slow-toes had not chosen to wait the end of the story, but was gone before, and Golden-skin and the others followed him up in some anxiety. The Tortoise had been painfully travelling along, until a hunter, who was beating the wood for game, had overtaken him. The fellow, who was very hungry, picked him up, fastened him on his bow-stick, and set off for home; while the Deer, the Crow, and the Mouse, who had witnessed the capture, followed them in terrible concern. 'Alas!' cried the Mouse-king, 'he is gone!—and such a friend!

'Friend! gracious word!—the heart to tell is ill able
Whence came to men this jewel of a syllable.'
'Let us,' continued he to his companions, 'let us make one attempt, at least, to rescue Slow-toes before the hunter is out of the wood!'

'Only tell us how to do it,' replied they.

'Do thus,' said Golden-skin: 'let Dapple-back hasten on to the water, and lie down there and make himself appear dead; and do you, Light o' Leap, hover over him and peck about his body. The hunter is sure to put the Tortoise down to get the venison, and I will gnaw his bonds.'

'The Deer and the Crow started at once; and the hunter, who was sitting down to rest under a tree and drinking water, soon caught sight of the Deer, apparently dead. Drawing his wood-knife, and putting the Tortoise down by the water, he hastened to secure the Deer, and Golden-skin, in the meantime, gnawed asunder the string that held Slow-toes, who instantly dropped into the pool. The Deer, of course, when the hunter got near, sprang up and made off, and when he returned to the tree the Tortoise was gone also. "I deserve this," thought he—

'Whoso for greater quits his gain,
Shall have his labor for his pain;
The things unwon unwon remain,
And what was won is lost again.'
And so lamenting, he went to his village. Slow-toes and his friends, quit of all fears, repaired together to their new habitations, and there lived happily.

Then spake the King Sudarsana's sons, "We have heard every word, and are delighted; it fell out just as we wished."

"I rejoice thereat, my Princes," said Vishnu-Sarman; "may it also fall out according to this my wish—

"Lakshmi give you friends like these!
Lakshmi keep your lands in ease!
Set, your sovereign thrones beside,
Policy, a winsome bride!
And He, whose forehead-jewel is the moon/40/
Give peace to us and all—serene and soon."


/1/ Sans. "Shalmali."

/2/ The moon (Chandra) is a masculine deity in Hindu mythology. The white lotus opens its blossoms at night only, hence the descriptive epithet.

/3/ The Indian crow is everywhere seen and heard in India. Its plumage is black, with a dull grey hood extending over the head and neck.

/4/ Yama, called here Kritanta, or the "Endbringer." He is God of Justice as well as of Death, and sits in judgment upon disembodied souls in his infernal city of Yama-poora. Thence he dismisses them upwards to Swerga, downwards to Naraka, or back again to earth in the form of some animal.

/5/ The bracelet, in one solid piece, of gold, silver, brass, glass, or earthenware, worn by all Indian women.

/6/ It is true to nature that an "old tiger" should be the villain of this episode, and devour the traveller; for it is only when the tiger has lost his teeth and claws by age, and with them his power of securing antelopes, cattle, &c., that he becomes a professed man-stealer. The popular notion was that the hide of a "man-killer" became worn and mangy as a punishment for attacking man, his lord; but it is not until his hide thus assumes the aspect of old age that he has recourse to such easy but illicit food. Livingston, in his African travels, first draws attention to this.

/7/ Used in many religious observances by the Hindoos. (Poa cynosuroides.)

/8/ The tiger justifies his self-condemnation by confessing to the greatest moral guilt possible, the slaughter of cows—a sin all but inexpiable.

/9/ Kûnti was wife of Pându, and mother of the Pandava princes of the Mahabharata.

/10/ Here, and elsewhere, the intelligent reader will remark a curious similarity between these ancient Hindoo proverbs and those of Solomon.

/11/ Rahoo, an evil spirit, with the tail of a dragon, was held to be the cause of eclipses, by swallowing occasionally the moon and sun. The legend had this origin. At the time when the gods were drinking the nectar, churned from the ocean by the direction of Vishnu, Rahoo insinuated himself among them, and began to drink. The sun and moon, as guardians for the gods, observed the intrusion and revealed it. Vishnu at once cut off the head of the venturous devil, but as the "amrit" drink had rendered him immortal the head and tail retained their separate life, and were placed in the stellar sky. Rahoo, therefore, still mindfull of the injury done him by the sun's interference, loses no opportunity of enclosing his ancient enemy in his jaws.

/12/ An allusion to an episode in the great poem of the Ramayana. Manicha takes the form of a golden deer, in pursuing which Rama is led away insensibly from his abode, and Râvana comes as a beggar and carries off Sita in his absence.

/13/ Heaven, earth, and the lower regions.

/14/ The mouse, as vehicle of Gunesh, is an important animal in Hindoo legend.

/15/ By this theory of a series of existences continued until the balance is just, and the soul has purified itself, the Hindoo accounts for the origin of evil. Every fault must have its expiation, and every higher faculty its development; pain and misery being signs of and ordeals in the trial, which is to end in the happy re-absorption of the emancipated spirit.

/16/ The champak is a bushy deciduous tree, bearing a profusion of white star-like blossoms with golden centres, and of the most pleasing perfume.

/17/ (Sans. "Parkti").—A large handsome tree, with leaves curiously waved.

/18/ A religious observance, inculcated by Manu. The devotee commences the penance at the full moon with an allowance of fifteen mouthfuls for his food, diminishing this by one mouthful each day, till on the fifteenth it is reduced to one. As the new moon increases, his allowance also ascends to its original proportion.

/19/ A votary of the Vedas, a name technically applied to young Brahmans after their investiture with the sacred cord, and generally to pundits and Vedic professors.

/20/ Agni, the deity of Fire, under his manifestations of light, the sun, &c., occupies a large portion of the Vedic liturgy. The twice-bown is the Brahman, whose second birth is dated from his investiture with the "sacred thread."

/21/ The god Vishnoo under his most celebrated and popular form. He is represented as of a handsome and graceful person, with the dark blue complexion which the name implies.

/22/ Heaven, the paradise of Indra, and the happy abode of the souls of the just and of the gods.

/23/ The castor plant, although not altogether a shrub, seldom assumes the proportions and dignity of a tree. It either grows thick as a bush, or shoots up to twelve or sixteen feet, like a sapling.

/24/ An extract from the well-known fragrant tree of India.

/25/ Vásuki, or Ananta, the chief of the human-headed serpents, who people Pátála, or the region under the earth.

/26/ The first is the god Vishnoo, the second Shiva.

/27/ Italian scholars will recall the sorrowful lines of Dante, so nearly resembling these (Paradiso, cant. 17):

"Tu proverai siccome sa di sale
Lo pane altrui, e com 'e duro calle
Lo scendere e l' salir per l'altrui scale."
/28/ This implement in India is a sewn goat skin, inflated with one hand and noisily emptied by the other.

/29/ Alluding to the "Pralaya," or termination of one of the kalpas of the world's existence.

/30/ The five constituent ingredients of the body. A common periphrasis for death in Sanskrit writings.

/31/ The wife of Vishnoo, Goddess of beauty and abundance. She sprang, like Aphrodite, from the sea, when the gods churned it with the mountain Mandara to obtain the "Amrit," or nectar.

/32/ The Hindoos are as fond as the English learn to become, of the green ear of the jowaree stalk parched and eaten hot with butter and pepper.

/33/ Antelopes are common in all parts of India. The true deer, such as the sambur, is found in the forests only.

/34/ The black of Indian cuckoo.

/35/ "Kama," the Indian Cupid. His bow is made of flowers, the string is a row of bees, and he wounds with five arrows, typifying the five senses. He is known, also, as Manmatha, the heart-shaker; Manasija, the heart-begotten; and Ananga, the bodiless. The second title refers to his reputed origin from the heart of Brahma, though the god is also represented as the son of Lukshmi and Vishnoo. He is called the Bodiless, from a misadventure with Shiva, whom he dared to aim at, but the indignant deity reduced the archer to cinders with one glance of his central eye. He is painted as a handsome boy, riding on a parrot, and surrounded by maidens, who bear his banner with the fish Makara.

/36/ A wood where the Vedas are read and expounded. A Hindoo academe.

/37/ The salutations of India are Spanish in their variety and exactness. The "salaam" is universal; but the native greets his neighbour with the more cordial "ram-ram," and receives it with gratification from the Sahib. The better hand must always be employed, and is raised pressed to the palm of the other to perform a "namuskar," the salutation of a Brahman. The prostration alluded to in the text is performed by lowering at once to the ground the hands, breast, forehead, eyes, two knees, and two feet.

/38/ The astrologer is an important personage in every Hindoo town or village to decide upon lucky or unlucky days. The rules for his decision are freely given by Manu. "The day of new moon," he says, "destroys the spiritual teacher (or gooroo), the fourteenth is bad for the learner, and nothing in the jVedas read on the eighth day and the day of full moon will be remembered."

/39/ "The fair goddess," i.e., Párvati, wife of Shiva.

/40/ Shiva.



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