A GREAT drought prevailed in a country in the East at one time. There was hardly any water to drink. In the chief city there was a great cistern, from which water was measured out every day to the people in the town and in the provinces.
One night the watchman came running to the king and said, "Sire, there has been a leak somewhere in the cistern, and the water is flowing out."
The king, with all his court, came out to see the leak, but it could not be discovered. However, some time after, the water ceased to flow. Still, to make sure that all was right, the next day the spot where the leak had happened was carefully examined. The workmen found out the hole, and saw a frog blocking it up.
They were about to fling the frog on the ground with violence, when the king said, "Oh, no, he is our benefactor; but for him all the water would have gone out." The workmen laid him gently on the ground, and he escaped into the cistern, saying to the king, "As for you, sire, provoke no rage that changes friends in the thousands."
THE water in a lake was fast drying up. The fish were all alarmed. A meeting of the animals in the lake was held. The crocodile, as the most powerful among them, took the chair. The tortoise made a long speech, and concluded by saying, "Therefore it is, I do not care whether it is land or water. It is the same to me; I can live in either."
The crab made another long speech, and, in the end, observed, "No less with me, brethren. Should the lake dry up I will go to the neighbouring fields and live in the holes." The snails, the leeches, the water-snakes, and various other animals, gave some excuse or other to keep away from praying for rain.
The crocodile summed up, saying, "I care not where I live. On land I find better food than in water, for you must all admit that a hare, or rabbit, or some other land animal of the kind, is much better fare than fish or frogs." At this there was loud applause, and the meeting came to an end.
But the poor fish, who could not live out of water for one moment, thought it their duty, however, to pray; so they did.
Very soon the sky was overcast, the clouds poured, and the lake was full. All the animals rejoiced at it. The fish, with heartfelt pride and pleasure, said, "Buddha grants support to many for the sake of the holy few!"
A KING in the East had a beautiful garden close to his palace, of which he took great care. One day a viper got into it. A servant of the palace, who saw it entering, reported the matter to the king.
His majesty expressed great concern at it, and sending for his chief gardener, said, "You see the garden is close to the palace. We occupy this suite of chambers, the ladies of our household the next, the little princes and princesses the third; so the viper should be caught and destroyed at any cost before nightfall, otherwise not one of us will have a wink of sleep tonight. Mind! we would even have all the trees and the bushes in the garden rooted up, if need be, to see if the animal has got into holes or cavities under them, have fostered them so long for our pleasure with paternal care, for you know the proverb which says, 'Life first, pleasure next."
The gardener obeyed. He and his men sought for the viper all round, but nowhere could it be found; so they rooted up, one after another, the trees and plants in the garden till not a blade of grass was left standing. A huge pile was formed of all the vegetation thus destroyed. At last,, within a hole, under the foot of a lovely hawthorn which had just been cut down, was the malicious reptile snugly coiled up. Instantly the gardeners killed it and brought it to the king.
His majesty viewed the dead snake with satisfaction, but turning to the green pile in the garden, with a heavy heart exclaimed, "Alas, in getting rid of a nuisance, see to that you don't mess so much that the cost outweighs the benefit."
ONCE the hammer said to the anvil, "I can strike harder than you can bear."
The anvil replied, "I can bear harder than you can strike; try!"
The hammer redoubled its energy, and the anvil was as firm as ever.
"Hold on, gentlemen!" said the iron that had got between the two, "too much of a good thing is a bad thing."
"Quite right," said the furnace in its own abrupt style; "competition has gone too far when no one benefits."