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Book 1. The Loss of Friends

The Jackal at the Ram-Fight

Now Godly sat down perfectly carefree, for his disciple's countless virtues had lulled his suspicions. As he rested, he saw a herd of rams, and two of them fighting. These two would angrily draw apart and dash together, their slablike foreheads crashing so that blood flowed freely. This spectacle attracted a jackal whose soul was in the fetters of carnivorous desire, and he stood between the two, lapping up the blood.

When Godly observed this, he thought: "Well, well! This is a dull-witted jackal. If he happens to be between just when they crash, he will certainly meet death. This inference seems inescapable to me." Now the next time, being greedy as ever to lap up the blood, the jackal did not move away, was caught between the crashing heads, and was killed. Then [62} Godly said: "The jackal at the ram-fight," and grieving for him, started to resume his treasure.

He returned in no haste, but when he failed to find June, he hurried through a ceremony of purification, then examined his robe. Finding the treasure gone, he fell to the ground in a swoon, murmuring: "Oh, oh! I am robbed." In a moment he came to himself, rose again, and started to scream: "June, June! Where did you go after cheating me? Give me answer!" With this repeated lamentation he moved slowly on, picking up his disciple's tracks and muttering: "And we, when tricked by June."

The Weaver's Wife

Now as he walked along, Godly spied a weaver who with his wife was on his way to a neighbouring city for liquor to drink, and he called out: "Look here, my good fellow! I come to you a guest, brought by the evening sun. I do not know a soul in the village. Let me receive the treatment due a guest. For the proverb says:

No stranger may be turned aside

Who seeks your door at eventide;

Nay, honour him and you shall be

Transmuted into deity.

And again:

Some straw, a floor, and water,

With kindly words beside:

These four are never wanting

Where pious folk abide. [63}

And once again:

The sacred fires by kindly word

And Indra by the chair is stirred,

Krishna by water for the feet,

The Lord of All by things to eat."

On hearing this, the weaver said to his wife: "Go, my dear. Take this guest to the house. Treat him hospitably, giving him water for the feet, food, a bed, and so on. And stay in the house yourself. I will bring plenty of wine and meat for you." With this he went farther.

So the wife started home with Godly, and she showed a laughing countenance, for she was a whore and had a certain swain in mind. Indeed, there is sense in the verse:

When night is dark

And dark the day,

When streets are mired

With sticky clay,

When husband lingers

Far away,

The flirt becomes

Supremely gay.

The wench cares not

A straw to miss

The covered couch,

The husband's kiss,

The pleasant bed;

In place of this

She ever seeks

A stolen bliss. [64}

And again:

For stranger men

The slut will see

The ruin of

Her family,

The world's reproach,

The jailer's key -

Will risk a death

She cannot flee.

Then she went home, offered Godly a rickety cot and said: "My holy sir, a woman friend has come from the village and I must speak to her. I will be back directly. Meanwhile, you may stay in our house. But please be careful." With this she put on her best things and started to find her swain.

At this moment she ran into her husband, clasping a jug of wine. He was reeling drunk, his hair was tousled, and he stumbled at every step. She ran when she saw him, entered the house, took off her finery, and appeared as usual.

Now the weaver had seen her flee, had observed the finery, and since he had previously heard the gossip that went the rounds about her, his heart was troubled and anger overcame him. So he entered the house and said: "You wench! You whore! Where were you going?"

And she replied: "I have not been out since I left you. What is this drunken twaddle? There is sense in the proverb:

After wine and fever, these

Selfsame symptoms come: [65}

Shaking, falling to the ground,

Mad delirium.

And again:

The setting sun and drunken man

Are both a fiery red;

They sink in naked helplessness;

Their dignity is dead."

When he had taken the scolding and had noticed her change of dress, he said: "Whore! I have heard gossip about you for a long time. Today I have seen the proof. I am going to give you what you deserve." So he beat her limp with a club, tied her firmly to a post, and fell into a drunken slumber,

At this juncture her friend, the barber's wife, learning that the weaver was asleep, came in and said: "My dear, he is waiting for you over there - you know who. Go at once." But the weaver's wife replied: "Just see what a fix I am in. How can I go? You must return and tell my adorer that I cannot possibly meet him there at this moment."

"My dear," said the barber's wife, "do not say things like that. For a wench of spirit this is no way to behave. As the saying goes:

Those who earn the name of blessèd

Show a camel-like persistence

When they pluck the fruit of pleasure,

Counting neither toil nor distance.

And again:

As the other world is doubtful

And as scandal misses truth, [66}

When you've hooked another's lover,

Best enjoy the fruit of youth.

And once again:

Fate may rob him of his manhood,

He may handsome be or ugly,

Yet a wench, whatever it cost her,

Entertains her lover snugly."

"Very fine indeed," said the weaver's wife. "But tell me how I am to go when I am tied fast. And here lies my husband - the brute!"

"My dear," said the barber's wife, "he is helpless with drink and will not wake until the sun's rays reach him. I will set you free and take your place myself. But you must hurry back when you have entertained your admirer."

This she did, and a moment later the weaver rose a little mollified, and said drunkenly: "Come, you nagger! If you will stay at home after today and stop nagging, I will set you free." The barber's wife said nothing, fearing that her voice would betray her. Even when he repeated his offer, she made no answer. Then he became angry and cut off her nose with a sharp knife. And he said: "Whore! Now you can stay there. I shall not be nice to you again." So he fell asleep, muttering. Now Godly, having lost his money, was so tormented by hunger that he could not sleep, and was a witness of all that the women did.

Presently the weaver's wife, after enjoying the full delight of love with her swain, came home and said to the barber's wife: "Well, are you all right? I hope that brute did not get up while I was gone." [67}

And the barber's wife answered: "The rest of me is all right. But I've lost my nose. Set me free quick, before he wakes up. I want to go home. If not, he will do something worse next time, cut off ears and things."

So the wench freed the barber's wife, took her former position, and cried reproachfully: "Oh, you dreadful simpleton! I am a true wife, a model of faithfulness. What man is able to violate or disfigure me? Listen, ye guardian deities of the world!

Earth, heaven, and death, the feeling mind,

Sun, moon, and water, fire and wind,

Both twilights, justice, day and night

Discern man's conduct, wrong or right.

So, if I am a faithful wife, may these gods make my nose grow again as it was before. More than that, if I have had so much as a secret desire for a strange man, may they reduce me to ashes."

After this explosion, she said to him directly: "Look, you villain! By virtue of my faithfulness my nose has grown as it was before." And when he took a torch and examined her, he found her nose as it was originally, and a great pool of blood on the floor. At this he was amazed, released her from the cords, and flattered her with a hundred wheedling endearments. Now Godly had seen the whole business. And he was amazed and said:

"Learn science with the gods above

Or imps in nether space, [68}

Yet women's wit will rival it:

How keep them in their place?

Behold the faults with woman born:

Impurity, and heartless scorn,

Untruth, and folly, reckless heat,

Excessive greediness, deceit.

Be not enslaved by women's charm,

Nor wish them growth in power to harm:

Their slaves, of manly feeling stripped,

Are tame, pet crows whose wings are clipped.

Honey in a woman's words,

Poison in her breast:

So, although you taste her lip,

Drub her on the chest.

This palace filled with vice, this field where sprouts

Suspicion's crop, this whirling pool of doubts,

This town of recklessness, sin's aggregate,

This house where frauds by hundreds lie in wait,

This basketful of riddling sham and quip

Over guessing which our best and bravest trip,

This woman, this machine, this nectar-bane -

Who set it here, to make religion vain?

A bosom hard is praised, a forehead low,

A fickle glance, a mumbling speech and slow,

Thick hips, a heart that constant tremors move,

A natural twist in hair, and twists in love.

Their virtues are a pack of vices. Then

Let beasts adore the fawn-eyed things, not men.

For reasons good they laugh or weep;

They trust you not, your trust they keep:

These graveyard urns, oh, haunt them not!

Keep kin and conduct free from spot. [69}

The lion over whose awful face

Falls fierce the tousled mane,

The elephant upon whose cheeks

Streams ichor's glistening rain,

The men of wit or courage who

In books or battles gleam,

In presence of their females, all

Turn into cowards supreme.

And once more:

This gunja-fruit (oh, what was God about?)

Is poisonous within, and sweet without."

In these meditations the night dragged drearily for the holy man. Meanwhile the go-between went home with her nose cut off, and reflected: "What is to be done now? How is this great deficiency to be concealed?"

The night during which she pondered thus, her husband spent in the king's palace, practicing his trade. At dawn he came home and, being eager to begin his thriving business with the townspeople, he stopped at the door and called to her: "My dear, bring me my razor-case at once. The townspeople need my services."

Hereupon an idea occurred to the noseless woman. She remained in the house, but sent him a single razor. And the barber, angry because the entire case had not been delivered, flung the razor in her direction. This gave the wench her opportunity. Lifting her hands to heaven, she dashed from the house, screaming with all her might: "Oh, oh, oh! The [70} ruffian! I was always a faithful wife. Look! He cut off my nose. Save me, save me!"

Hereupon the police arrived, thrashed the barber limp, tied him fast, and took him to court with his wife whose nose was gone. And the judges asked him: "Why did you do this ghastly thing to your wife?"

Then, his wits being so addled by astonishment that he could give no answer, the jurymen quoted law:

"The guilty man is terrified

By reason of his crime. His pride

Is gone, his powers of speaking fail,

His glances rove, his face is pale.

And again:

The sweat appears upon his brow,

He stumbles on, he knows not how,

His face is pale, and all he utters

Is much distorted; for he stutters.

The culprit always may be found

To shake, and gaze upon the ground:

Observe the signs as best you can

And shrewdly pick the guilty man.

While, on the other hand:

The innocent is self-reliant;

His speech is clear, his glance defiant;

His countenance is calm and free;

His indignation makes his plea.

The prisoner is obviously guilty. The legal penalty for assaulting a woman is death. Let him be impaled." But Godly, seeing him led to the place of [71} execution, went to the officers of justice and said: "Gentlemen, you make a mistake in putting this wretched barber to death. His conduct has been correct. Pray listen to these words of mine:

The jackal at the ram-fight;

And we, when tricked by June;

The meddling friend - were playing

A self-defeating tune."

So the officers said: "How was that, holy sir?"

Then Godly related to them the three stories, complete in every detail. And they were all astonished as they listened. They set the barber free, and said:

"Slay not a woman, Brahman, child,

An invalid or hermit mild:

In case of major dereliction,

Disfigurement is the infliction.

Now she has lost her nose through her own act. As additional punishment from the king, let her ears be cut off." When this had been done, Godly, strengthening his spirit by the two examples, returned to his own monastery.

"And that is why I say:

The jackal at the ram-fight, . . .

and the rest of it."

"Well," said Cheek, "such being the case, what are you and I to do?"

And Victor answered: "Even in these circumstances, I shall have a flash of intelligence, showing me how to separate Lively from the [72} king. Besides, he has fallen into serious vice, has our master Rusty. For

Mad folly stings

The greatest kings,

Who then embrace a vice;

But servants' care

Should check them there

By means of learning nice."

"Into what vice has our master Rusty fallen?" asked Cheek.

And Victor replied: "There are seven vices in the world, namely:

Drink, women, hunting, scolding, dice,

Greed, cruelty: these seven are vice.

These, however, really make a single vice, called 'attachment,' with seven subdivisions."

Then Cheek inquired: "Is there only a single fundamental vice, or are there others also?"

And Victor expounded: "There are in the world five situations fundamentally vicious."

And when Cheek asked: "How are they differentiated?" Victor continued: "They are called: (i) deficiency, (2) corruption, (3) attachment, (4) devastation, (5) mistaken policy.

"To begin at the beginning, the vice called 'deficiency* means the non-existence of one or another of these: king, counsellor, people, fortress, treasure, punitive power, friends.

"Secondly, when subjects, whether foreign or native, become restless, whether individually or en [73} masse, there arises the vicious situation called 'corruption.'

"'Attachment' was explained above, in the words:

Drink, women, hunting, . . .

and the rest of it. Here there is a love-group (drink, women, hunting, dice) and a wrath-group (scolding, and the rest). A man thwarted in the love-group becomes obnoxious to the wrath-group. The love-group requires no elucidation. The wrath-group, however, threefold as already described, needs some further characterization. 'Scolding' is ill-considered imputation of fault on the part of one bent on injuring an antagonist. 'Cruelty' means ruthless and unwarranted refinements in putting to death, imprisonment, mutilation. 'Greed' is covetousness pushed to a merciless point. These are the seven subdivisions of the vice of attachment.

"Next, there are eight kinds of devastation: by act of God, fire, water, disease, plague, panic, famine, devil-rain (which is a mere name for excessive rain). This disposes of the vice called 'devastation.'

"Finally, there is mistaken policy. Where a man makes a mistaken use of the six expedients peace, war, change of base, entrenchment, alliance, duplicity adopting war instead of peace, or peace instead of war, or making similar mistakes in regard to the other expedients, there we have the vice of mistaken policy. [74}

"Now our master Rusty has fallen into the very first vice, that of deficiency. For he has been so captivated by Lively that he pays not the smallest heed to counsellor or any other of the six supports of his throne. He adopts rather completely a vegetarian morality. So what is the use of a lengthy discussion? Rusty must by all means be detached from Lively. No lamp, no light."

"How will you detach him?" objected Cheek. "You have not the power."

"My dear fellow," said Victor, "there is a verse to fit the situation, namely:

In cases where brute force would fail,

A shrewd device may still prevail:

The crow-hen used a golden chain,

And so the dreadful snake was slain."

"How was that?" asked Cheek. And Victor told

How the Crow-Hen Killed the Black Snake

In a certain region grew a great banyan tree. In it lived a crow and his wife, occupying the nest which they had built. But a black snake crawled through the hollow trunk and ate their chicks as fast as they were born, even before baptism. Yet for all his sorrow over this violence, the poor crow could not desert the old familiar banyan and seek another tree. For

Three cannot be induced to go -

The deer, the cowardly man, the crow:

Three go when insult makes them pant -

The lion, hero, elephant. [75}

At last the crow-hen fell at her husband's feet and said: "My dear lord, a great many children of mine have been eaten by that awful snake. And grief for my loved and lost haunts me until I think of moving. Let us make our home in some other tree. For

No friend like health abounding;

And like disease, no foe;

No love like love of children;

Like hunger-pangs, no woe.

And again:

With fields overhanging rivers,

With wife on flirting bent,

Or in a house with serpents,

No man can be content.

We are living in deadly peril."

At this the crow was dreadfully depressed, and he said: "We have lived in this tree a long time, my dear. We cannot desert it. For

Where water may be sipped, and grass

Be cropped, a deer might live content;

Yet insult will not drive him from

The wood where all his life was spent.

Moreover, by some shrewd device I will bring death upon this villainous and mighty foe."

"But," said his wife, "this is a terribly venomous snake. How will you hurt him?" And he replied:

"My dear, even if I have not the power to hurt him, still I have friends who possess learning, who have [76} mastered the works on ethics. I will go and get from them some shrewd device of such nature that the villain curse him! will soon meet his doom." After this indignant speech he went at once to another tree, under which lived a dear friend, a jackal. He courteously called the jackal forth, related all his sorrow, then said: "My friend, what do you consider opportune under the circumstances? The killing of our children is sheer death to my wife and me."

"My friend," said the jackal, "I have thought the matter through. You need not put yourself out. That villainous black snake is near his doom by reason of his heartless cruelty. For

Of means to injure brutal foes

You do not need to think,

Since of themselves they fall, like trees

Upon the river's brink.

And there is a story:

A heron ate what fish he could,

The bad, indifferent, and good;

His greed was never satisfied

Till, strangled by a crab, he died."

"How was that?" asked the crow. And the jackal told the story of

The Heron That Liked Crab-Meat

There was once a heron in a certain place on the edge of a pond. Being old, he sought an easy way of catching fish on which to live. He began by lingering [77} at the edge of his pond, pretending to be quite irresolute, not eating even the fish within his reach.

Now among the fish lived a crab. He drew near and said: "Uncle, why do you neglect today your usual meals and amusements?" And the heron replied: "So long as I kept fat and flourishing by eating fish, I spent my time pleasantly, enjoying the taste of you. But a great disaster will soon befall you. And as I am old, this will cut short the pleasant course of my life. For this reason I feel depressed."

"Uncle," said the crab, "of what nature is the disaster?" And the heron continued: "Today I overheard the talk of a number of fishermen as they passed near the pond. 'This is a big pond,' they were saying, 'full of fish. We will try a cast of the net tomorrow or the day after. But today we will go to the lake near the city.' This being so, you are lost, my food supply is cut off, I too am lost, and in grief at the thought, I am indifferent to food today."

Now when the water-dwellers heard the trickster's report, they all feared for their lives and implored the heron, saying: "Uncle! Father! Brother! Friend! Thinker! Since you are informed of the calamity, you also know the remedy. Pray save us from the . . . this death."

Then the heron said: "I am a bird not competent to contend with men. This, however, I can do. I can transfer you from this pond to another, a bottomless one." By this artful speech they were so led astray [78} that they said: "Uncle! Friend! Unselfish kinsman! Take me first! Me first! Did you never hear this?

Stout hearts delight to pay the price

Of merciful self-sacrifice,

Count life as nothing, if it end

In gentle service to a friend."

Then the old rascal laughed in his heart, and took counsel with his mind, thus: "My shrewdness has brought these fishes into my power. They ought to be eaten very comfortably." Having thus thought it through, he promised what the thronging fish implored, lifted some in his bill, carried them a certain distance to a slab of stone, and ate them there. Day after day he made the trip with supreme delight and satisfaction, and meeting the fish, kept their confidence by ever new inventions.

One day the crab, disturbed by the fear of death, importuned him with the words: "Uncle, pray save me, too, from the jaws of death." And the heron reflected: "I am quite tired of this unvarying fish diet. I should like to taste him. He is different, and choice." So he picked up the crab and flew through the air.

But since he avoided all bodies of water and seemed planning to alight on the sun-scorched rock, the crab asked him: "Uncle, where is that pond without any bottom?" And the heron laughed and said: "Do you see that broad, sun-scorched rock? All the water-dwellers have found repose there. Your turn has now come to find repose." [79}

Then the crab looked down and saw a great rock of sacrifice, made horrible by heaps of fish-skeletons. And he thought: "Ah me!

Friends are foes and foes are friends

As they mar or serve your ends;

Few discern where profit tends.

Again:

If you will, with serpents play;

Dwell with foemen who betray:

Shun your false and foolish friends,

Fickle, seeking vicious ends.

Why, he has already eaten these fish whose skeletons are scattered in heaps. So what might be an opportune course of action for me? Yet why do I need to consider?

Man is bidden to chastise

Even elders who devise

Devious courses, arrogant,

Of their duty ignorant.

Again:

Fear fearful things, while yet

No fearful thing appears;

When danger must be met,

Strike, and forget your fears.

So, before he drops me there, I will catch his neck with all four claws."

When he did so, the heron tried to escape, but being a fool, he found no parry to the grip of the crab's nippers, and had his head cut off.

Then the crab painfully made his way back to [80} the pond, dragging the heron's neck as if it had been a lotus-stalk. And when he came among the fish, they said: "Brother, why come back?" Thereupon he showed the head as his credentials and said: "He enticed the water-dwellers from every quarter, deceived them with his prevarications, dropped them on a slab of rock not far away, and ate them. But I - further life being predestined - perceived that he destroyed the trustful, and I have brought back his neck. Forget your worries. All the water-dwellers shall live in peace."

"And that is why I say:

A heron ate what fish he could, . . .

and the rest of it."

"My friend," said the crow, "tell me how this villainous snake is to meet his doom." And the jackal answered: "Go to some spot frequented by a great monarch. There seize a golden chain or a necklace from some wealthy man who guards it carelessly. Deposit this in such a place that when it is recovered, the snake may be killed."

So the crow and his wife straightway flew off at random, and the wife came upon a certain pond. As she looked about, she saw the women of a king's court playing in the water, and on the bank they had laid golden chains, pearl necklaces, garments, and gems. One chain of gold the crow-hen seized and started for the tree where she lived. [81}

But when the chamberlains and the eunuchs saw the theft, they picked up clubs and ran in pursuit. Meanwhile, the crow-hen dropped the golden chain in the snake's hole and waited at a safe distance.

Now when the king's men climbed the tree, they found a hole and in it a black snake with swelling hood. So they killed him with their clubs, recovered the golden chain, and went their way. Thereafter the crow and his wife lived in peace.

"And that is why I say:

In cases where brute force would fail, . . .

and the rest of it. Furthermore:

Some men permit a petty foe

Through purblind heedlessness to grow,

Till he who played a petty rôle

Grows, like disease, beyond control.

Indeed, there is nothing in the world that the intelligent cannot control. As the saying goes:

Intelligence is power. But where

Could power and folly make a pair?

The rabbit played upon his pride

To fool him; and the lion died."

"How was that?" asked Cheek. And Victor told the story of

Numskull and the Rabbit

In a part of a forest was a lion drunk with pride, and his name was Numskull. He slaughtered the [82} animals without ceasing. If he saw an animal, he could not spare him.

So all the natives of the forest - deer, boars, buffaloes, wild oxen, rabbits, and others - came together, and with woe-begone countenances, bowed heads, and knees clinging to the ground, they undertook to beseech obsequiously the king of beasts: "Have done, O King, with this merciless, meaningless slaughter of all creatures. It is hostile to happiness in the other world. For the Scripture says:

A thousand future lives

Will pass in wretchedness

For sins a fool commits

His present life to bless.

Again:

What wisdom in a deed

That brings dishonour fell,

That causes loss of trust,

That paves the way to hell?

And yet again:

The ungrateful body, frail

And rank with filth within,

Is such that only fools

For its sake sink in sin.

"Consider these facts, and cease, we pray, to slaughter our generations. For if the master will remain at home, we will of our own motion send him each day for his daily food one animal of the forest. In this way neither the royal sustenance nor our [83} families will be cut short. In this way let the king's duty be performed. For the proverb says:

The king who tastes his kingdom like

Elixir, bit by bit,

Who does not overtax its life,

Will fully relish it.

The king who madly butchers men,

Their lives as little reckoned

As lives of goats, has one square meal,

But never has a second.

A king desiring profit, guards

His world from evil chance;

With gifts and honours waters it

As florists water plants.

Guard subjects like a cow, nor ask

For milk each passing hour:

A vine must first be sprinkled, then

It ripens fruit and flower.

The monarch-lamp from subjects draws

Tax-oil to keep it bright:

Has any ever noticed kings

That shone by inner light?

A seedling is a tender thing,

And yet, if not neglected,

It comes in time to bearing fruit:

So subjects well protected.

Their subjects form the only source

From which accrue to kings

Their gold, grain, gems, and varied drinks,

And many other things. [84}

The kings who serve the common weal,

Luxuriantly sprout;

The common loss is kingly loss,

Without a shade of doubt."

After listening to this address, Numskull said: "Well, gentlemen, you are quite convincing. But if an animal does not come to me every day as I sit here, I promise you I will eat you all." To this they assented with much relief, and fearlessly roamed the wood. Each day at noon one of them appeared as his dinner, each species taking its turn and providing an individual grown old, or religious, or grief-smitten, or fearful of the loss of son or wife. One day a rabbit's turn came, it being rabbit-day. And when all the thronging animals had given him directions, he reflected: "How is it possible to kill this lion - curse him! Yet after all,

In what can wisdom not prevail?

In what can resolution fail?

What cannot flattery subdue?

What cannot enterprise put through?

I can kill even a lion."

So he went very slowly, planning to arrive tardily, and meditating with troubled spirit on a means of killing him. Late in the day he came into the presence of the lion, whose throat was pinched by hunger in consequence of the delay, and who angrily thought as he licked his chops: "Aha! I must kill all the animals the first thing in the morning."

While he was thinking, the rabbit slowly drew [85} near, bowed low, and stood before him. But when the lion saw that he was tardy and too small at that for a meal, his soul flamed with wrath, and he taunted the rabbit, saying: "You reprobate! First, you are too small for a meal. Second, you are tardy. Because of this wickedness I am going to kill you, and tomorrow morning I shall extirpate every species of animal."

Then the rabbit bowed low and said with deference: "Master, the wickedness is not mine, nor the other animals*. Pray hear the cause of it."

And the lion answered: "Well, tell it quick, before you are between my fangs."

"Master," said the rabbit, "all the animals recognized today that the rabbits' turn had come, and because I was quite small, they dispatched me with five other rabbits. But in mid-journey there issued from a great hole in the ground a lion who said: 'Where are you bound? Pray to your favourite god.'

Then I said: 'We are travelling as the dinner of lion Numskull, our master, according to agreement.'

'Is that so?' said he. 'This forest belongs to me. So all the animals, without exception, must deal with me according to agreement. This Numskull is a sneak thief. Call him out and bring him here at once. Then whichever of us proves stronger, shall be king and shall eat all these animals.' At his command, master, I have come to you. This is the cause of my tardiness. For the rest, my master is the sole judge." [86}

After listening to this, Numskull said: "Well, well, my good fellow, show me that sneak thief of a lion, and be quick about it. I cannot find peace of mind until I have vented on him my anger against the animals. He should have remembered the saying:

Land and friends and gold at most

Have been won when battles cease;

If but one of these should fail,

Do not think of breaking peace.

Where no great reward is won,

Where defeat is nearly sure,

Never stir a quarrel, but

Find it wiser to endure."

"Quite so, master," said the rabbit. "Warriors fight for their country when they are insulted. But this fellow skulks in a fortress. You know he came out of a fortress when he held us up. And an enemy in a fortress is hard to handle. As the saying goes:

A single royal fortress adds

More military force

Than do a thousand elephants,

A hundred thousand horse.

A single archer from a wall

A hundred foes forfends;

And so the military art

A fortress recommends.

God Indra used the wit and skill

Of gods in days of old,

When Devil Gold-mat plagued the world,

To build a fortress-hold. [87}

And he decreed that any king

Who built a fortress sound,

Should conquer foemen. This is why

Such fortresses abound."

When he heard this, Numskull said: "My good fellow, show me that thief. Even if he is hiding in a fortress, I will kill him. For the proverb says:

The strongest man who fails to crush

At birth, disease or foe,

Will later be destroyed by that

Which he permits to grow.

And again:

The man who reckons well his power,

Nor pride nor vigour lacks,

May single-handed smite his foes

Like Rama-with-the-axe."

"Very true," said the rabbit. "But after all it was a mighty lion that I saw. So the master should not set out without realizing the enemy's capacity. As the saying runs:

A warrior failing to compare

Two hosts, in mad desire

For battle, plunges like a moth

Headforemost into fire.

And again:

The weak who challenge mighty foes

A battle to abide,

Like elephants with broken tusks,

Return with drooping pride."

But Numskull said: "What business is it of yours? Show him to me, even in his fortress."

"Very well," [88} said the rabbit. "Follow me, master." And he led the way to a well, where he said to the lion: "Master, who can endure your majesty? The moment he saw you, that thief crawled clear into his hole. Come, I will show him to you."

"Be quick about it, my good fellow," said Numskull.

So the rabbit showed him the well. And the lion, being a dreadful fool, saw his own reflection in the water, and gave voice to a great roar. Then from the well issued a roar twice as loud, because of the echo. This the lion heard, decided that his rival was very powerful, hurled himself down, and met his death. Thereupon the rabbit cheerfully carried the glad news to all the animals, received their compliments, and lived there contentedly in the forest.

"And that is why I say:

Intelligence is power, . . . ,

and the rest of it."

"But," said Cheek, "that is like a palm-fruit falling on a crow's head - a quite exceptional case. Even if the rabbit was successful, still a man of feeble powers should not deal fraudulently with the great." And Victor retorted: "Feeble or strong, one must make up his mind to vigorous action. You know the proverb:

Unceasing effort brings success;

'Fate, fate is all,' let dastards wail:

Smite fate and prove yourself a man;

What fault if bold endeavour fail? [89}

Furthermore, the very gods befriend those who ever strive. As the story goes:

The gods befriend a man who climbs

Determination's height:

So Vishnu, discus, bird sustained

The weaver in the fight.

And further:

Not even Brahma sees the end

Of well-devised deceit:

The weaver, taking Vishnu's form,

Embraced the princess sweet."

"How was that?" asked Cheek. "Are undertakings successful even through deceit, resolutely and well devised?" And Victor told the story of the weaver who loved a princess (next page).

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