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Book 4. Loss Of Gains


[381} Here, then, begins Book 4, called "Loss of Gains." The first verse runs:

Blind folly always has to pay

For giving property away

Because of blandishments and guile -

The monkey tricked the crocodile.

"How was that?" asked the princes. And Vishnusharman told the story of

The Monkey and the Crocodile

On the shore of the sea was a great rose-apple tree that was never without fruit. In it lived a monkey named Red-Face.

Now one day a crocodile named Ugly-Mug crawled out of the ocean under the tree and burrowed in the soft sand. Then Red-Face said: "You are my guest, sir. Pray eat these rose-apples which I throw you. You will find them like nectar. You know the proverb:

A fool or scholar let him be,

Pleasant or hideous to see,

A guest, when offerings are given,

Is useful as a bridge to heaven.

Ask not his home or education,

His family or reputation, [382}

But offer thanks and sacrifice:

For so prescribes the law-book wise.

And again:

By honouring the guests who come

Way-worn from some far-distant home

To share the sacrifice, you go

The noblest way that mortals know.

And once again:

If guests unhonoured leave your door,

And sadly sighing come no more,

Your fathers and the gods above

Turn from you and forget their love."

Thus he spoke and offered rose-apples. And the crocodile ate them and enjoyed a long and pleasant conversation with the monkey before returning to his home. So the monkey and the crocodile rested each day in the shade of the rose-apple tree. They spent the time in cheerful conversation on various subjects, and were happy.

Now the crocodile went home and gave his wife the rose-apples which he had not eaten. And one day she asked him: "My dear husband, where do you get such fruits? They are like nectar."

"My dear," he said, "I have an awfully good friend, a monkey named Red-Face. He gives me these fruits in the most courteous manner."

Then she said: "If anyone eats such nectar fruit every day, his heart must be turned to nectar. So, [383} if you value your wife, give me his heart, and I will eat it. Then I shall never grow old or sick, but will be a delightful companion for you."

But he objected: "In the first place, my dear, he is our adopted brother. Secondly, he gives us fruit. I cannot kill him. Please do not insist. Besides, there is a proverb:

To give us birth, we need a mother;

For second birth we need another:

And friendship's brothers seem by far

More dear than natural brothers are."

But she said: "You have never refused me before. So I am sure it is a she-monkey. You love her and spend the whole day with her. That is why you will not give me what I want. And when you meet me at night, your sighs are hot as a flame of fire. And when you hold me and kiss me, you do not hug me tight. I know some other woman has stolen into your heart."

Then the crocodile was quite dejected, and said to his wife:

When I am at your feet

And at your service, sweet,

Why do you look at me

With peevish jealousy?

But her face swam in tears when she heard him, and she said:

"You love her, you deceiver;

Your wishes never leave her; [384}

Her pretty shamming steals upon your heart.

My rivalry is vain, sir;

And so I pray abstain, sir,

From service that is only tricky art.

"Besides, if you do not love her, why not kill her when I ask you? And if it is really a he-monkey, why should you love him? Enough! Unless I eat his heart, I shall starve myself to death in your house."

Now when he saw how determined she was, he was distracted with anxiety, and said: "Ah, the proverb is right:

Remember that a single grab

Suffices for a fish or crab,

For fool or woman; and it's so

For sot, cement, or indigo.

"Oh, what shall I do? How can I kill him?" With these thoughts in mind, he visited the monkey.

Now the monkey had missed his friend, and when he saw him afflicted, he said: "My friend, why have you not been here this long time? Why don't you speak cheerfully, and repeat something witty?"

The crocodile replied: "My friend and brother, my wife scolded me today. She said: 'You ungrateful wretch! Do not show me your face. You are living daily at a friend's expense, and make him no return. You do not even show him the door of your house. You cannot possibly make amends for this. There is a saying: [385}

The Brahman-murderer or thief,

Drunkard or liar, finds relief;

While for ingratitude alone

No expiation will atone.

"'I regard this monkey as my brother-in-law. So bring him home, and we will make some return for his kindness. If you refuse, I will see you later in heaven.' Now I could not come to you until she had finished her scolding. And this long time passed while I was quarrelling with her about you. So please come home with me. Your brother's wife has set up an awning. She has fixed her clothes and gems and rubies and all that, to pay you a fitting welcome. She has hung holiday garlands on the doorposts. And she is waiting impatiently."

"My friend and brother," said the monkey, "your lady is very kind. It is quite according to the proverb:

Six things are done by friends:

To take, and give again;

To listen, and to talk;

To dine, to entertain.

"But we monkeys live in trees, and your home is in the water. How can I go there? Rather bring your lady here, brother, that I may bow down and receive her blessing."

The crocodile said: "My friend, our home is on a lovely sand-bank under the water. So climb on my back and travel comfortably with nothing to fear." [386}

When the monkey heard this, he was delighted and said: "If that is possible, my friend, then hasten. Why delay? Here I am on your back."

But as he sat there and saw the crocodile swimming in the bottomless ocean, the monkey was terribly frightened and said: "Go slow, brother. My whole body is drenched by the great waves."

And the crocodile thought when he heard this: "If he fell from my back, he could not move an inch, the water is so deep. He is in my power. So I will tell him my purpose, and then he can pray to his favourite god."

And he said: "Sir, I have deceived you and brought you to your death, because my wife bade me do it. So pray to your favourite god."

"Brother," said the monkey, "what harm have I done her or you? Why have you planned to kill me?"

"Well," replied the crocodile, "those nectar fruits tasted so sweet that she began to long to eat your heart. That is why I have done this."

Then the quick-witted monkey said: "If that is the case, sir, why didn't you tell me on shore? For then I might have brought with me another heart, very sweet indeed, which I keep in a hole in the rose-apple tree. As it is, I am forlorn in this heart, at being taken to her in vain, without my sweet heart." When he heard this, the crocodile was delighted and said: "If you feel so, my friend, give me that [387} other heart. And my cross wife will eat it and give up starving herself. Now I will take you back to the rose-apple tree."

So he turned back and swam toward the rose-apple tree, while the monkey murmured a hundred prayers to every kind of a god. And when at last he came to shore, he hopped and jumped farther and farther, climbed up the rose-apple tree, and thought: "Hurrah! My life is saved. Surely, the saying is a good one:

We dare not trust a rogue; nor must

We trust in those deserving trust:

For danger follows, and we fall

Destroyed and ruined, roots and all.

So today is my day of rebirth."

The crocodile said: "My friend and brother, give me the heart, so that my wife may eat it and give up starving herself."

Then the monkey laughed, and scolded him, saying:

"You fool! You traitor! How can anyone have two hearts? Go home, and never come back under the rose-apple tree. You know the proverb:

Whoever trusts a faithless friend

And twice in him believes,

Lays hold on death as certainly

As when a mule conceives."

Now the crocodile was embarrassed when he heard this, and he thought: "Oh, why was I such a fool as to tell him my plan? If I can possibly win his [388} confidence again, I will do it." So he said: "My friend, she has no need of a heart. What I said was just a joke to test your sentiments. Please come to our house as a guest. Your brother's wife is most eager for you."

The monkey said: "Rascal! Go away this moment. I will not come. For

The hungry man at nothing sticks;

The poor man has his heartless tricks.

Tell Handsome, miss, that Theodore

Will see him in the well no more."

"How was that?" asked the crocodile. And the monkey told the story of

Handsome and Theodore

There was once a frog-king in a well, and his name was Theodore. One day when tormented by his relatives, he climbed from bucket to bucket up the water-wheel, and finally emerged. Then he thought: "How can I pay those relatives back? For the proverb says:

While one brings comfort in distress,

Another jeers at pain;

By paying both as they deserve,

A man is born again."

With this in mind, he saw a black snake named Handsome crawling out of his hole. And on seeing him, he thought once more: "I will invite that black snake into the well, and clean out all my relatives. For the saying goes: [389}

A sliver draws a sliver out;

Just so the wise employ

Grim foes to slaughter foes; and thus

Turn danger into joy."

Having come to this conclusion, he went to the mouth of the hole and called: "Come out! Come out, Handsome! Come out!"

But when the snake heard this, he thought: "Whoever he may be that is calling me, he does not belong to my race. That is no snake's voice. And I have no alliance with anyone else in the living world. So I will just stay here until I am sure who he may be. For the proverb says:

Until you have full information

Of prowess, character, and station,

To no man let your trust be given -

Such is the current saw in heaven.

Perhaps it is some conjurer or druggist who is calling me in order to put me in a cage. Or a man who bears a grudge and summons me in the interest of his friend."

So he said: "Who are you?" The other said: "I am a frog-king named Theodore, and I have come to make friends with you."

When the snake heard this, he said: "Why, it is incredible. Does grass make friends with fire? You know the proverb:

You do not, even in a dream,

Approach the kind of foe

Who kills at sight. What can you mean?

Why should you babble so?" [390}

But Theodore said: "You are quite right, sir. You are my born enemy. And yet I come to you because I have been insulted. You know well:

When all your property is gone

And life itself at stake -

To save that life and property

You grovel to a snake."

The snake said: "Well, who insulted you?"

And the frog answered: "My relatives."

"But where is your home?" asked the snake. "In a pond? or a well? or a cistern? or a tank?"

"My home is in a well," said the frog.

"But," said the snake, "I can't get in. And if I could, there is no place for me to lie while killing your relatives. Be gone. Besides, you know:

Eat only what will swallow

And gratify the hollow

Within with good digestion -

Put not your health in question."

But Theodore replied: "No, sir. Come with me. I will show you an easy way into the well. And inside there is a very attractive hole at water-level. There you can lie, and you will find it child's play to finish my relatives."

Then the snake reflected: "Yes, I am old. Now and then, with great effort, I catch one mouse. And often I don't. Yes, yes. The proverb is right:

When strength is ebbing, dying,

When friends are gone, and wife, [391}

The prudent should be trying

A carpet-slippery life."

After these reflections, he said: "Well, Theodore, if you really mean it, lead the way. We will go together."

"Friend Handsome," said Theodore, "I will take you there by an easy way and show you the resting-place. But you must spare my family. You must not eat any except those I point out."

"My dear fellow," said the snake, "you and I are now friends. Have no fear. I will do nothing but what you wish."

Then he came out of his hole, hugged the frog, and started off with him. So they came to the edge of the well, and the snake went in with the frog by way of the buckets on the water-wheel. Then Theodore settled the black snake in the hole and showed him the relatives. And he ate them all one after another. And lacking relatives, he made up to a few of the friends, and ate them, too, with much circumspection.

Then the snake said: "My dear fellow, I have disposed of your enemies. Please give me something to eat, for you brought me here."

"But, my dear fellow," said Theodore, "you have done what a friend should do. Pray return by way of the buckets."

"Friend Theodore," said Handsome, "you make a serious mistake. How can I go home? My hole was my fortress, and it Is surely occupied by strangers. [392} Here I stay, and you must give me a frog at a time, even from your own family. If not, I will eat everyone."

At this, Theodore was disturbed in spirit, and reflected: "Oh, what was I about when I brought him here? And if I deny him now, he will eat every one. Yes, the proverb is right:

Whoever fraternizes with

Too vigorous a foe,

Is eating poison, and will soon

Perceive it to be so.

"So I will give him one a day, even if it must be a friend. For they say:

Calm with a prudent, petty bribe

A foe who may desire

To seize your all. So calms the sea

Its fierce subaqueous fire.

And again:

It's wise, when all is threatened,

To give a half, and guard

The other half to win one's ends;

For total loss is hard.

And yet again:

No prudent soul would lose

Much good for little use;

Prudence implies much gain

Acquired with little pain."

So he made up his mind, and assigned a frog a day. And the snake ate this one and another, too, behind the frog-king's back. Ah, it is too true: [393}

As muddied garments dirty

All that you sit upon,

So, when one virtue tumbles,

The rest are quickly gone.

Now one day, while eating frogs, he ate a frog named Theodosius, the son of Theodore. And Theodore, seeing him do it, wailed with piercing shrillness. But his wife said:

"Why so shrill? You were still

While you worked your cruel will.

Hope has fled with your dead;

Who will save your hapless head?

So think out a plan of escape this very day, or else a scheme to kill him."

Now in course of time the frogs were finished one and all; only Theodore remained. And then Handsome said: "My dear Theodore, I am hungry and all the frogs are finished. Please give me something to eat, for you brought me here."

Theodore said: "My friend, feel no anxiety on that head while I am alive. If you permit me to leave, I will persuade the frogs in other wells, and bring them all here."

The snake said: "Well, I can't eat you, for you are like a brother. Now if you do as you say, you will be like a father."

So the frog planned his escape, and left the well, while Handsome waited there, impatient for his [394} return. But after a long time Handsome said to a lizard that lived in another hole in the same well: "My dear madam, do me a small favour, since Theodore is an old friend of yours. Please go and find him in some pool or other, and take him a message from me. Tell him to return quickly, alone if need be, if no other frogs will come. I cannot live here without him. And tell him that if I hurt him, he may have all the merit I have acquired in a lifetime."

So the lizard did as she was bid, quickly hunted Theodore out, and said: "My dear sir, your friend Handsome is waiting, waiting for your return. Please hurry back. And furthermore, in case of his doing you any harm, he pledges you the merit acquired in a lifetime. So drop all anxious thoughts, and come home." But Theodore said:

The hungry man at nothing sticks;

The poor man has his heartless tricks.

Tell Handsome, miss, that Theodore

Will see him in the well no more.

And so he sent her back.

"So then, you rascally water-beast! Like Theodore, I will never, never enter your house."

When he heard this, the crocodile said: "My good friend, you are quite wrong. I beg of you to come to my house, and so wipe out my sin of ingratitude. Otherwise, I shall starve myself to death on your doorstep." [395}

"You fool!" said the monkey, "shall I go there like Flop-Ear, in full sight of the danger, and let myself be killed?"

"But who was Flop-Ear?" asked the crocodile. "And how did he perish in full sight of the danger? Please tell me." So the monkey told the story of

Flop-Ear and Dusty

There was once a lion named Fierce-Mane, who lived in a part of a forest. And for servant he had a jackal, a faithful drudge named Dusty.

Now one day the lion fought with an elephant, and took such cruel wounds on his body that he could not stir a foot. And since the master could not stir, Dusty grew feeble, for his throat was pinched by hunger. Then he said to the lion: "O King, I am tortured with hunger until I cannot drag one foot after another. So how can I serve you?"

"My good Dusty," said the lion, "hunt out some animal that I can kill even in my present state."

So the jackal went hunting, and dragging himself to a nearby village, he saw beside a tank a donkey named Flop-Ear who was choking over the thin and prickly grass. And he drew near and said: "Uncle, my respects to you. It is long since we met. How have you grown so feeble?"

And Flop-Ear answered: "What am I to do, nephew? The laundryman is merciless, and tortures me with dreadful burdens. And he never gives me a [396} handful of fodder. I eat nothing but this prickly grass flavoured with dust, and I do not thrive."

"Well, uncle," said the jackal, "I know a lovely spot by a river, all covered with emerald grass. Come there and live with me. I promise you the pleasure of witty conversation."

"Very well said, nephew," answered Flop-Ear, "but village beasts are likely to be killed by forest animals. So what good is your charming spot to me?"

"No, no," said the jackal. "My paws form a cage to protect the spot, and no stranger has entrance there. Besides, there are three unmarried she-donkeys who were tormented just like you by laundrymen. They have now grown plump; they are young and frisky; they said to me: 'Uncle dear, go to some village and bring us a proper husband.' That is why I came to fetch you."

Now when he heard the jackal's words, Flop-Ear felt his limbs quiver with love, and he said: "In that case, my dear sir, lead the way. We will hurry there." For the poet hits the mark when he says:

You are our only nectar; you,

O woman, are our poison, too.

For union with you is the breath

Of life; and absence from you, death.

So the poor creature went with the jackal into the lion's presence. But the lion was dreadfully foolish. When he saw the donkey actually within range of his spring, he was so overjoyed that he [397} jumped over him and landed on the other side. And the donkey wondered: "What, oh, what can this be?" For to him it seemed like the fall of a thunderbolt. Yet somehow - for fate was kind to him - he escaped quite unhurt. But when he looked back, he saw the egregious creature, cruel, horrifying, with bloodshot eyes, and he beat a hasty, terrified retreat to his own city. Then the jackal said to the lion: "Well, what does this mean? I saw your heroic exhibition."

And the lion was dumfounded, and he said: "But I could not prepare for a spring. So what was I to do? Could an elephant, even, escape, if he came within range of my spring?"

The jackal said: "Have your spring prepared next time. For I am going to bring him to you again." "My dear fellow," said the lion, "he saw me face to face and escaped. How can he be enticed here again? Bring me some other animal."

But the jackal said: "Why should you worry about that? I am wide awake on that point." So the jackal followed the donkey's tracks, and found him grazing in the old place.

Now when he saw the jackal, the donkey said: "Well, nephew, it was a charming spot you took me to. I was lucky to escape with my life. Tell me, what was that horrible creature? He was a thunderbolt, but he missed me."

Then the jackal laughed and said: "Uncle, that [398} was a she-donkey. She was unspeakably lovesick, and seeing you, she rose up passionately to embrace you. But you were shy, and ran away. And as you disappeared, she stretched out a hand to detain you. That is the whole story. So come back. She has resolved to starve to death for your sake, and she says: 'If Flop-Ear does not marry me, I will plunge into fire or water, or will eat poison. Anyhow, I cannot bear to be separated from him.' So have mercy, and return. If not, you will be a woman-murderer, and the god of love will be angry. For you know:

Woman is Love's victorious seal,

Confers all good. If for their weal

(Supposed) in heaven or for salvation

Dull men hold her in detestation,

Love strikes them for their sins forlorn,

And some turn naked monks, some shorn;

Some have red garments; others wear

Skull-necklaces, or frowsy hair."

So the donkey, persuaded by this reasoning, started off with him once more. Indeed, the proverb is right:

Men, knowing better, oft commit

A shabby deed - so strong is fate.

But where are they who relish it,

When once it is irrevocate?

Thereupon the donkey, deceived by a hundred arguments of the rascal, came again into the presence, and was straightway killed by the lion, who had [399} prepared his spring beforehand. And then the lion set the jackal on guard, and went himself to the river to bathe. Whereupon the greedy jackal ate the donkey's ears and heart. Now when the lion returned after ' bathing and repeating the proper prayers, he found the donkey minus ears and heart, and his soul was suffused with wrath, and he said to the jackal: "You scoundrel! What is this unseemly deed? You have eaten ears and heart, and my share is your leavings."

"O King," said the jackal respectfully, "do not speak so. This creature was born without ears and heart. Otherwise, how could he have come here, have seen you with his own eyes, have run in terror, and then come back? Why, it goes into poetry:

He came, he saw, he fled

From your appearance dread,

Returned, forgot his fears -

The fool lacked heart and ears."

So the lion was convinced by the jackal's argument, divided with him, and ate his own share without suspicion.

"And that is why I say that I shall not be like the donkey Flop-Ear. You see, you foolish fellow, you played a trick, but spoiled it by telling the truth, just like Fight-Firm. The saying is correct:

The heedless trickster who forgets

His own advantage, and who lets

The truth slip out, like Fight-Firm, he

Is sure to lose his victory." [400}

"How was that?" asked the crocodile. And the monkey told the story of

The Potter Militant

There was once a potter in a certain place. One day he carelessly ran with all his might into the jagged edge of a broken pot, and tumbled. And though the jagged edge tore his forehead, he struggled to his feet, blood streaming over his body. Now as the wound was unskilfully treated, the scar cicatrized horribly.

After some time the land was afflicted with famine, and he felt the pinch of hunger. So he joined certain life-guards, went to another country, and became a life-guard.

Now the king noticed on his brow the horrible scar from the potsherd, and he thought: "Surely, this man is a great hero. He took a wound in front, on his brow." So he bestowed honours and gifts and the like, regarding him more graciously than all others. Even the princes, observing the exceptional favour shown him, cherished an extreme jealousy, yet they feared the king and said not a word.

Now one day there was a review of picked troops. While the elephants were being accoutred and the horses caparisoned and the men inspected, the king took occasion to say to the potter: "O Prince, what is your name? And what your family? In what battle was this wound printed on your brow?" [401}

"Your Majesty," he replied, "by birth I am a potter, and my name is Fight-Firm. This is not a sword-wound. But when I was unsteady with liquor, I was hurrying through a courtyard littered with broken pots, and tumbled over one. Later the scar from the potsherd became a horrible cicatrice."

Then the king reflected: "Good heavens! I was taken in by this potter who seemed a prince. Let a cuffing be administered."

When this had been done, the potter said: "Your Majesty, do not treat me thus, but witness my adroitness in battle."

"No, my friend," said the king, "you may be a treasure-house of all the virtues. Yet you must be gone. You may have heard the stanza:

Handsome you are, and valorous;

You have a scholar's brain:

But in your family, my boy,

No elephants are slain."

"How was that?" asked the potter. And the king told the story of

The Jackal Who Killed no Elephants

In a part of a forest lived a lion and his wife. One day the lioness gave birth to twins. And the lion killed deer and things every day, and gave them to the lioness.

But one day as he ranged the forest, he had met nothing when the blessèd sun sank to his setting. As he trotted home, he found a baby jackal on the [402} trail. And he pitied it because it was a baby. So he held it between his teeth and carefully carried it home, giving it to the lioness alive.

Then the lioness said: "Have you brought any food, sweetheart?" And he answered: *My dear, I didn't find a thing today except this jackal cub. Even him I did not kill, for I thought: 'He is a creature much like us, and a baby at that.' You know the proverb:

Never strike a hermit mild,

Woman, clergyman, or child:

Give your life, if needs you must -

Do not falsify their trust.

"Now suppose you eat him, and feel better. In the morning I will bring something else."

"Sweetheart," said she, "you did not kill him because you thought: 'He is a baby.' So how can I destroy him for my belly's sake? You know the verse of Scripture:

No man may plead the death-god's might

For doing wrong, or shirking right.

So he shall be my third son."

After this reply, she gave him her own milk and made him very fat. So the three cubs spent their babyhood in the same business and amusements, not recognizing any difference in parentage.

Now one day a wild elephant came wandering into that forest. The two lion-cubs, when they saw him, wrathfully started for him, eager to kill. But [403} the jackal-cub said: "Brothers, that is an elephant, an enemy of your race. Don't go near him." With this he ran home. And the other two, seeing their elder brother routed, felt their pluck ooze away. The well-known proverb is right:

One bold and plucky fighter

Will give an army pluck:

One broken, routed blighter

Diffuses evil luck.

And, indeed,

This is the very reason why

Kings look for sturdy fighters,

Heroic, dauntless, stone-wall men,

And shun the cowardly blighters.

Later the twin brothers went home, and humorously told their parents how their elder brother had behaved. "Why, you know," said they, "the minute he saw him, he couldn't get far enough quick enough."

When the jackal heard this, wrath entered his spirit. His blossom-lip quivered, his eyes grew red, and a frown made two deep wrinkles on his brow. And he spoke harshly, scolding the twins.

Then the lioness took him aside and admonished him: "You must never, never speak so, my dear. They are your brothers."

But her patient pleading filled him with greater anger, and he burst upon her, too: "Do you think me their inferior in courage or beauty or science or application or skill? What right have they to ridicule me? I am certainly going to kill them." [404}

When she heard this outburst, the lioness laughed quietly - for she did not wish him to die - and said:

"Handsome you are, and valorous;

You have a scholar's brain:

But in your family, my boy,

No elephants are slain.

Now listen carefully, my dear. Your mother was a jackal, and I fattened you with my own milk because I pitied you. Now while my twins are babies and do not know you for a jackal, hurry away and join your own people. If not, they will fight you, and you will tread the path of death." When the jackal heard this, he was terror stricken, and softly stole away to join his own people.

"Just so you, too, had best decamp before these veterans learn that you are a potter. If not, you will be hooted and killed." And the potter, hearing this, absconded.

"And that is why I say:

The heedless trickster who forgets, . . .

and the rest of it. Oh, fool, fool! To undertake such a thing for your wife! Never trust a woman. You must have heard the pat little anecdote:

I left my family for her;

I gave her half my life;

She leaves me now without a thought;

What man can trust his wife?" [405}

"How was that?" asked the crocodile, and the monkey told the story of the ungrateful wife (next page).


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