But whilst the unfortunate fellow was thus meditating, he was devoured by the Tiger. Hence also, it is at no time proper to undertake anything without examination.
The Jackal and the Cat
To one whose family and profession are unknown, one should not give residence: the Jackal Jarad-gava was killed through the fault of a Cat.
On the banks of the river Bhageerathee, and upon the mountain Greedhra-koota, there is a large parkattee tree, in the hollow of whose trunk there dwelt a Jackal, by name Jarad-gava, who, by some accident, was grown blind, and for whose support the different birds who roosted upon the branches of the same tree were wont to contribute a trifle from their own stores, by which he existed. It so fell out, that one day a certain Cat, by name Deerga-karna, came there to prey upon the young birds, whom perceiving, the little nestlings were greatly terrified, and began to be very clamorous; and their cries being heard by Jarad-gava, he asked who was coming. The Cat Deerga-karna, too, seeing the Jackal, began to be alarmed, and said to himself: “Oh! I shall certainly be killed, for now that I am in his sight, it will not be in my power to escape. However, let what will be the consequence, I will approach him.” So, having thus resolved, he went up to the Jackal, and said: “Master, I salute thee!” “Who art thou?” demanded the Jackal. Said he, “I am a Cat.” “Ah! wicked animal,” cried the Jackal, “get thee at a distance; for if thou dost not, I will put thee to death.”
“Hear me for a moment,” replied Puss, “and then determine whether I merit either to be punished or to be killed; for what is any one, simply by birth, to be punished or applauded? When his deeds have been scrutinized, he may, indeed, be either praiseworthy or punishable.”
The Jackal after this desired the Cat to give some account of himself, and he complied in the following words: “I am,” said he, “in the constant habit of performing ablutions on the side of this river; I never eat flesh, and I lead that mode of life which is called Brahma-Charya. So, as thou art distinguished amongst those of thy own species, noted for skill in religious matters, and as a repository of confidence, and as the birds here are always speaking before me in praise of thy good qualities, I am come to hear from thy mouth, who art so old in wisdom, the duties of religion. Thou, master, art acquainted with the customs of life; but these young birds, who are in ignorance, would fain drive me, who am a stranger, away. The duties of a housekeeper are thus enjoined:
“Hospitality is commanded to be exercised, even toward an enemy, when he cometh to thine house. The tree doth not withdraw its shade, even from the wood-cutter.
“Some straw, a room, water, and in the fourth place, gentle words. These things are never to be refused in good men’s houses.”