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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 215 pages of information about The Talking Beasts.

In the meantime, a Jackal, by name Deergharava, prowling about in search of prey, discovered the Deer, the Huntsman, and the Boar; and having observed them, he said to himself:  “Here is a fine feast prepared for me; with their flesh I shall have food to eat.  The Man will last me for a whole month, and the Deer and the Boar for two more; then the Serpent will serve me a day; and let me taste the bow-string too.  But, in the first place, let me try that which is the least savoury.  Suppose, then, I eat this catgut line which is fastened to the bow”:  saying so, he drew near to eat it; but the instant he had bit the line in two, he was torn asunder by the spring of the bow; and he was reduced to the state of the five elements.  I say, therefore, “A hoard should always be made; but not too great a hoard.”

The Elephant and the Jackal

That which cannot be effected by force may be achieved by cunning.  An Elephant was killed by a Jackal, in going over a swampy place.

In the forest Brahmaranya there was an Elephant, whose name was Karphooratilaka,[1] who having been observed by the jackals, they all determined that if he could by any stratagem be killed, he would be four months’ provisions for them all.  One of them, who was of exceeding vicious inclination and by nature treacherous, declared that he would engage, by the strength of his own judgment, to effect his death.  Some time after, this deceitful wretch went up to the Elephant, and having saluted him, said:  “Godlike sir!  Condescend to grant me an audience.”  “Who art thou?” demanded the Elephant, “and whence comest thou?” “My name,” replied he, “is Kshudrabuddhi,[2] a jackal, sent into thy presence by all the inhabitants of the forest, assembled for that purpose, to represent that, as it is not expedient to reside in so large a forest as this without a chief, your Highness, endued with all the cardinal virtues, hath been selected to be anointed Rajah of the Woods.  Then, that we may not lose the lucky moment,” continued the Jackal, “be pleased to follow quickly.”  Saying this, he cocked his tail and went away.

The Elephant, whose reason was perverted by the lust of power, took the same road as the Jackal, and followed him so exactly that, at length, he stuck fast in a great mire.  “O my friend!” cried the Elephant, “what is to be done in this disaster?  I am sinking in a deep mire!”

The Jackal laughed, and said:  “Please, your divine Highness, take hold of my tail with your trunk, and get out!  This is the fruit of those words which thou didst place confidence in.”

They say: 

As often as thou shalt be deprived of the society of the good, so often shalt thou fall into the company of knaves.

After a few days, the Elephant dying for want of food, his flesh was devoured by the Jackals.  I say, therefore:  “That which cannot be effected by force, may be achieved by cunning.”

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