The Wise Jackal - A Tale from
The Children's Own Readers
- Book Three
by Mary E. Pennell and Alice M. Cusack, Illustrated by
Maurice Day and Harold Sichel
Boston: Ginn and Company 1929
THE WISE JACKAL
A long time ago, when strange things happened,
a tiger was caught in a cage. He tried to break the bars with his teeth,
but the bars were too strong for him. He rolled and howled with rage because
he could not get out. Just then a poor Brahman came by.
"Oh, I pray you, let me out of this cage,"
cried the tiger.
"No, no, my friend," said the Brahman.
"If I should do that, you would eat me."
"Not at all," cried the tiger. "I should
not think of doing such a thing. On the other hand, I should be so pleased
that I would be your slave."
Then the tiger sighed and wept so hard
that the Brahman felt sorry for him, and
opened the cage door. Out jumped the tiger and seized the poor man.
"How foolish you were to let me out!" he
said. "I am very, very hungry. I shall certainly eat you."
The Brahman was much frightened. "Let us
talk this over," he begged. "Is this the way to pay me? You are not treating
me fairly. Let us go to the village close by and find three men. We will
tell them the story and let them decide if you are treating me fairly."
| "I will not agree," said the tiger. "Why
should men decide? They are often foolish. I will agree to this, however.
Walk down the road and choose three things that you see on the way. Tell
them what has happened, and ask them if I am not as just as men are. Then
come back to the cage and I will do what they decide."
So the Brahman walked down the road until
he came to a fig tree. After he had told his story to the tree, he asked,
the tiger treated me fairly?"
The fig tree replied, "You have nothing
to complain about. Just see how I am treated. I give food and shelter to
everyone who passes by. In return, men tear down my branches to feed their
cattle. The tiger is treating you as well as men treat me."
Then the sad Brahman told his story to a buffalo, that he saw turning
a well wheel in a field. But the buffalo replied, "When I was young and
gave milk, men fed me well. But now that I am old, what do they do? They
harness me here to turn this heavy wheel all day long, and they do not
feed me well. The tiger is treating you as well as men treat me."
Then the Brahman in great fear asked the
road. "My dear sir," said the road, "you are foolish to hope for anything
better. Look at me. I am of use to everyone, but I am thanked by no one."
The Brahman turned and walked sadly back to
the tiger. On the way he met a jackal who cried out, "Why do you look so
The Brahman told the jackal all that had
happened. "I don't understand you. I seem to get it all mixed up," said
The Brahman told it all over again. But
the jackal shook his head. He did not
|seem to understand. Finally he said, "Let us go back to the place
where it all happened. Perhaps I can understand it then."
When they got back to the cage, there stood
the tiger waiting for the poor Brahman. "You have been gone a long time,"
said the tiger savagely.
"Give me but five minutes more," begged
the Brahman, "that I may explain matters to this jackal."
"I'll give you just five minutes to explain
matters," said the tiger, "then I shall eat you."
The Brahman told everything all over again
to the jackal, making the story as long as possible. When he had finished,
the jackal said, "Oh, my poor head! Let me see; how did it all begin? You
were in the cage, and the tiger came by"
| "How stupid you are!" cried the tiger.
"I was in the cage."
"Of course," said the jackal, pretending
to tremble. "I was in the cage No, I wasn't. Dear! dear! What is the matter?
Let me see the tiger stood by the Brahman and the cage came walking by.
No, that's not right, either! Well, never mind! Begin your dinner, for
I shall never understand!"
"Yes, you shall understand," said
the tiger in a rage. "I'll make you understand! I am the tiger.
Do you understand that?"
"Yes, oh yes, sir," answered the
"And this is the Brahman. Do you understand
"Yes, Sir Tiger."
"And this is the cage. Do you understand
| "Yes, Sir Tiger."
"And I was in the cage. Do you understand
"Yes no. Please, Sir Tiger "
"Well, what is it?" cried the tiger savagely.
"Please, Sir Tiger, how did you get into
"How did I get into the cage?" roared the
tiger. "Why there is only one way to get into the cage!"
"Oh, dear me!" said the jackal, "my head,
my head! It is beginning to spin again! Please don't be angry, Sir Tiger.
But what is the only way?"
At this the tiger roared with rage, and
jumped into the cage. "I will show you," he shouted. "This is the
only way to get into the cage. Now do you understand?"
"Oh, yes, I understand perfectly," laughed
the jackal as he quickly fastened the door. "And if you will allow me to
say so, I think you will remain where you are."