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The Wise Jackal - A Tale from India
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
Part I
     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
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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."
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     "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, "Has
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."
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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."
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Part II
     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 sad?"
     The Brahman told the jackal all that had happened. "I don't understand you. I seem to get it all mixed up," said the jackal.
     The Brahman told it all over again. But the jackal shook his head. He did not
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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–"
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     "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  jackal.
     "And this is the Brahman. Do you understand that?"
    "Yes, Sir Tiger."
     "And this is the cage. Do you understand that?"
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     "Yes, Sir Tiger."
     "And I was in the cage. Do you understand that?"
     "Yes – no. Please, Sir Tiger –"
     "Well, what is it?" cried the tiger savagely.
     "Please, Sir Tiger, how did you get into the cage?"
     "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?"

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     "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."
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