In a certain forest there once lived a fierce tiger, which was in the habit of hunting down the rest of the animals for mere sport, whether hunger impelled him thereto or not. All the animals, therefore, met together by common consent to consider their grievances.
"Let us agree," said the jackal, "that one of us shall be chosen by lot day by day as a sacrifice to the tiger."
"All right," assented the others, "but first let us see the tiger, and let us offer him a petition."
So they all marched together to the tiger's den and humbly sought him to refrain from indiscriminate slaughter, and to be satisfied with the animal which should voluntarily come to him day by day.
"Do not hunt us poor fellows down," said they, "for one of us will always come to be devoured by you, and this plan will save you trouble as well."
"No, no," cried the tiger. "I shall use my claws and my teeth, and so eat my food."
"But," answered the animals, "God has said that we ought to live in hope."
"True," answered the tiger, "but he has also bidden everyone to earn his own bread."
At last, after much argument, the tiger suffered himself to be persuaded, and made a solemn promise to remain at home in his den. Thenceforward every day an animal chosen by lot went to the den to be eaten.
But when the hare's turn came, she flatly said, "I shall not go. I shall live my life."
In vain the other animals tried to persuade or coerce her. Twelve o'clock, the tiger's usual feeding time, came and went, then came one, two, and three.
At last the hare suddenly started up, and exclaiming "Now I'm off!" she set out for the den.
As she drew near she noticed the famished tiger tearing up the earth in fury, and heard him bellowing, "Who is this ridiculous hare to keep me waiting?"
"But I have an excuse," protested the hare.
"What excuse can you have?" demanded the tiger.
"Today," said the hare, "it was not my turn to come at all. It was my brother's. I am thin, but my brother is plump and fat. My brother had started for your den, but on the way he fell in with another tiger which wanted to eat him, and, in fact, he caught him and was carrying him away, when I came up and said to him, 'This country is not your country, but the country of another tiger who will punish you.' To which the strange tiger answered, 'You go at once and call that tiger of yours out, and then he and I shall have a fight.' So here I am, sir, sent to deliver his challenge. Come and kill the villain for us."
Full of rage and jealousy, the tiger said to the hare, "Lead on!" and the pair started forth to seek the rival tiger.
As they went along, the hare began to look alarmed and shrink back, and made as though she would have hidden herself in a thicket.
"What is the matter now?" inquired the tiger. "What are you afraid of?"
"I am afraid," answered she, "because the other tiger's den lies close in front of us."
"Where? Where?" cried the tiger, peering forward with searching eyes. "I see no den whatever."
"It is there. See!" answered the hare. "Almost at your very feet!"
"I can see no den," said the tiger. "Is there no means of persuading you to come forward and show me the place?"
"Yes," replied the hare, "if you will please carry me under your arm."
So the tiger lifted the cunning hare under his arm, and, guided by her directions, he unexpectedly found himself at the edge of a large deep well.
"The is the den I told you of," whispered the hare. "Look in and you will see the robber."
Standing on the brink and looking down into the clear depths, the tiger saw at the bottom the reflected image of himself and the hare, and imagining that he saw his enemy in proud possession of the fat brother, he dropped the nimble hare, which easily escaped, and with a roar leaped down, where, after struggling in the water for many hours, he finally expired, and thus the forest was at last rid of the tyrant.
Source: C. SWYNNERTON., Folk Tales from the Upper Indus, London: Elliot Stock, 1892, No. 3, pp 4-6
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