Talking Thrush, The: And Other Tales from India | Annotated Tale

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Judgment of the Jackal, The

A MERCHANT was returning home from a long journey, riding upon a mule. As he drew near home, night overtook him; and he was forced to look out for shelter. Seeing a mill by the roadside, he knocked at the door.

               "Come in!" said the Miller.

               "May I stay here for the night?" asked the Merchant.

               "By all means," said the Miller, "if you pay me well."

               The Merchant thought this rather mean; because in those days a stranger was made welcome everywhere without paying anything. However, he made the best of it, and came in. The Miller led off his mule to the stable.

               "Please take care of my mule," said the Merchant; "I have still a long way to go."

               "Oh," said the Miller, "your mule will be all right." Then he rubbed him down and fed him.

               In the morning the Merchant asked for his mule.

               "I am very sorry," said the Miller; "he must have got loose last night, and I can't find him anywhere."

               The Merchant was much dismayed. He went out to look for himself, and there, to be sure, was his mule, tied by the halter to the mill.

               "Why, look here, Miller," says he, "here is the mule!"

               "Oh no," says the Miller, "that mule is mine."

               "Yours?" said the Merchant, getting angry. "Last night your stable was empty. And don't you think I know my own mule?"

               "That is mine," said the Miller again; "my mill had a young mule in the night, and that is he."

               The Merchant was now very angry indeed; but he could not help himself, as he did not want to fight; he was a very peaceful Merchant. So he said--

               "Well, I have no doubt it's all right; but just to satisfy me, let us ask the Rev. Dr. Jackal to decide between us; and whatever he says I will abide by."

               "Very good," answered the Miller; and away they went to the den of his reverence the Jackal. Dr. Jackal was sitting with his hind legs crossed, and smoking a hubble-bubble.

               "Good morning, worthy gentlemen," said the Jackal; "how can I serve you?"

               Said the Merchant, "Last night, my Lord Judge, I lodged with this Miller here, and he took charge of my mule; but now he says it has run away, though I saw it with my own eyes tied by the halter to his mill. He says that the mule I saw is his, and that his mill is the mother of it, and that it was born last night while I was asleep."

               "Go back to the mill," said the Jackal, "and wait for me. I will just wash my face, and then I'll settle your business."

               They went away, and waited a long time, but no Jackal. Late in the afternoon, they got tired of waiting for the Jackal, and determined to go and look for him. There he was still, sitting in his den and smoking a hubble-bubble.

               "Why didn't you come?" asked the Miller. "We have been waiting for you all day."

               "Oh, my dear sir, I was too busy," said the Jackal. "When I went to wash my face, I found that all the water had caught fire; I have only just put it out."

               "You must be mad, your reverence," said the Miller. "Who ever heard of water catching fire?"

               "And who ever heard," replied the Jackal, "of a mill having a young mule?"

The Miller saw that he was found out, and was so           
much ashamed that he gave back the mule to           
its owner, and the Merchant           
went home.           


Told by Shiudan Chamar, of Chaukiya, Mirzápur. N.I.N.Q. iii. 101.

Merchant puts up at house of Oilman—Oilman ties the horse to his mill—Next morning Merchant asks for it—He replies, "It has run away!"—"But what is that horse?"—"My mill gave birth to it in the night"—Appeal to Siyar Panre, the Jackal—"Go back and I will come"—He bathes in a tank—Delay—They seek him, and find him sitting by the tank—"Why did you delay?"—"Too busy; the tank caught fire, and I have just put it out"—"You are mad; who ever heard of a tank on fire?"—"Who ever heard of a mill bearing a foal?"—Oilman returns horse.

A parallel may be found in the Buddhist Jātaka, No. 219 (Cambridge translation, ii. 129), another Version from the Frontier in Swynnerton's "Indian Nights' Entertainment," p. 142. Compare Stumme, Tunisische Märchen, vol. ii., Story of an Oilman.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Judgment of the Jackal, The
Tale Author/Editor: Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
Book Title: Talking Thrush, The: And Other Tales from India
Book Author/Editor: Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
Publisher: E. P. Dutton & Co.
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1922
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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