THERE was a Shepherd who owned a multitude of goats. Among these was one Goat, weak and lame. You might suppose that the shepherd took especial care of this lame Goat, but not he; on the contrary, he beat him and bullied him, and made his whole life a misery.
A time came when the lame Goat could stand it no longer. So watching his chance, he gave his master the slip, and into the forest and far away. As he hobbled along, he trembled to think of the ferocious beasts that the forest was full of; but even to be devoured by an evil beast was better far than to be for ever beaten.
The lame Goat made up his mind that the only way by which he could save his life was to gain the protection of some powerful beast. So he kept his eyes open as he hobbled along; and, by-and-by, what should he see but a dark cave, and at the mouth of the cave, a Lion's footprints. Now a Lion was just the beast the Goat wanted, for to begin with, he is the King of Beasts, and all the other beasts fear him; and then, too, he is a noble beast, and if he passes his word he will never break it. Of course, it might be that the Lion would eat our Goat first, and ask questions afterwards; but the Goat had to take his chance of that.
The upshot of it was, that the lame Goat sat down by the Lion's den, and waited.
By-and-by, trippity trip, trippity trip, and up came a Jackal. Said the Jackal to the Goat, "God bless you, Gaffer Goat, you'll be the first food that has passed my lips this many a day."
"Dear grandson," said the Goat, "God bless you too. I'm here to be eaten, that is true enough; but I'm meat for your betters. He whose footprints you see here has bidden me wait until he wants me."
The Jackal looked at the footprints, and saw they were a Lion's. "Aha," thought he, "let sleeping dogs lie. If I eat the Lion's meat, the Lion will devour my cubs." Then he went away sorrowful.
A little while, and trappity trap, trappity trap, up came a Wolf. Quoth the Wolf--
"Well met, Nuncle Goat; you make my mouth water. A five days' fast is sauce for the dinner."
"Well met, my dear nephew," says the lame Goat. "But you had better leave me alone. I'm food for your betters. Look upon these footprints, and let me tell you that he who made them has bidden me wait here until he is hungry."
"Oho," said the Wolf, "a Lion. Who tackles the strong will not live long. If I eat King Lion's meat, King Lion will make a meal of my cubs." Away went the Wolf, trappity trap, trappity trap.
A little while more, and swish, swish, swish, the Lion himself came stalking slowly along, whisking away the flies with his tail. When he saw the Goat sitting beside his den, says he--
"Friend Goat, what want you here? Are you anxious to make a meal for me?"
"O King Lion," said the Goat, bowing before him very humbly, "here I have been sitting these two hours, and wolves and jackals came to eat me; but the sight of your footprints was safety for me: I told them I was yours, and they took to their heels for fear. Now eat me if you will; for yours I am."
Then the Lion said, "O Goat, if you have called yourself mine, never will I devour you. I will see to it that you are well treated."
Then the Lion went out and found an Elephant, who greeted him with the greatest respect. "Elephant," said the Lion, "I want you to do something for me."
"Speak on," said the Elephant, "do it I will."
The Lion said, "There is a poor lame Goat has thrown himself on my mercy, and I have thought of a plan by which he can be fed. If you will suffer him to mount on your back, then while you go grazing about, he can browse upon the young shoots of the trees as you pass under."
"That is a good idea," said the Elephant, "and I'll do it for you willingly, and indeed anything else in my power."
If the Lion was pleased at the kindness of the
Elephant, more pleased was the lame Goat; and a
happy life was his from that day. Never again was he
beaten by a cruel goatherd: but he fed on the fat
of the land, and lived to a green old age; and
I hope we may be half as happy as he was.
Told by Mátá Dín, assistant teacher, Pili-Bhít district, N.W.P.
A Shepherd had a lame Goat which he beat—It ran away—Fearing the wild beasts, it sat down beside a cave where were footsteps of a Lion—A Jackal comes up—"Rám, Rám, grandfather! I have found food after many days." "Rám, Rám, grandson, I was told to sit here by the owner of these footprints."—"A Lion! if I eat you, he will eat my cubs"—He goes—A Wolf comes, and the same thing happens—The Lion comes—Says the Goat, "By the influence of your footprints I have been safe; beasts came to devour me, and I became your man: they fled." "If you have called yourself my man I will not eat you"—Lion finds an Elephant: "I have a lame Goat; let him go on your back and eat the young leaves as you graze"—He agrees, and the Goat says, "Khoj pakar liyo baran ko hasti mili hai ái gaj mastak achchhi charhi ajayá kopal khâya" ("By betaking myself to the footprints of the great, I have got an Elephant")—Mounting on the Elephant's head, the Goat feeds well on new leaves.
Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
Talking Thrush, The: And Other Tales from India
Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
E. P. Dutton & Co.
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