ONCE upon a time a Butcher bought a Goat; but as he was going to kill the Goat, and make him into meat for the table, the Goat opened his mouth, and said--
"If you kill me, Butcher, you will be a few shillings the richer; but if you spare my life, I will repay you for your kindness."
This Butcher had killed many goats in his day, but he never before heard one of them talk. Goats can talk to each other, as you must have heard; but most of them do not learn English. So the Butcher thought there must be something special about this Goat, and did not kill him.
The Goat felt very grateful that his life had been spared for a few more happy summers; and when he found himself free, the first thing he did was to go into the forest to see if he could find some means of repaying the Butcher's kind deed.
As he trotted along under the trees, stopping now and then to crop some tender shoot that came within reach, he met a Jackal.
"I am glad to see you, Goatee," said the Jackal; "and now I'm going to eat you."
"Don't be such a fool," said the Goat. "Can't you see I am nothing but skin and bones? Wait till I get fat. That's why I am here, just to get fat; and when I'm nice and fat, you may eat me and welcome."
The Goat was very skinny, in truth, and he pulled in his breath to make himself look more skinny. So the Jackal said--
"All right, look sharp, and be sure you look out for me on your way back."
"I shan't forget, Jackal," said the Goat. "Ta ta!"
By-and-by he fell in with a Wolf.
"Ha!" said the Wolf, smacking his lips; "here's what I want. Get ready, my Goat, for I am going to eat you."
"Oh, surely not," said the Goat; "a skinny old thing like me!" He drew in his breath again, and looked very skinny indeed. "I have come here to fatten myself, and when I'm fat, you shall eat me if you like."
"Well," said the Wolf, "you don't look like a prize Goat, I grant you. Go along then, but look out for me when you come back."
"Oh, I shall look out for you!" said the Goat, and away he trotted.
By-and-by he came to a church. He went into the church, and there he saw last Sunday's collection plate, full of gold coins. In that country, any one would have been ashamed to put coppers into the plate, not because they were rich, for they were not, but because they were generous. Now, Goats are not taught that they must not steal, but they think they have a right to whatever they can get hold of; so this Goat opened his mouth, and licked up all the sovereigns, and hid them under his tongue.
The Goat next went to a flower-shop, and asked the man who sold the flowers to make some wreaths, and cover him up with them, horns and all. So the man covered him up with flowers, till he looked like a large rose-bush. Then the Goat popped out a sovereign from his mouth, to pay the man, and very glad the man was to get so much for his roses.
Then the Goat set out on his homeward way. He looked out for the Wolf, as he had promised to do; and when the Wolf saw him coming along, he thought he was a rose-bush. The Wolf was not at all surprised to see a rose-bush walking along the road, for many were the strange things he had seen in his life; and if you come to think of it, this was no stranger than a Goat that could talk English.
"Good afternoon, Rose-bush," said the Wolf; "have you seen a Goat passing this way?"
"Oh yes," said the Goat, "I saw him a few minutes ago back there along the road."
"Many thanks, Rose-bush," said the Wolf; "I am much obliged to you," and away he ran in the direction in which the Goat had come.
By-and-by he came to the Jackal.
"Hullo, Rose-bush!" said the Jackal. "Have you seen a Goat anywhere as you came along?"
"Oh yes," replied the Goat, out of the roses; "I saw him just now, and he was talking to a big Wolf."
"Good heavens!" said the Jackal, "I must look sharp, if I want some Goat to-day," and off he galloped, in a great hurry.
In the evening he got to the Butcher's house.
"Hullo!" said the Butcher, "what have we here?" He knew that rose-bushes could not walk, but he could not make out what it was at all.
"Baa! baa!" said the Goat; "it's your grateful old Goat, come back to pay you for your kindness." And with these words, he spouted out all the sovereigns he found in the church, except the one he paid to the flower-man.
The Butcher was delighted to see so many sovereigns:
he asked no questions, because he thought it wiser. He
took the sovereigns, and found they were enough
to keep him all his life, without killing any
more goats. So he lived in peace, and
the Goat spent his remaining years
browsing comfortably in the
Told by Bikkú Misra, Brahman, Achhnérá village, Agra district.
Butcher buys a Goat—"Spare my life, and I will repay you"—He spares him—The Goat goes into the forest and meets a Jackal—"I am going to eat you." "Wait till I get fat in the forest." "Good: look out for me when you come back"—Meets a Wolf—Same thing happens—Finds a temple of Mahádeva—In it are gold coins—Swallows them—Goes to a flower-seller—"Cover me with flowers"—He does so, and the Goat voids two mohurs—Sets out to return—Meets the Wolf—"Have you seen a Goat?" "No"—Meets the Jackal—"Have you seen a Goat?" "Yes, some distance back"—Proceeds to the Butcher, and voids the rest of the coins—The Butcher is grateful, and never kills him as long as he lives.
Agra district. Tales of animals spitting gold are common, as in Grimm's "Three Little Men in the Wood" ("Household Tales," i. 56) and in Oriental Folk-lore (Tawney, "Katha Sarit Ságara," ii. 8, 453, 637; Knowles, "Folk-tales of Kashmir," p. 443).
Grateful Goat, The
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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