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

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in August 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Pride Shall Have a Fall

THERE was once a great drought in the land. For weeks and months not a drop of rain fell; and the sun beat down, and dried up the whole country, so that there was no water to be found. Now there was a certain pond in that country; and as day after day the sun blazed, the water sank lower and lower, until it was hardly an inch deep. Numbers of Frogs used to live in this pond; but as the water dried the Frogs died, so that the dry mud on the banks of the pond was covered all over with dead bodies of Frogs.

               There came a Jackal out of the forest. He was glad to see this pool, because the pool where he used to drink had been quite dried up. So he made a little platform of mud, and stuck up four posts at the four corners; and then he gathered bundles of dry grass, and put them upon the top of the four posts for a thatch. Then his eye fell on the corpses of Frogs lying about; and being a foolish animal, he thought these corpses were uncommonly pretty. And what do you think he did? He gathered a lot of the dead Frogs and hung a fringe of them all round the thatch; and in each of his ears he hung a dead Frog, like an earring.

               From far and near swarms of Rats used to come to this pond for drinking, since it was the only water to be found for a long distance, and all the rest was dried up. Then the Jackal kept guard over the pool; and not a drop might any Rat so much as taste, unless he would first bow down and worship the Jackal, and sing the following psalm, which the Jackal made up himself:--

"A temple all of gold I found,           
With golden lamps hung all around;           
And see! the God himself is here,           
With two big pearls in either ear."

               Even a Rat can tell a dead Frog from a pearl, but willy nilly he needs must sing it, or else no water. So when the Rat had sung this psalm, and bowed himself down three times before the Jackal, worshipping him as if he were a God, he was allowed to go down and take a sip of the water.

               One day, what should come down to the water to drink but an Ox with one eye.

               "Ho! ho! one-eyed Ox!" screamed the Jackal, "not a drop till you sing your psalm."

               The Ox blinked his one eye stupidly, and looked round. "What psalm?" asked the one-eyed Ox.

               "Mine," said the Jackal, who was very proud of his psalm, "my own composition." Then he sang it over to the Ox, that he might hear it.

"'A temple all of gold I found--'

               "That's this, you know," he explained, pointing to the scraggy thatch--

"A temple all of gold I found,           
With golden lamps hung all around;           
And see! the God himself is here,           
With two big pearls in either ear."

               "Ah," said the one-eyed Ox, "I'm rather stupid, I fear, and it will take me a minute or two to learn that psalm. It's a mighty fine psalm, that; I never heard the like in church. Suppose I say it over to myself while I'm a-drinking? that will save time, and it would be a thousand pities to spoil a thing like that."

               This flattered the Jackal so much that he agreed.

               One-eye went down to the pool, and took a long, long pull at the water. Then he came out of the water, and went slowly up to the Jackal, as he was sitting under his thatch, with its string of dead Frogs, and the two Frogs in the Jackal's ears.

               "Now then, booby!" the Jackal said, "look sharp, the God is waiting."

               The Ox opened a big mouth, and in a very hoarse voice he sang--

"A nasty dirty thatch I found,           
With dried-up Frogs hung all around;           
And see! the mangy Jackal here,           
With two dead Frogs in either ear."

               You may imagine the rage of the Jackal to hear this! He fairly foamed at the mouth. "You blasphemous beast!" screamed he, "I'll teach you to abuse a God!" And with that he jumped down off his seat, and gave chase.

               Away scuttled the Ox; and as he ran, the water he had been drinking went gurgling inside him, flippity-flop, flippity-flop.

               This sound rather frightened the Jackal. "What's that?" he cried.

               "A dog at your heels," said the Ox.

The Jackal was so scared at the very name of dog,           
that he turned about in no time, blind with terror,           
and away he scampered as hard as he could pelt.           
He was so frightened, that he did not see where           
he was going; so he ran straight into           
the midst of a pack of hounds, who           
made short work of the           
conceited Jackal.           


Told by Akbar Sháh, Mánjhi, one of the jungle-folk of Manbasa, district Mirzápur.

No change. The animal with one eye is supposed to be cunning and uncanny (Crooke, "Popular Religion and Folk-lore of Northern India," ii. 37, 51). Compare No. 37 of this collection.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Pride Shall Have a Fall
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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