THERE once lived a Sultan who had a charger. It had served him most faithfully for a good number of years, carrying him in many battles and on numerous other occasions.
At last the horse grew old and was no longer fit to serve him as before. The Sultan, remembering its faithful services, decided to free it from every manner of work, and in token of recognition of its faithfulness he set it free to roam about and to feed wherever it liked.
In order that it should not be molested, he ordered that a special coating should be made for it of red cloth adorned with many coloured stripes and patches. He also had it shod with steel shoes, which last for a very long time.
So, covered with the king's cloth, the horse went about from field to field eating whatever and whenever it pleased. Being now at ease, the horse got fat again and strong, and when it walked on the road, it struck with its feet against the stones and pebbles, and made the sparks fly from them.
In a forest near by there lived a lion. One day, coming out to the edge of the wood, he saw the horse in the distance, and as he had never yet seen such a peculiar animal, he got frightened and started running back into the thickest part of the forest.
There he met a wolf, who, seeing the lion run, asked him why he was running.
"If your life is dear to you," he replied, "do not stop here talking, for that terrible beast which I have seen yonder in the field is sure to overtake us, and then good-bye to us."
"What beast?" asked the wolf. "I know no beast that could frighten a lion."
"Well, then, thank God that you have never come across it."
"How does it look?"
"It is a huge beast with a head so big as I have never seen a head before, and a mouth so large that it could devour us in one bite. As to its skin, I have never yet seen any like it, all red with stripes and patches of every colour. It stands on huge feet, and whenever it walks it scatters fire right and left."
"That may all be as you describe it," said the wolf, "but still it might also be otherwise. I should like to see it myself, and I might perhaps know what it is."
"Very well then, let us go higher up the hill, where we can look down on the field."
"I would rather see it from here, if possible, near at hand."
"As you please. I will squat down on my hind-legs and lift you up with my fore-legs, so that you can see some distance from here."
The lion did as he said, and taking the wolf in his fore-paws he lifted him up. But whilst doing so he pressed the wolf so hard that he nearly lost his breath, and his eyes began starting out of his head. When the lion saw it, he said, "You cur, you talk bravely and laugh at me who have been close to that terrible beast, and you, who are so far away and scarcely able to get a glimpse of it, you are already losing your breath, and your eyes are starting out of your head."
With these words he threw the wolf down, and away he ran as fast as his legs would carry him.
This story reminds us of the framework of the famous Indian Panchatantra, which had so successful a run through the literature of East and West, becoming one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages, better known as the story of Kalila and Dimna, or even falsely, Syntipas.
In Krauss (No. 2) the animal which frightens the lion, or rather imposes on his credulity, is an ass. The ass makes the lion believe that he, the ass, was the real king of beasts. The wolf, to whom the lion says that he was not the real king but that another animal claimed the right to rule, listens incredulously. The lion ties their two tails together and takes the wolf to the summit of a hill, from which they can see the ass. The lion, misunderstanding the exclamation of the wolf and thinking that he said "there are six," runs away as fast as he can, dragging the wolf behind him and killing him in his mad flight. It is obviously the same tale but slightly varied in the details. In the Rumanian the lion never gets so near the other animal as to be undeceived by his own sight. He merely sees from a distance an animal the like of which he had never seen before, and he works himself up into a great fright. This seems to be the more primitive form. In the South Slavonic, the lion is simply deceived by an animal with which he ought to be familiar enough.
A curious and corrupted version is found in Grimm (No. 132), where only the tying of the tails has been retained. In this version the horse is tied to the lion, and he drags the lion to his master's house.
Similar is the story of the dib-dib (the name used by the woman for the dropping rain), whom the leopard, who listens at the door, takes to be a great monster. A man jumps on the back of the frightened leopard, thinking it was an ass. The leopard carries him to the dib-dib, and he runs away. He meets a fox, who laughs at his fear, and they tie their tails together. The man, who had sought safety in the branches of the trees, says that the fox had brought the leopard to be killed. The leopard, who had distrusted the fox, runs away with him, and as their tails are knotted together, both get killed. (Hanauer, p. 278.) (Cf. also Afanasief, No. 19.)
Story of the Horse, the Lion, and the Wolf, The.
Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories
Sidgwick & Jackson
Year of Publication:
Country of Origin:
ATU 47A: The Fox Hangs Onto the Horse's Tail