The Ox Who Won The Forfeit

Long ago a man owned a very strong ox. The owner was so proud of his Ox, that he boasted to every man he met about how strong his Ox was.

One day the owner went into a village, and said to the men there: “I will pay a forfeit of a thousand pieces of silver if my strong Ox cannot draw a line of one hundred wagons.”

The men laughed, and said: “Very well; bring your ox, and we will tie a hundred wagons in a line and see your ox draw them along.”

So the man brought his ox into the village. A crowd gathered to see the sight. The hundred carts were in line, and the strong ox was yoked to the first wagon.

Then the owner whipped his ox, and said: “Get up, you wretch! Get along, you rascal!”
But the ox had never been talked to in that way, and he stood still. Neither the blows nor the hard names could make him move.

At last the poor man paid his forfeit, and went sadly home. There he threw himself on his bed and cried: “Why did that strong ox act so? Many a time he has moved heavier loads easily. Why did he shame me before all those people?”

At last he got up and went about his work. When he went to feed the ox that night, the ox turned to him and said: “Why did you whip me today? You never whipped me before. Why did you call me ‘wretch’ and ‘rascal’? You never called me hard names before.”

Then the man said: “I will never treat you badly again. I’m sorry I whipped you and called you names. I will never do so any more. Forgive me.”

“Very well,” said the ox. “Tomorrow I will go into the village and draw the one hundred carts for you. You have always been a kind master till today. Tomorrow you shall gain what you lost.”

The next morning the owner fed the Ox well, and hung a garland of flowers about his neck. When they went into the village the men laughed at the man again.
They said: “Did you come back to lose more money?”

“Today I will pay a forfeit of two thousand pieces of silver if my ox is not strong enough to pull the one hundred carts,” said the owner.

So again the carts were placed in a line, and the ox was yoked to the first. A crowd came to watch again. The owner said: “Good ox, show how strong you are! You fine, fine creature!” And he patted his neck and stroked his sides.

At once the ox pulled with all his strength. The carts moved on till the last cart stood where the first had been.

Then the crowd shouted, and they paid back the forfeit the man had lost, saying: “Your ox is the strongest ox we ever saw.”

And the ox and the man went home, happy.

The Red-Bud Tree

Once on a time four young princes heard about a wonderful tree called the Red-Bud Tree. None of them had ever seen a Red-Bud Tree, and each prince wished to be the first to see one.

The eldest prince asked the driver of the king’s chariot to take him deep into the woods where this tree grew. It was very early in the spring and the tree had no leaves, nor buds. It was black and bare like a dead tree. The prince could not understand why this was called a Red-Bud Tree, but he asked no questions.
Later in spring the next son went with the driver of the king’s chariot to see the Red-Bud Tree. At this time it was covered with red buds.

The tree was all covered with green leaves when the third son went into the woods a few months to see it. He could see no reason for calling it the Red-Bud Tree, but he asked no questions about it.

Some time after this the youngest prince asked to be taken to see the Red-Bud Tree. By this time it was covered with little bean-pods.

When he came back from the woods he ran into the garden where his brothers were playing, crying, “I have seen the Red-Bud Tree.”

“So have I,” said the eldest prince. “It did not look like much of a tree to me,” said he; “it looked like a dead tree. It was black and bare.”

“What makes you say that?” said the second son. “The tree has hundreds of beautiful red buds. This is why it is called the Red-Bud Tree.”

The third prince said: “Red buds, did you say? Why do you say it has red buds? It is covered with green leaves.”

The prince who had seen the tree last laughed at his brothers, saying: “I have just seen that tree, and it is not like a dead tree. It has neither red buds nor green leaves on it. It is covered with little bean-pods.”

The king heard them and waited till they stopped talking. Then he said: “Sons, you have all four seen the same tree, but each of you saw it at a different time of the year.”

The King’s White Elephant

Once on a time a number of carpenters lived on a river bank near a large forest. Every day the carpenters went in boats to the forest to cut down the trees and make them into lumber.

One day while they were at work an elephant came limping on three feet to them. He held up one foot and the carpenters saw that it was swollen and sore. Then the elephant lay down and the men saw that there was a great splinter in the sore foot. They pulled it out and washed the sore carefully so that in a short time it would be well again.

Thankful for the cure, the elephant thought: “These carpenters have done so much for me, I must be useful to them.”

So after that the elephant used to pull up trees for the carpenters. Sometimes when the trees were chopped down he would roll the logs down to the river. Other times he brought their tools for them. And the carpenters used to feed him well morning, noon and night.

Now this Elephant had a son who was white all over – a beautiful, strong young one. Said the old elephant to himself, “I will take my son to the place in the forest where I go to work each day so that he may learn to help the carpenters, for I’m no longer young and strong.”

So the old elephant told his son how the carpenters had taken good care of him when he was badly hurt and took him to them. The white elephant did as his father told him to do and helped the carpenters and they fed him well.

When the work was done at night the young elephant went to play in the river. The carpenters’ children played with him, in the water and on the bank. He liked to pick them up in his trunk and set them on the high branches of the trees and then let them climb down on his back.

One day the king came down the river and saw this beautiful white elephant working for the carpenters. The king at once wanted the elephant for his own and paid the carpenters a great price for him. Then with a last look at his playmates, the children, the beautiful white elephant went on with the king.

The king was proud of his new elephant and took the best care of him as long as he lived.

The Elephant and The Dog

Once on a time a dog used to go into the stable where the king’s elephant lived. At first the dog went there to get the food that was left after the Elephant had finished eating.

Day after day the dog went to the stable, waiting around for bits to eat. But by and by the elephant and the dog came to be great friends. Then the elephant began to share his food with the dog, and they ate together. When the elephant slept, his friend the dog slept beside him. When the elephant felt like playing, he would catch the dog in his trunk and swing him to and fro. Neither the dog nor the elephant was quite happy unless the other was near-by.

One day a farmer saw the dog and said to the elephant-keeper: “I will buy that Dog. He looks good-tempered, and I see that he is smart. How much do you want for the dog?”

The elephant-keeper did not care for the dog, and he did want some money just then. So he asked a fair price, and the farmer paid it and took the dog away to the country.

The king’s elephant missed the dog and did not care to eat when his friend was not there to share the food. When the time came for the elephant to bathe, he would not bathe. The next day again the elephant would not eat, and he would not bathe. The third day, when the elephant would neither eat nor bathe, the king was told about it.

The king sent for his chief servant, saying, “Go to the stable and find out why the elephant is acting in this way.”

The chief servant went to the stable and looked the elephant all over. Then he said to the elephant-keeper: “There seems to be nothing the matter with this elephant’s body, but why does he look so sad? Has he lost a play-mate?”

“Yes,” said the keeper, “there was a dog who ate and slept and played with the elephant. The dog went away three days ago.”

“Do you know where the dog is now?” asked the chief servant.

“No, I do not,” said the keeper.

Then the chief servant went back to the king and said. “The elephant is not sick, but he is lonely without his companion, the dog.”

“Where is the dog?” asked the king.

“A farmer took him away, so the elephant-keeper says,” said the chief servant. “No one knows where the farmer lives.”

“Very well,” said the king. “I will send word all over the country, asking the man who bought this dog to turn him loose. I will give him back as much as he paid for the dog.”

When the farmer who had bought the dog heard this, he turned him loose. The dog ran back as fast as ever he could go to the elephant’s stable. The Elephant was so glad to see the dog that he picked him up with his trunk and put him on his head. Then he put him down again.

When the elephant-keeper brought food, the elephant watched the dog as he ate, and then took his own food.
All the rest of their lives the elephant and the dog lived together.

The Wise Goat

One day a goat was on the top of a high, steep rock, picking the few blades of grass that he could find there. A wolf who was watching him from the foot of the rock, wanted to catch him, but could not climb so steep a place.

“Friend goat!” said he, “come down into the field. You can get all the sweet grass here that you can eat, and it will not cost you anything.”

“Thank you,” said the goat. “You are inviting me not to feed myself, but to feed you.”

The Woodpecker, Turtle and Deer

Once on a time a deer lived in a forest near a lake. Not far from the same lake, a woodpecker had a nest in the top of a tree; and in the lake lived a turtle. The three were friends, and lived together happily.
A hunter, wandering about in the wood, saw the foot-prints of the deer near the edge of the lake. “I must trap the deer, going down into the water,” he said, and setting a strong trap of leather, he went his way.
Early that night when the deer went down to drink, he was caught in the trap, and he cried the cry of capture.

At once the woodpecker flew down from her tree-top, and the turtle came out of the water to see what could be done.

Said the woodpecker to the turtle: “Buddy, you have teeth; you gnaw through the leather trap. I will go and see to it that the hunter keeps away. If we both do our best our friend will not lose his life.”

So the turtle began to gnaw the leather, and the woodpecker flew to the hunter’s house.
At dawn the hunter came, knife in hand, to the front door of his house.
The woodpecker, flapping her wings, flew at the hunter and struck him in the face.
The hunter turned back into the house and lay down for a little while. Then he rose up again, and took his knife. He said to himself: “When I went out by the front door, a Bird flew in my face; now I will go out by the back door.” So he did.

The woodpecker thought: “The hunter went out by the front door before, so now he will leave by the back door.” So the woodpecker sat in a tree near the back door.

When the hunter came out the bird flew at him again, flapping her wings in the hunter’s face. Then the hunter turned back and lay down again. When the sun arose, he took his knife, and started out once more.
This time the woodpecker flew back as fast as she could fly to her friends, crying, “Here comes the hunter!”

By this time the turtle had gnawed through all the pieces of the trap but one. The leather was so hard that it made his teeth feel as if they would fall out. His mouth was all covered with blood. The deer heard the woodpecker, and saw the hunter, knife in hand, coming on. With a strong pull the deer broke this last piece of the trap, and ran into the woods.
The woodpecker flew up to her nest in the tree-top.

But the turtle was so weak he could not get away. He lay where he was. The hunter picked him up and threw him into a bag, tying it to a tree.
The deer saw that the turtle was taken, and made up his mind to save his friend’s life. So the deer let the hunter see him.
The hunter seized his knife and started after the deer. The deer, keeping just out of his reach, led the hunter into the forest.

When the deer saw that they had gone far into the forest he slipped away from the hunter, and swift as the wind, he went by another way to where he had left the turtle.
But the turtle was not there. The deer called, “Turtle, turtle!” and the turtle called out, “Here I am in a bag hanging on this tree.”

Then the deer lifted the bag with his horns, and throwing it on the ground, he tore the bag open, and let the turtle out.

The woodpecker flew down from her nest, and the deer said to them: “You two friends saved my life, but if we stay here talking, the hunter will find us, and we may not get away. So do you, friend woodpecker, fly away. And you, friend turtle, dive into the water. I will hide in the forest.”

The hunter did come back, but neither the deer, nor the turtle, nor the woodpecker was to be seen. He found his torn bag, and picking that up he went back to his home.
The three friends lived together all the rest of their lives.

The Fox, the Hen and the Drum

A fox, who was out in search of food, discovered a hen scratching for worms at the foot of a tree. He hid himself in a bush near by, and was about to spring out and seize her, when a strange tapping sound fell on his ears; for in that same tree there was a drum, and when the wind blew, the branches beat against it.
Now the fox was exceedingly hungry, and reasoned thus:
“A noise as loud as that must be made by a fowl much larger than this Hen. I will, therefore, let her go, and will bring down that larger bird for my supper.”

Without further thought he rushed out of the bush with a noise that put the Hen to flight, and, after many vain efforts, scrambled up the tree. High among the leaves he found the drum, and fell on it tooth and claw. He soon had it open, only to see that it was filled with nothing more or less than empty air.

The fox hung his tail. “What a stupid wretch I am!” he groaned. “Because of my own greediness, I must now go supperless to bed.”

The Lion and the Hare

Somewhere, sometime, there was a beautiful meadow that was the home of many wild animals. They would have lived very happily there had it not been for one mischief-loving lion. Every day this lion wandered about, killing many helpless creatures for the mere sport of the slaying.

To put an end to this, the animals gathered in a body, and going to the lion, spoke to him like this:
“Mister Lion, we are proud to have such a brave and valiant beast to rule over us. But we don’t think that it is fitting for one of your rank to hunt for his own food. We therefore wait on you with this request: Stay quietly at home from now on, and we your subjects will bring to your lair such food as it is fitting a king.”

The lion, who was greatly flattered, at once accepted their offer. Thus every day the animals drew lots to decide who among their number should offer himself for the lion’s daily portion. In due time it came about that the lot fell on the hare. Now the hare, when he learned that it was his turn to die, complained bitterly.

“Don’t you see that we are still tormented by that lion?” he asked the other animals. “Only leave it to me, and I will release you for all time from his tyranny. ”
The other animals were only too glad at these words, and told the hare to go his way. The hare hid for some time in the bushes, and then hurried to the lion’s lair.

By this time the lion was as angry as he was hungry. He was snarling, and lashing his yellow tail on the ground. When he saw the hare, he called out loudly:
“Who are you, and what are my subjects doing? I have had no morsel of food today!”
The hare besought him to calm his anger and listen to him.

“The lot fell today,” he began, “on another hare and myself. In good season we were on our way here to offer ourselves for your dinner, when a lion sprang out of the bushes and seized my companion. In vain I cried to him that we were destined for the king’s table, and, moreover, that no one was permitted to hunt in these royal woods except your Majesty. He paid no heed to my words save to retort,-‘You don’t know what you are saying. I’m the only king here. That other lion, to whom you all bow down, is a usurper.’ Dumb with fright, I jumped into the nearest bush.”

The lion grew more and more indignant as he listened to the hare’s tale.
“If I could once find that lion,” he roared, “I would soon teach him who is king of these woods.”
“If your Majesty will trust me,” answered the hare, humbly, “I can take you to his hiding-place.”
So the hare and the lion went out together. They crossed the woods and the meadow, and came to an ancient well, which was full of clear, deep water.

“Over there is the home of your enemy,” whispered the hare, pointing to the well. “If you go near enough, you can see him. But,” he added, “perhaps you had better wait till he comes out before you attack him.”
These words only made the lion more indignant. “He shall not live a moment after I have laid eyes on him,” he growled.

So the hare and the lion approached stealthily to the well. As they bent over the edge and looked down into the clear water, they saw themselves reflected there. The lion, thinking that it was the other lion with the other hare, leaped into the well, never to come out again.

The Woodpecker and the Lion

One day while a lion was eating his dinner a bone stuck in his throat. It hurt so that he could not finish his dinner. He walked up and down, up and down, roaring with pain.

A woodpecker lit on a branch of a tree near-by, and hearing the lion, she said, “Buddy, what ails you?”
The lion told the woodpecker what the matter was, and the woodpecker said: “I would take the bone out of your throat, buddy, but I don’t dare to put my head into your mouth, for fear I might never get it out again. I’m afraid you might eat me.”

“Woodpecker, don’t be so afraid,” the lion said. “I will not eat you. Save my life if you can!”
“I will see what I can do for you,” said the woodpecker. “Open your mouth wide.” The lion did as he was told, but the woodpecker said to himself. “Who knows what this lion will do? I think I will be careful.”
So the woodpecker put a stick between the lion’s upper and lower jaws so that he could not shut his mouth.
Then the woodpecker hopped into the lion’s mouth and hit the end of the bone with his beak. The second time he hit it, the bone fell out.

The woodpecker hopped out of the lion’s mouth and hit the stick so that it too fell out. Then the lion could shut his mouth.

At once the lion felt very much better, but not one word of thanks did he say to the woodpecker.
One day later in the summer, the woodpecker said to the lion, “I want you to do something for me.”

“Do something for you?” said the lion. “You mean you want me to do something more for you. I have already done a great deal for you. You cannot expect me to do anything more for you. Don’t forget that once I had you in my mouth, and I let you go. That is all that you can ever expect me to do for you.”
The woodpecker said no more, but he kept away from the lion from that day on.

The Three Fishes

Once on a time three fishes lived in a far-away river. They were named Thoughtful, Very-Thoughtful, and Thoughtless.

One day they left the wild country where no men lived, and came down the river to live near a town.
Very-Thoughtful said to the other two: “There is danger all about us here. Fishermen come to the river here to catch fish with all sorts of nets and lines. Let us go back again to the wild country where we used to live.”

But the other two fishes were so lazy by now that they kept putting off their going from day to day.
But one day Thoughtful and Thoughtless went swimming on ahead of Very-Thoughtful and they did not see the fisherman’s net and rushed into it. Very-Thoughtful saw them rush into the net.
“I must save them,” said Very-Thoughtful.

So swimming around the net, he splashed in the water in front of it, like a fish that had broken through the net and gone up the river. Then he swam back of the net and splashed about there like a fish that had broken through and gone down the river.

The fisherman saw the splashing water and thought the fishes had broken through the net and that one had gone up the river, the other down, so he pulled in the net by one corner. That let the two fishes out of the net, and away they went to find Very-Thoughtful.

“You saved our lives, Very-Thoughtful,” they said, “and now we are willing to go back to the wild country.”

So back they all went to their old home where they lived safely ever after.

The Silly Kid

One day a kid climbed on the roof of a house, and this made him feel very proud and brave. As he was looking around and thinking how high he was, he saw a wolf in the yard below. He knew that the wolf could not get him, and so he began to call him names and make fun of him.

“Well, well!” said the wolf; “you are not half as brave as you seem to be. It is not you that laugh at me; it is the high roof where you stand.”

Monkeys Wearing Caps

Once on a time a nice young man used to travel from village to village, selling caps for a living. One summer afternoon when he was crossing some vast forested plains he felt tired and wanted to take a nap in the shade of a mango tree with many branches. He placed his bag of caps beside him beside the trunk and fell asleep. When he woke up in a little while, there were not any caps in his bag.

“Good grief,” he said to himself, “Did thieves have to rob me of all people?” Then he noticed that the mango tree was full of cute monkeys wearing colorful caps. He yelled at the monkeys and they screamed back. He made faces at them and they made similar funny faces. He threw a stone at them and they showered him with raw mangoes.

“How do I get my caps back?” he said to himself. Frustrated, he took off his own cap and slammed it on the ground. To his surprise, the monkeys threw their caps too. He did not waste a moment, but collected the caps and went on his way.

Fifty years later his grandson passed through the same jungle. After a long walk he found a nice mango tree with lots of branches and cool shade, and decided to rest a while. A few hours later, when he woke up, all the caps from his bag were gone. He started searching for them and soon found some monkeys who were sitting in the mango tree wearing his caps.

Then he remembered a story his grandfather had used to tell – and waved at the monkeys. The monkeys waved back. He blew his nose and the monkeys blew their noses. He pulled his ears and the monkeys pulled their ears. He threw his cap on the ground and then one of the monkeys jumped down from the mango tree, walked up to him, slapped him on the back and said,
“Do you think only you had a grandfather?”