Qnce upon a time there were two Tigers who lived in a certain forest and had a family of three children. The Father Tiger grew old and began to fail, and just before his death he sent for his three children and addressed them as follows :
” Remember, my children,” said he, ” that the Tiger is Lord of the jungle ; he roams about at his will and makes a prey of the other animals as he wishes, and none can gainsay him. But there is one animal against whom you must be on your guard. He alone is more powerful and cunning than the Tiger. That animal is Man, and I warn you solemnly before I die to beware of Man, and on no account to try to hunt or to kill him.”
So saying, the old Tiger turned on his side and died. The three young Tigers listened respectfully to the words of their dying parent and promised to obey ; and the elder brothers, who were obedient sons, were careful to follow his advice. They confined their attentions to the slaughter of deer, pigs, and other denizens of the forest, and were careful, whenever they came within sight or scent of any human being, to clear off as fast as they could from so dangerous a neighbourhood. But the youngest Tiger was of an independent and inquisitive disposition. As he grew older and stronger he began to chafe against the restriction that had been imposed upon him.
” What, after all,” thought he to himself, ” can be this creature Man that I should not slay him if I wish. I am told that he is but a defenceless creature, that his strength cannot be compared to mine, and that his claws and teeth are quite contemptible. I can pull down the largest stag or tackle the fiercest boar with impunity. Why, then, should not I be able to kill and eat Man also ? ”
So after a while, in his conceit and folly, he determined to quit his own part of the forest and to venture forth towards the open country in search of a Man as his prey. His two brothers and his mother tried to reason with him and to persuade him to remember the words of his dying father, but with no avail ; and finally, one fine morning, in spite of their prayers and entreaties, he set off alone on his search. He had not proceeded very far when he met an old, worn-out pack-Bullock, thin and emaciated, and with the marks of many ancient scars on his back. The young Tiger had never seen a Bullock before, and he regarded the creature with some curiosity. Walking up to it he said :
” What sort of animal are you, pray ? Are you a Man by any chance ? ”
“No, indeed,” replied the creature; “I am only a poor Bullock.”
” Ah ! ” said the Tiger. ” Well, perhaps you can tell me what sort of an animal Man is, for I am just going out to find and kill one.”
” Beware of Man, young Tiger,” replied the Bullock; ” he is a dangerous and a faithless creature. Just look at me for example. From the time when I was very young I was Man’s servant. I carried loads for him on my back, as you may see by these scars, and for many years I slaved for him faithfully and well. While I was young and strong he cared for me and valued me highly ; but as soon as I became old and weak, and was no longer able to do his work, he turned me out into this wild jungle to seek my food as best I might, and gave no thought for me in my old age. I warn you solemnly to leave him alone and not to try and kill him. He is very cunning and dangerous.”
But the young Tiger only laughed at the warning and went on his way. Soon afterwards he came across an ancient Elephant wandering by itself on the outskirts of the forest, and feeding with its trunk on the grasses and foliage which it loves. The old animal had a wrinkled skin and a small and bleary eye, and behind its huge ears were many cuts and ancient scars, showing where the goad had been so frequently applied.
The young Tiger eyed this strange animal with some surprise, and going up to it he said :
” What sort of an animal are you, please ? You are not a Man, I suppose ? ”
“No, indeed,” replied the Elephant; “I am only a poor old worn-out Elephant.”
” Is that so ? ” answered the Tiger. ” Perhaps you can tell me, however, what sort of a creature Man is, as I am now hunting for one in order to kill and eat him.”
” Beware how you hunt Man, young Tiger,” replied the old Elephant ; “he is a faithless and dangerous animal. Look at my case. Although I am the Lord of the jungle, Man tamed me, and trained me, and made me his servant for many years. He put a saddle on my back and made stirrups of my ears, and he used to strike me over my head with an iron goad. While I was young and strong he valued me highly. Food was brought to me, as much as I could eat every day, and I had a special attendant who used to wash and groom me, and to see to all my wants. But when I became old and too infirm for further work, he turned me out into the jungle to fend for myself as best I could. If you will take my advice you will leave Man alone, or it will be the worse for you in the end.”
But the young Tiger laughed contemptuously and went on his way. After proceeding for some little distance he heard the sound of some one chopping wood, and creeping near he saw that it was a Woodcutter engaged in felling a tree. After watching him for some time the Tiger emerged from the jungle, and going up to the Man, he asked what sort of an animal he was.
The Woodcutter replied ” Why, what an ignorant Tiger you are ; can’t you see that I am a Man ? ”
” Oh, are you,” replied the Tiger, ” what a piece of luck for me. I was just looking for a. Man in order to kill and eat him, and you will do nicely.”
On hearing this the Woodcutter began to laugh.
” Kill and eat me,” he replied ; ” why, don’t you know that Man is much too clever to be killed and eaten by a Tiger ? Just come with me a little way and I will show you some things which only a Man knows, but which will be very useful for you to learn.”
The Tiger thought that this was a good idea, so he followed the Man through the jungle until they came to the Man’s house, which was strongly built of timber and heavy logs.
” What is that place ? ” said the Tiger when he saw it.
” That is called a house,” replied the Man. ” J will show you how we use it.”
And so saying he went inside and shut the door.” Now,” said he, speaking from the inside to the Tiger, ” you see what a foolish creature a Tiger is compared to a Man. You poor animals live in a hole in the forest, exposed to wind, rain, cold and heat ; and all your strength is of no value to make a house like this. Whereas I, although I am so much weaker than you, can build myself a fine house, where I live at my ease, indifferent to the weather and secure from the attacks of wild animals.”
On hearing this the young Tiger flew into a violent passion.
” What right,” said he, ” has an ugly, defenceless creature like you to possess such a lovely house ? Look at me, with my beautiful stripes, and my great teeth and claws, and my long tail. I am far more worthy than you of a house. Come out at once, and give your house over to me.”
” Oh, very well,” said the Man, and he came out of the house leaving the door open, and the Tiger stalked in.
” Now, look at me,” called out the conceited young Tiger from inside, ” don’t I look nice in my fine house ?”
” Very nice indeed,” replied the Man, and bolting the door outside he walked off with his axe, leaving the Tiger to starve to death.
THE STORY OF GOOD FAITH.
The Tiger soon got tired of sitting in the house and tried to force his way out ; but the house was too strongly built for him to be able to make any impression upon the walls, so he gave it up in despair and soon began to suffer severely from hunger and thirst. Two or three days passed away and the Tiger was in a sorry state, when, as he was peering through a chink in the logs he saw a little Musk Deer, which had come down to drink at the stream which was close by. When the Tiger saw the Deer he called out to her:
” Oh, Sister Deer, will you please come and open the door of this house. I am shut up inside, and as I have nothing to eat and drink I am afraid of starving to death.”
The Deer was a good deal frightened when she heard the Tiger’s voice, but when she understood how matters were she was reassured, and replied:
” Oh, Uncle Tiger, I am very sorry to hear of your misfortune. But I am afraid if I open the door and let you out you will kill and eat me.”
” No, no, I won’t,” replied the Tiger, ” you can rely upon me. I promise you faithfully that if you will release me I will let you go free.”
Accordingly, the Deer came up to the house and unbolted the door from the outside, and the Tiger sprang out joyfully. As soon as he got outside he seized upon the Deer and said:
” I am very sorry for you, Sister Deer, but the fact is I am so famished that really I have no alternative but to eat you immediately.”
“This is really too bad,” replied the Deer; “after promising faithfully that you would not eat me, and after the benefit which I have conferred upon you, you should certainly keep faith with me.”
” Faith ! ” said the Tiger. ” What is faith ? I don’t believe there is any such thing as good faith.”
” Is there not ? ” answered the Deer. ” Well now, let us make a bargain. We will ask the first three living things “we meet whether or no there is such a thing as good faith. If they say there is not, then you are welcome to kill and eat me ; but if they say there is such a thing, then you shall let me go free.”
” Very good,” said the Tiger, ” I agree to that ; that is a bargain.”
So the two set off together side by side, and after proceeding a short distance down the road they came upon a large Tree growing by the roadside.
” Good-morning, Brother Tree,” said the Musk Deer, ” we want to refer a question to you for your decision.”
The Tree waved its branches in the air and replied in a gentle voice: ” What is your question, Sister Deer ? I am ready to do my best to help you.”
” The case is this,” replied the Musk Deer, ” a short while ago I found this Tiger shut up in a Woodcutter’s hut in the forest, unable to get out. He called out to me asking me to open the door of the hut, promising me, if I did so, that he would let me go free. So I opened the door and let him out. No sooner was he released than he seized upon me and threatened to kill and eat me ; and when I reproached him of breaking his faith, he said he did not believe that there was such a thing as good faith in the World. So we made a bargain that we would ask the first three living things we met whether or no there is such a thing as good faith in this world. If they say there is not, then the Tiger is to kill and eat me ; but if they say that there is such a thing, then I am to go free. Will you please give us an opinion as to Whether such a thing as good faith exists or not.”
On hearing this story the great Tree moved its branches slowly in the breeze and replied as follows:
” I am much interested in your story, Sister Deer, and would gladly help you if I could ; but I am bound to answer you honestly in accordance with my own experience of life. Now consider my own case. I grow here by the roadside and spread my branches over the dusty highway ready to give shelter to man and beast in their shade. Travellers passing constantly up and down the road avail themselves of this cool retreat, and they come themselves and they bring their poor beasts of burden to rest in my shadow. And then what happens ? Are they grateful to me for the comfort which I afford them ? Does my example inspire them with any consideration for others ? Far from it. When they have rested and refreshed themselves enough, they proceed oh their way, and not only do they hot thank me for my hospitality, but they break off my tender branches and Use them as whips, further to goad and distress their weary animals. Can such conduct as that be called good faith ? No, I am bound to say that my experience of life leads me to believe that there is no such thing as good faith in this world.”
The poor Musk Deer was much cast down on hearing these words, and she and the Tiger moved on together till, a little farther along the road, they caught sight of a Cow Buffalo and her Calf grazing quietly in a field of succulent grass. They noticed that the old Cow contented herself with the driest and smallest patches of grass, Whilst showing her Calf where to find the richest and most luxuriant pasture, and that she willingly deprived herself of any comfort in order to afford pleasure to the youngster. The Tiger and the Deer approached the old Cow, and the Deer, addressing her, said:
” Good-morning, Aunt Buffalo ! This Tiger and I have a small matter Which we wish to refer to you for an opinion.”
The Buffalo gazed at them with her big eyes, and after ruminating for a while she replied slowly:
” Say on, Sister Deer, I am ready to give you my opinion for what it is worth.”
” Well,” said the Deer, ” this Tiger was shut up in a hut in the forest, and being unable to open the door, he was in danger of starving to death. I happened to pass by, and he called to me, asking me to let him out, promising that if I did so he would spare my life. So I opened the door and released him. But no sooner was he free than he seized upon me and said. that he would kill and eat me ; and when I reproached him with his bad faith, he replied that he did not believe that such a thing as good faith existed. So we made a bargain that we would ask the first three living things we met whether or no they believed that there is such a thing as good faith. If they say there is not, then the Tiger is to eat me ; but if they say that there is such a thing, I am to go free. Now, will you please give us your opinion on the matter.”
On hearing this statement the old Buffalo continued to chew the cud for some minutes, and then replied gravely:
” I would gladly help you in the matter, Sister Deer, if I could ; but I must regard it from the point of view of my own experience in life. I am considering the case of myself and my Calf. While the Calf is young and tender, I do all in my power to nourish and care for it. I first give it my milk, and later on, as you see, I encourage it to browse upon the best of the herbage, whilst I gladly stint myself in order that it may have plenty of the best of everything. But what happens later on, when the Calf grows strong and lusty ? Does it remember its old mother with gratitude, and fend for her in her, old age ? Far from it. As soon as it is big enough it will push me a.way from the places where I am grazing and take the best for itself, and will drive me away altogether from the pastures if it can. Can that be called keeping faith with its mother? No; my experience makes me believe that there is no such thing as good faith in this world.”
When the Musk Deer heard this she was much downhearted, and fully expected to be killed and eaten without further delay ; but she begged the Tiger to give her one more chance, saying that she was fully prepared to abide by the opinion of the third person whom they met.
The Tiger consented to this, and after going on a little farther together they met a Hare, hopping quietly down the road towards them.
” Good-morning, Brother Hare,” called out the Musk Deer ; ” could you spare us a few moments to give us an opinion upon a point of difference which has arisen between this Tiger and myself ?”
” Certainly, ‘ replied the Hare, stopping short in the roadway. ” I shall be delighted to do the best I can for you.”
” Well,” replied the Musk Deer, ” the facts are as follows : I was drinking just now at a stream in the forest when I noticed this Tiger shut up in a Woodcutter’s hut. The door was bolted outside, and he was unable to come out, and was in danger of starving to, death, so he called out to me, asking me to release him, promising me, if I did so, that he would spare my life. I accordingly opened the door; but no sooner did the Tiger come out, than he seized upon me, saying that he was so hungry that he had really no alternative but to devour me on the spot. And when I reproached him for his bad faith, he replied that he did not know what good faith was, and, in fact, did not believe that such a thing existed. So we made a bargain that we would ask the first three living creatures we met whether or no there is such a thing as good faith in this world. If they say there is, then I am to go free ; but if they say there. is not, then the Tiger is at liberty to kill and eat me. We have already consulted two persons in the matter, and they are both of opinion that there is no such thing as good faith. You are the third and last, and on your decision depends my life.”
“Dear me,” replied the Hare, ” this is a very strange story, and before giving an opinion on so momentous a matter it is necessary that I should understand exactly how it all happened. Let me see. You say that you were shut up in the Woodcutter’s hut.”
“No, no,” broke in the Tiger; “it was I who was shut up in the Woodcutter’s hut.”
” Oh ! I see,” said the Hare ; ” then the Musk Deer must have shut you in ?”
” Oh ! no,” interrupted the Musk Deer. ” You don’t seem to understand at all ; that was not how it happened.”
” Well,” said the Hare, “it is such a complicated story that it is difficult to follow it exactly. So before giving a decision I propose that we all adjourn to the scene of action, and there you can explain to me precisely what occurred.”
The Tiger and the Musk Deer agreed to this, and the three set off together until they arrived at the Woodcutter’s hut in the forest.
” Now,” said the Hare, ” will you please explain to me exactly what happened. Where, for instance, were you, Sister Deer, at the time the Tiger spoke to you ? ”
” I was down here drinking at the stream, so,” replied the Deer, going off to the place in question.
” And where were you, Uncle Tiger ? ” said the Hare.
” Well, I was inside the hut, thus,” replied the Tiger, going inside the house.
” And the door, I presume, must have been shut, so ?” said the Hare. And so saying he shut the door and bolted it ; and he and the Deer went on their way safely, leaving the Tiger shut up inside, where he shortly after starved to death.