Adaptations And Imitations Of Hindoo Fables

: Fables For Children, Stories For Children, Natural Science Stori


The Snake's Tail had a quarrel with the Snake's Head about who was to

walk in front. The Head said:

"You cannot walk in front, because you have no eyes and no ears."

The Tail said:

"Yes, but I have strength, I move you; if I want to, I can wind myself

around a tree, and you cannot get off the spot."

The Head sai

"Let us separate!"

And the Tail tore himself loose from the Head, and crept on; but the

moment he got away from the Head, he fell into a hole and was lost.


A Man ordered some fine thread from a Spinner. The Spinner spun it for

him, but the Man said that the thread was not good, and that he wanted

the finest thread he could get. The Spinner said:

"If this is not fine enough, take this!" and she pointed to an empty


He said that he did not see any. The Spinner said:

"You do not see it, because it is so fine. I do not see it myself."

The Fool was glad, and ordered some more thread of this kind, and paid

her for what he got.


A Father had two Sons. He said to them: "When I die, divide everything

into two equal parts."

When the Father died, the Sons could not divide without quarrelling.

They went to a Neighbour to have him settle the matter. The Neighbour

asked them how their Father had told them to divide. They said:

"He ordered us to divide everything into two equal parts."

The Neighbour said:

"If so, tear all your garments into two halves, break your dishes into

two halves, and cut all your cattle into two halves!"

The Brothers obeyed their Neighbour, and lost everything.


A Man went into the woods, cut down a tree, and began to saw it. He

raised the end of the tree on a stump, sat astride over it, and began to

saw. Then he drove a wedge into the split that he had sawed, and went on

sawing; then he took out the wedge and drove it in farther down.

A Monkey was sitting on a tree and watching him. When the Man lay down

to sleep, the Monkey seated herself astride the tree, and wanted to do

the same; but when she took out the wedge, the tree sprang back and

caught her tail. She began to tug and to cry. The Man woke up, beat the

Monkey, and tied a rope to her.


A Monkey was carrying both her hands full of pease. A pea dropped on the

ground; the Monkey wanted to pick it up, and dropped twenty peas. She

rushed to pick them up and lost all the rest. Then she flew into a

rage, swept away all the pease and ran off.


A Man had a Cow; she gave each day a pot full of milk. The Man invited a

number of guests. To have as much milk as possible, he did not milk the

Cow for ten days. He thought that on the tenth day the Cow would give

him ten pitchers of milk.

But the Cow's milk went back, and she gave less milk than before.


A Duck was swimming in the pond, trying to find some fish, but she did

not find one in a whole day. When night came, she saw the Moon in the

water; she thought that it was a fish, and plunged in to catch the Moon.

The other ducks saw her do it and laughed at her.

That made the Duck feel so ashamed and bashful that when she saw a fish

under the Water, she did not try to catch it, and so died of hunger.


A Wolf wanted to pick a sheep out of a flock, and stepped into the wind,

so that the dust of the flock might blow on him.

The Sheep Dog saw him, and said:

"There is no sense, Wolf, in your walking in the dust: it will make your

eyes ache."

But the Wolf said:

"The trouble is, Doggy, that my eyes have been aching for quite awhile,

and I have been told that the dust from a flock of sheep will cure the



A Mouse was living under the granary. In the floor of the granary there

was a little hole, and the grain fell down through it. The Mouse had an

easy life of it, but she wanted to brag of her ease: she gnawed a larger

hole in the floor, and invited other mice.

"Come to a feast with me," said she; "there will be plenty to eat for


When she brought the mice, she saw there was no hole. The peasant had

noticed the big hole in the floor, and had stopped it up.


A master sent his Servant to buy the best-tasting pears. The Servant

came to the shop and asked for pears. The dealer gave him some; but the

Servant said:

"No, give me the best!"

The dealer said:

"Try one; you will see that they taste good."

"How shall I know," said the Servant, "that they all taste good, if I

try one only?"

He bit off a piece from each pear, and brought them to his master. Then

his master sent him away.


The Falcon was used to the master, and came to his hand when he was

called; the Cock ran away from his master and cried when people went up

to him. So the Falcon said to the Cock:

"In you Cocks there is no gratitude; one can see that you are of a

common breed. You go to your masters only when you are hungry. It is

different with us wild birds. We have much strength, and we can fly

faster than anybody; still we do not fly away from people, but of our

own accord go to their hands when we are called. We remember that they

feed us."

Then the Cock said:

"You do not run away from people because you have never seen a roast

Falcon, but we, you know, see roast Cocks."


The Jackals had eaten up all the carrion in the woods, and had nothing

to eat. So an old Jackal was thinking how to find something to feed on.

He went to an Elephant, and said:

"We had a king, but he became overweening: he told us to do things that

nobody could do; we want to choose another king, and my people have sent

me to ask you to be our king. You will have an easy life with us.

Whatever you will order us to do, we will do, and we will honour you in

everything. Come to our kingdom!"

The Elephant consented, and followed the Jackal. The Jackal brought him

to a swamp. When the Elephant stuck fast in it, the Jackal said:

"Now command! Whatever you command, we will do."

The Elephant said:

"I command you to pull me out from here."

The Jackal began to laugh, and said:

"Take hold of my tail with your trunk, and I will pull you out at once."

The Elephant said:

"Can I be pulled out by a tail?"

But the Jackal said to him:

"Why, then, do you command us to do what is impossible? Did we not drive

away our first king for telling us to do what could not be done?"

When the Elephant died in the swamp the Jackals came and ate him up.


A Heron was living near a pond. She grew old, and had no strength left

with which to catch the fish. She began to contrive how to live by

cunning. So she said to the Fishes:

"You Fishes do not know that a calamity is in store for you: I have

heard the people say that they are going to let off the pond, and catch

every one of you. I know of a nice little pond back of the mountain. I

should like to help you, but I am old, and it is hard for me to fly."

The Fishes begged the Heron to help them. So the Heron said:

"All right, I will do what I can for you, and will carry you over: only

I cannot do it at once,--I will take you there one after another."

And the Fishes were happy; they kept begging her: "Carry me over! Carry

me over!"

And the Heron started carrying them. She would take one up, would carry

her into the field, and would eat her up. And thus she ate a large

number of Fishes.

In the pond there lived an old Crab. When the Heron began to take out

the Fishes, he saw what was up, and said:

"Now, Heron, take me to the new abode!"

The Heron took the Crab and carried him off. When she flew out on the

field, she wanted to throw the Crab down. But the Crab saw the

fish-bones on the ground, and so squeezed the Heron's neck with his

claws, and choked her to death. Then he crawled back to the pond, and

told the Fishes.


A Man was rowing in a boat, and dropped a costly pearl into the sea. The

Man returned to the shore, took a pail, and began to draw up the water

and to pour it out on the land. He drew the water and poured it out for

three days without stopping.

On the fourth day the Water-sprite came out of the sea, and asked:

"Why are you drawing the water?"

The Man said:

"I am drawing it because I have dropped a pearl into it."

The Water-sprite asked him:

"Will you stop soon?"

The Man said:

"I will stop when I dry up the sea."

Then the Water-sprite returned to the sea, brought back that pearl, and

gave it to the Man.


A Man born blind asked a Seeing Man:

"Of what colour is milk?"

The Seeing Man said: "The colour of milk is the same as that of white


The Blind Man asked: "Well, does that colour rustle in your hands like


The Seeing Man said: "No, it is as white as white flour."

The Blind Man asked: "Well, is it as soft and as powdery as flour?"

The Seeing Man said: "No, it is simply as white as a white hare."

The Blind Man asked: "Well, is it as fluffy and soft as a hare?"

The Seeing Man said: "No, it is as white as snow."

The Blind Man asked: "Well, is it as cold as snow?"

And no matter how many examples the Seeing Man gave, the Blind Man was

unable to understand what the white colour of milk was like.


A hunter went out to hunt with bow and arrows. He killed a goat. He

threw her on his shoulders and carried her along. On his way he saw a

boar. He threw down the goat, and shot at the boar and wounded him. The

boar rushed against the hunter and butted him to death, and himself died

on the spot. A Wolf scented the blood, and came to the place where lay

the goat, the boar, the man, and his bow. The Wolf was glad, and said:

"Now I shall have enough to eat for a long time; only I will not eat

everything at once, but little by little, so that nothing may be lost:

first I will eat the tougher things, and then I will lunch on what is

soft and sweet."

The Wolf sniffed at the goat, the boar, and the man, and said:

"This is all soft food, so I will eat it later; let me first start on

these sinews of the bow."

And he began to gnaw the sinews of the bow. When he bit through the

string, the bow sprang back and hit him on his belly. He died on the

spot, and other wolves ate up the man, the goat, the boar, and the Wolf.


A Hunter set out a net near a lake and caught a number of birds. The

birds were large, and they raised the net and flew away with it. The

Hunter ran after them. A Peasant saw the Hunter running, and said:

"Where are you running? How can you catch up with the birds, while you

are on foot?"

The Hunter said:

"If it were one bird, I should not catch it, but now I shall."

And so it happened. When evening came, the birds began to pull for the

night each in a different direction: one to the woods, another to the

swamp, a third to the field; and all fell with the net to the ground,

and the Hunter caught them.


A certain King let his favourite Falcon loose on a hare, and galloped

after him.

The Falcon caught the hare. The King took him away, and began to look

for some water to drink. The King found it on a knoll, but it came only

drop by drop. The King fetched his cup from the saddle, and placed it

under the water. The Water flowed in drops, and when the cup was filled,

the King raised it to his mouth and wanted to drink it. Suddenly the

Falcon fluttered on the King's arm and spilled the water. The King

placed the cup once more under the drops. He waited for a long time for

the cup to be filled even with the brim, and again, as he carried it to

his mouth, the Falcon flapped his wings and spilled the water.

When the King filled his cup for the third time and began to carry it to

his mouth, the Falcon again spilled it. The King flew into a rage and

killed him by flinging him against a stone with all his force. Just then

the King's servants rode up, and one of them ran up-hill to the spring,

to find as much water as possible, and to fill the cup. But the servant

did not bring the water; he returned with the empty cup, and said:

"You cannot drink that water; there is a snake in the spring, and she

has let her venom into the water. It is fortunate that the Falcon has

spilled the water. If you had drunk it, you would have died."

The King said:

"How badly I have repaid the Falcon! He has saved my life, and I killed



An Indian King ordered all the Blind People to be assembled, and when

they came, he ordered that all the Elephants be shown to them. The Blind

Men went to the stable and began to feel the Elephants. One felt a leg,

another a tail, a third the stump of a tail, a fourth a belly, a fifth a

back, a sixth the ears, a seventh the tusks, and an eighth a trunk.

Then the King called the Blind Men, and asked them: "What are my

Elephants like?"

One Blind Man said: "Your Elephants are like posts." He had felt the


Another Blind Man said: "They are like bath brooms." He had felt the end

of the tail.

A third said: "They are like branches." He had felt the tail stump.

The one who had touched a belly said: "The Elephants are like a clod of


The one who had touched the sides said: "They are like a wall."

The one who had touched a back said: "They are like a mound."

The one who had touched the ears said: "They are like a mortar."

The one who had touched the tusks said: "They are like horns."

The one who had touched the trunk said that they were like a stout rope.

And all the Blind Men began to dispute and to quarrel.


A Hermit was living in the forest, and the animals were not afraid of

him. He and the animals talked together and understood each other.

Once the Hermit lay down under a tree, and a Raven a Dove, a Stag, and

a Snake gathered in the same place, to pass the night. The animals began

to discuss why there was evil in the world.

The Raven said:

"All the evil in the world comes from hunger. When I eat my fill, I sit

down on a branch and croak a little, and it is all jolly and good, and

everything gives me pleasure; but let me just go without eating a day or

two, and everything palls on me so that I do not feel like looking at

God's world. And something draws me on, and I fly from place to place,

and have no rest. When I catch a glimpse of some meat, it makes me only

feel sicker than ever, and I make for it without much thinking. At times

they throw sticks and stones at me, and the wolves and dogs grab me, but

I do not give in. Oh, how many of my brothers are perishing through

hunger! All evil comes from hunger."

The Dove said:

"According to my opinion, the evil does not come from hunger, but from

love. If we lived singly, the trouble would not be so bad. One head is

not poor, and if it is, it is only one. But here we live in pairs. And

you come to like your mate so much that you have no rest: you keep

thinking of her all the time, wondering whether she has had enough to

eat, and whether she is warm. And when your mate flies away from you,

you feel entirely lost, and you keep thinking that a hawk may have

carried her off, or men may have caught her; and you start out to find

her, and fly to your ruin,--either into the hawk's claws, or into a

snare. And when your mate is lost, nothing gives you any joy. You do not

eat or drink, and all the time search and weep. Oh, so many of us perish

in this way! All the evil is not from hunger, but from love."

The Snake said:

"No, the evil is not from hunger, nor from love, but from rage. If we

lived peacefully, without getting into a rage, everything would be nice

for us. But, as it is, whenever a thing does not go exactly right, we

get angry, and then nothing pleases us. All we think about is how to

revenge ourselves on some one. Then we forget ourselves, and only hiss,

and creep, and try to find some one to bite. And we do not spare a

soul,--we even bite our own father and mother. We feel as though we

could eat ourselves up. And we rage until we perish. All the evil in the

World comes from rage."

The Stag said:

"No, not from rage, or from love, or from hunger does all the evil in

the world come, but from terror. If it were possible not to be afraid,

everything would be well. We have swift feet and much strength: against

a small animal we defend ourselves with our horns, and from a large one

we flee. But how can I help becoming frightened? Let a branch crackle in

the forest, or a leaf rustle, and I am all atremble with fear, and my

heart flutters as though it wanted to jump out, and I fly as fast as I

can. Again, let a hare run by, or a bird flap its wings, or a dry twig

break off, and you think that it is a beast, and you run straight up

against him. Or you run away from a dog and run into the hands of a man.

Frequently you get frightened and run, not knowing whither, and at full

speed rush down a steep hill, and get killed. We have no rest. All the

evil comes from terror."

Then the Hermit said:

"Not from hunger, not from love, not from rage, not from terror are all

our sufferings, but from our bodies comes all the evil in the world.

From them come hunger, and love, and rage, and terror."


A Wolf devoured a sheep. The Hunters caught the Wolf and began to beat

him. The Wolf said:

"In vain do you beat me: it is not my fault that I am gray,--God has

made me so."

But the Hunters said:

"We do not beat the Wolf for being gray, but for eating the sheep."


Once upon a time two Peasants drove toward each other and caught in each

other's sleighs. One cried:

"Get out of my way,--I am hurrying to town."

But the other said:

"Get out of my way, I am hurrying home."

They quarrelled for some time. A third Peasant saw them and said:

"If you are in a hurry, back up!"


A Peasant went to town to fetch some oats for his Horse. He had barely

left the village, when the Horse began to turn around, toward the house.

The Peasant struck the Horse with his whip. She went on, and kept

thinking about the Peasant:

"Whither is that fool driving me? He had better go home."

Before reaching town, the Peasant saw that the Horse trudged along

through the mud with difficulty, so he turned her on the pavement; but

the Horse began to turn back from the street. The Peasant gave the Horse

the whip, and jerked at the reins; she went on the pavement, and


"Why has he turned me on the pavement? It will only break my hoofs. It

is rough underfoot."

The Peasant went to the shop, bought the oats, and drove home. When he

came home, he gave the Horse some oats. The Horse ate them and thought:

"How stupid men are! They are fond of exercising their wits on us, but

they have less sense than we. What did he trouble himself about? He

drove me somewhere. No matter how far we went, we came home in the end.

So it would have been better if we had remained at home from the start:

he could have been sitting on the oven, and I eating oats."


Two Horses were drawing their carts. The Front Horse pulled well, but

the Hind Horse kept stopping all the time. The load of the Hind Horse

was transferred to the front cart; when all was transferred, the Hind

Horse went along with ease, and said to the Front Horse:

"Work hard and sweat! The more you try, the harder they will make you


When they arrived at the tavern, their master said:

"Why should I feed two Horses, and haul with one only? I shall do better

to give one plenty to eat, and to kill the other: I shall at least have

her hide."

So he did.


Two Peasants went to the forest to cut wood. One of them had an axe, and

the other a saw. They picked out a tree, and began to dispute. One said

that the tree had to be chopped, while the other said that it had to be

sawed down.

A third Peasant said:

"I will easily make peace between you: if the axe is sharp, you had

better chop it; but if the saw is sharp you had better saw it."

He took the axe, and began to chop it; but the axe was so dull that it

was not possible to cut with it. Then he took the saw; the saw was

worthless, and did not saw. So he said:

"Stop quarrelling awhile; the axe does not chop, and the saw does not

saw. First grind your axe and file your saw, and then quarrel."

But the Peasants grew angrier still at one another, because one had a

dull axe, and the other a dull saw. And they came to blows.


A Cook was preparing a dinner. The Dogs were lying at the kitchen door.

The Cook killed a calf and threw the guts out into the yard. The Dogs

picked them up and ate them, and said:

"He is a good Cook: he cooks well."

After awhile the Cook began to clean pease, turnips, and onions, and

threw out the refuse. The Dogs made for it; but they turned their noses

up, and said:

"Our Cook has grown worse: he used to cook well, but now he is no longer

any good."

But the Cook paid no attention to the Dogs, and continued to fix the

dinner in his own way. The family, and not the Dogs, ate the dinner, and

praised it.


A Hare once said to a Harrier:

"Why do you bark when you run after us? You would catch us easier, if

you ran after us in silence. With your bark you only drive us against

the hunter: he hears where we are running; and he rushes out with his

gun and kills us, and does not give you anything."

The Harrier said:

"That is not the reason why I bark. I bark because, when I scent your

odour, I am angry, and happy because I am about to catch you; I do not

know why, but I cannot keep from barking."


An old Oak dropped an acorn under a Hazelbush. The Hazelbush said to the


"Have you not enough space under your own branches? Drop your acorns in

an open space. Here I am myself crowded by my shoots, and I do not drop

my nuts to the ground, but give them to men."

"I have lived for two hundred years," said the Oak, "and the Oakling

which will sprout from that acorn will live just as long."

Then the Hazelbush flew into a rage, and said:

"If so, I will choke your Oakling, and he will not live for three days."

The Oak made no reply, but told his son to sprout out of that acorn. The

acorn got wet and burst, and clung to the ground with his crooked

rootlet, and sent up a sprout.

The Hazelbush tried to choke him, and gave him no sun. But the Oakling

spread upwards and grew stronger in the shade of the Hazelbush. A

hundred years passed. The Hazelbush had long ago dried up, but the Oak

from that acorn towered to the sky and spread his tent in all



A Hen hatched some Chicks, but did not know how to take care of them. So

she said to them:

"Creep back into your shells! When you are inside your shells, I will

sit on you as before, and will take care of you."

The Chicks did as they were ordered and tried to creep into their

shells, but were unable to do so, and only crushed their wings. Then one

of the Chicks said to his mother:

"If we are to stay all the time in our shells, you ought never to have

hatched us."


A Corn-crake had made a nest in the meadow late in the year, and at

mowing time his Mate was still sitting on her eggs. Early in the morning

the peasants came to the meadow, took off the coats, whetted their

scythes, and started one after another to mow down the grass and to put

it down in rows. The Corn-crake flew up to see what the mowers were

doing. When he saw a peasant swing his scythe and cut a snake in two, he

rejoiced and flew back to his Mate and said:

"Don't fear the peasants! They have come to cut the snakes to pieces;

they have given us no rest for quite awhile."

But his Mate said:

"The peasants are cutting the grass, and with the grass they are cutting

everything which is in their way,--the snakes, and the Corn-crake's

nest, and the Corn-crake's head. My heart forebodes nothing good: but I

cannot carry away the eggs, nor fly from the nest, for fear of chilling


When the mowers came to the nest of the Corn-crake, one of the peasants

swung his scythe and cut off the head of the Corn-crake's Mate, and put

the eggs in his bosom and gave them to his children to play with.


An old woman had a Cow and a Billy Goat. The two pastured together. At

milking the Cow was restless. The old woman brought out some bread and

salt, and gave it to the Cow, and said:

"Stand still, motherkin; take it, take it! I will bring you some more,

only stand still."

On the next evening the Goat came home from the field before the Cow,

and spread his legs, and stood in front of the old woman. The old woman

wanted to strike him with the towel, but he stood still, and did not

stir. He remembered that the woman had promised the Cow some bread if

she would stand still. When the woman saw that he would not budge, she

picked up a stick, and beat him with it.

When the Goat went away, the woman began once more to feed the Cow with

bread, and to talk to her.

"There is no honesty in men," thought the Goat. "I stood still better

than the Cow, and was beaten for it."

He stepped aside, took a run, hit against the milk-pail, spilled the

milk, and hurt the old woman.


A Man caught a Fox, and asked her:

"Who has taught you Foxes to cheat the dogs with your tails?"

The Fox asked: "How do you mean, to cheat? We do not cheat the dogs, but

simply run from them as fast as we can."

The Man said:

"Yes, you do cheat them with your tails. When the dogs catch up with you

and are about to clutch you, you turn your tails to one side; the dogs

turn sharply after the tail, and then you run in the opposite


The Fox laughed, and said:

"We do not do so in order to cheat the dogs, but in order to turn

around; when a dog is after us, and we see that we cannot get away

straight ahead, we turn to one side, and in order to do that suddenly,

we have to swing the tail to the other side, just as you do with your

arms, when you have to turn around. That is not our invention; God

himself invented it when He created us, so that the dogs might not be

able to catch all the Foxes."