THE BRAVE LITTLE BOWMAN
: More Jataka Tales
Once upon a time there was a little man with a crooked back who was
called the wise little bowman because he used his bow and arrow so
very well. This crooked little man said to himself: "If I go to the
king and ask him to let me join his army, he's sure to ask what a
little man like me is good for. I must find some great big man who
will take me as his page, and ask the king to take us." So the little
bowman went abou
the city looking for a big man.
One day he saw a big, strong man digging a ditch "What makes a fine
big man like you do such work?" asked the little man.
"I do this work because I can earn a living in no other way," said the
"Dig no more," said the bowman. "There is in this whole country no
such bowman as I am; but no king would let me join his army because I
am such a little man. I want you to ask the king to let you join the
army. He will take you because you are big and strong. I will do the
work that you are given to do, and we will divide the pay. In this way
we shall both of us earn a good living. Will you come with me and do
as I tell you?" asked the little bowman.
"Yes, I will go with you," said the big man.
So together they set out to go to the king. By and by they came to the
gates of the palace, and sent word to the king that a wonderful bowman
was there. The king sent for the bowman to come before him. Both the
big man and the little man went in and, bowing, stood before the king.
The king looked at the big man and asked, "What brings you here?"
"I want to be in your army," said the big man.
"Who is the little man with you?" asked the king.
"He is my page," said the big man.
"What pay do you want?" asked the king.
"A thousand pieces a month for me and my page, O King," said the big
"I will take you and your page," said the king.
So the big man and the little bowman joined the king's army.
Now in those days there was a tiger in the forest who had carried off
many people. The king sent for the big man and told him to kill that
The big man told the little bowman what the king said. They went into
the forest together, and soon the little bowman shot the tiger.
The king was glad to be rid of the tiger, and gave the big man rich
gifts and praised him.
Another day word came that a buffalo was running up and down a certain
road. The king told the big man to go and kill that buffalo. The big
man and the little man went to the road, and soon the little man shot
the buffalo. When they both went back to the king, he gave a bag of
money to the big man.
The king and all the people praised the big man, and so one day the
big man said to the little man: "I can get on without you. Do you
think there's no bowman but yourself?" Many other harsh and unkind
things did he say to the little man.
But a few days later a king from a far country marched upon the city
and sent a message to its king saying, "Give up your country, or do
The king at once sent his army. The big man was armed and mounted on a
war-elephant. But the little bowman knew that the big man could not
shoot, so he took his bow and seated himself behind the big man.
Then the war-elephant, at the head of the army, went out of the city.
At the first beat of the drums, the big man shook with fear. "Hold on
tight," said the little bowman. "If you fall off now, you will be
killed. You need not be afraid; I am here."
But the big man was so afraid that he slipped down off the
war-elephant's back, and ran back into the city. He did not stop until
he reached his home.
"And now to win!" said the little bowman, as he drove the war-elephant
into the fight. The army broke into the camp of the king that came
from afar, and drove him back to his own country. Then the little
bowman led the army back into the city. The king and all the people
called him "the brave little bowman." The king made him the chief of
the army, giving him rich gifts.