: More Jataka Tales

Once upon a time a Big Rat lived in the forest, and many hundreds of

other Rats called him their Chief.

A Tricky Wolf saw this troop of Rats, and began to plan how he could

catch them. He wanted to eat them, but how was he to get them? At last

he thought of a plan. He went to a corner near the home of the Rats

and waited until he saw one of them coming. Then he stood up on his

hind legs.

The Chief of the Rats said to the Wolf, "Wolf, why do you stand on

your hind legs?"

"Because I am lame," said the Tricky Wolf. "It hurts me to stand on my

front legs."

"And why do you keep your mouth open?" asked the Rat.

"I keep my mouth open so that I may drink in all the air I can," said

the Wolf. "I live on air; it is my only food day after day. I can not

run or walk, so I stay here. I try not to complain." When the Rats

went away the Wolf lay down.

The Chief of the Rats was sorry for the Wolf, and he went each night

and morning with all the other Rats to talk with the Wolf, who seemed

so poor, and who did not complain.

Each time as the Rats were leaving, the Wolf caught and ate the last

one. Then he wiped his lips, and looked as if nothing had happened.

Each night there were fewer Rats at bedtime. Then they asked the Chief

of the Rats what the trouble was. He could not be sure, but he thought

the Wolf was to blame.

So the next day the Chief said to the other Rats, "You go first this

time and I will go last."

They did so, and as the Chief of the Rats went by, the Wolf made a

spring at him. But the Wolf was not quick enough, and the Chief of the

Rats got away.

"So this is the food you eat. Your legs are not so lame as they were.

You have played your last trick, Wolf," said the Chief of the Rats,

springing at the Wolf's throat. He bit the Wolf, so that he died.

And ever after the Rats lived happily in peace and quiet.