Sunday, August 6, 2017

0140. The Pious Wolf

From The Giant Crab, and Other Tales from Old India by W. H. D. Rouse with illustrations by W. Robinson, online at: Internet Archive.

Notes. The traditional title of this story is Vaka Jataka. In this jataka, the Buddha has taken birth as Sakka, king of the devas, although Rouse changes that to a "fairy" in his retelling; here is Rouse's translation which includes Sakka.

Summary: A wolf declares that he will be fasting, but he cannot resist the sight of a tempting young goat.

Read the story below:


Once there was a flood, and there was a large rock with a Wolf sleeping on the top. The water came pouring around the rock, and when the Wolf awoke he found himself imprisoned, with no way of getting off, and nothing to eat.

“H’m!” said he to himself, “here I am, caught fast sure enough, and here I shall have to stay yet awhile. Nothing to eat, either! Well,” he thought, after a pause, “it is Friday to-day, when people say you ought to fast. Suppose I keep a holy fast to-day? A capital idea!”

So he crossed his paws, and pretended to pray, and thought himself very good and pious to be fasting.

A fairy saw this, and heard what he said; and she thought she would just see how much was real and how much was sham. So she changed herself into the shape of a pretty little Kid, and jumped down out of the air on to the rock.

The Wolf opened an eye to see what the noise could be, and there was a tender little Kid, standing on the rock. He forgot his prayers in a minute. “Aha!” said he. “A Kid! I can keep my Friday fast to-morrow. Now for the Kid!” He smacked his lips, and jumped at the Kid.

But the Kid jumped away, and, try as he would, he could not come near it. You know it was the fairy, and the fairy did not let herself be caught.

After trying to catch the Kid for some time the Wolf lay down again. “After all,” said he, “it is Friday; and perhaps I had best keep my fast to-day.”

“You humbug!” said the fairy, who had gone back to her proper shape; “you are a nice creature to pretend that you are keeping fast! You fast because you can’t help it, not because you are really good. As a punishment, you shall stay on this rock till next Friday, and fast for a week!”

So saying, she opened her wings and flew far away.

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