The Brahman’s Goat

In a certain town lived a Brahman named Mitra Sharma, who had undertaken the labour of maintaining the sacred fire. One day in the month of February, when a gentle breeze was blowing, when the sky was veiled in clouds and a drizzling rain was falling, he went to another village to beg a victim for the sacrifice, and said to a certain man: “O sacrificer, I wish to make an offering on the approaching day of the new moon. Pray, give me a victim.” And the man gave him a plump goat, as prescribed in Scripture. This he put through its paces, found it sound, placed it on his shoulder, and started in haste for his own city.

Now on the road, he was met by three rogues whose throats were pinched with hunger. These, spying the plump creature on his shoulder, whispered together: “Come now! If we could eat that creature, we should have the laugh on this sleety weather. Let us fool him, get the goat, and ward off the cold.”

So the first of them changed his dress, issued from a by-path to meet the Brahman, and thus addressed that man of pious life: “O pious Brahman, why are you doing a thing so unconventional and so ridiculous? You are carrying an unclean animal, a dog, on your shoulder.”

At that, the Brahman was mastered by anger, and he said: “Are you blind, man, that you impute doghood to a goat?”

“O Brahman,” said the rogue, “do not be angry. Go where you will.” But when he had travelled a little farther, the second rogue met him and said: “Alas, holy sir, alas! Even if this dead calf was a pet, still you should not put it on your shoulder.”

Then the Brahman spoke in anger: “Are you blind, man? You call a goat a calf.” And the rogue said: “Holy sir, do not be angry. I spoke in ignorance. Do as you will.”

But when he had walked only a little farther through the forest, the third rogue, changing his dress, met him and said: “Sir, this is most improper. You are carrying a donkey on your shoulder. Pray to drop this thing, before another sees you.”

So the Brahman concluded that it was a goblin in quadruped form, threw it on the ground, and made for home, terrified. Meanwhile, the three rogues met, caught the goat, and carried out their plan.

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