Long, long ago, when Brahma-datta was reigning in Benāres, the Bodisat had come to life as a tree-god, dwelling in a certain grove of Jambu-trees.
Now a crow was sitting there one day on the branch of a Jambu-tree, eating the Jambu-fruits, when a jackal coming by, looked up and saw him.
“Ha!” thought he. “I’ll flatter that fellow, and get some of those Jambus to eat.” And thereupon he uttered this verse in his praise:
“Who may this be, whose rich and pleasant notesProclaim him best of all the singing-birds?Warbling so sweetly on the Jambu-branch,Where like a peacock he sits firm and grand!”
Then the crow, to pay him back his compliments, replied in this second verse:
“’Tis a well-bred young gentleman, who understandsTo speak of gentlemen in terms polite!Good Sir!—whose shape and glossy coat revealThe tiger’s offspring—eat of these, I pray!”
And so saying, he shook the branch of the Jambu-tree till he made the fruit to fall.
But when the god who dwelt in that tree saw the two of them, now they had done flattering one another, eating the Jambus together, he uttered a third verse:
“Too long, forsooth, I’ve borne the sightOf these poor chatterers of lies—The refuse-eater and the offal-eaterBelauding each other!”
And making himself visible in awful shape, he frightened them away from the place!
It is easy to understand, that when this story had been carried out of those countries where the crow and the jackal are the common scavengers, it would lose its point; and it may very well, therefore, have been shortened into the fable of the Fox and the Crow and the piece of cheese. On the other hand, the latter is so complete and excellent a story, that it would scarcely have been expanded, if it had been the original, into the tale of the Jackal and the Crow.
The next tale to be quoted is one showing how a wise man solves a difficulty. I am sorry that Mr. Fausböll has not yet reached this Jātaka in his edition of the Pāli text; but I give it from a Siŋhalese version of the fourteenth century, which is nearer to the Pāli than any other as yet known. It is an episode in