Bedtime StoriesChildren's booksFables of BidpaiPanchatantra

The Jackal and the War-Drum

In a certain region was a jackal whose throat was pinched by hunger. While wandering in search of food, he came upon a king’s battle ground in the midst of a forest. And as he lingered a moment there,, he heard a great sound.

This sound troubled his heart exceedingly so that he fell into deep dejection and said: “Ah me! Disaster is upon me. I am as good as dead already. Who made that sound? What kind of a creature?”

But on peering about, he spied a war-drum that loomed like a mountain-peak, and he thought: “Was that sound its natural voice, or was it induced from without?” Now when the drum was struck by the tips of grasses swaying in the wind, it made the sound, but was dumb at other times.

So he recognized its helplessness and crept quite near. Indeed, his curiosity led him to strike it himself on both heads, and he became gleeful at the thought: “Aha! After long waiting food comes even to me. For this is sure to be stuffed with meat and fat.”

Having come to this conclusion, he picked a spot, gnawed a hole, and crept in. And though the leather covering was tough, still he had the luck not to break his teeth. But he was disappointed to find it pure wood and skin, and recited a stanza:

Its voice was fierce; I thought it stuffed,With fat, so crept within;
And there I did not find a thing,Except some wood and skin.

So he backed out, laughing to himself, and said:

I thought at first that it was full

Of fat, . . .

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