FablesHitopdeshaPanchatantra

THE LION AND THE OLD HARE

INthe Mandara mountain there once lived a Lion named Fierce-Heart, who was continually killing and devouring the other wild animals. Matters at last became so bad that all the beasts of field and woods held a public meeting, and drew up a respectful remonstrance to the Lion in these words:

“Wherefore should your majesty thus make carnage of us all? If it please you, we ourselves will every day furnish one animal for your majesty’s dinner.”

The Lion replied: “If such an arrangement suits you better, all right. I am satisfied.” So from that time on one beast was daily allotted to the Lion and daily devoured by him. At last came the day when it was the turn of an old Hare to supply the royal dinner. This old Hare, as he went on his way to give himself up, reflected as follows:

“At the worst I can but die, so I may as well take my own time in going to my death.”

Now it happened that Fierce-Heart, the Lion, was unusually hungry; and seeing the Hare approaching quite slowly, he roared out angrily, “How dare you keep me waiting like this?”

“Sire,” answered the old Hare, “the blame is not mine. I was delayed on the road by another Lion who made me swear that I would come back and give myself up to him, as soon as I had explained to your majesty.”

“Come!” cried Fierce-Heart, in a mighty rage, “show me instantly where this insolent villain of a Lion lives!”

Accordingly, the Hare led the way until he came to a very deep well, whereat he stopped and said: “Let my Lord, the King, come hither and behold his rival.”

The Lion approached, and looking down into the well beheld his own image reflected in the water. Whereupon, with an angry roar, he flung himself into the well, and perished.

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