Hindu Fable, THE DEATH OF THE GREEDY JACKAL*

Posted by jlubans on May 25, 2019

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Caption: Illustration by (from?) Sir Topaz the Cure-ate

ONCE in a town, called Happy Home, there lived a mighty Hunter, named Grim-Face.
One day, wishing a little fresh venison for dinner, he took his bow and arrows and went into the woods where he soon found and killed a Deer. As he was carrying the Deer home he came upon a wild Boar of huge size. Laying the Deer on the ground, he fixed and shot an arrow, wounding the Boar, which instantly rushed upon him with a roar louder than the roar of thunder, and ripped the Hunter open with his sharp tusks.
The Hunter fell like a tree cut down by the axe, and lay dead between the Boar and a Snake, which had also been killed and crushed under their feet as they fought.
Presently a Jackal, whose name was Howl-o'Nights, passed that way, prowling in search of food; and his eye fell upon the Hunter, the Deer, the Boar and the Snake, all lying dead together.
"Aha!" said Howl-o'Nights, "what luck! Good fortune can come, I see, as well as ill fortune.
Now let me think: the man will make fine pickings for a month; the Deer and the Boar, between them, will last me two months more; the Snake will do for to-morrow; and, as I am unusually hungry, I will treat myself now to this bit of strong-smelling bow-string."
So saying, the Jackal began to gnaw the sinew of which the bowstring was made.
Presently, the string snapped apart, and the bow sprang back and pierced the heart of greedy Howl-o'Nights.

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Greed like blame abounds.
And, the corpses, a la the gangster movie genre, keep piling up (5 all told).
The ensemble – Grim-Face (Robert DeNiro?), the jackal (Al Pacino?), the trampled snake and the mortified Boar (Sylvester Stallone?)
The deer’s the only corpse that died with any dignity.
The greediest of the lot (Howl-o'Nights) gets the ultimate pungle.
For some reason, it all reminds me, of an inverted maxim, “For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,

For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost!
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail!”
So, for want of a bowstring, all have gone to perdition!
Better for Grim Face (or Bobby D) to have settled for the clean kill of the deer and kept on walking, like in Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Were Made for Walkin’.

*Source: Hitopadeqa. Book IV. Fable 7. Adapted from the translation by Sir Edwin Arnold included in Cooper, Frederic Taber, editor (1864-1937), “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land”. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 1921.

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More Fables for Leaders with zippy commentary are a click away:


And, My 2010 book, Leading from the Middle, is available at Amazon.

© Copyright John Lubans 2019

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