Sara Cone Bryant
The Brahmin, the Tiger, and the Jackal
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Do you know what a Brahmin is? A
Brahmin is a very good and gentle kind of
man who lives in India, and who treats all
the beasts as if they were his brothers.
There is a great deal more to know about
Brahmins, but that is enough for the story.
One day a Brahmin was walking along
a country road when he came upon a
Tiger, shut up in a strong iron cage. The
villagers had caught him and shut him up
there for his wickedness.
"Oh, Brother Brahmin, Brother Brahmin,"
said the Tiger, "please let me out,
to get a little drink! I am so thirsty, and
there is no water here."
"But Brother Tiger," said the Brahmin,
"you know if I should let you out, you
would spring on me and eat me up."
"Never, Brother Brahmin!" said the
Tiger. "Never in the world would I do
such an ungrateful thing! Just let me out
a little minute, to get a little, little drink
of water, Brother Brahmin!"
So the Brahmin unlocked the door and
let the Tiger out. The moment he was
out he sprang on the Brahmin, and was
about to eat him up.
"But, Brother Tiger," said the Brahmin,
"you promised you would not. It is not
fair or just that you should eat me, when
I set you free."
"It is perfectly right and just," said the
Tiger, "and I shall eat you up."
However, the Brahmin argued so hard
that at last the Tiger agreed to wait and
ask the first five whom they should meet,
whether it was fair for him to eat the
Brahmin, and to abide by their decision.
The first thing they came to, to ask,
was an old Banyan Tree, by the wayside.
(A banyan tree is a kind of fruit tree.)
"Brother Banyan," said the Brahmin,
eagerly, "does it seem to you right or just
that this Tiger should eat me, when I set
him free from his cage?"
The Banyan Tree looked down at them
and spoke in a tired voice.
"In the summer," he said, "when the
sun is hot, men come and sit in the cool of
my shade and refresh themselves with the
fruit of my branches. But when evening
falls, and they are rested, they break my
twigs and scatter my leaves, and stone
my boughs for more fruit. Men are an
ungrateful race. Let the Tiger eat the
The Tiger sprang to eat the Brahmin,
but the Brahmin said,--
"Wait, wait; we have asked only one.
We have still four to ask."
Presently they came to a place where an
old Bullock was lying by the road. The
Brahmin went up to him and said,--
"Brother Bullock, oh, Brother Bullock,
does it seem to you a fair thing that this
Tiger should eat me up, after I have just
freed him from a cage?"
The Bullock looked up, and answered
in a deep, grumbling voice,--
"When I was young and strong my
master used me hard, and I served him
well. I carried heavy loads and carried
them far. Now that I am old and weak
and cannot work, he leaves me without
food or water, to die by the wayside. Men
are a thankless lot. Let the Tiger eat the
The Tiger sprang, but the Brahmin
spoke very quickly:--
"Oh, but this is only the second, Brother
Tiger; you promised to ask five."
The Tiger grumbled a good deal, but at
last he went on again with the Brahmin.
And after a time they saw an Eagle, high
overhead. The Brahmin called up to him
"Oh, Brother Eagle, Brother Eagle!
Tell us if it seems to you fair that this
Tiger should eat me up, when I have just
saved him from a frightful cage?"
The Eagle soared slowly overhead a
moment, then he came lower, and spoke
in a thin, clear voice.
"I live high in the air," he said, "and I
do no man any harm. Yet as often as they
find my eyrie, men stone my young and rob
my nest and shoot at me with arrows.
Men are a cruel breed. Let the Tiger eat
The Tiger sprang upon the Brahmin,
to eat him up; and this time the Brahmin
had very hard work to persuade him to
wait. At last he did persuade him,
however, and they walked on together. And
in a little while they saw an old Alligator,
lying half buried in mud and slime, at the
"Brother Alligator, oh, Brother Alligator!"
said the Brahmin, "does it seem
at all right or fair to you that this Tiger
should eat me up, when I have just now
let him out of a cage?"
The old Alligator turned in the mud,
and grunted, and snorted; then he said,
"I lie here in the mud all day, as
harmless as a pigeon; I hunt no man, yet every
time a man sees me, he throws stones at
me, and pokes me with sharp sticks, and
jeers at me. Men are a worthless lot. Let
the Tiger eat the Brahmin!"
At this the Tiger was bound to eat the
Brahmin at once. The poor Brahmin
had to remind him, again and again, that
they had asked only four.
"Wait till we've asked one more! Wait
until we see a fifth!" he begged.
Finally, the Tiger walked on with him.
After a time, they met the little Jackal,
coming gayly down the road toward them.
"Oh, Brother Jackal, dear Brother
Jackal," said the Brahmin, "give us your
opinion! Do you think it right or fair that
this Tiger should eat me, when I set him
free from a terrible cage?"
"Beg pardon?" said the little Jackal.
"I said," said the Brahmin, raising his
voice, "do you think it is fair that the
Tiger should eat me, when I set him free
from his cage?"
"Cage?" said the little Jackal, vacantly.
"Yes, yes, his cage," said the Brahmin.
"We want your opinion. Do you think--"
"Oh," said the little Jackal, "you want
my opinion? Then may I beg you to speak
a little more loudly, and make the matter
quite clear? I am a little slow of
understanding. Now what was it?"
"Do you think," said the Brahmin, "it
is right for this Tiger to eat me, when I
set him free from his cage?"
"What cage?" said the little Jackal.
"Why, the cage he was in," said the
Brahmin. "You see--"
"But I don't altogether understand,"
said the little Jackal, "You `set him free,'
"Yes, yes, yes!" said the Brahmin.
"It was this way: I was walking along,
and I saw the Tiger--"
"Oh, dear, dear!" interrupted the little
Jackal; "I never can see through it, if you
go on like that, with a long story. If you
really want my opinion you must make the
matter clear. What sort of cage was it?"
"Why, a big, ordinary cage, an iron
cage," said the Brahmin.
"That gives me no idea at all," said the
little Jackal. "See here, my friends, if we
are to get on with this matter you'd best
show me the spot. Then I can understand
in a jiffy. Show me the cage."
So the Brahmin, the Tiger, and the little
Jackal walked back together to the spot
where the cage was.
"Now, let us understand the situation,"
said the little Jackal. "Brahmin, where
"I stood here by the roadside," said the
"Tiger, where were you?" said the little
"Why, in the cage, of course," roared
"Oh, I beg your pardon, Father Tiger,"
said the little Jackal, "I really am SO stupid;
I cannot QUITE understand what happened.
If you will have a little patience,--HOW
were you in the cage? What position
were you in?"
"I stood here," said the Tiger, leaping
into the cage, "with my head over my
"Oh, thank you, thank you," said the
little Jackal, "that makes it MUCH clearer;
but I still don't QUITE understand--forgive
my slow mind--why did you not come
out, by yourself?"
"Can't you see that the door shut me
in?" said the Tiger.
"Oh, I do beg your pardon," said the
little Jackal. "I know I am very slow; I
can never understand things well unless I
see just how they were if you could show
me now exactly how that door works I am
sure I could understand. How does it
"It shuts like this," said the Brahmin,
pushing it to.
"Yes; but I don't see any lock," said
the little Jackal, "does it lock on the
"It locks like this," said the Brahmin.
And he shut and bolted the door!
"Oh, does it, indeed?" said the little
Jackal. "Does it, INDEED! Well, Brother
Brahmin, now that it is locked, I should
advise you to let it stay locked! As for
you, my friend," he said to the Tiger, "I
think you will wait a good while before
you'll find any one to let you out again!"
Then he made a very low bow to the Brahmin.
"Good-by, Brother," he said. "Your
way lies that way, and mine lies this;