his position on the tower?
Buddhi-Mati listened very attentively to these strange instructions,
and began to ask questions about them. "Why do you want the beetle? Why
do you want the honey?" and so on. But her husband checked her. "I have
no strength to waste in explanations," he said. "Go home in peace,
sleep well, and dream of me." So the anxious wife went meekly away;
and early the next day she set to work to obey the orders she had
received. She had some trouble in obtaining fine enough silk, so
very, very thin it had to be, like a spider's web; but the cotton,
twine and rope were easily bought; and to her surprise she was not
asked what she wanted them for. It took her a good while to choose
the beetle. For though she had a vague kind of idea that the silk,
the cotton, twine, and rope, were to help her husband get down from
the tower, she could not imagine what share the beetle and the honey
were to take. In the end she chose a very handsome, strong-looking,
brilliantly coloured fellow who lived in the garden of her home and
whom she knew to be fond of honey.
5. Can you guess how the beetle and the honey were to help in saving
6. Do you think it would have been better if the vizier had told his
wife how all the things he asked for were to be used?
All the time Buddhi-Mati was at work for her husband, she was thinking
of him and looking forward to the happy day of his return home. She
had such faith in him that she did not for a moment doubt that he
would escape; but she was anxious about the future, feeling sure
that the Raja would never forgive Dhairya-Sila for being wiser than
himself. Exactly at the time fixed the faithful wife appeared at the
foot of the tower, with all the things she had been told to bring
"Is all well with my lord?" she whispered, as she gazed up through
the darkness. "I have the silken thread as fine as gossamer, the
cotton thread, the twine, the rope, the beetle and the honey."
"Yes," answered Dhairya-Sila, "all is still well with me. I have
slept well, feeling confident that my dear one would bring all that
is needed for my safety; but I dread the great heat of another day,
and we must lose no time in getting away from this terrible tower. Now
attend most carefully to all I bid you do; and remember not to speak
loud, or the sentries posted within hearing will take alarm and drive
you away. First of all, tie the end of the silken thread round the
middle of the beetle, leaving all its legs quite free. Then rub the
drop of honey on its nose, and put the little creature on the wall,
with its nose turned upwards towards me. It will smell the honey, but
will not guess that it carries it itself, and it will crawl upwards in
the hope of getting to the hive from which that honey came. Keep the
rest of the silk firmly held, and gradually unwind it as the beetle
climbs up. Mind you do not let it slip, for my very life depends on
that slight link with you."
7. Which do you think had the harder task to perform - the husband at
the top of the tower or the wife at the foot of it?
8. Do you think the beetle was likely to imagine it was on the way
to a hive of bees when it began to creep up the tower?
Buddhi-Mati, though her hands shook and her heart beat fast as
she realized all that depended on her, kept the silk from becoming
entangled; and when it was nearly all unwound, she heard her husband's
voice saying to her: "Now tie the cotton thread to the end of the
silk that you hold, and let it gradually unwind." She obeyed, fully
understanding now what all these preparations were for.
When the little messenger of life reached the top of the tower,
Dhairya-Sila took it up in his hand and very gently unfastened the
silken thread from its body. Then he placed the beetle carefully in
a fold of his turban, and began to pull the silken thread up - very,
very slowly, for if it had broken, his wonderful scheme would have
come to an end. Presently he had the cotton thread in his fingers,
and he broke off the silk, wound it up, and placed it too in his
turban. It had done its duty well, and he would not throw it away.
"Half the work is done now," he whispered to his faithful wife. "You
have all but saved me now. Take the twine and tie it to the end of
the cotton thread."
Very happily Buddhi-Mati obeyed once more; and soon the cotton thread
and twine were also laid aside, and the strong rope tied to the last
was being quickly dragged up by the clever vizier, who knew that all
fear of death from sunstroke or hunger was over. When he had all the
rope on the tower, he fastened one end of it to the iron railing which
ran round the platform on which he stood, and very quickly slid down
to the bottom, where his wife was waiting for him, trembling with joy.
9. Do you see anything very improbable in the account of what the
10. If the beetle had not gone straight up the tower, what do you
think would have happened?
After embracing his wife and thanking her for saving him, the vizier
said to her: "Before we return home, let us give thanks to the great
God who helped me in my need by putting into my head the device
by which I escaped." The happy pair then prostrated themselves
on the ground, and in fervent words of gratitude expressed their
sense of what the God they worshipped had done for them. "And now,"
said Dhairya-Sila, "the next thing we have to do is to take the dear
little beetle which was the instrument of my rescue back to the place
it came from." And taking off his turban, he showed his wife the tiny
creature lying in the soft folds.
Buddhi-Mati led her husband to the garden where she had found the
beetle, and Dhairya-Sila laid it tenderly on the ground, fetched some
food for it, such as he knew it loved, and there left it to take up
its old way of life. The rest of the day he spent quietly in his own
home with his wife, keeping out of sight of his servants, lest they
should report his return to his master. "You must never breathe a
word to any one of how I escaped," Dhairya-Sila said, and his wife
promised that she never would.
11. When the vizier got this promise, what did he forget which could
betray how he got down from the tower, if any one went to look at it?
12. Do you think there was any need for the vizier to tell his wife
to keep his secret?
All this time the Raja was feeling very unhappy, for he thought he
had himself caused the death of the one man he could trust. He was too
proud to let anybody know that he missed Dhairya-Sila, and was longing
to send for him from the tower before it was too late. What then was
his relief and surprise when a message was brought to him that the
vizier was at the door of the palace and begged for an interview.
"Bring him in at once," cried Surya Pratap. And the next moment
Dhairya-Sila stood before his master, his hands folded on his breast
and his head bent in token of his submission. The attendants looked
on, eager to know how he had got down from the tower, some of them
anything but glad to see him back. The Raja took care not to show
how delighted he was to see him, and pretending to be angry, he said:
"How dare you come into my presence, and which of my subjects has
ventured to help you to escape the death on the tower you so richly
"None of your subjects, great and just and glorious ruler," replied
Dhairya-Sila, "but the God who created us both, making you my
master and me your humble servant. It was that God," he went on,
"who saved me, knowing that I was indeed guiltless of any crime
against you. I had not been long on the tower when help came to me
in the form of a great and noble eagle, which appeared above me,
hovering with outspread wings, as if about to swoop down upon me and
tear me limb from limb. I trembled greatly, but I need have had no
fear; for instead of harming me, the bird suddenly lifted me up in
its talons and, flying rapidly through the air, landed me upon the
balcony of my home and disappeared. Great indeed was the joy of my
wife at my rescue from what seemed to be certain death; but I tore
myself away from her embraces, to come and tell my lord how heaven
had interfered to prove my innocence."
Fully believing that a miracle had taken place, Surya Pratap asked
no more questions, but at once restored Dhairya-Sila to his old
place as vizier, taking care not again to ill-treat the man he now
believed to be under the special care of God. Though he certainly did
not deserve it, the vizier prospered greatly all the rest of his life
and as time went on he became the real ruler of the kingdom, for the
Raja depended on his advice in everything. He grew richer and richer,
but he was never really happy again, remembering the lie he had told to
the master to whom he owed so much. Buddhi-Mati could never understand
why he made up the story about the eagle, and constantly urged him to
tell the truth. She thought it was really far more wonderful that a
little beetle should have been the means of rescuing him, than that
a strong bird should have done so; and she wanted everyone to know
what a very clever husband she had. She kept her promise never to tell
anyone what really happened, but the secret came out for all that. By
the time it was known, however, Dhairya-Sila was so powerful that no
one could harm him, and when he died his son took his place as vizier,
13. What lessons can be learnt from this story?
14. What do you think was Dhairya-Sila's motive for telling the Raja
the lie about the eagle?
15. What did Surya Pratap's ready belief in the story show?
16. How do you think the secret the husband and wife kept so well
A Crow and His Three Friends
In the branches of a great tree, in a forest in India, lived a
wise old crow in a very comfortable, well-built nest. His wife was
dead, and all his children were getting their own living; so he had
nothing to do but to look after himself. He led a very easy existence,
but took a great interest in the affairs of his neighbours. One day,
popping his head over the edge of his home, he saw a fierce-looking man
stalking along, carrying a stick in one hand and a net in the other.
"That fellow is up to some mischief, I'll be bound," thought the crow:
"I will keep my eye on him." The man stopped under the tree, spread
the net on the ground; and taking a bag of rice out of his pocket,
he scattered the grains amongst the meshes of the net. Then he hid
himself behind the trunk of the tree from which the crow was watching,
evidently intending to stop there and see what would happen. The
crow felt pretty gore that the stranger had designs against birds,
and that the stick had something to do with the matter. He was quite
right; and it was not long before just what he expected came to pass.
A flock of pigeons, led by a specially fine bird who had been chosen
king because of his size and the beauty of his plumage, came flying
rapidly along, and noticed the white rice, but did not see the net,
because it was very much the same colour as the ground. Down swooped
the king, and down swept all the other pigeons, eager to enjoy a good
meal without any trouble to themselves. Alas, their joy was short
lived! They were all caught in the net and began struggling to escape,
beating the air with their wings and uttering loud cries of distress.
The crow and the man behind the tree kept very quiet, watching them;
the man with his stick ready to beat the poor helpless birds to
death, the crow watching out of mere curiosity. Now a very strange
and wonderful thing came to pass. The king of the pigeons, who had
his wits about him, said to the imprisoned birds:
"Take the net up in your beaks, all of you spread out your wings at
once, and fly straight up into the air as quickly as possible."
1. What special qualities did the king display when he gave these
orders to his subjects?
2. Can you think of any other advice the king might have given?
In a moment all the pigeons, who were accustomed to obey their leader,
did as they were bid; each little bird seized a separate thread of the
net in his beak and up, up, up, they all flew, looking very beautiful
with the sunlight gleaming on their white wings. Very soon they were
out of sight; and the man, who thought he had hit upon a very clever
plan, came forth from his hiding-place, very much surprised at what
had happened. He stood gazing up after his vanished net for a little
time, and then went away muttering to himself, whilst the wise old
crow laughed at him.
When the pigeons had flown some distance, and were beginning to
get exhausted, for the net was heavy and they were quite unused to
carrying loads, the king bade them rest awhile in a clearing of the
forest; and as they all lay on the ground panting for breath, with
the cruel net still hampering them, he said:
"What we must do now is to take this horrible net to my old friend
Hiranya the mouse, who will, I am quite sure, nibble through the
strings for me and set us all free. He lives, as you all know, near
the tree where the net was spread, deep underground; but there are
many passages leading to his home, and we shall easily find one of
the openings. Once there, we will all lift up our voices, and call to
him at once, when he will be sure to hear us." So the weary pigeons
took up their burden once more, and sped back whence they had come,
greatly to the surprise of the crow, who wondered at their coming
back to the very place where misfortune had overtaken them. He very
soon learnt the reason, and got so excited watching what was going
on, that he hopped out of his nest and perched upon a branch where
he could see better. Presently a great clamour arose, one word being
repeated again and again: "Hiranya! Hiranya! Hiranya."
"Why, that's the name of the mouse who lives down below there!" thought
the crow. "Now, what good can he do? I know, I know," he added, as
he remembered the sharp teeth of Hiranya. "That king of the pigeons
is a sensible fellow. I must make friends with him."
Very soon, as the pigeons lay fluttering and struggling outside one
of the entrances to Hiranya's retreat, the mouse came out. He didn't
even need to be told what was wanted, but at once began to nibble
the string, first setting free the king, and then all the rest of
the birds. "A friend in need is a friend indeed," cried the king;
"a thousand thousand thanks!" And away he flew up into the beautiful
free air of heaven, followed by the happy pigeons, none of them ever
likely to forget the adventure or to pick up food from the ground
without a good look at it first.
3. What was the chief virtue displayed by the mouse on this occasion?
4. Do you think it is easier to obey than to command?
The mouse did not at once return to his hole when the birds were gone,
but went for a little stroll, which brought him to the ground still
strewn with rice, which he began to eat with great relish. "It's an
ill wind," he said to himself, "which brings nobody any good. There's
many a good meal for my whole family here."
Presently he was joined by the old crow, who had flown down from his
perch unnoticed by Hiranya, and now addressed him in his croaky voice:
"Hiranya," he said, "for that I know is your name, I am called
Laghupatin and I would gladly have you for a friend. I have seen all
that you did for the pigeons, and have come to the conclusion that you
are a mouse of great wisdom, ready to help those who are in trouble,
without any thought of yourself."
"You are quite wrong," squeaked Hiranya. "I am not so silly as you make
out. I have no wish to be your friend. If you were hungry, you wouldn't
hesitate to gobble me up. I don't care for that sort of affection."
With that Hiranya whisked away to his hole, pausing at the entrance,
when he knew the crow could not get at him, to cry, "You be off to
your nest and leave me alone!"
The feelings of the crow were very much hurt at this speech, the
more that he knew full well it was not exactly love for the mouse,
which had led him to make his offer, but self-interest: for who could
tell what difficulties he himself might some day be in, out of which
the mouse might help him? Instead of obeying Hiranya, and going back
to his nest, he hopped to the mouse's hole, and putting his head on
one side in what he thought was a very taking manner, he said:
"Pray do not misjudge me so. Never would I harm you! Even if I did not
wish to have you for a friend, I should not dream of gobbling you up,
as you say, however hungry I might be. Surely you are aware that I am
a strict vegetarian, and never eat the flesh of other creatures. At
least give me a trial. Let us share a meal together, and talk the
5. Can a friendship be a true one if the motive for it is
6. Would it have been wise or foolish for the mouse to agree to be
friends with the crow?
Hiranya, on hearing the last remark of Laghupatin, hesitated, and
in the end he agreed that he would have supper with the crow that
very evening. "There is plenty of rice here," he said, "which we
can eat on the spot. It would be impossible for you to get into my
hole, and I am certainly not disposed to visit you in your nest." So
the two at once began their meal, and before it was over they had
become good friends. Not a day passed without a meeting, and when
all the rice was eaten up, each of the two would bring something to
the feast. This had gone on for some little time, when the crow,
who was fond of adventure and change, said one day to the mouse:
"Don't you think we might go somewhere else for a time? I am rather
tired of this bit of the forest, every inch of which we both know
well. I've got another great friend who lives beside a fine river
a few miles away, a tortoise named Mandharaka; a thoroughly good,
trustworthy fellow he is, though rather slow and cautious in his
ways. I should like to introduce you to him. There are quantities of
food suitable for us both where he lives, for it is a very fruitful
land. What do you say to coming with me to pay him a visit?"
"How in the world should I get there?" answered Hiranya. "It's all
very well for you, who can fly. I can't walk for miles and miles. For
all that I too am sick of this place and would like a change."
"Oh, there's no difficulty about that," replied Laghupatin. "I will
carry you in my beak, and you will get there without any fatigue at
all." To this Hiranya consented, and very early one morning the two
friends started off together.
7. Is love of change a good or a bad thing?
8. What did Hiranya's readiness to let Laghupatin carry him show?
After flying along for several hours, the crow began to feel very
tired. He was seized too with a great desire to hear his own voice
again. So he flew to the ground, laid his little companion gently down,
and gave vent to a number of hoarse cries, which quite frightened
Hiranya, who timidly asked him what was the matter.
"Nothing whatever," answered Laghupatin, "except that you are
not quite so light as I thought you were, and that I need a rest;
besides which, I am hungry and I expect you are. We had better stop
here for the night, and start again early to-morrow morning." Hiranya
readily agreed to this, and after a good meal, which was easily found,
the two settled down to sleep, the crow perched in a tree, the mouse
hidden amongst its roots. Very early the next day they were off again,
and soon arrived at the river, where they were warmly welcomed by
the tortoise. The three had a long talk together, and agreed never
to part again. The tortoise, who had lived a great deal longer than
either the mouse or the crow, was a very pleasant companion; and even
Laghupatin, who was very fond of talking himself, liked to listen to
his stories of long ago.
"I wonder," said the tortoise, whose name was Mandharaka, to the mouse,
"that you are not afraid to travel about as you have done, with your
soft little body unprotected by any armour. Look how different it
is for me; it is almost impossible for any of the wild creatures who
live near this river to hurt me, and they know it full well. See how
thick and strong my armour is. The claws even of a tiger, a wild cat
or an eagle, could not penetrate it. I am very much afraid, my little
friend, that you will be gobbled up some fine day, and Laghupatin
and I will seek for you in vain."
"Of course," said the mouse, "I know the truth of what you say;
but I can very easily hide from danger - much more easily than you or
Laghupatin. A tuft of moss or a few dead leaves are shelter enough
for me, but big fellows like you and the crow can be quite easily
seen. Nobody saw me when the pigeons were all caught except Laghupatin;
and I would have kept out of his sight if I had not known that he
did not care to eat mice."
In spite of the fears of Mandharaka, the mouse and the crow lived
as his guests for a long time without any accident; and one day they
were suddenly joined by a new companion, a creature as unlike any one
of the three friends as could possibly be imagined. This was a very
beautiful deer, who came bounding out of the forest, all eager to
escape from the hunters, by whom he had been pursued, but too weary
to reach the river, across which he had hoped to be able to swim to
safety. Just as he reached the three friends, he fell to the ground,
almost crushing the mouse, who darted away in the nick of time. Strange
to say, the hunters did not follow the deer; and it was evident that
they had not noticed the way he had gone.
The tortoise, the crow and the mouse were all very sorry for the deer,
and, as was always the case, the crow was the first to speak. "Whatever
has happened to you?" he asked. And the deer made answer:
"I thought my last hour had come this time, for the hunters were
close upon me; and even now I do not feel safe."
"I'll fly up and take a look 'round," said Laghupatin; and off he
went to explore, coming back soon, to say he had seen the hunters
disappearing a long distance off, going in quite another direction
from the river. Gradually the deer was reassured, and lay still where
he had fallen; whilst the three friends chatted away to him, telling
him of their adventures. "What you had better do," said the tortoise,
"is to join us. When you have had a good meal, and a drink from the
river, you will feel a different creature. My old friend Laghupatin
will be the one to keep watch for us all, and warn us of any danger
approaching; I will give you the benefit of my long experience;
and little Hiranya, though he is not likely to be of any use to you,
will certainly never do you any harm."
9. Is it a good thing to make friends easily?
10. What was the bond of union between the crow, the mouse, the
tortoise and the deer?
The deer was so touched by the kind way in which he had been received,
that he agreed to stop with the three friends; and for some weeks
after his arrival all went well. Each member of the party went his own
way during the day-time, but all four met together in the evening,
and took it in turns to tell their adventures. The crow always had
the most to say, and was very useful to the deer in warning him of
the presence of hunters in the forest. One beautiful moonlight night
the deer did not come back as usual, and the other three became very
anxious about him. The crow flew up to the highest tree near and
eagerly sought for some sign of his lost friend, of whom he had grown
very fond. Presently he noticed a dark mass by the river-side, just
where the deer used to go down to drink every evening. "That must be
he," thought the crow; and very soon he was hovering above the deer,
who had been caught in a net and was struggling in vain to get free.
The poor deer was very glad indeed to see the crow, and cried to
him in a piteous voice: "Be quick, be quick, and help me, before the
terrible hunters find me and kill me."
"I can do nothing for you myself," said the crow, "but I know who
can. Remember who saved the pigeons!" And away he flew to fetch
little Hiranya, who with the tortoise was anxiously awaiting his
return. Very soon Laghupatin was back by the river-side with the
little mouse in his beak; and it did not take long for Hiranya, who
had been despised by the deer and the tortoise as a feeble little
thing, to nibble through the cords and save the life of the animal