More Jataka Tales - Part 5

Part 5

"Let us stay here to-night," they said, "and see what we can find in the morning."

So they made beds of leaves for themselves and lay down to sleep. They had made their beds under the tree in which the Hawks had their nest.

But the hunters could not go to sleep because they were bothered by the flies and mosquitoes. At last the hunters got up and made a fire on the sh.o.r.e of the lake, so that the smoke would drive away the flies and mosquitoes. The smoke awoke the birds, and the young ones cried out.

"Did you hear that?" said one of the hunters. "That was the cry of birds! They will do very well for our breakfast. There are young ones in that nest." And the hunters put more wood on the fire, and made it blaze up.

Then the Mother bird said to the Father: "These men are planning to eat our young ones. We must ask our friends to save us. Go to the Kingfisher and tell him what danger we are in."

The Father Hawk flew with all speed to the Kingfisher's nest and woke him with his cry.

"Why have you come?" asked the Kingfisher.

Then the Father Hawk told the Kingfisher what the hunters planned to do.

"Fear not," said the Kingfisher. "I will help you. Go back quickly and comfort my friend your mate, and say that I am coming."

So the Father Hawk flew back to his nest, and the Kingfisher flew to the island and went into the lake near the place where the fire was burning.

While the Father Hawk was away, one of the hunters had climbed up into the tree. Just as he neared the nest, the Kingfisher, beating the water with his wings, sprinkled water on the fire and put it out.

Down came the hunter to make another fire. When it was burning well he climbed the tree again. Once more the Kingfisher put it out. As often as a fire was made, the Kingfisher put it out. Midnight came and the Kingfisher was now very tired.

The Mother Hawk noticed this and said to her mate: "The Kingfisher is tired out. Go and ask the Turtle to help us so that the Kingfisher may have a rest."

The Father Hawk flew down and said, "Rest awhile, Friend Kingfisher; I will go and get the Turtle."

So the Father Hawk flew to the southern sh.o.r.e and wakened the Turtle.

"What is your errand, Friend?" asked the Turtle.

"Danger has come to us," said the Father Hawk, and he told the Turtle about the hunters. "The Kingfisher has been working for hours, and now he is very tired. That is why I have come to you."

The Turtle said, "I will help you at once."

Then the Turtle went to the island where the Hawks lived. He dived into the water, collected some mud, and put out the fire with it. Then he lay still.

The hunters cried: "Why should we bother to get the young Hawks? Let us kill this Turtle. He will make a fine breakfast for all of us. We must be careful or he will bite us. Let us throw a net over him and turn him over."

They had no nets with them, so they took some vines, and tore their clothes into strings and made a net.

But when they had put the net all over the Turtle, they could not roll him over. Instead, the Turtle suddenly dived down into the deep water.

The men were so eager to get him that they did not let go of the net, so down they went into the water. As they came out they said: "Half the night a Kingfisher kept putting out our fires. Now we have torn our clothes and got all wet trying to get this Turtle. We will build another fire, and at sunrise we will eat those young Hawks." And they began to build another fire.

The Mother Hawk heard them, and said to her mate: "Sooner or later these men will get our young. Do go and tell our friend the Lion."

At once the Father Hawk flew to the Lion.

"Why do you come at this hour of the night?" asked the Lion.

The Hawk told him the whole story.

The Lion said: "I will come at once. You go back and comfort your mate and the young ones." Soon the Lion came roaring.

When the hunters heard the Lion's roar they cried, "Now we shall all be killed." And away they ran as fast as they could go.

When the Lion came to the foot of the tree, not one of the hunters was to be seen. Then the Kingfisher and the Turtle came up, and the Hawks said: "You have saved us. Friends in need are friends indeed."



Once upon a time there was a little man with a crooked back who was called the wise little bowman because he used his bow and arrow so very well. This crooked little man said to himself: "If I go to the king and ask him to let me join his army, he's sure to ask what a little man like me is good for. I must find some great big man who will take me as his page, and ask the king to take us." So the little bowman went about the city looking for a big man.

One day he saw a big, strong man digging a ditch "What makes a fine big man like you do such work?" asked the little man.

"I do this work because I can earn a living in no other way," said the big man.

"Dig no more," said the bowman. "There is in this whole country no such bowman as I am; but no king would let me join his army because I am such a little man. I want you to ask the king to let you join the army. He will take you because you are big and strong. I will do the work that you are given to do, and we will divide the pay. In this way we shall both of us earn a good living. Will you come with me and do as I tell you?" asked the little bowman.

"Yes, I will go with you," said the big man.

So together they set out to go to the king. By and by they came to the gates of the palace, and sent word to the king that a wonderful bowman was there. The king sent for the bowman to come before him. Both the big man and the little man went in and, bowing, stood before the king.

The king looked at the big man and asked, "What brings you here?"

"I want to be in your army," said the big man.

"Who is the little man with you?" asked the king.

"He is my page," said the big man.

"What pay do you want?" asked the king.

"A thousand pieces a month for me and my page, O King," said the big man.

"I will take you and your page," said the king.

So the big man and the little bowman joined the king's army.

Now in those days there was a tiger in the forest who had carried off many people. The king sent for the big man and told him to kill that tiger.

The big man told the little bowman what the king said. They went into the forest together, and soon the little bowman shot the tiger.