The jackal’s punishment

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Author's introduction

These are not my own stories. These are ancient stories. I do not claim even an iota of originality. The original authors are buried in oblivion, but the successors are following in the footsteps of their predecessors with gorgeous embellishment. I, too, have indulged lavishly in my own way of embellishment. Long live my humour-wisdom-flooded predecessors, who loved anonymity.

May these tales liberate us from the heavy dryness of the mind, and may they transform the dryness of the mind into an ever-blossoming fountain-ecstasy.

- Sri Chinmoy

Falsehood saves

A foreigner went to a certain country, and a few days later he was accused of committing a theft. He was brought before the king, and because it was a serious crime, the king said, "He has to be sentenced to death for this crime."

Then the man started saying something in his own language. Nobody could understand him. The king said to the prime minister, "You understand everything. Tell me what he is saying."

The prime minister said, "He is saying that you are a very kind-hearted king, such a noble king. You are full of compassion and concern."

The king was extremely pleased. He said, "All right, let him not be hanged. Nor should he be sentenced to lifelong imprisonment. He will only be punished for one month. One month he will spend in jail."

Then again the accused man started saying something in his own language. Before the prime minister could say anything, one of the palace courtiers said, "Your Majesty, he is speaking ill of you. I understand his language. He is being extremely disrespectful. He should be hanged."

The king said, "Wait, wait, wait. You are saying one thing and my prime minister is saying something else. If I listen to what you are saying, then this man's life will end. If I listen to what the prime minister is saying, I shall spare his life. In a case like this, who cares for the truth? Here you have to know it is a matter of life and death for this man. Even if the prime minister is telling lies, he is saving a life. But by telling the truth, you are only inspiring me to have him killed for this theft. Which one is telling the truth, I do not know. But I know that if I save his life, he may do many good things in the future. Whereas if I listen to you and punish him for speaking ill of me, then the poor fellow will have no more opportunities on earth to do the right thing. So in this matter, I care for the prime minister's falsehood and not for your truth. Let the thief go free."

The prime minister was a kind-hearted man. He was deliberately saying that the man was speaking highly of the king, even though he could not understand the man's language. His falsehood saved the man's life.

The useful or useless herbs

There was a royal physician who attended to the king. One day he was absent because he was attending to a patient in a faraway village. A rogue came to the court with a stock of herbs. He said to the king, "I have heard that you have all kinds of ailments. If you take these herbs, your pain will go away."

The king asked, "Can you not wait for my physician to return?"

The rogue said, "I assure you, your own physician will definitely say that these are most excellent herbs."

The king said, "How much are you asking for them?"

"Two hundred rupees," the man said.

The king said, "Swear to me, in the Name of God, that these will cure me."

"Absolutely," the man said. "I swear in the Name of God that they will cure you."

The king was giving the rogue two hundred rupees when, out of the blue, the royal physician came in. The king was so surprised. He said, "What are you doing here?"

The physician said, "I was supposed to go somewhere else, but I did not go."

The king said, "Look, look, these herbs will cure my pain and arthritis."

The physician looked at the rogue and his bag of dried weeds and said, "Useless! Useless! Why are you listening to this rogue?"

When the great physician looked at him, the rogue ran away. He left the palace with the money. The king said, "That man claims his herbs are good, and you are saying they are useless. But I have faith in you. You are my physician."

The physician said, "Here is the proof. When I appeared, he ran away. If you believe in me, you will take my word that those herbs are useless. But for him they were very useful because he was able to get two hundred rupees from you. Definitely they were useful to him, but they are useless for you and me."

The jackal's punishment

A tiger came to learn that a jackal had stolen some food that was kept by the tiger near his cave. The tiger knew that the jackal was a rogue, but it was difficult to find the jackal. The tiger went to the lion king and said, "He has stolen my food."

The lion king's punishment was, "He should be put to death."

The jackal was summoned. He was trembling in all his limbs. The lion king said, "You have to die. We shall kill you. But before we kill you, do you have any choice about which way you want to be killed? You will be killed, but you have to choose the method. I will give you the option."

The jackal said, "Yes, I want to die fighting with a lion."

All the lions started laughing. They would fight this silly jackal? The lion king saw that this jackal was such a rogue. He wanted to show the world that he put up a brave fight with a lion and died in the attempt. To fight with a lion was a most glorious way to die. Naturally the lion would kill him, but he would be known far and wide for putting up a very, very brave fight against the lion.

The lion king said, "I have never seen such a rogue! You will have a natural death." Then the lion king asked the tiger whose food was stolen to kill the jackal. As soon as the tiger received the lion king's command, it pounced on the jackal and killed it.

The two pilgrims

Some spiritual seekers were deeply interested in undertaking a pilgrimage. They planned to go to some sacred places that were far away. Along the way, two young men joined the group. The pilgrims were walking and walking and walking a long distance to their destination. They were in a very spiritual consciousness, and they passed their time praying and meditating in silence. But these two newcomers started chatting to each other about mundane matters.

The first one asked, "Where do you come from?"

The second one answered, "I come from East Bengal."

The first one said, "East Bengal? I also come from East Bengal. Where in East Bengal?"

"Dhaka," the second one said.

The first one said, "I also come from Dhaka!

Which place actually? Which subdivision?"

The second one said the name.

"What a coincidence!" the first one said. "Mine also is the same. Do you come from a village?"

The second one said, "Yes, I come from a village."

"Please tell me the name," the first one said. The second one told him a particular name.

The first one said, "That is very strange. I also live in that village. Which house do you live in?"

The second one described the house.

The first one said, "I also live in the same house!" The other pilgrims could not help overhearing the conversation. They were so curious to know how these two strangers could be living in the same house.

They asked, "Can you tell us your surnames?"

The first one said, "My surname is Das."

The other one said, "My surname is also Das."

The pilgrims asked, "How can it be?"

The first fellow confessed, "We two are brothers. We are going to the same destination as you are. We joined you for some company on the way, but you walked for miles and miles without uttering a word. It was so boring for us. So we started saying absurd things to keep ourselves happy and cheerful. Otherwise, your company is so boring!"

The foolish bride

This story is funnier than the funniest. There was a young girl and a young boy whose parents were trying to arrange for them to get married. The young girl was very talkative. She talked sixteen to the dozen, and she was foolish at the same time. The boy was very timid and, at the same time, very foolish. So, one was timid and foolish, and the other was talkative and foolish.

The boy's friends advised him to go and see the girl beforehand. They said that it is good to see for oneself; otherwise, sometimes parents make serious mistakes. So the bridegroom asked to be invited to the bride's place.

The mother of the bride said to the girl, "Please, please, listen to me. You talk too much. If he hears you talking too much, he may give up the idea of marrying you. So be careful."

The daughter asked, "Mother, what shall I do?"

The mother said, "When you see him approaching our house, put a betel leaf inside your mouth. Then when he enters into the house, you will start chewing it."

When the young girl saw the bridegroom approaching, she said, "Mother, he is coming, he is coming!" Then she put the betel leaf inside her mouth. When the young man entered the house, right in front of him she said to her mother, "Mother, I have put the leaf inside my mouth. Now shall I start chewing?"

The mother was extremely embarrassed. The girl started chewing. She did not even greet her future husband. The young fellow observed her behaviour, and he was very uncomfortable. He thought to himself, "Why do I have to marry this kind of person? She is so foolish!"

A few minutes later, he stood up and ran away. He was foolish, but not as foolish as the girl. So he did not marry her.

The king and his court jester

Once a king was very displeased with his court jester. He was so disgusted that he said, "Tomorrow at eleven o'clock you will be hanged."

The jester had many friends and also many enemies. His friends were very sad that he would be hanged, and his enemies were very happy. When the appointed hour arrived, the king said to the jester, "You will soon be hanged. I will fulfil your last desire, if you have any."

The jester said, "My last desire is to have a glass of water."

The king was surprised. He said, "A glass of water? This is your last desire?"

The jester said, "Yes."

The king ordered a glass of water to be brought for the court jester. The court jester held up the glass and started shaking and trembling, as if he was going to fall down with the water.

The king said to him, "Why are you acting like this? I will give you time. Peacefully drink the water. Once you finish drinking, you will be hanged."

The jester said, "All right." Then again he started to take a drink. Once again his whole body started trembling.

The king said, "Why are you not listening to me?"

The jester said, "Now, King, tell me, until I finish drinking, will you allow me to remain alive?"

The king said, "Yes. I am telling you the truth. Finish drinking. Then only will you be hanged."

The jester said, "Until I finish drinking, you will not hang me?"

The king said, "No."

The jester held up the glass, but he was only sipping a little. He was not finishing it. This went on and on for one hour, and then two hours. Still he did not finish it.

Finally the king pardoned the jester because he was taking so much time to drink the water.

The salesman

A salesman came to a house and knocked at the door. A young boy opened the door, and the salesman said, "Is your mother in? I would like to speak to your mother."

The boy said, "No, my mother is out."

The salesman said, "Where is your mother?"

The boy replied, "My mother is in a mental asylum."

The salesman said, "Where is your father, may I know?"

The boy said, "My father is in jail."

The salesman asked, "Do you have a brother or a sister?"

The boy said, "Yes, I have both a sister and a brother. My sister is in a reform school, and my brother is at Harvard."

The salesman said, "Oh, he is studying at Harvard! What does he study?"

The boy said, "He does not study."

The salesman said, "But you said he was studying."

The boy said, "No, he does not study. They study his brain."

The salesman said, "Then what do you do?"

The boy said, "I take care of my grandmother, and my grandmother takes care of me."

The salesman asked, "What would you like to be in the future when you grow up?"

The boy said, "I want to be the world's worst possible liar."

"Why, why?" the man asked.

"Why?" the boy said. "I have told you all lies. My mother has gone to work. My father has gone to work. My brother has gone to work, and my sister has gone to school, not reform school."

The man asked, "Then what do you do?"

The boy said, "I also go to school."

The man said, "What about your grandmother?" The boy said, "I do not even know whether my grandmother is still alive."

The man said, "Now that you have told me the truth, for each true answer I would like to give you five dollars. Five dollars I will give you, now that you are telling me the truth about your family."

The boy said, "No, no, no! I do not know which is right — the first thing that I said about my father being in jail or the second thing about him being at work."

The man said, "Do you mean to say that you do not know whether you were telling the truth the first time or the second time?"

The boy said, "I do not know, and I do not want to know."

The man said, "Very strange, very strange. At one point you have definitely told the truth. The first time you said that your father was in jail and your mother was in a mental asylum. Then the second time you said they have both gone to work. Tell me frankly, which one is the truth?"

The boy said, "Do not bother me any more. I do not need your money. Just leave my house!"

The miser and the goddess

There once was a jeweller who was quite miserly. He was very successful and had amassed a great fortune, but he would not share his wealth with anybody. At the same time, he could not enjoy his wealth because he lived in constant fear that robbers would come and steal all his money.

One day, the jeweller had to go to a neighbouring village to take care of some very important business. As he would need to stay there for a few days, he was very worried that in his absence someone would break into his house and rob him of his wealth. Now the jeweller kept in his house a small shrine to the goddess Durga, to whom he used to pray. On this particular day, before embarking on his journey, he prayed to this goddess, "Mother, Mother, please protect my money while I am away. When I come back, if I see that you have protected my money and kept everything intact, I shall gladly and gratefully offer you a very large coconut."

After praying, the jeweller travelled to the neighbouring village and stayed there a few days. Upon his return home, he deliberately forgot to offer a coconut to the goddess Durga. The goddess waited as one week, two weeks and eventually three weeks went by. Still the jeweller had not offered her the coconut he had promised. Finally, one month after his return, the goddess said to the jeweller, "My son, you promised you would give me a coconut, but you are not keeping your promise."

The jeweller replied, "O Mother, I truly want to keep my promise, but alas, if I were to keep my promise, something unfortunate would happen."

"What would happen?" asked the goddess.

"If I give you the coconut, then you will not be able to keep your promise to me!" the jeweller responded.

"What was my promise?" asked the goddess.

"Your promise was that you would keep my money intact," the jeweller explained. "Can you not see that if I remove some money to buy you a coconut, my money will no longer be intact!"

"O Lord Supreme,' the goddess exclaimed, "You have blessed me with such a horrible, horrible son!" Then she said to the jeweller, "Next time, do not pray to me! I will have nothing to do with you ever again!"

Two liars

A hooligan, running as fast as he could, entered into a house, touched the feet of the owner and begged him to save him from two policemen who were pursuing him. He said, "I have lots of money. If you protect me from these policemen, I shall give you half of my money!" So the man agreed and found a good hiding place for the hooligan inside his house. In a few minutes' time, the two policemen knocked at the door and one of them asked the owner of the house, "Where has that rascal gone?"

The owner replied, "Rascal? What rascal? What do you mean?"

"We are chasing a man who has stolen a lot of money. We saw him running towards your house," said the policeman. "Where is he?"

"I do not know what you mean. I certainly would not give shelter to such a rogue as you describe. If you do not believe me, you can search my house," replied the owner.

Now the policemen were confused. The owner of the house was so confidently challenging them that they began to feel that they were wrong, that perhaps the hooligan had actually taken shelter in another house nearby. So they left the house and continued their search elsewhere. When they could not trace the culprit, they went back to the police station. When the policemen were safely out of sight, the owner of the house commanded the hooligan to come out of his hiding place. He said, "Now it is quite safe. Come out and share your money with me, as you promised."

The hooligan came out from his hiding place and said, "But I never said that I would share my money with you!"

"What do you mean? You are such a liar! You told me that if I gave you shelter from the police, you would give me half of your money. Where is it? Give it to me!" cried the owner.

"I have no money!" replied the hooligan.

The owner of the house became furious. The hooligan said, "Why have you become so angry? Is it because I am a liar? In that case, I have every right to become angry with you because you, too, are a liar! Did you not lie to the policemen when you told them I was not inside your house? That makes you just as much of a liar as I am!"

"So, you admit to being a liar! What a rogue you are! Get out of this house immediately!" the owner of the house roared.

Then he gave the hooligan a smart kick and threw him out of the house.

The shopkeeper's greed

A shopkeeper was standing in the doorway of his shop and noticed that a beggar was just outside the doorway, searching for coins in the dirt. The shopkeeper thought the beggar must have dropped some coins and that was why he was searching and searching. But the shopkeeper was such a bad man. When the beggar eventually found a coin, the shopkeeper approached him and said, "You are a beggar. Therefore you do not have any money of your own. So this coin cannot be yours. Since you found it near my shop, you must give it to me!"

The poor beggar replied, "Sir, I have just found the coin after searching for some time. Just because it is near your shop does not mean it is yours. It may have belonged to somebody else. But I have found it, so now it is mine."

"All right, all right, let us compromise," said the shopkeeper. "You give the coin to me and I will give you back half of what it is worth. It is a fifty-paisa coin, so I will give you a quarter."

The poor beggar agreed. "Better to have a quarter than nothing at all," he thought. So he took the quarter from the shopkeeper and went away.

The shopkeeper's house was quite close to his shop. At the end of the day, when he went home for dinner, he saw his wife outside the house looking around for something in the dirt. "What are you doing?" he asked his wife.

"I have dropped a coin," she explained. "Let us both look for it."

"At this hour how will we be able to find the coin? It is already dark," complained the shopkeeper. Reluctantly he began to help his wife look for the coin. They searched and searched for an hour or so, but they could not find anything.

Finally the shopkeeper said to his wife, "Do not worry. I have it." Then he handed her the coin he had taken from the beggar.

After examining the coin carefully, the wife exclaimed, "This is not the coin I dropped. It is a false coin! Can you not see that it is counterfeit?"

Alas, alas, this is what happened. The wife did not find the coin she had lost, and the shopkeeper gave away to the beggar half the value of what he thought the beggar's coin to be worth, only to find out that it was a useless, counterfeit coin.

"What have I done, what have I done!" cried the shopkeeper. "The beggar got a real quarter, which I gave him, and I got the fifty-paisa coin, which is false. Alas, my greed has turned me into a complete fool!"

Once a miser, always a miser

There was once a man who was extremely rich but, alas, very miserly. People used to make fun of him, and this used to annoy him immensely. At the same time, he used to say to himself, "Who cares! I am so rich. Someday I will teach them all a lesson. I will play a trick with my wealth and punish all of them."

One day, the rich man's servant was heading home after running errands in the market. As he walked along, everybody was mocking him. They said, "Oh, your boss is such a rich man! How much money did he give you to shop for him? Five cents?" The servant wanted to defend his master's reputation, so he replied, "My boss has changed for the better, and I can prove it. A week from today, he will be giving away money to all the street beggars. If you come to his place dressed as a beggar on that day, he will give money to each one of you!" So they all agreed to come.

Upon returning home, the servant told his master what had happened. "Today, on my way back from the market, all the villagers were saying such unkind things about you," he explained. "I felt I had to do something to stop them, so I told them a lie. I told them that you had changed your ways and that, to prove it, you would be giving away money as charity, one week from today. I invited all of them to come." "Impossible! What have you done!" exclaimed the master. "You have made a commitment on my behalf, but I never make commitments! What can I do now?"

The servant felt sorry and replied, "Do not worry. If you do not want to carry out my plan, just take all your money and go away to another place where you will be safe. I shall remain here and guard the house on the day they come."

"I cannot do that. I have so much money and jewellery. It will take too much time to move everything," said the master.

"You go. Let them beat me up. I will not mind. I will remain here to help you," the servant said.

So the rich man agreed and began collecting his money and valuables to move to another place. Before daybreak, he set out with a huge bag on his back. Alas, four of the villagers were out early. When they saw the rich man, they called out, "Where are you going at this hour?"

"None of your business!" the rich man replied. "You are such a miser. You have so much money, but you will not share it with anybody. You look down upon us because of your wealth. You are such a braggart, such a show-off! We will teach you a lesson!"

Then the villagers grabbed the rich man and started beating him up. When they saw there was so much money in his bag, they took out a large amount and went away.

The rich man started crying, "What has happened! What has happened!" His servant rushed to try to help him, but instead of accepting his help, the rich man started beating up the servant. He said, "Because you made such a stupid commitment, I had to leave my house. Now they have taken my money. What have you done to me!"

Soon a large crowd of villagers gathered around the master and his servant. They were laughing mockingly at the master. At the same time, the people who had been making fun of the servant earlier now felt sorry for him because his master was thrashing him.

They said to the master, "Stop beating that poor servant of yours, old man! We were the ones who made fun of you. He was only trying to prove to us that you had become a better man than you truly are — that you had suddenly become kind-hearted. For that you should not be punishing him."

So the man stopped thrashing his servant. Instead, he fired him on the spot and returned home with what remained of his money. The villagers followed and said to him, "Do not worry, we will not come to your place next week because we know you will never change. You will never learn what it means to be generous. That word will never exist in your dictionary. Once a miser, always a miser!"

The rescue

Once there were two good friends. They had gone to grammar school together and then went on to finish high school together as well. They lived in the same village. Most of the villagers were farmers, not at all well educated. In fact, with their high school diplomas, these two friends were among the most educated in the village.

One day, the two friends decided to go into town to try to find good jobs. Because of their education, they were very proud of themselves, and they were sure that they would be successful.

After a few days, the two friends discovered that the townspeople preferred to hire illiterate workers rather than educated ones, so that they could offer very low wages. The two could not find suitable employment anywhere. Nobody would hire them when they found out that they had high school diplomas and heard how well spoken they were.

After some time, the two friends had spent all their money, and still they had no job. But both of them felt it would be beneath their dignity to go back home without having found employment. "We are desperate," they agreed. "Since we cannot find jobs, let us instead start stealing. Nobody will be able to catch us!"

One of the young men developed a plan. He told his friend, "I have noticed that every evening a certain gentleman goes out for a short walk. When he leaves his house, he does not completely close his door. So tonight, when he goes out, let me enter into the house and search for his money. If you see the owner coming back, start singing loudly as a signal for me to hide."

That evening, the two friends watched from a safe distance as the gentleman went out of his house for his daily walk. When he was out of sight, as planned, one of the friends slipped into his house through the unlocked door and started searching for money to steal. After a while he heard his friend singing loudly outside the door, which meant the man was returning. So he hid behind some furniture just as the gentleman walked through the door.

In an hour's time, a real hooligan knocked at the door, and when the gentleman opened the door, the hooligan began to beat him up, brandishing a knife. The young man who was hiding jumped out from behind the furniture, grabbed the knife from the bandit and rescued the gentleman.

Hearing the commotion, the neighbours came in and caught the bandit. "Who is that other man?" they asked the gentleman.

"He is a dear friend of mine. He has just saved my life," the gentleman told the neighbours.

The neighbours went outside to thrash the bandit. Then the gentleman, who was a very successful businessman, turned to the young man who had just rescued him and asked, "Now, please tell me, who are you?"

Crying, the young man touched the gentleman's feet and told him the whole story. "My friend and I came to town to get good jobs, but because of our education, nobody would hire us. So we thought that just once in our lives we should steal a large sum of money so we could go home and live comfortably. With the money we stole, we were planning on improving our family farms. Actually, I am not a thief. I have never stolen anything in my life. Please, feel free to punish me. I deserve to be punished by you."

"I could never do that," replied the gentleman. "You have saved my life. In some way, I must repay you. I could hire you to work for me. If you agree, I promise to give you a very good job. I run a very good business. I will make you my salesman."

"What about my friend and accomplice, the one who was singing to warn me of your arrival?" asked the young man. "He is waiting for me outside on the street."

"Bring him in," said the man. "I will offer him a good job too, provided you both promise never to steal from me or from anyone."

The friends agreed. They immediately began to work as salesmen for the gentleman. They worked with great diligence and both did extremely well. In fact, in a very short span of time, they brought such new success to the business that the gentleman decided to promote them both and to raise their salaries. The two friends were overjoyed.

The gentleman said to the two, "Before I hired you, you were so miserable, so desperate, that you were going to rob me. Now, my generosity has made you both happy."

"Not only your generosity, but more importantly, your forgiveness!" the two friends exclaimed.

"You saved my life, so I owe you my life," the gentleman went on. "I owe you my life's prestige. You rescued me from being killed by a hooligan."

"You rescued the two of us from poverty and a life of crime!" replied the two friends.

In this way, the businessman and the salesmen enjoyed very happy and successful lives working together for many long years.

The suspicious wife and the incorruptible servant

There was once a man who was very rich. At the same time, he was very kind-hearted, very wise and very honest. Unfortunately, his wife was undivine to the extreme. She always suspected people; she refused to trust anybody.

The couple had many cattle and a herd of goats, and they had hired a young man as their servant to take care of them. This young man was honest and virtuous in the purest sense of the term, but the undivine wife distrusted him as she distrusted everyone.

"You are paying that boy so much money to care for your animals," she complained to her husband. "How can you trust him? I can see clearly that he is a rogue. One day he will rob us badly."

"No, no, he is a very good boy," protested the husband.

"Really!" replied the wife. "I will prove to you that he is a rogue. I know I am right. You just watch and see."

Every morning the young man would rise early and take the cattle and goats to pasture. Every evening he would come back with the animals properly grazed and in good condition. To test his honesty, the suspicious wife began to scatter a few coins on the ground in front of the house before the servant returned home from the fields. When he came home, the servant would find the money and bring it faithfully to the husband and wife saying, "Look, I have found some coins on the ground in front of the house. I am sure they must be yours." He would give back all the coins, not keeping even one for himself.

Determined to prove her point, the wife would leave out increasingly larger amounts of money to tempt the young man. She kept track of exactly how much money she had dropped. And every evening the same thing would happen: without fail the servant would return the exact amount to the husband and wife.

The husband grew very unhappy with his wife. "What are you trying to do to this boy?" he asked.

"Has he not proved his honesty again and again? You are leaving so much money on the ground. What if somebody else comes by and steals it? You will automatically blame my honest servant."

"No, no, nobody will pass by the house," replied the wife. "I am telling you, that boy is the one who will steal the money one day. You just wait."

Time went on, but the servant kept bringing back all the money the wife had left out for him. So the wife asked her husband to approve her next plot.

"Let us bring our dear friend in on the plan," she proposed. "Let us have our friend tempt the boy while he is grazing the animals in the fields. Our friend will offer to buy one of the goats for ten rupees. We have so many goats that the boy will think you will not catch him if he sells just one of them. He knows that you never count the goats when he brings them home at night."

"But why do this?" cried the husband. "He is such a sincere boy. How many times must he prove himself before you will believe him to be honest? Why must you keep trying to tempt him like this? Have you no mercy?"

The wife replied, "True, so far he has done all the right things. But I want to prove that, like everyone else, deep down he is really a liar, a thief and a rogue!"

So the next day, while the servant was in the fields minding the animals, his master's friend approached him, carrying one of the goats, and said, "Look, young man, this goat is so beautiful. Can you not sell it to me? I will give you a very good price."

"I am sorry, I cannot sell any of the animals without my master's permission," replied the honest servant.

"But I will pay you ten rupees," said the man. "I am sorry," said the young man.

"All right, I am offering you twenty rupees if you will sell me this goat. Your master need not even know about it. Out of the whole herd he will not miss one little goat, so you will be able keep the money for yourself," the man coaxed.

"No," replied the servant. "It is wrong. I am neither a thief nor a rogue. My master hired me to care for the animals and keep them safe. That is my job. Only he can decide whether or not to sell them."

"Very well, then. How about thirty rupees? You can keep all the money!" persevered the man. "Impossible," the faithful servant replied.

Trying harder to convince him, the man said, "But I like this goat so much. Is there no way you can sell it to me today?"

"If you want so much to buy it, just come to see my master and settle the deal with him tomorrow," the servant advised.

"No, young man. I want this goat now, so I am prepared to offer you one hundred rupees for it. One hundred rupees for this little goat! Here, it is all for you," said the man, holding out the money.

The boy paused a moment. Then he said, "All right. I agree. You can have the goat. It is yours." Now the man was very happy because he felt the trick had worked most successfully. He ran back to his friends' place to give them the news.

"You see, you see, I knew I was right!" cried the wife to her husband triumphantly. "What right did that boy have to sell your goat? I am sure he will keep all the money for himself." She could not disguise her glee.

But the husband said, "No, if I know my servant, he will yet prove his honesty. I am sure he will give us all the money he made in this transaction. I do hope I am right."

The friend went home as the sun began to set. When the servant returned, the husband and wife acted as though they knew nothing of the incident. After preparing the animals for the night, the young man came into the house and immediately handed his boss the hundred-rupee note.

"Master," he said. "Someone came to see me in the fields today and begged me repeatedly to sell him one of your goats. This goat was not worth more than three rupees. At first, he offered to pay ten rupees, then more and more. I kept telling him he must speak with you if he wanted to buy it, as they are your goats and not mine to sell. But when he offered to pay one hundred rupees, I thought of you and said to myself, 'With this money my master could buy himself as many goats as he wants.' So I accepted the offer on your behalf. Master, I had only your interest in mind. I hope I have done the right thing."

The master jumped up and embraced the servant proudly and gratefully. Then he threw the money at his wife.

The wife started shedding tears and said to the servant, "My boy, I will never again suspect you. You have proved your integrity far beyond my imagination. From now on, I will treat you as my own son, my very own!"