The Tiger, the Brahman, and the
edited by Joseph Jacobs
Once upon a time a Tiger was caught in a trap.
He tried in vain to get out through the bars, and
rolled and bit with rage and grief when he failed.
By chance a poor Brahman came by. “Let
me out of this cage, oh, pious one!” cried the
“Nay, my friend,” replied the Brahman, mildly;
“you would probably eat me if I did.”
“Not at all!” declared the Tiger; “on the contrary,
I should be forever grateful, and serve you
as a slave!”
Now, when the Tiger sobbed, and sighed, and
wept, and swore, the pious Brahman’s heart softened;
and at last he consented to open the door
of the cage. Out popped the Tiger, and, seizing
the poor man, cried: “What a fool you are!
What is to prevent my eating you now, for after
being cooped up so long I am just terribly
In vain the Brahman pleaded for his life; the
most he could gain was a promise to abide by the
decision of the first three things he chose to
question as to the justice of the Tiger’s action.
So the Brahman asked first a Pipal Tree what
it thought of the matter; but the Pipal Tree replied
coldly: “What have you to complain about?
Don’t I give shade and shelter to every one who
passes by, and don’t they in return tear down my
branches to feed their cattle? Don’t whimper—be
Then the Brahman, sad at heart, went farther
afield till he saw a Buffalo turning a well-wheel;
but he fared no better from it, for it answered:
“You are a fool to expect gratitude! Look at
me! Whilst I gave milk they fed me on cotton-seed
and oil-cake, but now I am dry they yoke
me here, and give me refuse as fodder!”
The Brahman, still more sad, asked the Road
to give him its opinion.
“My dear sir,” said the Road, “how foolish you
are to expect anything else! Here am I, useful
to everybody, yet all, rich and poor, great and
small, trample on me as they go past, giving me
nothing but the ashes of their pipes and the
husks of their grain!”
On this the Brahman turned back sorrowfully,
and on the way he met a Jackal, who called out:
“Why, what’s the matter, Mr. Brahman? You
look as miserable as a fish out of water!”
The Brahman told him all that had occurred.
“How very confusing!” said the Jackal, when
the recital was ended; “would you mind telling
me again, for everything has got so mixed up?”
The Brahman told it all over again, but the
Jackal shook his head in a distracted sort of
way, and still could not understand.
“It’s very odd,” said he, sadly, “but it all seems
to go in at one ear and out of the other! I will
go to the place where it all happened, and then
perhaps I shall be able to give a judgment.”
So they returned to the cage, by which the
Tiger was waiting for the Brahman, and sharpening
his teeth and claws.
“You’ve been away a long time!” growled the
savage beast, “but now let us begin our dinner.”
“Our dinner!” thought the wretched Brahman,
as his knees knocked together with fright; “what
a remarkably delicate way of putting it!”
“Give me five minutes, my lord!” he pleaded,
“in order that I may explain matters to the Jackal
here, who is somewhat slow in his wits.”
The Tiger consented, and the Brahman began
the whole story over again, not missing a single
detail, and spinning as long a yarn as possible.
“Oh, my poor brain! oh, my poor brain!” cried
the Jackal, wringing its paws. “Let me see!
How did it all begin? You were in the cage,
and the Tiger came walking by—”
“Pooh!” interrupted the Tiger, “what a fool
you are! I was in the cage.”
“Of course!” cried the Jackal, pretending to
tremble with fright; “yes! I was in the cage—no
I wasn’t—dear! dear! where are my wits?
Let me see—the Tiger was in the Brahman, and
the cage came walking by—no, that’s not it,
either! Well, don’t mind me, but begin your
dinner, for I shall never understand!”
“Yes, you shall!” returned the Tiger, in a
rage at the Jackal’s stupidity; “I’ll make you
understand! Look here! I am the Tiger—”
“Yes, my lord!”
“And that is the Brahman!”
“Yes, my lord!”
“And that is the cage!”
“Yes, my lord!”
“And I was in the cage—do you understand?”
“Yes—no! Please, my lord—”
“Well?” cried the Tiger, impatiently.
“Please, my lord!—how did you get in?”
“How!—why in the usual way, of course!”
“Oh, dear me!—my head is beginning to whirl
again! Please don’t be angry, my lord, but what
is the usual way?”
At this the Tiger lost patience, and, jumping
into the cage, cried: “This way! Now do you
understand how it was?”
“Perfectly!” grinned the Jackal, as he dexterously
shut the door, “and if you will permit me
to say so, I think matters will remain as they