Gateway to the Classics: Indian Fables by Ramaswami Raju
Indian Fables by  Ramaswami Raju

The Fox and the Tame Elephant

A tame elephant in the East was once taken to a forest by a party of men to catch wild elephants. A fox said to him, "What a shame that a beast of your size and strength should be led like a cat by men! If I were you, I should at once go back to my kindred."

The elephant thought the words of the fox reasonable, and stole into the forest where the wild elephants lived. They raised their trunks against him, saying, "There comes a traitor to betray us to man."

The elephant replied that he came back to live with them; but they drove him back with curses.

His keeper, seeing that he returned because his kindred had refused to admit him, bound him to a huge tree with chains, and with these words painted on his forehead: "A traitor to his kindred and to his keeper." As often as the wayfarers read these words, the elephant wailed aloud, saying, "Once a traitor, ever a traitor! A traitor that tries to mend, loses both foe and friend."

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