Gateway to the Classics: Eastern Stories and Legends by Marie L. Shedlock
Eastern Stories and Legends by  Marie L. Shedlock

The Faithful Friend

L ONG ago, when Brahma-datta was reigning in Benares, the Bodisat became his Minister.

At that time a dog used to go to the state elephant's stable, and feed on the lamps of rice which fell where the elephant fed. Being attracted there by the food, he soon became great friends with the elephant, and used to eat close by him. At last neither of them was happy without the other; and the dog used to amuse himself by catching hold of the elephant's trunk, and swinging to and fro.

But one day there came a peasant who gave the elephant-keeper money for the dog, and took it back with him to his village. From that time the elephant, missing the dog, would neither eat nor drink nor bathe. And they let the King know about it.

He sent the Bodisat, saying: "Do you go, Pandit, and find out what's the cause of the elephant's behavior."

So he went to the stable, and seeing how sad the elephant looked, said to himself: "There seems to be nothing bodily the matter with him. He must be so overwhelmed with grief by missing some one, I should think, who had become near and dear to him." And he asked the elephant-keepers: "Is there any one with whom he is particularly intimate?"

"Certainly, Sir! There was a dog of whom he was very fond indeed."

"Where is it now?"

"Some man or other took it away."

"Do you know where the man lives?"

"No, Sir!" Then the Bodisat went and told the King. "There's nothing the matter with the elephant, your majesty; but he was great friends with a dog, and I fancy it's through missing it that he refuses his food."

When the King heard what he said, he asked what was now to be done.

"Have a proclamation made, O King, to this effect: 'A man is said to have taken away a dog of whom our state elephant was fond. In whose house soever that dog shall be found, he shall be fined so much!' "

The King did so; and, as soon as he heard of it, the man turned the dog loose. The dog hastened back, and went close up to the elephant. The elephant took him up in his trunk and placed him on his forehead, and wept and cried, and took him down again, and watched him as he fed. And then he took his own food.

Then the King paid great honor to the Bodisat for knowing the motives even of animals.

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