The Changed Calf





There was once a cowherd named Sona who saved a few rupees and he

decided to buy a calf so as to have something to show for his labours;

and he went to a distant village and bought a bull calf and on the way

home he was benighted. So he turned into a Hindu village and went to an

oilman's house and asked to be allowed to sleep there. When the oilman

saw such a fine calf he coveted it and he told Sona to put it in the

stable along with his own bullock and he gave him some supper and let

him sleep in the verandah. But in the middle of the night the oilman

got up and moistened some oil cake and plastered it over the calf;

he then untied his own bullock and made it lick the oil cake off the

calf, and as the bullock was accustomed to eat oil cake it licked it

greedily; then the oilman raised a cry, "The bullock that turns the

oil mill has given birth to a calf." And all the villagers collected,

and saw the bullock licking the calf and they believed the oilman. Sona

did not wake up and knew nothing of all this, the next morning he

got up and went to untie his calf and drive it away, but the oilman

would not let him and claimed the calf as his own. Then Sona called

the villagers to come and decide the matter: but they said that they

had seen him bring no calf to the village and he had not called any of

them to witness it, but they had seen the bullock licking the calf;

why should the bullock lick any but its own calf? No one ever saw a

bullock lick a strange bullock or cow and so they awarded the calf

to the oilman. Then Sona said that he would call someone to argue the

matter and he went away meaning to get some men from the next village:

but he lost his way in the jungle and as he went along a night-jar

flew up from under his feet; he called out to it to stay as he was in

great distress, and the bird alighted and asked what was the matter,

and Sona told it his trouble. Then the night-jar said that it would

argue the matter for him but it must have a colleague and it told Sona

to go on and ask the first living being he met to help; so he went on

and met a jackal and the jackal agreed to help the night-jar, and they

told him to call the villagers to the edge of the jungle and not to

let them bring any dogs with them. So Sona brought all the villagers

to the jungle and the night-jar and jackal sat side by side on a stone.



Then Sona asked the villagers whether they would let him take away

the calf or no, and they persisted in their previous opinion. At last

one man said, "What are your advocates doing? it seems to me that they

are asleep." And at this the two woke up with a start and looked about

them, and the night-jar said "I have been asleep and dreamed a dream:

will you men please hear it and explain its meaning?"



And the jackal said, "I too have had a dream, please explain it for

me. If you can explain the meaning you shall keep the calf and, if

not, the boy shall have it." The villagers told them to speak and the

night-jar said, "I saw two night-jar's eggs and one egg was sitting

on the other; no mother bird was sitting on them, tell me what this

means." And the jackal said, "I saw that the sea was on fire and the

fishes were all being burnt up, and I was busy eating them and that

was why I did not wake up, what is the meaning of this dream?" And

the villagers said. "The two dreams are both alike: neither has

any meaning; an egg cannot sit on an egg, and the sea cannot catch

fire." The jackal said, "Why cannot it be? If you won't believe that

water can catch fire why do you say that a bullock gave birth to

a calf? Have you ever seen such a thing? Speak," And they admitted

that they had never seen a bullock have a calf, but only cows. "Then,"

said the jackal, "explain why you have given the oilman a decree." And

they admitted that they were wrong and awarded the calf to Sona and

fined the oilman five rupees for having deceived them.





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