Story of the Hunter and his Faithful Dog.

THERE dwelt in a certain forest a hunter named Ugravira, who was lord of the woods, and as such had to pay a fixed sum of money to the king of the country. It chanced once that the king unexpectedly demanded of him one thousand five hundred pons.* The hunter sold all his property and realised only a thousand pons, and was perplexed how to procure the rest of the required amount. At length he be­thought him of his dog, which was of the best kind, and was beloved by him more than aught else in the whole world. He took his dog to an adjacent town, where he pledged him to a merchant named Kubéra for five hundred pons, at the same time giving the merchant his bond for the loan. Before going away, the hunter, with tears in his eyes, thus addressed the intelligent animal: “Mrigasinha* —O my faithful friend! do not leave thy new master until I have paid him back the money I have borrowed of him. Obey and serve him, even as thou hast ever obeyed and served me.”

Some time after this, the merchant Kubéra had to leave home and proceed with his goods to foreign countries; so he called the hunter's dog to his side, and bade him watch at his doors and prevent the intrusion of robbers and other evil disposed persons. The dog indicated, both by his eyes and his tail, that he perfectly understood his instructions. Then the merchant, having enjoined his wife to feed the dog three times every day with rice and milk, set out on his travels. The dog kept his watch outside of the house, and for a few days the merchant's wife fed him regularly three times a day. But this kind treatment was not to continue. She had for her paramour a wicked youth of the Setti caste,* who, soon after the departure of Kubéra, became a constant visitor at the merchant's house. The faithful dog instinctively sur­mised that his new master would not approve of such conduct; so one night when the youth was leaving the house Mrigasinha sprang on him like an enraged lion, and, seizing him by the throat, sent that evil-doer to the other world. The merchant's wife, hearing the scuffle, ran to the spot to save her lover, but found him dead. Though extremely grieved at the loss of her paramour, she had the presence of mind to immediately carry the body to the garden at the back of the house, where she concealed it in a great pit, and covered it with earth and leaves, vainly thinking that she had thus concealed her own shame. This was not done, however, without being observed by the watchful dog; and henceforth the merchant's wife hated him with a deadly hatred. She no longer gave him food, and the poor creature was fain to eat such grains of rice as he found adhering to the leaves thrown out of the house after meals, still keeping guard at the door.

After an absence of two months the merchant returned, and the dog, the moment he saw him, ran up to him and rolled himself on the ground at his feet; then seizing the merchant's cloth he dragged him to the very spot in the garden where the youth's body was hidden, and began to scratch the ground, at the same time looking into the merchant's face and howling dismally, from which Kubéra concluded that the dog wished him to examine the place. Accord­ingly he dug up the spot and discovered the body of the youth, whom, indeed, he had suspected of being his wife's paramour. In a great fury he rushed into the house and commanded his wife, on pain of instant death, to relate the particulars of this affair without concealing anything. The wretched woman, seeing that her sin was discovered, confessed all, upon which her husband exclaimed: “Disgrace of womankind! you have not a fraction of the virtue possessed by this faithful brute, which you have, out of revenge, allowed to starve. But why should I waste words on thee? Depart, and let me see your face no more!” So saying, he thrust her out of the house. Then the merchant fed the dog with milk, rice, and sugar, after which he said to that lion of beasts: “Thou trusty friend! language fails to express my gratitude to thee. The five hundred pons which I lent thy old master the hunter are as nothing com­pared with thy services to me, by which I consider the debt as more than paid. What must be the feelings of the hunter without thy companionship! I now give thee leave to return to him.” The mer­chant took the hunter's bond, and tearing it slightly at the top as a token that it was cancelled, he placed it in the dog's mouth, and sending him back to his former master, the dog set off to the forest.

Now by this time the hunter had contrived to save up the five hundred pons, and with the money and interest due thereon he was going to the merchant to redeem his bond and reclaim the dog. To his great surprise, he met Mrigasinha on the way, and as soon as the dog perceived him he ran up to him to receive his caresses. But the hunter immediately concluded that the poor brute, in his eagerness to rejoin him, had run away from the merchant, and determined to put him to death. Accordingly he plucked a creeper, and fastening it round the dog's neck tied it to a branch of a tree, and the faithful creature, who was expecting nothing but kindness from his old master, was by him most cruelly strangled. The hunter then continued his journey, and on reaching the mer­chant's house he laid down the money before him. “My dear friend,” said Kubéra, “the important service your dog rendered me, in killing my wife's paramour, has amply repaid your debt, so I gave him permission to return to you, with your bond in his mouth. Did you not meet him on your way? But why do you look so horrified? What have you done to the dog?” The hunter, to whom everything was now only too clear, threw himself on the ground, like a huge tree cut at the roots, and, after telling Kubéra how he had inconsiderately slain the faithful dog, stabbed himself with his dagger. The merchant, grieved at the death of both the dog and the hunter, which would not have occurred had he waited until the latter came to redeem his bond, snatched the weapon out of the hunter's breast and also stabbed himself. The news of this tragedy soon reached the forest, and the wife of the hunter, not wishing to survive her lord, threw herself into a well and was drowned. Lastly, even the wife of the merchant, finding that so many fatalities were due to her own misconduct, and that she was despised by the very children in the streets, put an end to her wretched life.

“Thus,” added the Second Minister, “five lives were lost in consequence of the hunter's rashness. Therefore I would respectfully beseech your majesty to investigate the case of Bodhaditya, and to refrain from acting merely under the influence of anger.” Having thus spoken, Bodhachandra obtained leave to retire to his own house.

At the end of the third watch of the night, Bodha-vyapaka, the Third Minister of King Alakésa, went to see whether the royal bedchamber was properly guarded, and the king, summoning him into his presence, told him of the First Minister's crime, upon which Bodhavyapaka, after making due obeisance, thus spake: “Most noble king, such a grave crime should be severely punished, but it behoves us not to act before having ascertained that he is guilty beyond doubt; for evil are the consequences of precipitation, in proof which I know a story, which I will relate, with your majesty's leave: