So it went on, till there was not a single grain left in the pot.
"What's to be done now?" said the Woodman; "it is all your fault, Wife, for eating so much."
"My fault!" retorted his Wife scornfully, "why, you ate twice as much as I did!"
"No, I didn't!"
"Yes, you did! Men always eat more than women.
"No, they don't!"
"Yes, they do!"
"Well, it's no use quarreling about it now," said the Woodman, "the Khichri's gone, and the Bear will be furious."
"That wouldn't matter much if we could get the wood," said the greedy old woman. "I'll tell you what we must do-we must lock up everything there is to eat in the house, leave the Khichri pot by the fire, and hide in the garret. When the Bear comes he will think we have gone out and left his dinner for him. Then he will throw down his bundle and come in. Of course he will rampage a little when he finds the pot is empty, but he can't do much mischief, and I don't think he will take the trouble of carrying the wood away."
So they made haste to lock up all the food and hide themselves in the garret.
Meanwhile the Bear had been toiling and moiling away at his bundle of wood, which took him much longer to collect than he expected; however, at last he arrived quite exhausted at the woodcutter's cottage. Seeing the brass Khichri pot by the fire, he threw down his load and went in.
And then-mercy! wasn't he angry when he found nothing in it-not even a grain of rice, nor a tiny wee bit of pulse, but only a smell that was so uncommonly nice that he actually cried with rage and disappointment.
He flew into the most dreadful temper, but though he turned the house topsy-turvy, he could not find a morsel of food. Finally, he declared he would take the wood away again, but, as the crafty old woman had imagined, when he came to the task, he did not care, even for the sake of revenge, to carry so heavy a burden.
"I won't go away empty-handed," said he to himself, seizing the Khichri pot; "if I can't get the taste I'll have the smell!"
Now, as he left the cottage, he caught sight of the beautiful golden pears hanging over into the yard. His mouth began to water at once, for he was desperately hungry, and the pears were the best of the season. In a trice he was on the wall, up the tree, and gathering the biggest and ripest one he could find, was just putting it into his mouth when a thought struck him.
"If I take these pears home I shall be able to sell them for ever so much to the other bears, and then with the money I shall be able to buy some Khichri. Ha, ha! I shall have the best of the bargain after all!"
So saying, he began to gather the ripe pears as fast as he could and put them in the Khichri pot, but whenever he came to an unripe one he would shake his head and say, "No one would buy that, yet it is a pity to waste it." So he would pop it into his mouth and eat it, making wry faces if it was very sour.
Now all this time the Woodman's Wife had been watching the Bear through a crevice, and holding her breath for fear of discovery; but, at last, what with being asthmatic, and having a cold in her head, she could hold it no longer, and just as the Khichri pot was quite full of golden ripe pears, out she came with the most tremendous sneeze you ever heard-"A-h-che-u !"
The Bear, thinking some one had fired a gun at him, dropped the Khichri pot into the cottage yard, and fled into the forest as fast as his legs would carry him.
So the Woodrnan and his Wife got the Khichri, the wood, and the coveted pears, but the poor bear got nothing but a very bad stomachache from eating unripe fruit.
THE THIEF AND THE FOX
By Ramaswarni Raju
A MAN tied his horse to a tree and went into an inn. A Thief hid the horse in a wood, and stood near the tree as if he had not done it.
"Did you see my horse?" said the man.
"Yes," said the Thief, "I saw the tree eat up your horse.''
"How could the tree eat up my horse?" said the man.
"Why it did so," said the Thief.
The two went to a Fox and told him of the case. The Fox said. "I am dull. All last night the sea was on fire; I had to throw a great deal of hay into it to quench the flames; so come to-morrow, and I shall hear your case.
"Oh, you lie," said the Thief. "How could the sea burn? How could hay quench the flames?"
"Oh, you lie," said the Fox, with a loud laugh; "how could a tree eat up a horse?"
The Thief saw his lie had no legs, and gave the man his horse.
THE FARMER AND THE FOX
By Ramaswami Raju
A FARMER was returning from a fair which he had attended the previous day at a neighboring market town. He had a quantity of poultry which he had purchased. A Fox observed this, and approaching the Farmer, said, "Good morning, my friend."
"What cheer, old fellow?" said the Farmer.
"I am just coming from the wood, through which you mean to go with your poultry. A band of highwaymen has been tarrying there since daybreak."
"Then what shall I do?" said the Farmer.
"Why," said the Fox, "if I were you I should stay here a while, and after breakfast enter the wood, for by that time the robbers will have left the place."
"So be it," said the Farmer, and had a hearty breakfast, with Reynard for his guest.
They kept drinking for a long time. Reynard appeared to have lost his wits; he stood up and played the drunkard to perfection. The Farmer, who highly admired the pranks of his guest, roared with laughter, and gradually fell into a deep slumber. It was some time after noon when he awoke. To his dismay he found that the Fox was gone, and that the poultry had all disappeared!
"Alas!" said the Farmer, as he trudged on his way home with a heavy heart, "I thought the old rogue was quite drowned in liquor, but I now see it was all a pretense. One must indeed be very sober to play the drunkard to perfection."
THE FOOLS AND THE DRUM
By Ramaswami Raju
TWO FOOLS heard a Drum sounding, and said to themselves, There is some one inside it who makes the noise."
So, watching a moment, when the drummer was out, they pierced a hole in each side of it, and pushed their hands in. Each felt the hand of the other within the Drum, and exclaimed, "I have caught him!"
Then one said to the other, "Brother, the fellow seems to be a stubborn knave; come what will, we should not give in."
"Not an inch, brother," said the other.
So they kept pulling each other's hand, fancying it was the man in the Drum. The drummer came up, and finding them in such an awkward plight showed them with his fist who the man in the Drum really was. But as his fine Drum was ruined, he said, with a sigh, "Alas! Fools have fancies with a triple wing!"
THE LION AND THE GOAT
By Ramaswami Raju
A LION was eating up one after another the animals of a certain country. One day an old Goat said, "We must put a stop to this. I have a plan by which he may be sent away from this part of the country."