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C. F. F
THE CLOSE ALLIANCE
A TALE OF WOE
NE day a farmer went with
his bullocks to plough his field. He had just turned the first furrow, when a
tiger walked up to him and said, 'Peace be with you, friend! How are you this
same to you, my lord, and I am pretty well, thank you!' returned the farmer,
quaking with fear, but thinking it wisest to be polite.
am glad to hear it,' replied the tiger cheerfully, 'because Providence has sent me to eat your two
bullocks. You are a God-fearing man, I know, so make haste and unyoke them.'
friend, are you sure you are not making a mistake?' asked the farmer, whose
courage had returned now that he knew it was merely a question of gobbling up
bullocks; 'because Providence sent me to plough this field, and, in order to
plough, one must have oxen. Had you not better go and make further inquiries?'
is no occasion for delay, and I should be sorry to keep you waiting,' returned
the tiger. 'If you'll unyoke the bullocks I'll be ready in a moment.' With that
the savage creature fell to sharpening his teeth and claws in a very
the farmer begged and prayed that his oxen might not be eaten, and promised
that if the tiger would spare them, he would give in exchange a fine fat young
milch cow, which his wife had tied up in the yard at home.
this the tiger agreed, and, taking the oxen with him, the farmer went sadly
homewards. Seeing him return so early from the fields, his wife, who was a
stirring, busy woman, called out, 'What! lazy-bones!–back already, and my
work just beginning!'
the farmer explained how he had met the tiger, and how to save the bullocks he
had promised the milch cow in exchange. At this the wife began to cry, saying,
'A likely story, indeed!–saving your stupid old bullocks at the expense of my
beautiful cow! Where will the children get milk? and how can I cook my pottage and collops without butter?'
very fine, wife,' retorted the farmer, 'but how can we make bread without corn?
and how can you have corn without bullocks to plough the fields? Pottage and
collops are very nice, but it is better to do without milk and butter than
without bread, so make haste and untie the cow.'
great gaby!' wept the wife, 'if you had an ounce of sense in your brain you'd
think of some plan to get out of the scrape!'
yourself!' cried the husband, in a rage.
well!' returned the wife; 'but if I do the thinking you must obey orders; I
can't do both. Go back to the tiger, and tell him the cow wouldn't come along
with you, but that your wife is bringing it.'
farmer, who was a great coward, didn't half like the idea of going back
empty-handed to the tiger, but as he could think of no other plan he did as he
was bid, and found the beast still sharpening his teeth and claws for very
hunger; and when he heard he had to wait still longer for his dinner, he began
to prowl about, and lash his tail, and curl his whiskers, in a most terrible
manner, causing the poor farmer's knees to knock together with terror.
when the farmer had left the house, his wife went to the stable and saddled the
pony; then she put on her husband's best clothes, tied the turban very high, so
as to make her look as tall as possible, bestrode the pony, and set off to the
field where the tiger was.
rode along, swaggering and blustering, till she came to where the lane turned
into the field, and then she called out, as bold as brass, 'Now, please the
powers! I may find a tiger in this place; for I haven't tasted tiger's meat
since yesterday, when, as luck would have it, I ate three for breakfast.'
these words, and seeing the speaker ride boldly at him, the tiger became so
alarmed that he turned tail, and bolted into the forest, going away at such a
headlong pace that he nearly overturned his own jackal; for tigers always have a
jackal of their own, who, as it were, waits at table and clears away the bones.
lord! my lord!' cried the jackal, 'whither away so fast?'
run!' panted the tiger; 'there's the very devil of a horseman in yonder fields,
who thinks nothing of eating three tigers for breakfast!'
this the jackal sniggered in his sleeve. 'My dear lord,' said he, 'the sun has
dazzled your eyes! That was no horseman, but only the farmer's wife dressed up
as a man!'
you quite sure?' asked the tiger, pausing.
sure, my lord,' repeated the jackal; 'and if your lordship's eyes had not been
dazzled by–ahem!–the sun, your lordship would have seen her pigtail hanging down behind.'
you may be mistaken!' persisted the cowardly tiger; 'it was the very devil of a
horseman to look at!'
afraid?' replied the brave jackal. 'Come! don't give up your dinner because of
you may be bribed to betray me!' argued the tiger, who, like all cowards, was
us go together, then!' returned the gallant jackal.
but you may take me there and then run away!' insisted the tiger cunningly.
that case, let us tie our tails together, and then I can't!' The jackal, you
see, was determined not to be done out of his bones.
this the tiger agreed, and having tied their tails together in a reef-knot, the
pair set off arm-in-arm.
the farmer and his wife had remained in the field, laughing over the trick she
had played on the tiger, when, lo and behold! what should they see but the
gallant pair coming back ever so bravely, with their tails tied together.
cried the farmer; 'we are lost! we are lost!'
of the kind, you great gaby!' answered his wife coolly, 'if you will only stop
that noise and be quiet. I can't hear myself speak!'
she waited till the pair were within hail, when she called out politely, 'How
very kind of you, dear Mr. Jackal, to bring me such a nice fat tiger! I shan't
be a moment finishing my share of him, and then you can have the bones.'
these words the tiger became wild with fright, and, quite forgetting the
jackal, and that reef-knot in their tails, he bolted away full tilt, dragging
the jackal behind him. Bumpety, bump, bump, over the stones!–crash, scratch,
patch, through the briars!
vain the poor jackal howled and shrieked to the tiger to stop,–the noise behind
him only frightened the coward more; and away he went, helter-skelter, hurry-scurry,
over hill and dale, till he was nearly dead with fatigue, and the jackal was
quite dead from bumps and bruises.
Moral–Don't tie your tail to a
 Khudâ and Allah were the words for
Providence or God in this tale, it being a Muhammadan one.
 Small pieces of meat roasted or fried on
skewers with onions and eggs: a favourite Muhammadan dish throughout the East.
 From time immemorial the tiger has been
supposed to be accompanied by a jackal who shows him his game and gets the
leavings as his wages. Hence the Sanskrit title of vyâghranâyaka
or tiger-leader for the jackal.
 The Kashmîrî woman's hair is
drawn to the back of the head and finely braided. The braids are then gathered
together and, being mixed with coarse woollen thread, are worked into a very
long plait terminated by a thick tassel, which reaches almost down to the
ankles. It is highly suggestive of the Chinese pigtail, but it is far more