Page:An argosy of fables.djvu/308

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250
ORIENTAL FABLES

return evil for good, I will willingly let you sting me, and will consent to my own death."

The Snake looked around and saw a Buffalo grazing afar off in the desert. "Come," said he, "I will ask the Buffalo to decide the question for us."

Accordingly, the Snake and the Camel Driver crossed through the desert to the Buffalo, and the Snake said, "Oh, Buffalo, what is the recompense of good?"

The Buffalo answered, "If you ask according to the creed of men, the return for good is evil. For many years I gave my master a calf each year, and filled my master's house with milk and butter; but when I became old and could give nothing more, he ceased to care for me, and turned me out into the desert."

The Snake then said to the Camel Driver, "You see I was right! Prepare yourself to receive my sting."

The Camel Driver replied, "It is not good law to decide a case on the evidence of only one witness. Let us seek another and abide by what he says."

The Snake again looked around and saw a tree, "Come," said he, "and let us ask that tree to decide for us."

So they came together to the foot of the tree, and the Snake enquired of it, "What is the recompense for good?"

The tree replied, "According to the custom of men the return for good is evil. The proof is as follows: I am a tree, grown in this wild region, standing here for the service of every passerby. When a weary traveller, overpowered by the heat, comes forth from the desert, he rests for a while beneath my shade. Then, when he opens his eyes again, he exclaims, 'Such a branch is suitable as a handle for my axe, and such a portion is fit and proper for my shovel;