The Panchatantra – Story 27

THE DEER’S FORMER CAPTIVITY

Chintranga said : Long ago, when I was six months old, I used to run far and ahead of the herd of deer as the young people usually do. The other adult deer knew not only to run along but also to jump clear of obstacles. But I knew only to run along and did not learn to jump up and clear obstacles. One day, as I was going along with my herd, we had to pass a snare spread by a hunter, and the other deer jumped up and cleared the snare. But I could not jump up, and as I ran along I was caught in the net. The hunter bound my limbs, chuckling to himself. The other deer seeing me thus bound ran -away. The hunter, however, did not put me to death. He said ” He is a lovely fawn who will fetch more as a live pet than as a dead deer.” 

He took me home and after washing me and making me attractive, took me to a prince to whom he sold me as a pet. The prince treated me kindly. But all the ladies of the palace passed me round as if I were a curiosity and I was very much inconvenienced by all this petting and patting. When the monsoon broke out with thunder and lightning and rain, I felt an irresistible yearning for my forest life and my old companions, and I cried out, ” When shall I follow my herd again? When shall I see my dear old forest and run along in the rain and thunder and lightning?” The prince was terrified at my saying these words and considered that I was possessed by a demon. He brought in magicians and sorcerers who struck me with sticks and cudgels in a vain attempt to rid me of the supposed devil. Then a holy man came along and said : “Don’t beat that little creature. What offence did he commit?” On hearing what I said, he said : “What is more natural than for the poor deer to yearn for his lost liberty and old haunts ?’ Sat him free,” The prince then freed me after giving me a good bath and applying ointment to the wounds caused by the merciless blows of the magicians and sorcerers. 

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