The Panchatantra – Story 50

THE FARMER’S WIFE

There was once a farmer who lived with a pretty wife in a lonely farm and had no children. As the farmer was old and the wife was young, she was yearning for a young lover. A rogue, who was after the farmer’s wife, went up to her, one day, knowing her secret hankering, and said to her, “O you beauty, I have fallen in love with you at the very sight of you. My wife died recently, and I am lonely. Make me happy by showering on me your love.” She was delighted. She said, “If you feel that way, I too am agreeable. We shall run away from this place. I shall also take with me a lot of money which my old husband has kept in the box so that we may not lack the means to enjoy the pleasures of life.’ “Very good,” said the rogue, “come along then with me this very night when your husband is asleep”. She agreed. 

That night, when her husband was sleeping, she took all his money and reached the place of rendezvous. The rogue was delighted He went along with her, literally bouncing with joy. They reached a river. There was a boat there without a boatman, as passengers were expected to ferry themselves across. The rogue said to the woman, “My dear, I shall first row across with your money and costly clothes, put them on the other bank safe and then come back and take you.” She agreed. He took her money and clothes and ferried himself across to the other shore and made off. The wretched woman waited on the other bank for him to return in vain. 

Then she saw a she-jackal go to a spot carrying a piece of meat in its mouth. Just then a fish leaped from the water of the river and was stranded on the sands. On spotting that fat fish the jackal felt a desire to catch it and eat it and so put the piece of meat on the bank and went to catch the fish. The fish, on seeing the jackal approach him, made a desperate effort and struggled back into the river and escaped. When the jackal was going back to take its piece of meat, a vulture swooped on it and carried it off. The farmer’s wife smiled and said to the jackal : ”O poor jackal, the vulture has your meat and the river holds your fish. What is that you are waiting for, having lost both fish and meat”. The She-jackal retorted, “O woman, you think you are cleverer than I. You have lost both your lover and husband and now left abandoned on this river bank.”

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