The Fly and the Travellers – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
One hottest afternoon of hot July,
Through clouds of dust, four horses try
A coach with luggage, in which sat A Nobleman and Family in chat,
Uphill to drag.
The worn-out horses, whipped, slower and slower lag,
And end by standing still. The Coachman quits
His box quite riled
;
He and the Footman lash the steeds to bits : Tis vain. From out the lumbering coach there flits In turn, the Nobleman, his Wife, and Child,
The Tutor, and a Maid, by fear all goaded.
The coach, however, heavily was loaded,
So that the horses, on the traces straining,
On the steep hill but inch by inch were gaining.
A Fly came there by chance. How not distress to aid ?
It sets to work, and—buzzes a master of its trade ! Against the trunks and bundles knocks
;
Now the bay horse it worries on the nose, Now o’er the brown one’s forehead biting goes
;
And in the Coachman’s stead alights upon the box
;
Or else, abandoning the horses,
Among the travellers hither and thither courses
;
‘Tis busy as a dealer at a fair, And but of this complains
;
That none, despite its pains,
To help doth care. On foot and talking nonsense the Servants follow
after
;
The Tutor with the Lady keeps up a whispered laughter
;
The Nobleman himself, not thinking he’s required,
To seek for mushrooms with the Maid hath to the wood
retired
;
The Fly, in each ear buzzing, doth hum to each that
she,
And she alone, has tried to set them free.
Meanwhile the horses step by step have dragged their load A little higher up, unto a level road. ” We’re off,” exclaims the Fly, ” may God be praised, at
last!And I may have some rest from labour passed : My wings will hardly lift me from the ground.”
How many are there not, that ever try To poke their noses into each man’s fry, And when not asked nor wanted are always foremost found.
[This is taken from ” Le Coche et la Mouche ” of La
Fontaine, which gives but a faint description of the
travellers, and the close of which, as well as its moral,
is much less pointed than the fable of Kriloff. The
humorous turns of Kriloff, if they have not been quite
lost in the translation, will be sought in vain in the French
writer.]