The Liar – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
But just returned from distant wanderings home,
A noble, maybe ’twas a duke, went out With an old friend over the fields to roam, And over where he’d been to boast and spout,
He lied egregiously, of what
Had really happened, and of what had not
;
” No, no,” he cried, ” I that have seen Which I shall ne’er see more. A nice place this, for instance ! You but score Your days by bitter cold, or heat as keen
;
Now the sun’s rays are hid, now down in rays they pour : But there’s a paradise on earth ! The very thought of it to joy gives birth !
No furs nor candles there are ever needed ; The shades of night not once e’en cloud the sky,
And the whole year glides by
One bright Mayday by a brighter one succeeded. There no one thinks of planting or of sowing : Would thou couldst see what there is growing ! For instance, once a cucumber so tall

May God defend us all
!
I’ve not got over yet the fright i
I saw in Rome that—pray believe my eyes Measured its size !

It really topped a mountain with its height !

” No wonder if it did,” the friend replied : ” The world has wonders everywhere to show ; Not everyone observes them, though
;
We’re coming to a wonder now, beside
Which all that thou hast seen to nothing shrinks,
As I’ll dare swear. See yonder, where the valley sinks,
A bridge across the stream lies there Right in our path,
And, though of simple workmanship, it hath
A property most rare
;
•No liar dares e’en try to cross its planks ; Before half way his shanks
Have reached, the bridge breaks down
And leaves him in the river’s tide to drown
;
But, he who never lies, Safe o’er the bridge, though in a carriage, flies.” —” And what about the river, say ? ” —” It is not shallow anyway.
And thus, my friend, thou see’st the world is wide,
And Rome’s great cucumber but one thing in’t, Though huge beyond dispute ; I think thy hint Was that it topped a mountain by its side ? ” —” A mountain, no, not quite ; a house I meant.” —” Even that is odd ! But let it pass : the world cannot invent A bridge like that o’er which we’ve now to cross, Where liars dare not plod.
This very spring our town laments the loss Of two smart editors, one tailor’s lad, Who in the torrent went to grief.
Thy cucumber, if we may give belief,
I think the measure of a town-house had ? ” —” Well, after all that does not mean so much ; We must, before we judge, know how things are ; Don’t think the houses everywhere are such
Mansions as ours, in the lands afar
;
Houses not worthy of the name ! Two men can hardly in them creep, No room for them to stand or sleep !

—” So be’t, but still I must allow Thy cucumber deserves its fame,
If two men get in anyhow ; And of our bridge I’ll say the same, While not a liar on’t takes paces five That has not or to drown or dive ! No cucumber, however it may thrive . . .”
” Listen, good friend!” broke in our trembling Liar, ” Why cross the bridge at all, there is a ford up higher ? ”
[This fable seems to have been called forth by the
observations of Kriloff at the English Club. One of the members was accustomed to boast of what he had seen on
his travels, and once, when he declared the size of a stirlet in the Volga to equal the length of the room in which the company were assembled,Kriloff rose from his’chair near the
door, saying, “Allow me to make room for your stirlet.”]

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