The Peasants and the River – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
Some Peasants, out of patience getting
With all the evils them besetting,
From swollen brook and rivulet Each time that high the waters rose, Resolve the Stream for justice to beset Into whose tide each raging feeder flows,
And cause enough their plea should count
!
Here fields of torn-up corn
;
There broken mill planks hurriedly are borne
;
And cattle drowned, unknown the dread amount
!
While gently runs the Stream, to grandest size enlarged.
His waves the walls of mighty cities wet,
But never yet
With such mad tricks hath he been charged :
So, surely he’ll this ruin stay, The Peasants argue, ready with their thanks.
But, when they came unto the River’s banks,
They floating saw their goods and planks,
The half of all their wealth, upon him borne away. Then, pains and profit knowing how to weigh,
The Peasants but of one good look had need
;
Each in his neighbour’s face had read,
And, shaking every one his head,
Off, home to bed
They went, and thus agreed : ” Let us not lose our time again ! Against inferiors to plead is always vain,
Where the superior thief gets half the gain.”
[This is intended for the bribery, in which the higher
officials themselves so largely shared. The evil has been
lessened, especially through the legal reforms of the late Emperor, but that it still exists is notorious.]

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