A long time ago, there was a monkey who lived in a rose-apple tree by the side of a river. He lived alone, but was very happy.
One day, a crocodile came out of the river. He swam up to the tree and told the monkey that he had travelled a long distance and was in search of food as he was very hungry. The kind monkey offered him a few rose apples. The crocodile thanked him and asked him if he could visit the monkey again.
“You are always welcome,” said the monkey.
After that, the crocodile started visiting the monkey every day. They would share rose-apples and talk about everything they knew. The crocodile told the monkey that he had a wife and that they lived on the other side of the river. So the generous monkey plucked many rose-apples and gave them to the crocodile for his wife.
The crocodile’s wife loved the rose-apples, but she grew jealous of her husband spending so much time away from her, in the company of his new friend. She pretended as if she did not believe that her husband, a crocodile, could be friends with a monkey. The crocodile convinced her of his friendship with the monkey.
The crocodile’s wife thought to herself, “If the monkey eats only these sweet rose-apples, his flesh must be sweet too. He would be a delicious dinner.”
So she asked her husband to invite his friend home so that she could meet him. But the crocodile was not happy about inviting his friend home. So the wife thought of a plan. She pretended to be very ill and told the crocodile that the doctor had said that she could get well only if she ate a monkey’s heart. If her husband wanted to save her life, he must bring her his friend’s heart.
The crocodile was stupid enough to believe his wife. But the thought of killing his friend made him very unhappy. He did not want to harm his friend. At the same time, he did not want his wife to die.
So the crocodile went to the rose apple tree and invited the monkey home to meet his wife. The monkey was very happy and readily agreed. The crocodile told the monkey that he could ride across the river to the other bank on his back. On reaching the middle of the river, the crocodile began to sink. The frightened monkey asked him why he was doing so.
“I want to kill you.” said the crocodile. “My wife is ill and she can recover only if she eats a monkey’s heart.”
The monkey was shocked and started thinking fast. He told the crocodile that he would gladly give up his heart to save the life of the crocodile’s wife, but he had left his heart behind in his tree. He requested the crocodile to turn back quickly so he could fetch his heart.
The stupid crocodile became happy when he heard that the monkey was kind enough to offer his heart without any resistance. He couldn’t believe that the monkey was willing to offer his heart without any resistance. The thought of not killing his friend while proving his love towards his wife made him happy.
The crocodile turned back and swam as fast as he could to the tree.
When they reached, the monkey climbed up the tree to safety. He looked down at the crocodile and said, “Now you can go back to your wicked wife and tell her that her husband is the biggest fool in this world. Your foolishness has no parallel. You were ready to take my life because of an unjust demand from your wife. Then you were stupid enough to believe me and brought me back to the tree.”
Moral: A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend.
(Story Source: Stories from Panchatantra. Image from Creative Commons)
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