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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Count Not your Chickens before they be Hatched
By Vishnu Sharma (Pilpay) (c. 1000 B.C.?)
 
        
From the ‘Panchatantra,’ Book v., Fable 9: Translation of Charles Rockwell Lanman
  
  [This is the well-known tale of the ‘Milkmaid who poised a full pail on her head,’ La Fontaine’s ‘Perrette’ (vii. 10). It recurs in the ‘Arabian Nights’ (Night 716), and often elsewhere. 1]

ONCE upon a time there lived in a certain town a brahman named Luckless. He begged a lot of barley grits; and with what he had left over from his dinner, he filled a jar. This he hung on a low peg in the wall, put his cot beneath it, and looking at it with unaverted gaze, he bethought him:—“This pot is full of barley grits, and if there comes a famine, will fetch me a hundred pieces of silver. With them I shall buy me a couple of she-goats; and as they will drop kids every six months, I shall soon have a herd from them. For the goats I shall get many cows; for the cows, buffalo-cows; and for them, mares; and when they have foaled, I shall have many horses; and from the sale of them, much gold. With the gold I’ll get a house with four rooms, about a court. And then some brahman will come to my house, and give me his lovely daughter, with a rich dowry in marriage.  1
  “She will bear me a son, and I’ll name him Soma-çarman. When he’s old enough for me to trot him on my knee, I’ll take a book, and sitting out behind the stable, I’ll study it. Then Soma-çarman, seeing me, and eager to be trotted on my knee, will leave his mother’s lap, and in coming to me will get right near the horses’ hoofs. And I, full of anger, shall say to my wife, ‘Take the child, quick!’ She, busy with housework, won’t hear me, and I shall get up and give her a kick.”  2
  Deep sunk in thought, he gave such a kick that he broke the jar, and the grits ran down over him till he was well whitened.  3
 
Note 1. See the mutations of this tale in the selection from Max Müller, in the LIBRARY. [back]
 
 
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