THE BRAHMAN, THE THIEF, AND THE GHOST
There was once a poor Brahman in a certain place.
He lived on presents, and always did without such
luxuries as fine clothes and ointments and perfumes
and garlands and gems and betel-gum. His beard
and his nails were long, and so was the hair that
covered his head and body. Heat, cold, rain, and
the like had dried him up.
Then someone pitied him and gave him two calves.
And the Brahman began when they were little and
fed them on butter and oil and fodder and other
things that he begged. So he made them very plump.
Then a thief saw them and the idea came to him at
once: "I will steal these two cows from this Brahman."
So he took a rope and set out at night. But on the
way he met a fellow with a row of sharp teeth set
far apart, with a high-bridged nose and uneven eyes,
with limbs covered with knotty muscles, with hollow
cheeks, with beard and body as yellow as a fire
with much butter in it.
And when the thief saw him, he started with acute
fear and said: "Who are you, sir?"
The other said: "I am a ghost named Truthful. It
is now your turn to explain yourself."
The thief said: "I am a thief, and my acts are
cruel. I am on my way to steal two cows from a
Then the ghost felt relieved and said: "My dear
sir, I take one meal every three days. So I will
just eat this Brahman today. It is delightful that
you and I are on the same errand."
So together they went there and hid, waiting for
the proper moment. And when the Brahman went to
sleep, the ghost started forward to eat him. But
the thief saw him and said: "My dear sir, this is
not right. You are not to eat the Brahman until
I have stolen his two cows."
The ghost said: "The racket would most likely
wake the Brahman. In that case all my trouble
would be vain."
"But, on the other hand," said the thief, "if
any hindrance arises when you start to eat him,
then I cannot steal the two cows either. First
I will steal the two cows, then you may eat the
So they argued, each crying "Me first! Me first!"
And when they became heated, the hubbub awoke the
Brahman. Then the thief said: "Brahman, this is
a ghost who wishes to eat you." And the ghost
said: "Brahman, this is a thief who wishes to
steal your two cows."
When the Brahman heard this, he stood up and took
a good look. And by remembering a prayer to his
favorite god, he saved his life from the ghost,
then lifted a club and saved his two cows from