The Washerman of Benares

At Benares lived a washerman, who had an ass and a dog. One night some burglars made a chink in the wall, and waited till he should go to bed to break in and rob all his property. The dog was then absent from the spot; but the ass, seeing the robbers enter the master’s house, divined what would happen, and how the house would be rid of all its valuables in no time, and thought that, if the dog were here, he would bark loudly, awake the master, and prevent the household property from being robbed. But he did not know when the dog would come; and thought that nobody ought to be indifferent to his master’s affairs, especially in a time of sore distress. He ought, therefore, to bray and thus awake the master; so he brayed to the top of his voice.

The washerman hearing the ass bray, and thinking that he was unnecessarily awakened by it, lost his temper, took a stick, beat it well, lay down, and was enjoying sound sleep once again, when the robbers broke in and began plundering the house. At this juncture the dog returned. The ass, seeing the dog, narrated to him what had happened; how the thieves broke into the house and earned off the greater part of the property; how he had brayed, wishing to prevent the occurrence; how it was misunderstood by their master; what a severe drubbing he had received, and so on. He requested the dog at any rate to bark and let the master know the fact. Thereupon the dog began to bark loudly. The washerman hearing it and thinking that the house was being broken open by robbers, rose immediately and searching into every corner of the house,found that the thieves had carried everything off, and was very much grieved.

Image Attribution: The image above, sourced from Wikimedia Commons, shows a donkey on a mountain. It was the work of the Danish painter Adolf Mackeprang (1833-1911 CE).

References:

  • Folk-lore of the Telugus by GR Subramiah Pantulu (1919)