| Jataka Tales|
|by Ellen C. Babbitt|
|Eighteen fables from the Jatakas of India, skillfully retold and attractively illustrated. Includes The Monkey and the Crocodile, The Merchant of Seri, The Turtle Who Wouldn’t Stop Talking, The Foolish Timid Rabbit, The Banyan Deer, and others. Ages 7-10 |
THE KING'S WHITE ELEPHANT
NCE upon a time a number of
carpenters lived on a river bank near a large forest. Every
day the carpenters went in boats to the forest to cut down
the trees and make them into lumber.
One day while they were
at work an Elephant came limping on three feet to them. He
held up one foot and the carpenters saw that it was swollen
and sore. Then the Elephant lay down and the men saw that
there was a great splinter in the sore foot. They pulled it
out and washed the sore carefully so that in a short time
it would be well again.
He held up one foot and the carpenters saw that it was swollen and sore.
Thankful for the cure, the Elephant thought: "These
carpenters have done so much for me, I must be useful to
So after that the Elephant used to pull up trees for the
carpenters. Sometimes when the trees were chopped down he
would roll the logs down to the river.
 Other times he brought their tools for them. And the
carpenters used to feed him well morning, noon and night.
Now this Elephant had a son who was white all over—a
beautiful, strong young one. Said the old Elephant to
himself, "I will take my son to the place in the forest
where I go to work each day so that he may learn to help the
carpenters, for I am no longer young and strong."
 So the old Elephant told his son how the carpenters had
taken good care of him when he was badly hurt and took him
to them. The white Elephant did
 as his father told him to do and helped the carpenters and
they fed him well.
The Elephant used to pull up trees for the carpenters.
When the work was done at night the young Elephant went to
play in the river. The carpenters' children played with
him, in the water and on the bank. He liked to pick them up
in his trunk and set them on the high branches of the trees
and then let them climb down on his back.
 One day the king came down the river and saw this beautiful
white Elephant working for the carpenters. The king at once
wanted the Elephant for his own and paid the carpenters a
great price for him. Then with a last look at his playmates,
the children, the beautiful white Elephant went on with the
With a last look at his playpmates the beautiful white Elephant went on with the king.
The king was proud of his new Elephant and took the best
care of him as long as he lived.
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