More Jataka Tales

by Ellen C. Babbitt

“The Wise Goat and the Wolf”

Additional Information
  • Year Published: 1922
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: India
  • Source: Babbitt, E.C. (Ed.). (1922). More Jataka Tales. New York, NY: D. Appleton-Century Company.
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 2.5
  • Word Count: 638


Once upon a time, many, many wild Goats lived in a cave in the side of a hill. A Wolf lived with his mate not far from this cave. Like all Wolves they liked the taste of Goat-meat. So they caught the Goats, one after another, and ate them all but one who was wiser than all the others. Try as they might, the Wolves could not catch her. One day the Wolf said to his mate: “My dear, let us play a trick on that wise Goat. I will lie down here pretending to be dead. You go alone to the cave where the Goat lives, and looking very sad, say to her: ‘My dear, do you see my mate lying there dead? I am so sad; I have no friends. Will you be good to me? Will you come and help me bury the body of my mate?’ The Goat will be sorry for you and I think she will come here with you. When she stands beside me I will spring upon her and bite her in the neck. Then she will fall over dead, and we shall have good meat to eat.”

The Wolf then lay down, and his mate went to the Goat, saying what she had been told to say.

But the wise Goat said: “My dear, all my family and friends have been eaten by your mate I am afraid to go one step with you. I am far safer here than I would be there.”

“Do not be afraid,” said the Wolf. “What harm can a dead Wolf do to you?”

These and many more words the Wolf said to the Goat, so that at last the Goat said she would go with the Wolf. But as they went up the hill side by side, the Goat said to herself: “Who knows what will happen? How do I know the Wolf is dead?” She said to the Wolf, “I think it will be better if you go on in front of me.” The Wolf thought he heard them coming. He was hungry and he raised up his head to see if he could see them. The Goat saw him raise his head, and she turned and ran back to her cave. “Why did you raise your head when you were pretending to be dead?” the Wolf asked her mate. He had no good answer. By and by the Wolves were both so very hungry that the Wolf asked his mate to try once more to catch the Goat. This time the Wolf went to the Goat and said: “My friend, your coming helped us, for as soon as you came, my mate felt better. He is now very much better. Come and talk to him. Let us be friends and have a good time together.”

The wise Goat thought: “These wicked Wolves want to play another trick on me. But I have thought of a trick to play on them.” So the Goat said: “I will go to see your mate, and I will take my friends with me. You go back and get ready for us. Let us all have a good time together.”

Then the Wolf was afraid, and she asked: “Who are the friends who will come with you? Tell me their names.” The wise Goat said: “I will bring the two Hounds, Old Gray and Young Tan, and that fine big dog called Four-Eyes. And I will ask each of them to bring his mate.”

The Wolf waited to hear no more. She turned, and away she ran back to her mate. The Goat never saw either of them again.