A young man named Aditya was walking through a forest. He came across a well. Aditya was thirsty and wanted to drink some water. But he was shocked to see a tiger, a snake and a man trapped inside the well, which was dry. All three pleaded with Aditya to pull them up.
Aditya was scared. “What if the tiger eats me? What if the snake bites me?” he thought. But the tiger assured him that he wouldn’t harm Aditya if he rescued him. The snake hissed in agreement.
Aditya threw a long rope inside the well to help the three out. The tiger came out first. “Thank you for helping me friend. If you are ever in this forest again, come visit me at my home. I promise to repay you for your help,” the tiger said.
The snake was the next to come out. “You are a brave young man. I promise that I will be there whenever you need my help. All you need to do is take my name,” the snake said.
Finally, it was the turn of the human. “Thank you. Thank you, good sir. I work as a goldsmith in the capital city. I promise to be your friend forever. Please visit me if you ever come to the city.”
Happy to have made new friends, Aditya resumed his journey. A few years later, he was passing by the same forest. Aditya remembered the tiger’s promise. He made his way to the cave where the tiger lived.
The tiger greeted him warmly. He gave him fresh fruits from the forest and water to drink. When Aditya was about to leave, the tiger gave him gold ornaments covered with precious gems. “Here’s a small gift my friend. I hope you like it.”
Aditya was grateful for the gift, but he didn’t know what to do with the ornaments. Then he remembered his friend, the goldsmith. The goldsmith would be able to melt the ornaments and give Aditya gold coins.
The goldsmith greeted Aditya warmly. He offered him cool lemonade and asked him about the journey. Aditya told him about his visit to the tiger and its gifts. He asked the goldsmith to help him by melting the ornaments and giving him gold coins.
The goldsmith was shocked when he saw the ornaments. The goldsmith had made them with his own hands for the king’s younger brother. The same younger brother who had gone missing in the forest a few months ago. The king had announced a reward for anyone who could provide information about the prince.
But the goldsmith hid his shock. “If I tell the king that this young man has killed the prince, he will definitely give me the reward,” he thought.
The goldsmith asked Aditya to rest for some time and made his way to the palace. The goldsmith said that he had found the man who had killed the king’s younger brother.
The king dispatched soldiers to the goldsmith’s house to arrest Aditya. The king refused to hear Aditya’s side of the story and threw him in jail.
Adapted from The Panchatantra.