There once lived a lion, the king of the forest. He was always accompanied by a jackal and a crow. They followed him every where and lived on the remains of his food.
In a village close to the forest there lived a woodcutter. Everyday, he would go into the forest with his axe to chop wood.
One day as the woodcutter was busy chopping a tree, he heard a noise behind him. Turning around, he saw the lion looking straight at him, ready to pounce. The woodcutter was a clever man. He quickly said, “Greetings… King of this forest. It is a pleasure to meet you.”
The lion was surprised. “A pleasure to meet me? Are you not afraid of me?”
“I respect you a lot…lion. I was hoping to meet you. You see, my wife is an excellent cook. I wanted you to taste her dal and vegetables.”
“Dal? Vegetables? Don’t you know that I eat only flesh?” asked the lion in surprise.
“If you taste my wife’s cooking, you will stop eating flesh,” said the woodcutter proudly.
The lion was very hungry and he accepted the woodcutter’s food.
“Good that the Jackal and the crow are not with me today,” thought the lion. “They would laugh at me.”
The lion was surprised to find that the food was indeed very tasty. “I have never eaten such good food,” he said.
“You are welcome to share my food everyday, O king. But no one should ever know about our friendship. You must come alone.”
The lion promised. Everyday, the lion would eat lunch brought by the woodcutter and their unusual friendship grew to be stronger day by day.
The crow and the jackal were anxious to know why the lion had stopped hunting. “We are going to starve to death if the lion does not hunt anymore,” whined the jackal.
“You are right,” said the crow. “Let us try to find out what has happened to the lion.” The next day they followed the lion from a safe distance and saw him eating the lunch the woodcutter brought for him.
“So this is why the lion does not hunt anymore,” said the jackal to the crow. “We have to get the lion to share his food with us. Then may be we can break his friendship with the woodcutter and the lion will start hunting his prey again.”
When the lion came back to his den that evening, the crow and the jackal were waiting for him. “My lord, why have you forgotten us? Please let us all go hunting like we used to,” pleaded the crow and the jackal.
“No! I have given up eating flesh, ever since I met a friend who changed me from my old ways,” said the lion.
“We would also like to meet your friend,” said the crow.
On the following day, the wood cutter was as usual waiting for his friend the lion. Suddenly, he heard voices. The woodcutter was a very careful and clever man. He immediately climbed a tall tree. In the distance, he could see the lion approaching. With him were a crow and a jackal. “With those two around, my friendship with the lion will not last very long,” he said to himself.
The lion came over to the tree and called out to the woodcutter, “Come down and join us. It is me your friend.”
“That may be so,” called out the woodcutter. “But you have broken your promise to me. If those two can make you break a promise, then they can make you kill me also. You can forget our friendship.”