13. Mountain Buck and Village Doe [Infatuation]
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, in northern India, there was a herd of village deer. They were used to being near villages; they were born there and grew up there. They knew they had to be very careful around people. This was especially true at harvest time, when the crops were tall, and the farmers trapped and killed any deer who came near.
At harvest time, the village deer stayed in the forest all day long. They only came near the village during the dark of the night. One of these was a beautiful young doe. She had soft reddish-brown fur, a fluffy white tail and big wide bright eyes.
During this particular season, there was a young mountain buck who had strayed into the same low forest. One day, he saw the beautiful young doe, and immediately became infatuated with her. He didn’t know anything about her. But he imagined himself to be deeply in love with her, just because of her reddish-brown fur and her fluffy white tail and her big wide bright eyes. He even dreamed about her, although she did not know he existed!
After a few days, the young mountain buck decided to introduce himself. As he was walking out into the clearing where she was grazing, he was entranced by her appearance and could not take his eyes off her. He began speaking: “Oh my sweet beauty, as lovely as the stars and as bright as the moon, I confess to you that I am deeply" — Just then the young buck’s hoof got caught in a root, he tripped and fell, and his face splashed in a mud puddle! The pretty village doe was flattered, so she smiled. But inside, she thought this mountain buck was really rather silly!
Meanwhile, unknown to the deer, there was a clan of tree fairies living in that part of the forest. They had been watching the mountain buck, while he secretly watched the village doe. When he walked out into the clearing, began his speech, and fell in the mud puddle – the fairies laughed and laughed. “What fools these dumb animals are!" they cried. But one fairy did not laugh. He said,"I fear this is a warning of danger to this young fool!"
The young buck was a little embarrassed, but he did not see it as any kind of warning. From then on, he followed the doe wherever she went. He kept telling her how beautiful she was and how much he loved her. She didn’t pay much attention.
Then night came, and it was time for the doe to go down to the village. The people who lived along the way knew the deer passed by at night. So they set traps to catch them. That night a hunter waited, hiding behind a bush.
Carefully, the village doe set out. The mountain buck, who was still singing her praises, went right along with her. She stopped and said to him, “My dear buck, you are not experienced with being around villages. You don’t know how dangerous human beings are. The village, and the way to it, can bring death to a deer even at night. Since you are so young and inexperienced (and she thought to herself, ‘and foolish’), you should not come down to the village with me. You should remain in the safety of the forest."
At this, the tree fairies applauded. But of course, the deer could not hear them.
The young buck paid no attention to the doe’s warning. He just said, “Your eyes look so lovely in the moonlight!" and kept walking with her. She said, “If you won’t listen to me, at least be quiet!" He was so infatuated with her, that he could not control his mind. But he did finally shut his mouth!
After a while, they approached the place where the hunter was hiding behind a bush. The fairies saw him, and became agitated and frightened for the deer’s safety. They flew nervously around the tree, branches, but they could only watch.
The doe could smell the hiding man. She was afraid of a trap. So, thinking to save her own life, she let the buck go first. She followed a little way behind.
When the hunter saw the unsuspecting mountain buck, he shot his arrow and killed him instantly. Seeing this, the terrified doe turned tail and ran back to the forest clearing as fast as she could.
The hunter claimed his kill. He started a fire, skinned the deer, cooked some of the venison and ate his fill. Then he threw the carcass over his shoulder and carried it back home to feed his family.
When the fairies saw what happened, some of them cried. As they watched the hunter cut up the once noble looking buck, some of them felt sick. Others blamed the careful doe for leading him to the slaughter.
But the wise fairy, who had given the first warning, said, “It was the excitement of infatuation that killed this foolish deer. Such blind desire brings false happiness at first, but ends in pain and suffering."
The moral is: Infatuation leads to destruction.
13. Mountain Buck and Village Doe [Infatuation]
INTERPRETER’S INTRODUCTION – BUDDHIST TALES FOR YOUNG AND OLD, VOLUME 1, STORIES 1-50
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