A lion couple lived in a forest. In course of time, the lioness delivered two lion cubs. Every day, the lion went out and brought food for the lioness. One day, the lion wandered all over the forest in search of food but could not find any prey at all. At sunset, the lion gave up his search and was returning home when he found a jackal cub. The lion took a fancy for him and took him home and gave him to his wife.
The lioness asked her husband, “Did you get us any food today?”
“I found this cub. That’s all,” said the lion.
“I haven’t killed him because he is a child. But if you are very hungry, you can have this child for your meal.”
The lioness was angry and asked her husband, “How can I kill him when you spared him his life?”
The elders have said:
“Don’t do an unworthy deed
Even in the face of death;
Don’t give up a worthy deed
Even if it means suicide.”
“I will treat him like my third son,” said the lioness.
Thereafter, the new jackal cub became one of the family and the three ate, drank, played and slept together. One day when they were playing, an elephant passed by. At once, the two lion cubs got ready to attack the elephant. The jackal cub told them that the elephant was an enemy of the lions and that it was better for them to leave. The lion cubs were disappointed at the words of their jackal brother.
They went home and told their father the details of how the jackal brother fled from the scene. The father was not happy with his children and admonished them. The lion took the jackal cub aside and told him not to discourage the lion cubs who, she said, were his younger brothers.
The jackal was hurt and asked his lion mother, “How am I different from them in beauty or education or bravery? Why should the two ridicule me? I will kill both of them.”
Amused by the words of the jackal cub and wishing him long life, the lioness said, “You are still a child. I brought you up taking pity on you. Your brothers are also young. Before they grow old and know that you are different from them, leave this place and join your own folk.”
Realising the danger ahead, the jackal cub left the lion family in search of his own folk.