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The King and the Elephants

Adaptions and Imitations of Hindoo Fables

Leo Tolstoy

An Indian King ordered all the Blind People to be assembled, and when they came, he ordered that all the Elephants be shown to them. The Blind Men went to the stable and began to feel the Elephants. One felt a leg, another a tail, a third the stump of a tail, a fourth a belly, a fifth a back, a sixth the ears, a seventh the tusks, and an eighth a trunk.

Then the King called the Blind Men, and asked them: "What are my Elephants like?"

One Blind Man said: "Your Elephants are like posts." He had felt the legs.

Another Blind Man said: "They are like bath brooms." He had felt the end of the tail.

A third said: "They are like branches." He had felt the tail stump.

The one who had touched a belly said: "The Elephants are like a clod of earth."

The one who had touched the sides said: "They are like a wall."

The one who had touched a back said: "They are like a mound."

The one who had touched the ears said: "They are like a mortar."

The one who had touched the tusks said: "They are like horns."

The one who had touched the trunk said that they were like a stout rope.

And all the Blind Men began to dispute and to quarrel.

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