"Sit and sing,"--This story the Master told while staying at Jetavana, about an old Brother. Once, they are told, two of the chief disciples were sitting together, questioning and answering; when up came an old Brother, and made a third. Taking a seat, he said, "I have a question too, Sirs, which I should like to ask you: and if you have any difficulty, you may put it to me." The Elders were disgusted; they rose up and left him. The congregation who listened to the discourse of the Elders, after the meeting broke up, came to the Master; he asked what brought them there untimely and they told him what had happened. He replied, "This is not the first time, Brethren, that Sariputta and Moggallana have been disgusted with this man, and left him without a word; it was just the same in olden days." And he proceeded to tell a story of the past.
"Once upon a time, when Brahmadatta was king of Benares, the Bodhisattva became a tree-sprite that lived in a forest. Two young Geese flew down from Mount Cittakuta and perched upon this tree. They flew about in search of food, returned thither again, and after resting flew back to their mountain home. As time went on and on, the sprite struck up a friendship with them. Coming and going, they were great friends, and used to talk of religion to one another before they parted.
"It happened one day as the birds sat on the treetop, talking with the Bodhisattva, that a Jackal, halting at the foot of the tree, addressed the young Geese in the words of the following stanza:
"'Sit and sing upon the tree
"Filled with disgust, the young Geese took wing and flew back to Cittakuta. When they were gone, the Bodhisattva repeated the second stanza for the Jackal's benefit:--
"'Fairwing here to fairwing sings,
When the Master had ended this discourse, he identified the Birth:--"In those times the old man was the Jackal, Sariputta and Moggallana the two young Geese, and I myself was the tree-sprite."