Bidpai: Three Stories about Birds

This story is part of the Bidpai unit. Story source: The Tortoise and the Geese and Other Fables of Bidpai by Maude Barrows Dutton,  with illustrations by E. Boyd Smith, 1908.

The Partridge and the Crow

A CROW flying across a road saw a Partridge strutting along the ground.

"What a beautiful gait that Partridge has!" said the Crow. "I must try to see if I can walk like him."

She alighted behind the Partridge and tried for a long time to learn to strut. At last the Partridge turned around and asked the Crow what she was about.

"Do not be angry with me," replied the Crow. "I have never before seen a bird who walks as beautifully as you can, and I am trying to learn to walk like you."

"Foolish bird!" responded the Partridge. "You are a Crow and should walk like a Crow. You would look silly indeed if you were to strut like a partridge."

But the Crow went on trying to learn to strut, until finally she had forgotten her own gait, and she never learned that of the Partridge.

The Bleacher, the Crane, and the Hawk

A BLEACHER, who was wont to go to the river each morning to wash his clothes, saw there one day a Crane. The Crane was standing on the bank of the stream catching small fish to eat.

Just at that moment a swift-flying Hawk appeared in pursuit of a fat Quail. The Hawk, after he had caught the Quail and eaten a part of it, left the rest on the ground, and the Crane at once devoured it. He had never before tasted such delicious meat and decided that hereafter he would eat nothing but quails.

The next day, as he stood on one leg by the river, a pigeon flew past. The Crane at once took wing and started after it. The Pigeon chose her path along the banks of the stream and kept well in advance. The Crane, in the rear, soon fell into the mud. The more he fluttered his wings, the faster his feet stuck in the mire.

The Pigeon was hardly out of sight before the Bleacher came by and easily caught the Crane.

On his way home a friend met him, who inquired, "What have you there?"

The Bleacher laughed. "This is a simple-minded Crane," he said, "who was not content to be what God made him, but must try to imitate a swift-flying Hawk. Naturally he has come to a bad end."

The Hen and the Falcon

"OF all birds whom I have ever known," a Falcon once said to a Hen, "you are without doubt the most ungrateful and treacherous."

"Why, what signs of ingratitude and treachery have you ever seen in me?" retorted the Hen, ruffling her feathers.

"Think how you treat your keepers," the Falcon made answer. "By day they feed you corn. For the night they build you a warm, safe coop. But if once a man tries to catch you, you fly from corner to corner and fence to fence, giving the fellow a merry chase. Now I am a wild bird, and there is no need that any one should feed or care for me, and yet, when any man is kind to me and pets me, I grow tame. I then hunt for him, I bring him all the game that I catch, and, no matter how far away I am when he whistles, I come to him as fast as my wings can fly."

"All this is very fine," replied the Hen, "but I see that you do not know the cause of my flight. You never saw a Falcon roasting on the spit, while I have seen hundreds of hens dressed up in as many different sauces. If you were to see falcons served thus, you would never come near your keeper again, and if I fly from fence to fence, you would fly from hill to hill."

(600 words)

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