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The Quails A Legend Of The Jataka

from Good Stories For Great Holidays - BIRD DAY





FROM THE RIVERSIDE FOURTH READER

Ages ago a flock of more than a thousand quails lived together in a
forest in India. They would have been happy, but that they were in great
dread of their enemy, the quail-catcher. He used to imitate the call
of the quail; and when they gathered together in answer to it, he would
throw a great net over them, stuff them into his basket, and carry them
away to be sold.

Now, one of the quails was very wise, and he said:--

"Brothers! I've thought of a good plan. In future, as soon as the fowler
throws his net over us, let each one put his head through a mesh in the
net and then all lift it up together and fly away with it. When we have
flown far enough, we can let the net drop on a thorn bush and escape
from under it."

All agreed to the plan; and next day when the fowler threw his net, the
birds all lifted it together in the very way that the wise quail had
told them, threw it on a thorn bush and escaped. While the fowler tried
to free his net from the thorns, it grew dark, and he had to go home.

This happened many days, till at last the fowler's wife grew angry and
asked her husband:--

"Why is it that you never catch any more quail?"

Then the fowler said: "The trouble is that all the birds work together
and help one another. If they would only quarrel, I could catch them
fast enough."

A few days later, one of the quails accidentally trod on the head of one
of his brothers, as they alighted on the feeding-ground.

"Who trod on my head?" angrily inquired the quail who was hurt.

"Don't be angry, I didn't mean to tread on you," said the first quail.

But the brother quail went on quarreling.

"I lifted all the weight of the net; you didn't help at all," he cried.

That made the first quail angry, and before long all were drawn into
the dispute. Then the fowler saw his chance. He imitated the cry of the
quail and cast his net over those who came together. They were still
boasting and quarreling, and they did not help one another lift the net.
So the hunter lifted the net himself and crammed them into his basket.
But the wise quail gathered his friends together and flew far away, for
he knew that quarrels are the root of misfortune.





Next: The Magpie's Nest

Previous: The Tongue-cut Sparrow



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