The Quails A Legend Of The Jataka





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.





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