The Bear and the Fowls
A Bear, who was bred in the savage desert, wished to see the world, and he travelled from forest to forest, and from one kingdom to another, making many profound observations on his way.
One day he came by accident into a farmer’s yard, where he saw a number of Fowls standing to drink by the side of a pool. Observing that after every sip they turned up their heads toward the sky, he could not forbear inquiring the reason of so peculiar a ceremony.
They told him that it was by way of returning thanks to Heaven for the benefits they received; and was indeed an ancient and religious custom, which they could not, with a safe conscience, or without impiety, omit.
Here the Bear burst into a fit of laughter, at once mimicking their gestures, and ridiculing their superstition, in a most contemptuous manner.
On this the Cock, with a spirit suitable to the boldness of his character, addressed him in the following words: “As you are a stranger, sir, you may perhaps be excused for the indecency of your behaviour; yet give me leave to tell you that none but a Bear would ridicule any religious ceremonies in the presence of those who believe them of importance.”
THE FABLES OF BIDPAI
“In English now they teach us wit.
In English now they say:
Ye men, come learn of beasts to live, to rule and to obey,
To guide you wisely in the world, to know to shun deceit,
To fly the crooked paths of guile, to keep your doings straight.”
Sir Thomas north
THE FABLES OF BIDPAI
The Snake and the Sparrows
It is related that two Sparrows once made their nest in the roof of a house; and, contenting themselves with a single grain, so lived. Once on a time they had young ones, and both the mother and father used to go out in search of food for their support; and what they procured they made up into grains and dropped into their crops.
One day, the male Sparrow had gone out somewhere. When he came back he beheld the female Sparrow fluttering in the greatest distress around the nest, while she uttered piteous cries. He exclaimed, “Sweet friend! what movements are these which I behold in thee?” She replied, “How shall I not lament, since, when I returned after a moment’s absence, I saw a huge Snake come and prepare to devour my offspring, though I poured forth piteous cries. It was all in vain, for the Snake said, ‘Thy sigh will have no effect on my dark-mirrored scales.’ I replied, ’Dread this, that I and the father of these children will gird up the waist of vengeance, and will exert ourselves to the utmost for thy destruction.’ The Snake laughed on hearing me, and that cruel oppressor has devoured my young and has also taken his rest in the nest.”