When the male Sparrow heard this story, his frame was wrung with anguish; and the fire of regret for the loss of his offspring fell on his soul. At that moment the master of the house was engaged in lighting his lamp; and holding in his hand a match, dipped in grease and lighted, was about to put it into the lamp-holder. The Sparrow flew and snatched the match from his hand and threw it into the nest. The master of the house, through fear that the fire would catch to the roof, and that the consequences would be most pernicious, immediately ran up on the terrace and began clearing away the nest from beneath, in order to put out the fire. The Snake beheld in front the danger of the fire, and heard above the sound of the pickaxe. It put out its head from a hole which it had near the roof, and no sooner did it do so than it received a blow of death from the pickaxe.
And the moral of this fable is, that the Snake despised its enemy, and made no account of him, until in the end that enemy pounded his head with the stone of vengeance.
The Geese and the Tortoise
It is related that in a pool whose pure water reflected every image like a clear mirror, once resided two Geese and a Tortoise, and in consequence of their being neighbours, the thread of their circumstances had been drawn out into sincere friendship, and they passed their lives contentedly.
In that water which was the source of their life and the support of their existence, however, a complete failure began to manifest itself, and a glaring alteration became evident. When the Geese perceived that state of things they withdrew their hearts from the home to which they were accustomed and determined on emigrating. Therefore with hearts full of sorrow and eyes full of tears, they approached the Tortoise, and introduced the subject of parting.
The Tortoise wept at the intelligence and piteously exclaimed, “What words are these, and how can existence be supported without sympathizing friends? And since that I have not power even to take leave, how can I endure the load of separation?”
The Geese replied: “Our hearts, too, are wounded by the sharp points of absence, but the distress of being without water is impossible to endure, and therefore of necessity we are about to forsake our friend and country.”
The Tortoise rejoined: “O friends! ye know that the distress of the want of water affects me more, and that without water I cannot support myself. At this crisis the rights of ancient companionship demand that ye should take me with you, and not leave me alone in the sorrowful abode of separation.”
The Geese answered: “O esteemed comrade! the pang of parting from thee is sharper than that of exile, and wherever we go, though we should pass our time in the utmost comfort, yet, deprived of seeing thee, the eye of our rejoicing would be darkened; but for us to proceed on the earth’s surface and so to traverse a great and long distance is impossible, and for thee, too, to fly through the expanse of air and accompany us is impracticable; and such being the case, how can we travel together?”