And the use of this fable is, that thou mayest learn that to no one does the sun of his wish rise from the eastern quarter of hope without the diligent use of great exertion.
It is related that a Fox was once prowling over a moor, and was roaming in every direction in hope of scenting food. Presently he came to the foot of a tree, at the side of which they had suspended a drum, and whenever a gust of wind came, a branch of the tree was put in motion, and struck the surface of the drum, when a terrible noise arose from it.
The Fox, seeing a domestic fowl under the tree, who was pecking the ground with her beak, and searching for food, planted himself in ambush, and wished to make her his prey, when all of a sudden the sound of a drum reached his ear. He looked and saw a very fat form, and a prodigious sound from it reached his hearing. The appetite of the Fox was excited, and he thought to himself, “Assuredly its flesh and skin will be proportioned to its voice.”
He issued from his lurking-place and turned toward the tree. The fowl being put on its guard by that circumstance, fled, and the Fox, by a hundred exertions, ascended the tree. Much did he labour till he had torn the drum, and then he found nought save a skin and a piece of wood. The fire of regret descended into his heart, and the water of contrition began to run from his eyes, and he said: “Alas! that by reason of this huge bulk which is all wind, that lawful prey has escaped from my hand, and from this empty form no advantage has resulted to me.”
Loudly ever sounds the labour,
But in vain—within is nought:
Art thou wise, for substance labour,
Semblance will avail thee nought.
Two Sparrows once fixed their nest on the branch of a tree; and of worldly gear, water and grain sufficed them; while on the summit of a mountain, beneath which that tree lay, a Falcon had its abode, which, at the time of stooping on its quarry, issued from its lurking-place like lightning, and, like heaven’s bolt, clean consumed the feebler birds.
Whenever the Sparrows produced young, and the time was near at hand for them to fly, that Falcon, rushing forth from its ambush, used to carry them off and make them food for its own young. Now, to those Sparrows—in accordance with the saying, “The law of home is a part of faith”—to migrate from that place was impossible, and yet from the cruelty of the tyrannous Hawk it was difficult to reside there.
On one occasion their young ones, having gained strength and put forth feathers and wings, were able to move; and the father and mother, pleased with the sight of their offspring, testified their joy at their attempt to fly.
Suddenly the thought of the Falcon passed through their minds, and, all at once, they began to lament from anxiety.