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FablesOthersPanchatantraStories from India

A Remedy Worse Than the Disease

A flock of herons once had their nests on a fig tree in a part of a forest. In a hole in the tree lived a black snake who made a practice of eating the heron chicks before their wings sprouted.

At last one heron, in utter woe at seeing the young ones eaten by a snake, went to the shore of the pond, shed a flood of tears, and stood with downcast face.

And a crab who noticed him in this attitude, said: “Uncle, why are you so tearful today?”

“My good friend,” said the heron, “what am I to do? Fate is against me. My babies and the youngsters belonging to my relatives have been eaten by a snake that lives in a hole in the fig tree. Grieved at their grief, I weep. Tell me, is there any possible device for killing him?”

On hearing this, the crab reflected: “After all, he is a natural-born enemy of my race. I will give him such advice – a kind of true lie – that other herons may also perish. “

And he said aloud: “Uncle, conditions being as they are, scatter bits of fish all the way from the mongoose burrow to the snake’s hole. The mongoose will follow that trail and will destroy the villainous snake.”

When this had been done, the mongoose followed the bits of fish, killed the villainous snake, and also ate at his leisure all the herons who made their home in the tree.”

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