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FablesPanchatantra

THE CRANE AND THE CRAB

ONCE upon a time there lived in a pool called Lily- Water, an old Crane. As he stood one day in the shallows, with a most discouraged look, and a drooping bill, a Crab noticed him and called out: “Friend Crane! Have you given up eating, that you stand there all day?” “No, friend Crab,” replied the old Crane, “I love my dinner of fish as well as ever. But I have heard the fishermen saying that they are going to catch every fish that swims in these waters—so what I am to live on, I am sure I don’t know. I must make up my mind to die.”

All the fishes heard what the Crane said, and they said to one another, “This is a matter in which we are as much interested as the Crane. We had better ask his advice.” Accordingly, they went to him and said:

“Good Crane, what can be done to save us?”

“There is only one way to save yourselves,” replied the Crane, “and that is to go away. I will carry you, one by one, to another pool, if you want me to.”

“Oh, please do, good Crane,” said the trembling fishes.

The Crane, accordingly, carried them away, one by one, and after eating them came back each time and said that he had placed each fish safely in the other pool. Last of all, the Crab asked him to carry her; and the Crane, thinking how good the Crab’s tender flesh would taste, took her up with great apparent respect. But when they reached the spot to which the Crane had carried the fishes, the Crab saw that the ground was covered with fish bones, and knew what fate was in store for her. So twisting around she fastened her claws upon the throat of the Crane, and tore it so that he quickly perished.

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