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The Crow And The Egret

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

A crow and a white egret once made their nests in the same tree,

and when the nestlings began to grow up the crow saw how pretty and
white the young egrets were, and thought them much nicer than her
own black young ones. So one day when the egret was away, the crow
changed the nestlings and brought the little white egrets, to her
own nest. When the mother egret returned and found the ugly little
black crows in her own nest, it did not take her long to see what
had happened and she at once taxed the crow with the theft. The crow
denied all knowledge of the matter and a fine quarrel ensued.

Quarrelling led to nothing and they agreed to refer the dispute
to the decision of a money-lender, whose house stood by the tree
in which the two nests were. The crow, as the less shy of the two,
flew down and asked the money-lender to come out and settle their
dispute. The first question the money-lender asked was what they were
going to give him. The egret promised to catch him a fine rohu fish,
which was what she was accustomed to eat, but the crow said that she
would give him a golden necklace. The money-lender said that the fees
must be brought first before he heard the case, so the egret flew off
and caught a big fish, but the crow went to where a Raja was bathing
and carried off the gold chain which the Raja had left on the bank
of the river. The money-lender then gave his decision, which was in
favour of the party who had given him the most valuable present;
he decided that the young birds must stay where they were. "But,"
protested the egret "how have my white nestlings become black?" "That
is quite natural" answered the money-lender, "a white cow may have a
black or brown calf: why should not you have black young ones?" And
so saying he drove them away.

The poor egret was not at all content with this unjust decision,
and was about to renew the quarrel, when a jackal came racing by;
it had just made its escape from some hunters. "Where are you off to
so fast, uncle?" called out the egret. "I am in arrears with my rent
and am hurrying to pay it to the Raja," answered the jackal. "Stay and
listen to my grievance," begged the egret, and she told the jackal all
that had happened and how the money-lender had let himself be bribed
by the gold necklace. The jackal was very indignant, "A man who could
give a decision like that would call a buffalo, a bullock or a pig,
a sheep. It is no decision at all; I cannot stop now, but I will come
back to-morrow and decide the matter for you and before doing so,
I will stuff the mouth of that unjust judge with filth." So saying
the jackal hurried off.

The money-lender heard all that passed and was filled with shame at
having earned the contempt of the jackal; he feared more disgrace on
the morrow, so he at once called the crow and made her return the
egret's nestlings, and the next morning when the jackal came back
it found that everything had been settled to the satisfaction of
the egret.

Next: The Jackal And The Hare

Previous: The Hyaena Outwitted

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