A Folk Tale from India

“OF all birds whom I have ever known,” a Falcon once said to a Hen, “you are without doubt the most ungrateful and treacherous.”

“Why, what signs of ingratitude and treachery have you ever seen in me?” retorted the Hen, ruffling her feathers.

“Think how you treat your keepers,” the Falcon made answer. “By day they feed you corn. For the night they build you a warm, safe coop. But if once a man tries to catch you, you fly from corner to corner and fence to fence, giving the fellow a merry chase. Now I am a wild bird, and there is no need that any one should feed or care for me, and yet, when any man is kind to me and pets me, I grow tame. I then hunt for him, I bring him all the game that I catch, and, no matter how far away I am when he whistles, I come to him as fast as my wings can fly.”

“All this is very fine,” replied the Hen, “but I see that you do not know the cause of my flight. You never saw a Falcon roasting on the spit, while I have seen hundreds of hens dressed up in as many different sauces. If you were to see falcons served thus, you would never come near your keeper again, and if I fly from fence to fence, you would fly from hill to hill.”

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