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The Heron, the Fishes, and the Crab

Adaptions and Imitations of Hindoo Fables

Leo Tolstoy

A Heron was living near a pond. She grew old, and had no strength left with which to catch the fish. She began to contrive how to live by cunning. So she said to the Fishes:

"You Fishes do not know that a calamity is in store for you: I have heard the people say that they are going to let off the pond, and catch every one of you. I know of a nice little pond back of the mountain. I should like to help you, but I am old, and it is hard for me to fly."

The Fishes begged the Heron to help them. So the Heron said:

"All right, I will do what I can for you, and will carry you over: only I cannot do it at once,—I will take you there one after another."

And the Fishes were happy; they kept begging her: "Carry me over! Carry me over!"

And the Heron started carrying them. She would take one up, would carry her into the field, and would eat her up. And thus she ate a large number of Fishes.

In the pond there lived an old Crab. When the Heron began to take out the Fishes, he saw what was up, and said:

"Now, Heron, take me to the new abode!"

The Heron took the Crab and carried him off. When she flew out on the field, she wanted to throw the Crab down. But the Crab saw the fish-bones on the ground, and so squeezed the Heron's neck with his claws, and choked her to death. Then he crawled back to the pond, and told the Fishes.

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