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Burton: The Crow and the Serpent

[Go back to The Fishes and the Crab]

A crow once dwelt in a tree, he and his wife, in all delight of life, till they came to the time of the hatching of their young, which was the midsummer season, when a Serpent issued from its hole and crawled up the tree wriggling around the branches till it came to the Crows' nest, where it coiled itself up and there abode all the days of the summer, whilst the Crow was driven away and found no opportunity to clear his home nor any place wherein to lie. When the days of heat were past, the Serpent went away to its own place and quoth the Crow to his wife, "Let us thank Almighty Allah, who hath preserved us and delivered us from this Serpent, albeit we are forbidden from increase this year. Yet the Lord will not cut off our hope; so let us express our gratitude to Him for having vouchsafed us safety and soundness of body: indeed, we have none other in whom to confide, and if He will and we live to see the next year, He shall give us other young in the stead of those we have missed this year." Next summer when the hatching-season came round, the Serpent again sallied forth from its place and made for the Crows' nest; but, as it was coiling up a branch, a kite swooped down on it and struck claws into its head and tare it, whereupon it fell to the ground a-swoon, and the ants came out upon it and ate it. So the Crow and his wife abode in peace and quiet and bred a numerous brood and thanked Allah for their safety and for the young that were born to them. "In like manner, O King," continued the Wazir, "it behoveth us to thank God for that wherewith He hath favoured thee and us in vouchsafing us this blessed child of good omen, after despair and the cutting off of hope. May He make fair thy future reward and the issue of thine affair!"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Fourth Night,

She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the second Wazir had ended with the words, "Allah make fair thy future reward and the issue of thine affair!", the third Wazir, presently rose and said, "Rejoice, O just King, in the assurance of present prosperity and future felicity; for him, whom the denizens of Earth love, the denizens of Heaven likewise love, and indeed Almighty Allah hath made affection to be thy portion and hath stablished it in the hearts of the people of thy kingdom; wherefore to Him be thanks and praise from us and from thee, so He may deign increase His bounty unto thee and unto us in thee! For know, O King, that man can originate naught but by command of Allah the Most High and that He is the Giver and all good which befalleth a creature hath its end and issue in Him. He allotteth His favours to His creatures, as it liketh Him; to some he giveth gifts galore while others He doometh barely to win their daily bread. Some He maketh Lords and Captains, and others Recluses, who abstain from the world and aspire but to Him, for He it is who saith, 'I am the Harmer with adversity and the Healer with prosperity. I make whole and make sick. I enrich and impoverish. I kill and quicken; in my hand is everything and unto Me all things do tend.' Wherefore it behoveth all men to praise Him. Now, especially thou, O King, art of the fortunate, the pious, of whom it is said, 'The happiest of the just is he for whom Allah uniteth the weal of this world and of the next world; who is content with that portion which Allah allotteth to him and who giveth Him thanks for that which He hath stablished.' And indeed he that is rebellious and seeketh other than the dole which God hath decreed unto him and for him, favoureth the wild Ass and the Jackal.'' The King asked, "And what is the story of the twain?"; the Wazir answered, "Hear, O King, the tale of...

[Go to The Wild Ass and the Jackal]


Burton, Richard (1821-1890). The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. London. 1885-1888. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. VII. Gutenberg Vol. VIII. Gutenberg Vol. IX. Gutenberg Vol. X. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.


1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM


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