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Burton: The Sparrow and the Eagle

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I have heard that a sparrow was once flitting over a sheep-fold, when he looked at it carefully and behold, he saw a great eagle swoop down upon a newly weaned lamb and carry it off in his claws and fly away. Thereupon the sparrow clapped his wings and said, "I will do even as this one did;" and he waxed proud in his own conceit and mimicked a greater than he. So he flew down forthright and lighted on the back of a fat ram with a thick fleece that was become matted by his lying in his dung and stale till it was like woollen felt. As soon as the sparrow pounced upon the sheep's back he flapped his wings to fly away, but his feet became tangled in the wool and, however hard he tried, he could not set himself free. While all this was doing the shepherd was looking on, having seen what happened first with the eagle and afterwards with the sparrow; so he came up to the wee birdie in a rage and seized him. Then he plucked out his wing- feathers and, tying his feet with a twine, carried him to his children and threw him to them. "What is this?" asked one of them; and he answered, "This is he that aped a greater than himself and came to grief." "Now thou, O fox, art like this and I would have thee beware of aping a greater than thou, lest thou perish. This is all I have to say to thee; so fare from me in peace!" When the fox despaired of the crow's friendship, he turned away, groaning for sorrow and gnashing teeth upon teeth in his disappointment; and the crow, hearing the sound of weeping and seeing his grief and profound melancholy, said to him, "O fox, what dole and dolour make thee gnash thy canines?" Answered the fox, "I gnash my canines because I find thee a greater rascal than myself;" and so saying he made off to his house and ceased not to fare until he reached his home. Quoth the Sultan, "O Shahrazad, how excellent are these thy stories, and how delightsome! Hast thou more of such edifying tales?" Answered she:--They tell this legend concerning...

[Go to The Hedgehog and the Wood Pigeons]

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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