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Payne: The Crow and the Serpent

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A crow and his wife once dwelt in a tree, in all delight of life, till they came to the time of the hatching of their young, to wit, the season of midsummer, when a serpent issued from his hole and crawled up the tree, 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 place wherein to lie. When the days of heat were past, the serpent went away to its own place and the crow said to his wife, "Let us thank God the Most High, who hath preserved us and delivered us from this serpent, albeit we are forbidden from increase this year. Yet God will not cut off our hope; so let us thank Him for having vouchsafed us safety and bodily weal, for we have none other in whom to trust, and if He will and we live till next year, He will give us other young in the stead of those we have lost this year."

Next year the serpent again sallied forth from its place at the same time and made for the crows' nest: but, as it climbed up the tree, a kite swooped down on it and struck his claws into its head and tore it, whereupon it fell to the ground, senseless, and the ants came out upon it and devoured it. So the crow and his wife abode in peace and quiet and reared a numerous brood and thanked God for their safety and for the young that were born to them. In like manner, O king,' continued the vizier, 'it behoveth us to thank God for that wherewith He hath favoured us and thee in vouchsafing us this happy and blessed child, after despair and hope cut off. May He make fair thy reward and the issue of thine affair!'

Then rose the third vizier and said, 'Rejoice, O just king, in the assurance of present prosperity and future felicity; for him, whom the people of the earth love, the people of heaven love also; and indeed God the Most High hath made love 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 redouble in His bounty to thee and to us in thee! For know, O king, that man can nought but by commandment of God the Most High and that He is the Giver and all good that befalleth a creature hath its [origin and] issue in Him. He allotteth His favours to His creatures, as it liketh Him; to some He giveth store of gifts and others may hardly get 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 He who harmeth and who advantageth; I make whole and make sick, I enrich and impoverish, I slay and quicken; in my hand is everything and all things have their issue in Me." Wherefore it behoveth all folk to praise Him.

Thou, O king, art of the fortunate pious men of whom it is said, "The happiest of the just is he for whom God uniteth the goods of this world and the next, who is content with that which God allotted to him and giveth Him thanks for that which He hath established." And indeed he who is froward and seeketh other than that which God hath decreed unto him and for him resembleth the fox [and shall fare as he did] with the wild ass.' 'And what is the story of the fox and the wild ass?' asked the king. 'Know, O king,' replied the vizier, 'that...

[Go to The Fox and the Wild Ass]

Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram 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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