Panchatantra: The Old Greedy Crane
Once, a crane used to live at the side of a lake. He had grown very old and weak. He could not even catch any fish for his food. One day, he was very hungry. He had not had anything to eat for many ......
Once, a crane used to live at the side of a lake. He had grown very old and weak. He could not even catch any fish for his food. One day, he was very hungry. He had not had anything to eat for many days in a row. He was so sad that he sat on the bank of the lake and began weeping. Seeing him weeping like that, a crab who was passing by, asked him what was the matter.
Suddenly, the crane had an idea. He told the crab, “I am weeping because of the sad future of all the creatures living in this lake. You must not be aware of this, but these creatures are soon going to die without water.”
The crab exclaimed, “What? How do you know that?”
“A fortune teller told me that this lake is going to dry up very soon. All the creatures living here will die due to the lack of water. There is another lake at some distance from here. All the crocodiles, turtles, frogs, etc. can easily travel to the other lake but what worries me is how will those creatures who cannot travel by land, like the fish, save themselves. This is why I am sad. I want to help my fellow creatures.”
When all the other creatures heard about this, they were shocked and scared. They were happy that the crane was going to help them. The crane said to them, “There is a big lake at a little distance from here. I will carry one creature at a time on my back and leave them at the new lake.”
The crane easily won the creatures’ confidence. So, the crane started carrying the creatures one by one on his back. Instead of carrying to the lake, he used to take them to a hill and eat them. In this way, he managed to eat many fish every day. In a few days, he also regained his health and became strong.
One day, the crab went up to the crane and said, “Friend, have you forgotten me? I feel that you are ignoring me. You haven’t carried me to the new lake yet while I expected to be one of the first ones you would carry.”
The crane replied, “No, dear friend, please don’t feel that way. Come, climb my back and I will carry you.” Secretly, the crane was happy because he had been eating fish for quite a few days and thought that the crab would be a nice change of taste. The crane made the crab sit on his back and flew away.
After a while, the crab asked the crane, “How far is the lake?” The crane thought that the crab was quite harmless. He said, “You silly creature! I am not your servant. I am not carrying you to any other lake. This was all a part of my plan to eat all of you. Now, it is your turn to die for my meal.”
But the crab was smarter than the crane had thought. He immediately dug his sharp claws into the crane’s neck. “Take me back to the old lake at once or I will cut your neck into two with my sharp claws,” the crab threatened.
The crane was in pain and had no other option but to give in to the crab’s wishes. He turned around and flew back to the old lake. On reaching there, the crab immediately jumped off the crane’s back and went to inform the other creatures about the crane’s evil deeds. The creatures of the lake were furious. All of them attacked the crane and killed him.
The crab managed to save his own and many other creatures’ lives because of his presence of mind. Truly, presence of mind is the best weapon to guard oneself in every sphere of life.
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