ONCE there was a pair of Sparrows that were very fond of each other, and lived in a nest together as happy as the day was long. The hen laid eggs and sat upon them, and the cock went about picking up food for them both, and when he had got food enough, he sat on a twig close by the nest, and twittered for joy.
But it happened one day that a boy saw Cock Sparrow pecking at some seeds, and he picked up a stone and threw it at him, and killed him. So no food came home that morning, and Hen Sparrow grew anxious, and at last set out to find him.
In a little while she found his dead body lying in a ditch. She ruffled up her feathers and began to cry. "Who can have killed him?" she said; "my poor kind husband, who never did harm to any one." Then a Raven flew down from a tree, where he had been sitting, and told her how a cruel boy had thrown a stone at him and killed him for sport. He saw it, said the Raven, as he was sitting on the tree.
Now Hen Sparrow determined to have her revenge. She was so much troubled that she left her eggs to hatch themselves, or to addle if they would; and gathering some straw, she plaited it into a beautiful straw carriage, with two old cotton-reels for wheels, and sticks for the shafts. Then she went to the hole of a Rat who was a friend of hers, and called down the hole, "Mr. Rat! Mr. Rat!"
"Yes, Mrs. Sparrow," said the Rat, coming out of the hole and making a polite bow.
"Some one has thrown a stone at my husband and killed him. Will you help me to get my revenge?"
"Why," said the Rat, "how can I help you?"
"By pulling me along in my carriage," said Mrs. Sparrow.
"Oh yes," said the Rat; "that I will." So he went down into his hole again, and washed his face, and combed his whiskers, and came up all spick and span.
Mrs. Sparrow tied the shafts of the straw carriage to the Rat, and Mrs. Sparrow got in, and off they went.
On the road they met a Scorpion. Said the Scorpion--
"Whither away, Mrs. Sparrow and Mr. Rat?"
Said the Hen Sparrow, "My friend Mr. Rat is pulling me along in my carriage of straw to punish a cruel boy who threw a stone at my husband and killed him."
"Quite right too," said the Scorpion. "May I come and help you? I have a beautiful sting in my tail."
"Oh, please do! come and get in," said the Sparrow.
In got the Scorpion, and away they went. By-and-by they saw a Snake.
"Good day, and God bless you," says the Snake. "Where are you going, may a mere reptile ask?"
"Mr. Scorpion and I are going to punish a cruel boy who threw a stone and killed my husband."
"Shall I come and help you?" asked the Snake. "I have fine teeth in my head to bite with."
"The more the merrier," replied Mrs. Sparrow. So in he got. They had not gone far before who should meet them but a Wolf.
"Hullo," says the Wolf gruffly; "where are you off to, I should like to know?"
"Mr. Rat is kind enough to draw me in my carriage, and we are all going to punish a cruel boy who threw a stone and killed my poor husband."
"May I come too?" growled the Wolf. "I can bite." He opened his big jaws and snarled.
"Oh, how kind you are!" said Mrs. Sparrow. "Do come! jump in, jump in!"
The poor Rat looked aghast at such a load to pull; but he was a gentlemanly Rat, and so, having offered to pull the carriage, he said nothing.
So the big Wolf got in, and nearly sat on the Scorpion's tail; if he had, he wouldn't have sat long, I think. However, the Scorpion got out of the way, and on they went all four, the poor Rat pulling with all his might, but rather slow at that.
In due time they arrived at the cruel boy's house. His mother was cooking the dinner, and his father was fast asleep in a chair. There was a river close by the house, and the Wolf went down to the river, and hid himself there; the Snake crawled among the peats, and the Scorpion began to climb up into the chair where the man was sleeping.
Then Mrs. Hen Sparrow flew in at the door and twittered--
"Little boy! Little boy! There's a fish biting at your night-line!"
Up jumped the boy, and out he ran, to look at the night-line. But as he was stooping down and looking at the line to see if any fish were hooked, the Wolf pounced upon him, and bit him in the throat, and he died.
Then the cruel boy's mother went out to get some peats, and as she put her hand in amongst them, the Snake bit her, and she gave a shriek and fell down and died. The shriek awoke her husband sleeping in his chair, and he began to get up, but by this time the Scorpion had climbed up the leg of the chair, so he stung the man, and the man died too.
Thus there was an end of the cruel boy who killed
a harmless Sparrow for sport; and though his father
and mother had done nothing, yet they ought not to
have had a son so cruel, or, at least, they might have
brought him up better. Anyhow, die they did, all three;
and Mrs. Hen Sparrow was so delighted that she
forgot all about her dead husband, and forgot
her eggs which were getting addled,
and went about chirruping until
she found another husband,
and made another nest,
and (I am sorry to
say) lived happily
Told by Shin Sahái, teacher of the village school of Dayarhi Chakeri, Etah District. Another version of the Podnâ and the Podnî, N.I.N.Q. iii. 83. Compare the Valiant Blackbird, No. 28 below.
Hen Sparrow tells her husband to go into the jungle and fetch firewood to cook khîr (rice milk)—A Chamâr kills him—Hen makes carriage of straw, yokes two rats to it, and drives off to take vengeance—Meets a Wolf—"Where are you going?"—"To take vengeance on the Chamâr who killed my husband"—"May I help?"—"It will be kind"—Meets a Snake, who salutes her with, "Râm! Râm! Whither away?"—Replies as before, and same thing happens—So with a Scorpion—They arrive at the house of the Chamâr—Wolf hides near the river—Snake under pile of cow-dung fuel—Scorpion under the lamp—The Sparrow flies up to the eaves and twitters—Out comes Chamâr—Says she, "A friend awaits you near the river." To the river he goes—Wolf seizes him—His wife goes to the heap for fuel—Snake bites her—She calls to her son, "Bring the lamp"—Scorpion stings him—They all die—Hen Sparrow gets another mate, and lives happily ever after.
It is part of the Faithful Animal cycle (Temple, "Wide-awake Stories," 412; Clouston, "Popular Tales and Fictions," i. 223 seqq.). This form of tale, in which the weaker animal gets the better of its more powerful oppressor, is common in Indian folk-lore. Compare No. 1 of this collection.
Sparrow's Revenge, The
Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
Talking Thrush, The: And Other Tales from India
Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
E. P. Dutton & Co.
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