Talking Thrush, The: And Other Tales from India | Annotated Tale

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Quail and the Fowler, The

A FOWLER once caught a Quail. Said the Quail to the Fowler--

               "O Fowler, I know four things that will be useful for you to know."

               "What are they?" asked the Fowler.

               "Well," said the Quail, "I don't mind telling you three of them now. The first is: Fast caught, fast keep; never let a thing go when once you have got it. The second is: He is a fool that believes everything he hears. And the third is this: It's of no use crying over spilt milk."

               The Fowler thought these very sensible maxims. "And what is the fourth?" he asked.

               "Ah," said the Quail, "you must set me free if you want to hear the fourth."

               The Fowler, who was a simple fellow, set the Quail free. The Quail fluttered up into a tree, and said--

               "I see you take no notice of what I tell you. Fast caught, fast keep, I said; and yet you have let me go."

               "Why, so I have," said the Fowler, and scratched his head. He was a foolish Fowler, I think. "Well, never mind; what is the fourth thing? You promised to tell me, and I am sure an honourable Quail will never break his word."

               "The fourth thing I have to tell you is this: In my inside is a beautiful diamond, weighing ten pounds. And if you had not let me go, you would have had that diamond, and you need never have done any more work in all your life."

               "Oh dear, oh dear, what a fool I am!" cried the Fowler. He fell on his face, and clutched at the grass, and began to cry.

               "Ha, ha, ha!" laughed the Quail. "He is a fool who believes everything he hears."

               "Eh? what?" said the Fowler, and stopped crying.

               "Do you think a little carcase like mine can hold a diamond as big as your head?" asked the Quail, roaring with laughter. "And even if it were true, where's the use of crying over spilt milk?"

               The Quail spread his wings. "Good-bye," said he; "better luck next time, Fowler." And he flew away.

The Fowler sat up. "Well," said he, "that's true,           
sure enough." He got up and brushed the mud off           
his clothes. "If I have lost a Quail," said he,           
"I've learnt something." And he went           
home, a sadder but a           
wiser man.           


Told by Rameswar-Puri, a wandering religious beggar of Kharwá, District Mirzápur.

Fowler catches a Quail—"I'll teach you three things, and if you free me I'll teach you a fourth: (1) Never set free what you have caught; (2) What seems to you untrue you need not believe; (3) What is past you should not trouble about"—He sets the Quail free—Says the Quail, "I have in my stomach a gem weighing 1¼ seers, and worth lakhs of rupees; had you not let me go you would have that gem"—Fowler falls on the ground in misery—Says the Quail, "You forget my teaching: (1) You set me free; (2) You did not ask how a body so light could contain such a gem; (3) You are troubled about what is past"—Flies away—Fowler returns home a wiser man.

Compare the "Laughable Stories of Bar-Hebraeus," E. A. W. Budge (Luzac, 1897), No. 382, where a Sparrow acts as this Quail does. See also the "Three Counsels worth Money" in No. 485.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Quail and the Fowler, The
Tale Author/Editor: Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
Book Title: Talking Thrush, The: And Other Tales from India
Book Author/Editor: Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
Publisher: E. P. Dutton & Co.
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1922
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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