A LABOURER lay listening to a Nightingale’s song throughout the summer night. So pleased was he with it that the next night he set a trap for it and captured it. “Now that I have caught thee,” he cried, “thou shalt always sing to me.”
“We Nightingales never sing in a cage.” said the bird.
“Then I’ll eat thee.” said the Labourer. “I have always heard say that a nightingale on toast is dainty morsel.”
“Nay, kill me not,” said the Nightingale; “but let me free, and I’ll tell thee three things far better worth than my poor body.” The Labourer let him loose, and he flew up to a branch of a tree and said: “Never believe a captive’s promise; that’s one thing. Then again: Keep what you have. And third piece of advice is: Sorrow not over what is lost forever.” Then the song-bird flew away.
From Petrus Alfonsi, Discipina Clericalis, c. 1106 A.D.; a set of tales taken from Oriental sources to season sermons: very popular in the Middle Ages. Lydgate founded his Chorle and Bird upon it.
Labourer and the Nightingale, The
Fables of Aesop, The
Aesop & Jacobs, Joseph
Macmillan & Co.
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