The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night/Volume 3/7
|←6||The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night , translated by Richard Francis Burton
THE FOX AND THE CROW
THE FOX AND THE CROW
A Fox once dwelt in a cave of a certain mountain and, as often as a cub was born to him and grew stout, he would eat the young one, for he had died of hunger, had he instead of so doing left the cub alive and bred it by his side and preserved and cherished his issue. Yet was this very grievous to him. Now on the crest of the same mountain a crow had made his nest, and the fox said to himself, I have a mind to set up a friendship with this crow and make a comrade of him, that he may help me to my daily bread; for he can do in such matters what I cannot. So he drew near the crows home and, when he came within sound of speech, he saluted him and said, O my neighbour, verily a true-believer hath two claims upon his true-believing neighbour, the right of neighbourliness and the right of Al-Islam, our common faith; and know, O my friend, that thou art my neighbour and thou hast a claim upon me which it behoveth me to observe, the more that I have long been thy neighbour. Also, there be implanted in my breast a store of love to thee, which biddeth me speak thee fair and obligeth me to solicit thy brothership. What sayest thou in reply? Answered the crow, Verily, the truest speech is the best speech; and haply thou speakest with thy tongue that which is not in thy heart; so I fear lest thy brotherhood be only of the tongue, outward, and thy enmity be in the heart, inward; for that thou art the Eater and I the Eaten, and faring apart were apter to us than friendship and fellowship. What, then, maketh thee seek that which thou mayst not gain and desire what may not be done, seeing that I be of the bird-kind and thou be of the beast-kind? Verily, this thy proffered brotherhood  may not be made, neither were it seemly to make it. Rejoined the fox, Of a truth whoso knoweth the abiding-place of excellent things, maketh better choice in what he chooseth therefrom, so perchance he may advantage his brethren; and indeed I should love to wone near thee and I have sued for thine intimacy, to the end that we may help each other to our several objects; and success shall surely wait upon our amity. I have a many tales of the goodliness of true friendship, which I will relate to thee if thou wish the relating. Answered the crow, Thou hast my leave to let me hear thy communication; so tell thy tale, and relate it to me that I may hearken to it and weigh it and judge of thine intent thereby. Rejoined the fox, Hear then, O my friend, that which is told of a flea and a mouse and which beareth out what I have said to thee. Asked the crow, How so? and the fox answered:--They tell this tale of
- Among Eastern men there are especial forms for making brotherhood. The Munhbolá-bhái (mouth-named brother) of India is well-known. The intense associativeness of these races renders isolation terrible to them, and being defenceless in a wild state of society has special horrors. Hence the origin of Caste for which see Pilgrimage (i. 52). Moslems, however, cannot practise the African rite of drinking a few drops of each others blood. This, by the by, was also affected in Europe, as we see in the Gesta Romanoru, Tale lxvii., of the wise and foolish knights who drew blood (to drink) from the right arm.