Page:Hindu Tales from the Sanskrit.djvu/121

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bird seized a separate thread of the net in his beak and up, up, up, they all flew, looking very beautiful with the sunlight gleaming on their white wings. Very soon they were out of sight; and the man, who thought he had hit upon a very clever plan, came forth from his hiding-place, very much surprised at what had happened. He stood gazing up after his vanished net for a little time, and then went away muttering to himself, whilst the wise old crow laughed at him.

When the pigeons had flown some distance, and were beginning to get exhausted, for the net was heavy and they were quite unused to carrying loads, the king bade them rest awhile in a clearing of the forest; and as they all lay on the ground panting for breath, with the cruel net still hampering them, he said:

"What we must do now is to take this horrible net to my old friend Hiranya the mouse, who will, I am quite sure, nibble through the strings for me and set us all free. He lives, as you all know, near the tree where the net was spread, deep underground; but there are many passages leading to his home, and we shall easily find one of the openings. Once there, we will all lift up our voices, and call to him at once, when he will be sure to hear us." So the weary pigeons took up their burden once more, and sped back whence they had come, greatly to the surprise of the crow, who wondered at their coming back to the very place where misfortune had overtaken them. He very soon learnt the reason, and got so excited watching what was going on, that he hopped out of