Monday, November 5, 2012

The Greedy Cow

The Greedy Crow.

One day a crow found a piece of meat on the ground. He picked it up and flew to the top of a tree. While he was sitting there eating his meat, a kasaykasay (a small bird) passed by. She was carrying a dead rat, and was flying very fast. The crow called to her, and said, “Kasaykasay, where did you get that dead rat that you have?” But the small bird did not answer: she flew on her way. When the crow saw that she paid no attention to him, he was very angry; and he called out, “Kasaykasay, Kasaykasay, stop and give me a piece of that rat, or I will follow you and take the whole thing for myself!” Still the small bird paid no attention to him. At last, full of greed and rage, the crow determined to have the rat by any means. He left the meat he was eating, and flew after the small creature. Although she was only a little bird, the Kasaykasay could fly faster than the crow—so he could not catch her.
[392]While the crow was chasing the Kasaykasay, a hawk happened to pass by the tree where the crow had left his meat. The hawk saw the meat, and at once seized it in his claws and flew away.
Although the crow pursued the Kasaykasay a long time, he could not overtake her: so at last he gave up his attempt, and flew back to the tree where he had left his meat. But when he came to the spot, and found that the meat was gone, he was almost ready to die of disappointment and hunger. By and by the hawk which had taken the meat passed the tree again. He called to the crow, and said to him, “Mr. Crow, do you know that I am the one who took your meat? If not, I will tell you now, and I am very sorry for you.”
The crow did not answer the hawk, for he was so tired and weak that he could hardly breathe.
The moral of this story is this: Do not be greedy. Be contented with what you have, and do not wish for what you do not own.


This fable appears to be distantly related to the European fable of “The Dog and his Shadow.” More closely connected, however, is an apologue incorporated in a Buddhistic birth-story, the “Culladhanuggaha-jātaka,” No. 374. In this Indian story,—
An unfaithful wife eloping with her lover arrives at the bank of a stream. There the lover persuades her to strip herself, so that he may carry her clothes across the stream, which he proceeds to do, but never returns. Indra, seeing her plight, changes himself into a jackal bearing a piece of meat, and goes down to the bank of the stream. In its waters fish are disporting; and the Indra-jackal, laying aside his meat, plunges in after one of them. A vulture hovering near seizes hold of the meat and bears it aloft; and the jackal, returning unsuccessful from his fishing, is taunted by the woman, who had observed all this, in the first gātha:—
“O jackal so brown! most stupid are you;
No skill have you got, not knowledge, nor wit;
Your fish you have lost, your meat is all gone,
And now you sit grieving all poor and forlorn.”
To which the Indra-jackal repeats the second gātha:—
“The faults of others are easy to see,
But hard indeed our own are to behold;
Thy husband thou hast lost, and lover eke,
And now, I ween, thou grievest o’er thy loss.”

The same story is found in the “Pancatantra” (V, viii; see Benfey, I : 468), whence it made its way into the “Tūtī-nāmeh.” It does not appear to be known in the Occident in this form (it is lacking in the “Kalilah and Dimnah”).
[393]Although the details of our story differ from those of the Indian fable of “The Jackal and the Faithless Wife,” the general outlines of the two are near enough to justify us in supposing a rather close connection between them. I know of no European analogues nearly so close, and am inclined to consider “The Greedy Crow” a native Tagalog tale. From the testimony of the narrator, it appears that the fable is not a recent importation.

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