The Old Greedy Crane – Panchatantra Stories 5
There was an old crane, who lived by a lake. He was so old that he could not arrange for his food. The fish swam around him, but he was so weak that he could not catch them.
One day, he was very hungry. He hadn’t had anything to eat for days together. In total dejection he sat on the bank of the lake and began weeping. A crab who was passing by, heard him crying and asked him for the reason.
All of a sudden, he hit upon an idea. He asked the crab to have patience and allow him some time to overcome his emotion. The crab consoled him and became silent. Meanwhile, the crane pretended to have overcome his emotions and began saying in a sad tone, “Perhaps, you are not aware of the future of the aquatic animals of this lake. They will soon die without water.”
“What!” the crab exclaimed.
“Yes”, the crane said. “A fortune teller has told me that very soon this lake will go dry and all the creatures living in it will die. This thought of impending doom has sunken my heart with grief.” After a pause, the crane continued, “There is another lake at some distance from here. All the big creatures like crocodiles, tortoises, frogs etc. can travel upto that lake, but I am worried about those, who cannot travel by land, like fish. They will die without water. This is the reason why I am so sad. I want to help them.”
All the creatures in the lake were dumbstruck to know the future of the lake but they became very happy to know that the crane was ready to help them.
“There is a big lake, full of water, a few miles away from here. I’ll carry such helpless creatures on my back”, said the crane, “and put them safely in the big lake.”
Everyone in the lake agreed to this proposal. Now the crane started carrying one creature at a time, on his back. First, he started with fish and carried them on his back; but, instead of taking them to the big lake, he took them to a nearby hill and ate them.
And in this way, the crane ate a large number of fish everyday. Within a few days, he regained his health and became stout.
One day, the crab said to the crane, “Friend, you seem to have forgotten me. I thought, I would be the first one to be carried to the big lake, but I have a feeling that I have been completely ignored.”
“No, I haven’t forgotten you”, said the crane cunningly. He was tired of eating fish everyday. He wanted to have a change. So he said to the crab, “Come my friend. Sit on my back.”
The crab gladly sat on the crane’s back and the crane flew towards the big lake.
“How far is the lake now?” the crab asked. The crane thought that the crab was quite an innocent creature. He would never know his evil plans. So, he said angrily, “You fool, do you think I am your servant? There is no other lake around here. I made this plan in order to be able to eat you all. Now you too be prepared to die.”
But the crab didn’t loose his senses. He quickly grabbed the long neck of the crane with his sharp claws and told him to return to the old lake. He threatened to cut the crane’s neck into two, if he didn’t obey him.
The crane was left with no choice, but to return to the old lake. On reaching the lake the crab immediately jumped off the back of the crane. Then he told all the other creatures about the crane’s misdeeds. This made the creatures very angry. They attacked the crane and killed him.
Moral: Never be greedy.