The Partridge and the Hawk

From Panchatantra (In Persian: کلیله و دمنه)

A Partridge was one day strutting along the ground when a Hawk alighted near by. The Partridge thought that her last hour had surely come, and hid, trembling with fear, in a hole in the rock. The Hawk, however, made no effort to harm her, but, on the contrary, began to talk to her in soft, caressing tones.

"My dear, merry-faced, pretty-strutting Partridge," he began, "please come out of that hole and make friends with me."

"Base deceiver," replied the Partridge, "cease your flattery and false offers of friendship! Do I not know that you are now probably fresh from feasting on one of my kin?"

But the Hawk tried to calm her suspicions. "I own," he continued, "that up to the present moment I have always looked upon partridges as my prey, but today, when I saw you strutting up the hill so prettily, the desire came over me to win you for my friend. If you will only come and live in my nest, I will promise to protect you from all other hawks, and, in good time, will bring you another partridge for your mate."

"Even if your promise should be true," the Partridge made answer, safe within her hole, "I know that you are one of the kings among birds, and that I am only a poor Partridge. Suppose that some day I should displease you. Would you not promptly tear me to pieces?"

Still the Hawk was so persistent with his pledges of friendship that the Partridge at last crept out of her hole. The Hawk, greatly delighted, embraced her fondly and carried her off to his nest.

For many days they lived happily together, until the Hawk fell sick. All day long he was obliged to stay in the nest, and could not go out for food. He grew more and more hungry as night came on, and his eyes rested ever more longingly and more longingly on the Partridge. Finally he decided to pick a quarrel with her.

"It is not right," the Hawk suddenly snapped, "that I should lie here, in the hot sun and that you should be protected by the shade."

The Partridge had drawn further away into the corner of the nest. "Oh, King of Birds," she replied gently, "it is now night and there is no sun. The heat that you feel is the fever in your blood."

"You saucy baggage," retorted the Hawk. "Will you tell me that what I say is untrue? You shall be punished for this." And so saying, he fell upon her and tore her to pieces.

(Source: The Baldwin Project)


And, here is La Fontaine's rendition of this story:


The Wolf and the Lamb

The right of the stronger... is always better:

We will prove it right now.

A lamb was quenching its thirst

In the current of a pure flow.

A wolf looking for adventure, and whom hunger has attracted to these parts,

Suddenly appears on an empty stomach.

"Who is so hardy as to muddy my waters?"

Says this animal full of rage.

You will be punished for your temerity.

"Sire," the lamb responds, "May Your Majesty

not get angry:

But may he instead consider

That I am quenching my thirst

in the current,

More than twenty paces above him;

And that, therefore,

in no way can I muddy his drink."

"You are muddying it!" that cruel beast continued;

"And I know that you spoke ill of me last year."

"How could I have done so if I wasn't born yet?"

Continued the lamb; I am still nursing."

"If it wasn't you, then it was your brother."

"I haven't any brother."

"Then it's one of yours;

For you hardly spare me,

You, your shepherds, and your dogs.

Others have been telling me that I must avenge myself."

Up there, in the heart of the forest

The wolf drags him off and then eats him,

With no other form of process

(Source: The lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive)


Painting: Farns Snyders, The Hawk and the Hen.