Quails, A Legend of the Jataka
from the Riverside Fourth Reader
Ages ago a flock of more than a thousand quails
lived together in a forest in India. They would
have been happy, but that they were in great
dread of their enemy, the quail-catcher. He used
to imitate the call of the quail - and when they
gathered together in answer to it, he would throw
a great net over them, stuff them into his basket,
and carry them away to be sold.
Now, one of the quails was very wise, and he
"Brothers! I've thought of a good plan. In
future, as soon as the fowler throws his net over
us, let each one put his head through a mesh in
the net and then all lift it up together and fly
away with it. When we have flown far enough,
we can let the net drop on a thorn bush and escape
from under it."
All agreed to the plan - and next day when the
fowler threw his net, the birds all lifted it together
in the very way that the wise quail had
told them, threw it on a thorn bush and escaped.
While the fowler tried to free his net from the
thorns, it grew dark, and he had to go home.
This happened many days, till at last the
fowler's wife grew angry and asked her husband,
"Why is it that you never catch any more
Then the fowler said, "The trouble
is that all the birds work together and help one another.
If they would only quarrel, I could catch them fast
A few days later, one of the quails accidentally
trod on the head of one of his brothers, as they
alighted on the feeding-ground.
"Who trod on my head?" angrily inquired the
quail who was hurt.
"Don't be angry, I didn't mean to tread on
you," said the first quail.
But the brother quail went on quarreling.
"I lifted all the weight of the net - you didn't
help at all," he cried.
That made the first quail angry, and before long
all were drawn into the dispute. Then the fowler
saw his chance. He imitated the cry of the quail
and cast his net over those who came together.
They were still boasting and quarreling, and they
did not help one another lift the net. So the
hunter lifted the net himself and crammed them
into his basket. But the wise quail gathered his
friends together and flew far away, for he knew
that quarrels are the root of misfortune.