| Jataka Tales|
|by Ellen C. Babbitt|
|Eighteen fables from the Jatakas of India, skillfully retold and attractively illustrated. Includes The Monkey and the Crocodile, The Merchant of Seri, The Turtle Who Wouldn’t Stop Talking, The Foolish Timid Rabbit, The Banyan Deer, and others. Ages 7-10 |
THE CRAB AND THE CRANE
N the Long Ago there was a summer when very little rain
All the Animals suffered for want of water, but the Fishes
suffered most of all.
In one pond full of Fishes, the water was very low indeed.
A Crane sat on the bank watching the Fishes.
"What are you doing?" asked a little Fish.
"I am thinking about you Fishes there in the pond. It is so
nearly dry," answered the Crane.
"Yes," the Crane went on, "I was wishing I might do
something for you. I know of a pond in the deep woods where
there is plenty of water."
"I declare," said the little Fish, "you are the first Crane
that ever offered to help a Fish."
"That may be," said the Crane, "but the water is so low in
your pond. I could easily carry you one by
 one on my back to that other pond where there is plenty of
water and food and cool shade."
"I don't believe there is any such pond," said the little
Fish. "What you wish to do is to eat us, one by one."
"If you don't believe me," said the Crane, "send with me
one of the Fishes whom you can believe.
I'll show him the
pond and bring him back to tell you all about it."
A big Fish heard the Crane and said, "I will go with you to
see the pond—I may as well be eaten by the Crane as to die
So the Crane put the big Fish on his back and started for
the deep woods.
So the Crane put the big Fish on his back and started for the deep woods.
Soon the Crane showed the big Fish the pool of water. "See
how cool and shady it is here," he said, "and how much
larger the pond is, and how full it is!"
"Yes!" said the big Fish, "take me back to the little pond
I'll tell the other Fishes all about it." So back they
The Fishes all wanted to go when they heard the big Fish
talk about the fine pond which he had seen.
Then the Crane
picked up another Fish and
car-  ried it away. Not to the pool, but into the woods where the
other Fishes could not see them.
Then the Crane put the Fish down and ate it. The
Crane went back for another Fish. He carried it to the
same place in the woods and ate it, too.
This he did until he had eaten all the Fishes in the pond.
The next day the Crane went to the pond to see if he had
left a Fish. There was not one left, but there was a Crab on
"Little Crab," said the Crane, "would you let me take you to
the fine pond in the deep woods where I took the Fishes?"
"But how could you carry me?" asked the Crab.
answered the Crane.
"I'll take you on my back as I did
"No, I thank you," said the Crab, "I can't go that way. I am
afraid you might drop me. If I could take hold of your neck
with my claws, I would go. You know we Crabs have a tight
The Crane knew about the tight grip of the Crabs, and he did
not like to have the Crab hold on with his claws. But
he was hungry, so he said:
"Very well, hold tight."
 And off went the Crane with the Crab.
And off went the Crane with the Crab.
When they reached the place where the Crane had eaten the
Fishes, the Crane said:
"I think you can walk the rest of the way. Let go of my
"I see no pond," said the Crab. "All I can see is a pile of
Fish bones. Is that all that is left of the Fishes?"
"Yes," said the Crane, "and if you will let go of my neck,
your shell will be all that will be left of you."
Crane put his head down near the ground so that the Crab
could get off easily.
But the Crab pinched the Crane's neck so that his head fell
"Not my shell, but your bones are left to dry with the bones
of the Fishes," said the Crab.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics