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Fables from Afar by  Catherine T. Bryce
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[Illustration]

THE FARMER AND THE HUMMING BIRD

[36] ONE day a farmer caught a humming bird. He was just going to eat it, when the bird said: "Oh, man, why should you eat me? I am so small—no larger than your thumb! Why, I wouldn't make a mouthful for you! What kind of a meal would that be for a great man like you? Please let me go."

[37] "Let you go!" said the man, "no, indeed! I know that you are little, but your meat will be the sweeter; and you know little is better than none."

"Will you let me go if I promise to bring you a pearl as large as the egg of an ostrich and worth piles and piles of money?"

"Go, go quickly!" cried the man, setting the bird free. "Hurry and bring that great pearl to me."

The humming bird flew to a high tree and sat smoothing her bright plumage.

"Where are you?" cried the farmer. "Oh, I see you. Why don't you go at [38] once and bring me the great pearl you promised me?"

"I did not promise you a pearl," answered the humming bird. "I asked if you would let me go if I did promise you one. You did not wait for any promise. You were in such a hurry to get the pearl. How silly you are! Do you ever think? Look at me! Do you think for one moment that a bird as small as I could carry a pearl as large as an ostrich egg?"

The farmer hung his head. He was ashamed to think how easily he had been fooled.

"Cheer up," said the bird, "I have [39] taught you a lesson worth more than a hundred pearls. Always think before you act."


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