The Bittern and the Hoopoe
Where do you like best to feed your flocks,
said a man to an old cowherd. Here, sir, where the grass is neither too rich nor too poor,
or else it is no use. Why not, asked the man. Do you hear that melancholy cry from the
meadow there, answered the cowherd, that is the bittern. He was once a cowherd, and so was
the hoopoe also, I will tell you the story. The bittern pastured his flocks on rich green
meadows where flowers grew in abundance, so his cows became wild and unmanageable. The
hoopoe drove his cattle on to high barren hills, where the wind plays with the sand, and
his cows became thin, and got no strength. When it was evening, and the cowherds wanted to
drive their cows homewards, the bittern could not get his together again. They were too
high-spirited, and ran away from him. He called, come, cows, come, but it was of no use.
They took no notice of his calling. The hoopoe, however, could not even get his cows up on
their legs, so faint and weak had they become. Up, up, up, screamed he, but it was in
vain, they remained lying on the sand. That is the way when one has no moderation. And to
this day, though they have no flocks now to watch, the bittern cries, come, cows, come,
and the hoopoe, up, up, up.