A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Sparrow and the Crow." by Flora Annie Steel (1847-1929)
From: Tales of the Punjab (1894) by Flora Annie Steel. London & New York: Macmillan and Co., 1894.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

THE SPARROW AND THE CROW

A SPARROW AND A CROW once agreed to have khichrî for dinner. So the Sparrow brought rice, and the Crow brought lentils, and the Sparrow was cook, and when the khichrî ready, the Crow stood by to claim his share.

'Who ever heard of any one sitting down to dinner so dirty as you are?' quoth the Sparrow scornfully. 'Your body is quite black, and your head looks as if it were covered with ashes. For goodness gracious sake, go and wash in the Pond first.'

The Crow, though a little huffy at being called dirty, deemed it best to comply, for he knew what a determined little person the Sparrow was; so he went to the Pond, and said–

'Your name, sir, is Pond,
   But my name is Crow.
Please give me some water,
   For if you do so
I can wash beak and feet
And the nice khichrî eat;
Though I really don 't know
   What the Sparrow can mean,
For I'm sure, as Crows go,
   I'm remarkably clean!'

But the Pond said, 'Certainly I will give you water; but first you must go to the Deer, and beg him to lend you a horn. Then with it you can dig a nice little rill for the water to flow in clean and fresh.'

So the Crow flew to the Deer, and said–

'Your name, sir, is Deer,
   But my name is Crow.
Oh, give me a horn, please,
   For if you do so
I can dig a clean rill
For the water to fill;
Then I'll wash beak and feet
And the nice khichrî eat;
Though I really don't know
   What the Sparrow can mean,
For I'm sure, as Crows go,
   I'm remarkably clean!'

But the Deer said, 'Certainly I will give you a horn; but first you must go to the Cow, and ask her to give you some milk for me to drink. Then I shall grow fat, and not mind the pain of breaking my horn.'

Sot the Crow flew off to the Cow, and said–

'Your name, ma'am, is Cow,
   But my name is Crow.
Oh, give me some milk, please,
   For if you do so
The pain will be borne,
Deer will give me his horn,
And I'll dig a clean rill
For the water to fill;
Then I'll wash beak and feet
And the nice khichrî eat;
Though I really don't know
   What the Sparrow can mean,
For I'm sure, as Crows go,
   I'm remarkably clean!'

But the Cow said, 'Certainly I will give you milk, only first you must bring me some Grass; for who ever heard of a cow giving milk without grass?'

So the Crow flew to some Grass, and said–

'Your name, sir, is Grass,
   But my name is Crow.
Oh, give me some blades, please,
   For if you do so
Madam Cow will give milk
To the Deer sleek as silk;
The pain will be borne,
He will give me his horn,
And I'll dig a clean rill
For the water to fill;
Then I'll wash beak and feet
And the nice khichrî eat;
Though I really don't know
   What the Sparrow can mean,
For I'm sure, as Crows go,
   I'm remarkably clean!'

But the Grass said, 'Certainly I will give you Grass; but first you must go to the Blacksmith, and ask him to make you a sickle. Then you can cut me, for who ever heard of Grass cutting itself?'

So the Crow went to the Blacksmith, and said–

'Your name, sir, is Smith,
   But my name is Crow.
Please give me a sickle,
   For if you do so
The Grass I can mow
As food for the Cow;
Madam Cow will give milk
To the Deer sleek as silk;
The pain will be borne,
He will give me his horn,
And I'll dig a clean rill
For the water to fill;
Then I'll wash beak and feet
And the nice khichrî eat;
Though I really don't know
   What the Sparrow can mean,
For I'm sure, as Crows go,
   I'm remarkably clean!'

'With pleasure,' said the Blacksmith, 'if you will light the fire and blow the bellows.'

So the Crow began to light the fire, and blow the bellows, but in so doing he fell right in–to–the–very–middle–of–the–FIRE, and was burnt!

So that was the end of him, and the Sparrow ate all the khichrî.

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This chapter has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.
Initial text entry and proof-reading of this chapter were the work of volunteers
Betty Kohn and Henry Passenger.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom