There was once a heron who lived near a pond. He had become old and found it difficult to catch fish. He wanted an easy way of catching fish for his food.
The heron went to the edge of the pond and just stood there. He did not even try to catch the fish that came very near.
In the pond lived a crab. He went to the heron and said, “Uncle, why are you not catching fish for your food today ? Why do you stand there looking so sad ?”
The heron replied, “All these years I have lived here.
I have enjoyed fish for my meals. But now something terrible is going to happen to all of you. And when that happens, there will be no fish left here at all. That is what makes me so sad.”
“Uncle,” said the crab, “what is this dreadful thing that you speak of ?”
The heron replied, “Today I heard some fishermen talking as they passed near the pond. ‘This is a big and full of fish,’ they were saying. “In a few days’ time we shall come back here and catch all the fish in our nets.”
When the fish heard this, they were all very frightened. They begged of the heron, “Uncle ! You are our friend ! Can you think of a way of saving us ? Please tell us how we can escape from those fishermen.”
The heron said, “I am a bird. I cannot fight with men. But one thing I can do – I can take you from this pond to another, which is much deeper. Nobody can catch you there.”
The fish were very happy. They all began to cry with one voice, “Uncle ! Uncle ! Take me first ! Take me first !”
The old cheat was very happy to hear them. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You will all get your turn. I shall take you to the new pond one or two at a time.” The heron lifted a fish in his bill and flew off. He carried the fish to a large rock far away from the pond. There he ate it. Day after day he kept eating the fish like this. Soon he became plump and strong.
One day the crab said to the heron, “Uncle, please save me too. Take me to the new pond.”
“Sure,” said the heron. “Hop on to my back.” By now he was tired of eating only fish. He thought it would be nice to eat a crab for a change. Carrying the crab on his back, the heron flew through the air.
After some time the crab said, “Uncle, where are we going ? don’t see a pond anywhere.”
The heron laughed and said, “Do you see that bi rock down there ? All the fish are resting there. Your turn has now come to rest there with the fish.”
At first the crab was very happy. Then he looked down and saw a lot of fish-bones on a large rock. He thought, “Oh, the rogue has eaten up all the fish ! Well, he won’t get me for his dinner !” He then caught the heron’s neck in his strong claws, and cut off the head.
The crab slowly walked back to the pond. The fish were surprised to see him. “Why have you come back from the other pond ?” they asked.
“The wicked heron was only cheating us,” said the crab. “He has eaten up all the fish that he carried from this pond. But he cannot cheat us any longer. I have killed him. Now we shall all live here in peace.”