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Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of

Was followed to his home by the gander


[324]

See No. LXVIII., note 30.

CLVII.

THE ROC.

Two herons built their nests under one of the ornaments on the roof of a temple at Tientsin. The accumulated dust of years in the shrine below concealed a huge serpent, having the diameter of a washing-basin; and whenever the heron's young were ready to fly, the reptile proceeded to the nest and swallowed every one of them, to the great distress of the bereaved parents. This took place three years consecutively, and people thought the birds would build there no more. However, the following year they came again; and when the time was drawing nigh for their young ones to take wing, away they flew, and remained absent for nearly three days. On their return, they went straight to the nest, and began amidst much noisy chattering to feed their young ones as usual. Just then the serpent crawled up to reach his prey; and as he was nearing the nest the parent-birds flew out and screamed loudly in mid-air. Immediately, there was heard a mighty flapping of wings, and darkness came over the face of the earth, which the astonished spectators now perceived to be caused by a huge bird obscuring the light of the sun. Down it swooped with the speed of wind or falling rain, and, striking the serpent with its talons, tore its head off at a blow, bringing down at the same time several feet of the masonry of the temple.

Then it flew away, the herons accompanying it as though escorting a guest. The nest too had come down, and of the two young birds one was killed by the fall; the other was taken by the priests and put in the bell tower, whither the old birds returned to feed it until thoroughly fledged, when it spread its wings and was gone.[325]

FOOTNOTE:

[325] This story is inserted chiefly in illustration of the fact that all countries have a record of some enormous bird such as the _roc_ of the "Arabian Nights."

CLVIII.

THE FAITHFUL GANDER.[326]

A sportsman of Tientsin, having snared a wild goose, was followed to his home by the gander, which flew round and round him in great distress, and only went away at nightfall. Next day, when the sportsman went out, there was the bird again; and at length it alighted quite close to his feet. He was on the point of seizing it when suddenly it stretched out its neck and disgorged a piece of pure gold; whereupon, the sportsman, understanding what the bird meant, cried out, "I see! this is to ransom your mate, eh?" Accordingly, he at once released the goose, and the two birds flew away with many expressions of their mutual joy, leaving to the sportsman nearly three ounces of pure gold. Can, then, mere birds have such feelings as these? Of all sorrows there is no sorrow like separation from those we love; and it seems that the same holds good even of dumb animals.

FOOTNOTE:


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