THERE once was a clever Fowler who used to hunt quails. He could imitate the quail's note exactly; and when he had found a hiding-place, he used to sit hidden in it, and call out the quail's note, until a number of quails had come together; then he threw a net over them, and bagged them all.
But amongst the quails was one very clever bird, and he hit on the following device: He told the quails, when they felt the net drop over them, that each one should pop his head through one of the meshes of the net, and then at the word, away they should fly together.
All fell out as he arranged. Next day the Fowler sounded his imitation of the quail's note, and the birds flocked from far and near; then, when a good many had gathered in a clump within his reach, he cast the net, which fell over them and made them all prisoners. They all did what the wise Quail had told them; each quail put his head through one of the meshes, then at a word they were all away together, bearing the net with them. After some little time they saw a large bush, and dropped upon this bush; then the net was held up by the bush, while all the birds got away underneath.
Again and again this happened, until the Fowler began to despair; he came home every night empty-handed, and besides that he had lost ever so many nets.
Why did he keep on trying to catch them, then? Because he thought that sooner or later they would begin to quarrel, and then the game would be his.
And quarrel they soon did. One Quail happened to tread on another's toe.
"What are you doing, clumsy?" said the second Quail angrily.
"I'm very sorry," said the first; "I really did not mean to tread on your toe."
"I tell you I didn't!"
"What a lie!"
"A lie, is it? Hoity, toity, how high-and-mighty we are, to be sure! I suppose it is you lift up the net, all by yourself, when the man throws it over us!"
And so they went on, getting angrier and angrier. And the result was, that next day, when the fowler made his cast, said the first Quail to the second:
"Now then, Samson, lift away! They say that last time your feathers all fell off your head!"
"Oh, indeed! They say that when you tried to lift, both your wings moulted! Lift away, and let us see if it is true!"
But while they were quarrelling, and each telling the other to lift the net, the Fowler lifted it for them, and crammed them all together into his basket, and took them home for supper.