"Where do you like best to feed your flocks?" said a man to an old cow-herd.
"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 shepherd, "that is the bittern; he was once a shepherd, 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 shepherds 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."
A servant was once sent out by his master to seek a lost cow. He stayed away a long time, and the master thought, "My faithful servant John does not spare any pains over his work!"
But as the servant did not come back at all, the master got afraid that some misfortune had befallen him, and set out himself to look for him. He had to search for a long time, but at last he found the boy who was running up and down a large field.
"Now, John," said the master when he had got up to him, "have you found the cow that I sent you to seek?"
"No, master," he answered, "I haven't found the cow, but then I have not looked for it, for I have found three blackbirds. I see one of them, I hear the other, and I am running after the third," answered the boy.
How fortunate is the master who has a wise servant who listens to his orders and does a lot as he is asked to do without delay and whims in his head! [Retold]