19. The Language of Birds

There once lived a Hodja who understood the language of birds, but refused to teach others. One young man was very persistent in his desire to know the language of these sweet creatures, but the Hodja was inflexible.

In despair, the young man went to the woods at least to listen to the pleasant chirping of the birds. Little by little he was able to understand their meaning, till finally, he understood them to tell him that his horse would die. On returning from the woods, he immediately sold his horse and went and told the Hodja.

“Oh Hodja, why will you not teach me the language of birds? Yesterday I went to the woods and they warned me that my horse would die, thus giving me the chance to sell it and avoiding the loss.”

The Hodja was silent, but would change his mind.

The following day the young man again went to the woods, and the chirping of the birds told him that his house would be burned. The young man hurried away, sold his house, again went to the Hodja and told him all that had happened, adding, “See, Hodja Sir, you would not teach me the language of the birds, but I have saved my horse and my house by listening to them.”

On the following day, the young man again went to the woods, and the birds chirped him the sad news, that on the following day he would die. In tears the young man went to the Hodja for advice.

“Oh Hodja Sir! Alas! What am I to do? The birds have told me that tomorrow I must die.”

“My son,” answered the Hodja, “I knew this would come, and that is why I refused to teach you the language of birds. Had you accepted the loss of your horse, your house would have been saved, and had your house been burned, your life would have been saved.”