20. The Swallows Advice

A man one day saw a swallow and caught it. The bird pleaded hard for freedom, saying, “If you let me go, your gain will be great, for I will give you three pieces of advice that will later be of use to you.”

The man listened to the bird and let it go. Flying to a tree close by it perched on a branch, and said, “Listen to the three pieces of advice that will guide you. The first is, do not believe things that are incredible; the second is, do not attempt to stretch out your hand to a place you are unable to reach; and the third advice I give you is, do not be sad for a thing that is past and gone. Take this advice and do not forget it.”

 The bird then tempted the man, saying, “Inside of me there is a large pearl of great value; it is both magnificent and splendid, and as large as the egg of an eagle.”

Now, hearing this, the man regretted having let the bird go, the color of his face went pale, and he at once stretched out his hand to catch the swallow, but the latter said to the foolish man, “What! Have you already forgotten the advice I gave you, and the lie which I told you, have you believed? I had fallen into your hands, yet you were unable to keep me, and now you regret the past for which there is no remedy.”